Wednesday, November 20, 2019


There's a whole lot of craziness going down in the USA these days, so much so that it's getting harder and harder to figure out where regular old partisan hackery/mendacity ends, and where truly bugfuck shit-flinging insanity begins.

For example, take Trump's Attorney General William Barr. Ostensibly the People's Prosecutor, Barr's reputation among a certain class of ahistorical, mainstream media "moderate" at the time of his choosing was that of a staid, boring, old school Republican who had performed adequately in the same position for President Poppy Bush, thus making him a "reassuringly middle-of-the-road choice" for the post by Trump.

Barr's current tenure at the head of the DOJ has done much to correct this disastrously erroneous assessment of him as both a professional, and as a man.

Beginning with the high likelihood that he personally hobbled the FBI investigation into a series of sexual assault accusations made against then Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh (and his role in the official period of gloating that followed Kavanaugh being elevated to that lifelong position), followed by his criminal sabotage of the Mueller Report roll-out (not to mention his suspected behind-the-scenes tampering with same), and now, with recent revelations about his round-the-world goose chase in search of proof for the most ass-backwards bogus fascist conspiracy theory in the history of fascist conspiracy theories*, any illusion about Barr's competence or moderation have been well and duly shattered for all time. There's no coming back from a year like the one he's just had.

In fact, the above would be true even if he hadn't cemented his fate with a pair of almost unbelievably regressive, inflammatory, paranoid and partisan speeches, first to the University of Notre Dame law school, and then to the ultra-conservative Federalist Society. Here's what Esquire's essential Charles Pierce had to say about these two "loony" speeches (and I do urge you to read his entire piece):
If this really is Attorney General William Barr’s final go-round as a servant to radical conservative power, and we can only pray to god that it is, he’s certainly going out with a bang. In the past two weeks, he’s given two speeches that are so stunningly detached from political reality, and so basically and fundamentally un-American, that they were probably best given from atop a milk crate in Washington Square, and not from respectable rostrums provided by powerful and influential institutions. In short, Barr has become something of a raving maniac.

I also strongly urge you to read the Salon piece and the Guardian article. Both are great at explaining exactly how disturbingly batshit both of Barr's incendiary and profoundly un-American speeches were, complete with copious quotes and cogent analysis. In terms of individuals who need to be removed from anywhere near the levers of power, Barr is perhaps second only to Donald Trump, himself, and I'm sure a case could be made that he's even worse.
*"It wasn't Russia, but UKRAINE who meddled in the 2016 presidential elections! And it wasn't on behalf of Trump, but HILLARY!"

And you thought the Ukraine scandal was bad! Have you heard the latest about how Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton told attendees at a super-secret meeting of Moran Stanley's largest hedge fund clients that Preznit Trump had already made foreign policy decisions in Turkey based exclusively on how those decisions would affect his financial bottom line? Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but considering some of the recent goings-on in that part of the world, not completely out of the realm of possibility. In fact, it's entirely in keep with the Trump brand of politics. From, linked above:
Bolton was suggesting that Trump is making foreign policy decisions based on what will make him money. Trump’s refusal to separate himself from his business has left him compromised and mired in conflicts of interest. Trump is getting people killed in Northern Syria because he wants to keep making money in Turkey. Trump isn’t just making money off of the presidency. He is jeopardizing US national security and making the country less safe so that he can make more money overseas.
 Time to add another line item to the ever-growing list of causes for Trump's impeachment and removal from office? I certainly think so, considering it seems to me like we could all do with a bit of reminding about the devastating repercussions that Trump's hasty retreat from the Kurdish territories has had on our historic allies in the region.


This Vox feature by Sean Illing, entitled The Post-Truth Prophets, takes aim at the super-contentious topic of postmodernism, particularly about how it's been pretty much correct in its predictions about pretty much everything, and yet it's still reviled by many; mostly by people who don't understand it.

And why is that? Mostly, it's because they're mistaking its predictions for prescriptions, spawning the supreme irony of postmodernism's most insistent and committed critics being, themselves, nigh unto perfect illustrative examples of the fatal flaws locked inside the rapidly proliferating and metastasizing, mutually incompatible gaggle of steady-state Big Narratives all competing to be the first to have their Apocalyptic historical teleological endgame scenarios proven Most Correct. The ubiquitous Jordan Peterson being perhaps the most popular, and egregious, case in point.

If you think you know enough about postmodernism to shit on it in public, like to your friends and such, or if you harbor a sneaking suspicion that there might just be something worthwhile to be found therein (in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the negative things you've heard about it), then give Illing's article a read. It's a more than decent jumping off point for learning about the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly, of postmodernist philosophy. Enjoy!

Did you hear the latest from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch project about how Preznit Trump's main speechwriter, closest adviser, and chief engineer of Operation Baby Cages Stephen Miller has had his Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails? I know, I know... this is about as surprising as when Rosie O'Donnell came out of the closet. But still, despite the fact that it isn't much of a shock, it really should be, if you think about it. Especially when you examine the particulars up close. Part one of Hatewatch's exhaustive report begins:
In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch. 
The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump’s presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said is causing “intense trauma” in children.
In this, the first of what will be a series about those emails, Hatewatch exposes the racist source material that has influenced Miller’s visions of policy. That source material, as laid out in his emails to Breitbart, includes white nationalist websites, a “white genocide”-themed novel in which Indian men rape white women, xenophobic conspiracy theories and eugenics-era immigration laws that Adolf Hitler lauded in “Mein Kampf.”
Hatewatch reviewed more than 900 previously private emails Miller sent to Breitbart editors from March 4, 2015, to June 27, 2016. Miller does not converse along a wide range of topics in the emails. His focus is strikingly narrow – more than 80 percent of the emails Hatewatch reviewed relate to or appear on threads relating to the subjects of race or immigration. Hatewatch made multiple attempts to reach the White House for a comment from Miller about the content of his emails but did not receive any reply.
Miller’s perspective on race and immigration across the emails is repetitious. When discussing crime, which he does scores of times, Miller focuses on offenses committed by nonwhites. On immigration, he touches solely on the perspective of severely limiting or ending nonwhite immigration to the United States. Hatewatch was unable to find any examples of Miller writing sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who is nonwhite or foreign-born.
Miller has gained a reputation for attempting to keep his communications secret: The Washington Post reported in August that Miller “rarely puts anything in writing, eschewing email in favor of phone calls.” The Daily Beast noted in July that Miller has recently “cut off regular contact with most of his allies” outside the Trump administration to limit leaks.
Miller used his government email address as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions in the emails Hatewatch reviewed. He sent the majority of the emails Hatewatch examined before he joined Trump’s campaign in January 2016 and while he was still working for Sessions. Miller also used a personal address in the emails and did so both before and after he started working for Trump. Hatewatch confirmed the authenticity of Miller’s address through an email sent from his government address in which he lists it as his future point of contact:
“I am excited to announce that I am beginning a new job as Senior Policy Advisor to presidential candidate Donald J. Trump,” Miller wrote from his government email on Jan. 26, 2016, to an undisclosed group of recipients. “Should you need to reach me, my personal email address is [redacted].”
Katie McHugh, who was an editor for Breitbart from April 2014 to June 2017, leaked the emails to Hatewatch in June to review, analyze and disseminate to the public. McHugh was 23 when she started at Breitbart and also became active in the anti-immigrant movement, frequently rubbing shoulders with white nationalists. McHugh was fired from Breitbart in 2017 after posting anti-Muslim tweets. She has since renounced the far right.
McHugh told Hatewatch that Breitbart editors introduced her to Miller in 2015 with an understanding he would influence the direction of her reporting. For that reason, and because Miller would have regarded her as a fellow traveler of the anti-immigrant movement, McHugh sometimes starts conversations with Miller in the emails, seeking his opinion on news stories. Other times, Miller directly suggests story ideas to McHugh, or tells her how to shape Breitbart’s coverage. Periodically, Miller asks McHugh if he can speak to her by phone, taking conversations offline.
“What Stephen Miller sent to me in those emails has become policy at the Trump administration,” McHugh told Hatewatch.
 Yes, I realize that's a very long excerpt, but it's a very long article, so I feel justified. The article goes on to present a ton of disturbing and undeniably factual information that every American should be familiar with at some point, because Stephen Miller, not unlike William Barr and Trump, himself, is a dangerous criminal whose actions have led directly to untold human suffering and numerous deaths of children, and he belongs in the Big House, NOT the White House.


  • Well would you look at that! Hillary Clinton has once again been cleared after YET ANOTHER investigation into her emails, this time by Trump’s own State Department! It's enough to make one wonder whether they maybe only let her slide because of recent revelations about the Trump family's own myriad failures to follow protocols when it comes to the proper use, storage, and disposal of communication devices... especially when you're discussing the criminal extortion of an entire nation in order to receive a) bogus, foundationless "investigations" of your top rival in upcoming elections, and b) potential backing for for the most ass-backwards bogus fascist conspiracy theory in the history of fascist conspiracy theories?
  • Have we, as a people, already moved beyond Trump's recent disastrous unilateral, overnight withdrawal from Syria, followed by Turkey's aggressive advantage-taking of the situation? All of which led to one of the most shocking developments in America's recent foreign policy history: the abject humiliation of an emergency blue ribbon task force made up of Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, and a number of others, all furiously knocking on a door that wouldn't open for them in Ankara as the Turks refused to meet with the highest level envoys ever sent by USA? Historically unprecedented. Already left behind in the swirling mists of the 24 hour news cycle.
  • Congratulations to (Dr.jur.) George Mentz, JD, MBA, CWM ®, Counselor of Law, Licensed Attorney – USA – Academy GAFM ® (and, yes, this is how George prefers to refer to himself, complete with all those acronyms and circled "R" symbols) upon his ascendancy to the Commission on Presidential Scholars! What is this Commission, you ask? Well, it's "a group of eminent private citizens appointed by the President to select and honor the Presidential Scholars. Commissioners are selected from across the country, representing the fields of education, medicine, law, social services, business, and other professions. The Commissioners make the final selection of the 161 Presidential Scholars. The Scholars demonstrate exceptional accomplishments in academics, the arts, career and technical education and an outstanding commitment to public service." And what did George do to get on this commission? Turns out he runs a diploma mill, wrote a lot of nice things about Trump on the wingnut website, and has authored a number of books about the Illuminati! All the best people! 



Someone on Quora recently asked "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?" Nate White, an articulate and witty writer from England wrote a response that pretty much lays it all out in starkly accurate terms. I reprint it here for posterity's sake, because finding it on Quora isn't exactly easy:
A few things spring to mind. 
Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. 
For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed. 
So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump's limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief. 
Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever. 
I don't say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman. 
But with Trump, it's a fact. He doesn't even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty. 
Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers. 
And scarily, he doesn't just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness. 
There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It's all surface. 
Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront. 
Well, we don't. We see it as having no inner world, no soul. 
And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. 
Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. 
He's not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. 
He's more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege. 
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.
That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead. 
There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down. 
So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy' is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
• Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
• You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss. 
After all, it's impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. 
God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid. 
He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. 
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump. 
And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish: 
'My God... what... have... I... created? 
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Incredible work on this beat by the incomparable Rachel Maddow, as usual. You're going to want to stick with it until the very end, because the climax features a real ironic corker of a journalistic flourish that you're just gonna love.

PS - I know this story is from January 2018, but a lot of the (blistering, absolutely damning) information contained within it was new to me, and it's just so well presented (Maddow's occasionally irritating voice notwithstanding), that I just had to share it with y'all.

Monday, November 4, 2019


It's a short enough video so make sure you watch (and, more importantly, listen) until the very end. The sound of this "media friendly" white supremacist baring his true soul, while hardly surprising, is nevertheless illuminating.