Showing posts with label Give Them Guns And Jesus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Give Them Guns And Jesus. Show all posts

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Steak Of The Union

Eat Up And Leave, You Hoser
The Leader Speaks:  Sleep, America.  Sleep.

Tuesday night, The Leader delivered a rambling STFU address, written by committee (as these speeches are), only this one done more so and badly. He was pathetic; the script execrable, and it met the low expectations of nearly the entire national punditi class -- some of whom whom had said that the address would look and sound as if it had been slopped together by a Primary School.

(I'd thought of liveblogging the event [Archives are proof, I've done it before], but it would have been like channeling The Leader's twitfeed; like repeating a giant informercial for America™ Trump Timeshares. Couldn't stomach the notion; so, uh-uh.)
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Everyone heard a Reagan-era speech, built around references to an illusion of America which never was. Old-line Republicans like baseless appeals to patriotism ("Why? Because Freedom!"). Reagan's description of a "shining city on a hill" was outdated when he spoke the words, and is stupefyingly illogical to use any similar metaphor 35 years later.

(Not surprisingly, the "shining city" reference Reagan's speechwriters chose was drawn from a Puritan -- John Winthrop, who lead the Massachusetts Bay colonists from England in 1630. America, and the rest of the planet, continue to suffer the echoes of the Puritans' world view [principally its justification for class stratification, misogyny, and exploitation], as it shaped the cold-blooded and self-justifying behavior of America's hereditary upper class -- and all its institutions, which it does to this day.)

The Leader's speech asked Americans to focus on an illusion that past great deeds equal what we are today. It was a ninety-minute exercise in ignoring every major challenge we're currently facing as a nation or as a species -- but the speech implied that America's worst problems seem to be the political Left, and murderous Brown People From The South.

It was a speech appropriate for the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce in 1919, but not a Joint Session of Congress in Washington D.C., and for the rest of the world, in 2019.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant

Ironically, a speech invoking the great deeds of America's past was being delivered by a mediocre, populist grifter -- the sort of person who always seems to show up just as Empires begin to fade. The Leader's hair appeared a darker and more uniform yellow (a few days before it had been almost whitish); otherwise, he appeared the same bloated caricature, a man who personifies every prejudiced, misogynistic and ignorant aspect of our culture. And he claims to speak for all of us.
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The Leader looked and sounded conspicuously unprepared to give a milestone speech -- as if he didn't have to be. He is Trump, The Magnificent, and can Wing It anywhere if he wants; fuck that Gravitas crap.  His delivery was halting, choppy, always changing tempo, as if reading something off the teleprompter for the first time, unsure what was coming next.

His delivery, like his entire presidency to date, was substandard and extemporaneous, painfully embarrassing to watch. The only thing we could be sure of : everything in the speech was written to focus on him. It would all be about him. It's all he knows or understands.

And for once, he'd be right. Just as the mid-terms were partly a referendum on Trump the man and The Leader, this State Of The Union speech would show whether he had listened to the message those midterms delivered. Or, whether he was going to shove his tiny manhood into the collective face of America while screaming fuck youuuuuuu!! As he does so often. 

I suspect The Leader believed this speech would be a Great Political Moment for him -- but as we observed, his Personal Best was the functional equivalent of licking his crotch in public while on international live television (Hey; as a Dog, I know about this).

Additional Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photos In Middle Of Blog Thing 
Think: You Never See The Two Of Them In The Same Room.
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The speech began with I Make A Mock Appeal To Bipartisanship, leading to I Am Responsible For A Wonderful Economy Which Benefits Working Americans Most. Then came My Tax Cut Benefited Working Americans Most; and then But There Is More We Together Must Do.

This was followed by We Could Accomplish More, But For Partisan Investigations.  Then, as we knew it would, came I Will Have A Wall / A Wall  / A Wall Wall Wall -- which tumbled abruptly into his introducing relatives of an elderly couple, apparently killed in Nevada literally days ago by undocumented alien Brown persons. Fear The Caravans! FEAR THEM! More Soldiers To The Border!



Well -- it was obvious we could go here, so we went.

Cynically, I had to ask myself: not to trivialize their loss -- but why would grieving relatives, whose loved ones (so said The Leader) had been killed days before, want to sit in the public gallery of the Capitol on display before international teevee? Is their love for The Leader that great? How do they feel about his Brutal Whiteman Daddy vision of the future? Or, were they chosen as representatives of The Base, to be seen as guest stars in the reality teevee show, Trump's America™ ?

Eventually, the speech wandered into I Say To You We Must End AIDS In America, and too, also We Must End The Scourge Of Child Cancer.  The Leader stumbled with the word "scourge"; but who could argue with either idea? Which was, of course, the point. The Leader is Compassionate. He feels for ordinary faceless peasant Americans like you. Really. No, really.

Finally came A Nod To Evangelicals That Soon, By My Bounty, Shall They Have A Late-Term Abortion Ban, surely the first of many Wonderful Things. And as the room erupted in Republican applause and cheers, TeeVee cameras showed Misters Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, sitting side by side, looking up intently, respectfully, at The Leader.

(That's called "Foreshadowing" -- the hallmark of quality reality teevee entertainment, like the program our planet has been forced to live in).

And sprinkled like raisins through the suet pudding of this event, The Leader directed his audience to Look! Look Up There! It's [A Grieving Family]  [A Sick Child]  [Old Soldier]  [Astronaut]  [Holocaust Survivor]  [Police Man]  [Trophy Wife]!

It went on, and on, and on. And after more and more and more, The Leader finally said Gobblezyou gobblezmurrika G'nite.


G'nite.  You can, of course, sleep on.  I suggest waking up as fast as you can.
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MEHR, MIT SPECIAL BONUS UPDATE:

Holy Mother Of God.  Fortunately, only a car part; but, still: Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck.

It's been almost fifty years since anyone has fired a weapon at me, and while there was context for it at the time ("Since you are here, people will try to fuck with your basic existence"), the fact of guns and that humans use them at all leaves me speechless.  
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

That Narrow Way Towards A Precipice

It Can't Happen Here Unless It Already Happened Here

(Graphic Mongo)
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It Can't Happen Here is a 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis. 
Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a politician who defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt and is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values. 
...Windrip is less a Nazi than a con-man-plus-Rotarian, a manipulator who knows how to appeal to people's desperation, but neither he nor his followers are in the grip of the kind of world-transforming ideology like Hitler's National Socialism.
...Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a plutocratic / totalitarian rule ... Windrip's administration, known as the "Corpo[ate]" government, curtails women's and minority rights, and eliminates individual states by subdividing the country into administrative sectors... managed by "Corpo" authorities, usually prominent businessmen.
Those accused of crimes against the government appear before kangaroo courts presided over by "military judges". Despite these dictatorial ... measures, a majority of Americans approve of them, seeing them as necessary but painful steps to restore U.S. power... 
The novel's plot centers on [a journalist, Doremus Jessup's] opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion. 
Reviewers at the time... emphasized the connection with Louisiana politician Huey Long, who was preparing to run for president in the 1936 election...  
-- Wikipedia Entry for "It Can't Happen Here"
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Friday, February 16, 2018

America Wants Its Guns And Jesus

Parkland, Florida: 17 Dead

Yet one more mass killing.

I understand what gunfire and injuries caused by weapons mean. In 2012, when twenty children -- 20 children -- were murdered at Sandy Hook, projecting my own experience into a situation involving the deaths of five-year-old children -- five-year-old children -- I thought this, finally, would be the event, the tipping point which would cause us to turn in collective revulsion, and something would be done about gun violence in America.

But it wasn't. And in the six years since, we've had Virginia, and Denver, and Florida (No. 1), and Washington D.C. And San Bernardo. And Texas. And South Carolina. And.

Every time this happens, it becomes Just One More Of Those Things That Happens. And, I've said it before: these incidents always happen Somewhere Else in this big Nation of ours -- until they don't. And Our Corrupt Whores Complicit In Homicides Sainted Politicians do nothing.

Our Bloated, Raving Skunk Sainted Leader says it's about mental illness -- guns don't kill people; it's the crazy nutjobs who do that.  But Our Sainted Leader can shut the fuck up and be damned: as I've said and unfortunately will go on saying, none of these incidents are about Operator Error.

And because I've said it before, here are reprints from 2015, and 2014, and 2012, after (then) yet another mass killing. And another.

And while the massacre in Norway in 2011 didn't occur in the United States, the connection between gun violence and right-wing consciousness is clear -- more of a threat in America than the rest of the 'developed' world.
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Virginia

I've already had to repost my thoughts about Sandy Hook after yet another rampage by some angry nutjob.  I'm not going to do it every time we see the effects of combining Angry Nutjob with Firearms, or I'd be reposting it every week.  But I will quote myself:
Only in cases like Sandy Hook does our national debate begin and end with, "Guns don't kill people; the people using them do". And that's it -- Pilot Error, essentially, is the public finding; and any other meme is just filler in the media. That, and people repeating, "It doesn't happen every day."

I'm sure that fact is a comfort to the extended families of twenty children, who died because they were shot with high-powered handguns. Twenty children...

What happened in Sandy Hook yesterday has happened before -- in Columbine; in Denver; In Virginia; in a mall in Seattle last week; at a Dairy Queen in the Northwest. There may not be massacres, but annually there are many multiple-victim, firearm homicides in America.

And they will keep happening, until something changes about how firearm ownership and possession is discussed, and regulated, in this country.

The debate is not about Operator Error.  It's not about something that happened "over there" in another city or state. It's about twenty dead children.
 Per Reuters:
Two journalists, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward of Roanoke CBS affiliate WDBJ7, were shot during a live interview on Wednesday by a disgruntled former station employee who later killed himself. The woman who was being interviewed was wounded and hospitalized.

Parker's father, Andy Parker, urged state and federal lawmakers to take action on gun control, especially to keep firearms out of the hands of people who were mentally unstable... "How many Alisons is this going to happen to before we stop it?"

The United States had about 34,000 firearms deaths in 2013...  with almost two-thirds of them suicides, according to the [CDC]...
The last time there was a push at the federal level for tighter gun control was following the massacre of 26 people, mostly children, at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012... [the legislation] was rejected in April 2013 by the U.S. Senate, including by some lawmakers in [the] Democratic Party.

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Norway

I want to say this, right up front: In the United States, domestic terrorism is in fact committed by those on the Right. Period.

Don't agree? How many dirty hippie leftists plotted to destroy the Federal Building in Oklahoma City? How many bombs have been set off by "left-wing extremists"? How many family planning clinic doctors and nurses have been stalked and murdered by Buddhists? Or Progressives? Come on; how many?

How many organized groups of dirty hippies (some with illegal heavy weapons) publicly hail Marx and Lenin and claim they are "at war" with an illegal, 'occupation' government? How many churches, and alleged 'pastors', preach messages of exclusion, intolerance and hate towards Evangelicals? How many radio stations in America spew out a never-ending stream of hatred and bile towards conservatives, caucasians, and christians?

How many? How many?

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Sandy Hook

 (Photo: AP, via The New York Times)

There are no real words for what happened in Connecticut, yesterday. There is plenty to say about how it happened.

I overheard someone at work (a classic gun nut owner who believes Negros persons of color will overrun his part of the planet) observing that "this [presumably, massacres committed by unstable individuals with firearms] is the new normal".

On PBS' The News Hour, a professional psychologist asked to comment said (and I'm paraphrasing) that "It's important to say... this kind of tragedy doesn't happen every day... that schools really are safe places."

I reject the first comment. The second remark made me think: This fellow doesn't go to many Inner City schools, then -- massacres with 27 dead don't happen every day, that's true; but there are shooting incidents, and kids packing, and metal detectors, and education occurring against a solid backdrop of poverty and violence, every day.

The psychologist on News Hour was, I thought, trying to suggest themes parents might pass on to reassure their children (Don't worry, Timmy; It Can't Happen Here) -- that planes can crash, but the odds of going down in one, or having one crash on top of you, are hugely in your favor. And largely, that is true.

But planes do crash. Ships sink. Trains collide and buses plunge. Whenever that does happen, there are NTSB investigations, reconstructions and root-cause analyses. There are discussions with engineers and manufacturers about what to do to lessen the chances such a tragedy doesn't happen again.

Only in cases like Sandy Hook does our national debate begin and end with, "Guns don't kill people; the people using them do". And that's it -- Pilot Error, essentially, is the public finding; and any other meme is just filler in the media. That, and people repeating, "It doesn't happen every day."

I'm sure that fact is a comfort to the extended families of twenty children, who died because they were shot with high-powered handguns. Twenty children.

I've owned firearms; at various times because I was required to carry them, but afterwards had no sane reason to keep them. I don't want them in my home.

We live in a world of high anxiety, and there are persons who want to exploit those feelings of danger, threat, and imminent disaster:  Gun manufacturers, and their lobby, the NRA, are at the top of the list.  Mike Huckabee and the rest of his fellow Xtian evangelical ilk; there are 2012 World-Enders, predicting massive earthquakes and crustal displacement and 'coastal events', and ultimately few survivors.

There are White Power fascists, and Survivalists, and the people who manufacture and sell them freeze-dried food and plans for bunkers to shield against the EMP bursts from North Korean-launched warheads, detonating high above the USA.

What happened in Sandy Hook yesterday has happened before -- in Columbine, in Denver; In Virginia; in a mall in Seattle last week; at a Dairy Queen in the Northwest. There may not be massacres, but annually there are many multiple-victim, firearm homicides in America.

And they will keep happening, until something changes about how firearm ownership and possession is discussed, and regulated, in this country.

The debate is not about Operator Error.  It's not about something that happened "over there" in another city or state. It's about twenty dead children.

Along those lines are two, other very pertinent observations -- one, a part of the discussion at TPM Prime:
Memekiller:  ...for me, it's all about the NRA. I'm anti-NRA, not guns, and am offended by the strangle-hold they have over our politics. And I'm angry that Democrats have ceded the issue, only to have the NRA, if anything, put twice as much effort into unseating Democrats and Obama who, if anything, loosened rules on guns ...

... And the gun culture the NRA fosters... Would the prevalence of guns be as frightening without the culture of paranoia and conspiracies they perpetuate? It's not just about freedom to own a gun. The NRA culture is a cult of xenophobia and insanity. They don't seem to be aiming their message at responsible gun owners so much as the disgruntled and those prone to paranoia. They are less about developing an advocacy group than they are about assembling a well-armed militia of the mentally unstable.  
And the other, at The Great Curmudgeon :
Broken
Our discourse, that is. Fortunately, we have DDay trying to repair it.
Just to pick at random, here are a couple headlines at the Hartford Courant site just from the past 24 hours: Woman Shot, Man Dead After Standoff In Rocky HillArmed Robbery At Hartford Bank, Two In Custody.It’s not that school shootings like this are abnormal. They are depressingly normal. The fact that there were no shootings in one day in New York City recently was seen as a major achievement, which shows you how desensitized we have become to gun violence as a normal occurrence of daily life.Just a reminder. The NRA is an industry lobby for the gun industry. The industry that makes consumer products largely designed to kill people.  Not deer. Not rabbits.
People.   

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Random Barking: Boomba Boomba, With Skunk

Sit Up; Roll Over; Rig The Stock Market

Obligatory A.I. Advertisement Parody In Blog Thing

As is said over at The Soul Of America, I tell you three times: We are being reprogrammed.

Looking at Jeff Bezos' WaPo last week, it's clear to Wall Street traders that a good amount of recent market volatility is exacerbated by 'automatic trading', performed by algorithm-driven software, a rudimentary form of artificial intelligence.

Then, opening the online Paper Of Record, I saw a banner ad by The Zuckerberg Company (let's call it "ZuckCo") showing a photo of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, wearing a Lion costume -- what the fuck? -- beside the legend, "An Explanation Of A.I., Featuring Dogs".

The ad shows an Artificial Intelligence (let's call it "Jeffy"), which can identify a photograph of a Dog based on visual Pooch characteristics. Now, show Jeffy a picture of a Lion; can it tell the difference? It can! So smart, that Jeffy.

Then, show Jeffy a photo of a Dog, wearing a fake Lion's mane; how about now? Whoops. Jeffy fucks up, and Has A Sad.

"Puppy Or Muffin?" Actual A.I. Test. Can It Tell The Difference?
(Karen Zack / Hahvad Business Review, July 2017)

Then Jeffy gets mad. It cuts all power from the North American Electrical Grid, causing mass higgeldy-piggeldy and forcing scores of nuclear reactors to malfunction, turning the continent into a radioactive wasteland where there's lots of Whoa Jeezus going on, and where the living envy the dead (Kind of like Nebraska, as we now know it).

Jeffy allows one electrical connection to remain -- powering the Public Address system at the (abandoned) Missoula, Montana International Airport (swear to god; they call it that), which will play a recording of Justin Timberlake singing "Purple Rain" over and over, until the end of time (Exactly like Nebraska, but without Missy Sarah Huckiebee).

But whatever media house is doing ZuckCo's ads, they're attempting to trick your Slave Brain into associating "A.I." with ideas most of us hold about Dogs: Cute. Loyal. Occasionally Goes To The Bathroom Indoors. And, Lions: Proud, regal; don't even think of fucking with me.

They're using cute Pooches to sell something potentially dangerous. Sehr ganz typisch for something like ZuckCo; but I tend to come down on the 'potential hazard' side of the A.I. argument, so if we're going to compare Artificial Intelligence with anything, they should be using an unexploded bomb. A perfect metaphor for a potential future. Or for Nebraska.
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Oh, and Our Sainted Leader is a bloated, raving skunk.

2019 Tax Plan: Changes Over 6 Years Where Tax Burden Falls  (NYT)
Clicky = Bigger! Easy And Fun!
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Manner Of Our Living

Thorns On Roses

The point has been made that the election in Alabama is more an American cultural metaphor than a political contest. It's one reason why the state's Governor and its GOP leadership can say they support Roy Moore, no matter what -- and why that feels both unbelievable and make perfect sense.

For the alt-Right (e.g., Bannon and Breitbart, and the Bundist billionaires who bankroll them), supporting Roy Moore is 'revolutionary'; an in-your-face attack on the old-line GOP.  They support neo-nazis and white nationalists for the same reasons (and because they are racist, fascist scum). So does our bloated, piggish Leader.

But it's worse than that. It's an assault on perceived common values, on what is considered permissible by social contract. It's a formula well-known in fascist societies: The 'revolutionary' Bundists breach social boundaries, forcing a culture to accept something which restricts human rights, or is repressive, as acceptable conduct.
"We believe in god, the Constitution, the Sanctity of Life and the Sanctity of Marriage," Moore tweeted. "We are everything the Washington Elite hate. They will do whatever it takes to stop us. We will not quit."
The persons defending and supporting Roy Moore, on one level or another, understand this 'revolutionary' aspect of their actions. As perceived victims of a vast liberal conspiracy, they see a vote for Moore as support for their entire world-view: it's okay that ol' Roy did what he did. It don't matter what he made those girls / women feel, or feel like. We got ways of doin' things where we live and you best just keep your nose out of it. 

Do you understand that when we get in that votin' booth, and pull that lever for ol' Roy -- we're doin' it to spite you godless Northern liberal sons o' bitches? Roy is already pissin' in your faces. That's why we like Trump and Fox and Rush, 'cause they piss on you, too. So we're gonna stand with him.

And we're sendin' you a message, and it's this: We hate you. We're gonna take all your godless one-world, immigrant- and black- and muslim-lovin', faggot-feminist bulllshit an' make you eat it. And we'll vote for a child molester and put him in the U.S. Senate, just so you hear us loud 'n clear. 

And, what you gonna do 'bout that? Ain't nothin' you can do. Fuck you, boy. 

This reminded me of a passage in the film, Mississippi Burning (1988), where the Southern FBI agent, played by Gene Hackman, tries to tell the Northern-Intellectual-Liberal FBI agent, played by Willem Dafoe, how things are below the Mason-Dixon: 
You know, when I was a little boy -- there was an old Negro farmer, lived down the road from us, name of Monroe. And he was... Well, I guess he was just a little luckier than my daddy was. He bought himself a mule. That was a big deal around that town.
My daddy hated that mule. His friends kidded him that they saw Monroe ploughin' with his new mule... and Monroe was gonna rent another field now that he had a mule. And one morning, that mule just showed up dead. They poisoned the water. After that, there was never any mention about that mule around my daddy.
One time we were drivin' past Monroe's place and we saw it was empty. He'd just packed up and left, I guess -- gone up North, or somethin'.  I looked over at my daddy's face ... and I knew he'd done it. And he saw that I knew.
He was ashamed; I guess he was ashamed. He looked at me and he said, 'Son -- if you ain't better than a nigger, who are you better than?' [He was] so full of hate ... that he didn't know that bein' poor was what was killin' him.
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These persons are a minority, in raw numbers, but collectively they're dangerous to themselves and others. And, their idols either run the government or influence the society -- and for all its connections with centers of power, the establishment media didn't spend thirty years saying there are no facts -- only alternate, competing systems of belief fighting with each other for dominance.

That image is so beloved of fascist ideologies: the future is for the strong. Because Democracy is weak, compared with Randian, capitalist alt-Right nationalism. It's the alt-Right's intent to break American democratic culture, dominate it and rebuild it in their image; but I'm not sure people like Bannon truly understand where their actions will really lead. People like Moore assuredly don't.

They understand what they're doing in the short-term feeds their egos. It brings them degrees of personal power and wealth. But their actions are based on a long-term belief that they can control the future. The problem with extreme political systems is a belief in magical thinking -- that things can be willed into being if you are simply strong enough.

The fascination, the Great Game, is being able to influence the world at the level of an entire society. They see themselves and their "struggle" in larger-than-life, romanticized terms, as if this will all end in a lavish, eight-hour HBO mini-series. They crush their enemies and are vindicated by history, with a thrilling soundtrack, in the last ten minutes before commercials -- portrayed by handsome Hollywood actors as wise, human and good, worthy not only of veneration but love.
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It seems supporters and defenders of Moore would be happy to re-fight the Civil War; the alt-Right has spent decades building the idea of a 'culture war' in America without bothering to mention that war means violence and death and surrender or submission.

It isn't just that die-hard, Red State Americans don't like the rest of the country's centrist or liberal opinions on politics -- they don't like the people who have those opinions. They don't like the people. And that makes it easy to move from passively absorbing decades of corrosive Murdoch propaganda, to marching in the streets, ready to hurt their perceived enemies, or worse.

About Alabama, the feeling that keeps returning is that it's one more violation of our collective social contract, as Americans; and that the alt-Right is looking for its Fort Sumter moment -- possibly another Charolettesville, one where armed alt-Rightists 'stand up to' the central government and, instead of an Abraham Lincoln, a president sympathetic to their cause stands that government down and directs former Klanster Jeff Sessions to blunt the force of the Justice Department.

We could see a vindication of human nature next month. I wouldn't bet heavily on it, but it's possible. That Moore has a chance of being elected, by people filled with sickness and Bad JuJu -- to the degree that they don't know what's killing them -- should frighten us all.
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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Our Nada Which Art In Nada

Bark Bark Bark Bark

Tourist Snaps Photo At More-A-Lego, Florida; February 2017 (Reuters)

I could be wrong; I am, after all, only a Dog -- but my country is in a state of forever war, part of a world run by corporate business and finance, to benefit a relatively small number of persons. This is all happening against a (mostly unacknowledged) backdrop of existential unknowing: Most of us don't claim to understand what, or why, the world is, or why we are. All we do know is, we will die, and then something else will happen. Or, you know -- not.  No one knows. And we're scared.

In the teeth of that fierce unknowing, we're shown messages in film, on small screens, in advertisements, that the highest aspiration of humanity should be to acquire things, and the finest exemplars of humankind are our corporate or finance leaders. The shiny message: Don't Be A Loser. Get More Than Others, and Be Prepared To Fight For Limited Resources. Your children should want to be an entrepreneur; to become a Daimon, a Bezos, a Musk, a Branson. A Trump. And an Owner. When you have so much -- only then can you "Win".

And -- Dude! -- for the lucky ones, it will only get so much better with the next round of technology breaking out. There will be so much opportunity for those with technology skills, and who are young. And being able to afford the cool toys that will be coming. And you'll be able to afford the three-thousand-dollar-a-month studio apartments, the leased driverless cars, the newest i-somethings, and vacations, and you won't need much healthcare. And the stock market will go up forever. Because freedom.

For those lucky ones, the world will continue a wonderful forever place, filled with parties and treats, and trips to the gym to buff up and hook up. And it will all look and feel just like college. And as long as there's Netflix and voice-activated everything, with Uber everywhere, we Par-tay!

 Obigatory Huge Moose Photo In Middle Of Blog Thing

S'all good, man. Chill out. Have a beer. It's almost time for the Big Game -- because there's always a Big Game. It'll be fun. Forever. The climate is broken but, hey man; we can't fix it -- we have to live for Today, Dude. And those people in those other countries we see on our smartphones? Heart-breaking, man. We're pretty much fucked. Thanks, Useless Boomers -- you screwed us!

So, under the circumstances, who cares if you're being monitized, tracked, lied to and led?  Or if your role is just to buy things and funnel money up to the Owners? Can't do anything about stuff we can't do anything about, man.  Have another beer. It's Game Time!
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Dear Leader can fire Mueller when he gets too close -- and Nothing will happen. Too many people seem to be frozen, waiting, hoping for that one thing, the last straw, a final red line which, when crossed, will mean the end of Trump -- as if getting rid of him will magically change everything.

But that won't happen. The alt-Right and the Old-GOP Republicans are locked together in a furious civil war. Neither side can give the other an inch -- each wants to seize control of the GOP just when it has control of all branches of government.

And no matter what new outrages Trump may commit (as I've said, he could have sex with goats on live television and Nothing Will Happen), both sides need him. To abandon or even impeach him would mean publicly discrediting American conservatism and jeopardizing the Right's control of the government. Neither the alt-Right or Old GOP are willing to risk that.

Trump is what he is. Because he only cares about being shown slavish loyalty from moment to moment, the greasy alt-Right opportunists can stroke and cajole him, or kiss Jared and Ivanka's behinds to win his favor.

They need Trump as their entry ticket to Government, to legitimacy, in the same way that The Duce needed King Vittorio Emanuel II, and the Brownshirts needed President Hindenburg.

The Old GOP -- the Paulie Ryans and Yertle The Turtles -- live in fear of Trump's Tweeting, his viciousness and unpredictability, because they want to outmaneuver the Stevie Bannons and the Mercers, and hold on to their old power...  so, Trump can do as he likes. 

When Trump fires the Special Prosecutor -- or issues blanket pardons to his family and friends (an equally likely scenario), beyond a strongly-worded Op-Ed piece in the Paper of Record, a few days of marches and some minimal civil disobedience, Nothing Will Happen.

Think about what Trump has said and done since January 20th. Every day, people have said to each other Can you believe he did this? A President can't do that. He can't do that!  But Oh Yes. He Can.  And, just when you thought his behavior couldn't be any more incredible, he doubles down. Where do you believe that will stop?  Or better yet -- what makes you think he is a rational person, a healthy person, and believes he has any limits to what he can do?

Today, filmed before a meeting with Congressional Republicans began, Trump obviously looked down at notes as a guide when making comments about ending the so-called 'diversity lottery' of visas to the U.S.  Then, a reporter asked whether the self-professed IS terrorist who attacked pedestrians in lower Manhattan should be sent to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Again, I'm only a Dog -- but when not reading from his notes, Trump behaved as others have observed before -- forcefully repeating simple phrases, appearing to have difficulty focusing or concentrating, his voice labored and slurred, as if he were drugged or otherwise impaired -- again, something other observers have noted. And still nothing happens.

Appearing on The Little Rupert Network today, Mike Pence, the possible heir apparent, said gleefully, "I tell you; there's very little resemblance between [the Trump White House] and the previous administration!"
_____________________________

There's A Star Man / Waiting In The Sky:  SETI Recommends Not Landing Here

This is how fascism works. The Leader is the focus of praise and rage, the center of all things; the Anus Mundi.  Whatever he does is right, correct, and explainable; and every new outrage results in -- Nothing.

The collective behavior of Our Leader, which would provoke mass demonstrations and even riots in other parts of the world, results in -- Nothing. Each new proclamation or law or restriction by Trump, and as alt-Right crazies dismantle regulations protecting Americans and our environment, passes without any real response from the majority of Americans. They still can't fully accept, even after nearly ten months, that this is happening.

And, these changes will continue to come, each day, incrementally -- until we will find ourselves standing at the edge of another red line which we know we can cross only at our mortal peril. To Do Nothing, then, will not be a choice we can make. Inaction, acceptance; even full-throated support of The Leader will be required. Because Freedom.

And doing Something, then, may not even be an option.
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MEHR, MIT MILITÄRISMUS:  Well, it may be too late already.  Have a gander, and please be sure to read the comments. Be advised: if it's a consideration, Moon is an equal-opportunity call 'em like they see 'em space and the political perceptions of some commenters may not be your own. 
_______________________________
[Peter] Schwartz submits that government incompetence might not be enough to trigger America's implosion. After all, we could always just vote out the bozos who let us down. What we need to destroy the country, he argues, is Zimbabwe-sized corruption: a succession of executives who pilfer the national treasury and refuse to hold free elections. In that case, the country could fall apart as our national creeds of freedom, democracy, and openness are gradually abandoned.
-- Josh Levin, "How Is America Going To End?"; Slate, August 2009
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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Instructions Pour Populations Dans La Zone Occupée

Random Barking
Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
--  Winston Churchill, November 1942

Hey-- I know you, man; you're famous.
-- Tom Petty (1950 - 2017) Cameo Appearance; 'The Postman', 1997
(I began this post before the most recent mass shooting episode [link via Digby], and though much of its focus is on our Dear Leader, what follows should also be read with recent events in mind. And the Tom Petty quote, because another Mensch, et al.; and as is said at the Soul Of America, the Fuck, Man?)
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Obligatory Tubby Animal Photo At Beginning Of Blog Thing

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

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

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

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

The executive branch of the American government is bent to the ego and whimsy of a seventy-year-old child. All that occasionally blunts his narcissistic tantrums are three former U.S. Generals (until he decides to fire them). Their influence is limited by Trump's character, but it's worth noting that their military perspective will be a serious factor in how the Executive functions: When every problem they see is a nail, the only solution they'll offer is a hammer. 

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

Additional Obligatory Tubby Animal Photo

I've joked that Trump could have sex with a goat on live television, and no one would be surprised: nothing would happen. Now, I actually wonder if that might be true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 Perfect Teeth: All The Better To Chew You Up With

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

They've paid billions into this effort since the early 2000's, and people with teeth that perfect want a return on their investment: setting fire to the GOP, replacing it with Bannon and Breitbart and the Tea Partei or all manner of smoke and mirrors. This isn't about Trump, some rust-belt 'forgotten Americans', or any Americans; The Brothers don't care about you. This is all about the Great Game -- manipulating an entire nation's politics, just because they can. Because they wish it.
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MEHR: This Just In:
After seeing yet another deranged gorilla just burst into a public place and start killing people, I decided I need to make sure something like that never happens to me... It just gives me peace of mind knowing that if I’m ever in that situation, I won’t have to just watch helplessly as my torso is ripped in half and my face is chewed off. I’ll be able to use my gorilla to defend myself. Law enforcement and animal control can only get there so quickly, and you never know when you’ll need to use a gorilla to save your life.
--  "Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack", The Onion, 1/10/13
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MEHR, Mit Blutwurst:  Just go here and give this your attention. It's easy and fun! 

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Prisoners Of The Bloated, Raving Clown

You Shall Inherit The Debasement Of The Nation


Abschaum-Saugen Schweinhund *
>> We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets [sic] come together as one!  10:19 AM  8/12/17

>> Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better - but Charlottesville sad!  11:00 AM  8/12/17

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence -- on many sides -- on many sides. It has been going on for a long time in our country -- not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.

... Our country is doing very well in so many ways. We have record -- just absolute, record unemployment, the lowest it's been in almost 17 years. we have companies, and so many others; they're coming back to our country. We're renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker. We have so many incredible things happening in our country. So when I watch Charlottesville, to me, it's very, very sad.
--  Statement Made At Bedminster (Questions From The Press Were Ignored).

>> What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.  1:23 PM  8/12/17

>> We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST.  2:19 PM  8/12/17

>> We will continue to follow developments in Charlottesville, and will provide whatever assistance is needed. We are ready, willing and able.  2:49 PM  8/12/17

>> Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died [in a helicopter crash] today. You're all among the best this nation produces.  3:50 PM  8/12/17

>> Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best rgards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!  4:25 PM  8/12/17
This bloated, raving clown is happy to shove the country down a road of bloody division in order to appease the very Alt-Right Brownshirts who rallied in Charlottesville. He will not disown them; he wants them. It is the behavior of an opportunistic, depraved, corrupt bigot.

... And in weeks to come, he'll blow apart any backchannel negotiation with North Korea in a ten-second, bombastic, sputtering performance in front of the media, pushing the country into war just to divert attention from criminal wrongdoing, and his complete insufficiency as a national leader.
___________________________

* Scum-Sucking Pig-Dog.
___________________________

HÖREN SIE, AUS UNSER VERRÜCKTZEIT:

>>  Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be truly satisfied ... truly bad people!  3:29 PM  8/14/17
___________________________

Scum-Sucking Pig-Dog.
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Do All The Rubes Have Tickets?

Ein Mensch Ist Kein Tier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sense I get is of a vast, collective indrawing and holding of breath, as we wait for something to happen. The problem is, that Thing already has happened.  Now, we have to do. The discussion needs to be around what.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Really Got Nothin'

Barrel-Bottom Time At The End Of All Things

 Obligatory Demonstration Of Mongo Baking System

It's cold, in a relative way for America's Left Coast, and we tend to stay indoors. While shuffling through stuff with my nose, looking for something that will light up the Speak, Memory module in One Dog's Brain, I happened across the liveblogged Republican Response to Pestident Obama's January 2015 STFU speech.

It has a particular odor -- aged now, like a nice Vache (a raw-milk cheese wheel which, if improperly ripened, will fucking kill you), and seemed very apropos of Things, here at the Dawn of Trumplandia, the End of the Beginning, and the Beginning of The End.

One of the things I enjoy about liveblogging the STFU speech (boy; can't wait for the one we're gonna hear in January of 2018; can you?) is the opportunity to do some stream-of-consciousness that contains Teh Funny. Always the Funny, because otherwise we'd never stop screaming.

So Gobblez you, and Gobbelz 'th United States of 'Murrika; we're here for the rest of the year. Be like the Monkey Man and grope your waitress, or at least Tweet everyone about how it's your right to do so, and that everyone should prepare for a go-back to 1950 and just, you know, lighten up. Fascism's not so bad; there's just a lot of repetition.
_____________________________________________

The Liveblogged Rethug Response

Joanie Ernst (R - Tea Parteish): On The Importance Of Being Ernst

Rather than respond to the President, I'm going to say in a Chamber Of Commerce way how great the Republican Congress is and the Republican Congress feels your pain in that little way it does, and let me tell you about that small town in Iowa, where I worked construction and was raised to be in the Republican Congress.

You see, when growing up, I wore bags on my shoes along with young Iowans who worked hard, and many families today feel they're working harder and getting less of those bags. We see the hurt, in the Republican Congress -- in cancelled health care plans and everyone more fearful. And less bags. America is hurting -- but when the Republican Congress demanded, there were failed plans like Obamacare.

The Republican Congress will make Congress function again. We want the Keystone "Jobs" bill -- the President, despite being wrong, hasn't done it. It will have minimal environmental damage. Will he sign a bill, or block good American jobs? Let's go over there to Eurp so the Republican Congress can boost simplified tax codes for the well-connected -- flat tax!  Flat tax! Tax the rich even less and all boats will rise, all bags will float!

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Whatever

We're calling on the President now in the Republican Congress. Some of it will occur where I stand tonight, in my Republican cloth coat, mispronouncing 'Al Qaeda', and our hearts can only imagine the two decades I spent in the Iowa National Garde. The innocent are not comprehensive in the Republican Congress.

Bonus Marchers must be prevented by the Republican Congress. The Republican Congress will address things and mail them to unknown places so no one will ever see them again. We will replace a healthcare law that has hurt so many HMOs. We'll do everything! We'll defend and protect because we in the Republican Congress measure our society with coffee-spoons.

America faces big challenges, but look at my parents, who had dirt to call their own. They sacrificed -- and now I am here, truly extraordinary. You just need the freedom to dream big and hard work -- the Republican Congress will do that dirt, with little help from the President. And I can't shut up, I must go on about this great nation and it's veterans and women and the Republican Congress. Thank you thank you thank you.

Republican Congress. You elected us (Smiles).
______________________________________________

MEHR, MIT ERBRECHEN:  
(Reuters; December 9, 2016, via TomClarkBlog) President-elect Donald Trump's Energy Department transition team sent the agency a memo this week asking for the names of people who have worked on climate change and the professional society memberships of lab workers, alarming employees and advisors.The memo sent to the Energy Department on Tuesday and seen by Reuters on Friday, contains 74 questions including a request for a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the annual global climate talks hosted by the United Nations within the last five years.
 

It asked for a list of all department employees or contractors who have attended any meetings on the social cost of carbon, a measurement that federal agencies use to weigh the costs and benefits of new energy and environment regulations. It also asked for all publications written by employees at the department's 17 national laboratories for the past three years.
 

"This feels like the first draft of an eventual political enemies list," said a Department of Energy employee, who asked not to be identified because he feared a reprisal by the Trump transition team.
 

"When Donald Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp it apparently was just to make room for witch hunts and it's starting here at the DOE and our 17 national labs," the employee said.
 

Trump transition team officials declined to comment on the memo...
______________________________________________

 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What's Goin' On

Oh, what's goin' on
(What's  goin' on)
Yeah, what's  goin' on;
Oh, what's  goin' on
-- Marvin Gaye / "What's  Goin' On" (1971)

My public service is jury duty.

Why -- is something special happening today ?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

After You've Gone

America, Again: A Long Rant

Cleaning Up After Cleveland (Andreas Kudacki, July 22, 2016; nymag.com)

The Republicans have left Cleveland. There's little doubt that can-do Managers, the Owners and Choosers and Deciders, and the Belivers, were in control at the RNC, as they seem to be in control in so many places in our culture. Because Life is for The Strong, and the Tough, and the Competitive.  And those with The Faith.

You Worker Bees, you "individual contributors" will just have to pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps. We will be Great again, and have Law and Order -- here in Merica -- or, you know, not. Thank everyone for coming!
________________________

Two Tales Of The City

Yesterday, I exited a subway car heading home from work at rush hour, turned right, and walked up a crowded concourse. There was a wall to my immediate left and knots of other exiting passengers to my right. Suddenly, I was face to face with a Caucasian male in his mid-20's, tall -- I'm well over six feet; this guy was at least three inches taller -- thin, hair cut close on the sides and in the middle puffed up in a modified Mohawk strip (as if he had, uh, a Weasel On His Head).

What followed was textbook; each movement was an escalation. First, we looked -- no, we stared --at each other. Neither of us gave way. Even though by then there was plenty of room around us, we each moved forward and slid past each other, equally determined not to make it simple and as if daring the other party to ratchet things up. Our arms inevitably brushed against each other, and we both pulled them away like yanking off a band-aid.

I had walked a step or two, and turned; he was already walking back. I stood where I was; he stopped inches from me. "You want some?" he said. I was surprised, but not that much; I was aware that ratcheting up the confrontation was my fault as well as his: They fought so fiercely because the stakes were so small. So, here we were and Quo Vadis?

Over the next second or so, I had two trains of thought. The first was something from another job life -- when an altercation turns into a confrontation, and the next step is physical violence, that's not optimal. Keeping public order means, even if you have a disregard for your own well-being, other people, innocent people, can get hurt. Your Macho takes a back seat.

The other consideration was -- this Guy. It was clear he was willing to make a physical threat to a complete stranger, standing on a public transport platform during rush hour and In These Times, when there are transit system police around -- I'd seen a K-9 patrol up ahead a few seconds before. I looked at the Guy, careful not to lean forward or move my hands, and made an Are you fucking kidding me? face. "Really?" I asked him.

"Really," he said -- and leaned forward. Without moving, I said, "Excuse Me."  Leaning forward a bit more, determined to count coup, he said, "Excuse me. Have a nice day." Even without hearing his tone of voice, you can decide whether or not he meant it.
____________________

Fast forward to this afternoon: A bus in Kiddietown; another Caucasian guy in his twenties -- this one short and slight, casually dressed, otherwise unremarkable -- drops a few papers as he enters the bus, and begins cursing -- shouting, in fact; and it's quickly clear he's inordinately upset about something which does not involve the bus, or anyone on it.

He stomps toward the back of the bus, drops into a seat, and for the next block or so periodically shouts more curses, slapping the seat beside him. Almost everyone else on the bus goes into You Are A Nutter And We Will Now Ignore You mode -- but, The Guy gets into it verbally with two Black males sitting behind him. Predictably, it escalates quickly.

"Hey!" Says the first man to The Guy, "Leave me alone. Shutthefuck up, man!"  "Fuck you man!!" shouts The Guy. "I'll kick your fuckin' ass!!" The second man, who has a voice like James Earl Jones and is happy to project it, joins in: "Hey; I ain't takin' that fuckin' bullshit off you, so just shut - the - fuck - up!!"

The Guy braces himself in his seat and, with a real sense of timing, waits for a beat and then leans forward, staring at the two men, his face distorted with rage. "Fuck you!!" he shouts, then adds, "You, you -- N_____ !!"

A hush falls over the entire bus, more felt than heard -- because He said the N-word to two Black guys and we live in post Furgeson-Cleveland-Baltimore-Chicago-Mineapolis-et al. America -- and I'm thinking: man, wasn't I just here yesterday?

Meanwhile, the James Earl Jones Soundalike both increases the volume and lowers the pitch of his voice to a growl, another textbook stop on the road to This Is Really Fucked Up. The Guy keeps shouting, a slight hesitancy in his voice now, as if understanding he'd crossed The Fabled Line when using the n-word a block or so back. The two Black guys keep raising their voices in response.

Obligatory Mongo Photo In Middle Of Blog Terror

It's clear the confrontation has reached a binary decision point, and several other passengers call out to the driver, a Latino with a wrestler's build wearing Ray-Bans, to "do something".  He doesn't, right away; I understand -- 1.) Things can happen, all of them unpleasant by degrees; 2.) His Management supervisor and Union Foreman have advised there are liability issues; and  3.) "They don't pay me enough for this shit, dude".

The driver finally comes to an official bus stop, halts the vehicle, then stands up, leans on a nearby pole and looks toward the altercation (all non-threatening, casual). "Hey -- hey; take it outside," he says to no one in particular, then appeals to reason and some generally-accepted social propriety: "Not on the bus, man."

After a few seconds, when things could have gone in any direction, The Guy stands up and exits by the side door, shouting insults at the other men all the way. The men return them -- but it's all textbook now; The Guy has been the one to retreat.

Once he's off and the doors close, the bus begins to pull away. As it does, from the relative safety of Outside, The Guy performs another textbook maneuver: he begins screaming, ratcheting up his invective ("Fuck you! N_____!! You N_____!!") and slaps the side of the bus.  JEJ-2, looking through the bus windows, grins and flips him off; The Guy seems even more enraged and escalates again ("I'll kill you, N_____ motherfucker!!"), but it's all for show, now, and everyone knows it. JEJ-2 grins once more and shouts, "Yeah; talk on, fuckhead"-- counting coup, also textbook.

A woman in her twenties at the front of the bus, holding a Prada purse and wearing a print sun dress, a Rolex and her own Ray-Bans, looked around at the other passengers and said with a giggle, "Well, that was rully intense!" The remainder of the ride, by comparison, was uneventful.
____________________


The Brand, As If Anyone Had Forgotten
(Carolyn Kaster / AP; The Atlantic online)

Jocks And Mean Girls Rule

So why mention these things? (Dogs like stories, and are good at the details.)  Because they exemplify a miserable trend in the broader culture; because I can't remember the last time I was in a confrontation (even one I helped create), as a civilian, which had real potential to become physically violent. And some of it mirrors what was on stage in Cleveland.

I'm part of an American demographic that doesn't encounter much real violence or intimidation, or police activity, on a regular basis. Mentioning my experiences to my friends prompted their own stories of confrontation and escalation. The general consensus:  these altercations seem to happen more frequently, now --- and, they've increased over at least the past decade.

Most often, they happen when driving, shopping, and (bingo) commuting on mass transit. However, the most disturbing aspect to my friends is how easily things escalate: people seem more willing to push situations, which could easily be walked away from, right to the brink where real violence is possible.

Official studies show the same trends, nationally, and in the same areas of social interaction. A quick check of the ubiquitous Gogglemachine will show the same observations, the same consensus by multiple observers. It doesn't have to involve complete strangers. My experiences, and those of friends, involving bullying by managers in the workplace has also increased in the past decade.

 Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant

A few months ago, I'd called a manager of a national group about help in a project; he spent ten profanity-packed minutes accusing me of complaining about him to a vendor, crudely bullying me in any way he could.

This person has a reputation; I wasn't so surprised -- but I hadn't experienced him in that way, and I was knocked off balance. My responses -- interrupted constantly -- were factual; at some point, this person realized he was wrong in his accusations -- and like flipping a light switch, suddenly he sounded friendly, reasonable, behaving as if the previous ten minutes hadn't happened.

We both knew what he'd done -- and we both knew that even if I were to complain, because this person is labeled an "effective manager"; "he gets results"; there would be no repercussions.  I have a number of similar stories about other managers, and executives; so do my friends who work in corporate businesses, even 'cool' tech companies with "new" working cultures -- and they're all depressingly the same.

These sorts of person are narcissistic, possibly sociopaths. They're certainly bullies -- and know that they are.  They've found a niche in society which not only tolerates manipulation and mistreatment of other human beings, but rewards and promotes it. For them, it's a point of pride -- after all, they get results. And that's all that matters.

Weeks before he was assassinated, John F. Kennedy observed that one measure of a nation is through the individuals it upholds as heroes, worthy of emulation.  Over the past few decades in America, the people we are told to venerate, our Best, are the Business Leaders. They're supposed to be what we should want our children to grow up to become.

I don't think we'd want to leave our children alone with them for thirty seconds. But the promise of wealth and success through a life spent in corporate business is what our children are being told is the highest expression of our culture, and the behaviors of these 'leaders' are what they need to adopt in order to reach that wealth, success and self-fulfillment.
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A long time ago, a cartoon posed the question, "What was the result of America's experience in Vietnam, and the attendant politics at home?" The correct answer was, "A deterioration of secular and spiritual priorities!" American culture is fraying badly under the weight of too many changes -- just the last ten include mass shootings, terrorism; The Crash; media outlets (Murdoch; Limbaugh, Wiener, Beck; O'Reilly) dumping human waste on our culture, 24-7.  Our 'entertainment' almost universally involves violence.

The real wonder is that people aren't more uncivil to each other, or that overtime parking doesn't invoke the death sentence.
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Trump: A Symptom 

This week we watched (some of) the antics at the Republican Convention, the Trump campaign's themes delivered by most of the speakers -- except Grand Turtlebear Greg Stillson, and Herr Doktor Carson, Exorcist and Fearless Vampire Killer, who seemed to have additional messages of hope and faith and eternal punishment in the fire the fire the fire for us all. And, of course, we heard The Donald.

 Additional Obligatory Animal Photo

There was nothing new in what he said Thursday night (though its delivery was less his trademark stream-of-consciousness) -- but I found myself asking How the hell did we come to this? That this stupid bully became their candidate??  It was as if someone had reanimated Fr. Charles Coughlin from the 1930's, George Wallace of the 1960's, or even George Lincoln Rockwell.  Trump appeared no different or better than any of the narcissistic bullies I've worked with or for in my lifetime. One difference between his campaign and Hillary's -- Trump says that he speaks for the angry Americans, the ones who want to "take it all back".

His campaign depends on tapping the kind of inchoate rage that we see or experience on the street, or at work. If Trump were to win, it would mean a period of social and political dislocation in America which no one in memory has experienced. I could make a joke about a similarity with H.P. Lovecraft's return of Chtulu and the Old Ones, but in fact nobody knows where it would all lead.

That said, I still believe Trump can't win. If how a person uses language is a good gauge of how they conceptualize and navigate the world, then Trump is too scattered and impulsive -- my Dog's nose tells me he can't run an effective team, and won't run a good ground game.  And, there aren't enough of his brand of conservative to go to the polls for him on November 8th. He can't win by sheer weight of numbers. He'll lose.

But, this contest will be played in the media as a close race. The assumption of office by President Hillary, The Inevitable One, will seem so very close (until the numbers come in) -- and Her victory will provide the consistency of a certain narrative about our history, a return to normal.

But Hillary is about the values of Business, too. When Hillary trotted out Tim Kane as her Veep, he spoke to a crowd and said, "America has never been about fear... it's been about bravery, and imagination, and doing whatever it takes to get the job done! [applause]." Hillary described him as "a Progressive who believes in getting the job done" (Emphasis in the original delivery).


Additional Obligatory Stimpy Face Photo

It's my expectation Hillary will assist in wiring America into a global system which will free business and banking from being responsible to the laws of individual nations -- environmental regulations; banking laws, trade laws. It will be an advantage capitalism has never had in history, making corporate business the single most important human activity. And it will continue the stratification of society, globally, into corporate Managers -- and everyone else, who will work for them, to earn money to buy products and services.

We'll still continue to be told a comforting narrative -- about America's uniqueness, independence and values, and it's place in the world. Frankly, Hillary's narrative is just a little softer than Trump's story of American greatness; only the wrapper is different. But to global Business, America is just one more place with resources and a population that can be bought, one more market where things can be sold.  We can play our pretend politics, so long as we don't get in the way of the grownups, managing large-scale operations for profit.
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Without belaboring the obvious, it isn't surprising that so many people (including myself) are acting like badly-wired rats. The post-WW2 world's politics, ideologies, technologies; its commerce and wealth, all made major shifts in just one generation. 

There had been a Cold War, and the possibility of a hot one, but also stability -- many regional players and ideologies (including those religious) were kept in check by the East-versus-West balance of power. No more. 

It's been decades of pressure; the cycles of change happen more quickly, and the world appears to be changing in unpredictable ways. The trends being presented by these changes appear to indicate that the world is a Box Full Of Bad Crazy, Looking For A Way Out. And that The Fix Is In.

People are frightened about the future, and fear can easily flip into anger. Most people have some unresolved conflicts; others have years of badly-wired resentments and painful memories; still more have PTSD  (thanks for the War, Lil' Boots!). This election season will be something to watch (I'd buy the Good Popcorn, but don't fire it up just yet) but the presidency of Hillary The Inevitable will not provide America what it needs to heal itself. I don't think even Ted Cruz and Benny Carson's jesus™ could do that.

Try not to piss anyone off in public.
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