Sunday, June 10, 2018

A POEM TO BE READ ALOUD

KNOW THOUGHTS BELIEVE
by Shalam Yamean

A​ll the world trauma
The fires, shootings, flooding
The travesty, police brutality
The lack and spoil of heart
The smack of the Haarp and foil of theory
Truth will never fear
Some things remain
Like Black Men and Women
Still arguing over identity
In agreement over disunity
Taking sides on shades of skin
Of course they took our names
Can't hide that hand forget the idea of hating White people
Hand over your anger
Don't forget we overstand
Forget even the idea of Whiteness
Just remember their plan
Reassess the assimilation success breeds, overstand
Know the Most High
Leave the idea of Whiteness alone
Unite, ascend to your throne
How many other races have been fighting for this long
Dying
For reparations, real reparations for our children too, how many
Just how many have fought for us too, I mean as well
As well as I am with you, I know not everyone who looks like you is
I'm just as tired of seeing Blacks sick and tired
Going hard for everyone else and not us too
It's we love everybody and we still ain't free
I feel when I read Colossians 3:15
For that alone one cannot hate
Peace has been in my heart
Since I've been awake
You know, this neo-colonialism can't stay up
You know, Sierra Leone
Aint that in Africa G
Is that one of those shithole countries
I'm not sure
The third world, ain't poor by happenstance
Kids dying....' young blood' from red white and blue
Yet the majority of the world’s diamonds come from the mining there, I know that's true
True as mind your business boy, there now
Now isn't that there why you don't know about the Coltan in the Congo
Those conflict Minerals
Older than the bones of Ishango
Do the math, the knowledge
How can we be Black and powerless
And somehow dismiss the idea of innate Black power
Nah, nah no pseudo, my brotha
Whether you Hebrew, Yoruba, Israelite, Jew, Moor
More so Christian, skinny, fat, short, tall
Oh yea, don't call me Black
That's way too tall of an order
In this new world order
Wasn't the Bible written by Blacks anyway
'Where' all the miseducation started anyway
This Nations forefather's knew
The papyrus plants cleaned to hold stories of the first kings
You don't believe, well...
"Just because you know Allah don't make you Mu'min"

Saturday, May 26, 2018

JERKY READS IT FOR YOU ~ SEASON OF THE WITCH


SEASON OF THE WITCH 
HOW THE OCCULT SAVED ROCK AND ROLL 
By Peter Bebergal 

At a slim 228 pages (plus 20 page introduction), presented in fairly large and generously spaced type, Peter Bebergal’s Season of the Witch was never going to live up to its dust jacket marketing hype, which declares: “This epic cultural and historical odyssey unearths the full influence of occult traditions on rock and roll—from the Beatles to Black Sabbath—and shows how the marriage between mysticism and music changed our world.”

It does, however, serve as a very good introduction and overview, offering a much-needed sober take on subject matter that has heretofore been the domain of evangelical “educational videos” and sub-moronic, anti-Semitic Youtube documentaries by conspiracy hobbyists who have yet to realize that if Lady Gaga and BeyoncΓ© are in the Illuminati, then we truly have nothing to fear from the Illuminati.

I’ve been an admirer of Bebergal’s writing for The New Yorker for a while now—with his extended appreciation of the psychedelic sci-fi maverick Michael Moorcock and his think piece on Thomas Ligotti being particular standouts—so it brings me no pleasure to report that, for such a slim book, Season of the Witch suffers from a touch of undergraduate bloat. It’s almost as though Bebergal was occasionally stretching to meet a mandatory word count. This is particularly true in the early chapters, where he spends far too long leading the reader down already well-trodden paths.

For instance, there is simply no excuse for the amount of space Bebergal devotes to that hoary old blues/rock Ur-myth, the Bargain at the Crossroads, nor to the extended exegeses on the deep anthropological roots of rhythm and blues. This all merits mention, surely, but I can hardly think of anything less “occult” (a synonym for “hidden”) than the fact that rock music is African/African American music. There are literally hundreds of high quality works, for both layman and scholar, exploring these particular subjects. A few pages of summary, directing interested readers to pertinent sources, would have sufficed. Instead, Bebergal’s history lesson drones on for 30 pages; and they’re the first 30 pages of his book, not including the (thankfully, excellent) introduction. It’s a painful, dragging slog that all but dares the reader to continue.

Season of the Witch could also have used at least one more editorial pass, preferably by someone coming in fresh. This would have spared Bebergal the embarrassment of having the phrases “still wading in a bayou of voodoo and Christianity” and “still part of a culture knee-deep in a swamp of superstition” appear in the same paragraph, straddling pages 2 and 3 of his very first chapter.

There are a number of such uncomfortable echoes, all the way to pages 224 and 225, where you find the phrase “this sinister metal, one embracing decay and darkness as an essential part of the human condition” literally rubbing up against the phrase “a new mythology of metal, one that embraced decay and darkness as an essential part of the human condition” on the facing page. Ouch.

Despite these caveats, Season of the Witch serves as an excellent primer on the subject of how multiple strands of the Western Esoteric Tradition have manifested (and continue to manifest) in rock music at every level, from obscure one-hit wonders and niche acts catering to specialist audiences, all the way up to those stadium-straddling demi-gods who have forged the so-called “Classic Rock” legacy that seems destined to be at least as long-lived as those of such immortals as Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Stravinsky, et al. As such, Bebergal’s tome makes a worthy companion to Gary Lachman’s excellent A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult, which is, in actuality, a chronological roll call of significant individuals in the literary, artistic, and (to a lesser extent) political realms, all of whom were deeply influenced by, or were esteemed practitioners of, Western occultism.

And that, dear friends, is why I’ve decided to produce a mini-concordance for Bebergal’s book (with one for Lachman’s coming at some point in the near future). This project will be of a more limited scope compared to what I put together for Eugene Thacker’s In The Dust of This Planet, for which I went way overboard. But I will endeavor to provide a plethora of intriguing multimedia links relating to the acts and artists that Bebergal writes about, as well as to other writings that will help to promote and occasionally flesh out Bebergal’s various theses. These will include links to some intriguing music that I have to assume will be new to you, because I’ve made it one of my life goals to sniff out the most obscure Prog Rock ever created, and Bebergal managed to hip me to some stuff that I’d never even heard of, much less listened to.

So, let us begin at the beginning, with the…


INTRODUCTION – We Are All Initiates Now

I 

After an amusing and relevant epigraph from Euripides’s The Bacchae (“My hair is holy. I grow it long for the God.”), Bebergal regales the reader with a tale that should be familiar to most readers of a certain vintage. It’s the story of how his big brother, upon leaving for college in 1978, gave him access to “the mysteries” of his room. A record collection that was like a lexicon of the Gods (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Arthur Brown, King Crimson, Hawkwind, Yes, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd). A damn fine musical starter kit for a precocious 11-year-old seeker already steeping in the wonders of Tolkien reprints, Dungeons & Dragons, Heavy Metal Magazine, horror comics and the animated films of Ralph Bakshi!

Bebergal was the kind of kid who was obsessed with finding clues as to whether or not Paul was really dead, sought out secret messages like the “Do what thou will” motto etched into the living vinyl of Led Zeppelin III, wondered what exactly David Bowie’s deal was anyway, and lost himself as he gazed into album covers painted by prog rock’s premiere visual fantasist, Roger Dean.
Those days sitting cross-legged on my brother’s floor were an initiation into a mystery cult, where I would become a disciple of rock and roll. Throughout my teenage years, rock was the musical narrative of my inner life. There was always an album that spoke perfectly to whatever inscrutable feelings I was negotiating at the time. Rock’s often sphinxlike truths were the key to not only my own inner life; they could open the door into other mysterious realms. Eventually I stopped searching for esoteric riddles on album covers and in song lyrics, but I never ceased being aware of where the occult imagination was at play. It’s a plot I’ve been following ever since I first opened the gatefold cover to David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album to the grotesquely erotic painting of a caninesque Bowie, half man, half dog. I came to realize that magic cannot exist without a conduit, a means of expression. And even if it can, I am not interested in the metaphysics of the occult. I believe in those horned gods only when I hear them speaking from out of the grooves in the vinyl… And in those moments, they are as real as the music itself. I don’t need the magic to be anywhere else. 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

MINUTIA & INCONSEQUENTIA / INNOCENT QUESTIONS

MINUTIA & INCONSEQUENTIA

  • It's been fairly well established in certain circles that the New York office of the FBI was essentially a "Trump for President" campaign center. In fact, there have been some incredibly dark suspicions raised by the behaviors of some very dark actors, indeed, including "Count Rudolph" Giuliani, "Bloody Erik" Prince and other elements within that office who conspired to wreck Hillary's chances and boost Trump's. Seth Abramson has been doing a fantastic job of tying together the flailing strands of this story-yet-to-be-told from the very beginning, even before the election. Read this comprehensive and hair-raising narrative about it -- accurately titled "Bigger than Watergate" -- to get a better idea of why yer old pal Jerky has been so fucking freaked out and frazzled lately. Personally, I think Abramson is right on the money. It's just one more piece of the puzzle when it comes to the New Fascist International installing their boy Trump in the White House.
  • Well, what do you know? It turns out this bullshit neocon anti-Obama hit-piece, which accuses Obama of going easy on Hezbollah not to endanger his Iran nuclear deal negotiations and is being echoed and amplified by the Far Right Fake News propaganda echo chamber is absolute, 100% BULLSHIT! Seems like a popular strategy with The Powers That Be these days, though, doesn't it? Trump does something awful, and then a bunch of twits pop up screaming "OBAMA DID IT TOO!" Trump's racist gestapo deportation efforts, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelations... all led to "OBAMA DID IT TOO! OBAMA DID IT TOO!" And then, when you look into it, it invariably turns out that, no... No, he did not. But hey, I'm sure it keeps the base happy. Right?
  • Every day, from increasingly desperate insiders trying to get the word out, we learn more about how Donald Trump seethes, ruminates and deteriorates mentally. Meanwhile, nobody seems to be willing to talk about the fact that hardcore Christo-fascist right-wingers who've been groomed from infancy to be the instruments of God’s wrath on Earth (via the world's largest nuclear arsenal, which they hope to put to use at the first possible moment) and who've been placed strategically throughout various governmental agencies in case an opportunity precisely like this one were ever to present itself, giving them a chance to turn Biblical prophecy into reality, thus justifying their worldview and wrapping up all of reality with a bright red bow, which I guess, in some ways, would make them the “winners”? Jesus Camp. Special universities that cater exclusively to home-schooled members of the Dominionist and Reconstructionist Christian cults, funded by billionaire benefactor True Believers who take the most promising graduates and put them to work in their network of think tanks and policy institutes and almost never in actual, real academia (which they're working tirelessly to denigrate and sideline), because peer review and public scrutiny would soon suss out the fact that they are a danger to themselves and others, and where nihilistic eschatological theology is generally frowned upon, particularly as public policy. Know what I mean?


INNOCENT QUESTIONS

Innocent Question #257837 ~ In all seriousness, have the Trump regime and the GOP hired veteran Scientology propagandists to run their ongoing multiple smear campaigns against those they deem to be a threat to their lucrative criminal pursuits? Because their recent efforts reek of 90's era Scientology tactics. Take a look at this disgusting and ludicrous website that they slapped together to smear James Comey as a case in point.

Innocent Question #257838 ~ Have you ever wondered why it is that the Alt Right so often sympathizes with insane mass murderers? Personally, I think it's because they're all just one sub-optimal encounter with a minimum wage service industry drone away from shooting up and/or crashing their mom's car into the nearest crowd of innocent bystanders, themselves. ALL OF THEM.

Innocent Question #257839 ~ Don't believe Stormy Daniels about being threatened by a Trump thug? Then how about these people? Please note that not only did these people describe their encounters with Trump-hired goons contemporaneous to the events in question, but some of them even contacted the authorities at the time, which once caused Trump to behave in highly suspicious behavior afterwards, in an obvious, desperate, and failed attempt to make himself look blameless.

ERIC GARLAND'S GAME THEORY 5
(AUDIO VERSION)


If you'd rather read it, or want to clip and save it (which I recommend), then check out the post on Eric's blog, instead.

LIGHT READING FOR HEAVY TIMES


MORE FORMER TRUMP-RUSSIA "SKEPTICS" ARE ACCEPTING THE OBVIOUS

The latest to come around? Renowned investigative journalist James Risen. And he's done so in the pages of infamously and unreasonably Russo-skeptic online journal The Intercept, no less, in an ongoing series entitled Trump and Russia, in which "James Risen weighs the evidence for accusations of Russian election interference, collusion, and obstruction of justice."

So far, two parts have been released. First came "Is Donald Trump A Traitor?" The second part is "The Absent Professor"

I can recommend this series both to those who already have a good handle on why the rest of us see red when ostensibly intelligent people try to claim "there's no evidence of Trump colluding with Russia" and also to those who are laboring under the idiotic, propaganda-implanted assumption that there's no evidence of Trump colluding with Russia.

***

WE'RE DOOMED:
THE CLIMATE REALITY NOBODY IS ADDRESSING.

Are you in a good mood? Then maybe DON'T read this Guardian interview with social scientist Mayer Hillman, in which you'll encounter such cheery and enlightening paragraphs as:
Although Hillman has not flown for more than 20 years as part of a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions, he is now scornful of individual action which he describes as “as good as futile”. By the same logic, says Hillman, national action is also irrelevant “because Britain’s contribution is minute. Even if the government were to go to zero carbon it would make almost no difference.” 
Instead, says Hillman, the world’s population must globally move to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes – every aspect of our economy – and reduce our human population too. Can it be done without a collapse of civilisation? “I don’t think so,” says Hillman. “Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying? Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan? Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families?” 
Hillman doubts that human ingenuity can find a fix and says there is no evidence that greenhouse gases can be safely buried. But if we adapt to a future with less – focusing on Hillman’s love and music – it might be good for us. “And who is ‘we’?” asks Hillman with a typically impish smile. “Wealthy people will be better able to adapt but the world’s population will head to regions of the planet such as northern Europe which will be temporarily spared the extreme effects of climate change. How are these regions going to respond? We see it now. Migrants will be prevented from arriving. We will let them drown.”
But don't worry... the news isn't ALL bad! Here's Hillman trying to accentuate the positive:
...optimism about the future is wishful thinking, says Hillman. He believes that accepting that our civilisation is doomed could make humanity rather like an individual who recognises he is terminally ill. Such people rarely go on a disastrous binge; instead, they do all they can to prolong their lives.
Um... Hooray?
***

RED ICE CREATIONS AND THE FASCIST TAKEOVER
OF THE CONSPIRACY WEB

One of yer old pal Jerky's long-standing projects has been to explore and uncover the facts surrounding the New Fascist International's very deliberate takeover of the conspiracy web, so when I see an article like Anti-Fascist News' Red Ice Creations and the New Fascist Media, I experience a strange combination of gratitude that they've done the work, and shame that I didn't get to it first. In any case, this article is a must-read, even if it doesn't go as far as I would like it to in exposing the NFI's strategy of taking over an entire new media ecosystem for their propagandistic purposes. It begins...
The world of the pseudo-intellectual far right used to be relatively isolated. There was a small network of blogs and then a few that peaked above the others, namely Alternative Right, American Renaissance, Occidental Observer, Counter-Currents Publishing, and a few others. Alternative Right morphed over to the National Policy Institute and the Radix Journal, where they continued their use of meta-politics to introduce white nationalism and used podcasts as a primary means of media communication. In only the last five years this network of online “Alt Right” spaces has expanded exponentially, starting largely with Human Biological Diversity blogs that continued “race and IQ” arguments. They began creating a generalized subculture of trolls, social media warriors, and those who have taken the jargon and influences of the more academic Alt Right and brought them down to the level of the average racist. 
Today, podcasts and videos are commonplace for Alt Right commentators who are trying to jump into the fast Internet media cycle, and attempting to create a fascist version of what we see on the left. Through this, the Daily Shoah and the Right Stuff radio network have become incredibly popular for their crass racist audio tracks, and places like Radix have continued to pump out their interview focused episodes with fascist “celebrities of the week.” While all of these have maintained an increasing popularity as Donald Trump mainstreams white nationalism, all of their work combined still pales when compared to a relative newcomer in the fascist Internet scene. 
Red Ice Creations, which jumps between Sweden and the U.S., has created a media infrastructure that is more formal and has more socio-political crossover points than you see in other racist media. They have taken up the mantle started by people like Richard Spencer, now doing a regular feed of audio and video programs.
What follows is an excellent breakdown of Red Ice's modus operendi, as well as their evolution since launching operations, and their increasingly obvious, not-so-hidden agendas. In a world where, in the short term, it's becoming more and more important to "know thy enemy", you could do a lot worse than this article. Read it. Share it. Clip and save it for future reference.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WHO IS TO BLAME?

This short film by the brilliant VIZ cartoonist Barney Farmer, creator of the Beckett-level strip Drunken Bakers, also scripted a brilliant short film based on another one of his strips, The Male Online, really flew under the radar. But here it is, for your delectation!


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ALEXANDRE BISSONNETTE'S TWITTER HISTORY RELEASED

The authorities who have been conducting the investigation into Alexandre Bissonnette--the terrorist who opened fire in a Quebec mosque, killing six and wounding more--have made public some of their findings, including a chart detailing his social media activity, and it's pretty much exactly what you would expect.

Here it is:  

Gee! Who knew a steady diet of non-stop honking cant from a pack of lying, reactionary, racist propagandists like Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson, "Baked Alaska", Richard Spencer, Infowars' Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, Mike Cernovich, David Duke, Laura Ingraham, Gavin McInnes, Stefan Molyneux could be so bad for your mental health, not to mention the world at large?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question. I'm pretty sure every single one of you reading this already knew that reading or watching any of the above idiots (and a tragic number more billionaire-bankrolled brain-whores and Patreon Panhandlers) would have dire civilizational consequences. We're all reaping what they've sown.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

CULTURAL ARTIFACTS WORTH UNEARTHING

Citizen Shane is a DIY documentary about Shane Ballard, and the less you know about him going in, the more you'll get out of this incredible, obscure cinema verite golden nugget.


HUGE thanks go out to our old pal Don Alex of Subterranean Cinema infamy for keeping this obscure relic alive and circulating. The man is a national treasure who deserves much better than he's gotten.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

CULT OF DUSTY TAKES ON THE DARK PROFESSOR

And let me tell you, Dusty does a damn good job of taking this charlatan down a peg or three. Enjoy! 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

INNOCENT QUESTIONS, JOKES, ETC.


INNOCENT QUESTIONS

Innocent Question #257832 ~ Do you think all those Far Lefties who think that the USA is the source of all Earthly evil and belongs on the trash heap of history understand that what follows Pax Americana is a world led by a techno-totalitarian, command capitalist super-China, surrounded by increasingly reactionary and isolationist WMD-fetishizing ethnostates of ever-dwindling influence beyond their own borders?

Innocent Question #257833 ~ Why is it that the same people who say: "Minorities need to shut the hell up because they have NOTHING to complain about!" also say: "Whites must do everything in their power up to & including ethnic cleansing to prevent the horrific fate of becoming a MINORITY!"?

Innocent Question #257834 ~ Why is it that when people talk about traveling to the past, they worry about radically changing the present by doing something small, but barely anyone in the present thinks that they can affect radical change on the future by doing something small, today?

Innocent Question #257835 ~ Would the GOP be behaving the way it does if they didn't already believe that the prospects for free and fair elections in 2018 and beyond are essentially nil? Not that they've been free and fair up to now. But have we, at long last, after decades of Republican election tampering and assorted vile shenanigans, finally crossed an irreversible anti-democratic red line? Have we really reached R.I.P.U.S.A.?

Innocent Question #257836 ~ Now that hacker (and Roger Stone best bud) Guccifer 2.0 has been definitively identified as a Russian military intelligence officer, do you think he regrets his past attempts to exonerate Russia by claiming "sole responsibility" for the DNC hack? 

JOKE OF THE DAY

So there's this guy who thinks his wife is fooling around on him but he's not sure. He has to go on a business trip and suspects his wife will use the opportunity to be unfaithful.
He asks a friend to follow the woman around and take note of her actions.
Being a good friend, the man agrees. 
On the weekend that the husband is away, his friend follows the wife and takes notes which he presents to his buddy upon the husband's return.
"What did you see?" asks the husband.
"I followed her and saw her meet a man in the park where they walked around arm in arm. Then I followed them to a French restaurant in which they had a romantic meal with oysters and champagne. I then trailed them back to your house," reported the friend.
"A-and then what?" inquired the husband.
"I watched them enter the house. I then went around back to look in through the window and saw them dancing around before they went upstairs. I climbed a tree to see what they were up to and that's when I saw them in your bedroom undressing. The man lay on the bed and your wife walked toward him in nothing but lingerie. But then she closed the curtains and blinds and I couldn't see anymore. Sorry to tell you that."
"Damn it! You see what I'm dealing with?!" said the distraught husband. "It's the uncertainty that's killing me!"

PUTIN'S BRAIN - ALEKSANDR DUGIN: A PRIMER


Thursday, March 22, 2018

SUGGESTED READINGS FOR MARCH 22, 2018


Sam Miller McDonald's Activist Lab article on "Climate Apocalypse" is a must-read. It begins:
I’m a downer. Due to frequently writing and sharing doom articles, I am not very popular on social media (15 twitter followers as of publication). Or in real life, probably. Most conversations I have about anything with anybody eventually alight on humanity’s imminent violent demise. Many things could wipe all people off the planet: meteorites, supervolcanoes, nuclear wars, aliens. But the mass death that I always go back to is the one that seems most certain. Which is climate change. I study climate and energy politics, so it is my job to think about these terrible, mostly hopeless things everyday. 
Climate disruption is the immense boulder beginning its roll down a slope, picking up speed as it careens inexorably toward the interdependent global hamlet we all reside within. Human-caused climate disruption will very likely proceed until it triggers unstoppable feedback loops and tipping points, some of which include melting permafrost, ocean anoxia, forest diebacks, albedo-destroying ice melts, and ice-sheet collapse. These processes have already begun. When they reach tipping points, some of which could happen any day now, we won’t know how to stop them, and they will quickly make the planet uninhabitable for humans and most other life. Massive sea level rise is currently threatening to flood every major coastal city on the planet – inundating the more than a billion people who live in them – which could happen in the span of a couple of decades. 
During the Permian–Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago, climate change warmed the earth by five degrees; this killed 97 percent of life on the planet. The earth is currently warming at a much faster rate than it did during that extinction event. We’ve already warmed the planet 1.2 degrees in barely a couple centuries and will likely hit two degrees by midcentury, according to conservative estimates. This five-degree temperature shift can happen in a thirteen-year timespan, under the right circumstances. 
If the global economy does not stop emitting greenhouse gases immediately, we are on track to hit at least six degrees. This will kill us and, again, at least 97 percent of life on the planet. So that means, for the people who love dogs and cats more than people and wildlife, all the dogs and cats will also die terrible deaths. 
This is not yet inevitable. We could maybe still stop this mass death and, regardless of the hopelessness, we should all be trying.
You really need to read the whole thing, and share it with loved ones.

***

Oh, Jordan Peterson (aka Stefan Molyneux 2.0)... the gift that keeps on giving. I have recently been asked at one or two of my online haunts why I hate Jordan Peterson. Truth is, I don't "hate" him. There are, however, many aspects of his personality and project that I find objectionable. Some of these things are:

His dishonesty, his arrogance, his obtuseness, his bizarre certainty that he fully grasps all he needs to understand re: topics about which he clearly hasn't even got a bare minimum of understanding (postmodernism for instance). There's also his profound silliness, his constant appeal to emotion, his historical revisionism, his reactionary politics, his obvious and multifarious "issues" with the opposite sex, his attempts to cast himself as a martyr when really he's weeping all the way to the bank, his cynical appeals to the alt-right with his Patreon panhandling (cynical in that I suspect he frequently retweets and/or says things that he KNOWS are total bullshit just because he knows it will get a rise from his fan base, which is jam-packed with some of the very worst of the deplorables). And of course, there's his absolutely awful Twitter account, where he exposes his true colors more and more with every passing day.

Anyway, in recent weeks, there have been two absolutely essential articles written about Jordan Peterson in the "serious" press. First there was Nathan Robinson's think piece for Current Affairs, titled "The Intellectual We Deserve", which begins:
If you want to appear very profound and convince people to take you seriously, but have nothing of value to say, there is a tried and tested method. First, take some extremely obvious platitude or truism. Make sure it actually does contain some insight, though it can be rather vague. Something like “if you’re too conciliatory, you will sometimes get taken advantage of” or “many moral values are similar across human societies.” Then, try to restate your platitude using as many words as possible, as unintelligibly as possible, while never repeating yourself exactly. Use highly technical language drawn from many different academic disciplines, so that no one person will ever have adequate training to fully evaluate your work. Construct elaborate theories with many parts. Draw diagrams. Use italics liberally to indicate that you are using words in a highly specific and idiosyncratic sense. Never say anything too specific, and if you do, qualify it heavily so that you can always insist you meant the opposite. Then evangelize: speak as confidently as possible, as if you are sharing God’s own truth. Accept no criticisms: insist that any skeptic has either misinterpreted you or has actually already admitted that you are correct. Talk as much as possible and listen as little as possible. Follow these steps, and your success will be assured. (It does help if you are male and Caucasian.) 
Jordan Peterson appears very profound and has convinced many people to take him seriously. Yet he has almost nothing of value to say. This should be obvious to anyone who has spent even a few moments critically examining his writings and speeches, which are comically befuddled, pompous, and ignorant. They are half nonsense, half banality. In a reasonable world, Peterson would be seen as the kind of tedious crackpot that one hopes not to get seated next to on a train.
Go on and read the whole thing. It's a thorough and damning take-down, and should serve as a pretty decent coffin lid for Peterson's reputation as a public intellectual. And now, for the handful of nails needed to slam that coffin shut, we have a devastating, serious-minded, syllogistically bulletproof  piece by Pankaj Mishra for the New York Review of Books entitled "Jordan Peterson and Fascist Mysticism", which has resulted in the dark professor having a humiliating public meltdown on his aforementioned Twitter. A particularly salient passage:
Peterson himself credits his intellectual awakening to the Cold War, when he began to ponder deeply such “evils associated with belief” as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and became a close reader of Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. This is a common intellectual trajectory among Western right-wingers who swear by Solzhenitsyn and tend to imply that belief in egalitarianism leads straight to the guillotine or the Gulag. ... Peterson confirms his membership of this far-right sect by never identifying the evils caused by belief in profit, or Mammon: slavery, genocide, and imperialism. 
Reactionary white men will surely be thrilled by Peterson’s loathing for “social justice warriors” and his claim that divorce laws should not have been liberalized in the 1960s. Those embattled against political correctness on university campuses will heartily endorse Peterson’s claim that “there are whole disciplines in universities forthrightly hostile towards men.” Islamophobes will take heart from his speculation that “feminists avoid criticizing Islam because they unconsciously long for masculine dominance.” Libertarians will cheer Peterson’s glorification of the individual striver, and his stern message to the left-behinds (“Maybe it’s not the world that’s at fault. Maybe it’s you. You’ve failed to make the mark.”). The demagogues of our age don’t read much; but, as they ruthlessly crack down on refugees and immigrants, they can derive much philosophical backup from Peterson’s sub-chapter headings: “Compassion as a vice” and “Toughen up, you weasel.”

In all respects, Peterson’s ancient wisdom is unmistakably modern. The “tradition” he promotes stretches no further back than the late nineteenth century, when there first emerged a sinister correlation between intellectual exhortations to toughen up and strongmen politics. This was a period during which intellectual quacks flourished by hawking creeds of redemption and purification while political and economic crises deepened and faith in democracy and capitalism faltered.
Once again, for anyone interested in the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, Mishra's essay is essential reading. If, on the other hand, you prefer your political take-downs with a side order of satire (or if you simply can't be arsed to read all those words) here's the Chapo Trap House gang with their recent overview of Peterson's new book:


***

And, finally for today, a very interesting and worthwhile article for WiReD by Virginia Heffernan entitled "Escape the Matrix: The Internet is the Uncanniest Valley. Don't Get Trapped There". The article covers so much ground and so many different topics that it is strangely resistant to either summary or excerpting, but trust me, it's a really good starting point for your personal self defense against online anxiety and any FOMO-exacerbated ennui you might be suffering about missing out on the Bitcoin bus (by the way, have you heard about how the Bitcoin blockchain apparently has child pornography hidden in it, which makes it de facto illegal to own Bitcoin? and that there's nothing that can be done to prevent this kind of thing?! Insane). Anyway, here's a nice bit from Heffernan's piece:
As David Kessler has written about mental illness, thoughts, ideologies, and persistent images of past or future can “capture” a person and stall their mental freedom. If this is hard to grasp in the abstract, look at the captivating quality of sexting, doctored photos, or something as silly and fanciful as Twitter, with its birdies and secret codes. Even as artificial and stylized as Twitter is, the excitement there rarely seems like a comic opera to users. Encounter a troll, or a godawful doxer, and it’s not like watching a sitcom—it’s a bruising personal affront. “You’re a fool,” tweeted by @willywombat4, with your home address, makes the face flush and heart pound every bit as much as if a thug cornered you in a dark alley. Sometimes more. 
But you don’t cool your anxiety by staying off the internet. Instead, you refine your disposition. Looking at a screen is not living. It’s a concentrated decoding operation that requires the keen, exhausting vision of a predator and not the soft focus that allows all doors of perception to swing open. At the same time, mindful readers stop reading during a doxing siege—and call the police to preempt the word being made flesh. They don’t turn quixotic and mix themselves up with their various avatars, or confuse the ritualized drama of social media with mortal conflicts on battlefields. The trick is to read technology instead of being captured by it—to maintain the whip hand. 
Paradoxically, framing the internet as a text to be read, not a life to be led, tends to break, without effort, its spell. Conscious reading, after all, is a demanding ocular and mental activity that satisfies specific intellectual reward centers. And it’s also a workout; at the right time, brain sated, a reader tends to become starved for the sensory, bodily, three-dimensional experience of mortality, nature, textures, and sounds—and flees the thin gruel of text. 
The key to subduing anxiety is remembering the second wave of YouTube commenters: the doubters. Keep skepticism alive. We can climb out of the uncanny valley by recognizing that the perceivable gap between reality and internet representations of reality is not small. It’s vast. Remember how the body recoils from near-perfect replicas but is comforted by impressionistic representations, like Monets and stuffed animals? 
So imagine: Twitter does not resemble a real mob any more than a teddy bear resembles a grizzly. If you really go nuts and nuzzle up to a teddy, I guess you could swallow a button eye, but you’re not going to get mauled. Tell this to your poor rattled central nervous system as many times a day as you can remember. Make it your mantra, and throw away the benzos. Nothing on your phone alone can hurt you more than a teddy bear.

Friday, February 16, 2018

HYMN TO THE GREAT GOD GUN

In memory of Parkland (et al), and with apologies to A. Crowley.

Thrill at the noisome blast of light,
O yeah! Hell Yeah!
Come careering out of the night
Of Gun! Yo Gun!
Yo Gun! Yo Gun! Come overnight delivery
From Ithaca and from Arcadia M&T!
Remington and Browning, with blocks and guards
And clips of ammo for thy arms.
Or via mail, First Class, from overseas
To me, to me,
Come from Hartmann and Weiss
(Hot as fire, cold as ice)
Come from Mauser, Krupp, Heckler and Koch,
Weigh heavy on my thigh, extend my crotch,
In the moon of the woods, from tree-top mount,
Explode the night with gushing crimson fount!
Striding through the halls, my hate I pray,
Ejaculating sermons from my Walther PPK,
The soul that grips this steel of blue,
And brings a sudden end to folks like you,
The Master of the Bush, the vintage Colt,
Poke holes from which will spill both life and soul
As body and as brains spread cross the floor,
(Yo Gun! Yo Gun!)
Give thanks to Umarex and to SIG Sauer,
O yeah! Hell Yeah!
Come like cannonading cannon ball
From shopping mall!
Come like crashing drums, precision tools
From every school!
Spitting hot lead pips from pipe!
Through flesh so ripe…
You, who sit and shop and learn
With life galore within you left to burn
Your bodies, growing weary of this life,
Your burden borne away by Armalite -
Come, O come!
I am numb
With the lonely lust of devildom.
Pumping sweet lead through steaming guts,
All-devourer, kicker-in-the-nuts;
Give me the sign of Open, Blinking Eye,
Slap heavy metal meat against my thigh,
And the word of madness and mystery,
O Gun! Yo Gun!
Yo Gun! Yo Gun Gun! Gun Gun! Gun,
I am a man:
Do as I will, as a Great God can,
O Gun! Yo Gun!
Yo Gun! Yo Gun Gun! I am awake
In the grip of the snake.
With Desert Eagle, bead is drawn;
As God withdraws:
The Great Beast comes, Yo Gun! Like a horny
Erection in the morn’
In uniform.
I am Gun! Yo Gun! Yo Gun Gun! Gun!
I am thy death, this is my fun,
God of the Glock, I am old, but I am god,
Like flesh and bone ker-smashed with iron rod.
On hooves of steel I stride towards your doom
Though it be early morning or High Noon.
And I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end,
Mech-Tech, Majestic, Sako and Magnum,
See the might of my Gun.
Yo Gun! Yo Gun Gun! Gun! Yo Gun!

A HERO'S WELCOME, BY PIA GUERRA

Artist's Twitter.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

AN ILL WIND BLOWS COMBOVER


Does this video of Trump fleeing reporters as #MemoDay flops harder than Battlefield Earth remind you of anything? Here's a hint...


Yes, that's right... it's the Library Ghost from the original GHOSTBUSTERS! Creepy, ain't it? Yeesh...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

JERKY READS IT FOR YOU: IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET


In early 2014, HBO caught lightning in a bottle with the first season of True Detective. With its intoxicating blend of Southern Gothic tropes, blockbuster production values, slow burn storytelling and masterful characterizations by leads Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, the show became appointment television for millions and spawned countless water cooler conversations and online discussion forum threads.
A big part of the show's success was that it had a "Twin Peaks Factor"; the sense that no matter how crazy things got at surface level, there was a lot more going on beneath the narrative, a mystery waiting to be solved by anyone clever enough to crack the code, or pick the lock. Early on, due to the repeated use of the word "Carcosa", most focused on The King in Yellow, Robert Chambers' odd book of short stories from 1895, as a potential skeleton key. Unfortunately, the Carcosa sub-plot turned out to be an essentially meaningless MacGuffin, pointing towards nothing so much as show runner Nic Pizzolatto's excellent taste in comic books, and is one of True Detective's few weak spots.

Fortunately for True Detective's legions of amateur sleuths, there remained the details of Rustin Cohle's dark philosophy to puzzle over, and Pizzolatto, being a more forgiving god than David Lynch, was happy to share his inspirations. These included, among others, Ray Brassier's Nihil Unbound, horror writer Thomas Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, and the featured star of this very concordance, philosophy professor Eugene Thacker's In The Dust of This Planet.

In short order, professor Thacker's odd little philosophical book on "the horror of philosophy" (and not, pointedly, the philosophy of horror) became something of a mini-phenomenon, jumping from its influence on True Detective, to the back of Jay-Z's leather jacket, and into a number of Far Right conspiracy theories... a journey that was chronicled in an excellent Radiolab documentary, embedded below.


To learn more about the pop cultural and surface political aspects of In The Dust of This Planet, the Radiolab piece is all you need. It also does a great job of introducing us to Thacker, the mild mannered academic. The intent of this concordance is to deal with the book, itself--distilling it, breaking it down, providing links to the works that it references, suggesting further potential avenues of research--and not to follow its trail of hoofprints across the cultural landscape. Seeing as the Radiolab piece contains precious little about Thacker's actual philosophy, I have decided that this is a task worth performing. 

A note before we begin: Considering the novelty of some of Thacker's concepts and the rigorous philosophical specificity of the language he uses, much of what follows consists of direct excerpts or point-form paraphrasing of his work. If you see a particularly intriguing turn of phrase and are having difficulty discerning who came up with it, just go ahead and assume it's Thacker's.

And so, with that introduction out of the way, let's dive into Eugene Thacker's In The Dust of This Planet.
***
IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET
HORROR OF PHILOSOPHY VOL. 1
By Eugene Thacker

PREFACE: Clouds of Unknowing
  • The world is increasingly unthinkable – a world of planetary disasters, emerging pandemics, tectonic shifts, strange weather, oil-drenched seascapes, and the furtive, always-looming threat of extinction. 
  • It is increasingly difficult to comprehend the world in which we live and of which we are a part.
  • (We confront) an absolute limit to our ability to adequately understand the world at all... an idea that has been a central motif of the horror genre for some time. 
  • The aim of this book is to explore the relationship between philosophy and horror, through this motif of the “unthinkable world”. 
  • What an earlier era would have described through the language of darkness mysticism or negative theology, our contemporary era thinks of in terms of supernatural horror. 
  • The world is human and non-human, anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric, sometimes even misanthropic. 
  • We cannot help but think of the world as a human world by virtue of the fact that it is we human beings that think it. 
While in philosophy circles today it may be called “correlationism”, “accelerationism”, or “atmospheric politics”, for earlier philosophers this same dilemma was expressed in different terminology: the problem of “being in the world”, the dichotomy between “active” or “passive” nihilism, of the limits of human thought in the “antinomies of reason”.
There are precedents in Western culture for this kind of thinking: 
  1. In Classical Greece the interpretation was mainly mythological
  2. In the Medieval era and early modern Christianity, it was primarily theological – the tradition of apocalyptic literature as well as the Scholastic commentaries on the nature of evil cast a moral framework of salvation. 
  3. In Modernity, we speak of scientific hegemony, industrial capitalism, and what Nietzsche famously prophesied as the death of God. Therefore, the response is primarily existential, a questioning of the role of the human (whether individual or group) in light of modern science, high technology, industrial and post-industrial capitalism, and world wars. 
The contemporary cynic says we still live by all of these interpretive frameworks and only their outer shell has changed. The mythological has become the stuff of the culture industries, the theological has diffused into political ideology, and the fanaticism of religious conflict, and the existential has been re-purposed into the therapeutics of consumerism (self help, D.I.Y., etc).

These modes of interacting with the world – the classical/mythological, the theological/Christian, and the existentialist/Modern, all flow into and out of each other in the contemporary human experience. They are reflected in each other and in turn these reflections affect our experience of each. But they are all human-centric in their own ways. In short, when the non-human world manifests itself to us in these ambivalent ways, more often than not our response is to recuperate that non-human world into whatever the dominant, human-centric worldview is at the time. After all, how else would we make sense of the world?
We are now coming to realize that these modes are no longer adequate to the task at hand.

Let us call the world in which we live – the world that we humans interpret and give meaning to, that we feel related to, or alienated from, the world that we are at once a part of that is also separate from the human – the world-for-us.

But the world often “bites back”, resists, or ignores our attempts to mold it into the world-for-us. Let us call that world the world-in-itself. The world in some inaccessible, already given state, which we then turn into the world-for-us. 

The world-in-itself is a paradoxical concept, the moment we think it and attempt to act on it, it ceases to be the world-in-itself and becomes the world-for-us. A significant part of this paradox is grounded by scientific inquiry, both the production of scientific knowledge of the world and the technical means of acting on and intervening in the world.

Even though there is something out there that is not the world-for-us, and even tho we can name it the world-in-itself, this latter constitutes a horizon for thought, always receding just beyond the bounds of intelligibility. Using advanced predictive models, we have even imagined what would happen to the world if we humans were to become extinct. Let us call this spectral and speculative world the world-without-us.

To say that the world-without-us is antagonistic to the human is the miss the point. Nor is it neutral. It exists in a nebulous zone that is both impersonal and horrific. This world-without-us continues to persist in the shadows of the world-for-us and the world-in-itself.
  • Let us refer to the world-for-us as The World
  • The world-in-itself as The Earth
  • The world-without-us as The Planet
The terms “world” and “worlding” are frequently used in phenomenology to describe the way in which we as human subjects exist in the world, at the same time as the world is revealed to us. By contrast, we understand the earth as encompassing all the knowledge of the world as an object, via geology, archaeology, paleontology, the life sciences, the atmospheric sciences, etc.
And the Planet? It is impersonal and anonymous.

In the context of philosophy, the central question today is whether thought is always determined within the framework of the human point of view.

One alternative is to refuse the dichotomy between self and worldsubject and object. This is something that is easier said than done.

In addition to the three frameworks:
  • Mythological (classical Greece) 
  • Theological (Medieval Christian) 
  • Existential (Modern European) 
Would it be possible to shift our framework to something we can only call Cosmological, to incorporate the planetary view?

Approximately ninety percent of the cells in the human body belong to non-human organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.). Why shouldn’t this also be the case for human thought as well? This book is an exploration of this idea – that thought is not human

The world-without-us is not to be found in the great beyond that is exterior to the World (Earth); rather, it is in the very fissures, lapses, or lacunae in the World and the Earth. The Planet is (in the words of darkness mysticism) the “dark intelligible abyss” that is paradoxically manifest as the World and the Earth. 

For Thacker's project, the term horror does not exclusively mean cultural productions of horror (or “art horror”) be it in fiction, film, comics or video games. Genre horror deserves to be considered as more than the sum of its formal properties. Also, by horror, we are not addressing the human emotion of fear.

Briefly, the argument of this book is that “horror” is a non-philosophical attempt to think about the world-without-us philosophically. Here, culture is the terrain on which we find attempts to confront an impersonal and indifferent world-without-us, an irresolvable gulf between the world-for-us and the world-in-itself, with a void called the Planet that is poised between the World and the Earth.

Simple, no? No... not very simple at all. But worth grappling with, in my estimation.


I. THREE QUAESTIO ON DEMONOLOGY 

QUAESTIO I: On the Meaning of the world “Black” in Black Metal

Saturday, January 27, 2018

DUTCH INTEL ON RUSSIAN 2016 US ELECTION HACKING EFFORTS REVEALED


The video has the broad strokes story, but by all means, dig into the in-depth reporting on what, at first glance, should be a game-changing report by deVolksrant, which has already come under shoddy, underwhelming "attack" by media whores both Far Left and Right.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A COINCIDENTAL ENCOUNTER

Recently, yer old pal Jerky picked up his copy of fin-de-sciecle decadent author Joris-Karl Huysmans' late 19th century novel of Parisian Satanism, La-Bas, and was delighted to find, smack dab in the middle of an extended meditation on the evils of money, a word that has recently gained some notoriety on the international stage. You'll know it when you see it! - Jerky
The rules of money are precise and invariable. Money attracts money, money seeks to accumulate in the same places, money is naturally attracted to scoundrels and those who are entirely bereft of any talent. When, by an exception which proves the rule, money finds its way into the hands of a man who, though wealthy, is neither a miser nor has any murderous proclivities, it stands idle, incapable of creating a force for good, incapable of even making its way into charitable hands who would know how to employ it. One might almost say that it takes revenge for its misdirection, that it undergoes a voluntary paralysis whenever it enters into the possession of someone who is neither a born swindler nor a complete and utter dotard
When, by some extraordinary chance, it strays into the home of a poor man, money behaves even more inexplicably. It defiles immediately what was clean, transforms even the chastest pauper into a monster of unbridled lust and, acting simultaneously on the body and the soul, instils in its possessor a base egoism, not to mention an overweening pride, which insists that he spends every penny on himself alone; it makes even the humblest arrogant, and turns the generous person into a skinflint. In one second, it changes every habit, upsets ever idea, transforms the most deep-seated passions. 
Money is the greatest nutrient imaginable for sins of the worst kind, which in a sense it aids and abets. If one of the custodians of wealth so forgets himself as to bestow a boon or make a donation, it immediately gives rise to hatred in the breast of its recipient; by replacing avarice with ingratitude, the equilibrium is established again: a new sin is commissioned by every good deed which is committed. 
But the real height of monstrosity is attained when money, hiding the splendour of its name under the dark veil of the word, calls itself capital. At that moment its action is no longer limited to individual incitations to theft and murder, but extends across the entire human race. With a single word capital grants monopolies, erects banks, corners markets, changes people’s lives, is capable of causing millions to starve to death. 
And all the while that it does this, money is feeding on itself, growing fat and breeding in a bank vault; and the Two Worlds worship it on bended knee, melting with desire before it, as before a God.
Excerpt from La-Bas, by J.-K. Huysmans 
(translated into English as The Damned), 
Chapter 1, pp. 12/13

Friday, January 12, 2018

WHEN PAULY SHORE IS SCORING 3 POINTERS ON YOUR ADMINISTRATION...

...it's probably a sign your days are numbered. Kudos to Mr Shore, by the way. I didn't know he had it in him! I'll definitely be more receptive to any new work coming from him from hereon out.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

MUST READ ARTICLES OF THE MOMENT

I've been somewhat busy of late with contract work and other distractions, not to mention my New Year's resolution to not allow myself to get overly upset by things over which I have zero power to affect any change. Nevertheless, I've been trying to keep up with the latest news, and after reading a spate of excellent overviews describing the current American realpolitik, I figured I might as well update the old Daily Dirt Diaspora blog and share the wealth of excellent journalism. So why not bookmark the following four articles to read later... or heck, read them now if you've got an hour to burn! You won't regret it.



First up, Michael Wolff's incredible chronicle of the first year of Trump's purloined presidency, entitled "Donald Trump Didn't Want to be President", which (after a brief introduction) begins:
From the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn’t conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.” 
Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump’s team in mid-August, called it “the broke-dick campaign.” Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire — ten times over — refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day. 
“No way we’ll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,” said a clear-eyed Kushner.
“Twenty-five million?” prodded Bannon.
“If we can say victory is more than likely.” 
In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn’t conveniently forget to send the money. 
Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” ­Flynn assured them. 
Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning. 
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.
There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.
Taken from Wolff's upcoming book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, (Amazon link takes you to the book) this article paints a shocking portrait of incompetence and hubris at the highest levels of earthly power, and should serve as a bracing wake up call to the Establishment that the time is more than ripe for taking desperate steps to correct the course of the Ship of State. Every American (and everyone else) needs to read it.

***


Next up, at the New Yorker, we have Evan Osnos' chilling explanation as to how, despite all the bellicose rhetoric to the contrary, the Trump regime is Making China Great Again. After an intriguing introduction about the rise in nationalist themes in Chinese popular cinema, it reads in part:
China has never seen such a moment, when its pursuit of a larger role in the world coincides with America’s pursuit of a smaller one. Ever since the Second World War, the United States has advocated an international order based on a free press and judiciary, human rights, free trade, and protection of the environment. It planted those ideas in the rebuilding of Germany and Japan, and spread them with alliances around the world. In March, 1959, President Eisenhower argued that America’s authority could not rest on military power alone. “We could be the wealthiest and the most mighty nation and still lose the battle of the world if we do not help our world neighbors protect their freedom and advance their social and economic progress,” he said. “It is not the goal of the American people that the United States should be the richest nation in the graveyard of history.”

Under the banner of “America First,” President Trump is reducing U.S. commitments abroad. On his third day in office, he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a twelve-nation trade deal designed by the United States as a counterweight to a rising China. To allies in Asia, the withdrawal damaged America’s credibility. “You won’t be able to see that overnight,” Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, told me, at an event in Washington. “It’s like when you draw a red line and then you don’t take it seriously. Was there pain? You didn’t see it, but I’m quite sure there’s an impact.”
In a speech to Communist Party officials last January 20th, Major General Jin Yinan, a strategist at China’s National Defense University, celebrated America’s pullout from the trade deal. “We are quiet about it,” he said. “We repeatedly state that Trump ‘harms China.’ We want to keep it that way. In fact, he has given China a huge gift. That is the American withdrawal from T.P.P.” Jin, whose remarks later circulated, told his audience, “As the U.S. retreats globally, China shows up.” 
For years, China’s leaders predicted that a time would come—perhaps midway through this century—when it could project its own values abroad. In the age of “America First,” that time has come far sooner than expected.
At the link, the New Yorker thoughtfully offers an audio link so you can listen, instead of read.

***


And, finally on the Trump front, Politico's Susan Glasser reports on how the rest of the world is reacting to Trump's Year of Living Dangerously. Scoop? They're none too pleased.
When President Donald Trump sat down for dinner on September 18 in New York with leaders of four Latin American countries on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly, anxieties were already running high. 
There was the matter of Mexico and his promise to build that “big, beautiful wall,” presumably to keep not just Mexicans but all of their citizens out of the United States too. And the threat to blow up the North American Free Trade Agreement. And then, a month earlier, seemingly out of nowhere, Trump had volunteered that he was considering a “military option” in Venezuela as that country’s last vestiges of democracy disappeared. Amid the international furor over his vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea in the same golf-course press conference, the news that the president of the United States was apparently considering going to war with its third-largest oil supplier had gotten relatively little attention. But the leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Panama invited to the dinner remembered it well. 
So, it turned out, did Trump. After the photo op was over and the cameras had left the room, Trump dominated the long table. His vice president, Mike Pence, was to his right; Pence had just spent nearly a week on a conciliatory, well-received tour of the region, the first by a high-ranking administration official since Trump’s inauguration. To Trump’s left was his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. “Rex tells me you don’t want me to use the military option in Venezuela,” the president told the gathered Latin American leaders, according to an account offered by an attendee soon after the dinner. “Is that right? Are you sure?” Everyone said they were sure. But they were rattled. War with Venezuela, as absurd as that seemed, was clearly still on Trump’s mind. 
By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. “Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,” the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”

And so, in the words of this article's author: “I’ve come to believe that when it comes to Trump and the world, it’s not better than you think. It’s worse.”

***

And finally, if you didn't already think the Democrats fucked up big time by forcing Al Franken to give up his Senatorial seat over FUCKING GODDAMN NOTHING, then this Daily Beast article by Michael Tomasky should set you straight. It begins:
Sometime today, Al Franken will resign his Senate seat. The Democrats are hoping for a banner year, and from all indicators it looks like they’ll have one, and I hope they do—if they take back one house, this horrid Trump/GOP agenda is done for. 
But the Democrats’ 2018 is sure getting off to a dubious start. Franken should not be going. When he announced his resignation on December 7, I wrote a column saying that Democrats would come to regret what they’d done to him. Nevertheless, I wrote, his resignation was probably the right and necessary thing under the circumstances. 
The Twitter response to the piece was huge—about four or five times the normal response I get. And it was, as near as I can remember, literally unanimously in defense of Franken. This made me start rethinking things. Yes, I still think the Democrats will regret this. But was his resignation really the right and necessary thing? 
For three weeks, I've been sitting around wondering why no pollster was asking Minnesota's voters. It was astonishing to me that no one bothered. That was apparently that, and we’d so easily moved on. But now, someone has polled it, and the PPP survey of 671 Minnesotans taken the two days after Christmas says precisely what I and a lot of other people expected it to say.
And that's all for today. More soon, if I can get to it.