Friday, February 17, 2017

One More Voice

The Beaver Speaks For His Kind

(Photo: William Ploughman / NBC)

Never did I ever think I'd be grabbing quotes from Davey ("Bucky The Beaver") Brooks, unindicted war criminal, but these are strange times.

Bucky is really an old-line conservative, out of Kristol, by way of  Buckley and Podhoretz. Like many pundits of any political stripe, he supports the status quo (ultimately, rule-by-the-0.01%), but from the Right. He's carved out a niche in Right wingnutostan as the voice of traditional conservative values; a reading of his columns in the Paper Of Record seem to indicate his perfect world looks a lot like Saskatoon around 1958, as Bucky was born and raised North Of The Border.

While many pundits frequently hedge their bets, while the contest for a Republican candidate ground on, Bucky sided with that party's old-line leadership in declaring Trump a menace, and said plainly This Is Bad when Wonderboy became the nominee.

Still, for the sake of preserving a Republican party, through the summer he tried to find some silver lining in the sow's ear as Trump faced off against She in the clash of worlds. With the election, Bucky was as stunned as the rest of us, offering jumbled conservative credos that amounted to a 'How Can This Be Happening??'

Wonderboy, Speaking To A Room Of Dishonest Lying Haters (Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP)
Bucky is one bellwether of mood among status quo conservatives. Not long before the inauguration and America's renaming as Trumplandia, he said plainly that he wouldn't take a Trump presidency lying down.  And after watching the 77 unscripted minutes of Wonderboy's free association press conference yesterday, Bucky typed:
I still have trouble seeing how the Trump administration survives a full term. Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.

Trump’s White House staff is at war with itself. His poll ratings are falling at unprecedented speed. His policy agenda is stalled. F.B.I. investigations are just beginning. This does not feel like a sustainable operation.
One way or another, we're all feeling this. Bucky, on the other hand, is a well-known right-wing cheerleader with impeccable (for those people, anyway) credentials -- and even he is verbalizing the same WTF and "this can't end well" which we're all feeling. And, what next?
On the other hand, I have trouble seeing exactly how this administration ends. Many of the institutions that would normally ease out or remove a failing president no longer exist.

There are no longer moral arbiters in Congress like Howard Baker and Sam Ervin to lead a resignation or impeachment process. There is no longer a single media establishment that shapes how the country sees the president. This is no longer a country in which everybody experiences the same reality.

... The Civil Service has a thousand ways to ignore or sit on any presidential order. The court system has given itself carte blanche to overturn any Trump initiative, even on the flimsiest legal grounds. The intelligence community has only just begun to undermine this president.

President Trump can push all the pretty buttons on the command deck of the Starship Enterprise, but don’t expect anything to actually happen, because they are not attached.
So far as the USA goes, this is a good description of the internal political landscape as of February 17, 2017.  However, this ignores the possibility of something -- an external threat, but most likely something happening within our own border -- to change the game.

We're one terrorist (or false flag) incident away from Wonderboy -- insecure, narcissistic, child-man led by Stevie Bannon -- declaring a State Of Emergency and locking the country down. It will be a massive overreaction designed simply to match the paranoid, delusional world Trump and Bannon inhabit, a "War Of The Worlds" radio broadcast -- the results of which will be impossible to predict once it's been put in motion. At that point the nation will find all the buttons on Trump's command deck are fully connected and operate very well. 

MEHR, MIT MEHR VON BUCKY!  On this evening's PBS New Hour -- following a segment showing interviews with Trump supporters and critics in Bellville, and Austin, Texas -- Bucky made a few observations [warning: paraphrased quotes].

"What's at the core [of the divide between Americans]? Why is the chasm so wide?  Is there some cultural or racial divide?  Whether it's some identity politics thing or something else... that's the world we're in."

Bucky said he saw Trump's news 'conference' performance as "mildly deranged", then questioned what of substance Trump was actually doing. He noted that relatively few of the total number of presidential appointees had actually been made. "On the substantive picks, he doesn't have nominees [in place]... nothing is happening."

Asked if he believed Trump was 'mildly deranged', Bucky made a trademark non-demurral demurral: "I'll walk that back a little... he was 'unmoored'... he's not speaking as a president giving orders and leading the American people... [his] attack on the press... saying that they are enemies of the people... [that's] to take [direction] right out of the fascist playbook..."

Trump's actions "offends 65 to  70 per cent of the American people," Bucky added later. "It pleases 35 per cent of the people," he said, noting that the Republican leadership was not in any hurry to put distance between themselves and Trump "anytime soon. Among Republicans, 82 per cent support Trump, a higher [percentage] than Reagan got."
Finally, Bucky said the Republican leadership are "living in a hermetically-sealed universe, as are the democrats; so they're going to [support Trump] even at the risk of electoral downfall..."

And that's Jenga.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When In These Coarse Current Events

Nothing To See Here
(Original Foto, Courtesy Danny Dutch, That Guy, via The Soul Of America)
Sad Vlad, The Putin (called 'Pooti-Poot' by George "Lil' Boots" Bush, in that bizarre, Mitfordian slang his Familia di Criminale use to describe other people), is like that guy who claims not to have a dinosaur.

Vlad does, in fact, have a dinosaur. He has Ted the T-Rex in his barn -- I mean, we can hear Ted bellowing all the way down to County Road 47; hell, we can hear him down to the Interstate. Some nights, Ted spots cars full of joyriding teenagers, out cruising the Rural Routes between the farms, and chases them all over the place. He doesn't ever catch them -- probably, he just likes running after them -- and there are big three-toed footprints, afterwards, everywhere. Plenty of kids have had big dents put in the roofs of their cars, by something, out on those dark roads -- but the two auto-body places we've got don't mind the business.

Cattle are missing in eight counties, and plenty of people haven't seen their pets for a while -- and piles of shit, seven feet tall, appear here and there almost every day. What Vlad doesn't plow under, he sells as fertilizer -- and he's been selling that shit to just about the whole damn state for a long time, now. Some people from Monsanto were sniffing around Vlad's farm, trying to figure out where that manure was coming from, but they just kind of -- disappeared.

Vlad and his family are constantly getting people stopping by the house, asking about that damn dinosaur. He explains, patiently, with that flat-fish expression of his that no, they do not have a dinosaur. Vlad claims to be so tired of this, all the folks from Des Moines and Ystaad and Tunbridge Wells and Saskatoon with their kids, piling out of overloaded station wagons and asking to use the restroom -- that finally, he made himself a sign, right there, on the hood of an old 1949 Vonyets tractor: We Do Not Have A Dinosaur.

If you continue to insist he does, Vlad will take a step back and look at you. Dinosaur? You been out in the sun a while? Ridiculous. Those things've been extinct for a good, long time ("Just like my old buddy, Alex," Vlad says with a sly grin). If you can hold it, there's a Tastee-Freeze a couple miles up the road with a bathroom, Vlad says. We got a farm to run, here; you all have a nice day.

Except, this is where he gets his cake and sells you dinosaur shit, too: There Is A Fucking T-Rex In Vlad's Barn. You know it. He knows it. You can't really prove it -- I mean, no one has actually seen Ted -- but when you put together that noise coming out of Vlad's barn, all those footprints, lebenty-billion pounds of crap all over the place and a whole bunch of missing cattle ... remember Ossie's Tazer, or whatever they call that: When all's said and done, the simplest explanation is pretty much gonna be right.

And the folks at the County Seat claim to know nothing about it. Vlad's been a good friend to the County folks -- lot of that fertilizer money went to see them get elected last fall. And there were those big piles of shit that appeared every morning on the front lawns of their opponents' homes.  Vlad had some problems with that previous administration -- some back taxes; not addressing his land rights issues, questions about how he runs his fertilizer trade. But now the election's done, word is that all may disappear. And, the County Commissioner has a new John Deere Combine -- he claims it's a lease. Others aren't so sure.

There are plenty of people out there who will tell you that Vlad's a good guy. He means well, runs a tight farm and, up front, always treats you with respect. But there's no denying that his neighbors -- the ones who bring their cattle into the barns every night, the ones they've spent a biggly amount of cash reinforcing with steel -- are a little nervous about Vlad.

Some of them say he has funny ideas about expanding his farm -- that he has some kind of Plan, and Ted The T-Rex is a big part of it. Others say he likes doing crazy-ass things just out of pure, human fuckery.

All I know is, Vlad has that sign, We Do Not Have A Dinosaur, and almost every night I hear that big lizard, bellowing to beat the band as he chases some car full of teenagers, having a helluva good time. You can complain, but the County Commissioner will just tell you -- probably on Twitter -- what a silly goose you are and you best shut up now. Sad!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Random Barking: Days Of Wonderboy

Chewing On This

Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark: I have another conversation with Archibald "Harry" Tuttle, which summed up the feelings both of us have on Day 24 of our Republic's new, mandatory 24 X 7 Soap, Rule Of The Buffoons. We agreed the bar of our expectations for this Clown-Car government is set so low you couldn't slide a photon under it.

"I'm sitting there, watching television, when this Fool shows up like he does," Harry says (and, in a slight digression, we agree henceforth to refer to Il Duce as 'Wonderboy'). "To me, he's 'Trump the Entertainer' 'Trump the Businessman' -- spouting some kinda bullshit, like he always does -- and then it hits me: This man is 'the president'!"  Harry brushes his face, forehead to chin, two-handed in rapid succession, as if he were doing the introduction to the Curly Shuffle, or brushing off a poisonous insect.

"I mean: I still can't get my hands around this!" He says. "Wonderboy, this motherfuckin' jackass, is 'the president' ??!! You'd expect it would've sunk in, by now -- but, Nooooooo.

"And, this white power asshole who helps run Wonderboy -- Bannon," Harry spread his hands. "I was reading that this fuck is pretty much lovin' him some Hitler!!" (While not 100% accurate, it's close enough. Harry was reading this article, which he had gotten to via The Soul Of America. And yes; we talk in italics a lot.)

"Does nobody on your side of the street [Harry means: White People] get it? This man will not be happy until he owns our ass. You all don't think that can happen, but it's simple: You'll wake up one morning, head off to work, and there's a Humvee at the intersection and three guys in fatigues with AR-15's who have their orders. You want to pass, and you meet whatever profile is in their orders, you're gonna hear Sir I need you to step out of your vehicle. We know this drill. Isn't anything new for us.

"Bannon and Wonderboy want to own the country," Harry continued. "Own it right up front; none of this slinking around in the shadows. Trump just wants to own things, like the stupid Richie Rich he is. But Bannon? He want to own people's souls, man. He wants to make it impossible to think about Freedom, the way we do now. He wants that to be illegal. But both of them wants a country where it's obvious who runs things, and you'll bow and scrape to your betters. All they want from us is yes massa, no massa; three bags full, massa, and if you step outta line there's jail for you, or something worse.

"He'll throw the statue of liberty across the hood of a 1963 Chevrolet, and put it to her without the benefit of Vaseline -- after he and Wonderboy, and Wonderboy's friends, steal everything what ain't nailed down.

"And I still can't believe this is what's happening," Harry sighed. "I just can't."

It's as if a symbol of America -- the Flag; the Bald Eagle; the Great Seal -- has been replaced with a coupon, good for one small soda at a god-fearing, hatin'-them-fags-and abortion-doctors franchise like [Name Of Chicken Place Redacted; But, You Know].

(These items are manifestations of what we hope for, living in community. What we assume America means. Those visions tend to leave out slavery and genocide, misogyny, the baked-in rule by Persons Of Property, and the occasional Terror -- such as 1894, 1917; 1932, 1941; 1947; 1968; 2001; and now 2017).

Because organizations run by a crowd of smiling, intolerant evangelicals who have prayed their entire lives for the chance to punish punish punish the sinful liberal hellbound hippie assholes, in the name of the living god -- is what America is all about becoming now. Don't believe it? Just remember the monstrous, stupid drivel Mikey Pence signed into law in Indiana.

A travel ban by executive fiat today becomes denying other rights tomorrow -- at the stroke of a pen, along with an order to a compliant Congress to rubber-stamp whatever Wonderboy desires. Join the Party; join the mob. Sieg Heil, y'all.

And, aber natürlich, the wealthy are making plans to split this scene when Der Tag comes -- whatever form The Day takes. Having despoiled and looted, they'll flee; because they are special, and valuable. Not like you disposable labor and consumer resource units out there. What are you good for, if you're not working for the Owners, or purchasing their companies' wares and services?

People talk to each other. I have other conversations -- with my Dog Trainer, with The Best Friend. The portion of Dog Trainer Talk to which I will own up publicly settled on that sense of unreality around the fact of Wonderboy, his Parteigenossen, and their Glorious Reign over everything.

"I see it," said my Trainer. "So many people have been profoundly affected, even clinically affected, by what's happened." He shook his head. "I still can't quite believe it, either."

The Best Friend won't even discuss Wonderboy. "I just can't. I turn the sound off on the television whenever he appears. I can't listen to the sound of his voice."

When we talk, we get to that point in the conversation where one or the other of us asks What Next? We talk through many different scenarios, none of which seem so ludicrous any longer and include impeachment; another military incursion or limited war; a trigger event which will allow a State Of Emergency and extraordinary Executive powers; possible economic secession; civil war.

Aber Das Tea Partei Muss Sein.
(What's more likely is a continued, slow erosion of respect for a central government, environmental controls, fiscal regulation. An America First economic policy will please the Faithful, and a massive public works project will be fine misdirection for a few years -- until the rest of the world begins using AI and automation, and our Made In USA goods will be too expensive for export; the Parteigenossen who voted for Wonderboy will love that. 

(I dislike globalism and automated factories as ultimately enriching the few and making a return to The Peasantry likely for so many of the rest of us -- but that technological tide isn't going to be reversed unless the entire System collapses. 

(It seems Trump, Bannon and the Tea Partei may not be the bringers of Ragnarok. They're just opportunistic thieves with a good patter, and just enough veneer of conservative progress to distract the Rubes as they concentrate on pouring Quatloos into their private coffers. Our quality of life, education, medical care, food and water safety may be allowed to decline, while requirements for ideological purity, christian values and obedience increase. 

(After Wonderboy and Stevie are gone, The Real Monsters may rise up as they have waited so long to do. And it will be clear that Wonderboy was just one of a series of Suits occupying the White House who made Chtulu's homecoming more of a possibility.)

The possibilities we discussed were all American-centric -- which don't take into account the uncoordinated and completely unpredictable response of Wonderboy, Stevie, Ugly Big Nose and the Billionaire cabinet to an actual crisis generated by external events (such as meeting, in a public restaurant, to discuss the launching of a missile by Kim Jong Fat Boy's North Korea). It's assumed they won't care very much what happens to a bunch of non-white people in one of Those Countries. Besides, having to pay attention to that means less time to steal, connive, and deal; oh my yes. Times are so good.

While we can't agree on the likelihood of any one thing happening, we do agree: There appears to be no good outcome to the apotheosis of Wonderboy and Friends. This cannot end well.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Make It Fun

Don't Drive Angry

Be The Hat.  Be The Hat.
Puxatawney Phil, The Groundhog, saw his shadow today in Blegsylvania. We therefore have three years, and three hundred fifty-three more days of bottom-feeding Fascisti to go.

It beats having to experience this day in Murrikan history, over and over and over. And over. With Little Jeffy Spicer, Mr PotatoHead, lecturing the whole Earth about how bad and wrong, and wrong and bad, it and everyone in it, is.

Any Questions?

They're Selling Postcards Of The Hangings

Granting that it is not necessary to like the leaders of a democracy, it is necessary that they grasp the responsibilities of democratic governance, including respect for free speech, reciprocal obligations, and public accountability. In a week’s time, Trump and his proxies have trampled on the expectations of even this very low bar, throwing tantrums over crowd size, naming billionaires with no civic experience to prominent cabinet positions, and making the stunning, Orwellian claim to the existence of “alternative facts.”

Alarming as each moment has been, we cannot misjudge such actions as being merely appalling statecraft. Rather, when taken as a whole, they amount to a fairly coherent set of actions that displays the traits of an emergent totalitarian regime. This is unprecedented in American history.
When the president’s chief strategist declares he is at war with the press and identifies the pillars of free speech as “the opposition party,” we need to ask how many institutions will be severely weakened, maybe permanently, as an administration wantonly challenges the foundations of democratic life.

-- Christopher Lebron, "What Totalitarianism Looks Like";
    Boston Review, January 28, 2017   (Courtesy Soul Of America)
I see a few key patterns here. First, the decision to first block, and then allow, green card holders was meant to create chaos and pull out opposition; they never intended to hold it for too long. It wouldn’t surprise me if the goal is to create “resistance fatigue,” to get Americans to the point where they’re more likely to say “Oh, another protest? Don’t you guys ever stop?” relatively quickly.

... Note also the most frightening escalation last night was that the DHS made it fairly clear that they did not feel bound to obey any court orders. CBP continued to deny all access to counsel, detain people, and deport them in direct contravention to the court’s order, citing “upper management,” and the DHS made a formal (but confusing) statement that they would continue to follow the President’s orders. (See my updates from yesterday, and the various links there, for details) Significant in today’s updates is any lack of suggestion that the courts’ authority played a role in the decision.

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get [Italics Added]: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored.

Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.

Now for the less pleasant part of this: What is the likely next step, in each of these cases?

While I hope that most people are beyond the stage of saying “oh, this is all just campaign rhetoric,” I know that many people will still say that... But given that in his first eight days in office, Trump has proven himself quite honest on the campaign trail — going out and doing exactly the things he said he would ... I’m hoping people are starting to realize that no, it wasn’t just a joke.

So I expect to see certain next steps ... each of these is a major move, which can have significant political value if spread out over time. This is roughly a roadmap for the next 2–3 years.

>> For Latinos, increased laws and orders exerting pressures on employers, landlords, etc., to get rid of anyone who even might be undocumented... i.e., making the situation bad enough to cause people to flee the country...

>> For Muslims, increased surveillance of (leading up to registration of) groups. The next big step would be bulk revocation of visas from people from various countries, at which point they fall under the same “illegals” program as is set up for Latinos. This also gives political cover for mass deportation — which, as an operational footnote, also requires mass internment for logistical reasons...

>> For black people, an increased crackdown on protests, if that’s actually possible... Any protest, no matter how peaceful, will be declared a “riot” and a reason for sharply increased police presence, not just then, but going forward; we should expect to see a lot of very visible marching of cops through the streets, arrests of anyone for insubservience, and so on... already happening; I simply expect the knob to be turned higher, much as it was in the 1960's...

>> For trans people, a systematic passage of laws somewhere between legalizing and mandating discrimination in all things...  I would expect that this is the first place where we’ll see a resurgence of “purity” laws. We used to have a lot of these, e.g. “gay people are a danger to our children and cannot be allowed to work in schools.” Here, you could not only have that, but you could have restrictions on where people are allowed to live...

>> For the press, I expect to see real attempts to silence it — but we’ll see how the power balance plays out. This is not going to be a simple fight.

>> For academia, I expect to see tremendous pressure brought to bear immediately: all research funds for research which either goes against some policy objective of the administration (e.g., climate research), or which sounds too aligned with “liberal elites” (e.g., anything involving gender and sexuality), will be targeted first... the first major orders cutting research funds were issued last Tuesday...

...Milo Yiannoupoulos is scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on Monday, for example; it will be interesting to watch how the administration responds to any opposition to his presence. (NB that at his last speech, at UW last week, a medic was shot by a neo-Nazi. Past speeches he’s given at universities have included doxxing and calling for attacks against individual students. Sending him to talk at universities is a deliberate provocation.)

I expect to see a lot of people described as “un-American” and this to be used as an excuse to do various things to universities — which are not just schools, but also where people meet, discuss, and organize, things which the regime has a lot of reason to oppose.

... Now the grimmest part of all: Working through timelines. I’m going to be extremely blunt about this, because measuring these timelines accurately and knowing when to jump is the most basic survival skill I was taught from childhood... I also know that this time people are affected who don’t have twenty generations of practicing this behind them, so we need to speak out loud sometimes.

... For foreign-born Muslims and Latinos who are undocumented, related to someone undocumented, or who might be confused [about their documentation status], I’d say that the red flag is up, and it’s time to consider exit strategies with a 6-month window.

US-born Muslims, Latinos who have more stability inside the country, and Jews have a somewhat longer time horizon available, but I’d start quietly thinking about options for when things change.

Advice for the black and trans communities is simpler, because everyone already knows it: Organize! The advantage there is in numbers and shared strength, and in community. That’s also good advice for all of the other groups: even if you’re thinking about your exit strategy, you have very good reason to make common cause, and for everyone to work and pull together. That’s the thing that has a chance of preventing all of this, and of saving the most lives when that fails.

-- Yonatan Zunger,  
    "Trial Balloon For A Coup?", January 31, 2017; and
    "What Things Going Wrong Can Look Like", January 30, 2017
    Mediumdotcom (courtesy Soul Of America

“Prepare for malice; hope for incompetence.”
 -- ( @nomikkh )


Not everyone agrees with Yonatan The Wise. Courtesy of Your One Stop Shop For Cats 'n Culture, we bring you "Liberals On The Edge

P.S. -- Not like Sam Kriss doesn't make a point... but you don't have to hear Ian McDiarmid cackling Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen in the background to find it plausible that Lil' Stevie Bannon, Rinse "Nancy" Prebius, Ugly Bignose and Tiny Teddy have a plan. These people are the incarnation of evil; they smell and don't fit in their clothing very well, but they're not stupid.   

Overreaching; greedy; besotted with a sense of power, yes -- and, by the way, it's the overreaching and arrogance which will ultimately be their undoing. Sadly, that Undoing may mean the same for all the rest of us.

( Artist Unknown - Courtesy TomClarkBlog, via Soul Of America; February 2, 2017 )

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kleiner Mann, Was Nun?

Die Dreiziger Jahre

Ja aber, kleiner Mann, was nun?
Wenn's morgen anders ist, was tun?
Bedenke, dass die Welt sich dreht
Seit sie besteht!
Ja, kleiner Mann, was nun?
Wenn dich das Glück vergisst, was tun?
Oft wie ein Traume schnell vergeht
Im Winde verweht

Yes; but Little Man, what now?
When it's tomorrow, what do you do?
Remember that the world has been turning
since it was born
Yes, Little Man, what now?
When luck's forgotten you, what next?
It's often how a dream quickly passes
Of course, on the wind

Und musst du heut' vielleicht auch beiseite steh'n
Kann es doch morgen schon wieder aufwärts geh'n
Nur Kopf hoch! Kleiner Mann, was nun?
Wenn's morgen anders ist, was tun?
Vielleicht wird's auch, sei dir selber treu
Dann geht das Glück nicht vorbei!

And today perhaps you'll have to stand aside
Tomorrow you can continue on your way
Just keep your head up! Little Man, what now?
When it's tomorrow, what do you do?
Perhaps [tomorrow] will be true to you,
and luck won't pass you by!

-- "Little Man, What Now?" (1932)
    Music: Harald Böhmelt; Lyrics: Richard Busch

(MEHR, MIT EIN TIEFES U. BLEIBENDES GEFUL DER ANGST: Whoa Whoa Whoa with the emails about the quality of this translation, already. It's why I have a deep respect for everyone who ever translated a novel or poem from one language to another. My ability with German is a few degrees past utilitarian; I like to imagine I have an apprehension of the Geist in Der Sprache -- and can approximate it in a way that's true to the author[s]. But, you know.)


Sunday, January 22, 2017

2, 4, 6, 8

Stop The War / Smash The State

(Mongo / Machine)
An exceptionally large number of people participated in the Women's March yesterday. A worldwide event, it was initially organized to focus on women's rights but expanded as a generalized protest against any aspect of the incoming pack of bourgeois lickspittle revanchist trash administration.

(Mongo / Machine)
In San Francisco, a very large number of people attended. I'm not good at estimating crowd sizes; as part of an anti-Vietnam War march in The City in the spring of 1972, when Tricky up-tempoed his bombing campaign of North Vietnam, over 300,000 were supposed to have attended -- but all I could have told you, then or now, was that there were a hell of a lot of people on Market Street.

(Mongo / Machine)
Several luxury buses -- the sort used to ferry Genentech or Google's tech workers to their jobs, a ubiquitous sight in San Francisco -- dropped people off near Civic Center Plaza; no idea who these people were, or why they deserved such treatment. Back in the day, even the organizers and speakers didn't appear at the Demonstration in a chartered vehicle.

There was a hefty police presence all day as well, but (despite the Tac helmets and riot batons you can see in the photo) I guarantee you these officers were thinking primarily about containing the crowd to the area agreed between the city and the march organizers, traffic reroutes, making sure nothing starts that gets out of hand, and keeping people from doing eight bazillion things to hurt themselves.

Of course, if Anarchists (back in the day, it would have been Trots or PL Maoists) executed an action, it would be a different story;  helmets and batons would be more than contingency. San Francisco, alleged bastion of Wingnut Liberals, has had several highly-publicized officer shootings in just the past year.

It was a good crowd, demographically -- Kiddies, Olds; families with younger children, mothers in their fifties with daughters in their teens and twenties; Gay, straight -- and while there were people of color in the crowd, it seemed predominately white.

(Mongo / Machine)
And there were a number of Hipster men and women for whom going to the demonstration appeared to be an art project, a chance to sport fashionable clothing and professionally-printed signs displaying a "Sixties Psychedelic" typeface (The woman above appeared to be posing for two professional photographers: a photo shoot with an actual demonstration as 'background').

The rain began to come down steadily -- more than a shower; less than a deluge -- from about 4:30 on. With the rain, I watched as Hipsters quickly walked away from the Plaza, smart phones up, headed for side streets; the Uber or Lyft drivers pulled up and took them -- away.  No great loss.

Meanwhile, the vast bulk of the crowd, with umbrellas or none, finally moved out of the Plaza and headed east up Market street towards Justin Herman Plaza, across from the Ferry Building at the bay.  I took no pictures of the actual march; a Dog can only do so much.

Weirdly, streetlight poles all along Market had banners advertising an anti-abortion 'walk for life - west coast', scheduled for January 21st ... plainly, the Women's March had, uh, trumped the Phyllis Schafly brigade.

And, please note the slogan: abortion hurts women. Those who support a woman's right to choose, are, according to the individuals behind that particular march, murderers. And worse. All part of the Culture War, brought to you by the same people who now have a seat at Trump's table.

'Death Dance' - Illustration By Mr. Fish - In Santa Fe, New Mexico, January 21st
"Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election ! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."
--  Il Duce ! / Twitter; January 21, 2017.

In talk show interviews Sunday, advisers defended Trump's anger at journalists for correctly reporting that his inauguration drew a smaller crowd [than] President Barack Obama did eight years ago... [that] the Trump administration was supplying "alternative facts."

Kellyann, With Cleavage, About To Appear On Sunday's Meet The Press
"There's no way to really quantify crowds. We all know that. You can laugh at me all you want," Kellyanne Conway told NBC's Meet The Press.  "I think it's actually symbolic of the way we're treated by the press."

Aides also made clear that Trump will not release his tax returns now that he's taken office, breaking with a decades-long tradition of transparency. "He's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care," Conway said on ABC's This Week.
-- Newsday, January 22, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Morning Of The Day Before

January 29, 1933

Statue Advertising Restaurant, Northern China
(John Woo, Reuters / 2016)

(Sh'vat, 5693, for those who do.  Note: The 1933 [Gregorian] calendar is the same as that for 2017.)

Poet Sarah Teasdale dies in New York City after an overdose of sleeping pills. She is most commonly remembered for "There Will Come Soft Rains" (aka War-Time), published in 1920.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound...

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

On January 29, Edouard Daladier, French centrist politician, was asked to assume position of Prime Minister and form a new coalition government, which would last from January to October, 1933.

In 1938, Daladier was again a minister in (yet) another coalition government in France, and with extreme reluctance supported the 1938 Munich agreement to cede the Sudeten portions of Czechoslovakia to Germany, and (presumably) avoid a general European war.

Returning to Paris after the agreement was signed, Daladier expected hostile crowds, but was instead warmly cheered. A combat veteran of the Western Front in WW1, Daladier understood: The Great War had been such a monumental bloodletting for the world, a fall of European empires and whole ways of life, that few people wanted to see new monsters on the horizon.

However, Daladier understood that Munich was nothing but appeasement. He had no illusions about the ultimate intentions of Hitler and the nazis -- to him, Munich only delayed what he saw as an inevitable war. 

Seeing the crowds cheering his arrival -- to the man on the street, war over Czechoslovakia had been averted! Yay! -- Daladier turned to an aide and said sadly, "Ah, these morons".

German Chancellor General Kurt von Schleicher had resigned on January 28th. The recently re-elected German President, Paul von Hindenburg, had to appoint a replacement who could form a new government. On January 29th he offered the position to Franz von Papen, who refused.

von Papen had already been Chancellor from June through November, 1932. The possibility of another civil war in Germany between the extreme right and extreme left was growing, and von Papen had tried and failed to resolve tensions. On January 29th he suggested to Hindenburg that Hitler be named Chancellor -- because, he explained to the old Field Marshall, Hitler could be controlled.

The Weimar Republic had survived the 1919 civil war between the Center-Right and the 'Spartikus' Left (which became the Communist Party), only because the Center begged the German army to crush the Leftists. That bargain linked the survival of a moderate democratic republic to the officer class, heavily linked to Prussia's landed nobility -- part of the same mixed bag of conservatives which had always been on top under the Kaisers. 

The 1929 stock market crash (Thanks, America! Didn't see that coming!) resounded around the world. By 1932, the Depression had kicked Germany's population to the curb. The most significant aspect of the country's politics was how the majority appeared to gravitate to one extreme or the other in their political spectrum. Times were desperate; there wasn't much of a Center left to hold.

On the left were the Communists (KPD) and Red Front. On the right were a number of nationalist / conservative parties; the nazis (NSDAP) were the most radical.

Something usually glossed over in summary histories about the period is the backstage maneuvering by the same traditional conservative layers of German society, attempting to maintain a grip on power. In April of 1932, a national election was held: Hitler ran against Hindenburg for the Presidency of the German Republic -- and while the NSDAP overall made gains in the Reichtag, Hiter wasn't popular enough to beat the Old Man.  

National elections for Reichstag deputies saw support for the nazis rise to 37% : they were the majority party. Anyone who wanted to govern in Germany's parliamentary system would need their support (Remember, however -- Hitler's stated position was to eliminate all political parties in Germany, except his own).

In May of 1932, the moderate conservative government was frightened there would be an eventual revolution from the Left  -- enough that General Kurt von Schleicher, and a previous Chancellor, Franz von Papen, held secret meetings with Hitler to offer a proposal. 

In order to keep the KPD and the nazis from fighting in the streets, the brownshirts and SS had been banned from holding public rallies and marches. von Schleicher told Hitler the ban would be lifted -- also, the Reichstag would be dissolved, and new elections called. The then-Chancellor, Heinrich Bruening, would be dismissed by Hindenburg.  von Papen would replace him... and Hitler would support von Papen's conservative nationalist government. 

Conservatives were just as frightened of Hitler and his NSDAP as they were the Kommunisten Partei Deutschland. This was an attempt to appease Hitler by including the nazi party in a legitimate government -- the nazis would have a minister or two in the cabinet, he was told; they would have a real 'seat at the table'. Hitler agreed to von Schleicher and von Papen's offer -- only in order to have the ban on nazi public appearances lifted. 

So, Bruening was dismissed; von Papen was named by Hindenburg as Chancellor. However, Hitler had no intention of being co-opted into von Papen's government, and said so -- that he considered von Papen's government a 'temporary measure'.

When the political situation continued to deteriorate through 1932, Hitler claimed to be the only political figure who could hold the Republic together. He requested a meeting with President von Hindenburg so that he could demand to be appointed Chancellor. 

In a humiliating session, the old Field Marshall treated Hitler like the ex-Gefreiter (Lance Corporal) he was, and refused Hitler's demands. The entire episode fed into Hitler's general delusions, and made it impossible for the conservatives to later offer him anything less than what he wanted -- to control the government of Germany.

On January 29th, 1933, the New York Times ran three separate articles about events in Germany.  The first looked at European stock markets, saying “apprehensions [are] generally felt over the fresh evidence of Hitler’s influence in the German situation.”

The second summarized events in Germany, stating that Hindenburg was seeking a coalition government -- and that Hitler could only be made part of it through a guarantee that his power and that of the nazis would be limited. Many leading intellectuals in Germany had serious misgivings about any government that might include Hitler -- “a straight Parliamentary government headed by [him]... is not envisaged in sober-minded political quarters.”

The third article was a long piece on Mussolini, Stalin, and Hindenburg. Hitler was only briefly mentioned, in comparison with Hindenburg; the article spoke of Hitler's "extreme policies", and inferred that he and the nazis were not the future of Germany in the same way that Mussolini and his fascists, and the Soviets under Stalin, appeared to be.

Monday, January 30, 1933

Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of the Weimar Republic.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Do All The Rubes Have Tickets?

Ein Mensch Ist Kein Tier

Denn wie man sich bettet, so liegt man
Es deckt einen da keiner zu
Und wenn einer tritt, dann bin ich es
Und wird einer getreten, dann bist’s du.

As you make your bed, you must lie in it
No one else makes it so, only you
And when someone kicks, it will be me
And when someone gets kicked, it will be you

--  Kurt Weill / Bertold Brecht; "Meine Herren, Meine Mutter Prägte",
(aka, 'Denn Wie Man Sich Bettet') from Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahoganny (1931)

This week, a person with no mainstream political experience will be elevated to Chief Executive of the Federal government -- a businessperson who easily displays his prejudices through a spiteful, narcissistic, adolescent public character which no American now living has ever seen in an elected official at that level.  No one knows what to expect, but the level of apprehension is palpable.

That display continues, and the apotheosis of such a person to that powerful a position leaves many people around the world profoundly uneasy. His inauguration  this coming Friday is expected to be a gaudy show, a celebration of triumph for, as someone once said, "decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin ... vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, [and] pimps...".

His continuing display of ignorant bile has caused a number of leading Democrats to state publicly they will refuse to attend some or all inaugural events -- in particular, the swearing-in ceremony. There is certainly going to be some level of public protest. If things get ugly, it will be very public.

A friend noted over the weekend that an earlier post appeared to suggest turning inward as a response to recent political events -- that we might ignore raised voices or emotions and instead focus on a balance with a wider universe. That we keep family and friends close, and reduce our connections to only those things which nurture us and are necessary.

We live with one foot in the Cosmos and one foot on our dirty linoleum floor. Any insight I possess about what to do while we're there is subjective. I may have my own answer to a basic question -- What Do We Do Now? -- but it only applies to me. It's ignorant and rude to assume a personal understanding is a universal constant. If there's consensus in a larger group that everyone believes essentially the same thing, that's a different matter.

Some time ago a friend mentioned that the Dalai Lama was allegedly asked by a person who just bumped into him (at a hotel, or some public venue) what he felt the central tenet of Tibetan Buddhism to be. The Lama is supposed to have replied, " ' Just do your best.' "  I'm not a Buddhist, but I take the Lama's observation to suggest that Existence is too complicated for any person to say why they Are, and what the end results of their thoughts and actions will be. Be kind; act with compassion. Do the best you can. I'd like to aspire towards that, so; works for me.

As a comparative comment on purpose and values (and in his case, resistance), Albert Camus believed the fact of humankind was the only justification for right action, of a demand for a better world. 
I continue to believe that this world has no ultimate meaning. But ... it has no justification but man; hence he must be saved if we want to save the idea we have of life. With your scornful smile you will ask me: what do you mean by saving man? And with all my being I shout to you that I mean not mutilating him and yet giving a chance to the justice that man alone can conceive. (Resistance, Rebellion and Death)
That works for me, too.

America is about to collectively leap off a cliff into unknown political, and social, territory.  I don't believe it's a time to turn inward; we need to listen to the voice in the pit of our stomachs which is saying Fuck this; I vote No; you don't do this crap in my name, and we need to act. Collective is good -- in fact, it's essential -- and while I don't believe in passive resistance, I don't favor violence because I know where that goes.

It's a real conundrum, deciding how you live your values. Everything I read on the Intertubes seems to be some variation on "This analysis will explain why we lost" -- more circular argument between Hillaryites and Bernieites and Masters of the DNC over who was right and controls that party, or academic analysis about what the election means in a Marxist or Other context. I'm sure that will make a number of people feel better, or at least useful.

The sense I get is of a vast, collective indrawing and holding of breath, as we wait for something to happen. The problem is, that Thing already has happened.  Now, we have to do. The discussion needs to be around what.