Showing posts with label Boneryänker's Almanach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boneryänker's Almanach. Show all posts

Friday, August 30, 2019

Stunning Protests Threaten The Fantasy

...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

 '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. 

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.

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.

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?

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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

This Is Only A Test

Grand Name Money Game
Testing. Testing; One Two. Testing:
Hot Damn, Viet Nam -- Hot Damn; Viet Nam. 
-- PA Announcer, aboard the RMS 'Magic Christian'
   From the 1969 film by the same name (Full Script Here)
For some reason known only to the great Coding Gods, my return to barking isn't being received by a larger world. Hence this test. Looking for content? Go here.  This is only a test.

If this had been an actual post, you would have been treated to the same low humor and half-considered analyses as are regularly presented here, with a leavening of equal parts egoism and self-depreciating offhand remarks. You would have been directed to tune to 640 AM or 1240 FM to receive information and instructions about, you know; things.

Damn; knew I shouldn't have said all those crazy things about Jeffy and ZuckCo.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In Pursuit Of Normalcy

Never Take Your Eye Off The Ball

The Recall Of Actual Memory = Normal
So we don't believe that life is beautiful because we don't recall it; but if we get a whiff of a long-forgotten smell, we are suddenly intoxicated, and similarly we think we no longer love the dead because we don't remember them -- but if by chance we come across an old glove we burst into tears.
-- Marcel Proust
The Leader Is Clinically Insane With Poor Impulse Control = Not Normal
Brian Klass, a political scientist at UCL [said]: "We have a seriously dangerous normalcy bias, where we move on because we desperately want to pretend it's okay. Trump's Twitter meltdown today -- which shows a deranged and unhinged person -- will just be forgotten by Monday afternoon. But the deranged man will still control the nukes."
(Chris Cillizza, "Trump's Craziest Day Ever On Twitter", CNN)

The Leader Is A Liar = Not Normal
And then, Friday afternoon, it got worse. Responding to a question by an ABC reporter about whether he believed there was a growing threat of white nationalism worldwide, Trump responded, “I don’t really,” adding, “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”  Our own ears and eyes (as well as statistics) tells us that’s a lie.  Again, this reaction is because Trump gets his base better than anyone.
(Dean Obeidallah, "Trump Still Won't Name White Supremacist Terrorism And His Base Loves It", Daily Beast)

Delusional Cray-Cray = Not Normal
Donald Trump’s suggestion that Britain invented Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has been branded “completely false” by the UK government.  The US president shared a tweet by William Craddick, the founder of right-wing conspiracy theory news outlet Disobedience Media, on Sunday evening. “Russiagate was designed in part to help the UK counter Russian influence by baiting the United States into taking a hard line against them,” Mr Craddick wrote. ...

... Late last week, [Trump] launched an extraordinary attack against Theresa May over her Brexit negotiation strategy, claiming she “didn’t listen” to his advice over the issue.  Sir Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP and privy councillor, told The Independent that Mr Trump’s peddling of the conspiracy theory was “foolish” and “ludicrous"...  "The trouble is he allows himself to be subject to these great flights of fancy, which unfortunately there are too many people who take seriously,” said Mr Soames, who is the grandson of Winston Churchill.
("UK Government Hits Out At 'Completely False' Allegation", UK Independent)

Republicans Cleave To Insane Leader = Not Normal But Predictable
I think the connection between scientology and Elizabeth Holmes is the “prison of belief”. Look at what happens to [Theranos board member] George Shultz – the grandfather of [eventual whistleblower] Tyler Shultz... Even when his grandson comes to him and says, “You know Grandpa, there’s rampant fraud at Theranos”, he can’t undo or retract or unwind the belief that he has. He’s in a prison of belief of Elizabeth Holmes. He’s committed to her, and for him to say, “Oh wow, that’s terrible”, would mean that he has to go back to the beginning and admit that he was duped and fooled.
(Julia Wong, Interviewing Alex Gibney; "Americans Have A Fascination With Fraudsters"; UK Guardian, March 17, 2019)

We Are Powerless To Resist ZuckCo (And Those Like It) = Not Normal 
Perhaps what the scandal has really revealed is a situation that is too embarrassing, too disastrous to acknowledge. We know that Facebook has been used to undermine elections all across the world, including our own. But we’re in this strange historical moment where we’ve realized it, but we don’t have the power, currently, to do anything about it.
(Carole Cadwalladr, "Cambridge Analytica, A Year On"; UK Guardian, March 17, 2019)

International Mass Shootings = Not Normal
The horror of the New Zealand massacre should be a wake-up call for Big Tech and an occasion to interrogate the architecture of social networks that incentivize and reward the creation of extremist communities and content ...

... Part of what’s so unsettling about the New Zealand shooting suspect’s online persona is how it lays bare how [social media and extremism can] come together for violent ends. [The killer's] supposed digital footprint isn’t just upsetting because of its content, but because of how much of it appears designed to delight fellow extremists.

The decision to call the attack a “real life effort post” reflects an eerie merging of conspiratorial hate from the pages of online forums and into the real world -- a grim reminder of how online communities may be emboldening and nudging their most violent and unstable individuals.
(Charlie Warzel, "We're Asking The Wrong Questions Of YouTube And Facebook After New Zealand"; New York Times, March 19, 2019)

Domestic Mass Shootings = Not Normal 
“Obviously there’s some type of situation that caused the husband to be extremely upset,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said in a press conference. “We’re trying to find the connection. Obviously these are not random shootings... Six people lost their lives in a very short amount of time. This is the new normal.”
(German Lopez, Vox, September 12, 2018; "... Shooter In Bakersfield Kills 5 Persons, Self")

The latest nightmare began on May 18 with the news: there had been another school shooting. This time, it unfolded at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, a town of about 12,000 people ... Paige Curry, a student at the school... [said it] didn’t feel unreal at all. “It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I’ve always kind of felt eventually it would happen here too.”
(Haley Edwards, Time, May 22, 2018; "School Shootings Are Becoming The New Normal")

Whiteman Daddy Strongman Oligarch As Leader = Not Normal
... there are the inherent structural failings in modern democratic politics. In the United States, unrestricted campaign financing continues to undermine democracy. The spectacular corruption of the electoral redistricting system -- gerrymandering -- only compounds the problem. On top of this, the polarization of traditional news media by Fox News and others is poisoning the capacity of the democratic system to build a sustainable consensus around what is left of the political center, as shown by the debacle of the American gun-control debate.

As Western democracies look increasingly sick, other systems of governance are now on offer. Russian nationalism represents a departure from Western political, economic and diplomatic norms. China has become increasingly confident in its own model, described as authoritarian or state capitalism. And its “Beijing consensus” is held up to the non-Western world as an example of a more effective form of national, and even international, governance.
(Kevin Rudd, "The Rise Of Authoritarian Capitalism", New York Times, September 16, 2018)

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Random Barking: Duck And Vortex

In The Grip Of The Tentacle 

Oh-Dark-Thirty and down to the Bart:  Walking up to the Caffeine Dispensary Station on Tuesday, I passed a man in his mid-thirties, apparently well-dressed -- decent shoes (with a shine); newish Patagonia jacket with its hood pulled up; retro-fashion framed glasses, and carrying a black daypack.

I'd gone a few steps past him when I heard his voice explode ("How can you be so CONFIDENT!?! Don't you SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?"), and in two seconds had to undo all the unconscious, five a.m., pedestrian assumptions I'd made after glancing at his clothes. Apparently, Kleider Nicht Machen Leute.

One hand on the door of Coffee Station, I turn; he's four feet from me, hugging the daypack to his chest like a life preserver, his right hand extended into that space between us to display his third finger in the fabled Bird.

"You monsterfucker; Die!!!," he almost literally growled, hunched slightly forward and continuing to flip me off. "DIIIIE!!"

The intensity in the space between us was -- well, intense.  My instant response was to match his intensity level and unload on him -- but then thought: Hey; that's what stupid primates do. Never been called a 'monsterfucker' before; that was pretty creative. Let's try something else with the energy, here. I looked at him, continued opening the door, smiled and said, "Well; have a nice day!"

Still hunched over, Bird extended, he didn't move. "Diiiiiie," he whispered, as if expecting me to keel over, right there, as a result of an act of sheer will on his part. "Diiiiiiie!!"

Inside the Caffeine Station, two SFPD patrolmen (whom I hadn't seen) had watched this exchange through the coffeeshop windows. So long as neither of us had touched the other, no property damage had occurred, and I wasn't some pissed-off Citizen hotly demanding they do something about the Nutball, the police weren't going to get in a twist.

We nodded at each other ("How's it goin'?" "Ah; it's early"). "What'd he want?" Asked patrolman A, lifting his chin toward The Guy, still standing in the same spot and having rotated to continue flipping me off .

"Oh; yeah," I said, waving a hand. "He just wants me to die."

Patrolman B considered this and nodded. "What'd you say?"

I shrugged; "Told him I was working on it."

The Patrolmen (as Robert Graves once wrote in another context) thought this a great joke. Outside, The Guy walked past the windows, displaying his middle finger to patrons, policemen, and Caffeine purveyors alike before disappearing up Market Street.

Cute Small Animal Dies -- World Mourns, Or At Least Notices

RIP: Trevor, The Mallard, Near The Puddle
(2018: Rae Finlay / Agence France-Presse)

In January, 2018, a particularly bad storm in the southwestern Pacific carried a duck -- a male, standard Mallard -- to the tiny coral island of Niue, roughly 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand and not far from Fiji.

The 1,600 people living on the island had never seen a duck, had no idea what it would eat or how it preferred to live. Through trial and error, they found the duck liked oats, and corn, and preferred to stay near a large puddle left by the storm. The sudden appearance of food also attracted a local rooster, and a smaller chicken, which the duck tolerated.

The duck was a big hit with the island's children, and seemed content with the minor hubub he caused. As time went on, island residents and municipal authorities had to constantly add water to the puddle to make it viable for the duck -- which was finally named Trevor, after a New Zealand politician, Trevor Mallard (catchy!).  The islanders thought of sending Trevor to another island, such as N.Z., where he might have more Duck options, but didn't reach a consensus.

News about the arrival of what, for locals, was an unusual species began to circulate outside the little island. By the autumn (in the northern hemisphere), Trevor had achieved international status as "The World's Loneliest Duck" -- not entirely accurate, as Niue's residents paid a great deal of attention to the little creature: part pet, part tourist attraction. He became a landmark: it was apparently common to include the Mallard in directions to those visiting the island if appropriate ("go past the duck and turn right").

Sadly, it was reported last week that Trevor was attacked and killed by a local dog. His passing has been reported around the world -- which is more exposure than most ducks get (except this one, of course), and more than many humans can expect in These Times, and certainly more than all the species humanity has recently forced into extinction will receive.

The Salmon Moose Tolls For Thee

Obligatory Cute Large Animal Photo At Opening Of Blog Filler

HOWARD: ... Don't see it that way, Jeff. Let me tell you what I think we're dealing with here -- a potentially positive learning experience, that --
DEATH:  SHUT UP!! Shut UP, you American! You always talk, you Americans! You talk, and you talk;  you say, "Lemme tell ya something!", and, "I just wanna say this!" Well, you're dead now -- so SHUT UP!
DEBBIE:  ... Can I ask you a question?
DEATH:  (Exasperated) What?!
DEBBIE:  How can we all have died at the same time?
DEATH:  (Looks around the table, then points) The -- Salmon -- Mousse.
[ ** Cue Snippet Of Dramatic Music ** ]
HOST:  Dear -- you didn't use the canned salmon?
HOSTESS:  I'm so dreadfully embarrassed. 

   -- Monty Python, The Meaning Of Life (1983): "Part IV -- Death"
      Graham Chapman (Host); Terry Gilliam (Howard);
      Michael Palin (Debbie); Terry Jones (Hostess);
      John Cleese (as The Grim Ree-pah)

Obligatory Photo Of Current Polar Vortex (New York Times.
Position Of Moose Is Approximate and Not To Scale.)

The Leader Gets Larger

The Leader has signed many Executive decrees since his arrival as the Great Orange. I thought a quick review of his handwritten signatures  (specifically, a comparison of their size over time) might direct additional light upon his sociopathology, but as usual others had gotten to it first.

Click To Enlarge -- Easy and Fun!!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Just Repeat Things With Fierce Conviction

And The Future Will Be Fun For You

What will that future we hear so much about look like?  The Usual Suspects conduct Business As Usual: Nancy Pelosi is recaulked, mainbraces spliced and buffed to a high shine, and redelivered to the House as Speaker-To-Animals*. Chuck Schumer remains Democratic leader in the Senate. Together, they are the leaders of the Democratic party. While they talk inclusion to the 40-or-under crowd of "New Democrats" entering the House, Chuck 'n Nancy do represent (Left) entrenched interests, and will make sure those interests (not necessarily the People) are represented.

Chuck 'n Nancy will say The Same Things Over And Over Again With Fierce Conviction ("This [fill in blank] is a new low for the Republicans"  "Americans will not stand by while [fill in blank] takes away [fill in blank] and puts [fill in blank] at risk" "The President needs to [buh buh buh] because the American people are sick and tired of [buh buh buh]").

These responses are inoffensive, and the legislation they will pursue is bipartisan and centrist. They are the Kind and The Good. And the Republicans know they will do this and be this because that's the Democrats' side of the legislative dance.

However, the Republicans -- They are the Vicious, Vengeful, Unpredictable, with the Avarice of a Child, like The Leader. They know their side of the Dance is to kick Dems to the curb every chance they get, to be greedy and rapacious. The Leader wants war -- and until he can force the Iranians to attack U.S. naval units in the Gulf, the Democrats will have to do.

Republican leaders, like Senate Majority Yertle the Turtle (such an Especial Turtle) and the newly-appointed House Minority Leader, Sean Hannity, will continue to spout whatever little things come into their heads ("Speaker Pelosi is a syphilitic mulatto"  "Those different from us are Demons"  "The Democrat party will make multiracial dating compulsory" "Republicans have reduced the deficit by 60% since Leader took office" ). These things will be repeated, over and over, on 'Fox 'n Friends'. 40.2% of Americans will say they believe them.

The Leader signs a Prestidential Order making it compulsory to begin every sentence with a reference to Him ("Our Leader, who is wise and good, loves us, and yes I do have the data on progress in the new regional project").  42% of Americans say they welcome the new requirements, which will "teach a lesson about loyalty" to others (undefined).

CNN would report on this with comment, but Missy Sarah sends them to the Principal's office and gives their chair away to a representative of the Neues Völkischer Stoltz Jungen Daily, and its editor, Horst Whitemale. "Stop lookin' at my chins," scowls Missy Sarah, as she slyly opens her second box of crullers that morning.

Only the American Infrastructure Act will have support from both political parties --  and to celebrate its passage, Schumer, Pelosi, Turtle, and Hannity hold a joint press conference to trumpet a "new spirit of bipartisan cooperation for the American people." Chuck 'n Nancy smile for the cameras.

Leader will sign the bill at a ceremony in the Rose Garden. Leader speaks for one hundred and one minutes about His brilliance, His sagacity, His many gifts to the world: promises kept. "I made a good deal," says Leader. "We'll be handing out contracts soon; lot of people I know will do good work for the American people. Jobs. Lots of businesses making money. I know a lot of them." Sean Hannity takes the opportunity to call the Democratic party "the party of predation". He also smiles his winning smile.

The Leader began his campaign for reelection on November 7th, 2018. At a rally in Watertown, South Dakota, Leader will hint slyly that liberals should be taught 'a lesson', and when the Stoltz Jungen attack a forum held by the Soros Foundation, The Leader -- appearing at another daily rally in Murrkopf, Indiana -- will shrug, stretching out his arms and Big Hands™ and say, "Maybe the Soros people shouldn't have been there? Ya know?" to the raucous laughter and delight of the adoring crowd.

Later, He refers to reporters covering the event as "predators" -- "Don't people hunt predators out here?" asks Leader. "I dunno! Just thought they did!" In the following weeks, random shots are taken at 278 news vehicles, nationwide; thankfully, no one is injured.

Chambers Whittaker Pumpkin, baldo stand-in Attorney General, receives The Special Counsel's report on Russian election influence in 2016, and involvement of The Leader's campaign and The Leader. Pumpkin reads the report and fires Mueller in a tweet to the Völkischer Stoltz Jungen Daily.

Pumpkin puts the report in a drawer and spends the rest of the day playing golf with the CEO of a corporate defendant in a Justice Department civil action. The following week, the government announces it will not pursue the case; Pumpkin will later be seen driving around Georgetown a new Ferrari GTC4 LussoT.

It takes 36 hours for the report to be leaked. It shows that The Leader and others conspired to Want and to Take, Because They Could. It recommends the indictment of 158 Russians, Roger Stone, and a few others. Leader Jr., and Kushy, are shown to have solicited or allowed Foreign Powers to affect the election.

In an oft-repeated quote, The Leader will be reported to have said, "I don't give a [redacted] -- I want it. That's all that matters and [redacted] the [redacted] People." Melania Trump, attending a 'spa day' with Louise Hinton, appears in a custom-made Alexi Queen coat with "Scott Free" printed on its back.

Release of Mueller's report will trigger obligatory hours and hours of shouting and keening and media. Many people will stop to watch the Shiny Object on teevee for hours. Advertising time will be sold for very high prices. Much money will be made.

In the end, the Republican majority in the Senate rejects the House's Bill of Impeachment. Yertle The Turtle (such an Especial Turtle), standing next to Mikey Pence, Inquisitor In Chief, will tell the media, "Don't care what they want. They should go back where they came from." Yertle makes comments to a Fox anchor, but will refuse to answer questions from the "predator press". Another round of random shootings of news vans occurs across the country.


We are so unquestionably scrood scrood scrood.

* The "Speaker-To-Animals" reference will be instantly recognizable to readers of Larry Niven's 'Ringworld' series of science-fiction novels. For those unfamiliar with it, the term will will mystify, confuse, and possibly enrage.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Random Barking Friday

This Will Not Contain Leavening Humor

April 30, 1945, in the Reichschancellery's Führerbunker: the Red Army was closing in quickly and less than a quarter-mile away. Hitler and Eva said goodbye to a line of their old retainers and True Believers, and were on their way into Hitler's study to kill themselves.

Outside the study stood Heinz Linge, Hitler's principal valet. The two shook hands. Hitler told Linge that the situation in Berlin was lost, and that he should try to leave the city and escape to the West.

Linge later said he had asked, "For whom shall we fight on?" Hitler replied, "For the coming man."

What makes my skin crawl about what's occasionally described as living through the Assholeocene isn't the daily, drop-by-drop absorption of new outrages Trump and his minions commit. 

Weird how predictably that happens, now. Mornings, Trump watches Fox 'n Friends, and tweets. Sarah fantasizes and lies to a room full of adults. Afternoons, we learn about more corruption, more sociopathic abuse of immigrant children; another right-wing judge appointed for life; the awesome lives of our fabled Business Leaders and Owners, and Celebrities; more peasant-fucking.

In the evening, Trump flies to some rural district which voted overwhelmingly for him in 2016, and spews about his greatness, the threat of the liberal and the Other, before an ecstatic crowd. He preens and complains that he is unfairly attacked, victimized -- that, just like them, he is "under threat". They wear hats, and chant. Their identification with Trump provides them with an almost carnal frenzy and release.

Faultlines of race, class, gender and inequality in America have always been there; Trump's appearance puts them under serious stress. Other factors (extreme climate events [see below and follow the link]; unstable financial markets; mass shootings) increase the noise of uncertainty and fear, always in the background.

A large number of people appear to be on short fuses, the Crazy looking for a way out; "everybody angry (peculiarly angry ... [as] normal is changing color, tenor)"; meanwhile, a bloated, raving old man is a role model for the boundaries of permitted speech and behavior.

Trump is giving permission to cross boundaries -- not in and of itself a bad thing; it all depends on who's doing it, with what intent. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial is one way of crossing a boundary. Trump's public speeches are another. The difference in intent is clear.

What makes me uneasy is not the experience of the present, so much. What Trump and his slavish GOP supporters have done in just 21 months makes increased social disintegration more likely (it certainly makes a society where Our Fabled Wealthy will be comfortable, while the rest of us are not). That can lead to a rising tempo of political violence -- and a more authoritarian state would seem attractive by comparison.

Trump might be that one-party dictator of an "illiberal democracy", an Orban or Erdogan, but I don't believe he's the personification of the end state I'm worried about. It's someone who would capitalize on Trump's shattering of political norms, take it to a new level: the "coming man"

What Chris Hedges Said:
While it is true that the United States under Trump is not Hitler’s Germany, Trump has tapped into America’s worst impulses... his ultra-nationalism, white supremacist views, and racist diatribes coupled with his attack on immigrants, the media, African-Americans, and Muslims are indicative of a politics right out the fascist playbook. If the public and media keep denying this reality, the endpoint is too horrible to imagine... 
Trump has emboldened and legitimated the dire anti-democratic threats that have been expanding under an economic system stripped of any political, social, and ethical responsibility. This is a form of neoliberal fascism that has redrawn and expanded the parameters of the genocidal practices and hate filled politics of the 1930s and 40s in Europe in which it was once thought impossible to happen again. ...
What Margaret Sullivan Said (via Digby)
... At a raucous rally in Montana last week, a Trump supporter — juiced up by the president’s crude praise of a congressman who body-slammed a reporter — looked directly at CNN reporter Jim Acosta. Then he ran his thumb across his throat. And laughed. 
Later, Acosta described “the Trump effect.” “It has normalized and sanitized nastiness and cruelty in a way that I just never thought I would see,” he said, shortly after that Montana rally. 
The Trump effect is a straight line from years of his hateful rhetoric to real-world danger. It’s a line that goes directly from disrespect to pipe bomb. And — almost inevitably — it will eventually go from failed attempt to spilled blood... 
Ann Coulter tweeted that bombs have been... "a liberal tactic.” And radio behemoth Rush Limbaugh... [said] that Republicans don’t do this sort of thing, and a Democratic operative was the more likely culprit. 
But let’s get real. Everyone targeted by the pipe bombs had been the subject of endless hours of Fox News commentary. The list of targets read like Sean Hannity’s pre-broadcast crib notes: Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and former CIA chief John Brennan — and, as the representative of evil mainstream media — CNN. 
As usual, Trump himself projected blame everywhere but where it belongs...  he combined swipes at the news media and Democrats with a call to “come together in peace and harmony.”

What Ian Welsh Said ("...IPCC Report Version"):
... There are quite a number of scenarios where this stuff happens faster... What will actually happen is that we’ll get some feedback loop like arctic or permafrost methane release and that will lead to parabolic increases. When it breaks, it will break hard. 
At that point a lot of other problems could also blow up, the most serious of which would be the Oceans losing their ability produce oxygen. If that happens, well, we’re dead. 
Even if it doesn’t, things like the thermohaline currents flipping or shutting off are possible. Europe could, in the middle of everyone else getting hot, have a mini-ice age. 
... And it isn’t that we are decelerating. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who will likely win election, has essentially promised to chop down what remains of the Amazon jungle as fast as possible (and also, to commit genocide on the remaining indigenous tribes. No, don’t pretend, that’s what he means.)


A suspect is in custody in Florida, charged with being the individual who mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats and liberals.

Cesar Sayoc, Jr., was described by the New York Times as a Republican who had been active on a variety of right-wing social media sites, with several prior arrests for fraud, robbery, and charges associated with explosives.

Police had seized Sayoc's van in connection with the arrest, and removed it from Sayoc's home under a blue tarp. Later, they removed the tarp -- and Mark Lancia, a local freelance journalist, took a number of pictures which are, as they say, worth a thousand words:

(©Mark Lancia; via TruthDig)

Monday, August 27, 2018

I Lift Mine Eyes To The Hills

And See The Naked Fat Guy

Back in the day, I was associated with the Billboard Liberation Front (a little odd, considering what I once did for a living, but there you are). 

The basic concepts of the BLF (and don't take my word for it: read the Manifesto) were essentially that the materialism and commercialism expressed in billboard advertising were part of the mass deadening of our culture, and so fair game for artistic manipulation which revealed said deadening -- like Adbusters, except the BLF came first and wasn't available in bookstores. You had to look up and experience it -- or, actually do it. 

So when I recently noted the art collective, Indecline, had been out and about in Los Angeles, it stirred a few memories.

(Photo: ©Indecline, via Art Newspaper, June 22, 2018)

Consider the logistics necessary to do something like this in an urban area -- reconnoitering the site; having access to the platforms; creating the artwork to match fonts, sizes and background colors; hauling all materials up narrow ladders; and completing the work rapidly enough to avoid being seen, and any unpleasantness with the local constabulary. Normally, this is done in the dead of night.

Indecline had already garnered some notoriety prior to the 2016 election by creating, and publicly displaying, life-sized statues of a naked Wonderboy in several large American cities (regarding their naked Il Duce statue, placed in New York City's Union Square, a spokesman advised, "NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small").  Earlier this year, they had created a jail cell in a Trump hotel in New York for a Trump lookalike in a MAGA hat.

I should note that, sadly, no one performs this sort of consciousness-raising exercise on a billboard regarding the state of the Democratic party. But don't worry; it's all in Good Fun, and the future is bright and shiny and tasty and fun.

And, Wonderboy continues to gain weight in office, while the rest of us are driven mad -- meaning there will most likely be future billboards in need of liberation. Like this one:

(Margaret Bourke-White, 1937)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Random Barking Friday: Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

Leaders Not Liars

What is it going to take? What are people waiting for?

The person who is President of the United States is a liar. Repeating an observation Robert F. Kennedy allegedly made about Lyndon Johnson, "He lies. He lies all the time. He lies when he doesn't even have to lie." Arguably, Trump is the worst President in the history of the nation.

Trump says things which are completely and verifiably false, using the same method as a Limbaugh, a Jones, a Weiner, or Rupert Murdoch's media: say something confrontational, even nonsensical. Repeat it. When called on it,  double down, even triple down -- or, bully up, and walk away.  An observation about a mid-20th century right-wing politician noted:
His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong... never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

The people of Puerto Rico have been all but abandoned by the U.S. government after the devastation of hurricane Maria. This has been a series of deliberate, choiceful acts.

What are people waiting for?

Trump is corrupt, and filled his cabinet with right-wing sycophants and individuals who use their positions to advance their self-interest.  The tax structure revisions Trump and the Republicans eagerly pushed into law are the equivalent of burying a nuclear warhead under our house, on a timer: it will detonate -- but someday, in the future. After Trump has eaten his fill, gotten bored, and waddled away.

Then, there's what he and his crew have done with the Federal judiciary. With the environment; water and air quality, food safety, emissions standards. With banking, finance, corporations by eliminating regulatory oversight or refusing to act. With the belief that public leaders should represent a community's ideals, our Better Angels.

Ivanka and Melania have made public comments appearing to contradict what Daddy Donald has said or done. It's a sideshow.  Melania's "I Really Don't Care" coat defines her; she's not secretly working for fairness and civility against her crude, malevolent husband. Spend a few minutes watching Ivanka operate, and you'll know she's not going to stand against Daddy either. 

Both women are indivisible parts of the Trump Family Brand, which sees the Presidency as just another acquisition, to be milked for every last drop of revenue and influence and discarded, along with the population of the United States, when they're done. 

What's it going to take?

Watching a past episode of Joe Rogan's podcast, he and astrophysicist Sean Carroll made an observation about Trump similar to one I've shared here -- essentially, that Trump could have sex with a goat on live television, and nothing would happen. Carroll observed:
I worry about what happens next... I do worry, that this [Trump's consistent depiction of the mainstream media as 'fake news', 'enemies'] is a hard thing [for the media] to come back from. Because ... another thing that Trump said was, "Don't believe anything you're told, unless you hear it from me" ... and Tucker Carlson said the same thing..."[If you hear news from] any show other than mine, don't believe it." ... [Trump] gives people a narrative that works for them.
Trump himself constantly use the phrase, "Fake News", a buzz-word to his supporters.  It's been observed that Trump and his legal team -- Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani -- are spinning a narrative about Trump's connections with Russia for public consumption, using the same phrases and memes to be repeated in the right-wing media echo chamber. Their narrative is full of lies, too.

Giuliani admits, cheerfully, that in doing so, what they say doesn't have to be true; it's to influence public opinion around the topic of Impeachment -- because (as Rudy knows, and so does Trump), Impeachment occurs in the House and Senate. Elected representatives can be, uh, 'persuaded' by their constituents to 'go easy' on a disgraced Trump.  But it's a strategy based on contempt -- for 'the base', for any American, as rubes, Marks, who deserve to be fed lies because they're stupid enough to believe them.

The Special Prosecutor's investigation into Russian influence during the 2016 Presidential election (in paralell with the case against Michael Cohen, and the multiple trials of Paul Manafort) continues to show that Trump is a liar.  Donald, Jr. is a liar. No one knows precisely where this goes.

What The Fuck? I struggle, daily, with the impact of Trump's personality, breaking political and societal expectations for the role of America's Chief Executive. An unapologetic, in-your-face racist and nationalist, he gives permission to all the 'Little Trumps' to be unapologetic nationalist racists.

None of that is accepted practice. It isn't what Presidents do. It is what authoritarian leaders do.

I've said before, This cannot continue, and This cannot end well. We see and hear our Leader lie, obviously, daily; and the fact that nothing happens as a result makes me ask: Well then, what's it going to take? What are people waiting for?

One of the Last Of The Old Unit observed, "New drinking game -- it's the only one that will get us through this. Every time Trump says -- anything -- do a shot of single malt."

Not everyone is drinking. Not everyone is waiting. Some are organizing, and the mid-term elections are a natural focus -- and the expectations for some are high, that the season will be a litmus test for American democracy. But the Left and Right wings of both Republicans and Democrats are fighting for control of their respective party.

At least for the Democrats, it's not clear who will be the Democratic candidate for President in 2020. The party's Old Guard could win, and push Joe Biden (or someone like him). The Progressives might win and promote Elizabeth Warren or Kamalah Harris; or, the Social Justice Warriors could win and offer Bernie Sanders (or someone like him).

For Republicans, none of that matters. With their command of the House and Senate, the GOP Old Guard supported Trump to advance the wet dream of american conservatism: dismantling FDR's New Deal, and they've ignored who Trump is to reach their goals.

Unless something reduces Trump's approval rating below 30% (hard to see what would have that effect, given his behavior already), the GOP will continue supporting him, and Trump likely will be nominated to run for a second term.

But if Trump's past behavior catches up with him, then suddenly he becomes the Old Guard's scapegoat; they throw him under the bus -- a risky game plan, again built on the assumption that Americans are naive and manifestly stupid.

(Or, it's not a risky plan at all, because the Old Guard on both sides of the aisle believe that the majority of America's population -- "all those Little People down there" -- are naive and manifestly stupid Rubes and Sheep; disposable and expendable.)

Some congressional Republicans have opted to bail before Bannonite Brownshirts in their districts push them out for being insufficiently Trumpist. Others have different problems. Meanwhile, the GOP continues to ignore Trump the crude, narcissistic liar with poor impulse control, exhibiting the possible onset of dementia.

So we wait for the midterms. My guess is, the Democrats won't have resolved their internal conflicts, sufficient to present a coherent face to American voters, by September / October. The Republicans may lose some Congressional seats, but it won't be a rout. And everyone will wait for 2020.

Trump is President. He's a compulsive liar, a corrupt and venal man -- and even though that's been shoved in our faces like a crude pornographic cartoon, repeatedly, it isn't enough to prompt us to demand his removal, or commit to ongoing, large-scale public unrest -- not like some of that doesn't happen. And, not like Trump wouldn't like an opportunity to, you know -- crack down a little.

But Trump is a symptom of the failure of two competing visions for a future playing out here, and in Europe: Globalism and Nationalism. So far, I haven't seen a Middle Path proposed -- one that doesn't lead to rule by billionaires, multinational corporations, the WTO and IMF and a neoliberal elite; or, multinational corporations, billionaires, and authoritarian political puppets controlled by a mafia of Oligarchs.

Trump's weird vision of an America behind border walls, but still projecting military and financial strength to influence the world through threats and fear, just isn't viable. The world is interdependent, -- and like it or not, how we vote and who we vote for affects more than just the United States. Trump is a perfect example.

But the two dominant political models in the current world aren't viable, either. Seen from that perspective, the politics of America's midterms are part of a larger struggle between competing theories. The Old Guard of each party will appeal to a Return To Normalcy or To Greatness. The radical Left and Right will demand a revolution.

What concerns me is that enough people will want an End To Crazy -- enough that they'll believe a Biden, or a Kinder, Gentler conservative,  will Make It All Like It Was. I don't believe that's possible. It may not even be desirable.

But until our political parties can enunciate platforms which reflect a broader understanding of what's at stake and provide an alternative, no one has my vote. Meanwhile, we still have Trump; things still can't continue like this without a terrible,  corrosive effect -- and it all cannot end well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Random Barking: Wondering

Murrika: Enshrouded; Lost; Guided By A Trickster (Foto: Joseph Beuys u. Coyote)

Big Box Of Terror 
In conversations with friends over the past few weeks, we admitted experiencing an uneasy, underlying sense that The World had fundamentally changed in a way we can't fully grasp, validate, or prove. We were the same, but everything around us had shifted, slightly -- like a kid's party game, where you guess which items have been moved on a table.

The Oldest Friend came close: "It's like I went to bed one night, and woke up in an alternate universe that was just a little bit different than the one I went to sleep in. Nothing immediately definable -- it would be like discovering there had never been Abba-Zaba Bars, or the original 'Star Trek' ran for three seasons, not two. I'm fine; I'm okay -- but, the World feels 'off', different -- 'stranger in a strange land'-ish.

"That's completely subjective, I know," she said, "but it takes a while to go away, and it's pervasive."

While all of the people I spoke with defined that experience a bit differently, there was common agreement that we perceived some difference between ourselves and The World that hadn't existed before -- which led us to feel mildly alienated from everything, except possibly each other.

When we said The World, we didn't mean the planet, the natural landscape. Climate deterioration aside, the Natural World seems to be solid, abiding. 'The World' we referred to is the one built out of social fabric, stretched on a framework of collective relationships and stitched together by the cultural Ways our society accepts and agrees to in those relations. It was in that world we felt, suddenly, out of place.

The Girl Who Refused To Be Mrs. Mongo said it reminded her of the Cold War -- what it meant to live in the knowledge that nuclear war was possible (guess what? It still is). It was an understanding we kept, down in the basement of our consciousness, jammed in a dark corner, along with the box that has the big, yellow label with red lettering -- Terror: Or, we are Mortal and Death is Mystery.

There were times down those years when we woke up in the middle of the night after a particularly bad news cycle, thinking what if the sirens just went off? Now (the people I spoke with agreed), nearly every morning when we get up, we wonder what new outrage has been committed, what new boundary was crossed, while we slept. We come awake expecting bad news. One way or another what we're really thinking is What? What Has Trump Done Now?

Someone noted, 'Trump is the new Cold War' -- meaning, like that time in our collective past, he has become the symbol and avatar of that dark corner in our own basements. His antics are a reminder that The World is just a construct, and the control we think we have over the Natural World is an illusion. Trump is the embodiment of unpredictability.

As a 72-year-old, Trump has to know that he will not live forever. Spasmodically, he acts out and splatters America with his own feces, then revels in the disgust he provokes, the impotent anger of others, all to feed an endless hunger for validation to avoid the Big Box Of Terror at the center of his own being.

So I wake up in the 2:30AM, sometimes with the Terror, sometimes not. I remind myself that we're animals, hard-wired to survive -- and self-conscious animals, who understand that our lives are finite, and demand answers.

Our world (the actual one around us; the perceived one in our heads) is changing.  It has always been unpredictable in its details -- but not in our beginnings, rites of passage, ecstasies and sorrows, and our end. No one, alive or dead, can say why we came to be or where we're going -- but we demand our Reason Why, even if it's not possible.

And I remind myself: all of our Details are in The Stories. It's why Gilgamesh. It's why Homer and Herodotus, Chaucer and Pope; Dickens and Melville. It's why statuary and panel and canvas and paper, camera, movement and words on a Stage. It's why music from Cantos to Paart, Bach to Ravel, Joplin to Pere Ubu -- and all of it bent to the virtuous effort of telling the Story of What Happened To Us When We Went Through It. All of our details go; only the Stories remain.

I considered this, and because I'm only a Dog and not a philosopher, passed my observation on to friends in the version used at the Soul Of AmericaBe Kind, Motherfuckers. They could get behind that.

This Bathroom Is Occupied

I'd picked up Peter Fritzsche's 2016 book, "An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler", now out in paperback. Browsing it at a bookshop, I was idly looking for resonances with the perspective that we're living in an occupied country, under Trump and his creatures. As if the nightmare were something alien, forced on us by an invader.

I do actually know better. My life in America is not even remotely similar to the European experience between 1939 and 1945. As swinish, bloated and mendacious that Trump and his crew are, they aren't foreign invaders. They don't speak a different language. And they aren't nazis  -- though some of  Trump's "fine people" parading in Charolettesville last year would like to be.

I'd like to say Trump's government doesn't demand your identification, perform roundups of civilians, make it easy for companies to provide the population with food, water, or products which are unsafe. But they do these things, and much more. And while Trump and the opportunistic leeches he's dragged in his wake are not nazis, there are people in America who are treated by that government as if nazis had landed -- primarily, the Usual Suspects: immigrants, the marginalized poor, people of color; LGBTQ Americans; women.

You know the drill. None of this is news; we see it on television or online, every day. But so long as it isn't happening in more affluent neighborhoods, or to your friends and families or you -- Meh. Doesn't concern us. Have a beer. Watch the Big Game.

In the 1970's, I visited Europe. Walking through cities I noticed (with surprising regularity) something rarely seen in America -- it seemed a significant percentage of adults in their late forties to early sixties had serious facial scars, eye patches or glasses with one darkened lens; crutches, missing limbs.

At a bus stop on a warm morning in southwestern Germany, a man stood waiting, wearing a Tyroler hat, a topcoat and gloves. His face was a smooth mask of shiny, oddly pink skin, which made discerning his age difficult. His nose had been reduced to a smooth bump. Plainly, he'd suffered serious burns -- except around the eyes, where a pilot or air crewman would have worn a set of goggles. I must have been staring; the man looked over at me, took in my non-European appearance and clothing, and said, "Good morning," in a British-accented English.

I nodded back, said nothing, and so missed the opportunity for an insightful conversation with someone who at the least had an interesting personal story. He also might have confirmed what I was already guessing: that the European experience of the Second World War seared everyone by degrees, civilian and military, the persecutors and persecuted, right down to their souls.

Those who weren't killed in occupied Europe continued to experience degrees of cruelty, humiliation, betrayal, anxiety and uncertainty, at levels that would have been unthinkable before 1933 -- and all because it became acceptable and popular in Germany to believe ideas which first became policy, and then law.

One aspect of the Holocaust is as a teaching moment for humanity about intolerance and hate, and where it can lead. Fritzsche's book shows clearly what the power of belief can do to individuals, and groups, in even more detail than any other look at the period I've seen -- something I didn't think was possible. Using only contemporary documents and writings, he shows how The Leader in an authoritarian system provides permission to his followers for accepting astonishing levels of violence (if not committing it), and how he becomes a psychological scapegoat for the violence should it all go bad later.

America's history has already burned us, as Europe's before WWII had done to its own cultures and societies. We aren't living in an occupied country, but we are changing (“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig... but already it was impossible to say which was which”). We run the risk of being seared down to our souls (as Europeans were, over twelve years of nazism) by whatever at the moment seems to be coming.

I'm not sure what it will feel like to live here, when the country gets to wherever we're headed. We can try to be kind, first; perhaps that's all we can do. Perhaps it's the only real act of resistance, in the end.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Revenge Of The Giant Face

Random Barking, With Music

Billy And White Jesus.  A fixture lurking in the shadows of my time, like Coca-Cola logos and Huntley-Brinkley and Uncle Walter; cigarettes, bourbon at the backyard barbecues; airstrikes; racism, so fully baked-in you wouldn't know it was there ("Who, me? I'm not racist"), and the notion that your primary juice must be testosterone if you are to be considered fully hu-man.  But, since I wasn't a believer in White Jesus, I don't notice much of a vacuum, now he's gone.

Billy tried to do as he perceived the Truth and The Way to be, but Christian Leadership became fat men in suits on television, purring for dollars, always; determined to bring The Message Of The White Jesus.

Those Christian Leaders have ended as corrupt, publicly worshiping at the altar of Power, and the more private altar of Themselves. God shows his favor to the Elect. And, what of faith, for those who do? The message by example is, Pray To Grow Rich.

We're supposed to say nice things about the dead. But for all of us, the sum of our actions, words and thoughts is what remains. The effect which you had on others. But Billy wasn't like us, no mean little player, barely seen at extreme Stage Right in the Crowd Scene.  He was a player on center stage, and so responsible for a much larger percentage Effect on the world than the average person.

Now he knows what we do not. Now he knows what he did not expect.

Gunz And Actors.  The most recent gun violence: Facing off against Murrikan Leader, against Florida politicians. The metaphor of a ship, foundering on well-known reefs of corrupt and more corrupt, and Freedom and Jesus, and right-wing Inchoate Rage At Living In This World.

Survivors, their families, may have hoped what happened in Florida would be the watershed moment, the tipping point. But as a topic of debate; as a political issue (as opposed to personal tragedy, unspeakable grief), I'm concerned the event has already lost some of its specific resonance in the eye and ear of the public.

It's being watered down by the obfuscation and temporizing of politicians like Our Leader and Mark Rubio. It's being twisted in the insane echo chamber created by 34 years of Murdoch's Fox and right-wing radio. A textbook example:

Congressperson Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said in recent public remarks regarding gun violence that
“Obviously there’s a lot of politics in [the subject]. And it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats. But the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
(Bonus 'Fuck Off To The Sea' For Lil' Claudia: Tenney is up for reelection this year. She is opposed by a Democrat, Anthony Brindisi.  

(I'm not a New York resident. From a geographic perspective, I have, uh, No Dog In This Fight. And I'm not a cheerleader for the Democratic Party (whatever it may be now). But Tenney gave a textbook example of a right-wing scumbag who lies -- is a liar. 

(And, she should be told to Fuck Off To The Sea [which I believe is a Big Marine Mammal Avatar Creator reference, but I could be wrong]. I'm aware some have concerns about ActBlue -- but if so moved you can go show Anthony the love. Anything is better than having what Tenney is in office)

And, UTub videos of Florida shooting survivor David Hogg's comments the day after the massacre had gone viral. In response, a UTubber known as mike m. ("not his real name") posted a clip of Hogg, with comments insinuating the teenager's demeanor and delivery were proof that Hogg was "an actor", hired to make anti-gun remarks to the media.

It turned out that "mike m." was, by his own description to the New York Times, a 51-year-old man "living in Idaho", and whose other UTubb uploads all had a similar, conspiracist flavor. UTubb pulled his videos critical of Hogg and threatened, per their 'three strikes' rule, to cancel his account -- but
Anonymous and remorseless, “mike m” was undeterred. “There is more to this kid than appears on MSM,” he said ...  Asked if he would think twice about posting such videos in the future, he said, “No not at all.” 
He said he was worried about his [UTubb] account getting deleted, adding: “But I am not going to stop.”

Everyone Look At Me.  She will make everything pretty, before the bombings. Because her Daddy is the CEO of Murrika, and she's so pretty. Don't you think? Of course you do.

Soft Life; Smug Life; Treats.
What are the lives of the planet's wealthiest people really like? ... [they] are so different from those of the rest of us, it's almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. 
-- Brooke Harrington, sociologist; To Parth Shah, NPR: "What's It Like To Be Rich? Ask The People Who Manage Billionaires' Money", February 19, 2018
“Have we not become the isolated thing-for-yourself in the middle of similar beings?”
-- Peter Sloterdijk, in “The Critique of Cynical Reason" (1983)

Resist. The reasons, in the face of authoritarian rule, do not change.

At Last; Just Music.

Dunno about the movie, but Thomas Newman is one of My Guys. 

Liked the teevee show; an attempt to ask the right questions, while wearing a bourgeois support costume -- one of the great contradictions about creating certain kinds of art, and propaganda. And, fuck it; Jeff Daniels does good.


Friday, January 26, 2018

The Great Hedgehog Of Post-Modern Neoliberal Capitalism

Obigatory Cute Small Animal Photo At Beginning Of Surrealistic Blog Thing

Moved by the posts of others, recently, I decided to take a stab at (what can be charitably called) stream of consciousness writing, sparked by the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, attended this year by Wonderboy, Murrikan Leader.

I don't normally play with this style of fiction; so, apologies in advance. As Wonderboy's own parents once said, "Let's do this, get it over with, and never speak of it again" -- point being, this is supposed to be topical, and funny.

(For those with no knowledge of Cricket, a "Diamond Duck" is the term for a situation where [per Wikipedia] "a batsman who is dismissed without facing a ball -- most usually run out from the non-striker's end, but alternatively stumped or run out off a wide delivery -- is said to be out by a 'diamond duck'.")

Diamond Duck In Davos

1.  Greasing The Grenze

Coming into Davos, surrounded by winds whipping the confectioner's sugar of Swiss hospitality between the crisp billboards, Halt! Grenze! (Stop! Pemmican!) and Kämpfe Für Das Karussell Des Fortschritts! (We  Struggle For Kurt Russell's Foreskins!) The searchlights are blinding, guard dogs bark with an accent (Wüf!), and sudden efficient women are opening doors of perception in your car, murmuring, "Good evening. Anything to declare?"

But you're not surprised. No, not you; never you. All this was in the briefing. They are efficient, here in Davos. The Mark O' Mammon is barcoded on their hind parts -- you've been shown photos -- and at home, skis are racked demurely beside priceless paintings bought at bargain-basement rates, in auctions at Zürich and Geneva, between 1936 and 39.

And of those pouring into the valley, no one ever says to the women, "Ah DO -- Ah say, Ah say, Well AH DO DECLARE," in a voice borrowed from Foghorn Leghorn -- although you have a secret urge to do that. The women smirk at you, without envy, because Ach, Ja; we know this about you. You wish to do That Cartoon Rooster; such a typical male. We here in Davos know -- otherwise, you would not be allowed here. A brief blonde hand mumbles through your luggage, brushing socks and briefs, lingering for a moment with the rough play of starch in a shirt -- then, waving your car on: Alles Gut; los geh'n. 

And then, you glimpse the last billboard: Im Diesen Friedenskrieg Gibt Es Keine Gefangenen! -- No Prisoners In This Peace War. The Great Carousel Of Progress gives only to take. It really is shitty, what a Town Without Pity Can Do. Ha, ha, ha; that's our Davos!

Even if you have a Safe Conduct Leaflet, dropped like pet leavings on sidewalks by the IMF and WTO (Be a DO RAG, it proclaims, Not a DON'T RAG), after surrendering, the best one can hope for in coming to Davos is a cot in that hut on the mountain. They'll be jammed in with municipal workers and novelists. There will be a crucifix hung on the damp concrete wall, and a 1970's postcard showing light at the end of a tunnel. In the dark, farting and snoring settle around you, diaphanous, studded, anxious. You dream of gristle.

The others will receive a coupon for a discount-price small soda, and a trip to observe George Soros' hair colorist, reading a copy of Forbes, through a bulletproof window. But the Surrendered had denied the primacy of the Great Carousel, so their Davos will be a short sniff of the leather seats in an otherwise unoccupied Daimler. Then, to be sent home at their own expense for long retraining in a job that will take months to find, and which is discontinued the day after they are hired.  Ho, ho,ho, ho, Cisco! Ho, ho, ho, ho, Pancho! That's our Davos!

But this is not your Davos. You are not on file, under the name you were given to use, as having denied The Carousel Of Progress. [Your Name] has been Cleared, umbrage squeezed dry and ready for productive action in service to Man's Betterment. If L.Ron were ever alive, he would be. If Tony Robbins were real, he would guide you personally across the hot coals. Parma-shahanda Yoga-nanda, Parley-voo. In your mind, a Crackerjack prize, and in your gloved hand, the feel of a bag strap made from an endangered petrochemical, all telling you this is real.

(But: The whole squeezing Man's Betterment is just fake bullshit, a double-blind ruse. You're here in Davos in a big quilt, so far under the covers that your latitude and longitude come up Zeroes. You're not who you say you are, and never were. The hopes of all humankind stain your carpeting in expectation that you would complete this mission and get an oil change. God is with you, but he steals your stuff and sells it downtown.)

You stride up to the 4-star hotel desk repeatedly, just trying it out. The clerks -- parthenogenic, muted -- take no notice. They are busy timing each other's movements and their interactions with guests. The clerk with the lowest total time receives a coupon for a discount-price small soda. The rest are allowed to live, but forced to wear old animal costumes outside the hotel, in public, so that all will know of their shame and inexactitude.

Your electronic room key is imprinted with the likeness of Klaus Schaub, wearing a bib, and pictured eating in a 'Communist Lobster' franchise restaurant. The room, fragrant with violets; your phone, seeking you; and promises of delights of the eye, tongue and intellect are hung around the wallpapered box of your room like laundry washed in the sink. It is cheesy and expensive: the highest expression of the Free Market. You have made it.

Pencils down. You evacuate your bowels. The toilet has a shelf for you, the curious, to view leavings before flushing, and it would be churlish to refuse anything offered for free. This act of introspection will be your best moment at Davos. They told you this would happen -- but nothing, nothing could prepare you for that moment of contact, of spurning. You wash your hand.

2.   Where You Were, Gentlemen

It's the day. There are WEF conferences and hubub scheduled, rooms, many rooms, of people murmuring peasancarrots, peasandcarrots repeatedly. But you were instructed to feign shyness until The Moment. You hang. You chill. In The Packed Elevator, you do your Robin Williams laugh -- and everyone in the Car suddenly does the same thing.

You almost flinch. It's endless, permeable, like having a colonoscopy on a train -- but you remember: Keep control. Deep breaths. Be Coolidge: You Lose. Then, the Car stops; its doors slide open and a man moves past you, still making his seal-bark laugh, pausing to wipe his eyes on a woman's hair, and pat you on the shoulder as if to say, Dude -- good one.

Here, finally; the white placard outside a door to an auditorium, with a single word in red: Stumpfegger. This is where you are to meet your contact. You accept a glance from the woman beside the door -- an intense simulacrum of Donna Reed -- who hands you a brochure entitled Complete Release. Blushing, she says this conference covers "the plot for forgiveness of all First-World debt." You smile, nodding, earnest, but keep moving. Your mission is more important than what you suspect about her thong underwear -- and will never know. You'll have to live with that.

They said, Your contact will know you. All you had to do was to find "Stumpfegger" and show up. You stand near the tasteful refreshment table and realize the man serving drinks is a frenzied doppelgänger for Joe Turkel, eternal bartender in The Shining, and decline a tequila shooter. You wave the Complete Release brochure back and forth, as instructed -- a signal, an urgent, full-bladder motion, and think about thong underwear. Really hard.

Then, you see The Contact. You see them seeing you see them, actually. Everything that happens after this is a blur; you'll be debriefed about it for weeks in extra crispy detail, a swimming up from sewage depth to where sheep graze, safely. And, fortunately for you, the story will not change. You will be allowed to go back to wherever it is you come from. You will be allowed to toil in many jobs, but not remain for long -- because Lt. Gerard will always show up, looking for money.

What catches your attention about The Contact first is his hair, its architectural blondness -- now whitish, now caution orange, and shiny, like preternatural two-tone ice cream or a small child's flotation device. The Contact is a suet, puffed inside his black suit, behind the signature doublewide red tie. His face is a carnivore drunkard's bloat, too-small eyes, piggish; his mien oblate and spiky. His lips are a crayon line drawn by an angry pensioner across the lower third of that orange face. The French Cuffs of his whitish shirt have little numbers embroidered on them: "45",  and he is nodding, nodding, at you as he walks forward. This is your contact.

3.   Historical Briefs With A Brown Streak Of Genius

A Stonehenge of men and women in sunglasses surround The Contact. They move in formation, maintaining a Raggedly Ann circle around him, continually bumping into other guests, chairs, tables, each other, headed right towards you in a chorus of s'cuse me; par-done, pal; hey lookout; aw christ you could see me comin', right? and who keep reaching inside their jackets as if checking to ensure they still have their wallets.

You clench. The deer flips on its headlights and there you are, about to get a mouthful of antler (Hi! Remember me? You hit me with the Volkswagen! Payback's a bitch, pal!). You think of the face of your mother -- or Lady Gaga, or another suitable female substitute, just as The Contact stops directly in front of you. You are standing in his Circle Of Trust, surrounded by partially blind people who have weapons.

"Hey, you know," The Contact says, lifting his chin and tilting his head back to look down at you, Mussolini squinting at a small boat far out at sea, "You know, I was out there, goin' by, and thought, 'You know, I should stop in there'. How's it goin'?" You open your mouth to answer but the contact, like the voiceover for an industrial safety film, keeps on talking.

"There's so many things goin' on here! It's like the world's fair of banking and whatever, right? You know, they never -- never -- wanted to invite me to Davos. I mean, I'm the most sympathetic person to what they want to do, in this whole place, the whole thing, me -- and they never invited me before! Not once!"

The Contact sees a blur moving outside his Circle Of Trust and raises a hand, perfect white teeth in the ocher pudding of his face, saying, "Hey, thank you. How ya doin', yeah; thank you," before turning the oily tumblers in his eyes back on you.

The Contact's eyes widen to the size of dimes. He throws his hands out, experimentally, the breadth of a large fish. "But, n-ow -- now, they had to invite me! I'm the leader of the free world, right? Over 300 on the electoral; nobody ever mentions that, by the way. But, hey -- Swiss've been great, they really have, very gracious -- they've been very, very good to me, very respectful. Not saying they're not. I'm very much thinking I hope they stay like that."

You nod. You lean towards him slightly, and enunciate the code phrase: Hobo Oboe.  The Contact stops, squints, pushes on his chin. "Din' getcha," he says; you rinse and repeat. The Contact thinks about what an impression of remembering something might look like, then leans towards you, and speaks a countersign: "Ah, Yeah, yeah.  'My Penile Prosthesis'." He steps a little closer and, with a quick glance around the room, squeezes out a shruglet, raising his brows while the eyes remain inscrutable, swinish.

This was the moment. This was why you came to Davos: to observe your leavings, and tell this person what you were instructed to say -- a single phrase, "Stormy Weather". You ignore the sure impression you have gained that The Contact is wearing thong underwear, stand on your feet's balls, and draw a deep breath -- but before you can speak, The Contact interrupts you.

"Hey, I have a lot to do; so much to do, I've got -- you wouldn't believe how much I have to do in this job. I tell you, if I could go on strike, I'd do that. Leftists would love it. Chuck Schumer'd love it -- but I am the most involved president, hands-on involved, of any president. Not since Lincoln, or anyone, has there been a harder-working president than I am. So that's one.

"Two, nobody is listening to me. I mean, the people, some of the people, they listen, sure. But there's a fucking conspiracy with the New York Times and fucking PBS. Jesus; fucking Frontline. The Washington Post -- that Bezos, he's just trying to mindfuck me. But, I'll be fair, some of my own people -- don't want to name anybody, but some of them are very close to me -- use the media to talk themselves up. Take credit, make me look like some crazy, stupid person. Happened just last week."

Everyone in the Stumpfegger Room is looking at something else while they look at The Contact, and you. He has drawn himself up on a cocktail napkin, his gut pendulous within a tent of jacket; he pushes a stubby finger into the inches before your face, shouting, "I'm tellin' you: I am not stupid, like everyone says! I'm Smart!! I am fucking in charge!"

"I was elected with the largest electoral numbers in modern history -- I was, me! Not the goddamn Daily News! And I'm about ready to say to the Post, 'Hey, Jeff; you want to get shut down? You want a military censor sitting in your office with a magnifying glass up your ass? You want the IRS looking at your offshore LLCs?' And those terrible conditions in his shipping places; just terrible. We're gonna look into that. He's outta control, that guy; it's very sad how outta control.

"I'm not even getting into the Russia thing. Yeah, we're lining up for ol' Bobby; and oh, everyone's gonna be surprised when we let go, my friend!" His face is an alarmed bell of crimson. "see, it takes just one thing, just one thing, and the whole ball game can change. That's what I'm saying; I'm saying that. All right." His face relaxes like a sphincter, and he nods, lifting a hand with two fingers, faintly Benedictine. "All right. Thanks very much. Great to see you."

The theme to "Heroes Of Telemark" begins to play in the background and he's off walking, his perimeter of flesh shifting with him back through the room and out the door.  A tendril in your head saying hey man that tequila shooter be lookin' good right now. From here to eternity, everyone is turning, turning, and have come round, Right wing, at last, to be looking at you. If curious glances had their own mucus, you would be coated in slime.

You order a tequila; the Joe Turkel bartender says Your Money's No Good There, and it's all on the House. Somewhere, you realize that you did not give The Contact that message. On the way back to the hotel, your Uber driver talks about a company which has made an app -- an interactive photo-calendar of shaved animals, for other animals. It has had two billion downloads at $2.99 each.

Obligatory Dog-Faced Fruit Bat Photo: Pooch Of The Sky

At the hotel, you receive a message: Mother says the cow is sick. You must come home immediately. Tickets will be delivered today. There is also a huge, Dog-Faced Fruit Bat, in a basket, from the Davos Chamber Of Commerce. One of these messages is benign, the other ominous, and you do not know which is which.

The Fruit Bat turns on the room's television;  you both watch situation comedies in German until the Fruit Bat turns to you and says, "Are you understanding any of this?"

The Fruit Bat dials Room Service and orders a Martini. After a time, the Room Service waiter, a man in his mid-twenties, appears. He places the Martini, and the bill, on a side table.  The Fruit Bat sips at the Martini in silence. The waiter stands to one side, observing. The world wonders.

After a few minutes, the waiter politely clears his throat and says, "You know -- we don't get many Fruit Bats ordering Martinis here." The Fruit Bat, glancing at the bill, replies, "Yes; and at these prices, you won't see many more of us, either."