Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: Still Missed

John Lennon: October 9, 1940


Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while they pass; they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes,
That call me on and on across the universe;
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way,
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world.

Sounds of laughter shades of earth are ringing
Through my open views; inviting and inciting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me
Like a million suns; it calls me on and on
Across the universe
Jai guru de va om
Nothing's gonna change my world,
Nothing's gonna change my world...

Across The Universe (Lennon / McCartney, 1969)


We don't care what flag you're waving,
We don't even want to know your name,
We don't care where you're from or where you're going,
All we know is that you came;

You're making all our decisions,
We have just one request of you,
That while you're thinking things over,
Here's something you just better do:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well we were caught with our hands in the air,
Don't despair paranoia is everywhere,
We can shake it with love when we're scared,
So let's shout it aloud like a prayer:

Free the people, now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now

We understand your paranoia,
But we don't want to play your game;
You think you're cool and know what you are doing,
666 is your name;
So while your jerking off each other,
You better bear this thought in mind:
Your time is up you better know it,
But maybe you don't read the signs

Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

Well you were caught with your hands in the kill,
And you still got to swallow your pill,
As you slip and you slide down the hill,
On the blood of the people you killed

Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Stop the killing now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now...

Bring On The Lucie (Freda People) (John Lennon, 1973)


The Soul Of America reminded me that I missed the actual day. Normally, I put up a memorial on December 10th. Better, I think, to celebrate someone's birth.

... I can't say I listen to Beatles music too much myself, these days (though I did listen to the Magical Mystery Tour album last weekend, by chance, while padding through the Haight).

So:  Absent Friends. Happy Birthday, John.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Deepness Of The Sea Washes Up To Your Door

Random Barking In Multiple-Atmospheric Pressures

Last Week, In The Roundy Room Of Trump House
(Presidential Finland Guy Looks On: Whuz Up Wit' You, Man?)
Trump’s Defiance of Oversight Challenges Congress’s Ability To Rein In The Executive Branch: Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight and Democrats’ flailing response are undermining the separation of powers and could have long-term implications for the democracy.
-- Washington Post, October 7, 2019; Headline and Sub-
It's fair to say America has never experienced the particular combination of political circumstances we're in now. It's a Constitutional crisis. It's the ugliest contest of power between the Executive and Legislative branches -- fueled on the Right by a witless, corrosive, ideological hatred. On the Left, Democrats can't seem to remember that they once were allegedly the party of People, and not of Corporations As People.

Meanwhile -- in case you forgot -- the Office of President* is held by a person who will sacrifice anything: lives (of immigrants, of Americans drinking tap water or breathing our air; of Yemeni civilians, or Kurdish troops), or fortunes (yours, or mine), or honor (manipulating others with lies) -- to feed his apparently bottomless appetite for satiety, validation, stimulation and revenge.

This is a defining moment in the future of our country. Are we (nominally) a nation of laws, a representative government that has some power, some checks and balances? Or are we more clearly an authoritarian political state where the only obvious use of a Legislative body is to rubber-stamp the will of The Leader?
_____________________________

After two weeks of whistleblowers and Rudy and threats and "BULLSHIT!" -- Impeachment is apparently the next stop on this Funhouse Highway. I'm not repeating details of the previous few weeks; things change, get worse; some new astounding revelation appears, almost by the day. One thing is constant -- the situation between Trump and his Base, and everyone else, will get almost inconceivably uglier.

I've already said: Articles of Impeachment will undoubtedly pass in the House. The votes are there. It will be referred to the Senate -- where the votes are not. A two-thirds majority is required to convict a President, but it doesn't appear likely the Senate will even vote on any Article from the House.

Republicans are so focused on beating the hated Liberals that they will continue to overlook whatever The Leader does. There may be a breaking point -- but after everything Trump has already done, what does that even mean?  Beating the Left, just to kick someone else into the dirt, has become more important to these persons than life, fortune, or the honor of all of us as citizens.  Nothing new there.

Yertle The Turtle has already saturated Kentucky with commercials, stating flatly that a Senate under his leadership and Republican control will protect the president*.  It's exciting to live in a country where you not only know the fix is in -- but where the Goons in charge actually crow about it, openly, in advance. That's a breathtaking example of exactly how broken, politically, things are.

Perversely, Trump will continue feeding on a 24-by-7 news cycle focused almost exclusively on him. He will bellow, preen, strut, and when his Toadies in the Senate quash the Impeachment, he'll celebrate with an all-night party at More-Lego, where he will be filmed having sex with goats and kitchen appliances -- and mention in the State Of The Union that real Americans should buy an exclusive boxed DVD set of the spectacle, through Trump Enterprises, at an 800 number.

Then, we will have an election.
___________________________

Some believe representative government was created so that larger, poorer masses, with great effort over hundreds of years, might force the smaller number of Owners and their institutions to give concessions in their control of -- well, everything.

If you're one of them, then the 2020 election is less about overthrowing a tyrant, and more about casting your vote for a government which won't further erode what rights and protections we've fought for -- an erosion every president since LBJ seems to have contributed to.  The choices seem drawn in relief -- a path forward is about more collectivism, mutual dependence and regard. The reverse ends in demands for loyalty at the point of a gun, poverty, states of emergency; mass graves.

It seems strange to hope the result of elections in 2020 is only for less erosion, rather than progress. That, too, tells you how broken politically things are. But it isn't a surprise. And please, don't make any mistake about it: Impeachment is not the most important thing on the table.

This election, and any other we participate in for at least the next few generations, is about ensuring that bloated clowns and demagogues do not have any lasting place in our culture or politics. We can't afford them any longer.

The most important thing on the table is survival of our species -- and understanding that how we do that is as critical to our future as survival itself.
______________________________

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Dog In The Night-Time

For Your Edification
Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
2017

(February - November = North Korea test-fires 16 missiles of various types, including ICBMs)

Early 2017
A CIA source, highly-place in the Kremlin and close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had provided up to 10 year's worth of intelligence, is secretly extracted from Europe and resettled in the United States.

Friday January 20
Trump inaugurated as President.

Tuesday, May 9
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey.

Wednesday, May 10
In an Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak and Ambassador to the United States Sergey Lavrov, Trump revealed a telling detail about a completed covert operation which (when traced back by the Russians) would implicate Israeli intelligence.

2018

Wednesday, July 25
White House announces it is stopping the practice of releasing weekly summaries of any telephone calls between Trump and other heads of state (known as 'readouts').

Thursday, December 13
The U.S. Senate votes 56-41 to pass a bill which ends American military support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. The bipartisan bill is authored by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont).  A few minutes later, the Senate unanimously passes a resolution to hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia personally responsible for the death of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Wednesday, December 19
In a rambling video announcement posted on Twitter, Trump states he will order all U.S. troops stationed in Syria withdrawn as soon as possible, claiming the Islamic State had been defeated.  Criticism by American allies, and senior Republicans in Congress, was almost immediate.

Sunday, December 30
Trump announces that his announced withdrawal of troops from Syria would be slowed.

2019

Tuesday, January 29
America's intelligence agencies release their combined, annual 'Worldwide Threat Assessment' report. The document directly contradicts public utterances by Trump regarding Iran, China, North Korea, Russia, and the continuing Islamic State threat.

The chiefs of the intelligence agencies, and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence (appointed by Trump in January, 2017), testify before the Senate Intelligence committee and are questioned about the differences between Trump's statements and the assessments of their agency's analysts.

Wednesday, January 30
Trump fires off a series of angry Tweets, firing back at public contradiction from the Intel agencies. "The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! ... [Tehran] is coming close to the edge! ... Perhaps intelligence should go back to school!"

Thursday, January 31
The U.S. Senate passes, 68 to 23, a bipartisan amendment to a broader bipartisan Middle East policy bill, and authored by Mitch McConnell, stating Senate opposition to Trump's plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Wednesday - Thursday, February 27 - 28
Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un meet in Hanoi, Vietnam for what was a planned, multi-day summit -- however, the talks end abruptly when Trump announced the summit over after one day; no deals regarding an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program were reached.

Wednesday, March 13
U.S. Senate votes, again, to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and to curtail Executive war powers.

Monday, April 22
Secretary of State Pompeo announces that the United States would move to increase sanctions against sale of Iran's oil by blocking five of its biggest customers from buying it -- which would particularly affect China, but also India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

     (Saturday, May 4 = North Korea test-launches short-range missile.)

Monday, May 6
National Security Advisor John Bolton announces an additional aircraft carrier, B-2 bombers and an new antimissile battery would be sent to the Gulf region in response to "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran.

     (Thursday, May 9 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Saturday - Sunday, May 11-12
Four oil tankers, at anchor near the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, are apparently damaged in a series of attacks.

Wednesday, June 5
A serious fire breaks out at Shahid Rajaee, Iran's largest port for shipping containers, just north of the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Persian Gulf. Apparently a vehicle used to transport shipping containers short distances caught fire, and subsequently spread due to a series of explosions.

Friday, June 7
Six, 50-foot trading vessels burn in the southern Iranian port of Taghi due to 'fires of unknown origin'.

Tuesday, June 11
At an impromptu 'helicopter presser', Trump is asked about (then) recent reports that Kim Jong Un's brother, assassinated in Singapore, had been a CIA asset.

Trump replied, "I did receive a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un …A very warm, very nice letter. I think North Korea has tremendous potential. I appreciated the letter.... I saw the information about CIA with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I will tell him that will not happen under my … I wouldn’t let that happen.”

Thursday, June 13
Two oil tankers under contract to Western firms and traveling through the Gulf of Oman catch fire, sustaining significant damage.  One ship's captain claimed to have been "hit by a flying object".

The same day, U.S. Central Command releases surveillance footage taken from a US Navy helicopter of what appeared to be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat, with men retrieving what appeared to be a magnetic 'Limpet Mine' from the side of an oil tanker in the Gulf.

Sunday, June 30
Trump travels to South Korea and meets North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom. Both agree to restart the previously-aborted Hanoi talks in October.

Monday, July 1
A Russian Losharik AS-12 submarine (type identified as a probable deep-submersible, nuclear-powered intelligence boat) catches fire in or near the Siberian port of Severomorsk. 14 sailors on board the sub die -- unusually, over half of them are Captains, two with high military decorations -- and rumors circulate that there was a radioactive breach during the fire.

Tuesday, July 2
Vice-President Pence, en route in Air Force 2 to a public appearance at the Granite Recovery Center in New Hampshire (an addiction rehabilitation franchise), is abruptly recalled to the White House while in mid-flight.  Members of the public waiting in Salem, NH were told at 11:30 AM the event had been cancelled.

Spokespersons at the White House denied any emergency had brought Pence back to Washington and generally downplayed the incident.

Sunday - Friday, Week of July 7 - 12
CNN reports that Trump and "advisers" hold discussions about replacing DNI Dan Coats.

Thursday, July 18 
Iran's Revolutionary Guard announce they have seized an oil tanker -- matching the description of the UAE ship declared missing two days earlier -- in the Gulf for carrying "contraband fuel".

Friday, July 19
The Revolutionary Guard Corps announce seizure of a second oil tanker.

Week of July 21 - 27
Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, meets with Trump and Pence at the White House, and advises he will resign as DNI effective August 15.  Coats drafts his resignation letter during this week.

     (Thursday, July 25 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Thursday, July 25
Trump calls Vlodoymyr Zelensky, comedian-turned-politician and recently elected as President of Ukraine. Apparently, Trump presses Zelensky during the call to assist his personal attorney,  Rudy Giuliani, in his investigation of the business activities of Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Giuliani was in Ukraine at the time of Trump's call, and had been trying for montths to get Ukrainian officials to investigate both Hunter and Joe Biden.

Zelensky's response is not known -- however, an American shipment of military equipment to Ukraine had been delayed by the Trump administration, making its delivery appear to be a possible quid pro quo -- help Giuliani, and you get your arms.

If true, pressuring another state leader to cooperate in developing information damaging to one of Trump's political opponent would easily be an impeachable offense.

Sunday, July 28
Coats submits his letter of resignation to Trump, who announces in a Tweet of Coats' departure, and replacement with hard-right Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas -- who has no experience in government beyond service in the House since 2014, and no intelligence experience.

     (Wednesday, July 31 = North Korea test-launches two short-range missiles.)

Wednesday, July 31
Per White House records, Trump calls Russian Vladimir Putin.

     (Friday, August 2 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Thursday, August 8
Sue Gordon, a career CIA official and Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, is conducting a meeting in her offices on election security in the United States.

Dan Coats, outgoing DNI, interrupts the meeting; speaking privately with Gordon, he urges her to submit a letter of resignation to Trump.  Reasons for Coats' interruption request are unclear.  Unusually, Gordon wrote a brief letter of resignation to Trump by hand, which closed, "I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team."

"Shortly after ... Gordon submitted her letter of resignation to Vice President Mike Pence, though the document itself was addressed to Trump, according to officials, a highly unusual move that prompted some confusion among some West Wing officials..." (CNN)

Later that day, Trump announces in a Tweet both Gordon's departure and the appointment of  Vice-Admiral (ret.) John Maguire, current director of the US National Counterterrorism Center, as interim DNI.

This same day, An accident occurs at the main rocket test site for the Russian navy, at Nyonoska in northern Russia. At least five persons are killed, and at least three others injured. A spike in radiation levels at the site occurred immediately after; two of the injured were flown to Moscow for treatment but died of radiation poisoning on the way.  A Norwegian nuclear safety expert stated later that isotopes detected in the area after the incident proved a nuclear reactor was likely involved.
_____________________________
[Note: Following entry quotes heavily from a specific post on LawFareBlogMargaret Taylor, "The Mysterious Whistleblower Complaint: What Is Adam Schiff Talking About?", 9/17/19.]
Monday, August 12
An employee in a U.S. intelligence agency files a formal 'whistleblower complaint' -- a disclosure, intended for the Intelligence committees of the U.S. Congress as part of its oversight capacity.  The complaint is filed with the DNI's office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.

(Note: This indicates the whistleblower is likely an employee of the DNI; the CIA, NSA, NRO, DIA or ONI have their own Inspectors General.)
  • The complaint apparently involves Trump having multiple phone conversations with another, unnamed world leader over a period of time. During one or more of these calls, Trump made a "promise" to the foreign leader -- the substance of which they believed was disturbing enough to make a formal complaint.
  • 50 U.S.C., Sec. 3033 of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (1998) states that "An employee of an element of the intelligence community, an employee assigned or detailed to an element of the intelligence community, or an employee of a contractor to the intelligence community who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern may report such complaint or information to the Inspector General." [Emphasis added.]
The "urgent concern" of the whistleblower's complaint is critical. The Act defines it as
  • "(i) A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters;
  • "(ii) A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to ... an intelligence activity.
  • "(iii) An action, including a personnel action ... constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal prohibited under ... this section in response to an employee’s reporting an urgent concern ..."
  • Atkinson's IG office had a statutory 14 calendar days to report the complaint to Interim DNI Maguire.  Once advised, Maguire "shall, within 7 calendar days... forward such transmittal to the congressional intelligence committees..."
  • This gave Maguire until Tuesday, September 3 to inform the two Congressional Intelligence committees of the information in the whistleblower's compliant.
However, IG Atkinson and/or Jason Klitenic, the DNI's General Counsel, apparently sought an opinion from the Justice Department's Office Of Legal Counsel.

     (Saturday, August 24 = North Korea test-launches two short-range missiles.)

Saturday, August 24 - Monday, August 26
Trump attends the meeting of G7 nations in Biarritz, France.

Monday, September 9
IG Atkinson writes a letter (which has not been made public) directly to House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and the GOP ranking member, Devin Nunes, advising them the DNI was not going to forward the complaint to the committee.

The September 3 deadline for Maguire to report the complaint had passed.  It's possible that Schiff  was alerted privately to the whistleblower's complaint, and Atkinson knew it.  It seems likely he wrote to Schiff to give an appearance that the DNI was complying with the spirit of Congressional authority and statute.

This same day
CNN breaks the story on the extraction of the CIA asset close to Putin in 2017, reporting it had been decided to remove them out of concern that Trump might blow the source's cover.

A media source hints that the ex-CIA asset may have been one of the sources of the so-called Steele Dossier. While that may be possible, the source had confirmed for American intelligence, from direct knowledge, that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, on behalf of  then-candidate Trump.

For that reason alone, the CIA believed it likely Trump would blow the asset's cover  -- which would have been a death sentence if he were still in Russia.

The former CIA asset, apparently traced by the media to a home purchased in the suburban D.C. area, flees with their family and disappears.
___________________________________
[Note: Following entries draw heavily on a specific post on LawFareBlog, Margaret Taylor, "The Mysterious Whistleblower Complaint: What Is Adam Schiff Talking About?", 9/17/19.]
Tuesday, September 10
Schiff writes a letter to Interim DNI Maguire, advising Maguire had not followed the law and demanding that he forward the whistleblower transmittals from the IG to the congressional intelligence committees “without delay and in their entirety.”

Schiff makes clear that if Maguire does not comply, the committee would issue a subpoena. He also demanded Maguire provide the whistleblower any necessary directions on appropriate security procedures the whistleblower might follow in order to contact the committee directly.

Thursday, September 12
Apparently, Rep. Schiff and Interim DNI Maguire hold a conversation about the situation.

Friday, September 13
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff writes a second letter to Maguire, as cover for the subpoena (which has also not been made public), and references their discussion the day before.

Schiff states Maguire has “neither the legal authority nor the discretion to overrule a determination” by his inspector general, doesn't “possess authority to withhold from the Committee a whistleblower disclosure from within the Intelligence Community that is intended for Congress". [Paragraphing added for clarity:]
"Even though the disclosure was made by an individual within the Intelligence Community through lawful channels, you have improperly withheld that disclosure on the basis that... the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.
In a further departure from the statute, your office consulted the Department of Justice about the complaint, even though the statute does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the [intelligence community inspector general]’s independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch in the handling of a whistleblower complaint.
Your office, moreover, has refused to affirm or deny that officials or lawyers at the White House have been involved in your decision to withhold the complaint from the Committee. You have also refused to rule out to me that the urgent concern, and underlying conduct, relates to an area of active investigation by the Committee.
Late that night, officials in Maguire’s office acknowledged Schiff’s subpoena, indicating that “[w]e are reviewing the request and will respond appropriately” and that “[t]he ODNI and Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here.”

[See Schiff's letters here.]

According to Schiff, he received a response from Maguire, where he indicated that he was not responding based on a command from a “higher authority” because it involves an “issue of privileged communications.” Schiff surmised that it involves the president, people around the president, or both.

On this same day, as the whistleblower story goes public in the media -- the armaments and equipment shipment for Ukraine which had been badly delayed is released and the shipment sent for delivery.

Tuesday, September 17
Interim DNI Maguire refuses to comply with the House committee's subpoena and will not appear to testify.  DNI General Counsel Klitenic sends a letter sent to congressional leaders, saying that the activity at the root of the whistleblower's complaint “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.”

Thursday, September 19
DNI Inspector General Atkinson appears in closed-door session with the House Intelligence committee.  It's announced that Interim DNI Maguire will testify, probably in camera as well, next week.
_____________________________________

Friday, September 13, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Instructions Pour Populations Dans La Zone Occupée

Random Barking Friday

[From October 10, 2017]
Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
--  Winston Churchill, November 1942

What's next? Disneyland??
-- Bill Murray, Speaking To Ghost Of Christmas Future; "Scrooged" (1988)
(I began this post before [what at the time was] the most recent mass shooting episode [link via Digby], and though much of its focus is on our Dear Leader, what follows should also be read with recent events in mind. And the Bill Murray quote, just because; and as is said at the Soul Of Americathe Fuck, Man?)
______________________________

Obligatory Animal Photo At Beginning Of Blog Thing

It's hard going in These Days. The quote from Churchill is occasionally used to sound a positive note in the midst of a struggle -- a way of saying, as Gandhi did, that the upward progress of Humankind continues. That Truth will triumph and Justice, eventually, will be done.

I have conversations about The State Of Things. One thing I hear continually repeated is, This Can't Continue. Some think a Deep State will remove Trump. Or Robert Mueller and 'The Russia Thing' will uncover enough to force him from office. And, it's always possible that [mention of extremely bad thing redacted].

But it isn't even about this bloated peacock of a man. He's just a symptom, it's deeper than that. Our politics are an illusion of choice. Everyone I talk with at some point will shake their heads: the America we see isn't sustainable and has not been for some time now. Surely this can't go on.

But what if it can?

What if, like the citizens of occupied Europe seventy-seven years ago, we come awake to the sounds of loudspeakers, broadcasting instructions of the new authorities? That like the Danes, Belgians, Norwegians, the Dutch and the French, we're at the beginning of over fifteen hundred days of being at the mercy of persons who are simple as children in their greed, and a desire that all America satisfy their every whim?
YOSSARIAN:  We're never gonna see those replacements. We're never gonna see those coconuts. They're just gonna keep making us fly until we're all dead.
DOBBS:   Aw; Cathcart wouldn't dare raise the number of missions again!
YOSSARIAN:  Who's gonna stop him?
DOBBS:  [Pauses] Somebody will.
-- Alan Arkin (Yossarian) and Martin Sheen (Dobbs) / Catch-22 (1970)
______________________________

The executive branch of the American government is bent to the ego and whimsy of a seventy-year-old child. All that occasionally blunts his narcissistic tantrums are three former U.S. Generals (until he decides to fire them, or they leave in disgust ahead of being fired) [Wow -- called that one, didn't we?].

Their influence is limited by Trump's character, but it's worth noting that their military perspective will be a serious factor in how the Executive functions: When every problem they see is a nail, the only solution they'll offer is a hammer. 

As Trump has done things since January 20th, journalists and commentators have reacted with expressions of social opprobrium -- the nerve; the unspeakable rudeness! A President can't do that! --  as if collective social disapproval will force Trump to behave differently, even leave office.

Additional Obligatory Tubby Animal Photo

I've joked that Trump could have sex with a goat on live television, and no one would be surprised: nothing would happen. Now, I actually wonder if that might be true [No. I don't wonder any longer; I know].

Trump and the creatures which slouched into government behind him are dismantling the political structure of the United States in ways the Right has dreamed of doing for generations. Pundits report it; neutral analysts detail their budgeting plans for education, healthcare, taxation, human rights. All are disastrous, everyone can see it coming -- and nothing happens.

Read Charles Blow's outrage at Trump's racism. Read Paul Krugman's outrage at Trump's fiscal incoherence. Read the reports in Jeff Bezos' Washington Post about mendacity and malfeasance in Trump's cabinet, and about Robert Mueller's investigations. There have been a tidal surge of reports, invective, observations and opinion about him since the inauguration. His popularity is the worst of any president in America's history -- and still, nothing happens.

But what if all the outrage no longer matters? After just eight months, the country appears to be getting used to the idea of Trump; what if he's the 'new normal'? The collective disapproval of the majority of America's adult population doesn't appear to matter.

I read or hear news commentary about Trump that now seems to carry an almost an apologetic note, as if saying Ah; whadya gonna do, huh? Even with the sheer volume of evidence showing Trump a witless sociopath, unfit to hold office, having no empathy for others, even when Puerto Rico almost literally writhes at his feet -- nothing happens.

Some people say, Just wait until the midterms -- but in key states, nearly twenty years of gerrymandering (Karl Rove's blueprint for a Forever GOP majority) has ensured that even if we had a third party in the country, nothing will happen.

No matter how many rallies Bernie holds to push single-payer healthcare, how many interviews Hillary gives, no matter how much gets said about changing the demographics of America's allegedly Left party -- it's plain the Republicans and Democrats are whores of the Rich. 'Bipartisan cooperation' is just a code for maintenance of the status quo, in service to Our Owners.

It's true that the worst Democratic politician doesn't sink to the level of the worst Republican, but their whoring is no less true. It's the reason the Democrats can't effectively combat fascism -- they are morally impotent because their core values have already been compromised. There is no organized, viable political alternative to the Racist, -phobic, lovin'-our-guns Nationalism of the American Right, or the Neoliberal Globalism of what passes for the American Left.

Unless (and perhaps, even if) future events take a different turn, the collective American Right will continue to throw their feces into our faces and revel in our sputtering responses. Trump will remain The Leader; the outrages will continue, and the dismantling of society. And, with the assistance of Democrats, our politics will continue to reflect an engineered inequality, the obvious rule of Wealth.

Borrowing an image from Orwell -- imagine a $38,000 pair of A.Testoni monk-strap loafers, stomping on a human face, forever.
______________________________

But, things are happening -- all on the political right. The apotheosis of Trump is occurring against a backdrop of what amounts to two groups of Klansmen, fighting over who gets to paint a huge Starz-n-Barz flag on the White House.


The Left and Center of our politics don't control any branch of government. Because they're in the minority, they seem even more fragmented than the Right, which is saying something -- because America's government is dominated by a GOP in the middle of a civil war between old-school Crazy Right, and the Crazier Alt-Right. 

The old-school Right wants privatization of everything, including education; an end to 'coddling of welfare queens'; an end to regulation of business and the financial markets; larger Pentagon budgets (a bigger stick, because China); more Austerity for everyone (except the Fabled Rich), and more of the Surveillance State. It's a Chamber Of Commerce, Country-Club America.

The Crazier Alt-Right wants all that, too -- but they want a Breitbart America, where you can't tell fact from fiction. The Alt-Right wants Muslims to leave, and all other non-white people will only be seen occasionally (in a hotel corridor, or a vegetable field) and not heard. Get uppity with the Po-lice and see what happens. Women? Well of course they will be "seen", but they'd better submit to Men in all ways, as the bible teaches. There will be no gay people, ever, anywhere; get in the right bathroom and get right with god. Remember so-called 'rights' can be changed by friendly Justices.  And, the Alt-Right must have Guns, and their Jesus. More Jesus. And more Guns. Amen.

 Perfect Teeth: All The Better To Chew You Up With

Actually, the Crazier Alt-Right is what the Kochbrudern, and other aging, Bundist billionaires, want. The old-school GOP was not conservative enough, not responsive to The Bundist's desires (and you piss off Oligarchs like them at your peril), so the Oligarchs paid to create the Tea Party, fund the Alternate Right, and conduct a hostile takeover of the Republican party and American conservatism. Expect to see more right-wing politicians of the stripe of Texas' Ted Cruz or Alabama's Roy Moore at an election near you.

They've paid billions into this effort since the early 2000's, and people with teeth that perfect want a return on their investment: setting fire to the GOP, replacing it with Bannon and Breitbart and the Tea Partei or all manner of smoke and mirrors.

This isn't about Trump, some rust-belt 'forgotten Americans', or any Americans; The Brothers don't care about you. This is all about the Great Game -- manipulating an entire nation's politics, just because they can. Because they wish it.

And they aren't the only rich, crabbed and malicious sociopaths at play. Consider Murdoch, and his issue. Think of the Mercers. The Mellons and Scaifes and Rockefellers. And think about the 'good', "Liberal" wealthy -- the Bezos' and the Zuckbergs and Gates' and Musks.

Give a moment to consider an entire layer of persons who, as the statistics show, own 90% of everything. Think about what that statement actually means.

Then consider: How much longer do you want to be owned by these persons?
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Friday, August 30, 2019

Stunning Protests Threaten The Fantasy

Friday
...The Democrats' continued failure to understand the scope of the GOP's shameless pursuit of power is stunning.
-- Digsby's Hullabaloo; Friday, August 30, 2019
.. since Parliament will be in session for long enough to allow a vote of no-confidence if MPs want... [Johnson's] act, while clearly shady and abusive, [is] just barely on the right side and I can understand why the Queen let it happen. 
If Parliament doesn’t want this to happen, they have plenty of time to make sure it doesn’t. If they don’t this means they aren’t willing to topple the Conservative government, then that is on them, they know the consequences.
-- Ian Welsh, "Boris Johnson Prorogues Parliament", August 28, 2019.
The balance between protesting for human rights as basic issues, and the protesters' use of business necessity as leverage, continues.
[Bejing is] taking a giant risk, because as Dennis Kwok says, the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong. What he means, and Beijing surely understands, is the end of Hong Kong’s status as a trade and finance center. 
Not a trifle matter for sure. Hong Kong has built that status over a long period... like the City of London and Wall Street. You can break that down in no time, but you can’t rebuild the trust elsewhere in anywhere near that time frame...
-- The Automatic Earth, "Hong King Kong", August 30, 2019
Led by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, five Democratic senators argued earlier this month that the case was part of a drive to install a conservative majority on the court and strike down gun laws. The Democrats closed their letter by suggesting that voters may eventually demand the Supreme Court be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics” if it continues on its current course. 
McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Senate GOP said the effort “openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the [New York] petition as moot.” 
“The implication is as plain as day: Dismiss this case, or we’ll pack the court,” the Republicans wrote in the letter, first reported by the Washington Post, adding that they would fight against any restructuring plans.
-- Politico, "McConnell to Supreme Court: We won’t let Dems 'pack the court' ", August 29, 2019
>>  "Dear Trump Advisors: Prop the Market Up Now and Lose in 2020, or Let the Market Crash and Win in 2020", August 29, 2019 
>>  "The Fantasy of Central Bank “Growth” Is Finally Imploding", August 28 2019 
>>  "Love It Or Leave It", August 26, 2019 
-- Charles Hugh Smith, Washington Blog
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 'James Comey' Breaks It Down For Us
MAN: Life... is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this undefinable, whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down because there's nothing else left to eat. 
Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an English toffee -- but they're gone too fast and the taste is... fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts; if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is an empty box... filled with useless, brown paper wrappers. 
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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Another Day Of Brutal Whiteman Daddy

Requiem

Today is Trump's 944th day in office.

Johannes Brahms: 'Ein Deutsches Requiem', Op. 45; 2nd Movement
("Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras"); Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Choir, 2011

The Amazon is burning. The permafrost is melting. Greenland's ice sheet is melting. The heat waves and water scarcity and even more unpredictable weather patters increase.

Millions of animals, creatures we have grown up in awareness of and, like everything else, took for granted -- whale, tuna, mackerel, dolphin, orcas; elephant, rhino; tiger, lion; cheetah and leopard; tortoises, lizards; great apes and humble birds -- may be gone just within the lifetime remaining to an Old like me.
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The great trees will succumb to disease -- or be cut down, to build a wonderful private home for a crafty and skillfully manipulative great business leader, Aspergerish, and fiercely protective of what is His. What, in his specialness, he deserves.
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Women are losing control over their own bodies. Again. Previously undisturbed American public land is almost being given away to developers. Hundreds of Führertreu judges are being settled in courts across America; 'christian' religious figures preach hate from the stages of their megachurches and pray for misfortune or death for the hated liberals. 

Large numbers of black Americans continue to be shot; large numbers of Americans continue to shoot each other. The Leader and his satraps made noises about gun control -- but a simple phone call from the NRA and that has all gone away. They will have their guns and Jesus.

America's principal polluting industries -- coal; pesticides and chemicals; fossil fuel automobile manufacturing; oil and mining -- have had prior regulations safeguarding the environment removed. Drinking water in Detroit and New Jersey, as in Flint, have been discovered to have unacceptably high levels of lead -- particularly in districts with high concentrations of poverty and large populations of persons of color.The banking and finance industry, likewise, has less oversight into their activities.

Today is Trump's 944th day in office ... and, nothing happens.

There are -- barring some unforeseen event -- either 495, or 1,955 days of Trump left.

And the Amazon is burning.
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The Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers in Latin for the dead; A German Requiem focuses on the living, with text sung by the choir in German from the 'Beatitudes' in the Luther Bible.)

... Herr, lehre doch mich,
dass ein Ende mit mir haben muss
und mein Leben ein Zeil hat,
und ich davon muss.

... Lord, teach me
that I must have an end,
and that my life has a purpose,
and that I must accept this.
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You know, of course -- even if The Leader were to suddenly depart, he would be given a state funeral of pomp and regal splendor to outshine that of any prior President, any emperor, queen or king. It would go on for days. The Murdochs would charge titanic, confiscatory rates for advertising as they broadcast the somber proceedings, day after day. Melania, dressed in tasteful, close-fitting black dress and four-inch heels, will be seen to cry her tear.

Lard Boy and Sean and Tuck, Glamorous Gleny and Mikey Wiener, Little Annie and Alex Anon would screech from their studios and bunkers, demanding blood sacrifices of hated liberals for the loss of their god. Not even North Koreans, were they to publicly mourn the loss of yet another ruler in the brutal Kim dynasty, would be able to outdo the True Trumpers in their anguish and viciousness. They too would blame Teh Libruls, the 'coloreds', immigrants and women who don't  know their place, and demand vengance.

The whole world would be made to contemplate, to think, on The Leader -- just as he demanded each day, just as he would have wished. And, The Leader would be enshrined in Republican mythology as being even greater than Saint Ronald The Dim.

Then, President Pence would step before the cameras, begin by saying "Jesus...", and then something else would happen.
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MEHR, MIT EIN ENDE:  I think we're done. Please try and remember to treat each other well before we go; thanks.
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MEHR, MIT ECKEL u. ABSCHEU:   Davey Koch, whose family fortune was based in chemical manufacture and pollution, and one of the principal funders of America's 'Tea Party' movement; whose 'foundations' spread disinformation and discord based in keeping Proles in their places as servants of persons like himself, is dead.
Mr Koch became one of the world's richest people, with assets of $42.2 billion in 2019 and a 42 per cent stake in the global family enterprise, Koch Industries...  [He] had palatial homes in Manhattan, Southampton, N.Y., Aspen, Colo., and Palm Beach, Fla.; a yacht in the Mediterranean rented for $500,000 a week for summer getaways; and acquaintances that included Winston Churchill Jr., Prince Charles, and Bill and Melinda Gates...  for years, he and [his brother] Charles faced, and denied, accusations of having exploited libertarian principles for self-serving purposes...
Now he knows what we do not.  As Minos would say in Dante's Vacation Guide, "Thou Art Sent!"
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MEHR, MIT DER UNHEILICHES u. UNBEKANNT:  (Reuters / August 23, 2019) Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has completed a three-week course of radiation therapy to treat a cancerous tumor on her pancreas, a court spokeswoman announced Friday.
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Monday, August 19, 2019

Smash The Past With Savage Blows

Yellowhammer


Britain's Prime Minister; The New Model Of Leadership:  'Mercurial'  'Individual'  =  Wanker

At the end of Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" (1981), a boy has escaped through time in the company of some mutinous employees of the Supreme Being, ultimately defeating The Evil One by carbonizing him, then blowing him into a bunch of carbonized chunks.

The boy wakes up, at home in bed (all a dream?) to find his parents' house on fire. The Fire Brigade brings out a toaster-oven, advising it was the cause. The parents open it -- and inside is what the boy recognizes as a chunk of The Evil One.  "Mum! Dad!" the boy shouts. "It's evil! Don't touch it!!"

The parents look dumbly at their son (I'm not gettin' ya, boy) -- then, look at the Chunk in the toaster-oven; at each other -- and then both of them reach into the oven and touch it. There is a fiery explosion, whereupon Mum and Dad 'splode into Chunks themselves.
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Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the rest of the Wankers are pushing a No-Deal Brexit -- not because there is no other alternative. But Boris and his Brexiteers appear to be using the threat of a no-deal as a gigantic game of Chicken with the EU. But, Oops -- the Union called their bluff.

Since Boris buffaloed his way into Number 10, girlfriend in tow, enough evidence has surfaced that he and Nigel and the Wankers intend to crash out of the EU -- because they have no other plan. There isn't one. And when October 31st arrives, and a Crash-out occurs, the government's own report predicts a Britain headed for disaster: chaos at ports of entry, shortages of critical goods, medicines, petrol; businesses closing; layoffs; even riots.

Britain's cross-governmental civil preparedness plan for a no-deal Brexit even has a code name: Operation Yellowhammer.
_____________________________

A common economic framework has been the chief reason for the EU's existence in the first place. Crashing out of the Union with no 'deal' means (among other things) no trade and employment agreement between Britain and the EU. Highly-paid employees from across the EU, living and working in England, will become 'foreigners' on November 1st. So will British citizens working abroad, and British retirees in Portugal, Spain, Italy or southern France.

Advantages British businesses have had within the EU will disappear, kicking them smartly in the balls just at the point when a delicately interconnected global economy is slowing. And a Brexit crash-out may be the thing which adds to collective financial pressures and turns a global slowdown into something deeper and more serious.

It's less clear whether Yellowhammer and Nigel's demolition derby will mean the end of the United Kingdom, or not. A majority in Scotland (62%) and Northern Ireland (56%) voted to remain in the EU (Wales voted to leave, 53% - 47%). There are clear economic benefits for them to do so -- and there's enough regionalist sentiment, in Scotland at least, to use a crash-out as an opportunity to push for independence. Boris Johnson doesn't remember Culloden and doesn't care; Nicola Sturgeon certainly does.
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After the 2016 Brexit referendum, some pundits were quick to note that 'Leave' won because its supporters were the English equivalent of Trumper populists -- nationalist, nativist, anti-immigrant conservatives, the National Front's "Britain For the British!" types seen in the late 1970's.

Others saw in the vote a rejection of the policies of neoliberalism and the forced austerity created by organizations like the IMF, ECB and WTO, which the EU voted to uphold and Britain agreed to. Those 'Leave' voters were more concerned about economics which benefited a wealthy elite, than nationalist or anti-immigrant sentiments.

But for Boris, Nigel and the Brexiteers, leaving the EU has never been about immigration, or any one issue. Brexit was only a lever through which they could take control of Britain's Conservative party, in the same way Trump now controls the Republican party in the United States.

They cultivated a right-wing populism, all about kicking a liberal Britain to the curb -- a nationalistic, anti-immigrant, privatized nation, full of proud 'Little Englanders' who saw each other through their traditional pecking order of wealth and class. An authoritarian model, where it's organizers -- like Trump and friends in the U.S. -- will benefit greatly.

Trump's Secretary of the Treasury and Spouse Enjoy Their Lifestyle
(Time Magazine Online)

In America, Trump cloaks his greed and racism (with the help of the Murdochs) in a manufactured popularity and traditional American imagery. He lies about himself constantly, shamelessly. Being President is just another way to siphon money out of a world of Worker-Bee Losers, and he's filled his cabinet with people who believe exactly the same -- for these people, "public service" means the public serving them. Trump has bought their loyalty with access to streams of cash, and their snouts are buried in the feeding trough.

Boris, Nigel and the Wankers want the same: a Trump-like political agenda that gives them power to line their pockets and distribute largess to other rightist Wankers. They've dressed up their swinish greed with more sonorous and adult-sounding phrases (typical with a people who use language like poetry, even when it's for a utilitarian purpose) -- but it's a power grab for personal gain, pure and simple.
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So, if everyone understands that crashing out of the EU is like touching the piece of pure evil in the convection oven, and you will explode and die... why? Why do it?

My perception is that Boris, and Nigel, and opportunistic British Conservatives want a Britain disrupted and disorganized. It's easier to loot when it's prostrate. It's like corporate raiders, leverage-buying a behemoth company fallen on hard times, then butchering it and selling it off piecemeal for their own enrichment and that of their friends.

They're not using a new model for seizing power -- but it's being pursued around the world, at the same time, by too many people to appear completely coincidental:  Bolsonaro in Brazil, Salvini in Italy, Orban in Hungary, Duarte in the Philippines, The Great Leader in the U.S. -- and now Boris, Nigel and the Wankers.  It's Steve Bannon's populismcreate the chaos; repeatedly blame liberals and the central government as the cause; then take advantage of it. Control the conservative party by forcing it into more radical positions. Once in power, do whatever the hell you want.

What's being torn apart isn't a corporate entity, it's a national government -- and the political and personal benefits at that scale are enormous. This kind of takeover isn't democracy; it isn't about creating a government to best to serve its citizens. It's about power  -- rewarding one's friends; punishing one's enemies; and holding on to power for as long as possible, usually measured in election cycles. Then, having drained everything out of the country you can, walk away. Who the fuck cares what happens to the Little People? You got yours, Jacky Boy: #Winning!

The potential chaos created by a no-deal Brexit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- for Boris, Nigel and the Wankers, for Stevie -- but the tricky bit is, they will have to try and put this massive economic and social disruption over on the British people. The only way they can do this is to lie and obfuscate, say that they're "doing everything they can" to go out with a deal. But, lying is something easy for Boris, he's already done it to become Prime Minister.

After the no-deal Brexit on October 31st, Boris will blame the misery he and the Wankers have created on the EU, or immigrants, or liberals. He'll have the Murdoch press to help him sell whatever lies they want to push. There could even be a war with Iran by then, which might distract people, for a while.

And then, there's Trump, riding to the rescue of Britain's economy. Boris seems to agree with making America Britain's principal trading partner to make shore up its economy in a post-Brexit world, replacing a portion of the economic framework Britain currently has with the EU. Trump, of course, mentions it as if it were a done deal.

It might provide a temporary lift to the markets, even a talking point in Trump's reelection -- the right-wing echo chamber would claim it as a victory for Free Trade under the wise stewardship of  The Leader. But ultimately it's just smoke and mirrors -- any rewards of such an agreement are highly speculative, and years in the future. It's not clear the U.S. Congress would allow or ratify such a treaty, and business with America can't replace, for England, the income they currently receive from all EU nations they trade with.

And The Great Leader isn't a dependable business partner. Boris may learn the hard way that with Trump, there is no more 'Special Relationship' -- and Boris and the Wankers need The Leader more than he needs Boris.
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One of the great, momentous political questions of the 21st century is how do we minimize the effects of climate, and realize an equitable future for all, without creating a corporatized world where people become 'aphids milked by ants', through the Facebooks and Googles and Cambridge Analyticas?  Put another way -- how do you oppose neoliberalism without replacing it with nationalism or fascism? I believe the answer is clear.

However, as with our own Congress, the British Parliament is paralyzed. Leadership on all sides seems compromised. Liberals and Labor are divided; Conservatives are divided; every party in Britain seems disorganized, overwhelmed with backbiting and infighting. It's how Yellowhammer was able to bully his way to leadership of the Conservatives, and into Number 10, in the first place.

At the moment, it looks like things are disorganized enough in Britain that a no-deal Brexit, and everything to follow it, is the likely outcome; a victory of the Buffoons. Still. I like to think there's some fight in Labor yet, beset as that party seems to be with its own internal issues.

It's not that I'm kneejerk-sympathetic to Labor as the primary Left party in England; they are, however, the only one preserving some third way between the Raving Monster Looney Party of Boris and Nigel the Brexiteers, and the Neoliberal New World Order.
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Friday, August 16, 2019

Your Friday Contusion From The Collision With Collusion

On The Road To Recession
Trapped By Brutal Whiteman Daddy With No Bathroom Stops   (Image: Machine / Mongo)
[ Clicky For Biggly!  Easy -- and Fun! ]

The hits just keep on coming. I may decide to weigh in and do some barking -- but after slaving over a hot Photoshop all afternoon (and it's over 100 in my little corner of the Left Coast), I'm going to find some shade and lie down, until.
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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Time At The Bar

Random Barking Saturday: Last Orders Please, Ladies and Gentlemen

Storm Over Venice Lagoon; July 26, 2019 - © Chris Bertram
[The political right feels t]he old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined ... national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots [by] not merely outsiders and foreigners ... but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power... the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.
--Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style In American Politics" (1964)
Essentially, American conservatism is based on large central government bad! Not to be trusted; small government is good! It's the argument between Jefferson and Adams. It's a variation on the theme of "State's Rights!" which allowed some American humans to own, buy and sell other humans, and which caused some unpleasantness in the early 1860's. And since.

After FDR, some on the political and cultural Right said America's central government was more Big Brother than benefactor -- that 'Wide-Eyed One-Worlders' who created the United Nations, the multilateral global order after WW2, were out to destroy individual freedom and initiative, and serve America to the Commie enemy on a platter by weakening our resolve, and polluting the purity of our bodily essences.

If you noted the snark in that last sentence, it's there because most of the people pushing those notions were considered a political fringe (the John Birch Society being the most visible). But they included some with hereditary wealth or business power -- and when crackpot notions are fed on money, they're no longer just crackpot notions but genuine conspiracies.

(Remember the rich asses who had opposed FDR, who flirted with treason by organizing a plan to remove Roosevelt from power. After all, what would happen to them? They were the right sort; they owned America! No one would touch them... and no one did.)
__________________________


Now, 35 years since the FCC's Fairness Doctrine was eliminated under Reagan; after thirty-five years of sewage being pumped into the culture by Murdoch's Fox, by Limbaugh and Savage and all their wannabe-imitators; after decades of behind-the-scenes manipulation by the Mercers and other right-wing media families... the ideas of the crackpot Right aren't relegated to the fringes in American politics. They are mainstream conservative viewpoints, now.
___________________________

Trump gets up and spouts incendiary racist garbage -- ensuring, again, that all eyes are upon Him, the world subsumed by the eternally needy, carnivorous child-man -- and nothing happens. Republicans say absolutely nothing, except to defend Trump. Children are traumatized in a detention bureaucracy which industrializes indifference and prejudice.  -- and nothing happens.


So, Trump doubles, even triples down on his prior comments, becoming even more unhinged and florid in his display of a narcissistic personality disorder -- and nothing happens. The GOP is now, fully and completely, a political party of racism, overt corruption; even treason. And nothing happens.

Except another mass shooting, of course.
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Each day -- every day -- Trump and the political and cultural Right beat America. They kick the country, and any chance to help it live up to its ideals, to the curb. Then they urinate on America as it lies bleeding in the gutter. They take America's wallet and car keys. They roar with laughter because it's just sport for these lowlifes; it's The Great Game. They're getting rich. No one can touch them; they run things!

No one wants to believe other humans can be so malicious, so swinish and venal; so filled with hatred and glee at the harm they do -- that it actually gives them pleasure to cause so much harm. That they put their own desires for money and for things above human lives and the reality of the world around us. They can't be like that. It can't be that simple. 

But, yes. It can.

And, with the help of 35 years of insane, babbling repetition from right-wing media (and decades of Democratic spinelessness), they've reduced the idea of an effective American central government to a joke. See? See how disorganized and useless the federal gov'mint is? They say. We need a strong man to lead us! An' we'll beat up anybody says different! USA!  USA!

And nothing happens. No one does anything to stop them. Not even when 31 people die because (among other things) their killers listened to the lies of The Leader. Instead of recoiling from Trump's toxicity, the Republicans say nothing, or actually back him up.


Nothing happens. And no one is surprised.
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What must it be like to live in a world where natural resources are slowly being reduced as its population continues to increase? Where nations have nuclear weapons? And all against a backdrop of extremes in weather and temperature? 

What must it be like to live in a country run by avaricious bullies, who deny climatic change in the World is even occurring? Where a sizeable number in the population have extreme, delusional political views, own weapons, and dream of a day when they can make the terrible rat-crazy feelings in their heads go away? Where television and radio and newspapers feed those crazy-rat feelings every moment of every day?

Tell me: for you, what is it like?
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These people hate you, and me. Because they have been instructed, over and over, for thirty years that you and I are the enemy. Men, women, and children; natives and immigrants; people of color (for white, too, is one of many colors), and politically left -- we have all been reduced to the level of Things, in their eyes.

Ironically,  it's the same way a wealthy elite see all of us, including Trump's base -- as chattel, worker-bees, disposable; nameless and faceless.

And These People have been taught, over and over, to believe that they live in a state if emergency,  'No-Go Zones' of Muslims and immigrants and LGBTQ people and sick hippies... a world manipulated by liberals with money, the ungodly and the evil. They are just surrounded by these terrible -- Things. And they are being told that, one day, they will have to deal with us. That they will be permitted, unleashed, to do that. Like a shooter in a Wal-Mart, a grade school, a synagogue or a night club.

They listen to The Leader, who tells them -- wink, wink -- if they can just remove the terrible Other, the Things surrounding them... then their misery will disappear. All will be well; a golden future; hallelujah.

This cannot continue, and This cannot end well.
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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Reprint Heaven Forever: We're Whalers On The Moon

Yet Again, The Birthday of Big Marine Mammal Avatar Creators

Moving through life, we find ourselves on occasion in the midst of experience or the presence of a thing which resonates and reminds that something, more than what we think we know or can perceive (if we would just stop and shut up and pay enough attention to see), exists.

Principally, this happens when we're 'out in nature', but it also happens when we encounter some art -- in particular, when it's been created by someone who made deep and illuminating connections and Brought Them Back To Tell Thee. From August 1 in 2016 and 2017 and 2018.
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There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.
-- Herman Melville / Moby-Dick, or, The Whale
Over at the Soul Of America, it's a celebration of Herman Melville's 200th birthday (!!!), and things of the Sea, and a Whale, and other notables which Herman brought back, To Tell Thee.

I considered writing a post from the viewpoint of the Whale just for the potential Yucks (because, god knows, We Need The Yucks Wherever We Can Get Them), but gave it up and settled for the Humorous Image.

The best thing about the post, and the reason I mention it here, is -- Herman tends to be overlooked in a culture whose highest expression is a Rhianna / Pitbull remix; it's good to be reminded that he is still there -- as he reminds us that we are chased by our mortality; and that sometimes the Form Of The Destructor is large, albino, and aquatic.  For me, it's a big lawn mower. Your Harbinger O' Death™, of course, may differ.

I was introduced to Melville when I was fourteen -- not through the novel he's most often identified with, but in the short work, "Bartelby The Scrivener" (1853), a classic in its own right. Ishmael's tale was next, and I was, uh, hooked. Later, I wasn't able to read anything by James or Conrad that didn't refer back to the narrative style I encountered first with Melville.

"Moby Dick: Or, A Whale" is ubiquitous. There is No Whale before He who populates a portion of that book (Yeah, okay; 'Shamu'  and 'Willy' are not the same thing). The Whale at least lurks, an unseen presence, in the background of all the on-ship action -- like Death, or Fate, or reruns of Three's Company. As if the Whale might chuckle and snicker in the dark during certain scenes:
" 'What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder windlass, and Fate is the handspike.'   
" 'Heh heh heh heh,' " came a deep basso rumble out of the darkness which hid the waters. Ahab started, but did not otherwise acknowledge the presence of that upon which he had focused for so long."
That Big Marine Mammal is archetypal, now. And, aber natürlich, the moment something makes an appearance on "Family Guy", it's an absolute certainty that, whatever it is, it's now hard-coded into our DNA.

 Herman Left Out The Part Where Whales Like Raisin Bran
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MEHR, MIT KEINE POLITIK: My Very Own Hillaryite Colleague asks, "So you hate music, too?" (This, because of the Rhianna / Pitbull quip.) And I would agree, it's absurdist reductionism to claim that the essence of culture in Eusa is rap music and movies like Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. I'm convinced that people (or, Whales; or very intelligent Honey Badgers) in the not very distant future will look back on this period as one of the most varied and vibrant in the history of our humanoid species -- until, you know, that thing happens.
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UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Once I saw this, I could not un-see it. It is an actual book. Swear to god.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HzYH1qVAn2s/VLuVF_f9DWI/AAAAAAAABbI/SC32BIgWys4/s1600/Ships.jpg
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UND: WAS IST AUCH SCHON WIEDER LOS? MEHR:  At one point, if you had $39.9K, Jim Morrison's Moby could have been yours.

At that price, you'd think the seller would have provided free shipping -- but, remember: this is Aremica, Land Of The Free and Home Of The Hip.