Friday, December 28, 2018

In memoriam: the Spy's year-end roundup

Editor's Note:  At this season it is traditional to look back over the past year and compile some sort of bullshit list or another.  Who is the Spy to quarrel with this tradition?  Accordingly, we take a moment to consider the various tropes, ideas, and clichés that we have lost in 2018.  Better have some tissues handy.

By Magnolia Tangere
Content Generator

1.  Paul Ryan, man of ideas

Skulking out of Washington one step behind the final collapse of Republican governance was former Republican genius and man of destiny Paul Ryan.  For years he had wallowed in a warm bath of favorable press about his new ideas (tax cuts for the rich, fucking the poor) and his supposed “moderation.”

Sadly those hot takes did not survive 2018.  Under his leadership, Republicans in the House did all in their considerable power to cover up the high crimes (treason, obstruction of justice) and misdemeanors (paying off blifkes) of the Grifter-in-Chief.  Respect for law and order and the basic principles of the American constitutional system?  If you thought Paul Ryan was going to stand tall for those traditional conservative Republican principles than brother we've got a somewhat charred temporary mission in Benghazi to sell you.

In his defense, though, he did act on his brilliant ideas, running up the debt to provide a $2,000,000,000,000 kiss to the plutocrats who bought and paid for Ryan and his clown car of corrupt incompetents.  The voters thought so highly of his work that he and his party were run out of power, leaving the formerly venerated future of the Republican Party to contemplate something new and horrifying: actually having to earn a living in the private sector.  We hear that Sheldon Adelson could use a few croupiers in Macau.

2.  General John Kelly, patriot

For years, we'd heard about General Kelly's sterling record of service to his country and the wealth of experience that he brought to his job as errand boy [Surely, Chief of Staff? – Ed.] to President U Bum.  We were told long ago in 2017 that he would bring order to the chaotic White House and rein in his tangerine-faced lunatic boss.

How'd that turn out?  Of course, it was bollocks.  The Grifter-in-Chief, having no executive ability or indeed interest in executing anything other than a live shot, simply ignored the efforts of his General to run the West Wing, although he did use the former four-star Marine as his personal firing squad to dispatch such talents as Omarosa.

But it was General Kelly who made the fateful decision to disgrace himself by smearing a Congresswoman (of color, natch) and then when his lies were made clear by the videotape in question, doubling down with some brasshat bafflegab about “empty barrels”.

The only empty barrels we heard go off were the General and the cable news gasbags who had touted Kelly as the savior of the U Bum Administration.

By the way, General Kelly, if we were you, we'd be careful before dining out back home in Brighton.  The local kitchens are staffed by immigrants who, even if their command of English is limited, have a variety of creative ways to prepare your meal so as to tell you what they really think of you.

3. Steve Bannon, crank [Surely, crack – Ed.?] political operative

It seems like many lifetimes and four score impeachable offenses ago, but once upon a time this raggedly alkie was hailed by The New York Times and other West Wing brown-nosers as the political genius who made the Bigot-in-Chief was he is today: a paranoid drug addict with a 38% approval rating.

He may have looked like a broken-down old rummy who had flunked out of rehab a half dozen times but because he always returned reporters' calls and rewarded them with juicy quotes, you would have thought that he was de Tocqueville on meth.  His vision of a racist-populist mobocracy took him far.  Then when he babbled the truth about U Bum to one reporter too many, he came crashing down.  Kind of like every weekend at his house.

Once he was in the Oval Office masterminding the brilliant Muslim Ban that ushered in the Age of Chaos.  Then  before you knew it he was bouncing around Central European s**tholes advising tinpot Mussolini-wannabes how to do in their countries.  He ended up working for pancakes in a grim motel breakfast room in Topeka in front of less than a minyan of fellow true believers.  It turned out without his access to the Tangerine-Faced Grifter he was just another drug-related tragedy.

And in 2018, we all just said no.

4.  Bitcoin

Remember when every Moe, Larry, and Curly was dropping their life savings into some worthless p.o.s. called Bitcoin?  Remember how everyone was sure it was going to rise from $300 to $1,000 to $20,000 to zillions?  Guess what happened: the smart money sold to the suckers, who were left holding a bag of worthless coins.  Think of them as inedible Hanukah Gelt. 

From the breathless yet incomprehensible coverage of the supposed geniuses behind this technological second coming you would have thought that there was something there.  If you were a media gasbag, or an idiot.  Funny how none of the breathless coverage never mentioned the inherent contradiction between something intended to serve as a currency (requiring a stable value) and a wildly speculative commodity.  Seen any Bitcoin ATM's lately?

For a while the marks were even lining up for something called an ICO, which was a lot like an IPO, in that what you bought was a speculative bet on a business model that might or might not work.  If you still think that Bitcoin, Linoleum, Laughinggascoin, or Litebucks are a better bet than what the e-money touts like to call “fiat money”, ask yourself why they were so eager to sell you an algorithm for Federal Reserve Notes.

5.  Hedge Fund Geniuses

Speaking of scams, let's bid a less-than-fond farewell to the hedge-fund and private equity investors who have been taking 200 basis points a year plus 20% of any gains (whether due to their own efforts or those of Mr. Market) to . . . do much worse than the classic boring-investor allocation of 60% equity index funds and 40% bonds, for which the management fee is maybe 10 bp's these days.

The financial pages have burned up for years with the breathlessly suck up coverage of these guys, many of whom are paid tens of millions a year by university endowments to underperform the indices. You might wonder why supposedly smart white people at places like Harvard and Princeton pay huge sums for these paltry results, but, hey if you can scare other less-rich white people into forking over $64,000 a year to be taught by some graduate student, wtf do you care anyway?

As more of these geniuses crash, burn, and close their funds, of course the remaining ones will look better, a phenomenon known as survivor bias.  Even so, if you're waiting for these Masters of the Universe to earn their ridiculous keep, we've got a dead parrot to sell you.

6.  The Third Way

When he was a freshman in Matthews, no one listened to a f**king thing that Mark “Lumpy” Penn said.  For a while, after sending Dick “Luv Me Some Ho Toes” Morris over the side, the Clintons allowed Lumpy to run her 2008 campaign into the buffers.  They finally wised up to what his fellow freshmen had known all along.

He tried a comeback this year by taking some bucks from a few credulous plutocrats to repackage his old, discredited ideas as an anti-Pelosi “No Labels” movement starring a few white schmucks who should have known better, like Seth Moulton.

Then a funny thing happened: Nancy Pelosi beat the stuffing out of him without so much as turning up the lapel on her orange overcoat.  It turned out that the Democrats who voted in force for strikingly original candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacy Abrams weren't hankering to be lectured to by a Washington gasbag who had been wrong about everything for the last 20 years.  It turned out in fact they didn't give a flying f**k what Lumpy said just because he went to Harvard and had made some pelf selling himself in DC.

Of course, it wasn't just one putz.  The nonexistent Third Way had a long run in DC. Remember Bowles-Simpson?  Of course you don't; it was utter bollocks.  In any event, as 2018 staggers to a close, Democrats are clear about the progressive way forward: over Lumpy's dead body.

7.  Les Moonves, television legend

If you had in January 2018 bet that, for not dissimilar misconduct, Les Moonves would lose his job running CBS but Judge Creepy McBrewski would be installed on the Supreme Court, you could have gotten handsome odds.

Moonves was an entertainment icon who had made billions for fellow Ladies' Man Sumner Redstone.  His network was number 1.  He had the golden touch and a board that lined up to osculate his tuchus.  He had nurtured legendary talent like David “Send in the Interns” Letterman. Judge McBrewski by contrast was just another Federalist ham-and-egger grinding away on the D.C. Circuit.

And yet ol' Les found himself defenestrated while McBrewski got a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land despite felony sexual abuse.  Maybe that's because the reactionary white men who dominate the Republican Party don't actually care about putting a wannabe rapist on the Supreme Court, while at some point, CBS, being dependent on both talent and eyeballs, felt it had to zip up Les and then deny him his $120,000,000 farewell kiss.

The good news for Les is that CBS will probably have to pay about $20,000,000 to Les's lawyers for the forthcoming arbitration, which should give him some satisfaction.  And as Ileanna Douglas and many other women can tell you, Les was all about satisfying himself.

8  End of year lists

We all know that hacks, like everyone else, don't like to work between Christmas and New Years.  Yet their websites, cable news shows and magazines need something with which to fill themselves.  So why not churn out a 10 best or 10 worst or 10 most memorable list, put it in the can on December 15, and then head to the hills?

One possible answer: because they are so f**kin' lame.  Does anyone really care which TV episodes you liked this year?  Which plays?  Which ballets, ffs?  They don't.

If you want to fill up content without working, why not let your foreign staff provide some content about I don't know the upcoming slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, the enduring catastrophe in Yemen, or just tell us something we don't know about the world?  Do you think it would fare worse than Yeezy's 10 stupidest Tweets, or whatever tf you are foisting on your readers?

As for 9 and 10, if we don't get to the buffet by noon, the lobster tails will all be gone.  See you next year.

[You're fired – Ed.]


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