Sunday, July 21, 2019

QUOTE OF THE DAY, SUGGESTED READINGS, AND MORE!


First up, we have this very interesting, in-depth exploration in the New York Times that sheds some light into how Youtube accidentally (?) became the world's most effective vector for Far Right propaganda, thus radicalizing a generation of young men and boys into reactionary politics. Remember, if you've already reached your quota of free NYTimes articles for the month, just open this article in an "incognito" window.

***

Next up, but definitely related, comes this series of VICE interviews with people who have literally lost family members to the deranged, Trump-centric, post-Pizzagate, conspiranoid hurricane of weaponized nonsense known as "Qanon". It begins:

One of the most disheartening signs of our advancing hellworld are the thousands of people who wholeheartedly believe in the deranged conspiracy known as QAnon. 
It's near impossible to summarize the entire QAnon conspiracy theory, as it’s fluid and ever-changing. The nuts and bolts are that a secret government insider, the titular Q, has taken to the internet forum 8chan of all places to drop clues (known in the community as Q Drops breadcrumbs) about how U.S. President Donald Trump is taking down the deep state. The conspiracy takes some twists and turns into the occult, an ever-present cabal of pedophiles, possible executions, and the idea JFK Jr. may have faked his own death and is cosplaying as an old guy who goes to Trump rallies. 
While the QAnon conspiracy often feels like an elaborate troll, an online community of real, actual people has built up around it. There’s been a lot written about how lonely these people are, how they will cut themselves off from their family ... and poking fun at the whole thing. Rick Ross, a cult deprogrammer and executive director of the nonprofit Cult Education Institute, says the community bears a lot of the hallmarks of a cult: the main character is infallible and everything is part of a greater plan. ...
No one knows how hard it is to break through a bubble one creates around themselves than loved ones. While maybe it’s funny for those outside peering in, what is it like for those who are close to them, the people who experience their loved one's brain being rotted by YouTubers breaking down 8chan posts in real time? 
I decided to seek them out. I found a woman whose husband became so obsessed with YouTube conspiracy videos he would follow her around the house and force her to watch them, someone who avoids their mother because of Q, and someone who was dumped by the man she loved because she actively attempted to debunk QAnon. Here are their stories.
Some of these stories are ridiculous, while some are truly heartbreaking. All of them are disturbing, in that they provide yet more evidence to the increasingly voluminous pile that shows how we are, most likely, up against something that goes far beyond the mere human propensity for occasionally believing stupid things. 

I think it's patently obvious by now that what we are witnessing is an engineered phenomenon, wherein a new generation of propagandists have at their disposal bleeding edge communications tools and predictive psychometric technologies that have allowed them to create "psychiatric software" bordering on literal mind control. 

This is one of the core elements of my "New Fascist International(e)" theory, which I hope to explain more fully in an ebook that I've been working on for the past two and a half years. So keep your eyes peeled.

***

In an important op-ed piece for the Washington Post, Paul Waldman describes the lengths to which a newly empowered Far Right are going in order to prevent those who have yet to be brainwashed into their cult from voting at all, thus maintaining their illegitimate grip on power until the day finally comes when they can do away with the charade of democratic elections altogether, and simply exert their God-ordained right to rule over their lessers entirely unimpeded.

Unfortunately, WaPo is behind a paywall nowadays, so if you find yourself locked out, here is a distillation of Waldman's most important points and revelations:

As we turn our attention toward the 2020 elections, Republican lawmakers across the country are asking: How can we keep people from voting? In Tennessee, which already has lower-than-average rates of turnout, the legislature is on the case
"Tennessee could penalize some paid voter registration groups with fines for too many faulty signups and criminal charges for violating new requirements under a proposal passed by the House on Monday. The vote bucked some voting rights groups, who have voiced fear that the bill would create a chilling effect on Tennessee’s already-poor voter participation marks. Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett has made the legislation a top priority, deeming it important for election security after Shelby County, which includes Memphis, saw a flood of often-faulty registrations that came in on last year’s deadline. But Tennessee Black Voter Project, which led the voter signup charge in Memphis and elsewhere across the state, has said the bill immediately followed the group’s efforts to register 86,000 black voters."
Under this law, organizations that mount voter registration drives will have to be trained by the state, and then they can be fined and face jail time if they have lots of registrations with mistakes. 
Just to provide a bit of context, every group that does registrations gets some faulty ones. When you sit at a table outside a supermarket registering people to vote, there are always jokesters who will fill out the form in the name of Mickey Mouse or Clark Kent, but the group doing the registering is legally required to submit the forms, even if they’re sure they’re false.

The problem here is obviously not that erroneous registrations create some kind of unmanageable burden on state officials, because they've always existed and always will.
It’s that too many black people registered to vote in Tennessee, and something had to be done about it. 
So in addition to using all the other tools in their voter-suppression drawer, Republicans in Tennessee decided to clamp down on registration, knowing full well that liberal groups are much more likely to mount registration drives than conservative groups.
This isn’t the first time something like this has been tried. Before the 2012 election, Republicans in Florida passed a registration law so restrictive that it led nonpartisan groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote to suspend their voter registration drives in the state.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who often makes plain what other Republicans prefer to conceal amid a fog of misdirection, used to say that “low voter turnout is a sign of a content democracy.” More recently he has described Democratic efforts to make voting easier, with measures like making Election Day a national holiday, as a “power grab.” In other words, he makes no bones about the fact that if we made it easier to vote, too many people would vote for Democrats.

Every Republican understands that; McConnell is just one of the few willing to say it out loud. But the truth is that suppressing votes is absolutely critical to Republican success. They know full well that their ability to compete and win in the American political process is dependent on the countermajoritarian features of our system — the filibuster, the fact that the Senate gives the same representation to the fewer than 600,000 residents of Wyoming as the nearly 40 million in California, the electoral college — nearly every one of which works to the advantage of the GOP.
And as the party grows more dependent on older, wealthier, white voters — who are more likely to be registered and more likely to turn out — Republicans know that the harder registering and voting is, the more likely they are to win. No prospect is more threatening to Republican success than high turnout.

Consider the last three midterm elections. Last year, turnout was 50 percent, and Democrats won huge victories, including taking back the House. In 2014, a “wave” election for Republicans, it was only 37 percent. In 2010, another Republican wave, it was 42 percent. Anything that gets more people to the polls will be good for Democrats and bad for Republicans. 
Which is why the GOP will do everything in its power to keep registration and turnout low — and why making it easier to vote is so important for Democrats. So in the coming days we’re almost certain to see a further separation between red and blue states.
It will look like this: Where Democrats are in charge, they’ll institute automatic voter registration, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, extended early voting, and anything else that will maximize turnout and make voting easy. Where Republicans are in charge they’ll employ voter ID, restricted early voting, polling place closures, and anything else that will drive voting down, particularly among African Americans.
And if all that isn’t enough, Republicans will go after the people registering voters, too.
Get the picture yet, folks? It isn't four relatively progressive Congresswomen representing their communities and their constituencies who pose a threat to America and the American WayTM... it's the entire radicalized Far Right reactionary pseudo-religious cult into which the Republican Party has transformed over the past few decades that is the TRUE "enemy of the people".

***

But don't take my word for it! Here's a former intelligence agent who was part of the team who drafted National Intelligence Estimates for a previous White House (Paul Nailer is a pseudonym) to tell you why "The Biggest Threat to Our Country Today is the Republican Party". He begins, in part:
In case you’re not familiar with the finer points of threat assessment within the national security apparatus, the NIE is the big enchilada: the document seen by presidents and members of congress; an objective, non-political, comprehensive piece of work that categorises and prioritises the threats faced by the United States. 
While I no longer have regular access to the complete set of intelligence reports from which the NIE is drawn, I have access to some, and I am an avid reader of the related publicly available information. I’ve developed my own amateur NIE based on this information, and here’s the organisation at the top of the list: 
The Republican Party. 
Shocking as that may seem – and your level of shock may vary widely depending on how closely you’ve been tracking the actions both center stage and behind the scenes of the rapidly toxifying Grand Ole Party – the real problem with this revelation is that we cannot actually do much about this threat in the classic manner. 
The threat from the right is the first national-level “insider threat” the United States has faced since the Civil War. It is insidious, asymmetric, powerful – and existential. ... Let me say it again: the Republican Party is the biggest threat the United States is facing. And without proper attribution, recognition, and a well-articulated and implemented counter-strategy, it could be terminal. There is no other reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts. 
An enemy of the United States might seek to sow discord between ethnic groups, or to wage a disinformation campaign, or to highlight moral inconsistencies that weaken the standing of the United States on the world stage. An enemy of the United States might try and degrade the capacity and public trust within our intelligence apparatus. It might use propaganda and weaponised information. It might seek to engage in fraud or other criminal acts to sway an election in their favour. Does any of that sound familiar? 
The Republican Party has steadily embraced authoritarianism, suspect electoral tactics, and racism more and more over the past few decades. That process has been turbocharged with Trump at the helm of the party. We’re now seeing an explicit embrace of white supremacy. Denial in the face of climate change. Deliberate sowing of discord within the FBI and the CIA. Weakening of the rule of law. Brazen criminality. Removing funding for elections oversight. Blatant human rights abuses at the border. 
The explicit nature of these acts is the point. The Republicans mean to bludgeon any and all resistance to their reshaping of the nation’s institutions to their will. And so far, they’ve gotten away with it.
I realize that I've quoted from the article quite extensively, and that you may feel like there's no real reason to go ahead and read the entire thing for yourself. But I suggest that you do, if only to more fully grasp the fact that "Donald Trump and his coterie of criminals have done more in two years to weaken the United States than the Soviet Union was able to achieve in decades."


***
QUOTE OF THE DAY!

But how do we know for sure that the guy who was fined for refusing to rent to Black people and called for a ban on Muslims and called Mexicans rapists and called Puerto Ricans lazy and called for the execution of innocent Black teens is a racist? If only there were a clear sign!

- Our old pal Jeff Tiedrich over at Twitter expresses his frustration 
over how difficult it is to figure out whether or not 
President Rotten Pumkin Face is a racist or not.

Friday, July 19, 2019

PLAYING CATCH-UP AGAIN... SHOULD I BOTHER?


CNN's Jim Acosta masterfully calls out the rank hypocrisy of President Rotting Pumpkin Face -- as well as the rank hypocrisy of right-wingers in general -- when it comes to their laughable assertions that Representative Ilhan Omar is some sort of horrible anti-Semite. This, over statements no tougher than that which is spoken and written by Jews within Israel, itself, against the dangerously reactionary Netenyahu regime in Israel.

And to think, these right-wingers enjoy fantasizing about how they're the last stand for freedom of speech in the West! It's absolutely fucking ludicrous. Furthermore, it has been my experience that, even though most try to keep it hush-hush, when push comes to shove, self-styled right-wing "intellectuals" more often than not turn out to be closet Holocaust deniers, or else, at they very least, they have some very "interesting" ideas about the (ahem) "Jewish Question".

***

One of the dumbest ongoing debates in the world of politics surrounds the question of "What is more evil? Fascism or Communism?" The debate is idiotic because the answer is obvious. For a number of reasons, Fascism is clearly more evil than Communism, the main reason for this being that while it is possible for evil people to become dictatorial rulers of nominally Communist regimes, the evil of Fascism is baked right into the ideology, itself. It is simply impossible to have a just, fair, or "decent" Fascist regime. No one, not even Stalin, became a Communist because they wanted to do evil, whereas that is the entire point of Fascism.

Regardless of the debate's obvious stupidity, it will likely continue for years to come, and that's because of two reasons. First, because amateur political hobbyists love to compare body-counts (even though that's a tricky proposition, indeed). And second, because amateur political hobbyists have this weird psychic blind spot that prevents them from looking back any farther than the year 1900 for some strange reason.

Which is fortunate for them, because if they ever do decide to play the body-count game without such a fortuitous limiter guaranteeing their parameters lead to foregone conclusions, they'd be faced with the horrible truth that Nazi Party, the Soviet Politburo, and even Mao's Cultural Revolution were all pikers when compared to... the Western European Capitalism and Colonialism Project.

I mean, for fuck's sake, a recent scientific survey has found that the colonization of America, alone, led to such a vast amount of megadeath over a short period of time that it literally caused a mini-Ice Age! Which makes me worry that some gang of overly ambitious multi-billionaires is going to see the linked article and get inspired by it. Can smallpox infected blankets be looming in all our collective encroaching futures?

***
Speaking of right-wingers getting big ideas, check out The Night Wolves, a short documentary about Vladimir Putin's Russian biker militia fighting alongside more traditional troops in the occupied territories of Ukraine.



According to the directors:
The Russian motorcycle club the Night Wolves first made international headlines in 2014, fighting as a paramilitary group alongside pro-Russian forces during the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Although the Night Wolves formed as an anti-Soviet countercultural group during perestroika, today they’re sometimes called ‘Putin’s Angels’, having embraced the potent mix of Orthodox Christianity, nationalism, hypermasculinity and Soviet nostalgia that drives the Russian president’s base.
Does any of this sound at all familiar to you? Well, it should. Remember when Trump posed for this ridiculous photo-op? It was only four months ago, when Trump threatened to sic "his" police, bikers, and other "tough guy" supporters on those Democrats who... um... don't like him and oppose his policies, I guess?


Oh well. I'm not saying Trump is copying his hero, Putin, here. I'm just saying it sure fucking looks like it.

VITAL INFORMATION FOR THOSE PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION



Hello, friends!

A few weeks back, in the wake of the admittedly disappointing, premature release of the Mueller Report -- which, just like the recently kaiboshed SDNY investigations into the Trump org's criminal goings-on related to campaign funds being illegally used as hush money for the porn stars and Playboy models Trump was fucking while his line-jumping immigration cheat wife Melania was pregnant with/giving birth to Little Barron Trump, pretty much shuttered operations the day after Trump named his criminal co-conspirator William Barr Attorney General of the USA -- our old pal and undisputed heavyweight Tweet-Lord Seth Abramson put together a Tweet Storm about other, still ongoing investigations into the cabal of shadowy Sinister Forces (alongside the fatally corrupt criminal cult that the GOP has long since become) behind the conspiracy to install President Rotting Pumpkin Face in the highest office of the land.

Here, for your edification, is the entirety of Abramson's Tweet Storm, complete with links, illustrations, and occasional added links and information from yours truly. 

It all started with this Tweet:
1/ POST-MUELLER INVESTIGATION #1, per the NYT: "Investigators are still examining the campaign contacts of an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation who has worked for Prince Mohammed [bin Zayed of the UAE]."
(NB: I'll list the three investigations, then explain them.)

2/ POST-MUELLER INVESTIGATION #2, per the NYT: "Investigators are still examining...a Lebanese-American businessman [George Nader] who acted as [a pre-election] emissary [for Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, also known as "MBZ"].

3/ POST-MUELLER INVESTIGATION #3, per the NYT: "Prosecutors are investigating whether another top Republican donor whose security company worked for the prince [Elliot Broidy, named RNC deputy finance chair post-election by Trump] should legally have registered as [MBZ's] agent."

4/ (The NEW YORK TIMES has also implied that a *fourth* investigation is ongoing—but because the reference to it mentions the "special counsel," I've held off on saying that the TIMES is "officially" reporting it as ongoing. In the next tweet I'll summarize its contours, though.)

5/ POST-MUELLER INVESTIGATION #4, per the NYT (see prior tweet for note): "[Prosecutors] also questioned Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati real-estate developer close to MBZ and...the head of Emirati intelligence. Mr. al-Malik is also close to Mr. Trump’s friend Tom Barrack... (cont.)

6/ ...and investigators are asking whether al-Malik was part of an illegal [UAE] influence scheme, according to two people familiar with the matter." From PROOF OF CONSPIRACY research, I know the key al-Malik intel involves pre-election contact with Barrack—and possibly Manafort.

7/ Those who read this feed know that I've long been saying—and saying, too, that those most fully "in the know" are saying—that the pre-election crimes most likely to implicate Trump and his family involve bribery and aiding and abetting, and *not just Russia* but other nations.

8/ The Mueller Report is a must-read for every American, despite being long and complex. Once you've read it—and this is the hard part—you have to understand that, for all the terrible stuff you just read, it's only a narrow window on a much larger story still being investigated.


10/ Beginning then—in March 2018—journalists around the world began investigating this conspiracy. I know not just because I've written a book about the "Red Sea Conspiracy" but because major-media journalists from all over have contacted me to say they're working on this, too.

11/ There are 3 reasons you've heard little about this:
  1. The best reporting on it is in foreign media.
  2. Our media consistently "buries the lede" in reporting on the story—as it considers America not ready for it.
  3. The story is so complex it's taken over a year to research.
12-19/ I'll now tell you the basic facts of the story that has emerged:
  1. Six nations hatched a plot to elect Trump. The plot was hatched in 2015; the nations involved were Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. The leaders of these countries were all involved.
  2. Three of these six nations—Russia, Israel, the UAE—had infiltrated deep into the Trump campaign by March 2016: Russia through Dimitri Simes; the UAE through Yousef al-Otaiba; Israel through Kushner, Groner, and Birnbaum. The campaign understood the plan these nations had.
  3. The plan was simple: historic detentes between the US and Russia and the Sunni Arab Gulf states and Israel; the US drops all sanctions on Russia and Russia agrees to withdraw support for Iran, thus clearing a path for a new Arab-Israeli alliance to remake the Middle East.
  4. The Trump campaign became aware of the plan via *many* interlocutors: Kushner; Flynn; Nader; Manafort; al-Otaiba; Simes; Birnbaum; Barrack; others. The plan was seen as a "grand bargain" and sometimes called that—other times it was called "the Middle East Marshall Plan."
  5. Russia began operations in what would become the plot (through the GRU and IRA) in 2014, at a time it was in a *massive* new joint investment program with the UAE and there were regular high-level Moscow/Abu Dhabi contacts. The UAE and Russia knew Trump would run by 2013.
  6. By March 2016, Russia had become the first nation with a "man in"—Dimitri Simes. (Though you could argue Kushner saw himself as an unofficial agent of Israel prior to that). By April 2016, Israel had a "man in"—via Birnbaum. By May 2017, UAE had a "man in"—with al-Otaiba.
  7. Saudi Arabia (whose leader, MBS, is a mentee of the UAE's MBZ); Egypt (whose leader, el-Sisi, is in power because of the UAE's MBZ); and Bahrain (whose leader is basically along for the ride), did not *need* their own agents, as they effectively were using the Emiratis'.
  8. The conspirators spent March through July trying to get access directly to the Trumps, though Jared Kushner was conspiring with Simes, al-Otaiba, and Netanyahu's office by late spring. On August 3, 2016, agents of Israel, Russia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia got to Trump Jr.
  9. At that August 3 Trump Tower meeting, both the family and campaign were represented: the family via Don Jr., the campaign via Trump's chief domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller.
Four nations offered the Trump campaign illegal pre-election assistance; Don Jr. said yes.

20/ I've given you the most basic contours. The full story (at least as I've written it) takes 500 pages and 3,500+ endnotes. It can't be relayed on Twitter. But it is fully sourced, and sourced with the top media outlets in the world (particularly in the US, the UK, and Israel).

PS/ Many may wonder, "What's the connection between the Mueller Report and this?" The answer: Mueller's report is a prequel, following 2 of 7 characters—the US and Russia—in what was, in the event, a full five-act play. It's the TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD to Rowling's HARRY POTTER.

KEY/
INVESTIGATION #1: Israeli intel expert Joel Zamel offering illegal pre-election aid to Trump's campaign.
INVESTIGATION #2: UAE/Saudi agent George Nader repeatedly meeting the Trump team secretly in last 90 days of campaign.
INVESTIGATION #3: UAE agent Broidy bribing Trump.


PS2/ I'm *not* one of those who thinks Pelosi is "waiting" for all this to come out—I tend *not* to ascribe much long-range strategic thinking to most politicians. But I'll say that the case for impeachment will be *much* stronger once this evidence is fully in the public record.

***

And here you thought the worst thing about Trump is that he's the kind of racist piece of shit who goes around telling American citizens, who were duly elected by their constituents to enact needed reforms to the government, to "go back where they came from" if they "don't love" the USA as is, no reforms allowed! This, from the self-same moron who's done nothing but whine and complain about how the USA is an "international laughing stock" (oh, the fucking irony of that!), in the midst of an era of "American Carnage" that "only he" can correct.

Friday, July 12, 2019

SIGN OF THE TIMES


Not just the t-shirt with its (untrue, btw) "message", but the fact that this vile jackwad feels perfectly justified and comfortable wearing it out in public, and appears to be going about his business unmolested, blissfully free of the knuckle sandwiches upon which he should rightfully be feasting.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"PROJECT X" FIELD OF VISION


A fascinating short documentary based upon a Top Secret NSA handbook that was discovered among the vast collection of files and information "freed" by Edward Snowden. It doesn't really contain anything we didn't already know, but it's an intriguing glimpse into the institutional aesthetics of the American intelligence community, right down to the brutalist architecture of the Project X building at 33 Thomas street in New York, NY, an imposing and (according to Tom Hanks) downright terrifying building that formerly sat in the shadows of the Word Trade Center's Twin Towers. Esquire's Keith Flamer describes the building thusly:
The tower is 550-feet high but only 29 stories tall due to its nearly 20-foot double-height floor-to-ceiling interiors. It also has three sub-basement levels. Labeled “Project X” in Warnecke’s original architectural drawings, it was designed as “a skyscraper to be inhabited by machines.” Today, the former long distance telephone and telegraph hub operates primarily as a fortified, high security corporate data complex (and alleged covert government nerve center) with powerful computers, cables, switchboards and “big brother” surveillance equipment.
A skyscraper to be inhabited by machines, eh? And this was built a fairly long time ago, too... in the heyday of the technocrats and in the early days of cybernetics. So much so that the documentary above would make a decent companion piece, or appendix, to Lutz Dammbeck's documentary The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet., for which I wrote an in-depth concordance a little while back.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

SORRY I'M AWOL... HERE'S SOME GOOD READING

Hey folks!

Sorry for being AWOL recently. I've been somewhat busy with a number of personal projects in various arenas, currently at various levels of completion. I'll tell you more, here in this space, when I have more to tell. 

Also, to be perfectly honest, the political situation here in North America, and pretty much everywhere around the globe, seems beyond the ability of the average person to comprehend, much less influence. It almost feels like we're desperately clutching the fur of some wildly bucking Beast, anxiously waiting to see what long-established institutional norm will be next to be toppled and shattered by its rampage.

Anyhoo, enough of all that. In the last month or so, I came across a number of interesting articles that I wanted to share with y'all, but never got around to. So today, I decided to do that, before too much more time passed and these articles became less relevant. And so, without further ado, here is my Suggested Reading List for today...

***

Here's a deeply depressing New Yorker piece by Adam Gopnik about how the South were the real winners in the Civil War. It begins:
Not so long ago, the Civil War was taken to be this country’s central moral drama. Now we think that the aftermath—the confrontation not of blue and gray but of white and black, and the reimposition of apartheid through terror—is what has left the deepest mark on American history. Instead of arguing about whether the war could have turned out any other way, we argue about whether the postwar could have turned out any other way. Was there ever a fighting chance for full black citizenship, equality before the law, agrarian reform? Or did the combination of hostility and indifference among white Americans make the disaster inevitable? 
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in his new book, “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow” (Penguin Press), rightly believes that this argument has special currency in the post-Obama, or mid-Trump, era. He compares the rosy confidence, in 2008, that the essential stain of American racism would fade through the elevation of a black President with the same kind of short-lived hopes found in 1865, when all the suffering of the war seemed sure to end with civil equality. Instead, the appearance of African-American empowerment seemed only to deepen the rage of a white majority. Then it brought forward Klan terrorism and Jim Crow in the South; now it has brought to power the most overtly racist President since Woodrow Wilson, openly catering to a white revanchist base. It’s a depressing prospect, and Gates is properly depressed and depressing about it.
If you follow this link, you can actually listen to a mellifluously intoned audio version of this article instead of just reading it.

***


Dan O'Sullivan, writing at his ongoing creative project "Welcome to Sullyville", offers up a wide-ranging and substantial meditation on the current state of American culture, particularly as it pertains to how America's creeping Fascism has metastasized into a now exploding Fascism, the hows of it, the whys of it, etc. It's called Pigs, A Million Different Ones, and after a brief introduction, he posits that...
...the Internet is now the world’s largest subduction zone, where an endless column of young, mostly white males are overtaken and crushed by the unstoppable force of far-right extremism. Violent misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, anti-black racism - you name it, you can find it, in ever more plentiful amounts online. 
The biggest tech platforms you can name - Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit - serve up this kind of poison on an industrial scale, mushrooming and expanding at a rate that makes catching up with the spread almost impossible. The early neo-Nazi webforum Stormfront is on life support, largely because there is no need for the far-right to stay in an online cul-de-sac; they have free run of the world now. Worst of all, those consuming this economy of hate, which has exploded into an epidemic over the past ten years, are still mostly boys. 
Meaning, we as a society are going to be living with the effects of this radicalization for the rest of our lives.
I urge you to read the article in full, and to share it with friends and family... as long as you think they'll get something out of it. O'Sullivan has a pretty good grasp on many elements of the New Fascist International(e) gestalt, and he could be a writer to watch.

***

Our old pal Peter Bebergal, author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll (my concordance here), has written a lovely article for The Paris Review about a topic that is near and dear to yer old pal Jerky's heart. Titled "To Believe or Not To Believe: That is NOT the Question", it is an exploration of the surprisingly vigorous paradoxical interplay between legitimate, profound skepticism on the one hand, and Western esoteric traditions of occult practice on the other. Along with Eugene Thacker (whose In The Dust of This Planet I also put together a concordance), I think Bebergal is one of the contemporary English-speaking world's finest writers on these topics, and this brief article is a good place to start getting a handle on where it is, exactly, that he's coming from. It begins:
Many years ago at a dinner party, I met a couple who had brought along their two-year-old son. The mother was Jewish, and the father was a practicing Buddhist from Tibet. Making small talk in the kitchen, the mother began to tell me about how she had been unable to get pregnant, so her husband had gone to their lama to ask him to bless them with a child. Some months later the couple successfully conceived, but before they broke the news to friends and family, they received a call from the lama, who told them that their unborn son was a bodhisattva—a being who has achieved enlightenment but chooses to reincarnate for the good of the world. As she told me this story, I felt dizzy and entranced. All I could see was her suddenly illuminated face; all I could hear was her voice. 
Now, I am not a Buddhist, but I experienced what she said about her child as true. He was beautiful and played quietly on the floor at our feet. For me, this was an encounter with the numinous, a realization of holiness and magic that didn’t require what religious people call faith. Moreover, when my trance broke and the other voices and sounds of the party returned to my awareness, I didn’t immediately begin to rationalize what I had been told or how I had felt about it. That spirits of the dead might move through the heavenly spheres and reemerge in new earthly forms seemed as real to me as the food that was being prepared for us. The language the family used to convey the story stirred all our imaginations. 
As a writer whose chosen subject is religion and, more recently, magic and its supernatural cousins, I admit that I am more disposed to exploring, and perhaps even experiencing, these kinds of altered states, but I am not more susceptible to believe in them. Not only because I am often critically challenged by readers and friends but because I am interested in what it means to hold to the irrational with a rational embrace, using skepticism as a compass to travel the map of the weird. One consequence of this, however, is finding myself without a home.
Let me tell you, if the above intro isn't enough to catch your interest and make you want to read the rest of the article, I don't know what to say to you!

***

In the wake of far-right evangelical Jair Bolsonaro being elected President of Brazil, Buzzfeed's Ryan Broderick filed a report arguing that the era of being surprised at this kind of politics is over. Now it's time for us to figure out how to live with what we've done. And what is it, that we've done? Well, that's what his report, entitled How We Radicalized the World, aims to answer, in part. It begins:
From the balcony of BuzzFeed’s São Paulo office right now, you can hear screams of “Ele Não” echoing through the city’s winding avenues. It’s the same phrase I’ve seen graffitied all over the city this month. The same one I heard chanted from restaurants and bars all afternoon. It means “not him” — him being Bolsonaro. But his victory tonight isn’t a surprise. He’s just one more product of the strange new forces that dictate the very fabric of our lives. 
It’s been a decade since I first felt like something was changing about the way we interact with the internet. In 2010, as a young news intern for a now-defunct website called the Awl, one of the first pieces I ever pitched was an explainer about why 4chan trolls were trying to take the also now-defunct website Gawker off the internet via a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. It was a world I knew. I was a 19-year-old who spent most of my time doing what we now recognize as “shitposting.” It was the beginning of an era where our old ideas about information, privacy, politics, and culture were beginning to warp. 
I’ve followed that dark evolution of internet culture ever since. I’ve had the privilege — or deeply strange curse — to chase the growth of global political warfare around the world. In the last four years, I’ve been to 22 countries, six continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. I was in London for UK’s nervous breakdown over Brexit, in Barcelona for Catalonia’s failed attempts at a secession from Spain, in Sweden as neo-Nazis tried to march on the country’s largest book fair. And now, I’m in Brazil. But this era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences.
This is an important piece, and well worth reading if you're trying to wrap your head around what the fuck happened to the world while you were distracted by a variety of shiny new apps and gewgaws. I urge you to read, absorb, and share. I also urge you to check out the comments section, to see how bad the rot has gotten, how severe the Dunning-Kruger-compounded right-wing brainwashing problem has become.

***

Hey guys, just a reminder that I have been putting in a bit of time at my Mediavore blog, having recently begun a media diary of sorts. I call it a reading diary, and I do spend more time on my reading choices than anything else, but I'm also using it to keep track of certain life events (like a recent trip to Landlord/Tenant court) and the movies and TV shows that I watch. So, anyway, if you like that kind of stuff, or if you're at all curious about what the hell the image immediately above this paragraph is all about, then by all means, keep up with my updates over at The Mediavore!

Also, as always, the Useless Eater Blog updates with a new "On This Day" entry, every single day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

GOP VOTER SUPPRESSION EFFORTS HIT NEW LOW

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.
So now the Republicans, who are so desperate to win at all costs that they'll even cheat in states where their victories are already all but assured, are trying to criminalize giving people a ride to the polls in Texas. 

Essentially, an evil state senator by the name of Bryan Hughes (who also happens to be a big fan of gay conversion therapy, of course) is pushing a bill through the Texas legislature that would, among other anti-democratic atrocities, outlaw carpooling or ride-sharing, if the ride being shared happens to bring people to a polling place on election day.

This is NOT an exaggeration.

Check it out for yourself. Pay particular attention to SECTION 2.11. Section 64.009, which reads in part:
"The Election Code, is amended by adding Subsections (e), (f), and (g) to read as follows:
  (e) A person who assists at least three voters voting under this section at the same time by providing the voters with transportation to the polling place must complete and sign a form that:
        (1) requires the person to affirm that the voters are physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring their health; and
        (2) contains the following information:
              (A) the person's name and address; and
              (B) whether the person is providing assistance solely under this section or under both this section and Subchapter B.
  (f) The secretary of state shall prescribe the form described by Subsection (e). 
SECTION 2.12. Subchapter B, Chapter 64, Election Code, is amended by adding Section 64.0322 to read as follows:
Sec. 64.0322. SUBMISSION OF FORM BY ASSISTANT.
  (a) A person, other than an election officer, who assists a voter in accordance with this chapter is required to complete a form stating:
       (1) the name and address of the person assisting the
voter;
       (2) the manner in which the person assisted the voter;
       (3) the reason the assistance was necessary; and
       (4) the relationship of the assistant to the voter.
  (b) The secretary of state shall prescribe the form required by this section. The form must be incorporated into the official carrier envelope if the voter is voting an early voting ballot by mail and receives assistance under Section 86.010, or must be submitted to an election officer at the time the voter casts a ballot if the voter is voting at a polling place or under Section 64.009.
Keep an eye out for more like this from the Republicans, who have long since given up trying to hide the fact that they're a criminal-gang-slash-doomsday-cult who only pretend to be a political party anymore. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

FOR THOSE PANICKING ABOUT THE MUELLER REPORT

Seth Abramson has a Tweet Storm for you. 

Here it is:

BREAKING NEWS: Mueller has sent a report to DOJ that DOJ is representing is "comprehensive" and will shortly be publicly summarized. A lot of the reporting surrounding this major event is *wrong*—so I'll try to report things accurately. I hope you'll read on and retweet.

1/ At the risk of sounding like Mike Myers' famous SNL talk-show host Linda Richman, "Mueller's final Trump-Russia report" is neither "Mueller's," final, about "Trump-Russia" or a "report." So all the breathless "reporting" today suggesting otherwise is inaccurate and misleading.

2/ What we call the "Trump-Russia" investigation is a web of criminal, counterintelligence, and Congressional investigations that intersect with the work of the Special Counsel's Office. So there are three key "c"-words here—"criminal," "counterintelligence," and "Congressional."

3/ Special Counsel Mueller is part of the "criminal" investigation; Mueller's work *intersects* with the "counterintelligence" investigation; and his work feeds into and draws from the Congressional investigation. And here's the key: all three of these investigations are ongoing.

4/ As part of the "criminal" investigation, Mueller investigated some things his office then prosecuted; he investigated some things his office handed off to others; he investigated some things he chose not to prosecute; he investigated some things he is letting Congress handle.

5/ Mueller's "criminal" investigations—that is, the information he derived during his nearly 24 months of *criminal investigative work*—then fed directly into multiple "counterintelligence" investigations and will undoubtedly feed into many ongoing "Congressional" investigations.

6/ The news we got today is that Mueller will not *himself* be bringing any more indictments. That's it. That's *all* that has just happened. Any reporting that says the "Russia probe is done" is false. Any reporting that "Mueller's work is done" is false. It is only what I said.

7/ Focusing *exclusively* on what Mueller's office will be doing going forward and *exclusively* on the criminal investigation—so, a small part of what we somewhat misleadingly call the "Trump-Russia scandal"—we can see that Mueller may be done indicting (*maybe*) but that's it.

8/ As of today, Mueller had ten attorneys working for him (himself not included, I believe) down from seventeen originally. But we found out this week that certain attorneys who "left" his Office will *still be doing work for it*. Why? Because the Office has some work left to do.

9/ That Office, whether still formally constituted or not, will see its attorneys prosecute Roger Stone in November, eight months from now. It will see its cooperating witness Rick Gates participate in "multiple" ongoing federal criminal investigations. And that's just the start:

10/ The Office will see its cooperating witness Mike Flynn testify in the Kian trial in July (Kian was a NatSec official on Trump's transition team whose case intersects with all the other parts of the Trump-Russia investigation). Flynn is also involved in *multiple* other cases.

11/ The Office will continue to pursue grand jury testimony from a Roger Stone witness, and continue to pursue a substantial trove of documents (for its grand jury, which is seated through July as far as was last reported) from an as-yet unnamed state-owned foreign corporation.

12/ The Office has—it appears—referred to DOJ for prosecution at least one man it previously promised to prosecute (Corsi) and presumably has referred to DOJ for *possible* prosecution a whole host of "Trumpworld" figures who Congress has recently accused of perjuring themselves.

13/ We also heard from major media over the past few weeks that Bob Mueller's office was referring out an unknown number of new cases to other federal prosecutors, including presumably—based on past cooperation and information-sharing practices—prosecutors in SDNY, EDVA, and DC.

14/ We *also* know from major media that there are many ongoing cases for which Mueller's office conducted some of the investigation, all of the investigation, or shared information with the case's primary investigators, such as Cohen's SDNY cases and the Maria Butina case in DC.

15/ What some in the media decided—I do not know why—is that the only cases they would associate with Mueller would be (a) indictments Mueller's office brought, (b) that were completed before he issued any report to the DOJ, and (c) immediately (on their face) involved collusion.

16/ So you have reporters today blithely saying that "Mueller is done" when Mueller will be prosecuting Roger Stone for most of 2019. You have reporters saying "he's done" when cases he initiated are not only ongoing in multiple jurisdictions but may well provide new intel there.

17/ If Roger Stone decides to cooperate—before or after conviction—that's Mueller. The same is true for Kian. The same is even true for Manafort (who can cooperate to reduce his sentence for the next year). But the same is also true for the many cases Gates and Flynn are working.

18/ The same is true for Butina. And for indictments that arise from the ongoing counterintelligence investigation(s). Or any new criminal referrals that go from Congress to DOJ. The same is true for cases Mueller began—that then went elsewhere—that could lead to new indictments.

19/ So Mueller has indicated not just all the charges he himself brought, but all those he sent elsewhere that we know of and all those he sent elsewhere that we *don't* know of. As for the "counterintelligence" investigation—quite possibly still ongoing—we'll get nothing at all.

20/ There may then be *another* category in what Mueller has submitted which includes cases he referred back to Main Justice. And a final category (possibly) that includes cases he suggests be referred to Congress because an indictment is impossible (e.g., cases involving Trump).

21/ As to what Mueller will do with one other category—inculpatory evidence he discovered involving potential offenses he regarded as outside his purview—I have no idea whether those will be in the report, were sent to other federal prosecutors, or will be given to Main Justice.

22/ What we have today are a large number of non-attorney journalists who don't understand what a *small part* of the big picture is being dealt with and discussed today because they want to believe they have a handle on a story they do *not* have a handle on. That's distressing.

23/ Imagine that tomorrow Bijan Kian says, "I saw things on the national security team during the transition—I want to talk." Imagine Stone says that. Imagine that any of the cases Mueller's cooperating witnesses are working on now—including Gates and Flynn—beget new indictments.

24/ Under those circumstances, what would today's too-oft-heard pronouncement—"no new indictments"—even mean? Or what would it mean if any of the cases Mueller referred to SDNY, EDVA, DC, state courts, or Main Justice—whether in the past or just recently—lead to new indictments?

25/ What if the counterintelligence cases that do not appear to have been subsumed by Mueller's investigation return to the criminal sphere in the future as new indictments? What if Congressional investigations spurred by Mueller's work produce new evidence, and then indictments?

26/ Thus—given all this—my statement that this investigation isn't "Mueller's." It now resides within—besides, still, Mueller's grand jury—the Stone case, the Kian case, Gates' cases, Flynn's cases, Cohen's cases, SDNY, EDVA, DC, NYCDA, NYAG, Main Justice, FBI, CIA, and Congress.

27/ And "new indictments" in *any* of those spheres may not be prosecuted by Mueller himself—but they will be the product of his work and the fact that his investigation has unleashed a snowstorm of legal hurt upon Donald Trump the likes of which no president has previously seen.

28/ This explains, too, why "final"—applied to today's "report"—is false. There is only a finality to Mueller himself bringing new indictments (with the exception that many things could happen that *would've* led to new indictments for Mueller that he'll now allow DOJ to handle).

29/ But Mueller did something else for America that we are only just beginning to appreciate: news stories tracking down what Mueller was working on informed us that what we call "Trump-Russia" isn't really "Trump-Russia" at all—that Trump's malfeasance goes *well* beyond Russia.

30/ That is, no matter the scope of what Mueller "reports," we know he investigated—and may have sent to other prosecutors outside Main Justice—data on pre-election Trump collusion with Saudi Arabia, Israel, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, and Qatar: all intersecting with Russian collusion.

31/ The extent to which Mueller pursued these leads is partly mandate-based and partly due to the imposition of urgency upon his work by voters, media, politicians, possibly DOJ itself. Investigation of these other courses of collusion—many quite baroque—can't be wrapped up soon.

32/ So for instance, major media reported that Mueller was looking into Trump-Saudi collusion—and soon after Representative Schiff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence picked up that thread, and will pursue it even if Mueller left it out of his "report" to DOJ.

33/ I keep putting "report" in quotes because what Mueller has made is a "report" by DOJ *regs* but not as we generally understand the term: it is not a conclusive statement that addresses all complexities of a given issue. It is a narrow perspective on a single subset of issues.

34/ DOJ can't charge someone with something *or discuss in much detail that they considered doing so*—or perhaps even *any* detail—unless they can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt: with 90%+ certainty. But would a full "report" tell us there was 78% proof of conspiracy?

35/ To put this in concrete terms: If Mueller found 81% proof that Trump criminally conspired with the Kremlin, it's entirely possible you wouldn't find that anywhere in any "report" Mueller files. Would you then call that a full and final "report on conspiracy"? No—you wouldn't.

36/ Just so if Mueller had 78% proof Trump Jr. perjured himself. Or 86% proof Erik Prince did. Or 69% proof that Kushner committed espionage. That's all stuff you'd like to know—and that we'd expect in any "report" deserving that name on those topics—but you wouldn't see it here.

37/ To be clear, this isn't sour grapes—as the fact that this intel *won't* be in this "report" media is over-hyping only means that, instead, you will see this 78% (or 86%, or 69%) proof of harrowing federal felonies *paraded before Congress on your TV screen at home*. And more:

38/ It will *continue* to be—invisible to you and me—the subject of ongoing investigations by the FBI/CIA such that, if/when proof of Kushner committing espionage (say) goes from 69% to 90%, it *will* reappear in the criminal justice system as a "new indictment." You bet it will.

39/ So when I say "Mueller's final Trump-Russia report" is neither Mueller's, final, "Trump-Russia," or a report, I mean it—it isn't any of those things. That doesn't mean it's not an important milestone in an historic test of our rule of law, democracy, and civic fabric—it *is*.

40/ We're not jurors—we don't need 90%+ proof of conspiring with Russia to find a POTUS unfit or shun Kushner the rest of his life. My book PROOF OF COLLUSION—and upcoming book PROOF OF CONSPIRACY—establish these things at the high level of certainty informed citizenship demands.

41/ As for offenses underlying collusion and conspiracy—obstruction, witness tampering, perjury, bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, RICO and more—as to both Donald Trump *and* his family and aides I have every reason to believe such investigations and cases proceed onward.

42/ As for collusion and conspiracy—the latter a charge in itself, the former chargeable when it arises in conduct qualifying as conspiracy, aiding/abetting, bribery, fraud or even offenses like obstruction—there's *another* group that isn't jurors requiring 90%+ proof: Congress.

43/ PROOF OF COLLUSION and PROOF OF CONSPIRACY—taken together as a duology of Trump/Trumpworld treachery—make a fulsome case for impeachment in the context of the offenses alleged being national security threats no Congress can demand 90%+ proof of for an impeachment to proceed.

44/ And it's for this precise reason that *another* investigation will not be stopped should there not be found (by Mueller) 90%+ proof of conspiracy: the counterintelligence investigations that preceded Mueller's investigation and that are—as far as any of us know—still ongoing.

45/ In short, as to any offense which isn't a high crime or misdemeanor and involves Trump and his family, the investigation of such crimes continues; as to high crimes and misdemeanors, 90%+ proof not only won't be required and isn't expected, it *cannot* be set as the standard.

46/ I'd have liked Mueller to handle the prosecution of Don Jr., Prince, and others lying to Congress, but if others do so that's fine; I'd have liked Mueller to hold Kushner accountable for all that he's done with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and others, but have *no* doubt he will be.

47/ I'm sad that—for the sake of clicks, eyeballs, ratings, and the salaries of those who live by a breaking-news chyron—what happened today has wrongly been cast as the end of something rather than (as @neal_katyal wisely said) the beginning of something. But that's media today.

48/ The reason I often remind people that I was a practicing criminal attorney for years—and am still an attorney—and that I was trained as a criminal investigator at two universities and then practiced as a criminal investigator, is because I stand by my professional judgments.

49/ Trump is what I've said he is, and he's done what I've said he's done. Hundreds of hours of professional research for two books leave no doubt for me. Whatever we receive from Barr in the coming days—whether comprehensive and transparent or opaque and elusive—that remains so.

50/ You—whoever you are, reading this—want this to end *now*. I want it as much as you do—maybe far more. But it won't end anytime soon. What we see when we see Mueller's work will be the end of just *one* chapter of U.S. history's longest, most complex, most harrowing epic. /end

PS/ I just want to acknowledge a couple things I chose not to address in this thread: most notably, whether "no new indictments" from the SCO right now means no sealed indictments to unseal, or the fact that no obstruction indictment means nothing because Trump can't be indicted.

PS2/ Folks wisely note that Mueller gave great deals to a lot of people to get them to give info on people higher up, e.g. Flynn, Gates and Nader. That's why I noted that Flynn and Gates are still being used in multiple cases and Nader's help on Saudi Arabia may still be active.

PS3/ Folks likewise wisely note that many people you'd expect to have seen interviewed either weren't (Ivanka) or only narrowly (Jared). That's why I noted that there are investigations ongoing in several jurisdictions that may well see these individuals *eventually* get noticed.

PS4/ The wisest thing I heard this evening was a smart progressive pointing out that the only thing we know now that we didn't know a few hours ago is that some sort of report exists. Basically everything else we read online and see on TV about what Mueller has said is a *guess*.

***

So maybe, you know... calm the fuck down, m'kay? When Trump stops acting like a guilty man going down in flames, maybe then it'll be time to start worrying.

Cheers!
yer old pal Jerky

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

SUGGESTED READINGS 29/01/2019


Buzzfeed gets a lot of guff for being the people who helped bring us such anti-journalistic horror-shows as "listicles", which feature such information-free topics as plastic surgery "did they or didn't they" reports and sideboob galleries. But over the last few years, they've really been upping their game. Case in point, Hannes Grassegger's report on The Unbelievable Story of the Plot Against George Soros, sub-titled "How two Jewish-American political consultants helped create the world's largest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory", which begins:

The glass tower that houses George Soros’s office in Manhattan is overflowing with numbers on screens, tracking and predicting the directions of markets around the world. But there’s one that’s particularly hard to figure out — a basic orange chart on a screen analyzing sentiment on social media. 
The data, updated regularly since 2017, projects the reactions on the internet to the name George Soros. He gets tens of thousands of mentions per week — almost always negative, some of it obviously driven by networks of bots. Soros is pure evil. A drug smuggler. Profiteer. Extremist. Conspiracist. Nazi. Jew. It’s a display of pure hate.
The demonization of Soros is one of the defining features of contemporary global politics, and it is, with a couple of exceptions, a pack of lies. Soros is indeed Jewish. He was an aggressive currency trader. He has backed Democrats in the US and Karl Popper’s notion of an “open society” in the former communist bloc. But the many wild and proliferating theories, which include the suggestion that he helped bring down the Soviet Union in order to clear a path to Europe for Africans and Arabs, are so crazy as to be laughable — if they weren’t so virulent. 
Soros and his aides have spent long hours wondering: Where did this all come from? 
Only a handful of people know the answer.
How's THAT for an opening that grabs you by the balls? And in case you were wondering, YES, the questions raised therein get answered, and YES, Grassegger names names. In fact, if anything, it's almost too detailed, leaving no stone unturned and no box unchecked in its exhaustive exploration of the evidence assembled to back up the thesis presented. This means that the article takes a while to read, which automatically reduces its potential readership by, like, half, right off the bat. 

This is unfortunate, because it's so well researched, articulately argued, and meticulously laid out, that I believe it is ESSENTIAL READING for anyone hoping to achieve an accurate big picture take on our current political moment. This includes the rise of the New Fascist International(e) on a global scale, and the absolute helplessness of those previously dominant, consensus-dependent political structures that are currently supposed to serve as our bulwark against these types of ideological attacks and incursions.

So, whatever your politics, I urge you to read and absorb this article. It's well worth your time. It's one of those articles that you're going to want to clip and save so you can refer to it and share with others.
***

So, did you hear the one about the "transparency" organization that sent out emails to various media outlets featuring a list of topics NOT to report on? I refer, of course, to Wikileaks, and the missive in question is apparently very real... and very ridiculous., listing 140 statements that they believe SHOULD NOT BE PUBLISHED! These statements, which they call “false and defamatory”, are pretty much all about their cult-like figurehead, founder, and spiritual leader, Julian Assange. Check it out:
Among the assertions that WikiLeaks labeled “false” or “defamatory” were allegations that Assange had ever been an "agent or officer of any intelligence service” or has close ties to the Kremlin or Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
"There is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in large and otherwise 'reputable' media outlets," the email read, according to Reuters. 
"Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list to ensure they are not spreading, and have not spread, defamatory falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange." 
The email was labeled “Confidential legal communication. Not for publication."
The ironies basically never stop with this Kremlin stooge!

***

Speaking of Kremlin stooges, it's looking like there are some actual, non-compromised journalistic transparency advocates out there who are willing to go where WikiLeaks fears to tread (for some mysterious, inexplicable reason*). Yes folks, that's right... it's Vladimir Putin's turn in the barrel! That means the most successful organized crime figure of the new millennium -- along with the Russian oligarchs and Kremlin apparatchiks spared by WikiLeaks in the past-- is getting his emails hacked and leaked! Keep your eyes on their Tor site, Distributed Denial of Secrets, and the related Twitter account.

*Actually, it's totally explicable: Wikileaks has long been co-opted by the Kremlin tentacle of the New Fascist International(e) conspiracy

Friday, January 25, 2019

JUST A COUPLE NOTES TO PASS ALONG

Hey y'all! It's me, yer old pal Jerky, here with a few nuggets that I've come across recently that I feel like sharing with anyone who might accidentally surf on over to this page.

First of all, here's a really great @Maddow segment on Trump's repeated parroting of extremely obscure conspiracy narratives emanating exclusively from a handful of known Russian propaganda outlets. Very much worth a watch. I mean, even if you don't think Trump is literally Putin's puppet, it's genuinely concerning that the president of the united states seems to be repeating the Kremlin line, over and above that of his own foreign policy experts at State and beyond.

And of course, the next naturally arising question is... Why? Where is he getting all these weird takes on the politics of countries that he probably wasn't even aware existed prior to learning, and spreading, these obscure (and mostly erroneous) "facts" about them?

I, myself, had completely forgotten the Poland theory, which is just obscure as it gets. And I remember him repeating other stuff, during the campaign, that made me go, "Wow! That's literally the RT/Sputnik line."

Anyway... nothing to see here, I'm sure. But watch anyway!


***

What does a sketchy, possibly fake Leonardo da Vinci painting have to do with the Russian mob using Trump and his assets to achieve a rather spectacular level of money laundering? Surf on over to Wonkette to find out for yourself!

***
QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this. I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”

- In case you were still wondering what could possibly be behind some people’s ongoing support of Donald Trump, a New York Times dispatch from the small, politically conservative, hurricane-and-shutdown-ravaged town of Marianna, Florida, features the above, supremely revealing quote from semi-disgruntled prison worker Crystal Minton. So the answer is, yes, friends, Trump supporters really are subhuman shit golems.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

THE HIDDEN TRIBES OF AMERICA - A FASCINATING REPORT


On Twitter, in a thread about how political pundits seem to be misinterpreting pretty much everything about the direction(s) in which the US population is heading, Jeffrey Sachs recently linked to a fascinating--and ongoing--research project that deserves the attention of any and all American citizens, whether they consider themselves politically engaged or not.

Called The Hidden Tribes of America, this project, initiated by the "More In Common" research group, introduces some interesting new ideas, and continues collect data about the American public via a pretty comprehensive questionnaire in which you can still participate. I, myself, declined to do so because I didn't want to pollute the results with my dirty, socialist Canadian attitudes.

Anyway, I urge y'all to check it out. I got a lot out of it... including a tiny blinking ray of hope for the future.
***
If you're looking for some more interesting stuff to read, you can surely do worse than this Economist interview with Adam Curtis, one of yer old pal Jerky's favorite documentary/educational filmmakers, responsible for some of the most illuminating programs of the last 30 years, including his most recent, HyperNormalisation, to his most controversial (and revealing), the three-part series The Power of Nightmares. In fact, it is my deeply felt personal opinion that if you haven't seen, at the very least, all three episodes of The Power of Nightmares, then you aren't fully qualified to discuss American history circa 1992-2003.


***
George Packer's recent article for The Atlantic, entitled The Corruption of the Republican Party, seeks to explain how the GOP is best understood as an insurgency that carried the seeds of its own corruption from the start. He explains:
I don’t mean the kind of corruption that regularly sends lowlifes like Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic former governor of Illinois, to prison. Those abuses are nonpartisan and always with us. So is vote theft of the kind we’ve just seen in North Carolina—after all, the alleged fraudster employed by the Republican candidate for Congress hired himself out to Democrats in 2010. 
And I don’t just mean that the Republican Party is led by the boss of a kleptocratic family business who presides over a scandal-ridden administration, that many of his closest advisers are facing prison time, that Donald Trump himself might have to stay in office just to avoid prosecution, that he could be exposed by the special counsel and the incoming House majority as the most corrupt president in American history. Richard Nixon’s administration was also riddled with criminality—but in 1973, the Republican Party of Hugh Scott, the Senate minority leader, and John Rhodes, the House minority leader, was still a normal organization. It played by the rules. 
The corruption I mean has less to do with individual perfidy than institutional depravity. It isn’t an occasional failure to uphold norms, but a consistent repudiation of them. It isn’t about dirty money so much as the pursuit and abuse of power—power as an end in itself, justifying almost any means.
Keep reading, because "The More You Know" and all that crap.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

SOME "JOKES" AREN'T MEANT TO MAKE YOU LAUGH


It's on days like these, a day upon which we learned that a seven-year-old girl who was in the custody of America's Department of Homeland Security died of a combination starvation, exposure and dehydration -- and that, despite her being in American custody for the better part of a day, doctors determine that she hadn't had so much as a sip of water in almost a god-damn WEEK -- that some of us might break down and sincerely wish for the bliss that some genius from a far-flung past generation assured us walks hand-in-hand with ignorance.