Showing posts with label You KNOW That. Show all posts
Showing posts with label You KNOW That. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2019

Your Friday Contusion From The Collision With Collusion

On The Road To Recession

Trapped By Brutal Whiteman Daddy With No Bathroom Stops   (Image: Machine / Mongo)
[ Clicky For Biggly!  Easy -- and Fun! ]

The hits just keep on coming. I may decide to weigh in and do some barking -- but after slaving over a hot Photoshop all afternoon (and it's over 100 in my little corner of the Left Coast), I'm going to find some shade and lie down, until.
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Scrood

When You're Lost In The River In Juarez

(This is a truncated reprint of a post from July, 2016 [before The Leader], and already reposted in February this year.

(Why it's being repeated, again, with emphasis on details from other writer's analyses (and links to the originals; read them, please) isn't laziness. It's because their points are no less true. We need to understand what's happening politically, in America and elsewhere in the world, and in context with the effects of rapidly changing global climate. We need to be clearer in our understanding of our political and cultural currents than we have been in a long time.

(So points others are making deserve to be repeated, often -- not because any of the Democratic party's contenders are going to save us, but because what gets said in the debates and which contender is 'chosen' as The Candidate to face off against The Monster will tell us just where the state of American politics is, relative to reality.  The bar of my expectations is set particularly low, but we'll see.)
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When Brexit was a Day One news item, the English-language European and American mainstream media characterized 'Leave' voters as resembling the 'National Front' types I once encountered in London in the late 70's -- racist, nationalistic troglodytes -- as if the only motivation for wanting to leave the EU could be the potential for a sudden influx of Middle Eastern refugees.

It's true that there was plenty of Tin-Foil Hat, Right-wing populist, 'Little Englander' nonsense, and Cambridge Analytica - fueled manipulation going on. But the Vote was also distinctive as a rejection of what many Britons saw as baked-in neoliberal inequality embodied in EU policies which benefited the same crowd of global elites.

Before 2008 (and even today), anyone claiming the world was being structured for the benefit of the few at the expense of everyone else -- that it was an organized effort -- would have been derided as a Loony Liberal (or, worse, a Communist) and effectively ignored.

In the U.S., after 2008 just about everyone was scrambling to stay afloat. Only in places outside America were there any organized protests or even 'social unrest' -- until the 2011 #Occupy movement (which had a quick international spread) showed exactly how deeply reaction to the Crash ran.

The mainstream media often described The 2008 Crash as an 'excess of the financial community' -- just an aberration, something out of the ordinary. But even if they couldn't understand the details, the results were easy to see -- institutions which caused The Crash were bailed out with your money, and mine. The individuals responsible were not indicted. With few exceptions, after a while no one in the mainstream media seemed to care that All Of Us had paid to bail out corporate banks, to underwrite the insolvency of greedily-run private businesses with public loans.
"[There was] a contract that said, if you work hard, if you essentially are a good citizen, there will be a place for you, not only an economic place, you will have a secure life, your kids will have a chance to have a better life, but you will sort of be recognized as part of the national fabric."

The ... American institutions that underpinned this contract including locally-owned businesses, unions, and public schools. ... the void left by the decline of these institutions was filled by the default force in American life, organized money.
-- "The Unwinding", George Packer (2013; Wikipedia Entry, Paraphrased)
And in the eleven years since Der Untergang, there has been a massive transfer of wealth, globally, which we haven't come to terms with: in America, over 90% of income increases since 2008 have gone to a fraction of our population; trillions in wealth have been transferred from the majority to that tiny, useless minority.  And it is not coming back.

Even so, in America not everyone will march in the streets; it's still relatively safe to cast an anonymous vote -- ergo, the popularity of Bernie's message, and on the opposite side, Trump's. And the Brexit vote. They're all bellwethers of what's going on in the hearts of The People, something politicians are trying hard to manipulate and control.

Mister, Jones

Everyone I know has the deeply unsettling feeling (and has had it, since the shark-feeding-frenzy that preceded The Crash) that we're rocketing towards an unknown singularity. It may crush us flat, as we travel an Einstein-Rosen Bridge of history, before being blown out into a future no one wants to admit is even possible. 

For decades, art and film have presented stories set after some unimaginable crash / alien incursion / pandemic / Zombie apocalypse / fascist revolution.  In real life, politics has devolved into Left populism and Crypto-Fascist populism on the Right. Before 2016, Business As Usual (personified by Obama and Hillary The Inevitable !) ran the show. Even with the apotheosis of Trump, The Usual Suspects still own the circus -- things still work to their benefit because they wish it.

We still have a 'bustling economy' and everything is... just great. But it's a sham; we feel it right down to the marrow in our bones. No one know what's going to happen, and no one knows the Form Of The Destructor. All we have is the sense of an iceberg, dead ahead, a banana peel or large clump of animal feces on the sidewalk in the dark. But we can't discern it's exact shape -- Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is; do you, Mr. Jones. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- ROAR Magazine; Jerome Roos, editor: "#Brexit Confirms: The Neoliberal Center Cannot Hold"
... the Founders distrusted popular government for the simple, unassailable reason that the American people are drawn ineluctably to raving bigots and would-be totalitarians. Who are these unhinged, pitchfork-wielding yahoos, now rudely demanding their moment of reckoning at the expense of the institutions erected to discipline them?
-- "The Political Class Struggles", Chris Lehman, 'The Baffler'
Business As Usual. With Occasional Botox.
Hillary really seems to believe that her victory is enough of a consolation prize to negate our miseries. Sadly, there are enough people who agree that she'll never disabuse herself or her notion. If she loses, she'll blame us. We'll have deprived ourselves of the joy of witnessing her happiness.
-- :p, Airport through the Trees
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MEHR, MIT:  There is also too this from Something You Should Read (emphasis added -- again, remember this is from the spring of 2016; possibly inserting "Biden" for "Clinton" will work):
The greatest trick the Republicans ever performed was dragging America’s political spectrum so far right of center that the Democrats caved and became center-right corporatist shills ... a horrendous compromise between anti-war, anti-poverty, anti-racist idealists who believe in building a better America, and the well-to-do status quo defending blowhards who think buying a Beyonce album on iTunes is somehow proof you believe Black Lives Matter.

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

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

Vote for Hillary all you want. However, wrapping it up in a triumphant narrative of identity politics and social justice when the only success is more dead innocent Muslims overseas — for no fucking reason — I mean the drone assassination program Hillary Clinton oversaw as Secretary of State had a fucking 90% failure rate— is nothing short of absolute vulgarity.
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Reprint Heaven: I Gots Me Dem Pre-War Blues

From My Head Down To My Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I Want Fires With That Fresh Crisis, Thanks

No Ordinary Times

German-American Bund Rally, Buffalo, NY, 1936

There is a conspiracy theory -- pushed most visibly on Fox, or audibly by Alex Jones -- that a Deep State fabricated information about a connection between Trump and his campaign with Russia's government; that the FBI and American intelligence agencies, during the election, placed Trump and his associates under surveillance and -- with the hated Obama in the White House --  provided political information to the Democrats.

After Trump's great victory, the same conspirators ensured that the Democrats would use this false information created about Trump to force appointment of a Special Counsel, and the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia around the Presidential election. And that all this happened in a coordinated attempt to first subvert Trump's candidacy, then undermine his authority as President, and even force him from office.
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Weeks ago, Trump's hand-picked Attorney General announced that he believed there had been "spying" by the FBI on Trump's campaign in 2016 (alarmed by information they had about Russian attempts to work with the Trump campaign, the FBI had maintained a level of surveillance). He told senators that he was conducting his own investigation, uh, of the investigation.

Now, the President of the United States has just handed Attorney General Barr the authority to access, review, and declassify any information held by any of the national intelligence or law enforcement agencies.

This is an unprecedented, big fucking deal. It means that Barr will provide Trump with whatever information Trump wants to know. On the President's authority, Barr will have access to all FBI counterintelligence and CIA or NSA material which he deems relevant to his inquiry. The only person Barr has to answer to is Trump. And Barr has previously asked to be advised of all intelligence assets (read: spies) the United States has in Russia.
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This is the same President who said yesterday during a press event that persons who had conducted investigations of him -- his political enemies -- were treasonous. A reporter at the event told Trump that in America, treason is punishable by death, and asked, "You've accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?"

 “Well, I think a number of people, and I think ... that they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person," Trump said. "If you look at [James] Comey, if you look at [Andrew] McCabe, if you look at probably people higher than that. If you look at [Peter] Strzok, if you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover."
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"Take down the wrong person": Trump believes he is the target of an ongoing attempt to remove him from office. He sees that as treason and the people involved as treasonous. Used as a strategy, Trump could take on the world -- the Democrats, out to impeach him; the Deep State, the Media; all his perceived enemies -- by using a toadie like Barr to push a Justice Department investigation of a treasonous conspiracy against the President. Barr has been given a green light to conduct a real witch hunt -- a real, McCarthy-style political pogrom worthy of any tinpot dictator in history.

It doesn't matter that it would be created out of whole cloth. It won't matter that it will be nothing but a taxpayer-financed Disneyland ride for Trump's base, an endless fantasy where Fox News could sell advertising time at even higher rates.

The Trumpista echo chamber is ecstatic ("It's reaping time", one Right-wing pundit crowed). But, among the majority of Americans, it doesn't appear to matter what just happened. Or that Julian Assange is about to be extradited for violation of the espionage act on an indictment created in Barr's Justice Department.
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Depending upon who you read or listen to, a large percentage of Americans appear to believe Russia / Russia's government / Putin and his clique of Oligarchs influenced our last Presidential election to assist Trump -- a figure guaranteed to pour gasoline on smoldering, unresolved contradictions in America's history. Were Trump elected, it would produce a 1968-style upheaval in the U.S., and our ability as a global player -- for good, or for ill -- would be diminished. Other international actors would benefit.

An Ipsos poll from 2018 put the number at 60%. There are some heavyweight actors in American politics, government and culture among that number.

There are those who don't agree, because they see Trump's apotheosis as part of a larger context of politics and culture in America. Some observe the U.S. has been interfering in other nations' elections for decades -- so 2016 is just a matter of chickens and roosts. Others argue that the 'Russian Interference' meme is a conspiracy by neoliberals in America's Democratic party, a Deep State and the media.

It may be an optical illusion, but the events regarding Russia and Trump, before and after the 2016 election, make the story of Watergate (one of only two political scandals many alive today might remember, along with Bill Clinton's impeachment) appear simple by comparison. Nixon was our Trump, then. I came of age under LBJ, but it was Tricky's war I experienced; so, when Watergate spilled into the media and the House Select Committee televised hearings, I never missed a beat.

But Nixon confined his efforts in subverting the political process, obstructing justice, and running a criminal conspiracy from the Oval Office to a relatively small number of people. None of them included members of his immediate family. It's tough to imagine loyal Pat, delivering hush money to ex-CIA burglars, or David Eisenhower holding meetings about how to discredit political enemies. And Tricky never used the Office of the President as an obvious method of self-enrichment.

That's not the case with 'The Russia Thing'. The number of actors, the parallel subplots... it's too much to keep track of.  And to muddy the waters still further, add to it that the Trump-Russia Story is overlaid on a shakily-financed, family business 'empire' dominated by a limited, narcissistic bully, his children and paid toadies, who simply moved their base of operations into the highest echelon of government.

Clearly, this description presents how the 'Russia Thing' is viewed by at least one part of  America's Left political spectrum, and it's a fact-based perspective. The Right is generally so full of Crazy there wouldn't be enough space in all Blogostan to describe it (though Dave Neiwert comes very close).
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The Russia Thing is too much to keep track of (I tried, on a bet with myself. I lost.). The sheer volume of details is overwhelming -- if a percentage of those people on the Left, who don't accept a Russian conspiracy to hack the Presidency, were shown to feel that way because they just can't get their arms around the Thing, it would make perfect sense.

Journalist Matt Taibbi was trying to understand another mind-bending, interconnected set of circumstances -- the subprime housing market and derivatives Crash of 2008.  He spoke with a number of finance Subject Matter Experts, trying to visualize how the virtual collapse of America's investment industry could have happened, and couldn't: It was just too complex.

Finally, one person suggested his approach was mistaken. He was writing it as a business story -- "Look at it as a crime story," the person said; and for Taibbi, something clicked. Because in the end, it really was a story about a crime.
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You could say that Trump's reaction to the Special Counsel's investigation, to the Mueller Report's catalog of his obstruction, is just pique -- that he's pissed. Like any bully, he has a history of getting even, and will use all powers of the Office of the President to strike back at perceived enemies. You could say, it's just politics -- and if he's acting more like a dictator than any American President before him... well ... he's an unconventional politician, right?  If you were him, you'd be defensive, too; right?

But what continues to bother me is the amount of effort which Trump, his family members, his cronies and toadies have expended on the issue of Russia. On defending Vladimir Putin, and praising Russia and its government. It's true; Russia is a major global player -- but that is so because Putin has inserted Russian interests into every major flashpoint of international affairs.  You can't ignore them. But they aren't America's friend and ally. Europeans have been, but that seems less certain, in the second year of Trump's reign.

Trump behaves like a person with something to hide -- on the political front; with his business finances; and his connections to Russians. And the lengths, detailed in the Mueller report, he went in trying to quash any investigation into his Russian connections or those of his campaign are so clearly obstruction you'd have to be blind not to see it.

Republicans in Congress have known or suspected there was something serious about Trump's Russian connections from the beginning. But they don't give two hoots about that.  Some have noted that Trump has an overwhelming, magnetic personal influence which manifests itself in one-on-one contact.  It's how sociopaths operate, and to anyone unfamiliar with negotiation or interrogation strategies, Trump's abilities may appear like a Jedi mind trick. What else explains how Graham, McConnell,  and other GOP leaders have turned into slavish toadies for the sake of -- what, exactly?

People do things for reasons. You can debate whether those reasons merited this or that behavior, but people don't act without motivation. And, believe me -- people don't go to jail for no reason, either; ask Paul Manafort.

There may be a more-or-less innocent explanation, for all of it -- but with what we know about how Trump has conducted his business affairs for forty years, I doubt it. There is a large amount of smoke around The Russia Thing, enough that we can't clearly define its shape. But there is smoke; it's coming from something. I don't know what it is, but all my instincts tell me it's there.
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The problem is, The Russia Thing isn't what we need to be worried about.

Trump's behavior needs to be considered against a backdrop of up-tempo for Impeachment in the House; the potential death-by-irrelevancy of the mainstream with of the Democratic party; the prospect of the Kavanaugh Court removing Roe v. Wade protections for women; the trade war with China; rise of authoritarian nationalism; the possibility of armed conflict with Iran in the Gulf; and a slow-walk towards the next international financial crisis. Through it all, Trump has been acting both more emboldened, and senile dementia-fueled batshit crazy.

...and he's been frustrated, stymied, denied a massive political victory that would show the world He Is The Great One, The Trump; No One Is Greater Than He. Someone (if not Barr) whispered to Trump that the AG and Department of Justice effectively report to the Executive Branch. That they, and a neutered FBI, can be instruments in at least helping Trump appear popular and strong, the right atmosphere for reelection: Four More Years!

As he stonewalls subpoenas and asserts Executive privilege, at the end of that legal road will be the United States Supreme Court -- now packed with Right-wing ideologues, Federalist Society members who don't give two hoots about The People -- everybody knows the fix is in; everyone expects another Bush v. Gore.

It doesn't seem like too absurd an idea that Barr's investigation could end with accusations of a conspiracy against Trump. More likely, it would become a leitmotif of his reelection campaign, hijack the focus of 2020 from the Democrats, further polarize the country, and rally the Right wing around Trump's usual themes of fear and race and conspiracy: 'they' are trying to steal your country from you.

The Democratic party's leaders seem determined to relive the 2016 election. Their most attractive candidate at the moment (in polls, anyway) is so clearly a "Person of Honor", when contrasted against against a foul-mouthed, compulsive liar. Their strategy, at the moment, seems to be a bet that America has had enough of incivility and drama, exhausted by the culture wars of the past thirty years-- enough to vote for The Very Nice Man.

I wouldn't make that bet. Trump is a master narcissist; he excels at making everything about him. Americans have shown an unbelievable capacity for cognitive dissonance in politics and to focus on the trivial. And our exalted media buys into it with gusto: Trump's tantrums are The Shiny Object of every news cycle for the Rubes.

And, the political Right is a pack of proto-nazis who don't give two hoots about Nice. Or honor. Or whales and elephants and sea levels. Or you and me.

Relative to all this, The Russia Thing is almost incidental. As usual, these days, we've moved on to a fresh new crisis.
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MEHR, MIT ICH BIN EIN HUND HUND HUND:  I meant "Fries". In the title.  I want French Fries with that fresh, new Modern World crisis, please.  Not 'Fires'.  Although, now that I think about it, Fires is a lot closer to my actual feelings about the matter than carved potato sections.  

Never Mind.

However, in trying to fix what was wrong with my F'ed up free blogging platform, I found changing the Post Title is a transgression, curable only by reposting with the changed title name, and deleting the old post -- which makes any link to the original Null u. Ungültig.  
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MEHR, MIT THE FRIES NEXT TIME: The BBC reports "Biden team says Trump taunts 'beneath the dignity of the office'."  The civility wars begin. 
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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In Pursuit Of Normalcy

Never Take Your Eye Off The Ball

The Recall Of Actual Memory = Normal
So we don't believe that life is beautiful because we don't recall it; but if we get a whiff of a long-forgotten smell, we are suddenly intoxicated, and similarly we think we no longer love the dead because we don't remember them -- but if by chance we come across an old glove we burst into tears.
-- Marcel Proust
The Leader Is Clinically Insane With Poor Impulse Control = Not Normal
Brian Klass, a political scientist at UCL [said]: "We have a seriously dangerous normalcy bias, where we move on because we desperately want to pretend it's okay. Trump's Twitter meltdown today -- which shows a deranged and unhinged person -- will just be forgotten by Monday afternoon. But the deranged man will still control the nukes."
(Chris Cillizza, "Trump's Craziest Day Ever On Twitter", CNN)

The Leader Is A Liar = Not Normal
And then, Friday afternoon, it got worse. Responding to a question by an ABC reporter about whether he believed there was a growing threat of white nationalism worldwide, Trump responded, “I don’t really,” adding, “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”  Our own ears and eyes (as well as statistics) tells us that’s a lie.  Again, this reaction is because Trump gets his base better than anyone.
(Dean Obeidallah, "Trump Still Won't Name White Supremacist Terrorism And His Base Loves It", Daily Beast)

Delusional Cray-Cray = Not Normal
Donald Trump’s suggestion that Britain invented Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has been branded “completely false” by the UK government.  The US president shared a tweet by William Craddick, the founder of right-wing conspiracy theory news outlet Disobedience Media, on Sunday evening. “Russiagate was designed in part to help the UK counter Russian influence by baiting the United States into taking a hard line against them,” Mr Craddick wrote. ...

... Late last week, [Trump] launched an extraordinary attack against Theresa May over her Brexit negotiation strategy, claiming she “didn’t listen” to his advice over the issue.  Sir Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP and privy councillor, told The Independent that Mr Trump’s peddling of the conspiracy theory was “foolish” and “ludicrous"...  "The trouble is he allows himself to be subject to these great flights of fancy, which unfortunately there are too many people who take seriously,” said Mr Soames, who is the grandson of Winston Churchill.
("UK Government Hits Out At 'Completely False' Allegation", UK Independent)

Republicans Cleave To Insane Leader = Not Normal But Predictable
I think the connection between scientology and Elizabeth Holmes is the “prison of belief”. Look at what happens to [Theranos board member] George Shultz – the grandfather of [eventual whistleblower] Tyler Shultz... Even when his grandson comes to him and says, “You know Grandpa, there’s rampant fraud at Theranos”, he can’t undo or retract or unwind the belief that he has. He’s in a prison of belief of Elizabeth Holmes. He’s committed to her, and for him to say, “Oh wow, that’s terrible”, would mean that he has to go back to the beginning and admit that he was duped and fooled.
(Julia Wong, Interviewing Alex Gibney; "Americans Have A Fascination With Fraudsters"; UK Guardian, March 17, 2019)

We Are Powerless To Resist ZuckCo (And Those Like It) = Not Normal 
Perhaps what the scandal has really revealed is a situation that is too embarrassing, too disastrous to acknowledge. We know that Facebook has been used to undermine elections all across the world, including our own. But we’re in this strange historical moment where we’ve realized it, but we don’t have the power, currently, to do anything about it.
(Carole Cadwalladr, "Cambridge Analytica, A Year On"; UK Guardian, March 17, 2019)


International Mass Shootings = Not Normal
The horror of the New Zealand massacre should be a wake-up call for Big Tech and an occasion to interrogate the architecture of social networks that incentivize and reward the creation of extremist communities and content ...

... Part of what’s so unsettling about the New Zealand shooting suspect’s online persona is how it lays bare how [social media and extremism can] come together for violent ends. [The killer's] supposed digital footprint isn’t just upsetting because of its content, but because of how much of it appears designed to delight fellow extremists.

The decision to call the attack a “real life effort post” reflects an eerie merging of conspiratorial hate from the pages of online forums and into the real world -- a grim reminder of how online communities may be emboldening and nudging their most violent and unstable individuals.
(Charlie Warzel, "We're Asking The Wrong Questions Of YouTube And Facebook After New Zealand"; New York Times, March 19, 2019)

Domestic Mass Shootings = Not Normal 
“Obviously there’s some type of situation that caused the husband to be extremely upset,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said in a press conference. “We’re trying to find the connection. Obviously these are not random shootings... Six people lost their lives in a very short amount of time. This is the new normal.”
(German Lopez, Vox, September 12, 2018; "... Shooter In Bakersfield Kills 5 Persons, Self")

The latest nightmare began on May 18 with the news: there had been another school shooting. This time, it unfolded at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, a town of about 12,000 people ... Paige Curry, a student at the school... [said it] didn’t feel unreal at all. “It’s been happening everywhere,” she said. “I’ve always kind of felt eventually it would happen here too.”
(Haley Edwards, Time, May 22, 2018; "School Shootings Are Becoming The New Normal")

Whiteman Daddy Strongman Oligarch As Leader = Not Normal
... there are the inherent structural failings in modern democratic politics. In the United States, unrestricted campaign financing continues to undermine democracy. The spectacular corruption of the electoral redistricting system -- gerrymandering -- only compounds the problem. On top of this, the polarization of traditional news media by Fox News and others is poisoning the capacity of the democratic system to build a sustainable consensus around what is left of the political center, as shown by the debacle of the American gun-control debate.

As Western democracies look increasingly sick, other systems of governance are now on offer. Russian nationalism represents a departure from Western political, economic and diplomatic norms. China has become increasingly confident in its own model, described as authoritarian or state capitalism. And its “Beijing consensus” is held up to the non-Western world as an example of a more effective form of national, and even international, governance.
(Kevin Rudd, "The Rise Of Authoritarian Capitalism", New York Times, September 16, 2018)
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Steak Of The Union

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

It's been almost fifty years since anyone has fired a weapon at me, and while there was context for it at the time ("Since you are here, people will try to fuck with your basic existence"), the fact of guns and that humans use them at all leaves me speechless.  
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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Great Postmodern Hedgehog

Shutdownalicious

(Originally drained from the swamp on January 20, 2018, in celebration of The Leader attending the World Echo Nomik Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Leader neglected to attend this year.) 

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 might be charitably called) stream of consciousness writing, sparked by the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, attended this year by Wonderboy, Murrikan Leader.

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

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

1.  Greasing The Grenze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.   Where You Were, Gentlemen

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

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

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

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

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


3.   Historical Briefs With A Brown Streak Of Genius

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

Deer Me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After a few minutes, the waiter politely clears his throat and says, "You know -- we don't get many Fruit Bats ordering Martinis here." The Fruit Bat, glancing at the bill, replies, "Yes; and at these prices, you won't see many more of us, either."
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Friday, November 30, 2018

Random Barking Friday

Pardonne Moi 
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will tentatively face sentencing on March 5, a federal judge ruled on Friday, after the U.S. special counsel investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia said the former top aide had breached his plea deal.
Common Wisdom: Lying to a Federal agent, United States' Attorney, or Assistant U.S. Attorney after having negotiated a plea bargain with the selfsame Feds guarantees they will (metaphorically speaking) double-team rubber-hose you and then piss on your head from a great height. They will do this to make an example of you, and impress upon everyone that you are a lowlife  loser scumbag who tried to hustle the System. They will do it to prove that you aren't the smart, special human you believe yourself to be, but an idiot primate, not wearing pants.

At sentencing, a judge will take interest in the Feds' recommendations -- and, something to keep in mind: when making arguments for sentencing, prosecutors can literally throw everything against the wall at you which is legally supportable and which will stick. They are not limited solely to physical evidence or testimony presented at trial. They will attempt to paint you as the guy who, if presented with an opportunity to make serious money selling Opioids to fifth-graders, would take a whole thirty seconds before saying yes.

And, because you violated your plea bargain and wasted the court's time, chances are good a Federal judge will hand down a sentence closer to whatever maximum term the U.S. Attorney has requested -- and where you do that time may be in a Medium-security facility, not a white-collar country club, you stupid, bare-assed monkey.

But, that may only pertain to idiot primates, Little People like you or me, and not World-Class Playahs with the chance for a Get Outta Jail Free card provided by The Leader.
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Manfort is currently segregated in population at a local jail facility. He had been under house arrest on a $10M bond, awaiting trial on tax evasion and money laundering charges, but attempted to suborn perjury from potential witnesses while at home. The Federal judge in his case Had a Sad, revoked Manafort's bail and ordered him jailed. Initially, Paulie received 'VIP treatment' in custody, until the Feds complained he was continuing to conduct business and do who knows what in jail (hint: they probably did know).

Then, on August 21, Manafort was convicted, and by September, struck a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney's office promising to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel and his team's investigation.

Having negotiated that plea bargain through his own Counsel, Paulie  a) Had to know anything he said would be analyzed with an electron microscope, but also  b) He had no idea what Mueller's team already knew. So what Manafort did initially appears stupid in the extreme.

Some have suggested he may have lied to the Special Counsel's team, or was not completely forthcoming, because he was trying to conceal something which made the risk of lying to the Feds worth it. Others have suggested that, if Paulie did cooperate with Mueller and roll over on The Leader, he might also give up a bunch of Russians; after that, his life wouldn't be worth a thimble of cold spit.

A third possibility is, Paulie is acting like a mob Bag Man, flipping off Bob Mueller and pissing on the criminal justice system, because that's his personal style -- he wants to show these button-down losers what a livin' large Playah, what an important primate, he is. Remember, this is a guy who, at a home purchased with laundered money, had a garden planted with flowers in the shape of a giant 'M'.
__________________________________

But Paulie's hijinks are all about impressing The Leader to obtain a Pardon. Before he was convicted, Manafort's attorneys and the legal team of The Leader had a 'joint defense agreement', which remained in place even after Manafort's conviction and the announcement that he had signed a plea bargain.

While allegedly 'cooperating' with the Special Prosecutor, Paulie was a double agent. The groundwork for such a move may have been planned early on; there's no way to know. The Leader's legal team have been putting together a mosaic of the questions asked of other Trump witnesses before Grand Juries, or by federal agents, and what Manafort was asked would be a key piece in reverse-engineering the case Mueller was building -- and help shape the strategy of protecting The Capo Di Tutti Frutti.

You can imagine how Mueller -- a blue-blood elite; button-down straight arrow, and a Marine -- reacted when he learned what Paulie was doing.  My money's on Manafort, having been convicted and facing ten years (a probable 48 months, then a probable parole) in prison, deciding to be a mole because he knew that would be discovered.

Like Bret Kavanaugh's manufactured outrage in front of the cameras, Manafort's behavior was strictly for an audience of one: The Leader. A Commedia del arte piece, honoring The Leader with a simple soldato's loyalty -- and at the same time putting Trump on notice: I been loyal to you, boss; now you gotta come through for me. Remember the things what I know, boss. So you get that Pardon Pen ready.... 

Plus, if Manafort had cooperated with the Special Counsel, in the not-too distant future someone might send a couple of GRU 'tourists' to drop by his house with a perfume bottle. Or that, struck with remorse or [fill in blank], he "jumps" from a window. A Russian saying has it that anyone can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to arrange a suicide.

In screwing Mueller, Paulie may think he's smart, leveraging silence about what he knows to obtain a Pardon. But The Leader's business involved others, and perhaps Paulie believes that having dealt with them for decades, he knows how they think and behave -- or that he has protectors among them who will make him untouchable. If there honestly is any reason he should be concerned in this way, then I hope for his sake that he's right.
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There is one other possibility:  What if The Leader suddenly wasn't leader no more? And can't Pardone lil' Paulie, or any other resource of the familia?
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And the sideshow continues: The UK Guardian reported that Manafort apparently met several times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London with Julian Assange between 2014 and 2016 (WikiLeaks figuring prominently in the story of the 2016 elections), and travelling to Ecuador during the same period to talk with the country's President about... business.

This is an interesting sideshow. It's already been reported that there was a Russian effort to arrange for Assange 's escape from the Ecuadorian embassy, and from the UK. Was Manafort involved? Were connections with state-sponsored Russian hacking part of some odd quid pro quo with Assange's WikiLeaks? Was Elvis the real gunman who killed JFK?

"A Little Travelling Music, Sammy"
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MEHR, Mit Das Prelude Aus Götterdämmerung:

From Daily Kos:  
... here’s an interesting thing to ponder: Why hasn’t Mueller indicted Donald Trump Jr at this point? Trump Jr not only had communication with Russian operatives in scheduling the Trump Tower meeting, he was also communicating with Michael Cohen concerning the Moscow real estate deal...  why hasn’t he been visited by the jolly 4AM raid squad?
Well here’s a funny thing — Robert Mueller doesn’t know that Donald Trump Jr lied in his congressional testimony. That is, he knows... but [he] does not officially know.. because Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Trump’s nether regions) has so far refused to hand over copies of Junior’s testimony [closed-door, before the House Intelligence Committee] to the special counsel’s office.
But as soon as the new Congress is seated in January, Adam Schiff has already stated that he will turn over Junior’s testimony to the special counsel. If you were wondering why Trump chose to direct his excellent third grade potty talk toward the incoming head of the House Intelligence Committee … that’s a pretty good candidate for the primary reason. And once Schiff hands him the paperwork, then Mueller will officially know, what he already knows. 
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