Saturday, September 15, 2018

MORE HOUSE-CLEANING AND SCRATCH-PAD CLEARING...

The Republicans' (and thus America's) "Fascism Problem" isn't a fever dream cooked up by some old hippies or blue haired pansexual campus coeds. It's very real, and in some cases, very in-your-face. Let Samantha Bee clue you in with this helpful little video presentation!


***
Remember back a couple weeks ago, when Preznit Trump revoked former CIA chief John Brennan's security clearance because he didn't like what the man had to say about how he was running the country? Of course you do. The constant churn of the international shit-storm that's been brewing ever since the greasy Beast slithered into the office that was stolen on his behalf makes an awful lot of background noise, it's true, but this particular treachery was the kind of act that leaves a lasting impression no matter what else might be going on at the time. 
The thing about it that really stuck with yer old pal Jerky, however, was that, in his press release about the situation, Trump accused Brennan of “erratic conduct and behavior”, of making “frenzied commentary”, and of making “wild outbursts on the Internet and television.” 

Talk about the pot calling the snowball black! Exactly how deaf to the sound of his own farts does Trump have to be to say such things and not realize that he's providing us all with a perfect, world class example of that favorite right-wing self-own tactic, projection? He's literally screaming into a mirror, shaking a fist at his own fucking shadow.

***

Another news nugget that speaks to the cancer gnawing away at the heart of the Spirit of the Age... Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and current official sower of calculated confusion on any of the dozens of illegalities in which Preznit Trump and his criminal enterprise are currently ensnared, sat down for an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo and... well... check out the transcript for yourselves:
CUOMO: I think it's a little early on that. And if fact [checking] is anything, we've never had anybody with the level of mendacity that he has. Not even close.
GIULIANI: It's in the eye of the beholder.
CUOMO: No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder.
GIULIANI: Yes it is -- yes they are. Nowadays they are. Truth is not Truth.
So there you have it. If you've ever wondered where whence that semi-permanent, cold, nauseous, flip-floppy feeling in the pit of your stomach came from -- that feeling like you can't tell which way is up anymore -- you need look no further.

***

I realize it's been a few weeks, and I realize that the story was only ever added to the ongoing media churn as a kind of flavor additive, to spice up the data meal one way if you're a conservative and another way if you're a liberal -- with only the Far Right/Fascists and Ultra Left loons making a feast of it -- but hopefully most of you will remember the Sarah Jeong controversy, in which the New York Times' latest tech section hire had some right-wing provocateurs dig up some (this again?!) "controversial tweets" that she'd made, ostensibly disparaging "white people", over the past half-decade or so.

I'm not going to bother going into much detail on the story itself, because it's quite obvious to anyone with at least half a functioning brain what happened here: A bunch of actual racist shit-lords made a bad faith effort to get Jeong fired from the Times by smearing her as a racist, using obviously sarcastic tweets that she'd posted in reaction to actual racist attacks that she'd endured on Twitter, and it didn't work. The Times immediately cottoned to what was up and shut that shit down. End of story (minus the still ongoing low level aftershock of whining from D-level Youtube accounts and the disappointed murmurs of sand-kicking incels clogging reddit and 4Chan and the comments sections of any newspaper that's been linked to by the Drudge Report over the last five years). See the link above for a pretty good rundown of what the assault on Jeong represents in terms of the Far Right's evolving War on Reality, itself.

However, if you will indulge me, I would like to spend just a tiny bit of time on one social observer's published reaction to this cultural event, and that would be the ever reliable Andrew "Give Phrenology a Chance" Sullivan, contributor for New York Magazine and gay conservative gadfly since forever. Hell, the man kicked off his "groundbreaking" political blog a mere TWO YEARS AFTER yer old pal Jerky began his run on the late, lamented Daily Dirt, so you know the chances are good that his will be a take worthy of your time! 

Sadly, you should have taken those odds, because Sullivan's piece, "When Racism is Fit to Print", for the Daily Intelligencer, isn't fit to wrap virtual fish in. 

First off, Sully pretends not to know that Jeong was engaging in a game of racist tit-for-tat, throwing a mutated form of the racism daily hurled her way by the angry, frustrated meat-whites right back in their puffy, squinched up faces, in order to make them see how THEY like it, especially when coming from an intelligent and creative young woman with a playful mean streak a mile wide. Note that I'm giving Sully the benefit of the doubt, here, and assuming that he knows he's full of shit on this count, but carrying forth with it for purely partisan point-scoring. After all, what conservative is a fan of the New York Times, right?

I mean, at one point, he seriously seems to be suggesting that there might be some insight to be gleaned by "replacing the word white" in Jeong's tweets "with any other racial group"! As if precisely this variety of honking racialist cant doesn't already make up a full two-thirds of all online communication! And as if that wasn't precisely what Jeong was/is reacting to in the FIRST fucking place!

And finally, I think it is also worth noting that despite reading dozens of "think" pieces on the Jeong "scandal", I have yet to encounter anything that even comes within shooting distance of the strawman constructs Sullivan conjures up here -- "Asians CAN'T be racist claim lefties!" -- nor have I noticed anyone in real life making such a claim. And I know a LOT of very gabby, opinionated lefties.

So Sully, please... a little more effort next time, okay luvvie?

***

So there's this former CIA guy who's got some opinions you might want to know about. His name is Michael Scheuer, and he thinks... well, why not let him speak for himself? Here goes...
As this week’s end, it seems likely that it is quite near time for killing those involved in the multiple and clearly delineated attempts to stage a coup d’├ętat against the legitimately elected Trump government and thereby kill our republic. 
Finally, this week saw a significant and quickening advance toward the moment when those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump, and who have been abused or wounded by Democrats, their Antifa-thugs, and their thug-civil servants for exercising their franchise to elect Trump, cannot be, in good conscience, patient for much longer
Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs of those who hate and threaten them, their families, their way-of-life, their liberty, their livelihoods and their republic. No self-respecting and determined-to-remain-independent citizenry can let themselves forever be held hostage by thug-civil-servants like Strzok, Comey, McCabe, Page, and Rosenstein; worshipers of tyranny, like the Democratic members of Congress, the Clintons, the FBI, and the Obamas; apparent traitors like Brennan, Hayden, and Clapper; all of the mainstream media; and the tens of thousands of government-admitted-and-protected, violent, criminal, and illegal immigrants
American patriots have so far, praise God, been remarkably disciplined in not responding to tyranny and violence with violence. For now they must remain so, armed but steady. But the time for such patience is fast slipping away; indeed, that patience is quickly becoming an obviously rank and self-destructive foolishness. If Trump does not act soon to erase the above noted tyranny and tyrants, the armed citizenry must step in and eliminate them
It is, of course, far better if Trump does so, and I pray and believe he will. That said, the sheer, nay, utter joy and satisfaction to be derived from beholding great piles of dead U.S.-citizen tyrants is not one that will be missed if Trump does not soon do the necessary to save the republic. But if he fails, the citizenry must act to ensure that Hillary’s predictive words are proven correct. “If Trump wins,” she apparently said, “we will all hang.”
This is the same guy who used to head up the Osama bin Laden task-force up until 1999. So sleep well, America! All the best people have got things under control! On the other hand, if you feel that you just can't shake that spooky feeling you've got, and you're having a hard time keeping your eyes closed, then you might want to read Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone feature on Surviving America's Kill List, featuring the harrowing true-life story of citizen journalist (and bonafide American citizen) Bilal Abdul Kareem!
***

Monday, September 3, 2018

ANOTHER REPUBLICAN CRIMINAL!

Raw Story is reporting that Laura Riddick, a Republican state official in North Carolina, has been found guilty of six felony charges of "embezzlement by a public officer".

Riddick, who stole nearly one million dollars during her stint as Wake County Register of Deeds, will be spending up to seven years behind bars for her crimes, which she blames on a "bad childhood", which she says caused an undiagnosed, unnamed "mental illness" that forces her to "compulsively hoard money".

If the good folks who put together the DSM-5 have yet to christen Ms Riddick's peculiar new disorder, yer old pal Jerky would like to suggest calling it the Conservative Republican Asshole Syndrome, or CRAS for short.

No need to reimburse me, folks; it's enough for me just to know that I've helped.

Get the full story HERE.


Friday, August 31, 2018

WHAT HAS 14 WORDS & BEGINS WITH THE WORDS "WE MUST SECURE..."?

How about the headline on this page from the Department of Homeland Security's official website?

The 14 words in question, here, are...
"We Must Secure The Border And Build The Wall To Make America Safe Again"
...and NOT the following, well known White Nationalist slogan, often referred to as "The Fourteen Words":
"We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children"
Also of note, the penultimate paragraph of the above-linked DHS page contains an odd and clumsy use of the number 88:
"On average, out of 88 claims that pass the credible fear screening, fewer than 13 will ultimately result in a grant of asylum."
Of course, the letter H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, and contemporary Fascists/Nazis/Alt-Right Shitlords frequently use HH as coded shorthand for "Heil Hitler". 

Furthermore, this "HH" shorthand frequently appears directly alongside the number "14", which is short for the Fourteen Words. Hence the frequent appearance of 1488 or 14/88 tattoos or graffiti wherever such vermin might swarm.

So... does anybody out there think this is all just a kooky coincidence? Is the idea that the DHS/ICE is infiltrated by White Supremacist Nazis too far out for prime time? Or is it as obvious to y'all as it is to yer old pal Jerky what's going on, here?

Considering recent twists in the American national drama -- Latinos born near the Mexican border having their citizenship questioned, the Bank of America freezing accounts of "potential non-citizens" for the first time ever -- I think the time has come to admit to ourselves that some seriously evil fuckery is afoot. The New Fascist International conspiracy is in the midst of kicking their agenda into higher gear.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

FOUND FLOATING AROUND IN CYBERSPACE...

SIGNS OF IMPENDING TYRANNY!

If a tyrant does any of the following things, look out! These are warning signs that he or she might be making a move to topple a democracy and gain control.
  1. Demands total and personal loyalty from all appointees. 
  2. Organizes military parades and other choreographed shows of force. 
  3. Threatens to fire independent prosecutors who get too close to the truth. 
  4. Spreads conspiracy theories about “Deep State” forces seeking to oust them. 
  5. Refers to top-ranking military leaders as “my” generals. 
  6. Threatens to jail political opponents. 
  7. Claims to have won an election by a landslide even after losing the popular vote. 
  8. Stokes tensions abroad, such as trade wars and even the specter of nuclear war, to distract from efforts to consolidate power at home. 
  9. Circumvents the independent press and communicates directly with followers. 
  10. Turns the public against critical journalists or media outlets, calling them “deceitful” and “scum”. 
  11. Vilifies legislators and judges who are critical of the regime. 
  12. Repeatedly claims massive voter fraud in the absence of any evidence, in order to restrict voting in subsequent elections. 
  13. Repeatedly tells "big lies", causing the public to doubt the truth and to believe fictions that support the tyrant’s goals. 
  14. Blames crime on immigrants or racial or religious minorities, and foments public bias and hatred against them. 
  15. Threatens mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees. 
  16. Separates refugee children from their parents, and incarcerates all of them. 
  17. Attributes civil unrest to “enemies within”, and uses such events as an excuse to beef up internal security and limit civil liberties. 
  18. Appoints family members to high positions of authority. 
  19. Draws no distinction between personal property and public property, profiteering from public office. 
  20. Makes personal alliances with foreign dictators but expresses indifference if not defiance toward leaders of democracies. 
  21. Maintains a powerful propaganda arm that claims to be “fair and balanced” but only amplifies the tyrant’s lies and accusations.
SOUND LIKE ANYBODY YOU KNOW?

CLEANING HOUSE ~ STORIES I LIKED BUT DIDN'T GET TO SHARE

Okay, so, obviously, what with my reduced output over the past few months (due to many factors, including burnout, lethargy, paying work and a general sense of hopelessness), there have been a number of stories that I'd hoped to share with y'all via my blogs, but haven't. I keep track of these stories on a scratch-pad, where I list general topics and specific reports, op-ed pieces and essays. That scratch-pad has now grown intolerably long, so I'm going to be performing a purge over the next few blog posts here at the DDD, and also at Kubrick U, The Mediavore, and Useless Eater Blog (links available, page right).

Please forgive the lack of organization as we begin with Brian Beutler's op-ed piece for Cracked Magazine, titled The Crime Is Worse Than The Coverup, from which we get the lovely image above, and which begins...
On multiple occasions in 2016, and perhaps stretching back into the previous year, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign fielded solicitations from Russian spies and cutouts offering up stolen Democratic Party emails and other assistance in the election. 
At no point, so far as we know, did anyone working on the campaign report this pattern of behavior to the FBI. After Trump secured the Republican Party nomination, the FBI warned him and his advisers that Russians would try to penetrate their campaign, and asked them to alert law enforcement officials if and when they noticed anything suspicious. They said nothing. Since winning the election, Trump has gone to great lengths to protect Russia from the American intelligence community’s assessment that Russia subverted the election to help Trump and tried to shut down all efforts to determine his level of complicity in that subversion. 
Christopher Steele, by contrast, didn’t hesitate for a second to alert the FBI when, while working for the political intelligence firm Fusion GPS, he unearthed information that convinced him Trump was compromised, susceptible to Russian government blackmail, and conspiring with Russian spies to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 
For his trouble, Republicans have tried to run down the former head of the MI6 Russia desk as a partisan operative and a criminal, without whom the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation would never have taken hold. Despite the fact that he has never testified before Congress, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently accused him of making false statements (presumably, they allege, to law enforcement officials) and referred him to the FBI for investigation.
It only gets better from that point on, containing a great deal of important information and excellent, eye-opening perspective. I urge you to read it and pass it along to any friends that you think could make good use of it. I've got it clipped and saved.

***

Next up, we have this important essay, entitled Yes, Polarization is Asymmetric, and Conservatives Are Worse, from The Atlantic, which hasn't exactly been covering itself in glory in recent months... but more about that later. For now, Norm Ornstein's essay about Pew's monumental new study (based upon over 10,000 in depth field interviews) shows how...
...in the mid- to late-1990s, we did not have anywhere near the level of public polarization or ideological or partisan animosity that we have now. In the public, this phenomenon has been much more recent (and is accelerating). But in the Gingrich era in Congress, starting in 1993, where Republicans united in both houses to oppose major Clinton initiatives and moved vigorously from the start of his presidency to delegitimize him, the era of tribalism started much earlier, while the ante was upped dramatically in the Obama years. The fact is that it was not public divisions on issues that drove elite polarization, but the opposite: Cynical politicians and political consultants in the age of the permanent campaign, bolstered by radio talk-show hosts and cable-news producers and amplified by blogs and social media, did a number on the public.
So, basically, "Bothsiderism" is most likely a result of media whoredom, prizing ratings over truth (and morality), and Republicans are really problematic, on a number of levels. Then of course there's always the issue of conservatives "working the ref", or complaining so constantly and at such high volumes about the "liberal bias" of the mainstream media that said media meekly bends over backwards to appease right-wingers and so as NOT to appear "liberal", which pushes the Overton Window ever further to the right, with the right-wingers never letting up, baying louder and louder at this phantom bias that now has ZILCH to do with reality.

And yet, tragically for the USA, it seems to have been a winning strategy for the worst of all possible elements. I suppose there's not much those of us for whom the above is plainly obvious to do, except to make sure people in our own personal circles understand the tactics being deployed against them, and understand the stakes involved. This article is probably a tick or two above "starter" level, but it's an important one for us seasoned news hounds to read and share with those we believe might benefit from reading it.

***

Seattle's The Stranger has long been one of the premiere big city alternative "free weeklies", and they continue to prove their value with excellent think pieces like Charles Mudede's Mass Shootings Reveal America Is A Civilization That's Reverted To Ritual Sacrifice. It begins:
The complete absence or uselessness of rational action to address the frequency of mass shootings in our society requires that we reexamine them in a completely different light. We cannot continue to see these deaths in the context of a pragmatic, civil debate about gun laws. That will tell us only a little, if anything at all. If you go on Twitter, you will find an endless stream of tweets with links to graphs and research that make it abundantly clear that mass shootings are very preventable. There is no mystery to their cause and persistence. But what if our society is not looking for a solution? What if it's the other way around: It fears the prevention of massacres? These are the kinds of things we now need to seriously consider.

The force that's regularly supplying Americans with bullet-ridden corpses might be much deeper and mostly forgotten, and so cannot be so easily recognized by common sense or the secular left. I propose the context that has greater explanatory power for the persistence of mass shootings in the US is religious superstition. We must stop going on and on about lacking laws that would protect our citizens; we must stop going on and on about how this or that politician has been bought. We are way beyond the point where such considerations are meaningful or productive. We must instead ask: To whom are all of these bodies being sacrificed, and why?
This is not easy reading, and it's bound to spark some intense reactions. But, as with so many of the challenges to which America and the Western World are being subjected, perhaps it requires of us to adopt a new kind of language, so as to more adequately comprehend and address. Where the lexicon of prescriptive social policy falls short, can the advanced linguistic technologies of existential phenomenology carry us closer to an answer? Yer old pal Jerky doesn't know, but he does know that, on a number of fronts, we seem to be running out of options. And as a result, many of us appear to be retreating into the relative safety and comfort of a new dark age.

Which brings us to...

***

...Bradley Babandir's overview of the Silicon Valley tentacle of the New Fascist International, as best exemplified by libertarian/Utopian billionaire vampire Peter Thiel, as revealed in the scathing new tome The Know-It-Alls; The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Power House and Social Wrecking Ball, by Noam Cohen (buy via this link so yer old pal Jerky gets a couple shekels in his beggin' cup). Even though it doesn't go quite as far as yer old pal Jerky does in identifying this faction as a de facto, knowing cohort of an incredibly dangerous emerging global conspiracy, it does some important dot-connecting... everything from the extremes of the transhumanistic "imagination", to their vision for a post-democratic technocracy, to their ongoing obsession with certain types of testable/computable/replicable IQ, etc. It begins:
THE PIT OF Peter Thiel’s ghoulishness may be bottomless, but scraping the sides for highlights is worthwhile. The vampiric impulses of Silicon Valley’s libertarian overlord combined with his endorsement of Donald Trump during the 2016 election make him look like a supervillain, but the really terrifying thing about Thiel is the reach of his tentacles and the number of people and companies his money and ideology have influenced. 
Noam Cohen, a former columnist for The New York Times, traces that legacy in The Know-it-Alls, a history of Silicon Valley through the people who shaped it, from John McCarthy, a pioneering midcentury AI researcher, to Mark Zuckerberg. Each of the men (they’re all men) in his focus does something essential to change the culture and economics of the technology start-up world, but this book has a long shadow on its pages. It could just as well have been organized “before Thiel” and “after Thiel.” Once he arrives, there is nothing he does not touch. 
... Cohen mostly gives his subjects the benefit of the doubt. ... This is often disappointing, especially when he deals with figures like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates. The former’s awful treatment of workers comes tacked on at the end of his chapter, while the latter’s pervasive anticompetitive behavior is only mentioned later, in a chapter about Marc Andreessen. ... That all ends when he reaches Thiel. Cohen starts swinging and landing blows. Thiel is a hypocrite (fundamentally against government intervention in the business world, unless it’ll help him), an aggrieved figure in search of a grievance (the conservative magazine he started in college would, if no recent controversy was suitable for its purposes, concoct one), and a trolling commentator who believes, as he wrote in 2009, that “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women […] have rendered the notion of a ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” Cohen’s knockout comes from tying Thiel’s worldview back to those who came before him. He lays it out in the book’s most important paragraph: 
“[C]ut through Thiel’s eccentricities and harsh language and you discover that Thiel is simply articulating the Know-It-All worldview as best he knows how. In Thiel’s ideas one finds Frederick Terman’s insistence that the smartest should lead, as well as his belief in using entrepreneurism and the market to introduce new technologies to the people. There is the hackers’ confidence that technology will improve society, as well as their suspicion of ignorant authorities who would try to rein in or regulate the best and brightest. There is the successful entrepreneur’s belief that the disruption that has made him fabulously wealthy must be good for everyone. The main difference between Thiel and his peers is that he acts forcefully and openly in support of his ideas, while they are inclined to be more cautious and circumspect.” 
This changes the conversation about how Thiel relates to his peers. Like the Republican Party members who more or less vote along the lines of President Donald Trump’s agenda but criticize his demeanor, the problem that his peers have with him is not that his beliefs matched with his power are destructive but that he says aloud what others merely think. Thiel believes that, as Cohen writes, “monopoly businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon serve as a welcome replacement for government.”
So, basically, Thiel isn't just the absolute worst, he's the absolute worst, empowered... by access to a bottomless pit full of money, a head full of dangerously wacky notions, and yet-to-be-released communications technology so cutting edge, it's indistinguishable from mind control. In other words... nothing to worry about!

***

A few more articles of note before I pinch this one off and start brewing up a new info-turd...


  • If you're having trouble coming to terms with the ideological flavors and the swiftly gelling formal contours of Cold War 2.0, then this Observer article by John Schindler -- Russia has an Ideology, and It's As Entrenched as Communism Ever Was -- does a pretty good job of explaining what so many old far lefties are having a difficult time understanding about contemporary Russia and (perhaps most dangerously) Vladimir Putin. Schindler's witty and memorable metaphors do more to help put things in their proper perspective than any half-dozen think tank white papers ever could. The fact that, once again, learned public intellectuals are confirming yet another element of my own still-developing "New Fascist International" conspiracy theory is small comfort, indeed.
  • From what was, up until far too recently, one of the last bastions of "legit" leftist journalism still clinging to the ridiculous notion that "the whole Russia thing" -- whether it be, specifically, their interference in the 2016 election, or Putin's global malfeasance and bad faith dealing, in general -- is somehow overblown, we get a mea culpa of sorts in Robert Mackey's Russian Propaganda Attempts to Sow Doubt Over Chemical Attacks In Syria. He should probably be asking his boss, Gutless Glenn Greenwald, but I'll still take this necessary correction: "Assad, a dictator by any definition, and his ally Putin are both seen as bastions of anti-U.S. resistance [by the left]. The leaps of logic that some on the left are engaging in, in order to vilify Syrian rebels and civilians in favor of these two leaders, are breathtaking." Kind of makes one wonder if Jimmy Dore is even capable of feeling shame at this point.
  • Here's another interesting take asking Why Are Some on the Left Falling for Fake News on Syria?, as published on Truthdig, and written by veteran global activist Sonali Kolhatkar.
  • For an even more in depth and detailed analysis of the situation, check out The Syria Campaign's report, Killing the Truth: How Russia is Fueling a Disinformation Campaign to Cover Up War Crimes in Syria

FLIPPING FLIPPERS!


Saturday, August 11, 2018

JUST LOOK AT THOSE FACES...

On August 1st, in this very blog, I asked the following rhetorical innocent question: 

"If the Republicans were presented with the choice of voting for either any random Democrat or Vladimir Putin... how big do you think Putin's margin of victory would be?"

I didn't have long to wait for an answer. 

On August 5th, at one of Trump's bizarre, extended "Two Minute Hate" rallies in Ohio, these two gentlemen were photographed together, looking rather proud of their treasonous attire:


Of course, coming from a crowd like this...


...I suppose any and every type of psychopathical goonery is, at the very least, possible, if not entirely predictable.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

MORE INNOCENT QUESTIONS


INNOCENT QUESTIONS

Innocent Question #257840 ~ So with last month's revelation that Puerto Rico's hurricane death toll was not sixty-four people, as claimed for months by the White House, but rather a conservative minimum estimate of FOUR THOUSAND AND SIX HUNDRED PEOPLE, (and possibly thousands more than that)--American citizens all, dead or dying while the President cracked jokes and lobbed rolls of paper towel from atop an airplane staircase--how are Trump and FEMA not having their feet held to the fire as part of an official public investigation yet? How come heads aren't rolling down every street in Washington DC? In short... WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?!

Innocent Question #257841 ~ The info-graphic at the top of this edition sure is some serious food for thought, is it not? Does any of the information therein seem kind of... familiar to you? Like, does it ring disturbingly true? Yer old pal Jerky sure thinks so.

Innocent Question #257842 ~ It's been two weeks now, so has the White House come any closer to deciding whether or not to take Putin up on his offer to let the FBI question the 12 Russians accused of fucking with the 2016 elections, but only it Trump hands over former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul and global Magnitsky Act advocate Bill Browder for interrogation, first? I mean, the US Senate passed a resolution 98/0 against giving Putin access to any diplomat, past or present. But Browder's not a diplomat, and that resolution was non-binding anyway. So what's the deal?

Innocent Question #257843 ~ Is it possible that this whole Maria Butina/NRA/GOP espionage/blackmail/treason nexus exudes enough sordid, sexual "stink" to make the average US voter actually give a shit about the Russian wing of the New Fascist International helping to rig the 2016 election (in a wide variety of ways) in order to steal the White House on Trump's behalf, as part of their global strategy to weaken liberal democracies the world over? I guess only time will tell.

Talking Points Memo info-graphic (source article)

Innocent Question #257844 ~ If the Republicans were presented with the choice of voting for either any random Democrat or Vladimir Putin... how big do you think Putin's margin of victory would be?

Innocent Question #257845 ~ Have we passed the point where it would be possible to avoid the purgative ritual of a righteously implemented regimen of public, state-sanctioned executions of the highest-ranking members of this traitorous cabal of shameless co-conspirators, meted out by serious-minded patriots who will do so without joy or grotesque triumphalism, but certain in the knowledge that their bloody deeds are directed towards the greater good of both their nation's future, as well as that of the world at large? Asking for a friend.

Innocent Question #257846 ~ Who do you think is prouder that the ICE "Brown Baby Concentration Camps" may now have a bodycount? Donald Trump, or Stephen Miller?

Innocent Question #257847 ~ And finally, after just two episodes of his new TV series, Who Is America?, fearless comic saboteur Sasha Baron Cohen has already done more to hold individual Republicans accountable for their disgusting bigotry and shitty policies than every Democrat currently occupying space in the House or the Senate, combined. So my innocent question is... should we be amazed, or terrified?

Monday, July 30, 2018

AN IN DEPTH EXPLORATION OF TRUMPISM

The fine folks at one of Youtube's only decent political channels, Some More News (subscribe why don'tcha?), have put together a wonderful video that incorporates the invaluable research of Robert O. Paxton, author of the classic The Anatomy of Fascism, as well as the always-profound insights of the late, great Umberto Eco, whose essay on "Ur-Fascism" has enlightened decades of political observers.


Clip and save! Share with your pals, and those you feel should be aware of these things! Also, buy Paxton's tome from the above link, and I get a few shekels tossed into m beggin' cup!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

MUST-READ ARTICLES OF JULY 28, 2018



In a profoundly disturbing think piece first published at the Paths and Bridges philosophy blog titled "Notes on Syria and the Coming Global Thanatocracy", author Jules Etjim (get it?) has produced an essay of such stunningly high quality that, in my current exhausted state, I couldn't possibly praise with the level of enthusiasm and stunned humility it deserves. So I'll leave it to some excerpts from the first third...

The Coldest Monster 
In Thus Spake Zarathusta, Nietzsche called the state the coldest monster and we might add there is no state as cold as a thanatocracy. At present few genuine thanatocratic regimes actually exist but even using the most stringent definition (we use the loosest here), Syria unambiguously qualifies. Syria is a thanatocratic state whose kleptocratic ruling elite have tried to maintain their rule by freely resorting to genocide, systematically torturing and killing people on an industrial scale while using death, directly and indirectly to husband the populace in an escalation of governmental strategies to winnow targeted demographics and destroy those social ecologies felt to nourish rebellion. The genocidal destruction or disaggregation of some social groups by the thanatocratic state is accompanied by efforts to hothouse other demographics seen as compatible with the one overriding imperative: survival of the ruling elite. ...
Thomas Hobbes in Damascus 
... The Syrian revolution (and the ‘Arab Spring’) is the most important historical event since the collapse of the Soviet Union but has received little of the attention it deserves. This is perhaps because the ‘Arab Spring’ whose ground zero was Tunisia, encountered powerful headwinds after the early period of rising struggle between 2010-11. The Egyptian revolution was fatally thrown back when the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi was removed after only a year in office, in a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat staged by Egypt’s military. Another reason for the Syrian revolution’s neglect is the failure of the global left, especially in Europe and North America, to build a solidarity movement in its support. Rather insofar as solidarity was extended to any party in Syria, Assad’s thanatocracy has been the main beneficiary. The global left has been largely indifferent to the crimes of a regime where life is subordinated to death and biological precarity is the rule – with physical, social and cultural death imposed on incomprehensible numbers of people. 
Despite the suffering of its people, Syria is commonly observed through the prism of post-truth and nihilistic scepsis. Much of the global left has joined the burgeoning ranks of cranks on social media peddling conspiracy theories promoting the demonstrably false view that Assad’s murderous regime was the target of attempted US regime change while viewing Assad’s revolutionary opponents through the spectacles of orientalism and Islamophobia. This diabolical consensus omnium parroted Assadist propaganda portraying Assad as an embattled secularist fighting opposition dominated by Salafist jihadis. In seven years of Assad’s brutal struggle to smash the ‘Syrian Spring’, few have tried to acquaint themselves with what is actually happening in Syria or listened to the voices of ordinary Syrian’s – people who despite their suffering are literally either invisible or ciphers for the paranoid fears and anxieties of the global North’s citizens. 
In an arresting appropriation Yassin al-Haj Saleh invoked the seventeenth century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes to grasp the danger that faced the Syrian revolution, the morbid signs it was descending into a “primordial” ‘state of nature’ because of the brutal counter-revolution of Assad’s ‘neo-Sultanic’ state (as Saleh later characterised the Baathist state). Ominously, Saleh believed the revolution had begun to mirror the counter-revolution in the course of defending itself. Adversity engendered a struggle dominated by the “politics of survival” while the ‘state of nature’ was in principle antithetical to reason – the foundation of any politics. The fall into the ‘state of nature’ foreshadowed the destruction of politics and politics was the lifeblood of any revolutionary struggle as it embodied the autonomy and self-determination of the people. 
Descent into the ‘state of nature’ indicated society was “losing its self-control” and the crystallisation of a social trend present in the revolution itself. Within months the open, “civic minded” nature of the revolution’s early days apparent in the role of a variety of civil society groups, the visible activism of women and so on, started to erode as the people fought Assad’s “brutal power.” Saleh argued the degeneration was apparent in the readiness to resort to arms for self-defence and the growth of religious influence that saw inherited identities displace more inclusive, secular identities within the anti-Assad camp. Inevitably there was a transition from slogans repudiating Salafism while underlining the democratic aspirations of the revolt to slogans with more traditional Islamic or religious connotations. In the revolution’s early weeks, the street protests were “civil, emancipatory, and humanist” but quite rapidly the revolution’s “public face” began to speak the “language of Islam”. 
In subsequent years Saleh revisited the changing role of violence in Syrian society – the atomisation of the populace brought about by Assad’s ‘torture state’ and the problems the revolutionary camp faced as violence as self-defence became more indiscriminate and threatened to demoralise and undermine the revolution itself with the transition to “ultraviolence” or “militant nihilism” as Saleh would characterise it, in particular connecting the latter to the millenarian goals of religious fundamentalism in his own evolving evaluation of the political role of Salafism. 
Reflecting on Assad’s “killing machine” Saleh pointed to the impact of earlier military and civil conflicts in the region, the civil conflict in Lebanon and the coalition invasion and occupation of Iraq, to illustrate the elective affinity between civil war and sectarian war or what Thomas Hobbes called the ‘war of all against all’ – the ‘state of nature’ where hatred fed hatred and killing led to more killing in a mimetic cycle similar to the cycle of violence and bloodletting Rene Girard thought defined the periodic sacrificial crisis that visited any society. ... 
This is deep, dark, thinky, heady stuff, folks. Definitely not the stuff of lullabies and sweet dreams. But if you think you know anything about the Syrian crisis and/or the odd global paralysis that allows it to metastasize unabated, then you owe it to yourself to digest this essay and grapple with its theses and observations. Because it seems obvious to me that this dead-eyed raptor is coming home to roost...
*** 


Did you hear the one about the semi-pro online alt-right troll who thought everyone who didn't worship Trump was a pedophile and stabbed his father to death after an argument (even though his parents paid for the roof over his head and everything else for the entire 33 worthless, do-nothing years of his "life" up until that point)? No? Well, here's Joseph Bernstein, everyone's favorite son-of-a-Nazi-hunter Buzzfeed contributor (which is no longer the embarrassing CV entry that it once might have been) to give you the full rundown in his comprehensive article, Lane Davis' Civil War. After a suitably cinematic set-up, the article begins:
I knew Lane. I knew him as a guy who kicked around some of the pro-Trump, anti–social justice internet communities that I’ve reported on since 2014. Like a lot of people in those volatile spaces, Lane bore grudges, which made him useful as an occasional source. Unlike a lot of people in those spaces, and despite being a fabulist, Lane understood how to weaponize information, which made him even more useful, and a little scary. From early 2016 to summer 2017, we emailed regularly and talked occasionally. As with most sources, Lane had some tips that were good and some that weren’t. But even if nothing he told me ever led to a blockbuster story, he was smart and he understood his world well — talking to him was never a waste of time. I thought I understood him about as well as I needed to.

Last October, a conservative blogger discovered a local news story about Chuck Davis’s killing. He spread the word on Twitter, including another shocking detail: Before stabbing his father to death, Lane had loudly accused his parents of being “leftist pedophiles.” 
There’s a whole universe in those two words, one that Americans unfamiliar with the rhetoric of the internet culture wars might not recognize. 
The right-wing media has long tried to discredit identity politics by claiming the concept is a slippery slope that ends in the recognition of inherently ridiculous groups. A few years ago, though, a new class of social media bomb-throwers started to seize on pedophilia as a particularly inflammatory identity. On Twitter and in places like 4chan's /pol/ board, they began to claim that acceptance of pedophilia was the true, secret goal of liberal politics, the hellish endpoint to Black Lives Matter and transgender bathroom laws. This line of attack became frighteningly literal in 2016, when a man with a gun showed up at a Washington, DC, pizza parlor that online conspiracy theorists claimed was the hub of a massive pedophilia ring — run by Democratic Party officials. A month later, another man showed up at a nearby pizzeria claiming he was there to “save the kids” and “finish what the other guy didn't.” 
That’s the language Lane reportedly summoned as he was about to stab his father. A spate of articles quickly followed, thick with a “murder by internet” subtext.
Joseph is a skilled writer and journalist, as most of his big stories show. After reading the rest of the above article, you can find and follow him on Twitter.

***

"Can you fucking believe these clowns?!"
And finally today, for anyone who'd forgotten what a REAL witch-hunt looks like, Congressional Republicans were more than happy to remind us during their ludicrous, Stalinesque interrogation of former FBI agent Peter Strzok. As usual, Esquire's Charles P. Pierce has the most... 'colorful' analysis of that pathetic debacle available anywhere. Somewhere close to the end of his essay (but not quite), he writes:
There’s no real point in recapping the highlights. The videos are going to be in regular rotation for quite a while now. It was, as it was called at various points in the hearing, a kangaroo court, a show trial, and a travesty of a sham of a mockery of a sham of two mockeries. But it was designed to be that. It was a performance piece. It was not a very well-cast one, and several of the lead actors fell into the orchestra pit, but it managed to run from curtain-up to curtain-down. 
And there’s still the basic fact out there that the president* of the United States needed money to shore up his failing businesses, and he went to Russian oligarchs in league with a KGB goon at the head of an authoritarian nation to get it, and that we don’t know what he owes, and to whom, and what he’s willing to do to settle his debts.
But really, you should read the whole thing, even if only for the terrific zingers and hilarious nick-names Pierce gives the Republican morons who disgraced themselves so thoroughly in this exercise.

CLIP AND SAVE!

Check out the story below for more links and details!

TRUMPS NO GOOD, VERY BAD WEEK (OR TWO)

The fallout from the Helsinki summit has been so spectacularly awful for Donald Trump and his cult, it almost feels as though we are approaching a turning point of some kind. Can the American theater of New Fascist International's war on liberal democracy be experiencing the first serious rumbles of the existential doom it so richly deserves?

I probably don't have to go over all the ways in which the summit was a disaster, as I assume most of you follow the news pretty much as closely as I do, and from as wide a variety of sources. Suffice it to say that, for the first time since his election, even his fellow Republicans were aghast at how he (to paraphrase notoriously Trump-skeptic Senator John McCain) "abased himself abjectly before a tyrant" like no President in living memory.

Here's a CNN report that contains McCain's full statement, and further reporting on how other Republicans, including many Trump partisans, reacted to this pathetic, humiliating debacle:


If the Helsinki summit was the only thing that happened last week, it would still have been the worst week of Trump's regime by far... for Trump personally, as well as for his criminal enterprise. But it wasn't the only thing that happened. Not by a long shot.

For instance, there was that whole Maria Butina spy scandal and the related "Kremlin bribing Trump and compromising the entire GOP via dirty cash donations to the NRA" news, which broke just as Trump was boarding Air Force One on his way to Helsinki. That was what you might call a pretty big fucking deal.

Then, the world found out that Trump's long-time fix-it man, Michael Cohen--once a bonafide MAGA cultist who vowed to take a bullet for Trump, but who seems to have flipped once he realized that Trump wouldn't piss on him if he were on fire--was taping their conversations for years, creating a treasure trove of audio recordings... potentially devastating recordings that are now in the hands of the closest thing that the USA has to a superhero, special counsel Robert Mueller. No wonder Stormy Daniels' lawyer (and all around pain in Trump's ass) Michael Avennati can't seem to wipe the satisfied smirk off his handsome face lately.

He's also a professional race car driver!
Cohen flipping has a lot more potential fall-out than just exposing what everybody already knew about the Stormy Daniels case: that Trump did, indeed, cheat on Melania just days after she'd given birth to his son; that he knew all about the hush money payments and ordered them personally; that he lied his ass off about it and tried to hide his tracks via the creation of multiple LLCs (fraud and obstruction and, most likely, serious campaign finance crimes and potential felony tax code violations). It has the potential to expose so much more. Such as the fact that he's gone through the same cycle over and over again, with multiple women--including one we already know of, Playboy model Karen McDougal--some of whom got pregnant and were paid to "take care of it".

Trump with trophy wife, daughter-wife, and Karen McDougal (r)
And then of course there's Cohen's assertion that he was in the room when Trump gave the go-ahead for Don Jr and Jared K to meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who had promised to provide some ill-gotten dirt on Hillary Clinton, contradicting two years of the President's constant denials and lies about every aspect of that meeting. No wonder Trump threw one of his patented POTUS Twitter tantrums over the mildest of provocations by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:

Look folks, those are only the very biggest of the developments that have come down the pike over the last week and a half or so. I've skipped over a number of important stories, like how Trump laughably attempted to claim that he meant to say "wouldn't" when he said "would" regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election, or his disastrous, slapdash "trade war" tariffs, which have led to his having to cough up a $12 billion dollar deficit bailout to offset the damage being done to farmers by his idiotic policies. There was his attempt to claim that Russia was no longer targeting US elections, his tampering with the official White House transcript of the Helsinki press conference (only corrected after a week of outrage) to hide the fact that Putin confessed to wanting Trump to win the 2016 election (which, when combined with everything else we know, is essentially a confession to election rigging). This particular "gaffe" added a soupcon of bitter irony to Trump's later claim that yes, he believed the Russians might well try to mess with the 2018 mid-terms... but on behalf of DEMOCRATS! Then he invited Putin to Washington, only to have Putin say "No thanks... but you should come to Russia though", a total power play further exposing Trump's bitch-boy status. The list just goes on and on.

But as bad as the Big Picture story of the Helsinki summit was, there was even worse crap tucked away in the details. Those of you who've been following American politics with any degree of depth beyond just the surface stories over the past two years will understand exactly how awful the implications in this unrolled Tweet-storm are, and those of you who don't, should take the time to make it so you do. READ AND GROK!!!



So there you have it, folks. Only time will tell if this was a bad week for Trump, or for the American experiment, itself.
By the way, if you're active on Twitter and you're a sincere, legitimate Trump fan, and you're a real human being, and not a stage-managed fake persona or a bot, you should probably be aware of the fact that you are in a tiny and dwindling minority, and that you're being made to feel a false sense of 'safety in numbers' because of the huge amount of stage managed fake personas and bots currently polluting social media like meme rats spreading the MAGA plague.

Repent. The End is Nigh.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD, BY ROGER WATERS

One of the strongest compositions on Roger Waters' career best solo album Is This The Life We Really Want?, this tune is finally available on Youtube, so any remaining skeptics can see one of the reasons why they NEED to own this album for themselves.


And if you're not convinced by this one, try Bird in a Gale, another favorite of mine from this album...


Be sure to listen soon, and download the audio if you like them, because they won't be up for long!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

POSSIBLY THE MOST IMPORTANT TRUMP ARTICLE EVER WRITTEN

Download it. Read it. Clip and save it. This Johnathan Chait article for New York Magazine is causing some stress among the leftier-than-thou pseudo-intelligentsia of the Glenn Greenwald-trusting, RT-paycheck-cashing variety, but let those puppies whine, as this train rolls past them into the history books of the future.

It begins thusly:
On June 14, 2016, the Washington Post reported that Russian hackers had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s files and gained access to its research on Donald Trump. A political world already numbed by Trump’s astonishing rise barely took notice. News reports quoted experts who suggested the Russians merely wanted more information about Trump to inform their foreign-policy dealings. By that point, Russia was already broadcasting its strong preference for Trump through the media. Yet when news of the hacking broke, nobody raised the faintest suspicions that Russia wished to alter the outcome of the election, let alone that Trump or anybody connected with him might have been in cahoots with a foreign power. It was a third-rate cyberburglary. Nothing to see here. 
The unfolding of the Russia scandal has been like walking into a dark cavern. Every step reveals that the cave runs deeper than we thought, and after each one, as we wonder how far it goes, our imaginations are circumscribed by the steps we have already taken. The cavern might go just a little farther, we presume, but probably not much farther. And since trying to discern the size and shape of the scandal is an exercise in uncertainty, we focus our attention on the most likely outcome, which is that the story goes a little deeper than what we have already discovered. Say, that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort told their candidate about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer after they were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton; and that Trump and Kushner have some shady Russian investments; and that some of Trump’s advisers made some promises about lifting sanctions. 
But what if that’s wrong? What if we’re still standing closer to the mouth of the cave than the end?
 Here's the unroll of a great Tom Nichols Tweetstorm about this article. You'd do well to read both.