Monday, December 19, 2016

The Days

Random Barking: Fate Of Our Fodders 
Electoral College members voted today, with minor defections, to affirm that Donald Trump is the next President Of The United States (News Item).
Eschewing politics, partisanship, and party building, Obama seemed to believe that restoration of transparent, efficient, competent, and responsive government within strict neoliberal policy parameters was commensurate with the epochal demands of social renovation that his own unlikely emergence was supposed to signify. In retrospect, it should not be surprising that this brand of repressive tolerance and progressive tinkering would not hold back the forces of repressive desublimation and social decay that Trump represents. Risk and volatility are on again... the wrecking crew is back in the saddle.
 -- "Trump and the Present Crisis," Nikhil Pal Singh; December 6, 2016

The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion.  The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.
-- George Orwell, Freedom of the Park (1945), quoted by David Remnick in "American Tragedy"; The New Yorker Online, November 9, 2016   

May They Burn In The Forever Fire
"Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany and it is only getting worse. The civilized world needs to wake up."  -- Duce!
I'd like to thank the Project For A New American Century, William Kristol, David "Bucky The Beaver" Brooks; 'Dick' Cheney'; Paul Wolfowitz; Donald Rumsfeld; the Special Condi Rice (Shot From Guns!); Colin Powell; munitions manufacturers, military contractors; many other scuttling roaches, and (last but not least among Bottom-feeders) George W. "Lil' Boots" Bush -- for an unnecessary, criminal invasion of Iraq, without which hundreds of thousands of human beings would be alive today, and multiple tragedies in Baghdad, Aleppo, Islamabad, Mumbai, Tripoli and Benghazi, Paris, Berlin, and a thousand other  cities and towns would not have taken place.

But, don't worry. As children are barrel-bombed in Syria; drown trying to escape across the Mediterranean; as suicide bombers kill and maim hundreds; as women and girls pass into sexual slavery for IS -- for all the above-mentioned persons, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Their holiday is easy and soft. They are warm , and safe, with many treats; and people to tell them they are kind and loved and right and sane and good.

We Mean It, Too.
Die Sprache

Going to work at 5:20AM and a stop at a coffee chain near the entrance to BART on a cold (48 Degrees F.) day. Considering how amazing it all is: Coffee grown thousands of miles away, roasted in machines, brewed in other machines behind the counter -- all the manufacturing processes to fabricate them, and the ships and the trains and the trucks that brought it all together. Served hot in paper cups with plastic tops (trees, oil; more machines making them) in a city with moderate political corruption and a good public transport system.

Inside, a carousel of baked goods, topped by a plate of Bear Claws piled ten inches high -- flour, butter; sugar grown and made in Hawaii (with all the machinery of harvesting, refining); almonds grown in the Central Valley; industrial mixers; baking ovens.  I'm moving towards work, considering the shifting likes and dislikes of my Dog's life and aware of the irony that I have these troubles in the midst of skyscrapers and laptops and cellphones and women so beautiful your heart (among other things) aches with memory and imagination.

At a table in the cafe: an Indian couple in their late twenties or early thirties, having an earnest conversation. "No you do not understand how I feel," says the woman ("Yes; I understand," the man says over her, in a flat voice without much conviction), "There are things I want to do, now."  "Yes and what things," says the man, waiting for the moment to pass, looking off into some middle distance.

"I want my career," the woman replied; the man made a sour face, and the woman said, "You are not taking me seriously. You have to listen to me!" As I was walking past them on my way out of the cafe, the man swung his face back to quickly look at her, eyebrows raised as if to say Oh, do I?

What The Election Means: Easy To Read Nutshell Version
(Click To Enlarge !  It's Easy And Fun !)

I walk down into BART, thinking: the intellectual concrete of language makes possible the construction of ideas, emotions, into the real. If people don't have (or aren't allowed) language that defines concepts like equality in opportunity, employment, pay; or reproductive rights; or when No means No... then after a while, not only will they no longer exist as rights in a society -- the very ideas will cease to exist for the larger mass of the population. It truly is that simple.

They Have Milestones

John Glenn died, age 95. I met Glenn in 1963 for less than five minutes. He had been doing something at the Air Force base near my small home town, and had gone into a local shop to have new rubber heels put on a pair of shoes (his old heels were 'Virginia Oak' brand). He would be back in a week 'during the lunch hour' to pick up the shoes, he'd said.

In the early 1960's everything about the manned space program fascinated me. I had scrapbooks of every space-related article printed in LIFE magazine since before Sputnik -- and seven days later, I was in the shoe shop when Glenn drove up shortly after noon, alone, in a dove-grey military sedan and parked in front.

He looked exactly like his pictures, dressed in a black suit with the thin line of a white handkerchief showing above the coat's front pocket; a white shirt, and a blue-grey bow tie. He was polite, but contained, aloof -- discouraging any attention as embarrassing or unseemly.  We shook hands, and he autographed the LIFE magazine cover of the issue about his multiple-orbit Mercury mission, with the photo of him wearing his astronaut's silver flight suit and white helmet ("Best Wishes, John H. Glenn, Jr.").

What was it like? I asked. "Well, you can read about that in there," Glenn said, nodding toward the magazine -- and after paying for the shoe repairs, politely said goodbye and left quickly.

In the late Eighties, when Glenn put himself forward as a potential Democratic presidential candidate, I read an article about his campaign in Rolling Stone -- in one passage, without being seen, the author had observed Glenn while the ex-astronaut, Senator from Ohio, waited alone in a side room for an introduction to speak at a meeting of some civic organization; its members were in a larger room directly next door.

The group opened their meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance -- and as they did so, the author watched Glenn stand, put his right hand over his heart, and recite the Pledge himself. There was no reason for him to do that; so far as he knew, no one was looking.

Kirk Douglas celebrated his 100th birthday.  ZaZa Gabor died at (maybe) 99, and her passing even eclipsed information about Aleppo and submersible drones seized by the Chinese and Duce! in the nightly news -- ironic, as ZaZa was almost wholly without talent, one of the first to be famous ... just for being famous. She made Paris Hilton possible (more irony, as ZaZa had married, and divorced, Paris' grandfather Conrad). Even in death, our 'news' organizations treated her as if she were a person who had achieved something worthwhile and notable in human affairs. 

I Remember It Was Better In The Olden Days

One Wants To Believe What Will Keep One Safe
... this is something different. This is not Mitt Romney winning in 2012 or John McCain in 2008. It's part of a larger current in the world that I find equally troubling, which is an illiberal current. It has justifiable beefs with the results of globalization, de-industrialization.
There are all kinds of people in the north of England, in the south, in the Rust Belt of the United States and throughout Europe who are made uneasy by, and have suffered by, all these currents... I just don't think that the political results that we're seeing in many of these countries are the healthiest thing in the world. I think just the opposite...
A friend of mine here at the office said it's like you've been tossed out of an aeroplane and you feel the sense of alarm, fear... no parachute is opened. No sense of "ah this is a normal event"… But there is that impulse to make it such, and I see it all around me. I see it on television. I see it in the paper. What I would call normalization.

You see it all over. I understand the impulse. It's a very human impulse always to normalize the situation, so that you're not in a state of constant alarm or fear or sadness or agitation.
-- David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker, Interviewed By The BBC, 12/17/16
Rot Front; Rot Front!

You want the 1930's (hopefully minus the Depression)? Okay; we'll give you the Thirties.

Antifa! Poster Announcing
"Prevent Nazi Parade In Berlin !", May Day 2004
Announcing Trump’s victory, his clever consigliere [Steve} Bannon offers a different story from the one we have typically been told about American global power, foretelling of a future restoration of what Bannon calls native, “American capitalism” and its place in the sun. For Bannon and Trump, the bill has come due for the global protection racket that the US has run lo these seventy years. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia,” Bannon has declared. “Like Andrew Jackson’s populism, we are going to build an entirely new political movement… it’s going to be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”
 -- "Trump and the Present Crisis," Nikhil Pal Singh; December 6, 2016

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