Showing posts with label Verrückt Wie Ein Ballon Voller Ratten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Verrückt Wie Ein Ballon Voller Ratten. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2020

Reprint Heaven: Edge Of The Volcano Edition


(Originally From 2016. Ordinarily, this is posted on June 28th, but for some reason seems appropriate now...)

Cousin Ignatz, Asleep At Princip's Post: Sarajevo, 2014 (Matthew Fisher / Postmedia News)

Roughly twelve hours and 105 years ago, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Grand Duchess Sophie, were shot by Gavrillo Princip, a member of an assassination team sent to the Bosnian city by the government of Serbia.

Collectively, the team was the gang which couldn't shoot straight: armed with crude grenades, a few pistols, and carrying some form of suicide pill, they waited along the route Franz Ferdinand's car would take as it drove beside the Miljacka river, which cuts through Sarajevo (local Austro-Hungarian authorities had helpfully published the Archduke's route beforehand).

Most of the team either was poorly positioned, or chickened out at the last moment.  One conspirator did throw a bomb at the Archduke's car, which bounced off its folded-back fabric top and exploded near a second car traveling just behind. Several people in the car had minor injuries and it continued on to a local hospital.

The Archduke's driver, Leopold Lojka, continued to Sarajevo city hall. When Franz Ferdinand arrived, he effectively unloaded on the hapless administrators about the state of their local security ("I come to your city and am greeted with bombs!"). Meanwhile, back at the river, the would-be bomber had jumped into the Miljacka and swallowed his suicide pill -- which he promptly threw up. The police arrested him, barely managing to keep him from being lynched a mob of pro-Austro-Hungarian citizens, and so save him for later trial and execution.

At approximately 12:30 PM, having finally accepted the thanks of the Sarajevo city fathers, Franz Ferdinand and his wife got back into their car, planning to go to the local hospital to see those wounded in the bomb attack that morning. They used the same route, in reverse, that they had taken into the city, driving along the river. But when the Chauffeur, Lojka, came to a particular intersection -- to his left, a street; to the right, a bridge over the Miljacka river -- he was confused.

 The Royal Couple (Seated, At Rear) Leaving City Hall: Fifteen Minutes Left

Believing it to be the route he needed to take to drive to the hospital, Lojka slowed and turned left into the street.  Almost immediately, he realized he'd made a mistake and stepped on the brakes. The car came to a stop a few yards into the street, and Lojka moved to put it in reverse gear.

 The Intersection, 2014: The Archduke's Car Turned Left, Into This Street;
The Restaurant Where Princip Bought Lunch, Now A Museum (Photo: CNN)

At that same intersection was a small restaurant. Gavrillo Princip, last member of the Serbian assassination squad, had gone inside to buy a sandwich, angry and dejected after the team's failure that morning. Standing on the sidewalk outside the cafe, he saw a large, dark-green automobile turn out of the boulevard and come to a stop directly in front of him. In the very rear seat were the Archduke and his wife.

The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne had been delivered, less than ten feet away, from an armed assassin who had come to the city specifically to kill him. If you were writing a novel or screenplay, anything that coincidental would be branded as implausible. No one's gonna believe that.

Princip didn't hesitate. He dropped his sandwich, pulled a pistol out of his jacket and stepped towards the car, firing several shots, managing to mortally wound both the Archduke and his wife. Lojka, the driver, was ordered to rush the royal couple to the local military governor's residence. Sophie died on the way. A military officer in the car, checking on the Archduke's condition, asked the wounded man how he was; Ferdinand said, "Nichts (It's nothing)", and died.

Just over a month later, Europe was at war. Over the next four-plus years, the entire social fabric of the continent and much of the world changed, irrevocably. Monarchies ended; millions died; the map of the world changed as the victors annexed territory from Germany and Austria Hungary, and new countries were created. New technology was developed -- and in the Versailles Treaty, the groundwork was laid for a second, even more horrible war to begin by 1939.

(And, in 1918-19, the Spanish Influenza infected 500 million people, killing 40 million, worldwide. It was the largest number of fatalities due to pandemic disease since the 'Black Death': the coming of  Bubonic Plague to Europe in the 14th century [which killed an estimated 200 million].  In the U.S., millions were made sick, and 675,000 died [~0.6 per cent of America's 103 million population at the time]. It's often referred to as the "forgotten epidemic" -- just one more terrible event in an ocean of violence and atrocity.)

 Cousin Ignatz, Worn Out By All The History

Why the history lesson? We're living through history. When we read about events in Europe during the Interwar Years (1918 - 1939), there's a feeling of inevitability, of being slowly sucked down a drain -- the revolving-door failures of parliamentary governments in France; Britain's declining empire; the manic Totentanz of global capital leading to 1929 and the Great Depression; the rise and fall of Weimar; the apotheosis of Italian and Japanese, and finally German, fascism. Regional war and civil war. 

... and we know where the story is going. It ends in Nanking, the Anschluss; Kristalnacht, Dunkirk; Auschwitz; Stalingrad; the Warsaw Ghetto; D-Day; the Führerbunker; Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we always read about the years leading up to all that with a mounting sense of horror precisely because we all know how it ends. 

And we have the same feeling, looking at major global currents in our own time. While Brexit may be not have been a "shot heard 'round the world", the Tories are still (unbelievably), in power in the UK. The Scots still wonder about independence. The Greek, French and Italian economies are still at risk. Putinland, the Great Bear, still pushes the envelope here and there -- in Ukraine, and Syria. As IS loses on battlefields in the continuing slow-motion atrocity that is the Middle East, suddenly they appear in a Philippine city, on a London street. Disproportionate numbers of Black people are shot in major American cities on a routine basis. Climate change is not fake news.

America, ruled by Babbitry, greed and illusion, retreats from the world stage. Its leader is Bloated, Raving, delegating the running of a government to corrupt, car-wash dilettantes. Other nation-state players are happy to rush into the vacuum we leave behind. The balances in the old alliances we created after WWII have been squandered, all but unraveled. 

A regional conflict -- between India and Pakistan; Kim Jong Fat Boy's Fun Republic Of Chuckles and South Korea; Iran and Saudi Arabia, almost seems like a sure thing -- 'of course that's where all this is going'; no one would be truly surprised if one started tomorrow. What we wouldn't be prepared for is what would happen the day after, and the day after that.

Kleiner Mann; Was Nun?

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Same Subjects Appear, Revealed As A Massive Protrusion

No Surprises Here
ED:  Big Al says dogs can't look up.
SHAUN:  That's just stupid. 'Course they can look up.
-- Nick Frost, Simon Pegg;
    Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Mongo Vs. The Earth: You Can't See The Stars In This Position

Part of me is grateful I will not live to see just how bad it will be. I understand: this feeling is stupid, like picking up a burning coal to throw it at Something I Dislike, succeeding only in searing my hand.  I am a Dog that rushes frantically in a circle, round and around, ears laid back and wildly barking at something unseen, when it really wants the food bowl the rug the warm the dream of running, being sensate, in the World.

The carnival is enough to drive a saint mad, but we love the Lesser Lights and popcorn so. Even as we are urged toward the Exit, we will dawdle. Part of me spiteful, part of me grateful, I get up in the dark to go to The Place O' Witless Labor (they do not recognize This Holiday) and look up, to see the Big Moon.

For Food And Medicine, Detained Children Should Politely Beg For Annie's Mercy

As the Balloon Moon goes down, CNN suggests that Nancy Pelosi bypass The Leader and negotiate directly with the persons who provide the Leader with direction: ... when it comes to Trump's immigration policy, [Ann Coulter] and radio show host Rush Limbaugh might be the most influential voices. That's why if Pelosi wants to end this shutdown, she should start by speaking with Coulter and Limbaugh, not the President.

Ass Holes

The Leader, and Leader-In-Waiting Pence, made a surprise visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C. this morning (video at the link below).

According to the press pool report, The Leader and Pence appeared; Leader set a wreath against the wall of the King memorial, then turned and said, “Good morning, everybody; great day. Beautiful day. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.”

This was the extent of his remarks. The Leader made no mention of Dr. King, the significance of King's life's work or his sacrifice, and the relevance and meaning of this to Americans today.

The Leader was present at the memorial site for approximately two minutes. Immediately after his, uh, remarks, he walked away. His full trip -- including transportation from the White House, and back -- lasted a total of 15 minutes.

Pence said nothing, as usual silent in the presence of The Leader. Yesterday, on the pundit program, Sit On The Face Of The Nation, he lifted a quote from Dr. King's 'I Have A Dream' speech ("Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy"), to support demands that the bad Democrats give The Leader his $5.7 billion to build a border wall with Mexico (HuffPo).

The Unseen Powerbars That Be Are Cheered By The Predictable Banality

Another one smites the trust: Kamala Harris does seem to have many precious things which the Democratic National Committee is looking for in A Dream Candidate -- but the bestest one is that she's well and truly wired into the System through the big, heavy fiber optic cables that connect California's Democratic party network into the DNC and beyond, into fabled spaces where the Big Donors and Celebrated Elders live.

It feels correct to say the DNC's chosen candidate will be one they believe can sail right down the middle, a non-revolutionary revolutionary. One who still can say, convincingly, things in Caucasianspeak, and also say Po-wer To The Peep-ul; Right On! A younger, nonwhite Hillary Clinton would give the appearance of being A Centrist Savior and an antidote to four years of The Leader.

But if poling data shows America wants a feisty Older Bro, they might favor O'Rourke (Clinton Third Way likee him). But if it seems America wants a Healing Papa, a Suit to look Presidential who won't ask who's giving him his orders, the DNC may have Joe Bison.
Obligatory Cute Animal Blog Photo In Middle Of Political Opinionizing
(Note: Bison Cannot Look Up)

A Bison presidency could be eight years of great photo ops. Getting America back "for all the people", getting in step with the New World Ordure, and cleaning all the crayon scribbles off the walls of the White House. America would be allowed once again to feel good about appearing to be a sovereign nation -- and, oh yes; a democracy. Right!

Ocasio-Cortez = Person Of Color, but too Boatrocker.   Gillibrand, Warren = too white.  Gabbard = Person Of Color, check; but Who? and, she has that little scandal.   Bernie = too old, and (like Ojedia, Delaney, Yang, Castro) too male.   O'Rourke is too also male, but also too What?  Kamala is POC, decisively not Bro, not too Boatrocker, and already looks good in a suit.

Obscenities Of Which We Have Not Yet Been Informed

Oxfam International reports that the combined personal wealth of the 26 richest individuals on the planet is $1.4 Trillion -- equal to the net wealth of the 3.8 Billion poorest people on Earth (CNN). There are ~ 2,200 Billionaires world-wide, with a combined personal net worth of $9.1 Trillion.

Oxfam has been reporting these same statistics for a long time -- and suddenly, when something like the Occupy movement, or the Yellow Vest protests appear, pundits gawk and wonder: where did that come from? Why're people so angry?
"None of this is to say that the 0.1% – holed up in their resort and fenced off from the world with roadblocks and men toting sharpshooters – don’t care about the immiseration of others. At Davos ... the New York Times reported that among the summit’s attractions was 'a simulation of a refugee’s experience, where [conference] attendees crawl on their hands and knees and pretend to flee from advancing armies'. The article continued, 'It is one of the most popular events every year.' " [UK Guardian]


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

That Narrow Way Towards A Precipice

It Can't Happen Here Unless It Already Happened Here

(Graphic Mongo)

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Revenge Of The Giant Face

Random Barking, With Music

Billy And White Jesus.  A fixture lurking in the shadows of my time, like Coca-Cola logos and Huntley-Brinkley and Uncle Walter; cigarettes, bourbon at the backyard barbecues; airstrikes; racism, so fully baked-in you wouldn't know it was there ("Who, me? I'm not racist"), and the notion that your primary juice must be testosterone if you are to be considered fully hu-man.  But, since I wasn't a believer in White Jesus, I don't notice much of a vacuum, now he's gone.

Billy tried to do as he perceived the Truth and The Way to be, but Christian Leadership became fat men in suits on television, purring for dollars, always; determined to bring The Message Of The White Jesus.

Those Christian Leaders have ended as corrupt, publicly worshiping at the altar of Power, and the more private altar of Themselves. God shows his favor to the Elect. And, what of faith, for those who do? The message by example is, Pray To Grow Rich.

We're supposed to say nice things about the dead. But for all of us, the sum of our actions, words and thoughts is what remains. The effect which you had on others. But Billy wasn't like us, no mean little player, barely seen at extreme Stage Right in the Crowd Scene.  He was a player on center stage, and so responsible for a much larger percentage Effect on the world than the average person.

Now he knows what we do not. Now he knows what he did not expect.

Gunz And Actors.  The most recent gun violence: Facing off against Murrikan Leader, against Florida politicians. The metaphor of a ship, foundering on well-known reefs of corrupt and more corrupt, and Freedom and Jesus, and right-wing Inchoate Rage At Living In This World.

Survivors, their families, may have hoped what happened in Florida would be the watershed moment, the tipping point. But as a topic of debate; as a political issue (as opposed to personal tragedy, unspeakable grief), I'm concerned the event has already lost some of its specific resonance in the eye and ear of the public.

It's being watered down by the obfuscation and temporizing of politicians like Our Leader and Mark Rubio. It's being twisted in the insane echo chamber created by 34 years of Murdoch's Fox and right-wing radio. A textbook example:

Congressperson Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said in recent public remarks regarding gun violence that
“Obviously there’s a lot of politics in [the subject]. And it’s interesting that so many of these people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats. But the media doesn’t talk about that either.”
(Bonus 'Fuck Off To The Sea' For Lil' Claudia: Tenney is up for reelection this year. She is opposed by a Democrat, Anthony Brindisi.  

(I'm not a New York resident. From a geographic perspective, I have, uh, No Dog In This Fight. And I'm not a cheerleader for the Democratic Party (whatever it may be now). But Tenney gave a textbook example of a right-wing scumbag who lies -- is a liar. 

(And, she should be told to Fuck Off To The Sea [which I believe is a Big Marine Mammal Avatar Creator reference, but I could be wrong]. I'm aware some have concerns about ActBlue -- but if so moved you can go show Anthony the love. Anything is better than having what Tenney is in office)

And, UTub videos of Florida shooting survivor David Hogg's comments the day after the massacre had gone viral. In response, a UTubber known as mike m. ("not his real name") posted a clip of Hogg, with comments insinuating the teenager's demeanor and delivery were proof that Hogg was "an actor", hired to make anti-gun remarks to the media.

It turned out that "mike m." was, by his own description to the New York Times, a 51-year-old man "living in Idaho", and whose other UTubb uploads all had a similar, conspiracist flavor. UTubb pulled his videos critical of Hogg and threatened, per their 'three strikes' rule, to cancel his account -- but
Anonymous and remorseless, “mike m” was undeterred. “There is more to this kid than appears on MSM,” he said ...  Asked if he would think twice about posting such videos in the future, he said, “No not at all.” 
He said he was worried about his [UTubb] account getting deleted, adding: “But I am not going to stop.”

Everyone Look At Me.  She will make everything pretty, before the bombings. Because her Daddy is the CEO of Murrika, and she's so pretty. Don't you think? Of course you do.

Soft Life; Smug Life; Treats.
What are the lives of the planet's wealthiest people really like? ... [they] are so different from those of the rest of us, it's almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. 
-- Brooke Harrington, sociologist; To Parth Shah, NPR: "What's It Like To Be Rich? Ask The People Who Manage Billionaires' Money", February 19, 2018
“Have we not become the isolated thing-for-yourself in the middle of similar beings?”
-- Peter Sloterdijk, in “The Critique of Cynical Reason" (1983)

Resist. The reasons, in the face of authoritarian rule, do not change.

At Last; Just Music.

Dunno about the movie, but Thomas Newman is one of My Guys. 

Liked the teevee show; an attempt to ask the right questions, while wearing a bourgeois support costume -- one of the great contradictions about creating certain kinds of art, and propaganda. And, fuck it; Jeff Daniels does good.


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, August 15, 2017

Slow-Motion Train Wreck

The Barbecue Next Time

[NYT] WASHINGTON -- President Trump shared on Twitter a cartoon on Tuesday morning of a train running over a person with a CNN logo covering the person’s head, three days after a fatal collision in Charlottesville, Va.  Mr. Trump deleted his retweet minutes later.

His Tweet later ("Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be truly satisfied ... truly bad people! ") confirmed it -- See? Whatever I say will never be good enough -- intolerant! Sad!
Late Monday, Mr. Trump also shared a post from the account of a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist suggesting that the news media is ignoring violence in Chicago. The account owner, Jack Posobiec, is known for promoting false narratives such as the “Pizzagate” hoax and a conspiracy theory about the murder of a Democratic aide.
And then, we had Tuesday afternoon at Trump Tower. Ha ha ha.

For some reason, I'm reminded of a poem which a friend once told me about (which I've labored to find since): a circus tent, filled with people enraptured by watching a clown light matches with his toes -- so enraptured, that they are surprised when the roof of the tent is blown away, and they find the world has come to an end.

The only legitimate Brennenen Zeitfragenen these days are, How long does this particular sideshow go on? How many people will (to use a Watership Down reference) have to Go Tharn before we move to The Next Stage?  And, What Will that Next Stage be?

One possible answer: Over at The Soul Of America, there was a shared post which neatly summed up the Past-Is-Prologue we've been witnessing over the past seven-plus months.
A discredited ruling ideology, declining standards of living, the memory of lived prosperity and absolute despair for the future: this is as toxic a society as you can imagine. Now add to that waves of immigrants fleeing the storms and heat waves of South and Central America. An increasingly violent, increasingly militarized border, and an increasingly aggressive ICE. The continued decline of white Americans into a national minority. And a wealthy elite, controlling the most powerful propaganda apparatus in history, desperate to find a scapegoat for the country's ongoing deterioration.
Any questions? See you at The Barbecue Next Time !

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Slow-Motion Guns Of August

A Duel With Matched Wits

Yesterday, The Washington Post reported an assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency prepared in July concluded that North Korea had achieved the capability to manufacture nuclear warheads small enough to be launched on its MRBMs and ICBMs.

This followed an earlier intelligence assessment in July which placed the number of nuclear weapons manufactured so far by the North Koreans at 60 (a number disputed by independent experts, who believe the total to be much smaller). It's unclear how close the North is to building a warhead which can survive high temperatures of re-entry, or to actually hit its intended target. 

The North Korean government reacted sharply to additional economic sanctions against it, supported by the U.N. in a vote over this past weekend (which the Russians and Chinese did nothing to block). Spokespersons said the U.S. would pay "a thousand times over" for pushing the new sanctions, adding, "There is no bigger mistake than the United States believing that its land is safe across the ocean."

Our Leader, holding a photo-op at his New Jersey golf course (to show he is actually conducting state business and not just a pre-dementia senior with an attention disorder), was asked about the North's reaction and responded:
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. He [Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea's Fun Republik Of Chuckles] has been very threatening, beyond a normal statement; and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you. Thank you."
(My Favorite Part: The link above provides a video clip of unser GROFAZ making this statement. Then, the camera pans to Trump's right. At the table was Kellyann Conway, seated at one end in a signature, rumpled Target dress, glancing down and away with an embarrassed expression -- as if confronted by the antics of an insane great-aunt, who likes to suddenly appear at house parties, rave about sin and cheese, and then urinate on the carpet.)

Sin And Cheese And War: Response To The Leader's Remarks (©2017 NYT)

Trump's remarks appeared, as ever, at odds with the tone previously set by Secretary of Oil State Rex Tillerson immediately after passage of the UN-backed sanctions. He made no threats, and suggested the United States would be willing to hold talks with the North Koreans.

North Korea responded to Trump's showing everyone he has big hands, stating they were reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets on the Pacific island of Guam with "enveloping fire".  Rexy, now aligned with Our Leader, covered his Capo's action: “I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the U.S. has the unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies, and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part.” 

The questions everyone asks: how much of this Game 'O Ballistic Chicken is posturing? What are the stakes involved, and how much of the outcome will depend on the personalities of the leaders of each nation? (Though Trump probably wishes he could use antiaircraft guns and dogs on his enemies, too -- well; it's only been seven months.)

Is a 1914-style Sarajevo moment possible, where Kim Jong FatBoy and the Duce face off over their respective military assets until "an incident" occurs that sparks an escalating conflict?  What about the Chinese; do the PLA get involved? Among their generals are those, like our own, who believe a conflict is inevitable; why not seize the opportunity for a pretext which Korea seems to present, and get it over with?

In Asia, a lot closer to the Korean peninsula than Washington, DC, Trump's outburst frightened people. The New York Times quoted Cheng Xiahoe, associate professor of international relations at Renmin University of China in Beijing as stating, “We’re going to see a confrontation between the United States and North Korea that will be ferocious and strong and bloody,” He called Trump’s language “explosive,” and said an exchange of threats only resulted in escalating the situation.

Xiaohe was also confused that Trump would make his bellicose comments immediately after the U.N. Security Council's unanimous vote to impose further sanctions on North Korea -- which required Chinese support; a clear foreign policy win for Trump. Since the Chinese have historically backed the North Koreans, our asking for their support and then undermining it with threats of "fire and fury"... all a little confusing.

Since the spring, observers have been comparing the situation between the U.S. and North Korea's development of both nuclear weapons and ICBMs as another Cuban missile crisisThere, an American President was pressured over a period of two weeks by generals who wanted to bomb and invade Cuba; he was able to find a method (blockade) to show the U.S. was not resorting to hostile military action, and negotiate to defuse the crisis and end the immediate possibility of a nuclear war.

In 1962, the crisis within which JFK had to act lasted 13 days.  In this situation, too much time may have gone by. North Korea was a comprehensible geopolitical entity in a Cold War world. The West saw it as isolated, easy to dismiss, full of Stalinist personality-cult throwback leaders and harsh social controls. Backed diplomatically, militarily and economically by China, it was a hornet's nest the U.S. could afford to ignore. And through the 60's, we still had a sizable military presence in South Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Philippines.

After 1971, the U.S. and China became friendlier; people assumed that playing nice with China would mean they kept an eye on North Korea. And, it kind of worked -- the North, having sought help from Pakistan, had seriously begun to develop nuclear weapons since the 1990's. Then came a flurry of UN economic sanctions, and IAEA cameras; the North refused to cooperate with the West, went back to nuke-building, and finally jump-started its missile technology to create ICBMs. Suddenly, the slow-motion crisis went from 0 to 60, and it's still accelerating.

Kennedy's default position was not a military solution; his personality was not as fragile and diffuse as Our Current Leader's. Trump enjoys being a bully. He has some control over the world's largest and most expensive barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat to intimidate others, and he likes to brandish it, as bullies do. Observers in other countries may be confused by Trump's utterances, but they understand that.

(Note: Curiously, an odd coincidence at this point in time: Trump's two key advisers [Chief of Staff, and National Security], not to mention his Secretary of Defense, just happen to be ex-generals.)

MEHR, VIELLEICHT MIT DIE ZUKUNFT:  Actually, I'm going to go with the Kn@ppster and stare into the Kristol's Balls™, where I also see Open US military operations versus North Korea within ~30 days. as being probable, given everything.  

Without snark or irony, I would suggest being extraordinarily kind to whomever you come across over the next days and weeks (who knows; it might get to be a habit). People -- particularly in our Urban Centers -- are already on edge. No need to, uh, escalate things. And, it's polite.

UND AUCH NOCH IMMER MEHR:  Dogs, ego-driven creatures, quote themselves.

3.)  Distraction, Manufactured Or Otherwise

As the Mueller investigation proceeds, some event in the world causes Trump to increase the Defcon level, start moving aircraft carriers and battle groups, and a manufactured military crisis begins -- North Korea is the most likely candidate, but any situation that would allow Trump to distract everyone's attention in a Wag The Dog effort could serve.

The world is volatile enough that it's also possible an actual crisis, one not engineered, may occur -- but which Trump & Co. will seize upon as a heaven-sent distraction: a regional conflict (India and Pakistan; Russia and Ukraine / The Baltics; China and Japan / Taiwan), or a pandemic disease outbreak (Ebola, H5N1) or Zombie Apocalypse, for example.

UND, MIT DER NEW YORKISCHER ZEITEN:  The Paper of Record Explains all is not what it seems in the halls of Trumplandia's Clown Car government:
“I don’t think there is a single policy at work,” said Ellen L. Frost, a longtime Asia specialist at the East-West Center... “I’m not even sure that Trump cares about having a consistent policy on any subject.” Instead, she said, the president’s fire-and-fury threat was a play to demonstrate toughness to his political base “followed by more nuanced cleanup operations on the part of [Rex] Tillerson and [Jim] Mattis, who are walking a political tightrope.” ...

“Clearly there is not a coordinated messaging strategy,” Evan Medeiros, the managing director at the Eurasia Group and a former Asia adviser to President Barack Obama... “This is being put together incrementally, and of all the countries and all the issues you deal with, North Korea is not the one to be kludging together statements by the president and cabinet secretaries because the risk of miscalculation is so high.” ...

Mr. Medeiros questioned whether Mr. Trump’s warning, combined with sanctions, would prompt North Korea to return to the negotiating table. “That’s the big strategy question here,” he said. “Trump has clearly calculated that it will. But that’s a huge gamble, and it’s one that it’s not clear to me that the Chinese would necessarily agree with.”

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Id's Of March

Random Barking

JFK In Berlin, June 1963 (AFP / Esquire)
At Amherst College in late October, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave a short speech in honor of  Robert Frost, but in a broader context of the Arts, and Artists (you can listen to it here). Roughly five weeks later, JFK was dead.

When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

In the same speech, Kennedy also observed that A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.

(Kennedy made another, longer and more formal speech -- this time about science and the environment -- in October, 1963; read a transcript here. Then compare it with this.)

So, just a question: Whom do we honor, as a nation and a culture? What kind of persons are held up (and, by whom?) in America as examples of right choices and right action -- those who we hope our children will emulate and become? The values and behaviors we promote as the "content of our character"?

Insane Murderous Clowns :  ©2016, Victor Juhasz / Rolling Stone
The failure to bring Trumpcare to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote was a blow to Wonderboy and the Clown Car government. Nearly every media organization (beyond Fox, the Washington Times, and Breitbart, now the White House's propaganda mouthpiece) used headlines  with some variation on "Republicans Pull Healthcare Bill; Sharp Rebuke To Trump".

Make no mistake: the Ryan/Trump plan would have created chaotic disaster. It would have thrown 16 million people, at a minimum, under a Trump In 2020 campaign bus, and directly caused physical pain and real misery. The healthcare industry would have gone into a competitive frenzy -- an inconvenience for the wealthy, but a catastrophe for the sick, the chronically ill, and the poor.

But, make no mistake about this, either: The largest factor leading to the bill's being pulled was not an overwhelming rejection of it in the Congress -- but because a key number of House Republicans, the self-styled 'Freedom Caucus' (whose Kangaroo Court-membership is secret) believed Ryan/Trump's legislation was insufficient. That the cuts and changes weren't severe enough.

Media organizations and any number of liberal pundits can crow about how terrible a blow this all is to Wonderboy, and Little Paulie Ryan. If it were due to a concerted and organized resistance to Trump and his cabal, we should be celebrating.  But it isn't: Trumpcare never made it to the floor because of the continuing struggle between traditional Beltway insider Republicans, and Alt-Right teabag, Evangelical crazies, for control of the Republican party.

That internecine war is far from over.  But no matter what your political analysis of all this is, once one side or the other in that conflict is dominant, or both sides make a truce in order to save the GOP from possible Midterm election losses -- the next time, there will be nothing (let me repeat that; there will be nothing) standing in their way.

After the bill was pulled, Schumer and Pelosi crowed about 'victory' -- but the Democrats had little to do with it. There is no organized Resistance. Paris is occupied and the Germans are free to go anywhere, say anything, take anything. They will lock down your borders -- no one can get in, but (depending on what happens in future) it's also harder to get out. Their judges will sit in your courtrooms. Their teachers in for-profit schools will build a curriculum around 'Alternative Facts'. They will pump chemicals in your rivers, CFC's into the air. And one day, they will come in trucks for your Communists and Jews -- they've already come for Latinos and Muslims.

And there will be nothing to stand in their way, until the Resistance is real, and not simply a pretty graphic or soundbite used to sell trendy clothing or music or tickets to an event -- and not until there is a real alternative to a political structure which benefits so few and takes from so many.

MEHR, MIT EIN SCHLAG IM GESICHT:  Will Marshall is president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, which (according to SourceWatch) was founded before Bill Clinton's run for the to become the Democratic candidate for President, "and after the 1992 election gained notoriety as [his] 'idea mill'."  

The PPI is the think-tank for the Democratic Leadership Council, a group founded by primarily conservative southern Democrats, which essentially believes Republicans are people, too also, and that we should learn to compromise with them in order to, you know -- get stuff. Some things.  A few. One?  

Okay -- we'll let them take things from us, but they have to promise to think very, very seriously about giving us some things, too. How about maybe just 'lend' us stuff? 

Will Marshall contributed an op-ed piece for yesterday's The Paper Of Record, titled "Why Democrats Should Work With Trump".  The title says it all.  

This little crayon-written missive attracted 1,288 replies; no I did not read them all, but those which said, in essence Are you fucking kidding me? What planet are you living on, dude? were overwhelmingly in the majority.  My favorite:
[Peter, In Connecticut]
If someone is punching you in the face, try to get them to slow down, or maybe not hit so hard. Compromise is a wonderful thing.
(100 Recommend)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

You Want It Darker

January 29, 1933

"Waiting For The Barbarians", Chris Hedges, Truthdig; November 27, 2016, via Mr. Fish:
... The desiccation of our liberal institutions ensured the demise of our capitalist democracy. History has amply demonstrated what was to come next. The rot and political paralysis vomited up a con artist as president along with an array of half-wits, criminals and racist ideologues. They will manufacture scapegoats as their gross ineptitude and unachievable promises are exposed. They will fan the flames of white supremacy and racial and religious bigotry. They will use all the tools of legal and physical control handed to them by our system of “inverted totalitarianism” to crush even the most tepid forms of dissent.

The last constraints will be removed by a crisis. The crisis will be used to create a climate of fear. The pretense of democracy will end.

“A fascism of the future—an emergency response to some still unimagined crisis—need not resemble classical fascism perfectly in its outward signs and symbols,” Robert Paxton writes in The Anatomy of Fascism. “Some future movement that would ‘give up free institutions’ in order to perform the same functions of mass mobilization for the reunification, purification, and regeneration of some troubled group would undoubtedly call itself something else and draw on fresh symbols. That would not make it any less dangerous.” ...

... There will be rebels. They will live in the shadows. They will be the renegade painters, sculptors, poets, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, dancers, organizers, activists, mystics, intellectuals and other outcasts who are willing to accept personal sacrifice. They will not surrender their integrity, creativity, independence and finally their souls. They will speak the truth.
Read this. Read it all. And by everything I hold dear and sacred, I hope he's wrong; that what will develop in our future will be an aberrant episode in the American Experiment and not the end of it. And, everything I was raised to believe says It Can't Happen Here.

(And it has to be pointed out: My perspective on the American Experiment is rooted in the 'High School Civics Class' definition of America, which has status quo spray-painted all over it. And we all know what the Status Quo is about, who benefits from it, and who suffers in order to keep it going. I can't be blamed for wanting the stuff We Learned In School to be true -- but it isn't true for All, and that's the problem.)

At The Place Of Witless Labor yesterday, I had another conversation with Archibald "Harry" Tuttle. Unlike other people at the POWL, Harry goes right at Recent Events -- a 60-ish black man, he has no illusions about what's 'permissible' in our culture. I had mentioned the Chris Hedges article to Harry, who listened as I described it, and said, "And? Your point?" (Harry, incidentally, is an actual person, not a fictive alter ego for my own opinions, and the conversation was for-real.)

"You think a police state, in America, isn't possible?" Harry said. "Curfews, checkpoints, 'illegal' searches and seizures? Being singled out because you 'meet the profile'? Just because the Constitution this and the Bill Of Rights that? Or just because it's never happened to you?" Harry laughed. "It's been happening to us forever. Fuck the Constitution -- it doesn't mean shit, if they don't want it to. That ain't news to me. This guy [he meant Hedges] sounds like he's just catching up."

"Sometimes I wonder -- movies and television have been showing us for decades all kinds of bad events happening," Harry said. "Terrorists get the bomb, use it in some big city; another nine-eleven. Or a virus gets loose. Or space aliens -- and monsters are just symbols for real shit we're afraid of anyway.  

"But there's always a state of emergency, a lockdown. Army in the streets. What those movies don't ever show you is how long all that lasts -- everyone watching makes the assumption, 'When the monsters are gone, everything will go back to normal.'  They'll go to work and go to the mall and take their kids to school, or whatever.

"What if it doesn't?" Harry said. "After nine-eleven, we ended up with 'Snowden' and a war in the fucking Middle East, and drones, and the economy went to hell so the Usual Suspects could get even richer. The prisons are full and they are still shooting unarmed people in the back. None of that has changed. It didn't go away. It's the new normal. 

"When something big goes down here, some people are gonna have a rude awakening when they find out what a whole lot of people already know about power, and rights, and how far your arguing about the Constitution's gonna get you. And, with the fuckin' clowns about to go into office, it wouldn't take a flying saucer landing in Washington to give them the excuse."

MEHR, VON DIE VERGANGENHEIT:  All this reminds me that a week before the election, I rode a Cable Car up the hill to my stop, near the border of a Very Wealthy Person's District. I sat beside one of these Persons, a white woman of indeterminate age -- honey-blonde hair done with just enough grey; excellent plastic surgery gave her the facial features of someone vaguely fortyish, but her hands were spotted, bony claws of the fairly elderly. I'd seen her riding the line in the past, but we'd never spoken.

She was dressed in a classic blouse/wool skirt/camel's hair topcoat/print scarf ensemble, as much a signal of class as School and Club ties for men once were. I don't remember how we began talking about the election -- in a city like Kiddietown, the assumption was that everyone was voting for Clinton, anyway. She wasn't direct about saying she was a Republican, but her assumption was that I (white-haired, white man in a suit and tie, topcoat, grey Fedora) might be One Of Us -- if not in Net Worth, then in spirit. 

"I know she'll win," the Person said, quietly. "But it would be so nice if it were -- you know; if he would win. All these unpleasant things would stop, then," she said, and her smile was shy, conspiratorial, like a wink. As if we had been on the S-Bahn in Berlin, long ago, and she had flipped back the lapel of her very expensive tan coat, just for a moment, so I would see the Parteiabzeichen pinned on it's hidden side.

Assumptions. All the unpleasant things, stopping. One of Us.

Fuck that, man.


MEHR, MIT EIN ANDENKEN:  And, a reminder of a deeper focus that needs to underlie our everyday attention, courtesy of The Soul Of America.  Woof !


Thursday, February 9, 2012

So Good

Banksters Win Again

So, a "settlement" has been reached between major banks and Attorneys Generals of 49 states over charges of outright fraud in illegal foreclosures.

For having fabricated millions of purportedly legal documents to support foreclosing on millions of mortgage loans in America (a criminal act; something you or I would be indicted for and arrested in a heartbeat), and no one responsible goes to jail. The banks will collectively pay $25 Billion dollars. The total of all mortgages in the United States either in forclosure, delinquent, or whose owners are 'underwater', is estimated to be $700 Billion.
The bulk of the settlement, about $20 billion, would go to one million American homeowners [wrote Nelson Schwartz and Julie Creswell in the NYT] who would have their mortgage debts reduced or their loans refinanced at a lower interest rate. It also includes $1.5 billion for roughly 750,000 people who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and 2011, with each receiving between $1,500 and $2,000.
And, the media is putting a positive spin on developments: Homeowners benefit! Well, some of them do; yeah! People are helped! Justice is served, kinda!
  • The New York Times headline was, "Homeowners Get Bulk of the Benefits From Mortgage Plan (...Under the settlement, nearly two million Americans could benefit from mortgage relief from the nation’s biggest banks").
  • The Los Angeles Times headline was, "Foreclosure deal to help 2 million with loan trouble (... The nation's five largest lenders will pay $25 billion to partially compensate those who lost their homes)".
  • The Guardian UK wrote that "Obama Praises $25b Mortgage Deal (... Millions of people could have mortgage debt cut as America's top lenders agree deal over alleged abuses in housing market)".
“The effect of this settlement will be catalytic,” Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said in an interview.

He predicted it would spur more loan modifications through existing government programs as well as principal reductions — when loan debt is written down for borrowers who owe more than their home is worth — as well as additional mortgage relief provided by banks.
So, let's recap -- approximately one million homeowners will receive some relief through restructuring in their mortgages. Approximately 11 million households need their loans modified in order to keep from being forced out of their homes.

Approximately 750,000 people who were evicted, lost their property and in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars; marriages, and jobs, could receive monetary compensation in the amount of ... between $1,500 and $2,000.

Fortunately, they don't waive any rights to file future legal action against their former mortgage lenders if they demand that two grand -- but is the compensation more than a token? Is it just? Or, an insult? It reminds me of the "compensation" offered by Austrian courts to the families of Holocaust survivors attempting to reclaim their lost art.

The banks, which were facing the possibility of criminal investigations and civil actions in at least 25 states, including California and New York -- will effectively not be further prosecuted by the Attorneys General of 49 states (Oklahoma would not join in) for their actions. They could be investigated and prosecuted for violations of Federal law... but what is the chance of that happening?

And, as HUD Secretary Donovan said to the NYT, the "settlement" would move the major banks to 'act better', provide further loan modifications and reductions in principal for affected Americans (the 11 million other mortgageholders facing foreclosure not assisted by this "settlement"). And the banks would do this, because they're just nice guys.

Remember? The Bush and Obama administrations gave them hundreds of billions of dollars. The expectation was that the money would spur the Nice Guys to lend money to small businesses, prime the pump to get the economy moving. The banks took the money, kept it, and used it (among other things) to provide themselves huge bonuses for their executives and board members. Why would they behave differently, give the Rubes they steal from public any assistance, now?

The banks precipitated a gigantic, global financial crisis -- which is far from being over. They forced millions of Americans from their homes, illegally. They disrupted and even destroyed lives. And unless the States' Attorneys General or the Department Of Justice go after them in force, the banks are effectively getting a Mulligan.

They walk, by ponying up a relatively small amount of cash -- which will simply become a tax write-off as a business expense. I understand that the "settlement"'s cheerleaders tout this as a first step, a move in the direction toward reforming the financial industry. But as one critic noted, the total is a "drop in the bucket". It smells like a band-aid for a dysfunctional system that still rules.
The amounts from individual banks were linked to their share of the servicing market. The biggest, Bank of America, would provide $11.8 billion, followed by $5.4 billion from Wells Fargo, $5.3 billion from JPMorgan Chase, $2.2 billion from Citigroup and $310 million from Ally. Bank of America would contribute an additional $1 billion for Federal Housing Administration loans.

And if nine other major mortgage servicers join the pact, a possibility that is now under discussion with the government, the total package could rise to $30 billion.

Banks stocks were mixed in trading Thursday, but shares of Bank of America rose 0.62 percent to $8.18, its highest level since September. Much of the money to pay for the settlement has already been reserved, and investors expect the settlement to remove at least one legal worry for Bank of America.
Ha Ha Ha Ha. Why not just say it? They won. Again. I'm not surprised at all.

MEHR Mit Schweineri: The War Criminal Washington Post declared in it's usual tarted-up, Villager manner that the settlement was "rough justice — very rough — in a case of rampant, but essentially victimless, alleged law-breaking."

And, Avedon Carol weighs in from a different vantage point in the UK, courtesy of The Great Curmudgeon (paragraphing added for emphasis):
For a moment it seemed like there was good news when I saw this: "Schneiderman's Last-Minute Cancellation Spells Trouble for Foreclosure Fraud Settlement."

But then it seemed it was more like this: "49-State Foreclosure Fraud Settlement Will Be Finalized Thursday."

(And Jesus Christ, Ezra
[Klein], why on earth is it good news that this deal will "help a lot in protecting banks from lawsuits"? These people stole people's homes, and you think a check for a couple of grand is some kind of compensation?

(If you get caught selling a lid of grass they confiscate every damn thing you have, but if you steal someone's
house you just pay pocket change in compensation out of billions you made from cheating people? That's really nice for you - if you're a banker.

(But, you know,
we don't need bankers like that! And we need to put those banksters in jail so they won't do it again - and doing more of it seems to be just what they have in mind, thanks to this deal.)
Avedon has more. Follow the links. Now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The Randy Man, Resurgent

Watching the Rethug debate Live! From Iowa! with George Stephanopolis and The Lovely Diane Sawyer moderating. I've been in and out; surfed to watch La Povira ("The Octopus") on MHz Networks' 'International Mystery' for a while (Mafia soap-opera, in Italian), and went down the hall for a bag of M&M's (Tasty), and then came back to Ames, Iowa, and an audience of people who want, most of all, to turn America back -- to the values of Ronald Reagan, Ward Cleaver, and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

By the end of the debate, what I witnessed has essentially been what I expected: An overly-intellectual Newt versus a rambling, flustered Mittster.

There were a few odd comments from Raving Loon© Ron Paul, and Mssr. Le Gouvernour Placard Perry ("We need a part-time Congress"), with Crazy Lady telling us her family "are coupon-clippers, even today" -- proving she is in touch with the pain and uncertainty of "ordinary" Americans.

Why, even Newt said he lived above a gas station as a boy, and that his Tiffany-jewelery wearing spouse runs Gingrich Productions ("a small business"), and they both know how hard running a small business is, which puts them in touch with the ordinary simple working people of these United States, too.


I didn't see it, but heard later that the question was put to Newt about his past 'infidelities', and he took it head-on, saying, "I've made mistakes at times -- I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather and I think people have to measure what I do now."


That's Jenga™

I did see Stephanopolis hit Newt with another question, and he raised it with Raving Loon© Ron Paul first: Was Gingrich's comment yesterday, that the Palestinians were 'an invented people', incendiary?

When George got to Newt and asked the question, Gingrich took that head-on, too: No, he wasn't sorry; further, he said, "Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists." (Stephanopolis stared at Newt, mouth open, as if he'd just admitted being a nazi).

"Is [his statement] historically correct? Yes," The Randy Man said. "... the current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process. Hamas does not admit the right of Israel to exist and says publicly, 'not a single Jew will remain'... It's fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, 'Enough lying about the Middle East.' "

Romney called Gingrich's comment about the Palestinians "reckless"; Mittster and The Randy-Man traded barbs for two minutes or so, and ABC let them -- this is, after all, what people came to their teevees to see.

This could have been Romney's moment to stop Gingrich's rise. You would expect that Mittzy's handlers had taken him through practice sessions in anticipation of such an opportunity -- and given his slipping in Rethug polls, that Romney should seize it with both hands. But to have done so, he would have had to be a completely different person.

Instead, like a man slipping on ice, arms cartwheeling for balance, Romney fumbled through a semi-coherent string of remarks. "As President, I will exercise sobriety," Romney sputtered (Newt replied in his trademark faux-academic manner that when he called the Palestinians an 'invented people', "I was speaking as a historian").

At at one point, Romney even said that Newt would agree that he (Gingrich) was wrong. Newt stood looking at the moderators, shaking his head (at one point in the exchange, ABC's camera's caught him winking at the audience -- presumably at his wife, or possibly at the next Mrs. Gingrich).

All he had to do to win was appear the more collected and reasonable, respond calmly but firmly, and Romney would come off looking like a chump. I'm paraphrasing, but Gingrich ended the exchange with something like, "It's time we told the truth about the situation in the Middle East," with a riposte to Romney, "And leave other explanations for the timid".

Ah; Mitt? That's Jenga.


So far, there have been no other major 'incidents' from Des Moines, but it's been amazingly painful, watching Romney flounder no matter what he's been asked. This was the "Newt Debate"; it was his to lose -- all he had to do was hold his own in a field of inconsequential, delusional, or religiously-fueled idiots. It's a no-brainer, in this line-up at the Cretin's Ball, who appeared the most 'Presidential'.

Barring some unforeseen occurrence, Gingrich very probably will be the Rethug candidate for President. He isn't the best they have; he's the only candidate they have.

Newt is a corrupt, serial adulterer who was once as tightly wired into the Washington power structure as a Speaker of the House can be. He whored as a lobbyist because there was money in it for him. He's lied about being a "historian"; wrote a turgid, unreadable novel about the Civil War (However, better than the dribbling, putrescent excuse for a "book" that was ghostwritten for Little Glenn Beck. Just two monkeys in a room with a typewriter could have crafted a better work than Glenny's 'The Overton Whatever').

Newt, rejected by the Mensa Society, wasn't smart enough to know that he couldn't screw whomever he wanted in Washington and not have it used against him: His previous political career was done in by his own Randy Antics, and his committing a breach of Congressional ethics; malfesance.

He is just smart enough to know what the Presidency is for Republicans -- and he wants it. It's a figurehead position, possessing certain kinds of power; in the end you're an elder statesman and set for life. Name in the history books; no matter what they said about you in Newsweek and rolling Stone, you were President Of The United States and will be called 'Mr. President' by everyone as an honorific from the moment you leave office -- all this, what Newt believes he should be destined for.

Newt always reminds me of a certain kind of smart kid in grade school -- the one who always sounds like he knows all the answers. The kid who expects to be appointed Hall Monitor, because Teacher lets him polish her apple. He gets the job, turns you in for some infraction and smirks at you when the teacher isn't looking -- and he never, ever seems to get a comeuppance, no matter what nasty shit he pulls. He's a manipulative, self-satisfied little prick, and always will be.

2012: The Talking Pestidental Candidate

But that isn't what frightens me about Gingrich. It's that he can talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. He sounds as if he has all the answers. In politics, that's often all it takes.

Obama is intelligent, too; he speaks well. His background is in Constitutional law, and can probably hold his own in debates with Ol' Newt. But if the economy takes a nose-dive because Little Angela wants her Austerity, past a certain point no one will listen to what Obama says. People will tune him out; in their minds, he got it wrong, and is to blame, which will only be half true.

And, as I don't feel most Americans give a rat's ass about whether they live in a Democratic Republic or Corporate Fascist state so long as they have ESPN and their cars, I'm concerned that who talks good will be all they'll care about rolling into the 2012 election. That, and the Democrats just seem too hesitant, too namby-pamby, too much the Victim, to really want to win, compromised by feeding from the same trough of money as the Republicans.

It won't matter if Obama dredges up bin Laden and orders him killed, again. It won't matter that he tried to reach a Grand Budget/Debt Bargain and the Rethugs are the bad guys. In the public's tiny mind, Newt won't have Obama's baggage -- and suddenly (after Little Rupert's idiot factory repeats things over and over and over and over...), Newt will begin to sound so smart; Ahhh; let's give him a chance, people will say. They're all crooks; we don't have any power, anyway; who cares... doesn't matter...

The End

As their final statement, Stephanopolis asked the candidates to answer the question Is it possible for all of you on stage to work together? And who on stage tonight can you compliment and why? Newt thanked a role-model governor, and tipped his hat to Ron Paul's supporters ("They're always there with signs...freezing in the cold"). Crazy Lady, living up to her name, talked about Herman Cain. Ricky Santorum talked about Newt, remembering that he listened in the 1990's to a set of cassette tapes of Gingrich's speeches (sold by selfsame Gingrich productions, no doubt).

Romney just answered it by saying we'reatacrossroads and Americaneedsintegrity and that I'mthebestchoice -- and ignored Stephanopolis' question entirely. That, and the expression on his face while he was doing it; brain shorting out, his language wandering, convoluted -- a man rising to the level of his own incompetence, on national television.

It was another painful moment, like watching someone soil themselves in public, knowing they are only dimly aware they have boo-booed in their shorts in front of a live audience. In a panic, already fading in Rethug polls going into this debate, Romney repeated whatever closing speech he'd memorized because, unlike Gingrich, Romney is almost incapable of thinking on his feet.

ABC's commentators, post-debate, are giving Gingrich a win; "He's the one to beat", says Jake Tapper -- so, it has to be true.

Oh, and after final statements, there was a commercial ABC aired for some company selling "reverse mortgages" for "Persons 62 and older". Former Rethug candidate Fred Thompson was the pitchman; how fitting for a right-wing presidential debate.

And that's the Republican party: Cretins, pols, and former candidates hawking financial products benefiting private business (Why hang on to that big house? Get cash now, the financial security that you need in uncertain times!).


(I want to repeat a few points I'd made in a post about The Randy Man from August, 2010:)

Please pay attention to this part, because it will be on the final: If, despite plentiful evidence about his character, Newt still becomes one of the GOP front-runners (if not their candidate) for President in 2012 -- then I would become very, very afraid.

Look: ... The "recovery" has stalled. The Republicans in Congress will do nothing, and the Democrats can't seem to do the right thing because they've sold their soul to the Fed and the Banksters. Communities are laying off teachers, firefighters, police; roads are being plowed back to gravel; they're talking about doing away with Social Security and Medicare -- and [As of August, 2010, when I wrote this] no one is out in the streets raising their voices about any of it.

The possibility of a Gingrich Presidency would be as bad as Lil' Boots Bush (the only difference is, Gingrich has a better command of spoken English) -- but if such a thing ever becomes possible, it will be because -- even with clear evidence of what kind of man he is -- it would not matter to voters.

It would be more proof (if you needed it, that is) that the game is rigged; the fix is in; that it's Chinatown -- and that Americans will prefer government by sociopaths; and proof that the lowest common denominator in this country will have suddenly fallen to depths unimaginable even twenty years ago.

If you want to stop and consider that for a moment, it's what many thinking Germans must have felt when their country mutated into something clearly and unmistakably malignant, right in front of their eyes.

And That's Jenga.