Friday, October 12, 2018

Random Barking Friday: Notes From Above Ground

Just Because We Agree That Any Day Above Ground Is A Good Day 
Doesn't Mean We Agree To Put Up With This Shit
The fascist movements ... that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is ... overtly antidemocratic dictatorships ...[are] unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation ... is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” 
...Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte ... and Viktor Orbán ... have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence...  in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another. 
Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary... a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging ... Crony capitalism opens ... a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders... 
Xenophobic nationalism (and ...explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism), as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights, are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies. 
-- Christopher R. Browning, "The Suffocation Of Democracy" (Article), The New York Review Of Books; October 25, 2018 Issue (Paragraphing added for emphasis)
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The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.
And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.
-- Ernest Hemingway, In "Der Querschnitt"; February, 1925

I move to work in the dark, 5:00AM on public transit in a large urban area. Passengers are dressed for maintenance or construction, administrative or 'food service industry' jobs; almost everyone is looking down at their smartphones, scrolling and texting. A third are women, dressed in expensive workout clothes, heading for the gym; few white-collar, non-managerial 'Individual Contributors' like me ride to work this early. The real flood of San Francisco's Tech workers don't begin their commutes until after 7 o'clock.

San Francisco's Municipal Transit Authority is replacing its fleet of older electric busses, one by one, with new, 'hybrid' ones. There are fewer seats in the new busses.  I get off at the usual stop downtown, walking a nearly-deserted two blocks towards BART. Crossing a street, I register  someone moving on my left, riding towards me on a bicycle, and so make assumptions: I'm a pedestrian, they see me, they'll avoid me.

Suddenly, I hear the sound of pedals being cranked; the rider speeds up and passes, inches behind me; I feel a gust of air as their weight moves through space. And as they move past, I feel the rider pat me, once, on the top of my head, like a Plains Indian counting coup. Standing in the dim street, looking -- at him, a nondescript male: scruff of beard, dark baseball cap, clothing and bike -- I shout HEY!! at his back. 

I'm not particularly surprised (and I think: it's more surprising that I accept this as normal, now); my yelling is mostly for form's sake. He's riding on, casual, slowing to make a lazy S down the street and leaning back in his seat. He starts to cycle back in my direction, maybe take things to the next level -- then turns away. I can hear him, almost conversationally, say, "Welcome to Cali-for-nia, bay-bee."
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5:00AM in the Underground: increasing numbers of homeless, lying on the granite floors as if tossed there, discards, not asleep so much as comatose (I remember living rough in a stressful environment, a literal jungle, and how desperately needed and all-consuming sleep, unconsciousness, was for us).

Below the surface: The display of rock-bottom despair and crazy is manifest and confounding. Most people, myself included, just want to move down to the train platform and get where we're going -- because if we stopped for a moment to look at these people, and contemplate where we all are and where we're going, it would plunge you into tears at the same time it drives you back, within yourself, shrinking away from these Others -- as if they might infect you with lice or bad luck. That what I am could happen to you.

This morning, a man -- skin and hair blackened with dirt, torn clothing scumbled up with diesel soot and grease -- sat on the floor of the BART station, his back against a wall at the base of an Up escalator, legs splayed out, repeatedly shouting a single word, "FUCK!?" at the top of his lungs every few minutes.

He didn't use it as an obscenity. What had happened to him was the obscenity. He was asking a question -- of fate and circumstance; he was making an making an exclamation: This is what happened?? What the fuck???
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As ever, Trump is the parody of the neoliberal consensus, which shows us the truth of its intellectual and political bankruptcy. And the neoliberal Democrats’ answer is not to mobilize the population in protest, not to take direct action against an obviously illegitimate political structure — but to double down on elitism and technocracy by imagining that the FBI will somehow save us. 
--  Adam Kotsko, "Lies And Neoliberalism"; An und für sich, October 6, 2018
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The domestic agenda of Trump’s illiberal democracy falls considerably short of totalitarian dictatorship as exemplified by Mussolini and Hitler. But ... [n]o matter how and when the Trump presidency ends, the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics. A highly politicized judiciary will remain... racial division, cultural conflict, and political polarization [which] Trump has encouraged and intensified will be difficult to heal. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, and uncontrolled campaign spending will continue to result in elections skewed in an unrepresentative and undemocratic direction. Growing income disparity will be extremely difficult to halt, much less reverse. 
Finally, within several decades after Trump’s presidency has ended, the looming effects of ecological disaster due to human-caused climate change—which Trump not only denies but is doing so much to accelerate—will be inescapable... 
Trump is not Hitler ... but regardless of how the Trump presidency concludes, this is a story unlikely to have a happy ending. 
--  Christopher Browning, ibid.; New York Review Of Books; October 25, 2018 Issue 
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MEHR, MIT "WAS SIE GEMACHT HAT":

If you consider the main currents in American culture and politics since the Declaration, a move towards the 'illiberalism' Browning describes in his article doesn't seem like an aberration. More like a logical procession. 

Let's be clear: It's a class war. Who wins and who loses in the current circumstances remains the same, no matter which end of the spectrum is in control.

America's political right will never, truly, upset The Owners. The neoliberal Left wants a Wonderful One World which keeps The Owners intact and in charge. In either scenario, you and I are expendable resources. 

The same tools of misdirection, propaganda, appeals to a mythic America that never was; and at the very bottom of it all, a threat of ultimate power (I kill You!) has been used in that America to sink the pitch and rig the game, since forever. 

At its most basic, Trump and his crew owns the political Right. Every kind of bottom-feeding nightcrawler and slug have attached themselves to The Trump Halftrack -- because there's money to be made, and power to be had; it is really no more complicated than that. The only notable thing is, they are right out in the open about it, now

Even though the 0.01% (that number could even be smaller; I use it only to make the point) will truly benefit from Trump, 'The Base' feel stronger and more powerful. They wave The Flag, wear The Red Hat, and allow free-floating rage to take form in love of the christian nation and racial pride. Their purpose is simply in "being Americans".  Build that wall. Piss in faces of the Iranians. Use force on the streets. Love The Leader.

Neoliberals at home and abroad are disorganized and hiding, for the moment. If Clinton had won the election, they would have been the ones flexing muscle -- but quietly, through internationalist organizations. The same 0.01% would ultimately benefit. 

We'd still be rubes and sheep, like the Red Hats -- but we'd feel better about turning over our autonomy to The Owners, because it's for the greater good. We would have a sense of purpose in building a better future world.  
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I'm not advocating a specific group's point of view. But, all this is an approximation of an answer to the question of that anguished underground dweller, yelling FUCK!!?? The structures human beings have built through five thousand-plus years of history to organize living on the planet have been bent, and altered, to favor a few and eat the rest of us alive.

... and no matter how clear that becomes, there's been little direct action. No matter how crazy things have gotten. There is no shortage of analysis and commentary about what is happening -- Christopher Browning's article is a crystal-clear example. The general outlines are there for everyone to see. 

But even in responding to Trump's lies with truth, his malfeasance with exposure, and narcissistic spewing with laughter, people rarely go into the streets. Given the stakes, our passivity in America is staggering -- and that comment only shows I assume having a high standard of living means people will act to support their best values and, you know, do stuff. 

All I'm sure of is, future historians will go over whatever documentation survives us and shake their heads, or laugh until they herniate themselves.

If you're waiting for the midterms; or Mueller's report; or for a tentacle to pop out of Trump's head while he bloviates at a rally, somewhere -- and then expect that hey presto! All Will Be Just Like It Was -- then something is happening here, but you don't know what it is. 
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UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Oh, yeah! Forgot to include the recent UN report which says we're  effectively fucked and will all die in the fire in the fire in the fire, or at least bake a lot. So maybe none of this matters. It could explain why Our Glorious Wealthy have been so openly avaricious lately. Maybe all that talk about "future historians" doesn't mean anything, either. Hey; my bad!
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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I Am A Marxist

Though Harpoism Works For Me Too

I'm not having good times these days. Few people I know are very far from the oppressive weight of (Today's) New Normal, soon to be replaced by (Even More New) Normal.

To paraphrase something: I believe with a perfect faith in all the history I remember, and I've been in some truly frightening places in life. But current events we're living through frighten me in a way I didn't think was possible.

At The Place 'O Witless Labor, I stumbled across an interview with my favorite Marxist, courtesy of TPM. (I am so old I remember seeing it on TeeVee when it was broadcast new, in that long-ago 1969, before that trip to long-ago Southeast Asia). I offer it as an antidote to everything currently occurring, and a protective screen to anything I might say afterwards:


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Each day, the American Right crawls further along a metamorphosis into an active Paranoid Raving Loon I Kill You! political movement.  One which could allow or sanction serious physical harm and imprisonment of not only minorities and the underclass, but anyone they declare an ideological "enemy".

Trump is an insane old man, a bully; a liar; a tormentor; one who exhorts others to do harm -- and the GOP is fully his party. Its candidates, representatives and organizers are taking his lead and saying that the Left is "evil". Just as he says the media (except Murdoch's media) is "the enemy of the people".

The political Right is saying that 'they' (meaning anyone who disagrees with or opposes Trump -- that is to say, everything perfect and right and good) are a "Mob".  The new strategy to incite 'The Base' around the midterms is to increase The Base's level of fear -- that they are personally "at war"... personally "in danger" of being attacked by a Leftist Mob.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Thing

Go and sample rhetoric captured by Media Matters. Fox in particular is pushing the line that anyone who is "a Trump supporter... an average citizen" is in danger -- that "anyone who's a Trump supporter [are] all targets". America is in danger from a mob that will act like "genocidal Hutus in Rawanda". The Murdoch machine is working overtime to spew that Party Line.

It's a lowest-common-denominator appeal. It is calculated to divide the country even further towards some bad fork in the road. If it doesn't sound like inciting behavior which can only culminate in violent acts, martial law; civil war; or just incredibly high levels of road rage and in-your-face responses over the most trivial events, I don't know what does.

The only thing that's missing is a(n overt, public) statement by Good Ol' megachurch leaders that the "evil" of the Left is also "in league with satan", "in rebellion against god". But I'm sure they'll come to that, in time.
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Okay; that's it, until something else happens. Fuck; I need another antidote. Enjoy.

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Oh, and, yeah; I am a member of the Cohen Front also.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

In The Epistemic World

Wherein We Are Shewn How The Sausage Is Made

Politics: So Many Choices.
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GOP Confident Kavanaugh Is Cleared
-- CNN Headline, October 4, 2018

...By “epistemic world”, I mean a broadly shared framework for knowing [where] emotions, moral sensibilities and reason are all informed by certain values, either consciously or unconsciously...  When our epistemic world is threatened, we feel ourselves being undone. As a philosopher, I am inclined to see [the nomination of Kavanaugh] as a war between two epistemic worlds.

In the first world, privileged white men get to do with impunity what other men at least have to think twice about, and for women who dare to speak of them, the punishment is swift and devastating. ... In the second epistemic world, the default position is to believe [the] women who make sexual assault allegations...

Much of the media spectacle around the Kavanaugh nomination has made it seem as if the epistemic battle is about the truth... Kavanaugh’s supporters want to be sure that what is at stake is not truth, but meaning. It isn’t really about who you believe, so much as which epistemic world you believe in.

Will the first epistemic world retain its power to determine the status of such happenings, to determine what they mean, how they matter? ... make no mistake -- the “old” world ... is right here, right now, and despite the remarkable gains of the #MeToo movement, it controls every branch of our government.

-- Bonnie Mann, "Trump’s New Taunt, Kavanaugh’s Defense and How Misogyny Rules"; New York Times, October 3, 2018 (Minor edits for clarity)

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A Simulacrum Of A Pretense Of Caring

...A predatory society doesn’t just mean oligarchs ripping people off financially. In a truer way, it means people nodding and smiling and going about their everyday business as their neighbours, friends, and colleagues die early deaths in shallow graves.

The predator in American society isn’t just its super-rich — but an invisible and insatiable force: the normalization of what in the rest of the world would be seen as shameful, historic, generational moral failures, if not crimes, becoming mere mundane everyday affairs not to be too worried by or troubled about...

Seen accurately. American collapse is a catastrophe of human possibility without modern parallel. And because the mess that America has made of itself, then, is so especially unique, so singular, so perversely special — the treatment will have to be novel, too. The uniqueness of these social pathologies tell us that American collapse is not like a reversion to any mean, or the downswing of a trend. It is something outside the norm. Something beyond the data. Past the statistics.

It is like the meteor that hit the dinosaurs: an outlier beyond outliers, an event at the extreme of the extremes. That is why our narratives, frames, and theories cannot really capture it — much less explain it. We need a whole new language — and a new way of seeing — to even begin to make sense of it.

But that is America’s task, not the world’s. The world’s task is this. Should the world follow the American model — extreme capitalism, no public investment, cruelty as a way of life, the perversion of everyday virtue — then these new social pathologies will follow, too.

They are new diseases of the body social that have emerged from the diet of junk food — junk media, junk science, junk culture, junk punditry, junk economics, people treating one another and their society like junk — that America has fed upon for too long.

--  Umair Haque, "Why We're Underestimating American Collapse"; Eudaimonia&Co., January 25, 2018
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Democracy Means Someday You Can Do It Too

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Barstow, Craig and Buettner, "Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father", New York Times, October 2, 2018
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Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Ogg Ogg
The Oldest Friend Asks: "Why do you undercut your writing with humor 
that detracts from whatever your point is?"

Golden Days

America has a thriving mutual support network of family trusts and estates. The Trump administration is serving their interests well. What caught the headlines in Mr Trump’s tax bill last December was the cut in the corporate tax rate. Private wealth also had plenty to cheer. The bill doubled the floor at which people must start paying inheritance taxes.

Couples can now shelter their children from paying a cent on the first $22 million of what they inherit. The previous floor was already high, even by America’s standards. [In 2000, only] 2% of American estates paid any estate tax. That has now fallen to [ 0.01% ], according to the Joint Committee on Taxation...

...Mr. Kavanaugh boasted that he had “busted a gut” to make it to Yale, and benefited from “no connections”. In fact, he attended a Washington private school that churns out Ivy League material... Mr Kavanaugh’s grandfather studied at Yale.

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Kavanaugh offers a cracked reflection of society. America’s elites do not like what they see. It distorts their world as they like to see it: meritocratic, fair-minded, and politically correct. Each in their way presents a grotesquerie of America’s less noble side.

In Mr. Kavanaugh’s case, it is the slipped mask of a man trying to imitate Lady Justice. In Mr. Trump’s it is a president who reinforces an economic structure that sustains them.

--  Edward Luce, "Donald Trump and The Golden Age Of America’s Oligarchy," Financial Times, October 4, 2018
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Is She Big Is She Moving Is She Hellbound

America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn't standing still.
-- e. e. cummings, May, 1927; as quoted in George Firmage's A Miscellany (1958)

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But, It Mimics Nature

In 2011, the Swiss Institute of Technology (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule [ETH], Zürich) released a comprehensive study of the ownership structures of ~43,000 transnational corporations.

The ETH determined that all of them were owned by just 147 corporate entities, which they referred to as a 'Super Entity' -- and 75% of them are financial corporations (Vitali, Glattfelder and Battiston, "The Network Of Corporate Global Control", ETH Zürich, 2011)

... But don't grab a pitchfork and head to the nearest Occupy protest just yet. Systems researchers say this isn't the result of an Illuminati-type global conspiracy, but rather a natural force to be expected.
"Such structures are common in nature," complex systems expert George Sudihara told NewScientist.

The researchers say that while there's nothing wrong, in and of itself, with the concentration of capital in the hands of a small number of companies, when those companies become too interconnected, they can cause chain reactions that can harm the economy.

--  Daniel Tencer, " 'Super-Entity' Of 147 Companies At Center Of World's Economy, Study Claims", Huffington Post Canada, October 24, 2011
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Keep Them From Noticing The Fire As Long As Possible

What will trigger the next crash? The $13.2 trillion in unsustainable U.S. household debt? The $1.5 trillion in unsustainable student debt? The billions Wall Street has invested in a fracking industry that has spent $280 billion more than it generated from its operations? Who knows.

What is certain is that a global financial crash, one that will dwarf the meltdown of 2008, is inevitable. And this time, with interest rates near zero, the elites have no escape plan. ...

An emergency clause in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 allows the Fed to provide liquidity to a distressed banking system. But [After the 2008 Crash] the Federal Reserve did not stop with [providing banks with] a few hundred billion dollars. It flooded the financial markets with absurd levels of fabricated money. This had the effect of making the economy appear as if it had revived. And for the oligarchs, who had access to this fabricated money while we did not, it did.

...The global financial system is a ticking time bomb. The question is not if it will explode but when it will explode. And once it does, the inability of the global speculators to use fabricated money with zero interest to paper over the debacle will trigger massive unemployment, high prices for imports and basic services, and a devaluation in which the dollar will become nearly worthless as it is abandoned as the world’s reserve currency...

...Given the staggering amount of fabricated money that has to be repaid, the banks need to build greater and greater pools of debt. This is why when you are late in paying your credit card the interest rate jumps to 28 percent. This is why if you declare bankruptcy you are still responsible for paying off your student loan, even as 1 million people a year default on student loans, with 40 percent of all borrowers expected to default on student loans by 2023.

This is why wages are stagnant or have declined while costs, from health care and pharmaceutical products to bank fees and basic utilities, are skyrocketing. The enforced debt peonage grows to feed the beast until, as with the subprime mortgage crisis, the predatory system fails because of massive defaults...

--  Chris Hedges, "Conjuring Up The Next Depression", TruthDig, September 10, 2018
     (Links Added)
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WALLACE GLADSTONE: ... And now, here's a contingent of our heroic POWs, many of whom spent years in prison in Hanoi, courageously resisting the persistent efforts of their North Vietnamese captors to brainwash them into thinking that the United States is run by a tiny clique of criminals, dominated by powerful business interests; bankrolled by huge, monopolistic corporations working hand in glove with the CIA in a campaign of intrigue at home and abroad.  
BARBARA MERKIN: Jesus, why do they bother?  
GLADSTONE:  Oh; I don't know, Barbara.  
-- "Impeachment Day Parade Coverage", Chevy Chase (Gladstone), Rhonda Coulett (Merkin); National Lampoon's Missing White House Tapes (Blue Thumb Records, 1974)
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Friday, September 28, 2018

America

(Win McNamee / Getty NorAm, via TPM)

The charm of the land 'South of the Mason-Dixon' is never on better display than in the gracious attitudes of its citizens, rooted in the values for which the 'Old South' is so widely known.
(--  Flying-A Gasoline Travel Guide, 1940)
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(Michael Reynolds / Pool/AFP)

Almost instinctively, once a President appoints a judge to sit on the Supreme Court, the public earmarks the Justice as an incarnation of impartiality, neutrality, and trustworthiness ... It is a judge's neutrality, fair-mindedness, and integrity that once again label him a person of impartiality and fairness, a person who seeks justice, and a President's first choice to serve the nation.
(-- Melissa Loewenstern, 2003, "The Impartiality Paradox"; Yale Law & Policy Review)
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His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was a howl of partisan rage. He said the behavior of Democrats on the committee was “an embarrassment” and “a good old-fashioned attempt at Borking.” He said they were “lying in wait” with “false, last-minute smears.”

The proceedings were, he said, “a national disgrace,” a “circus,” a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination” ... a “search and destroy” mission. He blamed Democrats for threats against his family, “to blow me up and take me down.”

“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election . . [all for] revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups” ... Gone was the nominee who ... preached judicial modesty... [and] who on Monday spoke to Fox News about fairness and integrity and dignity and respect.
(-- Dana Milbank, "Brett Kavanaugh, Disrobed", Washington Post)
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As Kavanaugh’s hearing ended, Trump asserted his pleasure with the performance. “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” he tweeted. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”
(-- Gabriel Sherman, "This Was Why He Nominated Him", Vanity Fair)
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Just after 5 P.M. on Wednesday, Trump went full Trump... [and] launched into a nearly 90-minute rant... Trump blasted the allegations against Kavanaugh ... incorrectly claimed that only “three or four” women had accused him of sexual misconduct; praised his handling of North Korea; boasted about his “very, very large brain”; and denounced all of the “fake” people at the press conference... Even by Trumpian standards, it was a stark display of the president’s uninhibited rhetorical style ...

More important, from the perspective of the [United Nations] General Assembly, was what Trump’s manic performance suggested about America’s diminished power on the world stage. The president of the United States... looked weak and small -- preoccupied ... insecure about his achievements, and fearful ...
(-- Abigail Tracy, "At The UN, Diplomats Grapple With A Diminished Trump", Vanity Fair)
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[Regarding a 'rule-less' society,] economic disparity and political dysfunction have been exacerbated by the collapse of the judicial system, as Matt Taibbi writes in his book “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.” There is aggressive criminalization of the poor while the ruling elites are protected by high-priced lawyers and non-enforcement or rewriting of laws...

The elites, who sacrifice nothing for society and are not held accountable for their criminal behavior, live in what Taibbi calls a “stateless archipelago.” They are empowered to pillage the nation, amass obscene wealth and wield unchecked political and legal control. The result has been the obliteration of the primary social bonds that, however biased in favor of the white majority, held the nation together.
(-- Chris Hedges, "American Anomie", TruthDig)
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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Let Us Now Something Famous Men

You Know Where This Is Going
Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing; September 27, 2018 (Osita Nwanevu / New Yorker)
As Dr. Christine Blasey Ford detailed her sexual assault accusation against Trump Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a photo taken by New Yorker staff writer Osita Nwanevu shows that Ford was positioned directly in front of seven male GOP senators who have worked to ram through Kavanaugh's confirmation as quickly as possible without an FBI investigation. 
"This is what Christine Blasey Ford is looking at as she describes her sexual assault," Nwanevu noted. "I mean this literally. The Dems are there of course, but from her angle at the table, the GOP side of the semicircle is right in front of her."
--  Jake Johnson, Common Dreams; "As Christine Blasey Ford Details Sexual Assault Allegation Against Kavanaugh, This Is What She's Looking At"
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Thursday's hearing will also raise fundamental questions of fairness. And perhaps the biggest risk is that despite its deeply divisive impact, it solves nothing... 
It's conceivable that at the end of the day, Republicans see one truth and Democrats another. If the GOP goes ahead under those circumstances the nomination could enflame the nation's blazing political culture even more.
--  Stephen Collinson, CNN; "A Day That Will Resonate In History"
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President Trump and Congressional Republicans are not afraid to take unpopular actions in pursuit of their ideological goals. 
Last year, they spent many months trying and failing to pass a repeal of Obamacare, even though those efforts were extremely unpopular. And they passed a tax bill that was highly unpopular at the time of its passage, although its [popularity as shown in polling data has] since improved some. The Supreme Court is at least as much of a priority for Republicans.
--  Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight; "The GOP's Least-Worst Option Is If Kavanaugh Withdraws -- And Soon"
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Then, late on Wednesday an anonymous fourth woman accuser emerged when NBC reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee was inquiring about at least one additional allegation of misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Republican Senate investigators asked Kavanaugh about an anonymous complaint alleging that he physically assaulted a woman in 1998, according to a transcript from that phone call...
--  Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge; "Fourth Woman Accuses Kavanaugh"
The New Aristocrats feel entitled to remain untouchable, regardless of the enormity of their crimes. People are starting to wake up to neofeudal realities of life in America, but the sexual privileges of this class are only the tip of the iceberg.
--  Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge; "Exposing The Neofuedal Privileges Of Class In America"
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Most Wonderful Bestest Ever

Let's Get Out Of Here; Iran's Buying

American Pestident Lies Speaks To (Some of) The UN General Assembly,
And The Superintelligent Parakeet (At Right);
September 25, 2018 [Original Photo: Reuters]

Leader lied spoke to the United Nations today, which apparently had better things to do than listen to a fat man play make-believe in front of them for thirty-plus minutes.

"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country," Leader told them. Whoever was left in the room laughed (you can see it for yourself).

But, it didn't faze The Leader, who smiled his trademark Country Club Chairman smile, and said, "So true... I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK," meaning of course that it wasn't. More people laughed. Some applauded. Several vomited.

The Superintelligent Parakeet didn't say a thing. He didn't even move -- and that's when I knew  The Leader had a real problem. Dissed by the Parakeet? Sucks to be you!
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Monday, September 24, 2018

Begin Again In The Off-World Colonies

Depressive Weimar Monday Ranting
Well, you were warned.


All Elected Officials Began Their Careers In This Way.

America -- soft 'n fluffy but with drones, Lil' Tay, fattish Archbishops, pasty Whiteboy judicial nominees and scumbag catfights -- made it through another week without collectively quitting our jobs and moving in a mass exodus to Canada. I don't know how, but we succeeded! USA! USA! Have an entire cheesecake as a reward for whatever it is you did. Or a few Big Macs. G'head.

You wanted the cheesecake. You wanted the Big Macs; you know that -- just like you wanted that neck tattoo (And that worked out, didn't it? Sure it did). Each bite helped pass the time on the weekend. Didn't it? Yeah, pal.

Creepy Cute Toy Used To Instruct Dental Assistants
In Dealing With Child Patients. Okay; Maybe Not.

But now it's Monday, and it's creepy out there. I don't know about you, but America was not really ever as creepy as it is now. Why? Because comfortable illusions about our society which have been accepted without question -- Jesus saves (or He at least invested wisely); white superiority and democracy; girls just want to have fun; work hard and play by the rules; Toonces The Cat can actually drive -- have all been proven wrong.
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Here goes a rant:  I may be wrong, but Rod Rosenstein, who has been the only thing between (as the Irish would say) Us and the Devil, will resign. Jeffy Sessions may or may not follow, may or may not be the next contestant in the reality-TV government to be told You're Fired. And after that, Robert Mueller.

Why not? Congressional Republicans are staring at a possible loss of the House in six weeks; why not double down? Why not do things while they still have the power? They're untouchable!

There will be a grand Kabuki theatre of Dr. Ford's testimony, and the eleven Republican men will tread very carefully to avoid the appearance of a lynching, where an uppity woman will be seen to attempt to keep Biffy from assuming his Rightful Place.

On one level, part of me thinks: This is a story of a pasty, privileged white man being accused, and defended, by a bunch of other privileged people. It's America's elite, slap-fighting with each other.

Dr. Ford did what she believed was the right thing. But at the end of the day some people will make serious money on the back of her decision, and she'll receive the Anita Hill Special on national television. And Biffy will still get his seat, will ensure that Roe dies, and that Citizens United was just the beginning. And the privileged jackasses who primly defended their good friend Biffy will still be just as privileged, and still jackasses.

Meanwhile, two in five children in America will still wake up hungry tomorrow. Our Leader wants his war with Iran. Or with Somebody. And there are so many lies he has yet to tell.

There will be a little hue 'n cry; there always is. There may even be people in the streets -- for a while. The Punditi will do their complicated dances and smirk at each other; they'll compare Rosenstein's resignation and Mueller's firing to Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. They'll spend a week speculating on Biffy's move, and the heart-warming moment when he greets RBG with 'real humility'.

But, eventually everyone has to go to work. Right? And there's always beer, and a Big Game on TV.  Calm down. It's not worth getting in a twist over. Democrats in Congress will fume, but the Republicans still run the show. The Leader is still there, still the Teflon Don. No one is going to invoke the 25th of anything. This is what I'm afraid of.

And in November, even with the vaunted Blue Wave -- what, substantively, will have changed? Seriously; what?
______________________________

Let me repeat: This is what I'm afraid of. America has progressed through time, and on one level we've only been getting progressively more strange.

The only thing which seems even stranger is that there has been enough slack in the culture, enough space created by time and wealth and military power; weak north-south neighbors; two big oceans; to allow us to go forward without destroying ourselves before now. But History takes a long time to play out.

We Heart The Deep State. Don't We?
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Your Weak Under Way

Entertainment


As a result of his recent appearances, Paul Manafort will be crooning in the Metro D.C. area for your pleasure through the rest of this year, with an option for a series of public recitals during 2019.

His recent hit single of the old Ukrainian ballad, "Fix My Heart", has been remixed by DJ Roddy; even The Leader, taking time away from thinking about the plight of The Little People, has taken notice.

Accompanied closely by the Bob Mueller DOJ Orchestra, Paul's special brand of Family entertainment is keenly anticipated to please millions of Americans, and the Superintelligent Parakeet. Rumors are Paul may be joined by fellow singers Micky Flynn, Pinky Gates, and Michael Cohen; if true, these performances promise to be spellbinding in their warmth and cheer. Watch your local news broadcasts for dates and times!
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Whither The Weather Channel


Insult to Injury: A Weather Channel on-the-spot-weatherperson in the Carolinas, seen rocking back and forth in "high winds" while delivering a live report about the impact of Hurricane Florence making landfall, unaware of the two casually-strolling Dudes in the background. This has been flogged all over the Intertubes and needs no further description here.

The Weather Channel defended its weatherperson by saying they were exhausted, under stress, and had recently been painted blue. Or remodeled. Or had a head gasket replacement. And anyway, how can viewers expect things to function under such circumstances?

The two men in the background, walking along and apparently not affected in any serious way by wind, were part of a -- different space-time continuum! Yeah, that's it, hot damn; Science To The Rescue!!

If Deepak Chopra were here, he would tell us Quantum Mechanics explains that the two Dudes exist in all states of motion, inaction, and being, at the same time. The camera, as part of the observer paradox, simply pushed The Waveform to collapse when the men were thinking about a decent, balanced breakfast. Yeah. That has to be right.


But, consider: The Weather Channel deals with -- wait for it -- The Weather. They don't discuss politics, report on the effect of Betsy DeVos forcing children to work in sweatshops, the purchase of a third chin for Mikey Pompeo, or report on the latest Tweets of The Leader. The Weather Channel reports on The Weather, a set of science-based, factual occurrences.

It's one of the few things that are reported on that can't really be lied about, unless Fox gets into the weather-reporting business. We don't expect those people reporting the weather to be 100% accurate (the joke is that they rarely are), but we don't expect them to fake the effect of the weather they do report on. Sad!
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Biffy Wants His Balloon


Priviledged, pudgy Brett 'Biff' Kavanaugh has been reported as allegedly attempting to "force himself" on a girl while he was attending an exclusive, all-male Prep School in Potomactown back in the day.

Apparently, Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had been made aware of the allegation through a letter sent to her by Biffy's alleged victim. Senator Dianne held on to the letter and did not raise the issue, or question Kavanaugh about it during his hearings before the Committee, when he promised to be a team player, but would not reveal which team he was referring to. Biffy was clear that only he can fill the tiny, stretchy shoes left by the tubby, angry, maleficent "Fat Tony" Scalia.

Biffy vociferously denied that any such alleged thing had ever happened. He was outraged, and squidgy, and pressed his lips together firmly in a display of putting up with the politics of the peasants. He wanted his candy and his balloon and his seat on the Biggest Court In The Land, because it is owed to me.

The Leader told him so, even if The Leader is an odious little puffed-up poseur and not Biffy's sort at all. He can give Biffy what is so rightfully his -- ergo, Biffy loves The Leader.

A letter was produced, signed by sixty-five women whom Biffy went to high school with, essentially saying he was a perfect gentleman and never ever conducted himself in any way that did not involve copper wiring or optical-fiber cabling.

How these women could have attended Prep school with him at an all-male institution, or how Kavanaugh could have used optical fiber cabling before it became available, was not addressed.

Senator Dianne's late revelation of Biffy's alleged conduct was seen by some as an attempt to delay what had been Biffy's de facto appointment to the Supremes by the Committee's Giant Slug Republican majority. It might even cause Biffy to be sent home without a copy of the Home Game.

But Senator 'Chuck' Grassley (who is even older than Senator Dianne and barely able to remember what year it is), Republican Chair Man of the Judiciary Committee, is determined this will not stand.

"I have pants," Grassley said when he believed he was alone in the Lois B. Lane Senate Maintenance Trailer, "Pants no one can fill. Judge Kavanaugh fills the pants of Tony, and all America can see they are filled. And goddamn it, I'm not going anywhere until those pants encompass all America. We will breathe and think and find our way through those pants.

"Thank you, and good night. Where's my damn check? I want to get paid and go drinking."
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MEHR, MIT "WER, ICH??" :  Apparently, in July of this year, both Grassley and Feinstein were contacted by an attorney who indicated that Federal employees in the United States Courts had specific information about Kavanaugh they were willing to impart, but were concerned about possible retaliation.  

The information came from an attorney who had helped to blow the whistle on Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, who resigned after accusations by several women of improper workplace conduct -- including holding pornographic material on his work hard drive and making employees in his office view it, and sending unsolicited emails to others, including employees, with contents of a sexual nature. 

The attorney, writing to Grassley and Feinstein, stressed that any claims by Kavanaugh that he was unaware of Kozinski's behavior at the time it occurred would not be credible. Testimony by the former Federal employees' would support that.

It was also in July that Feinstein alone was made aware of Kavanaugh's alleged sexual assault by the woman who advised she had experienced it.

Kavanaugh had clerked for Kozinski in the 1990's. Kozinski recommended him as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and that clerkship began Kavanaugh's career -- from the Supreme Court, to Ken Starr's investigation of the Clintons, to his appointment as  a Federal Judge.  And, when announcing his retirement earlier this year, Anthony Kennedy recommended Biffy to The Leader as his replacement.

Biffy testified to the Judiciary Committee that he was unaware of Kozinski's past behavior -- and that his old mentor's resignation was a shock, a "gut punch". However, the Federal employees mentioned to Senators Chuck and Dianne in July might have been able to refute that, if they had been contacted and allowed to give testimony. They weren't.
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MEHR, MIT "ER IST DER GUTES FÜHRER":  The Leader's Twitter feed has been effectively free of whining and bile and invective since Monday, September 17. It is very very quiet.


The Leader.  (Tom Brennan / New York Times)

And, he has appeared recently, and said efforts to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing morons things with Biffy Kavanaugh's confirmation are "very sad" and that the judge is "very nice", and has a very nice wife. "It's a very unfair thing, what's going on," said Leader -- and that was all he said.

He has gone before the cameras and said that "nothing will be left undone" for North Carolina (as opposed to Puerto Rico, nicht so?), and even travelled a short ways from DeeCee to the area, and to be seen to appear and be photographed while saying nice things. Supportive things.
Trump then visited a church in New Bern, a town of 30,000 located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers that was hit especially hard by flooding, and joined volunteers in passing out boxed meals to locals in a drive-through line. He also walked through a neighborhood lined with discarded wet furniture, hugging residents and posing for pictures.
Stormy Daniels' book will be appearing soon, but The Leader has said nothing. Even when excerpts refer to her experience of The Donny as 3.5 on a scale of 10, to his raging insecurity, that he "didn't expect to be president", and the fact that he was having carnal relations with women not his wife ... The Leader has refrained from commentary.

You see, this is the Good Leader. The Kind Leader. The one who does not Tweet incendiary things and who hands out meals to persons he will never think about again. It's true -- he did talk to The Hill and say bad things about Ol' Jeffy 'Kiss-My-Sink' Sessions ("I don't have an attorney general; it's very sad") -- but otherwise The Leader has been quiet. Very very quiet.

This is the Leader who has been told by someone that he must be Soft and Kind and Good, a Leader who "is seen to care" until after a Republican majority can shove Kavanaugh down the throats of the country. Until after the mid-terms. 

He must be seen to be the one who cares about you (unless you live in Puerto Rico, Yemen, Syria, California, or other 'shithole countries'). And must be seen as Kind. And Good. He's the reincarnation of FDR. He's your Pal.

And so shall he be -- now, and until November 7th. Unless, of course, someone close to him is indicted, or he is accused of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, before then. In which case you will see Wonderboy, A Man In Full, come roaring back ahead of schedule.  Because he is not gone away. 
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

After You've Gone

Echoes

South 8th Street, NYC; September 11, 2001 (Toby Amies / UK Guardian)

Lil' Boots: Feared And Bigger Than Daddy, At Last
We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before... the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends -- in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
-- George W. Bush, Joint Speech To Congress, 9/20/01
(Al Jazerra, 2006)

From the moment the towers fell, the authorities told us no one could ever relax again. The implication was that only a continually expanding regime of extreme vigilance could successfully fight this new menace.

Americans agreed. They were so terrified by the sight of falling towers and dead civilians on their own territory that they gave a thumbs-up, or at least didn’t protest much, at each request for expanded power the military and the government made during this time. Secret prisons? Sure. Torture? Sure. Warrantless surveillance? Sure. Need to read our library records, toss out habeas corpus? Sure and sure. The press, too, rolled over ...

And it went without saying that showing videos of Americans killing Iraqi civilians became particularly taboo in major media, to the point where the broadcast of the chilling “Collateral Murder” video via Wikileaks led to actual espionage charges against Chelsea Manning.

It can’t be underscored how important that series of events was. It was proof that the lesson we learned from places like Vietnam was that the real enemy did not live in bushes and hamlets, but in front of TVs in places like Oklahoma and Pennsylvania...

The Democrats will tell you they were genuinely convinced voting for the war was politically necessary, and/or that they really believed the intelligence about Saddam’s weapons programs. It was just a big misunderstanding, all of it. An “oops“ moment, as some commentators called it even back then.

Bullshit. The invasion was no mistake, and nobody above the age of eight believed the WMD story. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. We all knew what was going on.

--  Matt Tabbibi, "Legacy Of The Iraq War"Rolling Stone, March 21, 2018
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Obama and Chief Finance Advisor Larry Summers At The White House, 2009 (Jim Young / Reuters)
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.” 
I put down my notebook. “Just that?” 
“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.” 
-- Matt Tabbibi, "Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?", Rolling Stone, February 16, 2011
(Larry Belcher / CNN)
One of the basic premises of the Occupy movement is the idea that democracy exists for most Americans as little more than an unhappy choice between two sides of the same corporate coin. “We’ve been so alienated from our own sense of agency that being asked to be part of any real decision is exciting,” a woman in her late thirties who calls herself Beatrix tells me. She’s one of the old hands, close to the core of nearly every major radical action in New York of the past decade. So she’s a little jaded, but even so, she’s startled by what’s happening: “Movements usually spend a lot of time on education, telling people why they need to come to the demonstration. This is exactly the opposite. The people came. Now we’re all deciding together what happens.” 
-- Jeff Sharlet, "Inside Occupy Wall Street", Rolling Stone, November 10, 2011
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U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday there is no doubt that civilians have been killed in U.S. drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists, and procedures are constantly evaluated. 
He told a news conference at the end of a nuclear security summit that there had been “legitimate criticism” of the legal framework for the drone strikes and “there is no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn’t have been.” 
“In situations of war, you know, we have to take responsibility when we’re not acting appropriately.” 
-- President Barack Obama, April 2016 (Reuters)
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Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump said the U.S. ought to “take out” the families of terrorists in the fight against the self-described Islamic State. 
Asked in a Wednesday morning interview on Fox News whether he was concerned about the possibility of civilian casualties, Trump said he would “do my best... I mean, one of the problems that we have and one of the reason that we’re so ineffective, is they’re trying to, they’re using them as shields,” Trump said on Fox and Friends. “A horrible thing. They’re using them as shields. But we’re fighting a very politically correct war.” 
“And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families,” he added. “When you get these terrorists you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.” 
(Huffington Post, December 2, 2015)
Young Republicans And Young Publicans: November 2016  (Somodevilla - Ratcliffe / Getty)
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At a recent Pentagon press briefing, Task & Purpose’s Jeff Schogol asked General Joseph Votel, former SOCOM commander and the current chief of U.S. forces in the Greater Middle East, if “a new generation of children will grow up to have to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Votel largely punted on the issue of how generational the war on terror might prove to be, but his answer was still a telling one. “I do recognize we’ve certainly been in Afghanistan for a long time — and of course, we’re back in Iraq for a second/third time addressing some of these problems,” he replied. “I think this is a reminder that these things often take time.”

-- Chris Hedges, "The Legacy Of Infinite War"Truthdig, August 6, 2018
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After nearly tripling since the post-financial crisis spring of 2009, last year the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose magically again by nearly 24%. Why? Because despite all of his swamp-draining campaign talk, Trump embraced the exact same bank-coddling behavior as President Obama. He advocated the Fed’s cheap-money policy and hired Steve Mnuchin, an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and Wall Street’s special friend, as his Treasury secretary. He doubled down on rewarding ongoing malfeasance and fraud by promoting the deregulation of the banks, as if Wall Street’s greed and high appetite for risk had vanished.

--  Nomi Prins, "Donald Trump And The Next Crash"; Le Mond, April 27, 2018 [inside link to Prins, "The Next Financial Crisis Will Be Worse That The Last", Truthdig]

(See also, too: "The Next Financial Calamity Is Coming"NYT, September 12, 2018)
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The lake of ice is divided into four concentric rings (or "rounds")... This final, deepest level of hell is reserved for traitors, betrayers and oathbreakers. 
-- Wikipedia, Font Of All Knowledge; 9th Circle Of Hell In Dante's 'Divine Comedy'
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MEHR, WAS ES FÜR ALLES GEWESEN HAT:

Why We Have Fought To Make An Empire: A seven-pound, bacon-and-bratwurst-burger, being served at the Arizona Cardinal stadium. This is why we have suffered and struggled since 9-11 and The Crash and The Forever War.

This is the Good Life. It is one of your birthrights as an Amrican. It is why our Four Fathers forged a valley. They made a Fake Valley. They fought in a War about being Civil, and they got Gettysburgers. Yay! It's why they landed on Omaha, back in the Dee Day -- because Nebraska. Because Freedom. 

Remember: Illegal People want to come to Amrica and take your seven-pound, bacon-and-bratwurst from you. Your sons and daughters will be denied their chance for high cholesterol and stupendously high percentages of body fat. We need that wall! USA! USA!

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Trust Only The Children

Burning Down The House

Brazil's National Museum; 200 years of priceless artifacts and historical records, burns (John Moraes / Reuters 2018)

I keep trying to read the tea leaves about the future, a foolish, stupid thing to do. Predictions are an illusion; the world has too many variables influencing what that future will become -- though some people have a frightening talent for being able to predict large-scale swings in the culture. It's also a foolish thing to do because I'm not very good at it.

Trying to predict what will happen is just what humans do -- attempt to exercise control in a chaotic mystery world. Americans are a pack of 400 million proto-Chimps who possess just enough intelligence and socialization to prevent us from acting like the Australopithecines in 2001: A Space Odyssey all at the same time. Still, we're dragged around by our genome and our hormones. Our level of consciousness allows imaginative conceptualization, including an awareness of our mortality, and that we have no idea what this chaotic mystery world is.

The leitmotiv of the human condition is not having absolute answers to the obvious questions arising from self-awareness. Every ridiculous and sublime thing we do or have ever done to define or organize or protect ourselves is a response to that. Whatever we come up with are only operating assumptions. They're not absolutes. They're not the answers. But when we insist those assumptions are The Answers, we feel less anxious and insecure.

For thousands of years, religions, cruise lines, governments, distillers, investment bankers, snack food and condom manufacturers have made good money by selling other proto-Chimps on the idea that [Fill In Blank] is The Truth / makes you feel better /lets you boss other Chimps around.  We want to be distracted -- and, as in so many things, America has been Number One in the Distraction Industry for generations.

As we convince ourselves the collective assumptions are The Answers -- at the same time we know that's a lie. When the balance between those two opposites becomes hard to maintain, the reality can come home to roost with a vengeance: Hubris. The Comeuppance. The Fire Next Time. And -- you know -- Things will happen. 
__________________________________

Tea leaves, then: America is collectively being sheep-dipped in unreality. Since Trump, the negative feedback loop of cognitive dissonance has gone into overdrive. The effort to maintain a collective illusion that All Is OK In The USA has become progressively more difficult.

It's a Meatball Moment for so many people (if 2008 wasn't enough). And it's happening on so many levels at once -- political, financial; artistic; race, age, and gender (and, hovering in the background, climate deterioration, species extinction). All feed on and amplify each other, and the general dysfunction -- which loops back; 'round and 'round.

All Is Not OK.
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As a society, we've been here before. There's some Summer of '68 in the air.  Then, we had our Foreverwar, too; we had Tet, we had My Lai. We had protests; "People carryin' signs / mostly say, "Hooray For Our Side" '. Left politics and Civil Rights were quashed by assassination, by Daley's police. We had larger versions of Ferguson in Harlem, Watts, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston; Baltimore.

We had an honest-to-god World Struggle For Domination with the Soviets in that 1968, with real thermonuclear war a possibility (well, we do now, too, but everyone thinks it will never happen). It was more likely the Russians would invade somewhere, as the Czechs found out.

The DJIA slumped a bit in 1968 (but the economy hadn't taken a full-on greedhead Ooopsie!, brought to you by America's Fabled Wealthy™) and the average price of an American home was $14,000 (that's about $120K today).

There was Feminism, but no #MeToo; Gays and Lesbians, but no Stonewall (yet) and a nascent Castro. There were drugs and rock 'n roll in long-ago-68; there was Woodstock and Youthtribe! but no Burning Man -- and, there was more hopeful naivety. There seems way more cynicism, more jock-like readiness to take offense, more fuck you today than in 1968.

Might be there's a reason for that -- given what's gone down since.
_________________________________

The most positive thing Wonderboy has done for America in nearly twenty months is to be precisely who he is -- a congenital liar and an abusive bully.  On a daily basis, he shows us in stark contrast the difference between our collective illusions, and the Real. As Americans, what we do with that understanding is critical.

Not OK, but we'll take what we can get.

It would be a relief, if this was the tipping point in Il Duce's rule.  If that's true, however, think about this:  It means America's population put up with an insane level of behavior by that Orange Suet Pudding-In-A-Bag for nineteen months.  It will have taken 19 months for us to collectively say hey, fuck this, you Jackass! 
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I was once shown a photograph of an older man, taken in Iowa in 1944, standing on a semi-rural neighborhood street with a small girl, possibly his granddaughter. The man appeared to be at least in his late sixties, and looked a little like the author, Kurt Vonnegut (in fact, a lot like him). That would mean he had been born at some point between 1865 and 1875. 

He had grown up in a world where the Civil War, even the First World War, weren't Ken Burns' specials on PBS; it's conceivable he could have been a child when Custer stumbled into the Little Big Horn. His expectations of how the world worked would have been rooted in the 19th century. But there are automobiles in the photo behind him; far beyond Iowa, the Second World War was playing out in all its awful technological splendor.

I don't look anything like Vonnegut, but I could be the Old in someone else's photo, having lived in that long-ago 1968, my expectations about the world based in analog television, 25-cent double-feature movies, rotary phones and slide rules -- but more important, how social behaviors and human institutions worked. 

In the present, we can feel a shift in culture and society, in consciousness, is coming. Driven by changes in climate, technology, in the (im)balance between rich and poor, and unstable global politics, the changes coming will be as radical in their effect as transitions from the 19th to the 20th centuries. 

It's crystal clear that Trump, Alt-right nationalists and Bundist billionares, can't be allowed to shape the debate in America about those social transformations. But I'm not in favor of anyone wired into the neoliberal elite determining our priorities, either. 
_______________________________

The End Of Trump will play out. One way or another, he's done. It may happen within months; it may take two years. It may involve a "Constitutional Crisis", or not -- but it will be ugly; the only question is to what degree. 

If I had a wish, it would be that Trump's unbelievable, foul-mouthed repeated lying about whatever comes into his head, finally brings about the end of the Murdoch business model of selling lies as facts. That Americans might finally demand truth (or a higher standard of accuracy, at least) from our government, from politicians, political activists, the media, educators, corporations. I mean, you don't lie to people whom you respect; right? And Americans are still treated with casual contempt. 

Yes; this is either setting the bar too high, or it's laughable. Lying -- boldface, or by omission -- is baked into the institutions of human affairs, so I'm pissing into the wind, making this wish; but, still. There are much bigger questions to be answered so that any of us might avoid being forced to wipe the bottoms of America's Fabled Elite™, and provide them with many soft treats.

Will we? I told you: I'm only a Dog. I'm not very good at this.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Thing About Congenitally Lying President.
Smooth! Shiny! Crazy!
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  • Lil' Brett Kavanaugh is a scum-sucking pig-dog. He is going to be the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The confirmation hearings are a sham -- everyone gets to preen and bellow and act outraged, for different reasons -- but he'll sit on the court. He'll overturn Roe. He'll protect Wonderboy, Because Freedom. He'll do everything Fat Tony Scalia would, were he still staining the bench. Bretty will represent power and privilege, and be feted and stroked by the Federalist Right forever; amen. And they'll say such nice things about him when he leaves, full of years and glory. Abschaum-saugen Schweinhund.
  • It doesn't matter what Bob Woodward says. 98% of the 'revelations' in his book had already been reported (though the new bits about stealing papers off the Clown King's desk are choice). Woodward reinforces the view, for those not still Führertreu, that Wonderboy is a cartoon of a man, a scrawl of needs and demands for gratification, piggish and infantile. And, no one is shocked by Bobby's book, really, because (wait for it) it was written for the Villagers! 
          The Great Curmudgeon Says: Fuck Off, The Rest Of Us Can
Many (most? who knows) even benevolent elites think that elites, in the very specific context of what that means in the United States, should run the country, and by implication, the world.  
Upper middle class (at least) background, elite universities (and elite high schools!), connections, etc. The "good" [elites] might not express this. They might not actually know that they believe this. But it doesn't take too many overheard "jokes" about who did and didn't go to Ivy equivalents, or even just understanding that this is a perfectly normal topic of conversation for people who are 20 years out of college, to get the point. 
Good liberal federal judges aren't hiring law clerks from Kabumfuck State University Law School, for example. (I am sure there are exceptions proving the rule). 
And the non-benevolent [Elites?]. Well, they truly think they should run the world. And own it. And the rest of us can fuck off.
Digby Says: A Slice From The Loaf Of Amoral And Unprincipled
It's obvious now that Trump's odious public persona is not a performance. He is even worse in private...  
On Wednesday the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed written by a "senior official" in the Trump administration that further supports Woodward's reporting. This person claims that members of the White House staff are acting as guardians of the country by keeping Trump from going off the rails. It's an astonishing essay in which this unnamed official admits that members of Trump's Cabinet actually spoke about evoking the 25th Amendment. 
This person characterizes the president as an amoral, unprincipled oaf who has no idea what he's doing, so he or she, along with others in the administration, have taken it upon themselves to save the nation, essentially patting themselves on the back and saying "You're welcome" to what is presumed to be a grateful nation.
_______________________________
TPM Says: Trump Has A Friend?
Trump’s “volcanic” anger and “absolutely livid” (in the Post’s words) reaction to the op-ed sent top aides, like chief of staff John Kelly, scuttling to sniff out the renegade, according to the Times, which reported that aides have already produced a list of at least six possible culprits. Some believe the defector works in the administration, but not the actual White House, while two people familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump is convinced the turncoat is involved in national security or a member of the Justice Department. 
“It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” one former White House official who remains in contact with ex-colleagues told the Post.  
The publication of the anonymous note of dissension has only added to Trump’s increased “sense of paranoia,” according to the Post, and has pushed the President — who was already feeling vulnerable following reports on Bob Woodward’s new book filled with anonymously sourced palace intrigue — to question his closest allies. 
Only his children remain trusted confidantes, a Trump friend told the Post. 
“He’s surrounded by strangers,” one former Trump campaign official told Politico. 
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MEHR, MIT HUHN:  I just really like this graphic.

At the Friday propaganda session, when Missy Sarah told Another Big Fib, she was immediately shamed by the Chicken. All the Boys and Girls laughed at her because she was such a Big Fibber.
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