Showing posts with label Random Barking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Random Barking. Show all posts

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Laugh It Up

Because Freedom

(From a long-ago March in a time before Trump and Disease, and a diseased Trump. Actually, this has nothing to do with Freedom. It is in fact my favorite joke, containing a willfully stupid grocer, a passive-aggressive waterfowl, and the tantalizing promise of nourishment.

(It's also a good general example of how The Universe treats us. It has a has a habit of returning, with the same questions, until we solve them -- and then hits us with a change-up at the end: Wow! Didn't see that coming!).

A LITTLE DUCK walks into a grocery store. He waddles up to the grocier and says, "Hey -- got any duck food?"

The grocier thinks. "Um, no," he says finally.

The Little Duck looks up at him. " 'kay," he says, and goes away.

The next day, the Little Duck was back. He waddles in, looks up at the grocier and says, "Hey -- got any duck food?"   The grocier looks down at him; is this duck nuts? He was just in here!

"No!" the grocier says.  " 'kay," says the Little Duck, and he goes away.

The next day, the Little Duck was back. He waddles in, looks up at the grocier and says, "Hey -- got any duck food?"   The grocier spins around, looks down at him and says, "NO! I told ya -- I gots NO DUCK FOOD ! You come back in here askin' about duck food again and I'm gonna nail your little webbed feet to the floor!"

" 'kay," says the Little Duck, and he goes away.

The next day -- the Little Duck was back. He waddles in, looks up at the grocier and says, "Hey -- got any nails?"   The grocier thinks. "Um, no," he says.

The Little Duck shakes a little. "Ooo!  Okay ! Got any duck food?"
_______________________________

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Random Barking: What We Must

How We Carry It

They carried gravity.
--  Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
This is an old story:  Two Buddhist monks, one older, and the other a young apprentice, went on a pilgrimage to walk around the mountain known as Kailash. This would take many weeks, and would require them to cross gravel and rocky terrain, fields of mountain grass, and an occasional stream pulsing with runoff from the mountain and the Himalayan range of which it is one part.

The journey was (and still is today) an opportunity to perform a moving meditation. The young apprentice didn't have the years of experience in meditative practice as the older monk, and found the going hard. His mind was constantly pulled this way, and that, by the needs of the moment -- heat; thirst; cold in a rain squall; memories of growing up in a harsh life in his village as a boy. While walking, he would become lost in images of this which he desired, and consumed by that which he hated -- and focusing on 'not focusing' was difficult.

He watched the older monk, who seemed to walk without much difficulty (though he was slower than the apprentice, certainly) and without any outward show of exertion; what did this old man have that he didn't? This holier-than-thou, dried-up old turnip?

And as the days went by, the apprentice's resentment grew: This old fuck was probably laughing at him, thinking he was just a stupid young nothing. Well, could he run half a mile without stopping? Could he make love (though that was behind them both in the religious life) for an hour without pause? Could he eat whatever he liked without breaking wind or a sour stomach? No! So, why was this old fuck exalted; just because he was an elder?

One day, they came to a stream -- not deep, but the water moved in its course, swiftly, and could be treacherous if you slipped on unseen rocks in the streambed as you crossed. Standing by the stream was a beautiful young woman (and the apprentice believed he knew beauty when he saw it) -- and, upset. It was obvious that she wanted to cross the stream, but was afraid.

She saw the two men and bowed. The young apprentice was about to step forward, make a courtly bow, and ask if he might help her to cross -- when suddenly, the older monk simply asked if she needed help; with a smile, she said yes, and allowed the old monk to carry her across the rushing stream on his back -- which he did, slowly, but without fanfare.  He set the woman down on the opposite bank, bowed, and accepted her thanks.

The apprentice started crossing the stream, thinking the woman was watching him from the other side; he would show her how it was done! Of course, she would wait to speak with a handsome and talented lad; and so much better than the old fool who had carried her!

He tried to stride easily through the torrent, and was embarrassed when once or twice he slipped. By the time he got to the bank and climbed out of the stream, the woman was already walking away, turning to wave to them both, and continuing on her own journey.

The two monks set off on their own path towards the mountain. The old monk walked on, quiet, one step at a time. At first, the apprentice tried to focus on his meditation, but the image of the old monk carrying the beautiful girl kept intruding. One mile passed after another; the apprentice became more and more agitated, resentful, even hateful.

Finally, the apprentice exploded. "Why did you have to be the one to carry that girl? I could have done it! You're old; you could have fallen and drowned the both of you! Why you??"

The old monk glanced at the apprentice without breaking his stride. "I set her down some time ago," he said. "Why are you still carrying her?"
________________________________

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday The Thirteenth Random Barking: Up On The Roof

Don't Want To Look Over The Edge


What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left, but to abandon even the hope of truth, and content ourselves instead with stories?
  --  Gregori Legazov (Jared Harris), Chernobyl (Episode 1) 
An aspect of quantum theory has it that reality may be created, moment to moment, in determining one set of conditions of the great cosmic Waveform -- all possible variations in the state of all matter. The world exists in all its multitudinous forms simultaneously: snow falls (hopefully) in the Himalayas, at the same instant billions and billions of other things are happening.

This is where all of us, and novels, live (and the debate whether Flaubert, or Hemingway, or Gaddis, Tartt or Sebald, or Attwood, or Chelsea Handler, described Reality more closely in their works to how it's actually experienced). Terrible, beautiful; it's all going down -- whether you see it, acknowledge it, or not.
_____________________________

I get up this morning, having watched the first episode of HBO's Chernobyl last night. I kept recalling the scene where a Soviet engineer at the nuclear plant is intimidated, by two Soviet party Administrators, into going up on the Vent Block roof of Reactor Building Four to look down over the edge, directly into the maw of a ruptured reactor core in fission burn.

That was an actual event. A couple of actual, gutless, bullying Soviet party toadies -- Viktor Bryukhanov and Nikolai Fomin -- refused to believe the reactor had exploded. They forced another actual person, Deputy Chief Engineer Anatoly Sitnikov, to go up on a roof overlooking the blown core and look down into the monster. They sent an armed soldier with him to make sure he did.

Sitnikov received a fatal dose of radiation within seconds. Even after returning and reporting what he had seen, the two suck-ass motherfuckers (products of their system, yes; but motherfuckers all the same) still said Sitnikov was mistaken, and accused him of lying.

Bryukhanov and Fomin did next to nothing. They did not alert anyone about the true state of the emergency. All they were really concerned about was being blamed for something bad, and what effect that would have on their careers as Soviet technical bureaucrats. They only thought about how best to spin things, to protect themselves.
_________________________________

I also got up this morning to a continuation of news already broadcast the night before -- that Britain has gotten its Little Trump. Stevie Bannon must be so very proud of one of his clients. Our American Pestident, another Bannon customer, has warmly congratulated Boris -- who has only begun to strut and preen and crow.

I don't know enough about the minutiae of British politics to fully appreciate the magnitude of the Tory win -- and the loss by Labor and the Liberals. I fully expect Britain will crash out of the EU -- Boris has said he won't, but he lies (not as much as his friend Donny, but he does), and in the process of Crashing, a lot of Boris' pals will become quite wealth-ier.

What will happen to workers, families, the sick and the elderly?  Once you strip away their lies and gaslighting, the Tory answer is "who cares?" Britain will become a more nationalist, right-wing populist, privatized 'Little England' state: an English version of Trump country.

One of the greatest problems in modern politics, for many democratic states, is that conservatives believe they're voting for the Tory, or Republican, party that's always been.  They're not. The 'new Right' is bereft of values, focused on subduing populations and subverting democracy in order to wield power in a coalition with the Rich and corporations.

In that, they don't differ much from the Democratic party in America,  except that they are more obvious in their purpose, and they put it in a big wrapping of Jesus. Our Democratic party leadership puts things in a neoliberal wrapper, the fig leaf of 'progress': A Great Big Beautiful Diverse Tomorrow. The same wealthy and corporate interests benefit, either way.

But no matter what ideological or theological crap they spew, they're all in it for the Money, a dream of bloodlines, family names, and dynasties. It's what short-sighted humans -- facing the potential end of our species -- can least afford in terms of behavior, but they're doing it.

But to realize that dream, they have to create as much chaos in the public and political sphere as possible  -- their Left opponents, meanwhile, are outmaneuvered by the sheer audacity of the New Right's play for power. That's what we're about to see in Britain, now. It's what we have been seeing in n America. It's not new, but it is Steve Bannon's playbook for a New Fascism.

I expect anti-immigrant sentiment will be emboldened, "Paki-bashing" will increase (some Twitter messages I've seen from among immigrant / persons of color communities in Britain show people are frightened and fear exactly that in the wake of a Tory landslide), and future immigration policies may begin to look like they were crafted by Steven Miller in Washington.

The Unmade Bed Of A Man, And His Captive, Go To The Polls

And the figurehead for it all will be this "colorful" Prime Minister -- a grifter, a liar, a ponce. He will create the chaotic legislative environment, the cover, for other grifters to thrive.  Boris is all about Boris, and fuck the People. And the greatest example of this "who cares" New Britain will be the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Scotland will very probably force a new referendum on independence -- and I suspect they will vote to remain in the EU and go their own way. Of course, none of that matters to business and corporate elite -- they're only interested in how much profit they can make in a Scottish Republic, and don't give two hoots about its sovereignty or anything else.

For all his wanting to be the second Winston Churchill (who would have fought tooth and nail to keep Scotland 'in the Empire'), Boris doesn't care much about whether Scotland stays or goes. What does it matter? It doesn't pertain to Boris... so, who cares?
_______________________________


The argument about impeachment is this: The President is a dictator who can do almost anything he / she wants, without oversight or accountability to the Constitution, where the only role for Congress is to rubber-stamp whatever the President desires -- or, he / she is head of the Executive branch of a government with boundaries on her / his behavior set by the Constitution and functional precedents of the office of President.

Trump is a criminal President. His offenses were so egregious that -- no matter the partisan politics involved -- Democratic members of the House had no choice. It isn't hyperbole to say that history required them to act. And Trump is the most recent stop on the long, slow trajectory of the Republican party from conservative to fascist.

The Democrats gave more than lip-service to their oath of office to defend the Constitution against foreign or domestic enemies. If they didn't act, America, as defined by the Constitution, wouldn't exist. It would be another failed state, run by Oligarchs -- and, yeah; I understand there's already enough evidence to use that description, even without letting Trump get away with the abuses of his office.

Articles of Impeachment will be voted on by the full House next week. So far, the process has been high political drama -- primarily due to the frat-boy bullying, little-dick antics of almost every single Republican member of the U.S. Congress. But the Senate is a theater controlled by Trump and his toadies, and it will end with him not being found Guilty. He will remain in office.

Meanwhile, William Barr is pushing the conspiracy theory that the FBI investigation of Russian - Trump campaign connections was politically motivated, that Ukraine was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election, and not Russia. But it's not only a discredited theory -- it's a criminal investigation. Barr will submit indictments and conduct show trials to provide distraction from Trump's crimes ahead of the election. People will go to jail to satisfy Trump's desire for revenge and theater -- except this is the political use of the Justice Department to attack persons Trump perceives as his enemies with fabricated evidence and made-up crimes.

Then, we come to 2020. The Left chooses a candidate who matters, or doesn't. Trump loses, or wins. Even if he loses, he may refuse to leave office, the White House surrounded with Militia (all declared 'Federal Marshals' by The Leader) to "protect the president". Some form of civil war could easily, inevitably, follow.

If certain powerful persons on the right feel Trump is in jeopardy, enough to threaten the power and grift they've been able to to amass,they may decide on some form of coup -- and we may have an actual Republic of Gilead.

(Note: And where would our military stand in all this? The traditional Army-Navy football game was held on December 14; Trump attended, wearing a red MAGA cap. At halftime, West Point Army Plebes and Annapolis Midshipmen sat behind a television reporter, making the twisted 'okay' hand sign, recognized as a white power symbol, for the camera -- and behind the back of a black West Point Cadet sitting in the front row. You tell me where, in case of a civil war, the Armed Services will stand.)
__________________________________

The political Right keeps raising the stakes of polarization in America, attempting to keep the GOP Base (Trump's, really) at a fever pitch -- but that can't be maintained without the promise of an end state, a victory.

For the Right, it's no longer a "fight the good fight, if we don't win there's always next season" attitude. For 35 years, rightist media has carefully nurtured the Rage of White Joe SixPack, so that "owning the libtards", completely crushing, dominating their opponents, is the only acceptable outcome.

The Left -- meaning, Leftists, immigrants, persons of color, feminists; LGBTQ persons; Muslims; it's a long list -- must somehow be taken care of, once and for all. Dominated, and crushed.

No one knows what will happen. No one wants to go up on the Vent Block roof and lean over. And, from the relative safety of Moscow, or Italy, Vlad Putin and Stevie Bannon are laughing, fit to bust.
__________________________________


Actor Danny Aiello passed away, age 86.  He appeared in a number of films, including one on my top ten list:  Jacob's Ladder (1990).

Set in 1975 New York, Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins), divorced Vietnam vet with a PhD in Philosophy, is working in the Postal Service, and may (or may not) be slipping in and out of a series of flashbacks connected to Vietnam in 1971, and the accidental death of one of his three children (Macaulay Culkin, in one of his first film roles). He also begins seeing inexplicable things (demons, things out of a Lovecraft novel) in broad daylight. Reality appears to be shifting and he's frightened.

Singer has lower back issues, and sees a Chiropractor, Louis Denardo, played by Aiello ("You look like an angel, Louie," Singer tells him, "Like a big cherub. Anyone ever tell you that?"  "Yeah," says Louis. "You; every time you come in here").

At one point in the story, Singer is struck by a car on a New York street. His lower back seizes up, his wallet is stolen by a vagrant Exmass Santa; he's brought to a hospital that becomes progressively more nightmarish, a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Louis shows up at the hospital ("What is this, the Middle Ages?" he yells at a nurse when he sees how Singer is being treated) and forcibly takes him out, back to his chiropractic office. He puts Jacob on his adjustment table and begins working on his back.

Singer tells Louis about what he's been seeing, that the hospital was a vision of hell. "Ever read any Meister Eckhard?" Louis asks; Jacob says he hasn't, and Louis is surprised. "Huh. Don't know how you got a PhD in Philosophy without reading that guy.

"Eckhard saw hell, too," Louis continues. "Know what he said? He said the only part of you that burns in hell is the part that won't let go of your life. Your memories; your attachments; they burn them all away -- but they're not punishing you, he said; they're freeing your soul.

"So, the way he sees it -- if you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on -- you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace -- then the devils are really angels, freeing you, from the earth. It's just a matter of how you look at it. So, don't worry about it. Okay?"

Now he knows what we do not. It's a decent film. Aiello is good in it. Give it a whirl.
_________________________________

 And to come full circle, I'm reminded of a poem that someone told me long ago, which I've never been able to find -- about a circus, where the crowd was intent upon watching a clown, in the center ring, lighting matches with his toes; they were so fascinated that they didn't realize the roof of the tent had blown away, and the world had come to an end.

Larger questions of existence have little to do with the clowns in the ring.
_________________________________

Friday, October 25, 2019

Because The Child-Men Rule All

Random Barking Friday Reprint:

Just Because We Agree That Any Day Above Ground Is A Good Day 
Doesn't Mean We Agree To Put Up With This Shit
(From October 12, 2018)
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)
_________________________________

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."
_____________________________________

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???
___________________________________
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
___________________________________
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 
____________________________________

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.  
_______________________________

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. 
____________________________________

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!
___________________________________

Friday, August 30, 2019

Stunning Protests Threaten The Fantasy

Friday
...The Democrats' continued failure to understand the scope of the GOP's shameless pursuit of power is stunning.
-- Digsby's Hullabaloo; Friday, August 30, 2019
.. since Parliament will be in session for long enough to allow a vote of no-confidence if MPs want... [Johnson's] act, while clearly shady and abusive, [is] just barely on the right side and I can understand why the Queen let it happen. 
If Parliament doesn’t want this to happen, they have plenty of time to make sure it doesn’t. If they don’t this means they aren’t willing to topple the Conservative government, then that is on them, they know the consequences.
-- Ian Welsh, "Boris Johnson Prorogues Parliament", August 28, 2019.
The balance between protesting for human rights as basic issues, and the protesters' use of business necessity as leverage, continues.
[Bejing is] taking a giant risk, because as Dennis Kwok says, the use of troops in Hong Kong will be the end of Hong Kong. What he means, and Beijing surely understands, is the end of Hong Kong’s status as a trade and finance center. 
Not a trifle matter for sure. Hong Kong has built that status over a long period... like the City of London and Wall Street. You can break that down in no time, but you can’t rebuild the trust elsewhere in anywhere near that time frame...
-- The Automatic Earth, "Hong King Kong", August 30, 2019
Led by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, five Democratic senators argued earlier this month that the case was part of a drive to install a conservative majority on the court and strike down gun laws. The Democrats closed their letter by suggesting that voters may eventually demand the Supreme Court be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics” if it continues on its current course. 
McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Senate GOP said the effort “openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the [New York] petition as moot.” 
“The implication is as plain as day: Dismiss this case, or we’ll pack the court,” the Republicans wrote in the letter, first reported by the Washington Post, adding that they would fight against any restructuring plans.
-- Politico, "McConnell to Supreme Court: We won’t let Dems 'pack the court' ", August 29, 2019
>>  "Dear Trump Advisors: Prop the Market Up Now and Lose in 2020, or Let the Market Crash and Win in 2020", August 29, 2019 
>>  "The Fantasy of Central Bank “Growth” Is Finally Imploding", August 28 2019 
>>  "Love It Or Leave It", August 26, 2019 
-- Charles Hugh Smith, Washington Blog
________________________________


 'James Comey' Breaks It Down For Us
MAN: Life... is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this undefinable, whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down because there's nothing else left to eat. 
Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an English toffee -- but they're gone too fast and the taste is... fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts; if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is an empty box... filled with useless, brown paper wrappers. 
_____________________________________

Monday, June 24, 2019

Your Cephalapod Monday

Jobs For Suckers

At Least Cephalapods Don't Find Excuses To Release Toxic Levels Of Societal Stress
By Assaulting Each Other At A Child's Baseball Game

Today is Cephalapod Monday. Take a Cephalapod to lunch -- and, no, having Cephalapod for lunch does not count, barbarian. The average Cuttlefish is at least as smart as your Dog -- just because it can't do the NYTimes Mini-Crossword or know who Tucker Carlson is doesn't mean it couldn't beat you at 'Jeopardy'. We recommend not trying to eat things which have the potential to be smarter than Tucker Carlson -- which is a long list of Things, beginning with kitchen appliances.
____________________________

There are many jobs in Amrica -- at least, until the Crash comes. You may wish to have one of them (Note: Cephalapods And Dogs Need Not Apply!)

Acting Defensive Secretary: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His wise stewardship of Amrica. If you know what the front and back of a boat is called it is a plus. Also missiles! Some experience suggested, but if you're a friend of the Mercers, Ralph Reed or 'lil Stevie Bannon; well, allowances can be made. There will be some travel in this position. You will wear Blue. They will play Die Präsentiermarsch whenever you get up to go to the restroom. And, do not worry about That I-ran -- you're just an Acting Secretary! You're only acting, and don't have to be a real secretary, and take dictation or make coffee, very often. Learn to change color to blend in with your surroundings. Don't ask questions about those UFOs and you should not fuck up and be okay.

Acting Department Of Homeyland Insecurity Secretary: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His Big Hands, grabbing Amrica by the genitalia, like he had tentacles. You must have a home on the land, somewhere, and be ready to sweep all those who are bad in The Leader's eyes from within our Borders, except for the ones He wishes to clean His toilets and trim things on His golf courses. You must be hard, and do the hard things so that The Leader will not fire you. Mostly, you will be in the Bunker. Wear black, and they will play The Bonny Blue Flag for you whenever you scratch yourself. And, do not worry -- you're an only an Acting Secretary! Which limits your potential culpability at the International Court at the Hague for crimes against humanity, maybe. Just acting! Still, you are prohibited from fucking up in all time zones. A real secretary would quit, or ask for a raise, or work from home.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Rant

Acting United Nations Ambassador: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His Amrica, the bestest country -- not like those scheisshole countries like France and Sweden. As with Nick Haley before, you may defecate on the floor in front of foreign dignitaries, like a goat.  And you must go to that UN building and repudiate every alliance and destroy as much Good Will as we may have had with all other countries, and isolate Amrica from the community of nations for no explainable reason, except that The Leader wishes it. You will be graded on this! You will wear Plaid and they will play Pop! Goes The Weasel for you whenever you fart into the seat cushion. And, do not worry -- you're only an Acting Secretary,  A real secretary would wear a Vicky's Secret brassiere, and eat Calimari, see. So, don't fuck up!

Acting Chef of Staff: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and the shrewd way He takes things, here in Amrica, and hides them at More-Lego. Once the job of Wash-n-Rince "Nancy" Preibus and General Kelly, holding this position with both hands will make you responsible for everything, including purchasing many Treats for Leader, and being Ivankagalonka's PB (Personal Bitch). It is a thankless job, and as long as you have it you will never thank anyone, for anything. You will wear Gray, be required to Hold Your Squid, and the Murine Band will play the 'Love Theme' from All The President's Men for you, on the hour. Do not fuck up.

Additional Obligatory Small Animal Photo
(Image: Screenshot, Foxtel Network [Australia], 1997)

Acting Federal Emerging Meringue Agency (FEMA) Director: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His huge intellect and His immense hands and his knowing that in Amrica, climate science is just Hooey. This is a really big job, getting ready to make Amrica the Greatest Disaster Movie of all time -- and you get to be the Director! How cool is that? Not very, given the global heating. There will be plenty of travel for you, and the food in those all-expenses-paid trips to meet Coal and Plutonium and Fozzilfool executives is supposed to be "really something". You will get to say, "We will look to the science" and "There is some question how much humans have affected our flexible climate." You will wear Poly-esther and be photographed eating some form of Crisps made from reef-dwelling aminal species. The 'Gutzholtz Rangers Band' of Preeborgen, Minnesota, will play a medely of tunes from Richard Rodgers' Victory At Sea on Alpenhorns, made from the tusks of African Elephants, every time you check into an exclusive hotel, courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Taxpayer. And, don't fuck up!

Acting Icky Combustible Enfoodment (ICE) Director:  You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His deep knowing of Amrica and its desire to be the whitest of all cold, icy whiteness. No milk or snow or never-worn, briefs-style underwear is as white and cold as the Amrica that you must create for The Leader. He campaigned for and made promises to The Gasket Of Unmentionables that all the bad people from 'somewhere else' would be made to go away. By Soon! So get right on that. You will wear sky-blue and will be Shot From Guns, as the 72-voice Aquarium Church Choir (now with 50% more Cephalapod!) sings Marching, Marching To Shibboleth. Good luck! Didya fuck up yet? No? Keep trying.


Acting Federal Aging Airplanes (FAA) Administrator: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His terrifying desire to fly, crapping on all Amrica, like a diseased seagull. You will be responsible for so little to so few that this job is a cakewalk. You will be required to eat cake, also, and that's as tough as it gets. You may have to appear on TV after large-scale air disasters, oh, maybe eight or ten times a year, but those poor people had to know the risks when they put themselves on the planes. Right? Oh, ah-yuh. And remember the useful phrase, "pilot error"; it's not like you built the damn planes yourself or anything.  It's not like you're a bloody octopus, multitasking genius that you may be! No blame! No collusion! You will wear Red, and every time the FaLaLa Orchestra plays the "Up In The Air, Junior Birdman!" song, you will do a Tequila shooter. The only way you can fuck up is to miss out on that cake!

Acting Sturgeon General: You must be willing to smile and say good things about The Leader and His wonderful form, his manly arteries in the Big Hands; like a twenty-year-old, he's is so healthful, and that you have never seen a man-child so trim and fit in all ways. Be prepared to say that. You will be provided with guidance so that any decisions about public health will not discomfit large drug companies, or the Persons who hold with their suckers blocks of Pharma stocks in Off-The-Shore accounts. And remember -- you're not really a doctor; you just play one in the governament. A real doctor would wear scrubs all day. You will wear Teal, and the Hester Street Rentgirls Band will play "Like A Sturgeon" for you. Often. If you fuck up, no one really notices.
_________________________

Extra Random Barking Questions Monday:

1.)  Is it a definition of madness, when parents of children who were murdered by assault weapons in Amrica are threatened by those who believe the children's murder never took place?

2.)  Might it be disingenuous when, having become wealthy from decades of peddling spurious information and divisive monologues in Amrica which made the Triumph Of The Leader possible, that media demagogues conclude The Leader may have many flaws?

3.)  True Amrican Missy Sarah, shamed by the Chicken, has gone away, when many believed she would stay in the Bunker to the end. Will being an obvious and shameless liar stand in the way of becoming governor of a Trumptrue™ state? Aber nicht natürlich.
__________________________

MEHR, MIT TINTENFISCH:  I was just thinking, in my artless Dog way: Check out this Cephalapod!
____________________________

UND MIT IMMER MEHR:  Deep-sea Cephalapod for real!
____________________________

Friday, June 14, 2019

Reprint Heaven: I Gots Me Dem Pre-War Blues

From My Head Down To My Shoes

Life in Kiddietown continues, though there might be an Economic Downturn on the way which could put a crimp in some of that fun. Meanwhile, we have lots of shiny new millionaires here -- and The Rest Of Us better be ready to make them feel special!

But don't worry -- there might be a shiny new war coming, which will make everyone stop thinking about all that tiresome nonsense from the Left -- you know, climate disintegration (oooh! Scary!) and inequality (ah; please) and Socialism (Bernie sure is old, isn't he?).  And all that crazy crazy about Russia; that's so 2016.  You won't be thinkin' about that Impeachment after the first big cyberattack!

And do we really need an election, anyway? Having that war would sure be a good reason not to spend all that money and time on something that just makes people feel bad and angry. With a new War, we all have to be united. Be a "Do Rag", not a "Don't Rag"!  You'll need to stand behind our troops -- which should be easy, because many of them may be deployed in our towns and cities. They'll be right there, on our streetcorners! USA !!  USA !!

Yes, a war would sure make all those hateful girlz just shut right up. And after our Leaders execute that State O' Emergency they've been dreaming about, they'll have some fancy new red dresses and white bonnets for those uppity girlz; boy Howdy, will they ever.

Meanwhile -- it's Par-Tay Time! Lots of fun! There's always a Big Game on teevee!! Enjoy these hateful and mean-spirited graphics from that awful Dog, living on Left Coast America in the place that is One Big Campus, and One Big Dorm.

Click on pictures to enlarge -- Easy! Fun! And enjoy them, while you can. All Praise To The Leader!




____________________________________________________

Monday, March 4, 2019

Reprint Heaven: When In These Coarse Current Events

Nothing To See Here
(From February, 2017)
(Original Foto, Courtesy Danny Dutch, That Guy)
Sad Vlad, The Putin (called 'Pooti-Poot' by George "Lil' Boots" Bush, in that bizarre, Mitfordian slang his Familia di Criminale use to describe other people), is like that guy who claims not to have a dinosaur.

Vlad does, in fact, have a dinosaur. He has Ted the T-Rex in his barn -- I mean, we can hear Ted bellowing all the way down to County Road 47; hell, we can hear him down to the Interstate. Some nights, Ted spots cars full of joyriding teenagers, out cruising the Rural Routes between the farms, and chases them all over the place. He doesn't ever catch them -- probably, he just likes running after them -- and there are big three-toed footprints, afterwards, everywhere. Plenty of kids have had big dents put in the roofs of their cars, by something, out on those dark roads -- but the two auto-body places we've got don't mind the business.

Cattle are missing in eight counties, and plenty of people haven't seen their pets for a while -- and piles of shit, seven feet tall, appear here and there almost every day. What Vlad doesn't plow under, he sells as fertilizer -- and he's been selling that shit to just about the whole damn state for a long time, now. Some people from Monsanto were sniffing around Vlad's farm, trying to figure out where that manure was coming from, but they just kind of -- disappeared.

Vlad and his family are constantly getting people stopping by the house, asking about that damn dinosaur. He explains, patiently, with that flat-fish expression of his that no, they do not have a dinosaur. Vlad claims to be so tired of this, all the folks from Des Moines and Ystaad and Tunbridge Wells and Saskatoon with their kids, piling out of overloaded station wagons and asking to use the restroom -- that finally, he made himself a sign on the hood of an old 1949 Vonyets tractor: We Do Not Have A Dinosaur.

If you continue to insist he does, Vlad will take a step back and look at you. Dinosaur? You been out in the sun a while? Ridiculous. Those things've been extinct for a good, long time ("Just like my old buddy, Alex," Vlad says with a sly grin). If you can hold it, there's a Tastee-Freeze a couple miles up the road with a bathroom, Vlad says. We got a farm to run, here; you all have a nice day.

Except, this is where he gets his cake and sells you dinosaur shit, too: There Is A Fucking T-Rex In Vlad's Barn. You know it. He knows it. You can't really prove it -- I mean, no one has actually seen Ted -- but when you put together that noise coming out of Vlad's barn, all those footprints, lebenty-billion pounds of crap all over the place and a whole bunch of missing cattle ... remember Ossie's Tazer, or whatever they call that: When all's said and done, the simplest explanation is pretty much gonna be right.

And the folks at the County Seat claim to know nothing about it. Vlad's been a good friend to the County folks -- lot of that fertilizer money went to see them get elected last fall. And there were those big piles of shit that appeared every morning on the front lawns of their opponents' homes.  Vlad had some problems with that previous administration -- some back taxes; not addressing his land rights issues, questions about how he runs his fertilizer trade. But now the election's done, word is that all may disappear. And, the County Commissioner has a new John Deere Combine, with all the bells 'n whistles. He claims it's a lease. Others aren't so sure.

There are plenty of people out there who will tell you that Vlad's a good guy. He means well, runs a tight farm and, up front, always treats you with respect. But there's no denying that his neighbors -- the ones who bring their cattle into the barns every night, the barns they spent a biggly amount of cash reinforcing with steel -- well, they're a little nervous about Vlad.

Some of them say he has funny ideas about expanding his farm. That he has some kind of Plan, and Ted The T-Rex is a big part of it. Others say he likes doing crazy-ass things just out of pure, human fuckery.

All I know is, Vlad has that sign, We Do Not Have A Dinosaur, and almost every night I hear that big lizard, bellowing to beat the band as he chases some car full of teenagers, having a helluva good time. You can complain, but the County Commissioner will just tell you -- probably on Twitter -- what a silly goose you are and you best shut up now. Sad!
____________________________________

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Random Bark

The Leader Is A Liar

In the mainstream media, reports continually say that The Leader makes "misstatements," or that his speeches and social media comments contain "inaccuracies" or "misleading" information -- but (with few exceptions) the media does not often say, simply and clearly, Donald Trump is a liar.

That sentence is accurate. It is not a distortion. The evidence that Trump lies is plentiful. It is not a politically-motivated attack, or invented -- he says things that are not true, every single day. It is a statement of fact, as real as gravity and 2+2 = 4: Donald Trump is a liar.

So -- whenever the subject of The Leader comes up -- everyone in America should begin their side of the conversation by saying, Donald Trump is a liar. Then pause, then continue.

Members of Congress, when asked by reporters about The Leader's latest antics; Left talking heads, discussing Important Topics on Washington Week or 'Meet The Press'; or opinion writers composing their latest columns; all should begin with the same first sentence: Donald Trump is a liar.

It needs to be repeated, over and over and over -- because The Leader is a liar.  Donald Trump is a liar.  It should be said straight, and clear.
__________________________________

MEHR, MIT HUHN INS FOTO:  I just really like this graphic.

Big Fat Liar: Missy Sara, Shamed By The Chicken
____________________________________

Friday, October 26, 2018

Random Barking Friday

This Will Not Contain Leavening Humor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MEHR, MIT BOOM BOOM:

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

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

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

(©Mark Lancia; via TruthDig)
_______________________________________

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)
_________________________________

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."
_____________________________________

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???
___________________________________
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
___________________________________
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 
____________________________________

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.  
_______________________________

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. 
____________________________________

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!
___________________________________

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Most Wonderful Bestest Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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