Showing posts with label So You Think This Has To Make Sense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label So You Think This Has To Make Sense. Show all posts

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Reprint Heaven: The Great Hedgehog Of Post-Modern Neoliberal Capitalism

Try Me

(Originally drained from the swamp on January 20, 2018, in celebration of The Leader attending the World Echo Nomik Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Leader has attended this year also, as he is Sore and Tried In the Senate. But don't worry: The Fix Is In! Leader shall be defended and the Great Deterioration shall continue.)

Obigatory Cute Small Animal Photo At Beginning Of Surrealistic Blog Thing

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

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

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

1.  Greasing The Grenze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.   Where You Were, Gentlemen

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

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

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

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

Then, you see The Contact. You see them seeing you see them, actually. Everything that happens after this is a blur; you'll be debriefed about it for weeks in extra crispy detail, a swimming up from sewage depth to where sheep graze, safely. And, fortunately for you, the story will not change. You will be allowed to go back to wherever it is you come from. You will be allowed to toil in many jobs, but not remain for long -- because Lt. Gerard will always show up, looking for money.
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What catches your attention about The Contact first is his hair, its architectural blondness -- now whitish, now caution orange, and shiny, like preternatural two-tone ice cream or a small child's flotation device. The Contact is a suet, puffed inside his black suit, behind the signature doublewide red tie. His face is a carnivore drunkard's bloat, too-small eyes, piggish; his mien oblate and spiky. His lips are a crayon line drawn by an angry pensioner across the lower third of that orange face. The French Cuffs of his whitish shirt have little numbers embroidered on them: "45",  and he is nodding, nodding, at you as he walks forward. This is your contact.


3.   Historical Briefs With A Brown Streak Of Genius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fruit Bat turns on the room's television;  you both watch situation comedies in German until the Fruit Bat turns to you and says, "Are you understanding any of this?"
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The Fruit Bat dials Room Service and orders a Martini. After a time, the Room Service waiter, a man in his mid-twenties, appears. He places the Martini, and the bill, on a side table.  The Fruit Bat sips at the Martini in silence. The waiter stands to one side, observing. The world wonders.

After a few minutes, the waiter politely clears his throat and says, "You know -- we don't get many Fruit Bats ordering Martinis here." The Fruit Bat, glancing at the bill, replies, "Yes; and at these prices, you won't see many more of us, either."
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Monday, August 19, 2019

Smash The Past With Savage Blows

Yellowhammer


Britain's Prime Minister; The New Model Of Leadership:  'Mercurial'  'Individual'  =  Wanker

At the end of Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" (1981), a boy has escaped through time in the company of some mutinous employees of the Supreme Being, ultimately defeating The Evil One by carbonizing him, then blowing him into a bunch of carbonized chunks.

The boy wakes up, at home in bed (all a dream?) to find his parents' house on fire. The Fire Brigade brings out a toaster-oven, advising it was the cause. The parents open it -- and inside is what the boy recognizes as a chunk of The Evil One.  "Mum! Dad!" the boy shouts. "It's evil! Don't touch it!!"

The parents look dumbly at their son (I'm not gettin' ya, boy) -- then, look at the Chunk in the toaster-oven; at each other -- and then both of them reach into the oven and touch it. There is a fiery explosion, whereupon Mum and Dad 'splode into Chunks themselves.
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Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the rest of the Wankers are pushing a No-Deal Brexit -- not because there is no other alternative. But Boris and his Brexiteers appear to be using the threat of a no-deal as a gigantic game of Chicken with the EU. But, Oops -- the Union called their bluff.

Since Boris buffaloed his way into Number 10, girlfriend in tow, enough evidence has surfaced that he and Nigel and the Wankers intend to crash out of the EU -- because they have no other plan. There isn't one. And when October 31st arrives, and a Crash-out occurs, the government's own report predicts a Britain headed for disaster: chaos at ports of entry, shortages of critical goods, medicines, petrol; businesses closing; layoffs; even riots.

Britain's cross-governmental civil preparedness plan for a no-deal Brexit even has a code name: Operation Yellowhammer.
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A common economic framework has been the chief reason for the EU's existence in the first place. Crashing out of the Union with no 'deal' means (among other things) no trade and employment agreement between Britain and the EU. Highly-paid employees from across the EU, living and working in England, will become 'foreigners' on November 1st. So will British citizens working abroad, and British retirees in Portugal, Spain, Italy or southern France.

Advantages British businesses have had within the EU will disappear, kicking them smartly in the balls just at the point when a delicately interconnected global economy is slowing. And a Brexit crash-out may be the thing which adds to collective financial pressures and turns a global slowdown into something deeper and more serious.

It's less clear whether Yellowhammer and Nigel's demolition derby will mean the end of the United Kingdom, or not. A majority in Scotland (62%) and Northern Ireland (56%) voted to remain in the EU (Wales voted to leave, 53% - 47%). There are clear economic benefits for them to do so -- and there's enough regionalist sentiment, in Scotland at least, to use a crash-out as an opportunity to push for independence. Boris Johnson doesn't remember Culloden and doesn't care; Nicola Sturgeon certainly does.
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After the 2016 Brexit referendum, some pundits were quick to note that 'Leave' won because its supporters were the English equivalent of Trumper populists -- nationalist, nativist, anti-immigrant conservatives, the National Front's "Britain For the British!" types seen in the late 1970's.

Others saw in the vote a rejection of the policies of neoliberalism and the forced austerity created by organizations like the IMF, ECB and WTO, which the EU voted to uphold and Britain agreed to. Those 'Leave' voters were more concerned about economics which benefited a wealthy elite, than nationalist or anti-immigrant sentiments.

But for Boris, Nigel and the Brexiteers, leaving the EU has never been about immigration, or any one issue. Brexit was only a lever through which they could take control of Britain's Conservative party, in the same way Trump now controls the Republican party in the United States.

They cultivated a right-wing populism, all about kicking a liberal Britain to the curb -- a nationalistic, anti-immigrant, privatized nation, full of proud 'Little Englanders' who saw each other through their traditional pecking order of wealth and class. An authoritarian model, where it's organizers -- like Trump and friends in the U.S. -- will benefit greatly.

Trump's Secretary of the Treasury and Spouse Enjoy Their Lifestyle
(Time Magazine Online)

In America, Trump cloaks his greed and racism (with the help of the Murdochs) in a manufactured popularity and traditional American imagery. He lies about himself constantly, shamelessly. Being President is just another way to siphon money out of a world of Worker-Bee Losers, and he's filled his cabinet with people who believe exactly the same -- for these people, "public service" means the public serving them. Trump has bought their loyalty with access to streams of cash, and their snouts are buried in the feeding trough.

Boris, Nigel and the Wankers want the same: a Trump-like political agenda that gives them power to line their pockets and distribute largess to other rightist Wankers. They've dressed up their swinish greed with more sonorous and adult-sounding phrases (typical with a people who use language like poetry, even when it's for a utilitarian purpose) -- but it's a power grab for personal gain, pure and simple.
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So, if everyone understands that crashing out of the EU is like touching the piece of pure evil in the convection oven, and you will explode and die... why? Why do it?

My perception is that Boris, and Nigel, and opportunistic British Conservatives want a Britain disrupted and disorganized. It's easier to loot when it's prostrate. It's like corporate raiders, leverage-buying a behemoth company fallen on hard times, then butchering it and selling it off piecemeal for their own enrichment and that of their friends.

They're not using a new model for seizing power -- but it's being pursued around the world, at the same time, by too many people to appear completely coincidental:  Bolsonaro in Brazil, Salvini in Italy, Orban in Hungary, Duarte in the Philippines, The Great Leader in the U.S. -- and now Boris, Nigel and the Wankers.  It's Steve Bannon's populismcreate the chaos; repeatedly blame liberals and the central government as the cause; then take advantage of it. Control the conservative party by forcing it into more radical positions. Once in power, do whatever the hell you want.

What's being torn apart isn't a corporate entity, it's a national government -- and the political and personal benefits at that scale are enormous. This kind of takeover isn't democracy; it isn't about creating a government to best to serve its citizens. It's about power  -- rewarding one's friends; punishing one's enemies; and holding on to power for as long as possible, usually measured in election cycles. Then, having drained everything out of the country you can, walk away. Who the fuck cares what happens to the Little People? You got yours, Jacky Boy: #Winning!

The potential chaos created by a no-deal Brexit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- for Boris, Nigel and the Wankers, for Stevie -- but the tricky bit is, they will have to try and put this massive economic and social disruption over on the British people. The only way they can do this is to lie and obfuscate, say that they're "doing everything they can" to go out with a deal. But, lying is something easy for Boris, he's already done it to become Prime Minister.

After the no-deal Brexit on October 31st, Boris will blame the misery he and the Wankers have created on the EU, or immigrants, or liberals. He'll have the Murdoch press to help him sell whatever lies they want to push. There could even be a war with Iran by then, which might distract people, for a while.

And then, there's Trump, riding to the rescue of Britain's economy. Boris seems to agree with making America Britain's principal trading partner to make shore up its economy in a post-Brexit world, replacing a portion of the economic framework Britain currently has with the EU. Trump, of course, mentions it as if it were a done deal.

It might provide a temporary lift to the markets, even a talking point in Trump's reelection -- the right-wing echo chamber would claim it as a victory for Free Trade under the wise stewardship of  The Leader. But ultimately it's just smoke and mirrors -- any rewards of such an agreement are highly speculative, and years in the future. It's not clear the U.S. Congress would allow or ratify such a treaty, and business with America can't replace, for England, the income they currently receive from all EU nations they trade with.

And The Great Leader isn't a dependable business partner. Boris may learn the hard way that with Trump, there is no more 'Special Relationship' -- and Boris and the Wankers need The Leader more than he needs Boris.
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One of the great, momentous political questions of the 21st century is how do we minimize the effects of climate, and realize an equitable future for all, without creating a corporatized world where people become 'aphids milked by ants', through the Facebooks and Googles and Cambridge Analyticas?  Put another way -- how do you oppose neoliberalism without replacing it with nationalism or fascism? I believe the answer is clear.

However, as with our own Congress, the British Parliament is paralyzed. Leadership on all sides seems compromised. Liberals and Labor are divided; Conservatives are divided; every party in Britain seems disorganized, overwhelmed with backbiting and infighting. It's how Yellowhammer was able to bully his way to leadership of the Conservatives, and into Number 10, in the first place.

At the moment, it looks like things are disorganized enough in Britain that a no-deal Brexit, and everything to follow it, is the likely outcome; a victory of the Buffoons. Still. I like to think there's some fight in Labor yet, beset as that party seems to be with its own internal issues.

It's not that I'm kneejerk-sympathetic to Labor as the primary Left party in England; they are, however, the only one preserving some third way between the Raving Monster Looney Party of Boris and Nigel the Brexiteers, and the Neoliberal New World Order.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Random Barking: News On The March


Despicable

Robert Mueller hadn't even stepped from the podium before The Murdoch manure machine began doing all it ever can do (via Media Matters):
STUART VARNEY (HOST): My judgment is it was a neutral statement. What do you say?  
PETE HEGSETH (FOX NEWS HOST): I think you're right. I mean, we saw the definitive end of the Mueller report. If you're looking for more, you're looking in the wrong place. And he made that very clear. But I think both sides are going to take what they want from this statement. You're going to have the president rightfully saying no collusion, no obstruction, I'm exonerated, let's move on. The coded language in the second part though, I think is what Democrats are going to seize on, which is department policy is such that we're not able to charge a sitting president with obstruction, therefore, we didn't. He didn't say he didn't obstruct. He said we're not -- it would be unfair to bring charges against a sitting president where there's no place to adjudicate it. So I think that's what you'll see on late night television, on the other networks obsessing over the fact Bob Mueller's hands were tied by the Trump Justice Department and therefore, he didn't bring obstruction charges. But I think the bigger narrative will be the president can go to the voters, which will be the ultimate decision on this in 2020, and say they dragged me through the mud for two and a half years, I was exonerated, let's do something big with the next four years.
ELIZABETH MACDONALD (FOX BUSINESS HOST): Not full exonerated, just not enough evidence --- 
HEGSETH: That's what he'll say.
MACDONALD: Not enough evidence to prosecute a crime. That's what Mueller is just now saying.
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Division

Digby reprinted an article by Ronald Brownstein of CNN:
Even amid record-low unemployment, robust economic growth and a roaring stock market, President Donald Trump has shown no signs of expanding his support beyond the roughly 46% of the vote that he carried in 2016.
National surveys now routinely find a huge falloff between ... Americans satisfied with the economy and the percentage that approve of Trump's performance as President… attitudes about the economy were much less powerful in driving voters' decisions in 2016 and 2018 than their views about fundamental cultural and social changes, particularly race relations and shifting gender roles.
Each of these dynamics underscores how the economy's role in politics may be shifting as the basis of each party's political coalition has evolved.  Increasingly, the parties are bound together less by class than by culture.
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Dysfunction

A Guardian column by Aditya Chakrabortty notes the basic crises which triggered a vote for Brexit in Britain haven't even been admitted to, let alone addressed, by politicians who 'split the difference' in compromises that benefit the Owner Class, and continue to erode public trust in the ability of traditional political parties to represent the interests of The People.

While Chakrabortty doesn't say it, that discontent with "business as usual" politics (reflected in the UK's 2016 Brexit vote and last weekend's victory of Nigel Farage's one-trick-pony Brexit Party in the EU parliamentary elections) is mirrored in other European countries, and in the U.S.  
[The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, noted] "The UK is in ...a very serious crisis [which] isn’t linked to ... Brexit ... It’s a much deeper crisis. An existential crisis"...
...[Current conditions in Britain which led to Brexit were the result of] Thatcherism, in all its cold, stiff, failed ugliness. And the problem there is that the Thatcher experiment has pretty much failed. Four decades after she took power, 38% of working-age households now take more from the state in benefits, health and education than they pay back in taxes. Wealth in Britain is so concentrated that the head of the Institute for Fiscal Studies believes “inheritance is probably the most crucial factor in determining a person’s overall wealth since Victorian times”…
[Brazillian philosopher and Harvard professor Roberto Unger observes] “If you leave the EU, you do so to become something else. But you don’t appear to know what you want to become... European politicians, whether centre-left or centre-right, are so used to the politics of splitting the difference. They are incapable of facing up to fundamental problems... and that leaves a vast vacuum to be filled by any passing nationalist populism."
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Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Thing

Determinism

Via the Soul of America, a review of four books about That Thing Called Democracy which our political system serves us, really is the end of the American Dream -- the myth of consumer riches and The Good Life, or 'Why We Fought WWII and The Cold War": 
... Trump is “not an anomalous departure but rather a return to the historical norm.” Trump exposes starkly what the civility of Obama and his administration obscured -- the subordination of American democracy to capitalism, patriarchy, and the iniquitous racial order descended from slavery...
...democracy is threatened by two types of deterministic worldview ... “inevitability” and “eternity.” The first is the determinism of the “end of history” and modernization theory, which declares that “there is no alternative” to liberal democracy. This, broadly speaking, is the worldview of the liberal elite in the West ... 
The disappointments and resistance that their top-down programs of modernization engender give rise... not to a genuine popular reaction, but to a second type of elite mythmaking, in the form of “eternity politics,” or mythic nationalism.
Whereas modernizers promise a better future for everyone as long as we all follow the one best path, mythic nationalism “places one nation at the center of a cyclical story of victimhood.” Against the dark backdrop of a world of threats, the governing elite promises not progress but protection.
Our current situation... has been shaped by the wild oscillation between the determinism of modernization theory, and the determinism of nationalism. Both foreclose any real debate and all practical alternatives. They are both inimical to genuine democracy. One licenses domineering technocracy; the other, cruder forms of authoritarianism.
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Disproportion

A Mandos Post at IanWelsh dot net; what he's saying is don't underestimate the effect of large numbers of liberal voters who just want Everything To Go Back To What It Was:
Take a look at Joe Biden—he appears to have, for now at least, considerable staying power in the Democratic primary opinion polls ... If your model of political psychology can predict a strong core of popular support for Trump without also predicting a strong core of party grassroots support for Biden, you should really rethink it from the ground up.  For a core of US voters, the presence of Trump in the White House is an unprecedented emergency and an enormous support of anxiety and real, day-to-day stress.
You can call it Trump Derangement Syndrome or whatever, but the feeling is there, and implicit in this feeling is that Trump is an anomaly, a hiatus in the proper march of American institutions [emphasis added; see 'Determinism', above], that should by rights have gone to Clinton, and if not, to one of Trump’s Republican primary competitors.
 And the advantage of Biden, from this perspective, is precisely that Biden presents an opportunity to force the recalcitrant portions of the Democratic party and, yes, the American left insofar as it plays electoral politics, to choose explicitly once again whether it will acknowledge and ratify that feeling, or whether it will die on a hill of particular material policies to the neglect of vital institutional decorum.
But for many left-wingers, it seems that even to admit that this is the dynamic is too much to bear. It requires admitting that the Neera Tandens of the world do not merely represent a type of think tank class traitors in cahoots with the rich, but they are actually the genuine grassroots representatives of a large portion of American society, large enough to make a big difference as to who will win the primary and the presidency.
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Disintegration 

The Great Curmudgeon quotes Greg Sargent in the WaPo:
And Democrats should be aware of the risks that dithering poses to public understanding. One side’s willingness to engage in full-saturation propaganda casting the investigation itself as the real crime -- disinformation designed to blot out shared agreement on the most basic facts about what just happened before all of our very eyes -- now has an attorney general who may be willing to help carry that out. 
Given this deep imbalance, without a coherent narrative from the other side that makes Trump’s corruption and epic misconduct unequivocally central to this national moment -- one riveted around whether Trump committed the high crimes and misdemeanors that render his removal imperative -- is there not a great risk of deepened public confusion, just as Democrats prepare to ask the voters to do the hard work for them?
The Dems said wait for Mueller (totally reasonable). Then they... had no plan for what to do if Mueller didn't send the Marshall of the Supreme Court to arrest Trump or the Republicans didn't respond with "Oh my God it turns out the president is bad!" Neither of which was going to happen. Now we have an AG who is about to turn the Justice Department into a fully partisan operation to investigate Trump's enemies, and being investigated, even if it leads to nothing, is a nightmare in itself, especially for the secondary characters who can't necessarily afford $600/hr lawyers.
The beautiful thing is this will provide the symmetry that our press loves. On one hand, we have Republicans investigating Democrats. On the other hand, we have Democrats investigating Trump/Republicans.
Both sides. It's all partisan. Washington is broken. Vote Schultz!
They had to run with it right away. They didn't.
yassss.

Vote Schultz!
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Dissolution 

As I've said elsewhere: This cannot continue, and This cannot end well.

Robert Evans' podcast, "It Can Happen Here".

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MEHR, AUF DER GROSSER GREISGRAMISMUSS MUSS SEIN:


The Big Guy Votes In Favor Of A Quick Radioactive Barbecue
I think Dem voters did hear the "wait for Mueller"message - Dem voters also like the impartial GOP Daddy referees deciding issues - and then came Mueller day. And when Mueller day arrived the Dems had some shiny new gavels in their possession. So, now, they want the Dems to follow the course set out by impartial GOP Daddy referee Mueller, as they were told they should. And Mueller says impeach the motherfucker.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Reprint Heaven: The Collect Call Of Chtulu

When Your Border Wall's Lost In The Rain In Juarez

(And as more Democrantic candydates appear, it's helpful to use the Wayback Machine to gain perspective -- and so there's this, from July 2016.)
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One of the unspoken Intertube traditions (which we recognize, as we do All Intertube Traditions) is, Never Blog After An, uh, 'Social Call'.  In other words, Don't Drink and Blog.

Blogs (so it is said) should be for sober reflection and analysis, if you want people (for example, the three persons and the Superintelligent Parakeet who read this blog) to take you seriously. Well; fuck that; let's push on.
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When the Brexit was a Day One news item, the English-language European and American mainstream media characterized 'Leave' voters as resembling the 'National Front' types I once encountered in London in the late 70's -- racist, nationalistic troglodytes -- as if the only motivation for wanting to leave the EU could be the potential for a sudden influx of Middle Eastern refugees.

Even today, pundits on some very nice soapboxes are still saying the Brexit is the last gasp of White Britain, the Last Hurrah of a Failed Empire, brought about by political Neanderthals, doomed to extinction by the forward march of Progress.

Progress, For Them: More Exclusive Resort Locales

Maybe. But after you pare away the Raving Loonies, those focused on keeping out 'the Darks', the "Little Englanders" -- the Vote became a rejection of the elitist-sponsored inequality being brought to you under the label of Globalism.

Before 2008 (and even for a time after), anyone claiming that the world was being structured for the benefit of the few at the expense of everyone else -- that it was an organized effort -- would have been marginalized, derided as part of the Tinfoil Hat crowd, a Loony Liberal (or, worse, Communist) and effectively ignored: Yeah; go stand over there, with the 9-11 guys and David Ickes with his nine-foot reptilian Overlords, and the anti-Semites.

The MSM have repeatedly described The 2008 Crash as an 'excess of the financial community' -- an aberration, something out of the ordinary. Like many others, I watch the monthly U.S. employment figures and CPI, and the gyrations of the global Market in an attempt to read the tea leaves... but all that is part of everyone's post-Crash focus: Are we 'getting back to normal'? 

The fix of The Crash was to bail out the institutions and individuals who caused it. After a while, no one in the MSM seemed to pay much attention to the fact that All Of Us had paid to bail out corporate banks, to underwrite their private insolvency with public loans. Because they were Too Big To Fail. Because Freedom.
"[There was] a contract that said, if you work hard, if you essentially are a good citizen, there will be a place for you, not only an economic place, you will have a secure life, your kids will have a chance to have a better life, but you will sort of be recognized as part of the national fabric."

The ... American institutions that underpinned this contract including locally-owned businesses, unions, and public schools. ... the void left by the decline of these institutions was filled by the default force in American life, organized money.
-- Wikipedia Entry (Paraphrased), "The Unwinding", George Packer (2013)
And in the eight years since Der Untergang, there has been a resulting massive shift in American society (and in global institutions) which we haven't come to terms with -- primarily because humans always seek a stable local reality, and will ignore a ton of shit if it means they're "getting by".  Meanwhile, over 90% of income increases since 2008 have gone to a fraction of our population; trillions in wealth have been transferred from the majority to that tiny, useless minority.  And it is not coming back.

Not everyone can march in the streets, but it's still relatively safe to cast an anonymous vote -- ergo, Bernie's popularity in America, and Trumpo's. And the Brexit vote. They're bellwethers of what's going on in the hearts of The People, things that can't necessarily be bought or manipulated by Kochbrudern money, or Little Rupert's 24X7 sewage operation.

Mister, Jones

Everyone I know has the sense (and has had it, since the shark-feeding-frenzy Verrüktzeit preceding The Crash) that we're rocketing towards an unknown singularity. It may crush us flat, as we travel an Einstein-Rosen Bridge of history, before being blown out into the future. 

Some kind of change is coming; the bellwethers are all around us: For decades, art and film have presented stories set after some unimaginable crash / alien incursion / pandemic / Zombie apocalypse / fascist revolution.  In real life, politics has devolved into populism on the Left and faux-populism on the altRight, while Business As Usual (personified by Herr Obama and Hillary The Inevitable !) still runs the show. The Usual Suspects still own the circus. The future is set because they wish it.

It is a sham and all of us know. So in November, just three people will come out to vote. One will cast a ballot for a glorious return of Clintonia; one will vote for the return of The Good Ole Daze. One will arrive to vote for Ralph Nader, but is nearsighted and so votes for Her Majesty in error. And so Cruella Deville will be Our Leader. Or will she?  Such a cliffhanger !
One of my Hillaryite Colleagues is nervous again, stunned by Hillary's plummeting polls since Comey justly called her a serial liar and regal jackass with neither interest in or competence for following rules mere mortals must. He's leading in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Florida, HC said. O look, I said, pointing to the big screen in the Student Union, a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in France. HC said, this is nuts. Students rushed through the Student Union holding cell phones in front of their faces, screaming at each other like battle bugles. It's dress rehearsal, I said.
--  Soul Of America, "And We Should Dance"
No one know what's going to happen, and no one knows the Form Of The Destructor. The only  takeaway we have is a gnawing foreboding. We sense there is an iceberg, dead ahead, a banana peel or large clump of animal feces on the sidewalk in the dark. But we can't discern it's exact shape -- Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is; do you, Mr. Jones. 

All I can do is pay attention to other observers on the Net who are much better at a broader analysis than this humble Dog correspondent. And to join the Greek chorus of those who pass along their observations so that we all too, also, might benefit.

The old world is discombobulating right in front of our eyes. Keep looking, and don't turn away.
In Britain as well as America... The triumph of Margaret Thatcher in the 1978 general election had the same role there as Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 did over here: a new, more aggressive conservatism took up the Left’s rhetoric of class warfare with a vengeance and inverted it, ushering in an era in which the rich rebelled against the poor.

The Labour Party under Tony Blair... responded [in] the same way [as the Democratic party] did under Bill Clinton: both ... dropped their previous commitments to the working class and the poor, and focused instead on issues that appealed to affluent liberals.  They gambled that the working class and the poor would keep voting for them out of ... misplaced loyalty—and over the short term, that gamble paid off.

The result in both countries was a political climate in which the only policies up for discussion were those that favored the interests of the affluent at the expense of the working classes and the poor [Emphasis added]. That point has been muddied so often, and in so many highly imaginative ways, that it’s probably necessary to detail it here.
 Progress, For You: The Decline (The Tenderloin; San Francisco CA)
Rising real estate prices, for example, benefit those who own real estate, since their properties end up worth more, but it penalizes those who must rent their homes, since they have to pay more of their income for rent. Similarly, cutting social-welfare benefits for the disabled favors those who pay taxes at the expense of those who need those benefits to survive.
In the same way, encouraging unrestricted immigration into a country that already has millions of people permanently out of work, and encouraging the offshoring of industrial jobs so that the jobless are left to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of jobs, benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else.
The law of supply and demand applies to labor just as it does to everything else:  increase the supply of workers and decrease the demand for their services, and wages will be driven down. The affluent benefit from this, since they pay less ... but the working poor and the jobless are harmed ... since they receive less income if they can find jobs at all.

It’s standard for this straightforward logic to be obfuscated by claims that immigration benefits the economy as a whole—but who receives the bulk of the benefits, and who carries most of the costs?  That’s not something anybody in British or American public life has been willing to discuss for the last thirty years. 
-- John Michael Greer, Archdruid Report
The Benefits Of Globalism: Obligatory Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Thing
Cameron’s risky bet to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership has backfired disastrously. The unexpected victory for the leave camp has shaken both Unions to their very core, dividing left and right on either side of the Channel ...
 Yet the unspeakable truth is that, at a deeper level, the [Brexit vote] ... has [to do] with ... the widening gulf between political elites and European citizens more generally. While racism and anti-immigrant sentiment have been central to the leave campaign from the very start, it is difficult to believe that all 52 percent of Britons who voted leave are committed fascists.

Many of these people are ordinary working class folks who are simply fed up with the erosion of their living standards, the disintegration of their communities, the lack of responsiveness of their political representatives, and the unaccountable technocracy that has “taken control” over their lives. Brexit was first and foremost a political statement by the dispossessed and disempowered.

... Ultimately, the British vote to leave the EU, whether it eventually materializes or not (and there is no guarantee that it will), is symptomatic of ... a structural crisis of democratic capitalism, that has in recent years evolved from a global financial crisis into a deepening legitimation crisis of the political establishment, which is now in turn exploding into a full-blown crisis of governability of the existing social and political order...

-- ROAR Magazine; Jerome Roos, editor: "#Brexit Confirms: The Neoliberal Center Cannot Hold"
... the Founders distrusted popular government for the simple, unassailable reason that the American people are drawn ineluctably to raving bigots and would-be totalitarians. Who are these unhinged, pitchfork-wielding yahoos, now rudely demanding their moment of reckoning at the expense of the institutions erected to discipline them?
-- "The Political Class Struggles", Chris Lehman, 'The Baffler'
For Us:  Eight Nine More Years; Business As Usual. With Occasional Botox.
Hillary really seems to believe that her victory is enough of a consolation prize to negate our miseries. Sadly, there are enough people who agree that she'll never disabuse herself or her notion. If she loses, she'll blame us. We'll have deprived ourselves of the joy of witnessing her happiness.
-- :p, Airport through the Trees
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MEHR, MIT:  There is also, too, this from Something You Should Read (emphasis added):
The greatest trick the Republicans ever performed was dragging America’s political spectrum so far right of center that the Democrats caved and became center-right corporatist shills ... a horrendous compromise between anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-racist idealists who believe in building a better America, and the well-to-do status quo defending blowhards who think buying a Beyonce album on iTunes is somehow proof you believe Black Lives Matter.

Essentially, those who understand our current politics are infested with a rot that spread misery and poverty, and “free market” neoliberals who cloak their faith in the current system with a sick and twisted perversion of “Identity Politics.” They seek nothing more than a more diverse oligarchy to rule over the poor and the disadvantaged, they think they can weaponize poverty to punish and silence white racism. 
They’ll call illegal drone strikes a “white issue,” they’ll defend an infinitely rich and powerful white woman’s vocal support of an illegal war that has murdered hundreds of thousands if not millions. They’ll support a “sit-in” to create policy around a Bush-era terrorist watchlist to strip rights from Muslims. All of this is so far detached from anything a “Left” would ever stand for. ...

Let me make it clear ... you were an outspoken supporter of a Liberal White Supremacy that infests our current political class. One that pretends a black President is somehow a victory while the wealth gap between white and black families has only grown under his reign. One that believes Silicon Valley can somehow end racism through apps. One that pretends Edward Snowden is somehow a traitor, while a Secretary of State running a private email server to hide from public accountability and FOIA requests is somehow woke feminist labor. One that pretends Hillary only voted for the Iraq War because doing otherwise would be “political suicide.” One that pretends claiming poverty while having a luxurious AirBNB in a developing nation is not grossly inappropriate. One that thinks a vote for an infinitely rich and powerful white woman whose incompetence has had grave consequences for poor Muslim women overseas is somehow a meaningful victory for feminism....

Vote for Hillary all you want. However, wrapping it up in a triumphant narrative of identity politics and social justice when the only success is more dead innocent Muslims overseas — for no fucking reason — I mean the drone assassination program Hillary Clinton oversaw as Secretary of State had a fucking 90% failure rate— is nothing short of absolute vulgarity.
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Steak Of The Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It's been almost fifty years since anyone has fired a weapon at me, and while there was context for it at the time ("Since you are here, people will try to fuck with your basic existence"), the fact of guns and that humans use them at all leaves me speechless.  
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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!
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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Trust Only The Children

Burning Down The House

Brazil's National Museum; 200 years of priceless artifacts and historical records, burns (John Moraes / Reuters 2018)

I keep trying to read the tea leaves about the future, a foolish, stupid thing to do. Predictions are an illusion; the world has too many variables influencing what that future will become -- though some people have a frightening talent for being able to predict large-scale swings in the culture. It's also a foolish thing to do because I'm not very good at it.

Trying to predict what will happen is just what humans do -- attempt to exercise control in a chaotic mystery world. Americans are a pack of 400 million proto-Chimps who possess just enough intelligence and socialization to prevent us from acting like the Australopithecines in 2001: A Space Odyssey all at the same time. Still, we're dragged around by our genome and our hormones. Our level of consciousness allows imaginative conceptualization, including an awareness of our mortality, and that we have no idea what this chaotic mystery world is.

The leitmotiv of the human condition is not having absolute answers to the obvious questions arising from self-awareness. Every ridiculous and sublime thing we do or have ever done to define or organize or protect ourselves is a response to that. Whatever we come up with are only operating assumptions. They're not absolutes. They're not the answers. But when we insist those assumptions are The Answers, we feel less anxious and insecure.

For thousands of years, religions, cruise lines, governments, distillers, investment bankers, snack food and condom manufacturers have made good money by selling other proto-Chimps on the idea that [Fill In Blank] is The Truth / makes you feel better /lets you boss other Chimps around.  We want to be distracted -- and, as in so many things, America has been Number One in the Distraction Industry for generations.

As we convince ourselves the collective assumptions are The Answers -- at the same time we know that's a lie. When the balance between those two opposites becomes hard to maintain, the reality can come home to roost with a vengeance: Hubris. The Comeuppance. The Fire Next Time. And -- you know -- Things will happen. 
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Tea leaves, then: America is collectively being sheep-dipped in unreality. Since Trump, the negative feedback loop of cognitive dissonance has gone into overdrive. The effort to maintain a collective illusion that All Is OK In The USA has become progressively more difficult.

It's a Meatball Moment for so many people (if 2008 wasn't enough). And it's happening on so many levels at once -- political, financial; artistic; race, age, and gender (and, hovering in the background, climate deterioration, species extinction). All feed on and amplify each other, and the general dysfunction -- which loops back; 'round and 'round.

All Is Not OK.
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As a society, we've been here before. There's some Summer of '68 in the air.  Then, we had our Foreverwar, too; we had Tet, we had My Lai. We had protests; "People carryin' signs / mostly say, "Hooray For Our Side" '. Left politics and Civil Rights were quashed by assassination, by Daley's police. We had larger versions of Ferguson in Harlem, Watts, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston; Baltimore.

We had an honest-to-god World Struggle For Domination with the Soviets in that 1968, with real thermonuclear war a possibility (well, we do now, too, but everyone thinks it will never happen). It was more likely the Russians would invade somewhere, as the Czechs found out.

The DJIA slumped a bit in 1968 (but the economy hadn't taken a full-on greedhead Ooopsie!, brought to you by America's Fabled Wealthy™) and the average price of an American home was $14,000 (that's about $120K today).

There was Feminism, but no #MeToo; Gays and Lesbians, but no Stonewall (yet) and a nascent Castro. There were drugs and rock 'n roll in long-ago-68; there was Woodstock and Youthtribe! but no Burning Man -- and, there was more hopeful naivety. There seems way more cynicism, more jock-like readiness to take offense, more fuck you today than in 1968.

Might be there's a reason for that -- given what's gone down since.
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The most positive thing Wonderboy has done for America in nearly twenty months is to be precisely who he is -- a congenital liar and an abusive bully.  On a daily basis, he shows us in stark contrast the difference between our collective illusions, and the Real. As Americans, what we do with that understanding is critical.

Not OK, but we'll take what we can get.

It would be a relief, if this was the tipping point in Il Duce's rule.  If that's true, however, think about this:  It means America's population put up with an insane level of behavior by that Orange Suet Pudding-In-A-Bag for nineteen months.  It will have taken 19 months for us to collectively say hey, fuck this, you Jackass! 
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I was once shown a photograph of an older man, taken in Iowa in 1944, standing on a semi-rural neighborhood street with a small girl, possibly his granddaughter. The man appeared to be at least in his late sixties, and looked a little like the author, Kurt Vonnegut (in fact, a lot like him). That would mean he had been born at some point between 1865 and 1875. 

He had grown up in a world where the Civil War, even the First World War, weren't Ken Burns' specials on PBS; it's conceivable he could have been a child when Custer stumbled into the Little Big Horn. His expectations of how the world worked would have been rooted in the 19th century. But there are automobiles in the photo behind him; far beyond Iowa, the Second World War was playing out in all its awful technological splendor.

I don't look anything like Vonnegut, but I could be the Old in someone else's photo, having lived in that long-ago 1968, my expectations about the world based in analog television, 25-cent double-feature movies, rotary phones and slide rules -- but more important, how social behaviors and human institutions worked. 

In the present, we can feel a shift in culture and society, in consciousness, is coming. Driven by changes in climate, technology, in the (im)balance between rich and poor, and unstable global politics, the changes coming will be as radical in their effect as transitions from the 19th to the 20th centuries. 

It's crystal clear that Trump, Alt-right nationalists and Bundist billionares, can't be allowed to shape the debate in America about those social transformations. But I'm not in favor of anyone wired into the neoliberal elite determining our priorities, either. 
_______________________________

The End Of Trump will play out. One way or another, he's done. It may happen within months; it may take two years. It may involve a "Constitutional Crisis", or not -- but it will be ugly; the only question is to what degree. 

If I had a wish, it would be that Trump's unbelievable, foul-mouthed repeated lying about whatever comes into his head, finally brings about the end of the Murdoch business model of selling lies as facts. That Americans might finally demand truth (or a higher standard of accuracy, at least) from our government, from politicians, political activists, the media, educators, corporations. I mean, you don't lie to people whom you respect; right? And Americans are still treated with casual contempt. 

Yes; this is either setting the bar too high, or it's laughable. Lying -- boldface, or by omission -- is baked into the institutions of human affairs, so I'm pissing into the wind, making this wish; but, still. There are much bigger questions to be answered so that any of us might avoid being forced to wipe the bottoms of America's Fabled Elite™, and provide them with many soft treats.

Will we? I told you: I'm only a Dog. I'm not very good at this.

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo
In Middle Of Blog Thing About Congenitally Lying President.
Smooth! Shiny! Crazy!
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  • Lil' Brett Kavanaugh is a scum-sucking pig-dog. He is going to be the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The confirmation hearings are a sham -- everyone gets to preen and bellow and act outraged, for different reasons -- but he'll sit on the court. He'll overturn Roe. He'll protect Wonderboy, Because Freedom. He'll do everything Fat Tony Scalia would, were he still staining the bench. Bretty will represent power and privilege, and be feted and stroked by the Federalist Right forever; amen. And they'll say such nice things about him when he leaves, full of years and glory. Abschaum-saugen Schweinhund.
  • It doesn't matter what Bob Woodward says. 98% of the 'revelations' in his book had already been reported (though the new bits about stealing papers off the Clown King's desk are choice). Woodward reinforces the view, for those not still Führertreu, that Wonderboy is a cartoon of a man, a scrawl of needs and demands for gratification, piggish and infantile. And, no one is shocked by Bobby's book, really, because (wait for it) it was written for the Villagers! 
          The Great Curmudgeon Says: Fuck Off, The Rest Of Us Can
Many (most? who knows) even benevolent elites think that elites, in the very specific context of what that means in the United States, should run the country, and by implication, the world.  
Upper middle class (at least) background, elite universities (and elite high schools!), connections, etc. The "good" [elites] might not express this. They might not actually know that they believe this. But it doesn't take too many overheard "jokes" about who did and didn't go to Ivy equivalents, or even just understanding that this is a perfectly normal topic of conversation for people who are 20 years out of college, to get the point. 
Good liberal federal judges aren't hiring law clerks from Kabumfuck State University Law School, for example. (I am sure there are exceptions proving the rule). 
And the non-benevolent [Elites?]. Well, they truly think they should run the world. And own it. And the rest of us can fuck off.
Digby Says: A Slice From The Loaf Of Amoral And Unprincipled
It's obvious now that Trump's odious public persona is not a performance. He is even worse in private...  
On Wednesday the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed written by a "senior official" in the Trump administration that further supports Woodward's reporting. This person claims that members of the White House staff are acting as guardians of the country by keeping Trump from going off the rails. It's an astonishing essay in which this unnamed official admits that members of Trump's Cabinet actually spoke about evoking the 25th Amendment. 
This person characterizes the president as an amoral, unprincipled oaf who has no idea what he's doing, so he or she, along with others in the administration, have taken it upon themselves to save the nation, essentially patting themselves on the back and saying "You're welcome" to what is presumed to be a grateful nation.
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TPM Says: Trump Has A Friend?
Trump’s “volcanic” anger and “absolutely livid” (in the Post’s words) reaction to the op-ed sent top aides, like chief of staff John Kelly, scuttling to sniff out the renegade, according to the Times, which reported that aides have already produced a list of at least six possible culprits. Some believe the defector works in the administration, but not the actual White House, while two people familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump is convinced the turncoat is involved in national security or a member of the Justice Department. 
“It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” one former White House official who remains in contact with ex-colleagues told the Post.  
The publication of the anonymous note of dissension has only added to Trump’s increased “sense of paranoia,” according to the Post, and has pushed the President — who was already feeling vulnerable following reports on Bob Woodward’s new book filled with anonymously sourced palace intrigue — to question his closest allies. 
Only his children remain trusted confidantes, a Trump friend told the Post. 
“He’s surrounded by strangers,” one former Trump campaign official told Politico. 
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MEHR, MIT HUHN:  I just really like this graphic.

At the Friday propaganda session, when Missy Sarah told Another Big Fib, she was immediately shamed by the Chicken. All the Boys and Girls laughed at her because she was such a Big Fibber.
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