Showing posts with label Nur In Amerika (Only In America). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nur In Amerika (Only In America). Show all posts

Friday, October 12, 2018

Random Barking Friday: Notes From Above Ground

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you're waiting for the midterms; or Mueller's report; or for a tentacle to pop out of Trump's head while he bloviates at a rally, somewhere -- and then expect that hey presto! All Will Be Just Like It Was -- then something is happening here, but you don't know what it is. 
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UND NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Oh, yeah! Forgot to include the recent UN report which says we're  effectively fucked and will all die in the fire in the fire in the fire, or at least bake a lot. So maybe none of this matters. It could explain why Our Glorious Wealthy have been so openly avaricious lately. Maybe all that talk about "future historians" doesn't mean anything, either. Hey; my bad!
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

After You've Gone

Echoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.   

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Future Sky

Current Assumptions


This has been a hard season.  I understand; it's worse, Somewhere Else: so many places in the world outside the United States continue to experience some of the greatest human suffering of the past forty years, since we stepped away from That Land War In Asia.

It's just that -- relative to our own culture, many have it bad, here: no matter what that paragon of conscious life, Nikki Haley, believes, the United Nations just issued a report stating that of First World nations, America has the highest level of extreme poverty.

And here among my tiny circle, it's been a hard season. For the West, it's been cold (what the parts of America with record snowfall are experiencing would be unimaginable, here). Two friends have a parent, now dying (one a Survivor -- of Auschwitz, no less). Health issues abound; everyone seems to have a cold or the flu; all more or less normal -- but, people in my Cohort are Olds, and those with chronic health problems seem to have been hit particularly hard.

Christmas parties at The Place Of Witless Labor were lavish -- our department was taken to a three-star, name restaurant in Kiddietown -- but the dinner had an odd undercurrent ("Enjoy it," my director said to me archly, like a warning. "Next year we won't have budget for this").  I work in Healthcare; no one discusses the future, but everyone is waiting for Wonderboy's other three shoes to drop, and there seems to be an expectation of Hard Road ahead.

For those who are aging with few social extensions, isolation and anxiety are a constant undercurrent, a consuming negative feedback loop. Memory and unfocused thinking slide rapidly into regret and blame -- for oneself, for all the bad decisions; for a life as it is now. It's useless, but people do it all the same.
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Surrounding us and all the details of our lives is the unpredictability of the future, dictated by America's political Right, with Trump as its foil and figurehead. We feel we're at the brink of -- something, some place which no one now living in America has ever seen; and whom no one, except the wealthy, believe it will be anyplace good (and not even They much believe that). Daily, Trump and the creatures around him poison our experience of living with fear and negativity. They appear to pay no penalty for what they do.

There is no hero coming to save us. The Democrats have no coherent plan to rebut what's being done to America, now. I have a bad feeling the DNC will put forward candidates for the 2018 midterms who are as Centrist and inoffensive as possible -- not like those Radical Republicans; no, sir. Recently, the media floats the image of Joe Biden as the Perfect Democratic Presidential Candidate. Draw your own conclusions about how successful any of that excuse for a strategy would be.

Everyone wants things to Be Like They Were -- but the status quo which America's political parties  support is one where Jeff Bezos, World's Richest Human (and the 499 other Oligarchs in the world), can continue having it all. The rest of humanity? Submit your resumes to be considered for 12-hour sweatshop shifts at minimum wage in one of Jeffy's Fulfillment Centers (an exaggeration, but not by much).

Life is unpredictable. We really do live it on a razor's edge. Every day above ground (as a specific part of my Cohort can say from experience) is a Good Day. But the apotheosis of Trump is forcing us to confront another layer of uncertainty in this new year: that things must change, fundamentally -- that the status quo cannot continue. 

Everyone gets that -- and not only in America. But here, no one wants to talk about it. We're frightened, because no one knows what form that change will take, or where we will be at the end of it. And no matter how much we Americans like to think of ourselves as hardy and resilient, reading about Depression or Revolution or Fascism isn't the same thing as experiencing it.

People may begin to understand that, too, in the New Year. I hope, as sincerely as I can exclaim, that we don't have to.
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I called the Oldest Friend, a Bernista who listens politely to me when I rant about an In-The-Dock-At-Nuremberg culpability for the GOP and Democratic party's hierarchy, listened to me this season for a while.

After a pause, she said, "Years ago, before Twitter and all that crap, remember people just forwarded emails to each other as 'social media'?

"Sometime in the late Eighties, someone sent me an email which quoted, I think, a Hopi prophesy; there's a lot of this stuff floating around out there -- which said times were going to change. Everything would be affected. It would be like a flood; that was the metaphor. And there was nothing we could do to prevent it.

"Those who tried clinging to the banks, holding on to their land and possessions, would lose everything and die," she said. "Only the people who surrendered to the current might survive -- no guarantees on that, by the way. They would have to give up everything, and end up wherever the flood took them.

"I got really pissed, reading that. I'd struggled in getting a better job, working on my marriage, taking care of my mother, having a great house and garden," the friend said, "and I understood this was metaphoric -- but, shit.

"We grew up in a generation who believed science could explain or solve any problem. The future would be a continuation of that post-WW2 economic Boom, forever. Americans were going to live in a world that looked like 'The Jetsons'. Television and movies told us that was the future -- if you were white, and mostly male; but never mind that," she said. "So what's this flood about?

"Then, the more data on climate change was available, the less that email seemed so metaphorical. I began reading reports that made it more literal. I might have to lose everything, just to survive?" She laughed. "Well fuck that, I thought."

We talked a while longer. "It had more to do with aging than anything, but over time I began feeling that letting go wasn't so terrible. There are a lot of chickens coming home to roost now. Think of the people raised in peace, before the First World War, and then watched all the reference points in their universe fall apart like a theater backdrop. The more they held on, the harder it was, psychologically.

"If we're seeing the beginnings of a societal collapse coming, or not -- how you see all of that depends on whether you perceive the universe as essentially supportive, or malevolent. That won't change things when there's no money, or food and water. But, 'as a man thinketh', you know?" She laughed again. "Our perspectives are all we really can change in the end, anyway."
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And as gets said over at the Soul Of America, I don't know where the New Year will take us; I barely know where the Old Year went.  Also, too, I don't know where this shitty little blog will go, except to note it doesn't seem to be going away, either.

As a New Year's resolution, however, the Comments have been switched back on. Not sure what that means, but play nice.
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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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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Redeemed

Lost, But Now He Is Found


It isn't a question whether any individual person is eligible for redemption (a very Western, Judeo-Christian concept) -- it's whether, first, they've made any acknowledgement of what they've done, and shown how they will attempt to atone for the harm they've caused.

When there is no recognition of that harm, it simply continues -- deforming everyone involved (including the perpetrators), handed down like a dark heirloom to later generations (remember that the trauma of the camps reached down into the very DNA of survivors, their children born with genetic predispositions for anxiety and fear). Bombing, torture, secret prisons; the maimed and the blind.

And where the perpetrators are allowed to grow old in comfort, it presents particular challenges when talking about justice, or equality, or rule of law.


"Lil' Boots" Bush is a weak, stupid, unindicted war criminal, now being treated as a respected cultural figure -- only because he is the son of an old, one-tenth-of-one-per-cent, blue-blood American family in the Great Calvinist tradition. And of course our Owners deserve comfortable lives and treats. Because freedom. And take that cap off. Show some respect. Don't be disagreeable.
FREDERICK:  I watched TV.  You missed a very dull show on Auschwitz. More gruesome film clips, and more puzzled intellectuals declaring their mystification over the systematic murder of millions. The reason they can never answer the question, "How could it possibly happen?" is that it's the wrong question. Given what people are, the question is, "Why doesn't it happen more often?"  Of course, it does; in subtler forms.
But you see the whole culture -- nazis, deodorant salesmen; wrestlers, beauty contests; a talk show -- can you imagine the level of a mind that watches wrestling? But the worst are the fundamentalist preachers. Third grade con men, telling the poor suckers that watch them that they speak for Jesus. And to please send money. Money, money, money! If Jesus came back, and saw what's being done in his name -- he'd never stop throwing up.
-- Max von Sydow / Frederick, The Artist / Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
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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)
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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.
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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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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Idiot Wind

Clown-Car Government

General John Kelly, White House Chief Of Staff,
Watches Political Sepuku News Conference At Trump Tower (Business Insider)

.. And after things in downtown Charlottesville looked like Weimar Berlin in the Twenties and Thirties, Wonderboy marched down from Cloud Koo-koo Land in Trump Tower to vomit on the national teevee, and to prove that America is not Weimar. It's a Monty Python sketch.

Question to consider: After his performance around issues of race and white supremacy and lovin' him some o' that Hitler -- has Trump increased the process of de-legitimizing himself as a figurehead leader for those who hold the true balance of power and authority in America?
________________________________

REPORTER: Why are the CEOs leaving your manufacturing council?

TRUMP: Because they are not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. ...

REPORTER: Why did you wait so long to denounce neo-Nazis?

TRUMP: I didn't wait long. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don't make statements that direct, unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don't know the facts. And it is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement... If you go back to my statement -- in fact, I brought it. I brought it [Takes folded paper out of inside coat pocket].

As I said on -- remember this, Saturday -- "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America," and then I went on from there; now -- here is the thing -- Excuse me! Excuse me! Take it nice and easy.

Here is the thing: when I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. A lot of the event didn't happen yet as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts, so I don't want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent.

... Honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice -- Excuse me! -- Unlike you, and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

 (L to R) Secretary Of Health & Inhuman Services Burwell; Secretary Of Oil State Tillerson;
Secretary of Goldman-Saks Treasure Mnuchin, and Educated Secretary DeVos
Prepare To Attend Impromptu News Conference At Trump Tower

REPORTER: The CEO of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?

TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country -- look; you take a look. I've created over a million jobs since I have been president. The country is booming, the stock market is setting records; we have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country. We are doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm, so the head of Walmart, who I know, who’s a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean, I would do it the same way.

You know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was no way – no way – of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters; unlike a lot of reporters.

I didn't know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well-stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful. If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn't have made it sooner, because I didn't know all of the facts.

Frankly, people still don't know all of the facts. It was very important – Excuse me! Excuse me! -- it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing. 

The second statement was made after it with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things – Excuse me! -- There are still things that people don't know. I want to make a statement with knowledge, I wanted to know the facts, okay.
...

General John Kelly, Former White House Chief Of Staff, 
Not Watching News Conference At Trump Tower (Al Dragen / New York Times)

REPORTER: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those that perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I can't tell you. I'm sure Senator McCain must know what he's talking about, but when you say the 'alt-right' -- define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me, come on, let's go.

REPORTER: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.

TRUMP: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [garbled] – Excuse me! – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

What about this? What about the fact that they came charging – they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.

As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day -- wait a minute, I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group – you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.


REPORTER: Do you think what you call the alt left is the same as neo-Nazis?

TRUMP: Those people, all of those people -- excuse me! I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.

REPORTER: Well, white nationalists –

TRUMP: Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue Robert E. Lee. So -– Excuse me! –- and you take a look at some of the groups and you see, and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not; many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee; I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

REPORTER: On race relations in America, do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office with regard to race relationships?

TRUMP: I think they’ve gotten better or the same – look – they have been frayed for a long time, and you can ask President Obama about that, because he’d make speeches about it. I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country. I think that's going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations ... 

I think that's going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It's jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be. And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities – we are fixing the inner cities – we are doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities. It is a priority for me, and it’s very important.

REPORTER: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

TRUMP: I am not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this: you had a group on one side and a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible, and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that's the way it is.

REPORTER: You said there was hatred and violence on both sides?

TRUMP: I do think there is blame – yes, I think there is blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides -- and I have no doubt about it, and you don't have any doubt about it either. And -- and -- and -- and, if you reported it accurately, you would say [that].

REPORTER: The neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Excuse me, they didn't put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group – Excuse me! Excuse me! -- I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.


REPORTER: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same.

TRUMP: Oh no, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down – Excuse me! -- Are we going to take down -- are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Okay, good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? 

You know what? It’s fine; you’re changing history, you’re changing culture, and you had people – and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

REPORTER: I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?

TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call ‘em. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know, I don't know if you know, but they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. 

So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.
...

REPORTER: What do you think needs to overcome the racial divide?

TRUMP: Well, I really think jobs are going to have a big impact. If we continue to create jobs ... at levels that I'm creating jobs, I think that's going to have a tremendous impact – positive impact – on race relations...

Because the people are going to be working and making a lot of money, much more than they ever thought possible. That's going to happen. And the other thing, very important, I believe wages will start going up. They haven't gone up for a long time. I believe wages now, because the economy is doing so well, with respect to employment and unemployment, I believe wages will start to go up. I think that’ll have a tremendously positive impact on race relations. Thank you. 
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