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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Proudly Barking Randomly At Our Corporate Masters

What You Are Expected To Deliver; In 22 Seconds
"We want this! And that! We demand a share in that, and most of that; some of this, and fucking all of that! Less of that, and more of this; and fucking plenty of this! Another thing: we want it now! We want it yesterday; we want fucking more tomorrow. And the demands will all be changed, then; so fucking stay awake!"
-- Billy Connolly, 1999
True dat.  And while that comment by Connolly may have been directed at another group entirely, the Big Yin also once noted, "Never turn down an opportunity to shout, 'Fuck Them All !!' at the top of your voice."

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Random Barking


(Photo: Screenshot / Politico; Cincinatti Enquirer, January 2018)

Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.
--  Thomas Hardy, Notebooks
Dateline / Washingtown (Cheese Star)John Boner, former President Republican speaker of the House of Representatives who, rather than be shamed, ran away; a dweller of smoke-filled rooms and possessed of spectacular hairpieces; announced today that he is joining the "advisory board" of  a company which owns "cannabis licenses and assets" in the 30 states where marijuana is approved for medical or recreational use. 
Boner waived away his previous Republican Metanoid, tight-ass, send-druggies-to-prison, Buzz Killington position regarding use and sale of cannabis. "Dude, that was then," the former House Speaker-To-Animals said. "s'like, you know, what's happening now." 
Via a social media monetizing system, Boner said he was making his move because, after retiring from public service, his 'thinking on cannabis has evolved' to embrace selling drugs for money. "I’m convinced de-scheduling [marijuana] is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities," Boner said. "And I just don't want to get upset by all the [expletive] going down with Donny -- 'Donny The Downer'. He needs to relax, man." 
Reminded that sales of marijuana are still illegal at the Federal level, and that the drug is labeled a Schedule I substance alongside heroin and LSD, Boner said, "Whoa; that's harsh, dude." 
Boner went on to say that Federal prohibition has made it hard for the fledgling marijuana industry in America to evolve as 'those who handle the substance' are unable to open business accounts at banks which are part of the federal reserve system. "You can't handle the substance!!" Boner observed, squinting at a reporter. 
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo summed up the feelings of many observers, noting, "one day you're Speaker of the House, next you're selling dime bags."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Random Barking: Boomba Boomba, With Skunk

Sit Up; Roll Over; Rig The Stock Market

Obligatory A.I. Advertisement Parody In Blog Thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and Our Sainted Leader is a bloated, raving skunk.

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Great Hedgehog Of Post-Modern Neoliberal Capitalism

Obigatory Cute Small Animal Photo At Beginning Of Surrealistic Blog Thing

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

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

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

Diamond Duck In Davos

1.  Greasing The Grenze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.   Where You Were, Gentlemen

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.   Historical Briefs With A Brown Streak Of Genius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mad As Hell And, Y' Know, Mad As Hell

Unless Of Course There's Free Cable In It For Us 

When I'm alone, and things are getting me down, I can always suffer weight gain, gross disfigurement, have urges to Make Time with girls, engage in cross-dressing, and dance with pom-poms. Just so you know. This is Murrika, after all, where our ability to debase ourselves is the crowning glory of our civilization.

Yes, it changes nothing. That Other Pig is Murrikan Leader. He says he is Not Racist. He says not crazy but stable. He says all is Fake, and my head goes into its Third Reel.  I mean, it's not like he's Alan Watts or something. The earth is facing an unthinkable series of environmental catastrophes, the dying species don't even get they're being taken out of the Big Parade, and Our Wealthy are doing everything to keep their soft lives and privilege as long as possible -- at the expense of everyone else, of course.

And when It Is Too Much and we come to this crazy-place in our Dog brain, we sit down and refuse to move -- until our request, that everyone will now please to dance the Rhumba Charleston until we can get a grip, is granted.  So, everyone get with it. Shake that thing. Thank you.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trumplandia, Too

Bark Howl Bark Howl Bark Howl Bark Bark

An associate animal Skypes at me:
...BTW, they're not going to let anything actually happen to Trump. He's the perfect fall guy while they carry out their master plan. They've wanted to dismantle the safety net. They have the idiot in chief, they run the congress, and it's a golden opportunity.
-- The Big Pilgrim Chicken
Since November of 2016, Trumplandia has been chaotic, unpredictable, covered by mud and a stinking fog. Waypoints which all of us (and our allies, and our enemies) have relied on as solid landmarks to navigate into the future are hard to see, or are being erased.  Compasses are no longer reliable. Facts and Truth are Whatever The Leader, Or Those Who Speak For Him, Say It Is.

Despite that, some major shapes of the place we inhabit have become clearer over eleven months.
  • Trumplandia -- for at least the next decade -- cannot be relied on by other nations to participate in anything, unless it benefits Trumplandia, even when failing to do so allows other Empire wannabes to step in. Even when the lives of others are at risk due to climate or environmental breakdown (look at what happened to Puerto Rico, and they're Americans), or war. Look somewhere else for assistance with the next Ebola outbreak, child vaccination program, or emergency famine relief. The Department of State, independent and essentially nonpartisan, will continue to shrink -- diplomacy is so overrated.  Trumplandia will regard itself in the mirror, and revel in its self-created beauty, because Freedom: USA! USA!
  • Here at home, all the groundwork to de-fund the infrastructure of health, education, and the national welfare has been laid -- for at least the next decade. Healthcare and education can be left to privatization and 'market forces' -- if you're not sick, don't worry! And children only need to know enough to sign their names, and be able to offer trays of treats to Our Wealthy. Programs to support human beings in real need will be reduced or eliminated, because Republicans "have a rough time wanting to spend ... billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything". Social Security and Medicare are next, because older and sick people apparently won't lift a finger to help themselves, either -- they'll have to learn to pull themselves up on their own, just like Our Leader did.  
  • And, our Financial Industry needs less and less regulation. We need new innovation in investment vehicles, opportunities for growth! And the manufacturers of products don't need so much regulation, either; it's all so complex and expensive for them! So, whatever. Because Freedom!
  • Our Elite and Wealthy are being provided with even more benefits, and treats. It will take time (too long) for the peasantry 'regular' people to realize what this means for them, and that Trumplandia has become shabbier, less inviting and welcoming; kind of like Pottersville. But they will watch their teevees (excited over the next Big Game!) and convince themselves that the world isn't shabbier, meaner, colder, harder. No! It's The Same As It Ever Was -- but more Biggly Huge! Gonna Be Great, Let Me Tell You! 
  • Environmental concerns in Trumplandia don't exist; climate breakdown is fake. Industry and jobs, new strip mines and private residential developments -- and more service staff to soothe and do things -- anything -- for Our Wealthy. And when disasters strike; well, it's simply god's will. The survivors won't lift a finger to help themselves and expect the government to do everything, anyway.  But; look, you stupid peasants; the business of Trumplandia is Business. Water quality, air quality; food safety; it's all burdensome and unnecessary. The future is for "the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies".  Regulation just takes away from that investing! We don't need it! Because Freedom! USA! USA!
  • The system of justice in Trumplandia is being set, judge by judge, to reflect the values of its creators -- so that even if things changed, and next year every Right-wing buffoon were voted out of office, there would still be Right-wing judges to prevent reversal of the Will of Our Elite and Wealthy. And as below, so above -- the Right wants new Supreme Court vacancies for the all-Republican Congress to fill. And who can deny The Right its every desire?
  • There is no movement to renew the national infrastructure. There's certainly no government funds, federal or state, to pay for it. And corporations have no interest in funding even a portion of a national, WPA-like effort. But, Trumplandia will have it's Wall -- even the one being quietly erected between Our Wealthy, and everyone else. And, we're being shown by example that Trumplandians should be building walls between each other. It's a nation for the strong and competitive, not the weak. Who needs 'em? Workhouses. Surplus population; you know. USA! USA!
A war might slow this trajectory -- but only if it's a military exchange that involves direct damage and casualties in the United States. Then, no one will be paying attention to the alt-Right's new culture -- we'll be trying to find our balance in a new Trumplandia, one that more closely resembles a police state.  And if the military action is just another distant conflict in the Forever War, it will doubtless be ignored by the majority of Trumplandians -- unless the casualties are significant.

An economic crisis could affect how Trumplandia develops, but only by accelerating the damage to the culture. Even without a Recession, the costs of what Trump and the Right are doing will begin to fall on inner cities and on people of color, first -- possibly while Trump is still in his first term.

When people begin to react out of desperation (because they understand: there are ways to be owned, even if you're not bought on the block at public auction), how quickly will Ferguson-style protests move from "unlawful assembly" to become 'terrorist acts'?

And, there will always be money in the budgets for police departments. Always.

But wait: people say, this will change; it has to change.

They expect big gains for Democrats next year -- with everything that's happened, how could the Dems lose? Or, people hope for a miracle ending to this nightmare, that Trump could be impeached.

Historically, it could be argued that it's possible: in a midterm year, with an unpopular president in office, large gain of Congressional seats for his opposition tend to follow. And, the Democratic leadership claims their base is energized for an upset. They all but say Look, we have to win, because just look at what Trump is doing! Voting for us is a vote for sanity -- we're the only alternative!

However, their party has no real leader, no compelling spokesperson who can communicate the reality of what the Right is doing, why that's important, and offer concrete alternatives. After the chaos of  2016 and Clinton's ugly dominance of the DNC (because Obama helped leave the party effectively bankrupt), the Democrats are fragmented and without a coherent message. Very bad timing, for them.

When we do finally hear a message from the Democrats, it won't be a populist or socialist one. The DNC strategy is to characterize the Republicans as radicals; the Dems believe they will win by appearing to be the calm, rational, inoffensive Center -- and their candidate will appear as just that.

But, none of this changes the truth of the midterm math: To shift the balance in Congress, Democrats need to win nationally -- and primarily in strongly Republican districts. Without a galvanizing candidate or a strong message, can they do this? Or, is it more likely that the Right loses a few seats but continues to dominate all three branches of government?

< spoiler >

But, consider: Do you actually believe that the current American political structure does more than prop up a status quo which does not believe in providing collective security, protecting collective rights, or doing collective anything for its citizens -- beyond ensuring they participate in a cycle of  labor to earn money, to purchase goods and services, and provide unearned income for Our Wealthy?

Does anything about the preoccupation with material acquisition, celebrity, and constant stimulation in our culture (but not only ours) strike you as absurd, out of balance? That for decades you have gotten up every morning with the hollow feeling that you are being lied to, and manipulated, on a scale so huge that it frightens you to think about it? 

That what things you may have, and what you may do, are being defined by individuals who do not see you as a human being with a Life, but only in terms of what amount of value you can produce for them, over X years, before you die? 

< /spoiler >

The old-line GOP has made a Faustian bargain in backing Trump, in order to achieve everything they've wanted for the past forty years by brute force. They're doing it. They're also counting on The Center in Trumplandia to be Sheep, as usual, who won't notice what they've done until it's too late. And, when it turns out their plans were lies and worse than lies, the Right will just blame someone else -- Democrats, immigrants; terrorists.

The old GOP is also hoping they can outmaneuver the alt-Right, and maintain control of the Republican 'brand'; maybe they can. Keeping Our Leader happy is part of that balancing act with the alt-Right Brownshirts -- so McConnell and Ryan and the rest support Trump, for now.

But if the "Russia Thing" begins to heat up, and serious enough charges are brought against Trump directly, that could change. But impeachment is not likely -- the Democrats don't have the power in Congress, and the GOP may see saving Trump as the cost of saving the Republican party, and themselves.

The "Russia Thing"; let's walk through it:  The special prosecutor's investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government to influence the 2016 election may result in three possible conclusions:
  • One, that collusion was probable, but not provable. A number of middle- and lower-level Trump campaign operatives (like Manafort, Gates and Papadopolous) are charged with crimes uncovered in the course of the investigation (such as making false statements to the FBI, money laundering, etc.) but don't necessarily tie to the election, and the case stops there.
  • Two, that some level of collusion with Russian agents may be proven, and/or a conspiracy to cover it up afterwards. The collusion/conspiracy involves Trump's inner circle (e.g., Jared; Don, Jr.; Bannon; Carter Page; Sessions, Bannon), and some are indicted -- but no one rolls over on The Capo, and the case stops there. 
  • Three, that collusion with Russian agents can be proven; indictments of members of Trump's inner circle occur, and eventually Trump himself is charged -- most likely because he asked for Russian help to affect the election, or conspired to obstruct investigations into it.
The first and second scenarios are Shiny Objects. They'll attract attention, make good theater, and allow broadcast media to charge higher advertising rates. But they won't have much practical affect on the direction of country, and certainly won't impact the Elites.

The third scenario is more serious, because it will inevitably escalate into a symbolic, Culture War confrontation -- between rule of law, and rule by America's political Right; between Justice and Oligarchy. That can alter politics, and even give Our Wealthy pause (admittedly, though, not much).

Something to consider: American intelligence agencies (primarily CIA, NSA, and FBI [historically responsible for counterintelligence within the U.S.]) had been aware of the hacking, and other activities at issue, since August of 2016. All agreed that Russian intelligence, at Vladimir Putin's direction, were the perpetrators. They reported this to then-president Obama and, in a very unusual move, released a sanitized version of their analysis after the election in December, 2016. 

The intelligence community used multiple sources in that investigation, and it's standard not to comment on what methods were used -- point being, the CIA and NSA may have definitive proof that persons now in the White House have committed offenses, and not be able to present it in open court or to a Congressional subcommittee without revealing how they obtained it. 

The new CIA Director, Trump appointee Mike Pompeo, may not be anxious to reveal information, either. He has been unclear what the agency's position is on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

If Trump were accused, his attorneys would assert (as they already have) that a sitting president cannot be indicted. That would provoke a Constitutional question and move directly to the Supreme Court.  Like Bush v. Gore, it would likely end with a 5-4 decision in Trump's favor, a terrible precedent.

[Note: Thanks to the Big Pilgrim Chicken (Roo -- "Who Are You?" "Airborne!") for correcting my errors in describing the impeachment process. My prior version stated that the House Rules and Judiciary committees would each have to agree by vote to refer the charges to the full House of Representatives. Wrong.]

Whether the question of indicting a sitting president is raised or not, any charges brought by a special prosecutor must be referred to the United States Congress. The House Judiciary committee would hold hearings to determine whether the charges against the president were impeachable offenses. 

Like the rest of the Congress, the Judiciary Committee is dominated by Republicans. Partisan politics may rule; the Right has just run roughshod over the country to get what it wants, so they may shut down any inquiry and to hell with the media and the People. If they do, that's an end to it.

There will be CSPAN coverage of the committee sessions, and video clips of Democratic members crying that this is the darkest day in America since the Civil War -- that will be true, but it won't matter. Trump, vindicated, Tweets for days, strutting and preening. Ivanka goes shopping with Louise Linton and they have a 'Spa Day'.

But, let's say the Judiciary committee does hold full and transparent hearings. They vote to refer the matter to the full House (here, the Rules Committee would determine how debate and voting would proceed). A simple majority (218) is required when voting on Articles of Impeachment. This means 192 Democrats have to find twenty-six Republicans to join them. It's possible -- but if the vote falls strictly along party lines, it will fail.  That's the end of it.

Trump crows over his 'success', his 'win', in a never-ending series of press conferences, takes a full week off in New Jersey and golfs every day, making Impeachment jokes to the neutered press. President Vladimir Putin of Russia calls Trump to congratulate him.

So, let's assume Articles of Impeachment actually pass in the House and are referred to the Senate for the president to be tried. When Clinton was tried in the Senate, there were hours of debate and plenty of grandstanding; the same will happen here. The spectacle will 'consume the nation', but remember -- it's theater. Get some popcorn, but I wouldn't spend extra money for the really good kind.

A two-thirds vote is required in the Senate to convict a president on any charge. 67 Senators voting 'Aye' on any charge results in a conviction, which also means a vote to remove the president from office. If Trump were tried in the Senate, it's possible that -- like Clinton -- the number of Senators voting to convict would not reach 67. Trump would be "shamed", as Clinton was -- but he remains in office, and that's the end of it. 

The thing about public shaming:  the person being punished has to feel as if the penalty actually means anything. Trump could care less about being disgraced as the third president in history to actually be tried for Impeachment in the Senate. For him, "not getting a two-thirds vote" and remaining in office equals "winning".  

Perversely, Trump would feed on a 24-by-7 news cycle being focused on him, for months on end. After the vote(s) fail, he will bellow, preen, strut, and celebrate with an all-night party at More-Lego, attended by all the bottom-feeding, alt-Right and white supremacist glitterati, flown in at government expense -- and with a manly, affectionate embrace from surprise guest, Stevie Bannon. President Vladimir Putin of Russia will send flowers to Melania.

That's Right: Thousands of hours of media time, millions spent on investigating and attempting to punish that useless bully, and it all may come to nothing. The alt-Right will use any Impeachment attempt to fuel an agenda of bigotry and violence. Trumplandia will be a nation more bitterly divided than at any time since 1860 -- and that's exactly what 'patriots' like Mr Bannon want. Leaving the United States more internally divided and preoccupied is certainly what Mr Putin would want. 

Many things can happen, surprising or not. But at the moment, Trumplandia appears like a business, a property obtained in a hostile takeover -- and the corporate raiders who grabbed it are busy selling off its assets, diverting the proceeds into offshore accounts; treating the employees left like serfs; roaring with laughter at their great, good fortune, congratulating themselves as Winners! as they make fun of everyone else -- whom by their definition are Rubes, Suckers, and Losers!

How it all ends? I hope I'm wrong.

Washington (Reuters) - President Donald Trump told Arab leaders on Tuesday that he intends to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a decision that breaks with decades of U.S. policy and risks fueling violence in the Middle East. 
...Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who all received phone calls from Trump, joined a mounting chorus of voices warning that unilateral U.S. steps on Jerusalem would derail a fledgling U.S.-led peace effort and unleash turmoil in the region.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Manner Of Our Living

Thorns On Roses

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

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

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

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

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

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

This reminded me of a passage in the film, Mississippi Burning (1988), where the Southern FBI agent, played by Gene Hackman, tries to tell the Northern-Intellectual-Liberal FBI agent, played by Willem Dafoe, how things are below the Mason-Dixon: 
You know, when I was a little boy -- there was an old Negro farmer, lived down the road from us, name of Monroe. And he was... Well, I guess he was just a little luckier than my daddy was. He bought himself a mule. That was a big deal around that town.
My daddy hated that mule. His friends kidded him that they saw Monroe ploughin' with his new mule... and Monroe was gonna rent another field now that he had a mule. And one morning, that mule just showed up dead. They poisoned the water. After that, there was never any mention about that mule around my daddy.
One time we were drivin' past Monroe's place and we saw it was empty. He'd just packed up and left, I guess -- gone up North, or somethin'.  I looked over at my daddy's face ... and I knew he'd done it. And he saw that I knew.
He was ashamed; I guess he was ashamed. He looked at me and he said, 'Son -- if you ain't better than a nigger, who are you better than?' [He was] so full of hate ... that he didn't know that bein' poor was what was killin' him.

These persons are a minority, in raw numbers, but collectively they're dangerous to themselves and others. And, their idols either run the government or influence the society -- and for all its connections with centers of power, the establishment media didn't spend thirty years saying there are no facts -- only alternate, competing systems of belief fighting with each other for dominance.

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

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

The fascination, the Great Game, is being able to influence the world at the level of an entire society. They see themselves and their "struggle" in larger-than-life, romanticized terms, as if this will all end in a lavish, eight-hour HBO mini-series. They crush their enemies and are vindicated by history, with a thrilling soundtrack, in the last ten minutes before commercials -- portrayed by handsome Hollywood actors as wise, human and good, worthy not only of veneration but love.

It seems supporters and defenders of Moore would be happy to re-fight the Civil War; the alt-Right has spent decades building the idea of a 'culture war' in America without bothering to mention that war means violence and death and surrender or submission.

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crustal Displacement Is Not Your Buddy; Or, Weimar II

(From November 9, 2016)

Put On A Happy Face.  Or, Not.

Clinton would win. Of course; aber natürlich she would. Because the idea of a victory by Trump was so far outside the bounds of possibility. It was laughable; worse, it was stupid, and I said exactly that here and elsewhere, over and over.

Trump was a joke. He was clownish, 'Brassy', utterly without gravitas. He was like the owner of the hardware store in a small town, outwardly successful (though there were stories about how he ran that business), a member of the country club, invited to all the right public parties -- but no one would ever suggest he had a serious chance if he ran for mayor. This asshole?  Ha ha; no.

And, the people who supported Trump had to be troglodyte, tin-foil-hat wearing, racist, misogynist Brownshirts. They lapped up propaganda paid for by the Koch Brothers, as eagerly as anything being passed in the right-wing public vomatorium. They were bitter-enders, the "twenty-four per centers'; of course they were. There couldn't be enough of them in America to elect that, that -- person.  My America was (at a minimum) progressive, fact-based, secular. There was no room for the kind of Tea Partei intolerance and lunacy which Trump's running mate (and now Vice-President) Pence tried enacting into law in Indiana.

Trump's supporters were angry that America has been moving down the wrong path, its political priorities not addressing what they saw as our critical needs -- oddly enough, I feel the same. But our ideas of 'critical needs' are diametrically opposed. And most conservatives I've met seem to have basic assumptions about How The World Works that just make me foam whenever I hear them -- and if they're evangelical conservatives, I start veering into Stroke territory. Thank god, I thought: they're only the 24%. Not enough to move the dial.

Hillary, as distasteful as her assumption of power might be to me, as autocratic as her stranglehold on the DNC was, made me feel that I had some license to be snarky and sarcastic. After all, she would win anyway, right? Of course. Of course.

And the numbers that appeared in Nate Silver's analysis of the electorate at supported that assumption. Silver, the Quant / pollster who defied 'conventional wisdom' in 2012 (predicting a second term for Obama when most polls and the GOP declared Romney the probable winner), consistently predicted Clinton a shoe-in:  as of Tuesday, November 8, her estimated chances of winning were 71.4%; Trump's were 24.6%.  The last message posted at the 538 site yesterday was:
Throughout the election, our forecast models have consistently come to two conclusions. First, that Hillary Clinton was more likely than not to become the next president. And second, that the range of possible Electoral College outcomes — including the chance of a Donald Trump victory, but also a Clinton landslide that could see her winning states such as Arizona — was comparatively wide.

That remains our outlook today in our final forecast of the year. Clinton is a 71 percent favorite to win the election according to our polls-only model and a 72 percent favorite according to our polls-plus model. ... This reflects a meaningful improvement for Clinton in the past 48 hours as the news cycle has taken a final half-twist in her favor. Her chances have increased from about 65 percent.

Our forecast has Clinton favored in states and congressional districts totaling 323 electoral votes ... but ... because Clinton’s leads in North Carolina and Florida especially are tenuous, the average number of electoral votes we forecast for Clinton is 302, which would be equivalent to her winning either Florida or North Carolina but not both.

I spent yesterday in a jury assembly room, answering a summons to serve along with 200 other people. We were shown two videos which extolled jury service as a part of our system of law and justice, 'trial by ones peers', part of the rights guaranteed by our Constitution (where trial by jury is mentioned, we were told, three times).  It was interesting, even fun (possibly not for the petitioners or defendants).  We saw "Former Jurors" telling the camera that they would want someone like themselves on a jury if they were ever "in a fix".

Having to serve on a jury when I am galactically busy at my Place O' Labor™ is a drag -- but I agree with the idea that membership in a body politic means one may have to step up when asked. It was also ironic to be watching the videos while the country was casting votes about the potential future makeup of the Supreme Court.  But, Clinton would win; that would be fodder for eight years of jokes and photoshopped images. Not a problem.

Last night, I didn't even watch the returns. I sat down and wrote out a post -- a good one -- about the election, but my free blogger service ate it. Gone. I'd saved it, ready to Publish; when suddenly the screen refreshed and a much earlier draft of the same post was left. An hour of decent writing up the spout. So, I watched the last episode of Ken Burns'; documentary on America's experience of WW2, The War. I was bored; get it over with, already, and went to bed convinced I would see Hillary's face trumpeted from the skies tomorrow.


This morning, members of my department at the Place O' Labor put in a half-day's work at the County Food Bank, sorting oranges, removing spoiled or damaged fruit and boxing the rest, carrying the boxes to pallets. We processed 13,000 pounds. As I was boxing the oranges (purchased in bulk from suppliers; edible, but not of very high quality), I considered that this is how some of America's most vulnerable are being fed. Obtaining even Grade-C oranges, or cast-off peanut butter, is the difference between eating, and not.

When we were finished, one of the volunteer managers stood up and gave a small presentation about what the Food Bank did and who it served -- approximately 120,000 persons in the San Francisco Bay area. "Every day, we receive about 100 calls from first-time people asking how they can receive food," he said. "These aren't people looking to receive something for free -- they ask because they can't afford to pay their rent or mortgage, their utility or phone bill, and feed themselves or their children.  Our staff says that number has been fairly consistent -- around 100 first-time callers per day.

"When did that start? I asked. They agreed -- it began after the Crash in 2008; it's been consistent ever since." He paused for a moment. "The elements that created the Crash were in motion for a decade before it happened -- and many of those same causes were never addressed afterwards. The same things could happen --" He stopped, then corrected himself -- "Will happen, again."

What kind of safety nets will be available for the Underclass now?  What kind of safety will there be, for any of us?

MEHR, MIT ANDERN STUFF:  Most people in public, or the workplace, seemed to studiously avoid talking about What Happened. They talked around it; they talked past it. Their attitude was equal parts disbelief, and not wanting to create a conflict with anyone who might have voted for Trump.  

Very early in the morning, before the cubicle farm filled up, I did overhear an ancient project manager known as The Walrus (GooGoo Ka-Choob) saying to someone over the phone, "Yeah; I mean, think about it -- Presidents change, but the bureaucracy is the same. Right? The military doesn't change. That's the most important thing." That'll be a comfort to all those targeted by drones for Kill Tuesday.

I only heard the 'B' side of one conversation between two people  about the election all day -- two members of the permanent staff at the Food Bank: a woman had said something about Trump I didn't completely hear, and a man responded, "We don't know. Jus' gotta roll widdit."  That was all. 

At The Place Of Employ, even My Very Own Hillaryite Colleague was subdued and unwilling to comment. Only one person (we'll call him Harry Tuttle) said anything. Harry is a technical worker of long experience, a San Francisco native, and black; I asked for his take. "Well -- yesterday, America elected someone who's shown himself a known quantity. He's bigoted, sexist, and all kinds of fucked up. With all that, you tell me what the immediate future's gonna be like. I expect he'll take on the Fat Boy in North Korea, or someone he thinks is a soft target -- or he'll do something else that's stupid."

The Girl Who Refused To Be Mrs. Mongo sent a text: "What will we do? I think we should marry a foreigner. I'm willing to learn any language."  The Best Friend: "Whitelash! ... WTF?? Fuck You Very Much, America!"  I read through most of the comments traded by readers last night on The Great Curmudgeon's 'Eschaton' and watched the disbelief seep in as the vote-counting progressed; it was painful. 

In Burns' documentary, The War, a photo was shown of a road sign erected by Marines on the island of Saipan in the summer of 1945, with an additional marker that reflected the apparent endlessness of  the Pacific conflict: "Golden Gate In [19]48 -- Bread Line In [19]49". On The Line, no one knows what it means when there's a significant change, like a new commander. You expect the deck is stacked against you, because you've seen the system and that's how it's arranged. You only hope you're not fucked too badly, that no one takes anything else away from you, and that whoever shows up to lead will not get you killed. That is not a joke.

However, the comments on Eschaton and on a number of other sites make me want to add this note as a counterweight to the disbelief most seem to be feeling:  The election is over. But if our 45th President, or those who believe they own America and its people, think they're going to have free rein to drop a saddle on all of us and try to ride, I believe it's our duty to disappoint them as frequently and strongly as possible. And, all calls for 'National Unity' aside -- I believe a lot of people already have that intention.

It's going to be one hell of a ride.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Idiot Wind

Clown-Car Government

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

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

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

REPORTER: Why are the CEOs leaving your manufacturing council?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REPORTER: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.

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

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

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

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

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

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

REPORTER: Well, white nationalists –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Random Barking: Our Weak In Review


Kim Jong FatBoy Demands Additional Helping Of Foreshortening With His Dessert

In The Boom Boom Room
The military might of a country represents its national strength. Want pizza?
-- Kim Jong FatBoy, That Guy of Korea
On July 29, Kim Jong Un, Happy Killer of the Korean peninsula and starver-in-chief, rejoiced at the launch of (yet another) version of intercontinental ballistic missile -- the second in less than a month, and claiming this one has the capability of striking a target anywhere in the mainland United States.

There's no doubt that Kimmy is Bad, even if he hangs out with Dennis Rodman (okay; maybe because too, also, he hangs out with Rodman). He starves his population, is a despot, has a friggin' wacky haircut, and likes to execute his potential enemies with antiaircraft guns or have them torn apart by dogs. And he has nuclear weapons. And now ICBMs.

It appears to be an even chance that the U.S. could choose to launch a strike against North Korean infrastructure and its military in the near future, and if that happens it's anyone's guess where it would all end.

And, of course, the most important thing in these circumstances is to lower tensions as much as possible. So the U.S. response was to hold joint military exercises with South Korea, around the Korean peninsula, which in the past has driven the North Koreans bugshit.

But, I'm curious: while he is undoubtedly a despot and his rule over North Korea is brutal... has it occurred to anyone that the characterizations of Kim Jong-Un and reports on the state of his regime sound almost identical to those in the western media about Saddam Hussein, in the year or so leading up to the PNAC-sponsored invasion of Iraq? Or, is it just me?

Da Mooch: Race You To The Bottom

I'm not Steve Bannon. I'm not trying to suck my own [redacted].
--  Da Mooch, To New Yorker Journalist Ryan Lizza
Just when you thought Be No More Weird, This, it got even stranger.

Two weeks ago, Little Seany Spicer, nine years old, was forced out of his position as Mr. PotatoHead at the Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda, and replaced by that peevish Middle School teacher in a Wal-Mart sack dress, Miss Sarah. Then, we were introduced to the new White House Communications Director.

Anthony Scaramucci was already a curious figure in American business: a hedge-fund manager who built his own trading house, a known GOP fund-raiser (who once called Trump "a hack" and "a mouth") who sold his stake in his company to a Chinese consortium, expecting he would aber natürlich be brought into the new administration -- after all, he was The Mooch. That didn't happen, and Tiny Tony was at loose ends. 

I'm not the first person to use this turn of phrase to describe the man -- but from the moment Scaramucci appeared in the White House Press Room, he seemed the personification of the Trump regime -- baseless self-confidence; foul-mouthed, bullying; not a person adding clarity to our experience of life, but an obfuscator -- a person who tells lies or half-lies to hold an advantage.

The Mooch (a Nick that encapsulated him, both alliteratively and specifically) was another despicable, tiny, tiny, tiny man -- like his good buddy, who got him that gig. This was the public face of Trumplandia -- this figure out of a Renaissance Commedia del arte?

It's taken just seven months for this Clown Car government to drag most Americans down to a level of cynicism which past presidencies have taken well over a year to achieve. Even Trump's supporters expect that cronyism and nepotism is normal, here in Trumplandia -- as in any corporate Oligarchia.

Then, Reince ("Nancy") Priebus was out the door. The Mooch claimed he was behind it, of course, hinting that he believed Priebus was a "leaker" within the administration. After a dinner with Trump at the White House, The Mooch made an evening phone call to New Yorker journalist Ryan Lizza, whom Mooch believed used Priebus as a White House source.

It was a foul-mouthed, bullying conversation, full of threats and grandiosity. However, Da Mooch neglected to advise Lizza that his excess of Self was all Off The Record -- and so the following day, the New Yorker ran an online article by Lizza, to share the Plaint Of Tiny Tony, a man in full (and later, releasing an audio recording of the call).

In short order, Trump announced he had chosen current Homeland Security Director and former Marine Corps General James Kelly as his new Chief of Staff. One of Kelly's first acts was to demand Tiny Tony be fired; as reported by CNN, Tony was escorted from the White House. At almost the same time, his wife of three years filed for divorce, having just given birth to their child.

If Past is indeed Prologue, I'm expecting Kim Kardashian to become our first female president in 2020. And, given the general tone and tenor of these United States, she'll probably win -- on a platform of "Gettin' that, you know -- good stuff" for all Americans.


Und Sie, Meine Deutscher Jugend

My German youth.
-- Hitler, Speaking To Mass Hitlerjugend, 1938 Nuremberg Rally
The day before Da Mooch was frog-marched from the building, Trump appeared at the annual National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America.

(1)  During the 2016 election season, Trump had appeared at the traditional Al Smith dinner, "where presidential candidates roast their rivals and themselves every four years", per the Atlantic Monthly -- an opportunity to show graciousness and humor even in the middle of tough and even dirty political campaigning. While Clinton sat and watched him, Trump called the U.S. media "Hillary's team", referred to her questioning by the FBI over the then-present Emailgate -- then said with a trademark Hey-Whadya-Whadya shrug, "Hillary is so... corrupt!" The audience was stunned. In retrospect, they shouldn't have been.

( 2 )  Within days after his election, and after publicly railing against America's intelligence community during the campaign, Trump appeared at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and -- standing in the building's lobby before the marble Memorial Wall, marked by 125 incised stars, representing intelligence agents killed in the line of duty -- "stunned CIA employees by delivering a campaign-style speech".

( 3 )  Two days before his appearance at the Boy Scouts' conclave, Trump appeared at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford, and surprised -- well, some people, I suppose -- by asking the crowd of soldiers and sailors to support his agenda, which increases defense spending at the expense of other domestic priorities. “I don’t mind getting a little hand," Trump said, "so call that congressman and call that senator and make sure you get it." Then he added, “And by the way, you can also call those senators to make sure you get health care.”

( 4 )  Appearing before a crowd of police and other law enforcement officials in Brentwood, New York on July 28, Trump spoke about the brutal reality of a specific Latino gang, MS-13, and urged police to go ahead and "treat 'em rough... Don't be too nice... Like when you guys put somebody in the car? And you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put [your] hand over [the top of their heads]. Like, 'don't hit their head' -- and they've just killed somebody... I said, 'you can take the hand away;' OK?"

So when Our Oligarch appeared at the Jamboree, everyone should have seen it coming. In a rambling, disjointed, 38-minute speech, he spoke little of community service or the scouting tradition; instead, Trump referred to that favored topic -- himself.

Washington is "a cesspool... a sewer," Trump told the Scouts. He recalled the "beautiful date" of November 8: "Do we remember that date?" he asked, to applause. Reporting the progress of the election that evening, Trump described television network "maps were so red [for Republican victories in various states]... it was unbelievable."

Trump told the assembled Scouts his election was "an unbelievable tribute" to those who voted for him "to 'Make America Great Again'." He referred to his secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, and said that if the secretary couldn't obtain the votes to kill "this horrible thing known as Obamacare," that perhaps he would fire him.

Trump also mentioned the Republican Senator from West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, who had openly criticized previous versions of the GOP healthcare legislation. Reflecting on the word 'loyal' in reference to the Scouts, Trump quipped, "We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that." 

The first National Jamboree was held in 1937. It was attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who told the assembled scouts, "When you go out into life, you come to understand that the individual in your community ... who by inaction or opposition slows up honest, practical, far-seeing community effort, is the fellow who is holding back civilization and holding back the objectives of the Constitution of the United States."

The remark absolutely had a political reference. Despite an easy reelection in 1936, FDR found his New Deal stymied by Republicans and declared unconstitutional by a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives, and he was deeply frustrated. But his comment was an oblique reference -- FDR's speech that day was about public service, and the values Scouting was supposed to foster. It wasn't a self-referential rant by a low-class, narcissistic opportunist. Trump's speech could just as easily have been delivered by Recep ('Kiki') Erdogan.

 Song Of The Volga Boatmen

...Why won't you go away?
-- Randy Newman, "I'm Dead But I Don't Know It"; Bad Love (1999)
The Trump - Russia connection will not fade away. Even former CIA officers, old Russia hands, believe that based on the evidence and their own experience of how Russian intelligence runs an operation, there is some kind of fire beneath all the smoke.

This past week, Reuters broke the story that Trump Jr.'s initial statement about his 2016 meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya had ben dictated by his father, aboard Air Force One while returning to the U.S. from the G20 summit when the initial story was reported in the New York Times on July 10.  Missy Sarah, when asked about this by the hated fake media, did not deny it, saying only that Trump Sr. had done "what any father would do."

The statement dictated by Trump Sr. claimed the meeting with the Russians was "short", that Trump Jr. had "asked Jared [Kushner] and Paul [Manafort] to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.

"I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance," Trump Sr. dictated while in flight, "but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand."

This initial statement was so vague, and contradicted by other reported details, that Trump Jr. was forced to issue a 'clarification' which amounted to a contradiction. Additional details to come out after that second statement even threw its accuracy into doubt. All any one could say was, there's a great deal of smoke.

The immediate view by a number of opinion commentators and news journalists was, even if Trump Sr. were responding as a father, crafting an inaccurate and/or incomplete statement about l'affaire Veselnitskaya, from an investigative perspective at least, gives the appearance of an act in furtherance of covering up a crime, an obstruction of justice. Unless he already knew about the meeting (which raises additional questions), Trump Sr. could not write even an inaccurate statement without talking to others who did know what happened, when, and why.

More important, it was revealed yesterday to the public (not a surprise for the Trump legal team, surely) that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been dealing with not one but two Federal Grand Juries to hear evidence in two separate matters.

Trump characterizes this kind of activity as a "witch hunt," that it's all about Democrats being sore losers. Most news commentators have said grand juries are a normal occurrence, not anything particularly notable -- but as an ex-investigative Dog at the Federal level, let me observe: that's not entirely true.

Federal Grand Juries aren't empaneled unless sufficient grounds exist to suspect a breach of Federal law. While they have a large amount of power to direct the inquiries themselves, through their Forepersons, Grand Juries rarely do so -- the old adage about a Grand Jury being something a District Attorney or United States Attorney can play like a piano is often the case  Their members are primarily retirees who have the kind of free time needed to sit on a jury and hear evidence, often for months. 

Grand Juries exist to compel production of documents, and the testimony of witnesses. And, Grand Juries cost money. There is no guarantee they'll find in favor of handing down a criminal indictment -- but they aren't convened for no reason. And Robert Mueller has apparently been managing two separate juries, dealing with two separate lines of inquiry. 

But it's early days; many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, and all that. Still, small wonder everyone on Team Trump is lawyering up, including the Vice President.

Public Trump = Private Trump, And No One Is Surprised

Yesterday, transcripts prepared by the White House but not released were published by The Washington Post of telephone conversations between Trump and the Australian Prime Minister, and the President of Mexico, shortly after his inauguration.

With the Mexican President, Pena Nieto -- whom he kept calling 'Enrique' -- Trump alternately threatened and flattered him, and then said Mexico had to pay for construction of a border wall with the United States. Because. 

>> TRUMP:  The only thing I will ask you though is on the wall ... I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to. I have been talking about it for a two year period, and the reason I say they are going to pay for the wall is because Mexico has made a fortune out of the stupidity of U.S. trade representatives. They are beating us at trade and they are beating us at the border, and they are killing us with drugs... 

>> NIETO:  ...But my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall. 

>> TRUMP:  But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that...

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (whom he insisted on calling Malcom) had reached an agreement with President Obama to resettle 1,250 Syrian refugees in the U.S., initially taken in by the Aussies. Trump was on record as saying the deal was bad, and used a blend of self-pity and begging to get Turnbull to agree not to send the refugees, to no avail. 

>> TRUMP:  Malcom [sic]... This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week. 

>> TURNBULL:  With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000... The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting... 

>> TRUMP:  Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible... 

Finally, in a related item, Federal prosecutors in New York are issuing subpoenas, looking into the propriety of a Kushner family project -- selling EB5 visas, allowing immigration into the U.S. for (principally Chinese) investors who pay $500K to support real estate projects which claim to hire construction crews from the neighborhoods where the building takes place. This, at the same time his father-in-law supports restricting any legal immigration to half of its current annual level.


But I feel like a stranger
Feel like a stranger
You know it keeps getting stranger and stranger
If it's love then how would I know?

Yes and it's gonna get stranger
Some things you just know

If this were love then how would I know
(Feel like a stranger)
(Feel like a stranger)
Feel like a stranger
(Feel like a stranger)
It's gonna be a long hot crazy night
It's gonna be a long long crazy crazy night
Yeah crazy night
Silky silky, crazy crazy night
--  Grateful Dead (Weir/Barlow), "Feel Like A Stranger"; Go To Heaven (1980)