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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Is the end in sight? (Added note: Arizona)

People have prophesied the sudden and ignominious end of the Trump administration since...well, since the ignominious beginning of the Trump administration. I've countered with my own prophesy that Der Donald would serve out his full term. If you always predict the worst, all of your surprises will be happy ones.

But now...well, dare one hope? Indications of an imminent Trumpocalypse are piling up. Keith Olbermann, embedded above, lists several.

Trump has stupidly gone to war with Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Establishment Republicans, who now makes no secret of his doubts that this presidency can long survive.
Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.
But Mr. McConnell’s allies warn that the president should be wary of doing anything that could jeopardize the Senate Republican majority.

“The quickest way for him to get impeached is for Trump to knock off Jeff Flake and Dean Heller and be faced with a Democrat-led Senate,” said Billy Piper, a lobbyist and former McConnell chief of staff.
If I recall the Constitution aright, it would take 67 senators to remove Trump. Are there a sufficient number of Republicans who have had enough? What if McConnell gave the directive: "Let him go"?

I've heard that Trump accuses McConnell of not offering sufficient protection from the Russiagate probes. The fact that Trump has focused on that is very telling. (I would not be surprised to learn that McConnell is the source behind this tweet from an NYT reporter. Rubio? Also possible.)

At the same time, Breitbart is attacking the administration with a surprising ferocity. The renewed commitment to the Afghan war is bound to anger the base. Even Ann Coulter is backing away.

Trump is losing both the Establishment right and the anti-Establishment right.

Democratic operative Jon Cooper tweets: "Source who's been accurate in past tells me there have been some preliminary talks in WH re POTUS resigning. Mostly hypothetical what-ifs."

In the video embedded above, Olbermann cites this tweet from a responsible journalist named John Harwood.
prediction just in from top R strategist: Trump resigns "once Mueller closes in on him and the family," Pence makes Rubio VP, "GOP recovers"
In response to this scenario, Matthew Yglesias expressed skepticism, as have a number of others. Newsweek, however, seems to think that a resignation is increasingly possible:
Meanwhile, Tony Schwartz, who helped Trump write the 1987 book The Art of the Deal, said he “would be amazed if [Trump] survives till end of the year.”

He added: “Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and Congress leave him no choice.”
Ireland's major bookie is betting against Trump:
Paddy Power is offering a 2/1 chance on Trump being impeached this year, an 11/2 chance for 2018, a 7/1 chance for 2019 and a 50/1 chance that Congress will wait till 2020 to end his Presidency.
Representative Steve Cohen of TN is trying to get the impeachment ball rolling. Congressperson Jackie Speier has called for a 25th amendment solution.

What do you think? Are all of these people indulging in wishful thinking, wild speculation, or reasonable prediction?

Yesterday, the sun disappeared. And something eerily similar to Mothman, that infamous harbinger of doom, has been showing up in Chicago. The ominous signs are downright Shakespearean.

Trump's AZ rally. The following photo is making the rounds:

Guess what? The photo is fake. Or rather: It's a real photo of the 2016 Cavaliers parade in Cleveland.

Added note: I wasn't able to tolerate very much of the big Arizona "re-election" speech. In the bit that I did see, Trump had me wondering: When he attended Wharton, did he major in Tautology? He sure as hell seemed to be a Tautology major. I say that because he was very tautological. And when I say that he was tautological, I mean that he repeated himself -- often. Over and over. Redundantly. Kept saying the same thing in slightly different words. Repeatedly. He verbally jogged in place for long periods of time, reiterating his point over and over without proceeding to the next point, recapitulating the same basic idea like a broken record. Moreover, he was repetitious. Very repetitious, in the sense that he repeatedly repeated himself. 

Can you blame me for turning my attention elsewhere?

Various left-wing sites have reported that the speech was a disaster -- and that Trump lost the crowd. Is this true? Did the Trumpers finally get sick of Donnie's shtick? Obviously, the assessment of an anti-Trump site is biased, but the reviews I've seen really have been brutal.

The black guy standing behind the Orange Oaf seemed to be having a marvelous time. Wonder what he was listening to via his secret earphone?
Sympathy for McConnell? "Please allow me to introduce myself ...".

The United States governs with the leaders it has, not the leaders it wants, according to King Rummy of Aspartame.

Trump is loving it. If impeachment looms, Trump will announce, "I'm more popular than The Beatles!"

Trump's amazing presidency is important for debunking the chauvinistic mythos that THE U.S. IS NUMBER ONE! Let's give credit to a bankruptcy where it's due.

(Mr. Cannon, this is not the first time that you wrote 'prophesy' when you mean 'prophecy'.)
After the news of Trump's war with McConnell, an early exit seems much more likely.

That despicable performance in Phoenix this evening will offer no hope to anyone with an interest in the future. All those people read polls and they can't rig everything.

Tony Schwartz is probably closest. Trump resigns to protect himself.

A few thoughts.

I believe we both agree (as in, complete agreement) that President 45 has narcissistic personality disorder. Sadly, he wouldn't be the first POTUS with that disorder. We see that in scumbags like President Nixon or President Jackson. But for President Trump, it's to such a degree that it makes him unstable and behave like a petulant child.

I'll support any attempt to remove President Trump from office, I would love it if he was removed. But if we don't change our ways and we keep doing the same thing over and over again, it won't matter if President Trump is removed. The Far-right isn't going anywhere, the obnoxious lunatics that control the online narrative and endlessly, ENDLESSLY gripe and bitch about 'cultural Marxism', 'feminism is cancer', 'trans people should die', 'fags should also die', 'LGBTQ+ should die too', 'SJWs and snowflakes should die', 'Hillary Clinton is a demon', 'Pedo Podesta, Pizza Pizza!', 'PizzaGate is real!', 'identity politics is the death of us', 'Death to all commies', 'Death to non-Christians', 'Islam is fascism' and on and on and on and on it goes. There will be someone worse than Trump, someone who is more of a faux-intellectual and a true ideologue.

Additionally, we are stuck in a Forever War and a government which is beholden, not to the electorate, but to the 'defense' industry. An industry that is actually about 'offense' and whose end result will be humanity hanging upon an iron cross. I am referring to the military-industrial complex. Take a look at TYT's new video on endless war and the revolving doors of industry and government in the Beltway:

If we don't abolish the Electoral College, what will we have learned from a President Trump? Nothing but bitching. Rather than bitching, let's get rid of the electoral college, as a consequence for having the Trump presidency.

And if Trump is a narcissist, how realistic is it to expect him to resign? I saw an YouTube comment, not from a Far-right fuckwit, but someone who said "If you think Trump is going to resign, you don't understand narcissism."

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This article at 538, about a fake polling firm which has put Kid Rock comfortably ahead in his race, misses an obvious but important point. Yes, fake polls can help bring in dollars from donors (who don't like to back losers), but the problem goes deeper: Fake polls can add legitimacy to a fake election.

Most mainstream writers can't make that admission because most mainstream writers will not allow themselves to concede the possibility of vote-rigging. In our political culture, that idea remains the Great Unspeakable Thing -- despite this. And despite this. And despite this. And despite this.

A moment's thought will tell you that you can't nudge the voting results more than two or three degrees without preparing the way with fake polls. After the "surprise" win, right-wing media assets will decry the inadequacies of mainstream polling methodologies. Cue Nate Silver, doing an imitation of Goofy: "Garsh. Guess we musta done sumpin' wrong."


Remember how we were told that Hillary would fill her administration with Goldman Sachs alumni? Then Trump got in -- and promptly filled his administration with Goldman Sachs alumni.

Remember how we were told that Hillary would be the warmonger-in-chief? Trump was attractive to many non-neocon conservatives, and even some liberals, because he advocated pulling out of Afghanistan and leaving Syria for the Russians to work out.

Ooops. Change of plans.

At times, Trump has portrayed Obama as unduly bellicose (especially toward Russia). At other times, Trump damned his predecessor as weak. In yesterday's speech, Trump practically called Obama a pansy. Yet for all practical purposes, Trump's Afghan policy is almost exactly the same as that of the previous two presidents. For example, Trump said the following...
Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.
How the hell is this any different from what came before? Obama and Dubya might have said these same words. Kevin Drum has it right:
There really isn’t a whole lot we can do in Afghanistan. The Pentagon knows this. After all, a few years ago they had over 100,000 troops there and it barely budged the needle. They’ve been pushing on Pakistan the whole time, but if they push too hard we’ll lose our drone bases there and be in even worse shape. And looser rules of engagement just enrage the Afghan populace and provide the Taliban with recruiting material. It’s a no-win situation. All we can do is keep on training the Afghan army and cross our fingers. Maybe eventually the government will have enough support and the army will have enough discipline to maintain order without us.

Or we can pull out. If we do that, the Taliban will take over in short order and that’s politically unacceptable. No American president wants to be the guy who “lost Afghanistan.”

So we just stay there forever, fighting a low-level war meant to contain the Taliban—barely—and not get too many US soldiers killed. That’s what Bush did. It’s what Obama did. And it’s what Trump is doing.
Same shit as before, plus a little badass posturing to please the rubes.

My suggestion: After humbly admitting that the problem of Afghanistan is intractable, Trump should ask for the help of the UN. Since we lack good options, why not hand off the problem to others? Unfortunately, incessant propaganda about "American exceptionalism" has made this solution politically impossible.

Need I mention that everything Trump said about Pakistan and India was tone deaf and irresponsible? 

Elsewhere: What happened to Steve Bannon? A recent post included a photo of Steve Bannon taken from another site. In the photo, Bannon's mouth appears to be bleeding, and there is a drop of blood on his shirt. Snopes reveals that the blood was a bit of Photoshopping added in by the Onion, which used this picture to illustrate a gag story about Bannon eating his interns.

I should have used another image; sorry.

I don't think that the Onion added in that hexagonal pin on Bannon's lapel, where the flag usually goes. What's up with that? Is that a symbol employed by followers of Evola or Dugin?

@Joseph Cannon,

The lapel pin that Mr. Bannon is wearing is a USSS (Secret Service) security identification symbol. It is displayed on him to show that he has security clearance. The symbols used by the Secret Service varies greatly, depending on persons, days and events.

Closer photos of Bannon wearing the lapel pin can bee seen here
and here!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/usa-trump.jpg

This issue was addressed here
and here

I'd also like to point out that Bannon is an utterly terrifying human being. He wouldn't care if BILLIONS of people perished in order to achieve his vision. He's evil and the only reason this isn't widely held is because he's not had the power of a Hitler or a Stalin. And I wish I were being fantastical about it but how do I describe a man with no soul? Is he even a man? I'm not a Christian, but holy shit, this guy makes me doubt my own disbelief in the Devil.


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Charlottesville conspiracy theories (including my own)

I've been accused of being both a conspiracy theorist and an opponent of conspiracy theories. Guilty on both counts.

One reader snarkily observed that I denigrate every theory that I didn't come up with myself. This methodology has certain advantages: Better to fool oneself than to be fooled by another.

My problem with the modern "conspiracy buff" subculture -- which ain't so very sub, these days -- is that, for most people, non-mainstream theories are not used to attain the truth. Instead, such theories allow the theorist to manipulate the truth, to create a "truth" that makes the theorist and his listeners feel good. Hence the longstanding relationship between fascism and conspiracy theories: Such theories allow the triumph of Will over reality itself.

Case in point: Charlottesville.
An Idaho state lawmaker is facing backlash for sharing a conspiracy theory that former President Obama helped to orchestrate the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., as part of a plot to take down President Trump.

Idaho Rep. Bryan Zollinger on Friday posted a story on Facebook that suggested Obama and other top Democrats like billionaire George Soros and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe were part of a conspiracy to set up the rally, the Idaho Statesman reported.

“I’m not saying it is true, but I am suggesting that it is completely plausible,” Zollinger wrote on Facebook.

The story claims that Obama has set up a “war room” to fight against the Trump administration — a claim that has largely been debunked — and that Charlottesville was a part of his plan.
You probably already know of Alex Jone's claim that the Charlottesville Nazis were actually Jewish actors.
“Literally, they’re just Jewish actors. Nothing against Jews in general, but they are leftists Jews that want to create this clash and they go dress up as Nazis,” he added.

Jones also showed footage from 18 years ago of his protesting the KKK, whom he claimed later turned out to be federal agents.

“I have footage in Austin, we’re going to find it somewhere here at the office, where it literally looks like the cast of Seinfeld or like Howard Stern in a Nazi outfit,” Jones said.
Remember when American conspiracy buffs tried to dig up the facts? Remember when Mark Lane put Dealey Plaza witnesses on camera? Remember when critics of the HSCA mounted detailed, scientific arguments against the efficacy of neutron activation analysis? (The JFK buffs won that particular dispute, by the way: The FBI no longer uses neutron activation analysis.)

Facts no longer matter. The search for evidence is for the unenlightened, for those impoverished souls who lack the Beatific Vision. Today, the Alex Jonesians need merely say: "What I want to be so, IS so. Unleash the Monster of the Id!"

Sean Hannity has lent his considerable talents to this enterprise:
Fox News host Sean Hannity used his radio show to promote the inane conspiracy theory that “antifa agitators” who opposed the neo-Nazi and white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday were actually actors hired by a publicity firm.
For some reason, all parties involved in promoting the moronic claim have interpreted a Craigslist ad posted August 7 by the firm Crowds on Demand which offered $25 per hour to “actors and photographers” to participate in events in the “Charlotte, NC area” as evidence that the firm was hiring counter-protesters for the event in Charlottesville, roughly 300 miles away. Crowds on Demand has flatly denied the charge, saying that the company was “not involved in any capacity with the recent tragic events in Charlottesville.”

The Craigslist ad “began to spread on social media and chat forums like Reddit and 4Chan” on August 14, as Snopes detailed. Last night, the former actor and Trump supporter Scott Baio pushed a version of this fable on his Facebook page, promoting private messages he had received from an unnamed associate which claimed that the hired protesters traveled on “buses [that] were hired by media matters which is owned by George Soros” (none of this is true).

Earlier today, the claim made the jump to ZeroHedge, a regular clearinghouse for conspiracy theories. The post’s pseudonymous author, “Tyler Durden,” claimed the ad “is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based ‘public relations firm specializing in innovative events’ to serve as agitators in counterprotests,” and tied the “discovery” to President Donald Trump’s claim that there was “blame on both sides” for the Charlottesville violence. The ZeroHedge piece was reposted later today on, radio host Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory website.

From those conspiracy sites, the claim jumped to two of the most prominent radio shows in the country, with audiences of millions.
There's always some small nugget in the news which allows one to construct a preferred "truth" to replace the true truth. That Craigslist ad is one such nugget.

Apparently, Heather Heyer was the most dedicated actor in the history of thespianism. Her mother must be maintaining the pretense out of respect for her daughter's craft.

We now return the Prince of Paranoia:
In an hour-long video, Infowars host Alex Jones charges the entire event was orchestrated by Jewish financier George Soros, and his progressive allies in government and the nonprofit sector. Their goal? To discredit conservatives and, ultimately, place the entire United States under authoritarian military control.

Jones charged, providing no evidence, that the Southern Poverty Law Center had hired actors to dress up like white supremacists and play to the cameras, followed closely by antifa protesters, who Jones insisted were bused in by Soros.

“They said they’ve got to now start luring the right wing into towns where they control everything,” Jones said, noting that Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia, is one of the most progressive cities in Virginia.

The plan, he argued, was to create a fake vanguard of aggressive white supremacists to incite the police to attack the rally’s legitimate attendees. From there, the government could use the ensuing, racially tinged chaos to declare martial law across the entire country.

“That’s the plan. Trigger the violence because you can’t stop the legitimate free speech,” Jones continued, rattling off a list of conspirators that included, “the deep state, the Islamists, Hillary, Obama, all the usual suspects.”
Wait a minute. Wouldn't martial law give Trump extra-Constitutional powers? Such as the power to suspend elections? Awful Alex still hasn't grappled with the intellectual problem of constructing anti-gubmint conspiracy theories at a time when your own team controls the gubmint.

(At this point, the Alex Jonesians tend to retreat into vague blather about the "Deep State." Catch-all terms of that sort are very useful to anyone who enjoys transforming reality into Silly Putty.)

Awful Alex has inspired me to work within the genre of Charlottesville conspiracy theories. Fair is fair. If they can do it, I can do it.

I draw your attention to Steve Bannon's bizarre interview with the American Prospect, a progressive journal. This interview appeared just before Steverino was asked to empty out his desk.
“The Democrats,” he told the American Prospect’s Bob Kuttner, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
These words were prophetic. Most liberals don't know that the controversy over the removal of pro-Confederate statuary has actually caused Trump's poll numbers to rise. Most liberals refuse to face the fact that the majority of American oppose the Nazis at Charlottesville and Trump's reaction to that event and the removal of those statues.

Bannon's statement to the American Prospect may offer insight into the original intent behind Charlottesville. 

Theory: Bannon knew that the administration needed a distraction. He decided to force a national debate on an issue that had nothing to do with Russiagate and nothing to do with North Korea (where there are no good options).

A debate over Confederate monuments served his purposes admirably. These public statues are incredibly offensive to black people and to liberals in general -- but only when you think about them. The problem: Most people were not thinking about them. The statues have stood in place for decades without causing much of an outcry. Public statuary -- whether good, bad, or ugly -- always tends to fade into the landscape.

Bannon needed to get us thinking about those works. He did not want us thinking about Putin. About the leaks. About global warming. About the mismanagement of every aspect of the executive branch. About Trump's insane tweets, his incessant lies, his frequent travels, his criminal associates, his near-daily demonstrations of dubious sanity. Forget about all of that stuff.

Bannon wanted everyone on the left to decide en masse that a goddamned collection of statuary is the single most important issue on the planet. Ideally, the left-wing websites would become swamped with statue-talk, and anyone who said "Hey, let's get back to Russia" would be damned as a racist.

Left-wing websites are always easy to manipulate through the usual trolling mechanisms. In this way, the entire Democratic party could be forced into advocating a Taliban-esque program of statue demolition.

Guess what? The removal of Confederate statuary is popular with less than a third of the American populace.

Perfect for Bannon. He wants everyone on the left to say: "To hell with Russiagate! To hell with North Korea. Statues. We need to talk about statues. Nothing else matters!"

So Bannon contacted his nationalist buddies and told them to stage an event that would force a National Statue Debate. Richard Spencer got the memo.

Unfortunately, Spencer and his pals went too far. They colored way outside the lines.

They used the event to push their obnoxious ideology. They populated the parade with a bunch of disgusting maniacs, one of whom committed vehicular homicide.

Can't get good help these days.

As a result of Spencer's foolishness, the National Question was no longer "Confederate Statues: Should we destroy them the way the Taliban destroyed those Buddhist statues?"

Instead, the National Question became "Nazism: Good thing or bad thing?"

Hence, Trump's inane response. He made a ham-fisted attempt to shift the National Question from "Nazism: Good thing or bad thing?" back to the intended debate topic: "Confederate Statues: Should we destroy them the way the Taliban destroyed those Buddhist statues?"

That's why Trump pretended that there were "good people" marching with the goosesteppers.

A really smart con-artist could have found the right words -- words which would have condemned neofascism while also shifting the national debate back to statuary. Trump couldn't find the right words. Even when he is handed the right words, he doesn't know how to say them. Every word that comes out of his mouth sounds misspelled.

That's my humble contribution to the genre of Charlottesville conspiracy theories. What do you think?
Moi? Je pense que se non è vero, è ben trovato.

Maybe, only maybe, the Confederacy monuments removal movement is a logical progression after South Carolina's governor (now the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N) ordered the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse a few years ago, defying strenuous objections. At the time, there was genuine context, there was outrage that found voice as "hands up, don't shoot" and "black lives matter".

If I were a crackpot theory monger, I would demand a DNA test for Bannon to see if it's a match with Charles Manson's DNA. Same for Alex Jones, Hannity, et al.

(As a hardcore fan of the great Steve Allen, I resent your cavalier use of "Steverino" for Bannon, because it was Louis Nye as 'Gordon Hathaway', in the Steve Allen 'Man In The Street' skits, who always greeted Allen with "Hi-ho, Steverino".)
No offense meant to the great Steve Allen, the all-time best talk-show host. Actually, I used to babysit his bandleader's kids. (I wonder what happened to Jerry? He was the only true child prodigy I ever knew.)
I don't think your theory is a bad one, but I can't help think of this quote from your article which more or less makes the theory moot:

"A really smart con-artist could have found the right words -- words which would have condemned neofascism while also shifting the national debate back to statuary. Trump couldn't find the right words. Even when he is handed the right words, he doesn't know how to say them. Every word that comes out of his mouth sounds misspelled."

This sums up the whole Trump presidency. In the hands of a skilled liar with a normal temperament, the administration could dilute a fair amount of the resistance to it. But with Trump at the helm? He can't do it. He always blows up their message. Despite the fear that Trump can escape the Russia scandal (remember that?) with a skillful propaganda campaign, he doesn't have the ability to do it. It's why, knock on wood, I think Russia will ultimately consume him and end his presidency.

This is a great post and a valuable contribution to the field of conspiracy theorizing. It's rare to get conspiracy theorizing from a source that is not Far-right. Alex Jones is a Far-right fucknut, a total lunatic who rambles and inbetween that rambling, he shills for a snake oil line of products. That millions of people cling to his every word is terrifying. But that's not the only terrifying thing in America. Nearly one in 10 American adults are either neo-fascists or comfortable with neo-fascism. Have a look at this article from Axios:

A good portion of our neo-fascists are Alex Jones cultists. Most Americans have never read Julius Evola or Mein Kampf (which was most likely ghost written by Rudolf Heß, Karl Haushofer, Max Amann and/or others). It's possible that most Americans have never read a nonfiction book (preferring instead to read the Fifty Shades trilogy, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Harry Potter series, the Twilight tetralogy, etc).

There are more than 1,500 Confederate monuments and memorials across these 'United' States. Most of them were put in place for deliberate and express racism and most of them were produced and erected during the Jim Crow era or after. It is extremely troubling to me that the mob majority of Americans oppose their removal.

It is also terrifying to me that between 25% - 27% of the voting eligible population (at least a quarter of the American electorate) are willing to follow President Trump straight to hell. No matter what he does, no matter if Russian collusion and commiseration is definitively proven, this 25% to 27% of the voting eligible adult population in America will follow him.

Like I said before, it is absolutely necessary for leftists, liberals and centrists to join forces. Not to pursue a leftist agenda (which would be DOA in America) but to combat neofascism. If leftists, liberals and centrists continue to make enemies out of each other, Bannon will be proven right and neofascism will have a stranglehold.

Remember how the NSDAP took control of Weimar Germany? Let me remind everyone, the NSDAP was not nearly strong enough nor did it have enough support (not remotely enough) to conquer a unified Germany. The NSDAP exploited the fact that Germany was split into small groups, squabbling amongst each other. If leftists (like myself), liberals (who are not socialist, communist or otherwise anti-capitalist) and centrists (Democrats) attack each other, we are playing right into the hands of the NSDAP's modern incarnation - the Alt. Right.

This is a unite or die moment for anyone and everyone and every movement and every ideology that is not Right-wing.

@Amelie - Waaaaay off-topic, but I always thought Ben Trovato would be the perfect meta pseudonym. Unfortunately, before I found a chance to use it, I discovered it in the pages of Gallery magazine -- incidentally, to my knowledge the only softcore porn publication directly responsible for the discrediting of a major, federally endorsed study disproving the JFK single-shooter hypothesis.
I just heard on the news that Kurt Bardella, a former Breitbart exec, and other Breitbart whisperers, claim Breitbart will partner with Ryan to impeach Trump. Talk about a conspiracy theory: I immediately though that the departure of Bannon, the Afghanistan speech and the Breitbart challenge are nothing but chess moves by Trump/Bannon to garner support for Trump. That Breibart's opposition would be a tipping point, followed by a burgeoning support for Trump. It's a nightmare scenario and I feel better just typing it out and forgetting it. Reassure me that Bannon just has a bigger ego than Trump. Please!
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Sunday, August 20, 2017

A first-hand account

Liberal activist Tim Pierce (who is white, incidentally) offers a first-hand account of the Boston anti-Nazi rally. I offer his text here -- translated from Twitterese to conventional prose -- because it deep-sixes some false impressions that have taken hold.
Y'all should hear about my experience with BLM at the Boston Anti-Nazi Rally.

First, BPD did an outstanding job of managing conflicts. Police escorted Nazis to and from the rally. Did not prevent interactions but stood close by to prevent rioting.

Black Lives Matter also escorted Nazis. Surrounded them to prevent fights.

I want that to be crystal clear. BLM marshals were preventing fights from breaking out. BLM organizers have said over and over again: if a rally turns violent, people of color will be targeted. Don't start none.

At one point they were escorting a Nazi out of the rally near where I was standing. Nazi dropped his flag. I snatched for it. He picked it up. I yanked at it.

The BLM marshal next to me whupped the back of my head. "DON'T!" At that moment he stopped me from possibly sparking a riot.

I was stupid. I was ready to escalate. BLM stopped me. This is no surprise to anyone who has actually been to a BLM event or worked with them.

But the "BLM are terrorists" narrative persists. I want everyone to understand just how bullshit this narrative is.

BLM is not starting riots. They're stopping them.
The Black Lives Matter movement has gotten an utterly unfair bad rap. I'm quite sure that this movement has been infiltrated; all movements get infiltrated, once they reach a certain size. But BLM hardly deserves the vilification it has received.
Great post, Joseph.

Regarding infiltration, the infiltrators are probably more motivated to incite violence rather than stop it.
It's simple. BLM gets a bad rap because of the B. Nothing they have done justifies the vilification they get.

And yes, all movements get infiltrated if not by agitators, then at least by kooks. The question is how you respond to them. See Bernie for how not to do this and Hillary for the correct way to respond to them (PUMAs).
Q: When and why did ignorant, hung-up white guys begin forming survivalist militias, arming themselves to their few remaining teeth?

A: In the early 1970's when they were convinced that black people were planning a race war.

Q: Who or what convinced them to believe that nonsense?

A: Q: J. Edgar Hoover? The NRA? Charles Manson?
I hope people enjoy today's solar eclipse. You can find out the time for your location and the percentage of the Sun's disc that will be covered here.

The US war games in Korea also begin today.

Friday will be the Day of Songun, a holiday in North Korea associated with leader Kim Jong-Un. "Songun" is the "military first" ideology.

I don't know Korean, but I strongly suspect the word "Songun" is cognate with the word for "Sun". The name of Kim's grandfather, Kim il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, means "Kim become of the Sun".

There is an Association for the Study of Songun Politics, which has a website here.

According to astronomer Ed Krupp quoted by Jane Lee in the National Geographic, Korean eclipse mythology tells of fire dogs that try to steal the Sun or Moon on a king's orders. They fail, but an eclipse results when they bit on either orb.

Whether the "king" in the myth is described as having orange hair and jutting his chin out in a way I'd associate with Mussolini, I don't know.
enjoyed the Totality with my personal Sun (son!) in SC. coming t0o you from the library because Mecury retrograde wrecked every device in my home!

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Friday, August 18, 2017

After Charlottesville, after Bannon

The song is from 1965. It's relevant again, jah? Especially when it comes to those tiki-torchers who insist that they had no idea that they were marching alongside Nazis. The song also reminds me of a certain ludicrous doubletalker who thinks that one can revere Julius Evola while claiming not to be a fascist.

@Joseph Cannon,

Our modern day Martin Bormann (Chief of the Parteikanzlei), Steven K. Bannon, is officially out of the White House. I don't know what hell he will raise now that he's outside government again. But it's not enough to placate me. It's not enough, period. The fight is far from over. I hope you'll agree with me that the fight has to continue until Trump is removed from office or resigns. Even after Trump, the Far Right is burgeoning today like never before in the post-War era. There is a global resurgence of Fascism. Removing Bannon and Trump from power are just first steps in combating Neo-fascism.

Joe, it is time for the Centrists and the Leftists to unite in fighting Neo-fascism. The neo-fascists (like Bannon) only benefit from rifts like that between the centrists and progressives (Hillary vs. Bernie, etc.). For the sake of annihilating fascism, which has resurged thanks to Putinist Russia, the Center and the Left need to reconcile. At least for a long time. Either the center will hold or we will end up in a Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad) dystopia.

Bernie Sanders was much closer to my political, social, economic and jurisprudent positions. But if it means defeating neo-fascists (the Alt. Right, the Far Right, Kekistanis, GamerGate, Ethno-nationalism, White nationalism, Ultranationalism, Economic nationalism, Trumpkins, etc.), I will ally with people of a wide range of political views. Even moderate or 'Main Street' Republicans. Even Wall St. ilk. And I'm saying that as someone who is anti-capitalist and left of Sanders. Neo-fascism should be public enemy numero uno. I hope to Hell you'll agree with me on that much.


A well-written comment, Jay.

But I would not compare Bannon to Bormann. Bormann always struck me as more pragmatic, more efficient, less ideological, less of a perpetual outsider.

Bannon is more like...well. To whom do we compare the man?

Evola. Goebbels. Some odd combo of the two.

History never offers true repetition. It gives us variations on a theme.
One other thing, Jay. I just recalled: Bormann was not at all well-known while the Third Reich was operational. He was more of a behind-the-scenes mastermind. He became well-known only at the very end, and of course, during the search for his whereabouts.

Say what you will about Bannon: He DOES like publicity.
@Joseph Cannon,

Thank you for the responses. You're right, I was too quick to put Bannon in the secretary Martin Bormann position. But if Bannon is not the behind-the-scenes mastermind of neo-fascism, who would you say is? Richard B. Spencer seems too foolish to me for masterminding fascism's undead resurrection. Vlad Putin? If Putin isn't the most vile, wretched and evil power moving in the world today, I don't know what is. The fact that so much of the Left have become Putin apologists makes me sick. I'm still a 'radical Leftist', but I'm in 'time out' because I refuse to be an apologist for the Chekist state that is the Russian Federation. The endless flow of Putin apologists coming from Jimmy Dore, Oliver Stone, Consortium, and other sources I use to trust. The fact that the Left I love has allied with Putin has damaged me to the very core.

Anyway, there's a new video from Olbermann's the Resistance which I think we'll both enjoy. See it at

You can replace every reference to Chappaquiddick with "Benghazi", "EmailGate" or "PizzaGate". The tools of neo-fascism are many today. But two tools are endlessly referencing debunked nonsense about the Clintons (including the "Pay-to-Play" Foundation scheme) and insisting that Russian collusion and interference is a "nothing-burger". It terrifies me that the Left is using tactics of the neo-fascists. So here I am, in time out. Trying to find allies like you. Like anyone willing to fight Nazis again.

The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over. We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over."

Quiz question: was Stephen Bannon echoing someone else's words?

I don't know the answer. Perhaps Benito Mussolini or an associate said something similar at the start of the Salo Republic in 1943?

Other possibilities that come to mind are Otto Skorzeny after VE Day, or Vladimir Putin at the end of the USSR.
I don't want to get into a contest on who was damaged more by the left, you or me. But I know mine was longer than Putin. Their treason on 2016 isn't just for the country, but mostly for the ideals which are the fabric of their existence. They betrayed the very people who are supposed to be helping. They showed no principals, values or morals what so ever. I simply can't trust them. They call dump brother trump. Do I need to say more?
The man who carried out the terrorist murders in Turku appears to have been arrested about 100 metres from the synagogue on Brahenkatu, and when he was moving in its direction.

That's one of only two synagogues in Finland.
Back to the fixed election
Joseph Spiezer, thanks for the link...I will check it out when I get my computer back! I used to love Medium but they are walling it off...I know, they are trying to survive.
Joseph, that song reminds me of this time at work, the trainees shared a bit about themselves...and this German guy shared about his dad being a WW 2 German veteran and I just stared, mean a Nazi? I did not end up working there!
Jay, I applaud your moving out of your bubble. While everyone is in a horror over the racism of the right, next to none even acknowledge the sexism of the left. It is so pervasive it's like water to fish. As long as we're comparing losses to our core identities, just know every time anyone references Olbermann I react the way I did to the Nazi 's son calling his dad a WW 2 vet. Here is someone A-OK with Uber-man 's calling for Hillary ' s death at the hands of men. On air. Women are reminded every day men hate them, but never more so when things like that are forgiven and forgotten.
I wonder if most of the world's peoples regard the United States more or less in the same way that Democrats, liberals, progressives, and centrists regard white nationalists and white supremacists.

I wonder how many first-tier people in advertising and public relations understood that Virginia Slims and Clairol were marketing white supremacy.

Factoid curiosity about the era of the grandparents of the Millennials*: Around 1970, when the U.S. population was around 200-plus millions, Bucky Fuller noted that some 250 million people in India have never heard of the United States.

*Gore Vidal delighted in pointing out a writer's usage of the dreaded double genitive.
@prowlerzee 10:10 AM

I can't and don't watch any TV news stuff or any of its bastard progeny. The viewer by nature seeks and locks onto eye contact; the talking head, aka jerkoff, looks directly into a camera lens, to provide fake eye contact, which is unnatural and quite perverse when you think about it.

Michael Jordan is a super-wealthy gambler, while Julia Fischer can't afford a Stradivarius (and won't lease one).
@Anon 11:21 AM,
What I'm encountering is the same tactic over and over again. The 'far left' have collectively decided that they hate Hillary Clinton to such a degree that they'd prefer 'Red Fascism' and they'd prefer to protect Vlad Putin. If you criticize Putinism (which is really a form of Chekism, 'Red Fascism'), you are attacked as a warmonger, neocon or outright insane. They say it means you want to start thermonuclear war with Russia, a World War III of sorts. Nevermind the fact that the Putinists/Chekists have decriminalized domestic abuse, nevermind the cyberwarfare that the Chekists are engaged in, nevermind the concentration camps in the Caucuses which are dedicated to the 'rehabilitation' of homosexuals (failing that, outright extermination), nevermind the crimes of the Putinists. Bring any of it up and you're classified as a warmongering neocon, a threat to the entire globe.

The Left shares some similar problems with the Right. Both have horrific pasts, to give one example. Another systemic and structural issue for both of them is sexism. Both are based on hyper-machismos, an idealized and fictional machismo that glorifies the 'strong man' ideal. For the Right, this can be goons and gangsters like Hitler, Reagan (read Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob), Franco, Oliveira Salazar, Donald Trump or any of the innumerable psychopaths of the Far Right. For the left, this can be sociopaths like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and so forth. Both the ideals of the Left and Right were codified in the writings of men, whether that's Marx or Mises or whomever else. It's not an inside-joke to say that the Patriarchy has and continues to dominate politics (and by extension, the personal and public morality).

There can be no doubting it. Hillary Clinton "lost" (even though she didn't, not really) because of sexism. My opposition to Hillary had nothing to do with sex or gender (whether you consider them distinct or synonymous), it had everything to do with corporatocracy. Corporatocracy has eaten away at both the Democratic and Republican parties, not just them, but governments across the world. Government (which is, at least in theory, publicly accountable and answerable) is decreasing in power, to an eventual irrelevancy. It is not by mistake but by design that governments across the world are paralyzed, gridlocked, inefficient and completely out of touch. Real power is in the corporate and financial sphere. Both institutionalized, as in the case of the Financial Stability Board, the Bank for International Settlements, the Federal Reserve System, the Eurogroup, the International Monetary Fund and others.

On this, I recommend Patrick Deneen's book Why Liberalism Failed.

"Has liberalism failed because it has succeeded?
Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century — fascism, communism, and liberalism — only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. Liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism (privatization); and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. The centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure."

As someone that self-identifies with the 'far left', I am more than presciently aware of the crimes of the Left. Here is an excellent documentary on what I call 'red fascism':
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Bannon out

When Roger Stone came out against Bannon, I knew: He's out. It's not official yet -- although the hammer may drop as I write -- but the exit sign is flashing, and even Drudge is predicting an adios.

Update: Yes, the NYT published the story even as I was writing these words...
Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election but clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers, is leaving his post, a White House spokeswoman announced Friday.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”
In other words, Kelly made the decision -- probably while listening to Trump rant and rave the other day.

I love this bit from Axios:
One White House source twists the knife: "His departure may seem turbulent in the media, but inside it will be very smooth. He has no projects or responsibilities to hand off."
One senior White House official said it seemed like Bannon was setting himself up to be a martyr — the nationalist hero fired by the "globalists."
Of course, there IS no "globalist" (read: Jewish) conspiracy against Bannon. Bannon is going because things are going bad and someone must be fired. Neither Trump nor Kelly can admit that Trump is the problem.
Bannon has felt freed this past week and has told friends that he is ready to go "medieval" on enemies of Trump and his populist agenda both in and out of the White House.
"Get ready for Bannon the barbarian."
Joy Reid has tweeted:
Hearing from a source that Bannon is going ugly. Stay tuned...
The obvious question, as asked by one of her readers: How much uglier can that guy get? I think the important consideration is that Trump, if he has to have any hope of lasting a full term, must eschew nationalism and become more of a conventional Republican -- but if he does move in that direction, Bannon will turn the Pepe people against the administration. That's no doubt the reason why, until now, it was thought safer to keep Bannon on the inside.

Sorry, Steve -- but if you're going to stage a "revolt against the modern world" (to borrow Evola's term), the White House is not the place.

Remember, remember...
From the Palmer Report (with all due caveats):
Way back in December of 2016, longtime Republican strategist Rick Wilson – who has stood loudly against Donald Trump from the start – posted a cryptic prediction on Twitter in Guy Fawkes style: “Remember, remember, The 8th of November, ‘Twas Putin, and treason and plot; I see no reason Why pro-Russian treason Should ever be forgot.” At the time it didn’t seem to refer to anything in particular. But this evening Wilson quoted his own poem and added “Just wanted to re-up this. You’ll know why in about two weeks.” (link). So what the heck is he referring to with this new message?
Color me skeptical. Wilson first came to my attention just before the election, when he promised a "bonkers" revelation that would destroy Trump. What we got instead was a bonkers last-minute smear against Hillary, claiming that she had been raided by the cops.

Added note: Doing the "I was not a Nazi" polka. Gotta love Jerrod Kuhn of NY, who joined the marchers in Charlottesville, and whose life is now being made much more difficult...
“I’m not a neo-Nazi,” he insisted. “I don’t belong to a German workers’ party from 1933. I’m a moderate Republican.”
"I never worked at zat camp! I am SWISS, I tell you! SWISS!!!"

Kuhn was filmed marching around with a bunch of torch-wielding would-be bullyboys chanting "Blood and soil." They yelled insults at Jews who were trying to hold a worship service. Kuhn's digital trail reveals that he enjoys hanging out with the "moderate Republicans" at the Daily Stormer.

Sometimes I wonder how Hitler would have defended himself, had he gone to trial at Nuremberg. "Adolf who? My name is Wally."
There is rumors that bannon will replace roger a. that will be fun;-)
Well I'm surprised Bannon has left. What next for Breitbart now?

So far, only a small amount of blood has flowed in the US as a result of the Trump presidency, and yet Bannon is out because keeping him would make Trump look bad in the media? If that is so, Trump may be in big trouble. Bannon is of a much higher calibre than Scaramucci. But I'm not at all sure that it is so.

Maggie Haberman and Michael Shear in the New York Times quote the same words as I quoted earlier, but interestingly they put a very different spin on them:

"Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: 'Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.'"

"Mockingly"? I read him as speaking the truth with a forked tongue, not as mocking.

Do the top brass want to wait a while before starting WW3, whereas Bannon is a Ledeenite "faster, please" guy? Just a hypothesis, but it's hard to imagine it might be the other way round. What else might the brass have against Bannon?

My hunch is that this relates to war preparations. Just how, I'm not sure.
In fairness to Rick Wilson, he later admitted that the Trump "bombshell" that wasn't was the pee tape. Everyone in the media knew about both it and the dossier, and Rick thought it would drop. Not an endorsement of him, but I thought I should provide more context.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Strange Trumpian tales

Spain. I'll probably have more to say about the Barcelona attack later. Right now, all an American blogger can do is express sadness and horror. Good Lord, when will this time of insanity end?

Do you recall Steve Bannon's acid-filled bathtub? Looks like someone close to him was cookin' up some meth.
Curtis heard the same stories of porn, drugs, and debauchery over and over again.

“Each person gave accounts that the house was used to film pornography, had a constant flow of men, women — and even children — at the house and that blatant drug use was occurring at all hours of the night and day,” Curtis said.

At least five people told him tales of drug use and porn at the house.

Felix, a handyman who frequently worked on the property, told Curtis he had personally “witnessed women and men being filmed in the act.” He described the buckets of chemicals and bags of trash and rags he had to remove. He spent hours scrubbing the master bathtub, “which appeared melted by some form of acid.” Felix suspected the bathtub had been used for “making drugs.”

Curtis heard similar stories from the pest control service man.

“In fact,” Curtis said, “he did so in an almost gleeful and boastful manner.”

The pest control worker described witnessing drug use each time he came to the house, “even at early day hours.” He told Curtis it would blow his mind to know what “what went on in the house.”

An unnamed male tenant, he said, who was “a heavy set man,” offered him “girls for sex and/or drugs in lieu of payment,” but he never accepted because he could lose his job.
Later that night, Bannon plopped into bed, reached for his well-worn copy of Julius Evola's The Hermetic Tradition, and thought: "Yes! When Evola writes about the transcendental god-man, he's really talking about....about ME!"

Later, Sater! Frankly, this story strikes me as iffy. Too good to be true. Nevertheless, let us take note of the claim: If it pans out, it pans out -- and you can debunk it, please share what you know.
Felix Sater, one of Donald Trump’s shadiest former business partners, is reportedly preparing for prison time — and he says the president will be joining him behind bars.

Sources told The Spectator‘s Paul Wood that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s deep dive into Trump’s business practices may be yielding results.
And according to Wood’s sources, Sater may have already flipped and given prosecutors the evidence they need to make a case against Trump.
For several weeks there have been rumours that Sater is ready to rat again, agreeing to help Mueller. ‘He has told family and friends he knows he and POTUS are going to prison,’ someone talking to Mueller’s investigators informed me.
Sater hinted in an interview earlier this month that he may be cooperating with both Mueller’s investigation and congressional probes of Trump.

“In about the next 30 to 35 days, I will be the most colourful character you have ever talked about,” Sater told New York Magazine. “Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it now, before it happens. And believe me, it ain’t anything as small as whether or not they’re gonna call me to the Senate committee.”
I'm intrigued but wary. Mensch and Taylor have gotten our hopes up too many times; having been burned before, I now put on oven mitts. It should also be noted that Sater denies collusion with Russia...
Sater laughed off such theories. “The next three years of hearings about Trump and Russia will yield absolutely nothing. I know the man, they didn’t collude,” he said. “Did a bunch of meetings happen? Absolutely. The people on the Trump team who had any access to the Russians wanted to be first in and be the guys that ran the whole détente thing. Michael Flynn wanted to be the détente guy, and then [Paul] Manafort, I’m sure, wanted to be the détente guy. Shit, I wanted to be the détente guy, why not? But was it really a conspiracy between Putin and Donald to get him elected? A little bit of a stretch.”
Of course, Sater probably fears Putin one hell of a lot more than he fears Donald Trump or anyone else. So he could be looking for a way to implicate the Orange Oaf without annoying Vladimir Satanovich.

The "Tom Watson Slide": Today's anti-fascist is tomorrow's fascist

Millions have already seen the short documentary embedded above. I am ashamed to admit that I had not viewed it until yesterday. If you've not seen it yet, you must.

Pay close attention to Matthew Heimbach, who shows up not long past the ten minute mark. You may be surprised by his anti-corporatist, anti-capitalist message. For a moment, he sounds like someone who has been reading Chomsky. Of course, Heimbach believes that anti-capitalism and anti-Semitism go hand in hand; so did many 19th century Marxists.

An argument of that sort may seduce radical leftists into joining the far right. In fact, I've seen that very scenario play out many times.

In 1970, anti-war protestors gathered to hear Jane Fonda say "Don't trust the government" -- and ten years later, the same people voted for Ronald Reagan, who also said "Don't trust the government." I knew a famous leader of the SDS -- someone who testified at the Chicago 8 trial -- who, by the 1990s, had become a quasi-sympathizer of the JBS. I used to know one of the founders of the East Village Other (a great hippie journal of the 1960s); by the 1990s, the same guy was a right-wing kook who wanted to get rid of Social Security. In the late 1980s, I knew people radicalized by Chomsky and Cockburn and Pacifica radio; by 1994, the same people were joining militias and trading conspiracy theories about Bill Clinton and the Rothschilds and the Knights Templar and God-knows-what-else.

The beat goes on: The SPLC tells us that White Nationalist Jason Kessler got his start with the Occupy movement.

We need a name for this phenomenon. I suggest calling it the "Tom Watson Slide," after the populist rabble-rouser Tom Watson, who began as a radical ultra-progressive but eventually morphed into a radical racist. Watson played the Édouard Drumont role in the Leo Frank affair -- and modern Nazis are still defending his scurrilous behavior.

Some readers wonder why I've come to hate the BernieBros. Some wonder why I never had any use for those on the left who despise mainstream liberalism and the Democratic party.

Why do I distrust such people? The Tom Watson Slide. That's why. I've seen it happen far too often.

In the 1930s, the left was split between those who loved FDR and those who called FDR a capitalist sell-out. The latter category included a few notables (such as Whittaker Chambers and, arguably, Irving Kristol) who eventually showed us their versions of the Tom Watson Slide. Meanwhile, those in the former category -- the FDR-lovers -- tended to stay put. If they did slide, they didn't slide very far.

For similar reasons, I oppose anarchism -- all forms of anarchism, including that really cool one that you are now tempted to prattle on about because you seem to believe that I've never heard that kind of prattle before. Why do I stand against the anarchist? Because anarchism, in all its flavors, is a common "gateway drug" leading to Libertarianism, and Libertarianism usually morphs into the latest iterations of the Tea Party or the John Birch Society.

I have read that members of Antifa behaved with true heroism in Charlottesville. They deserve our gratitude and our applause for that.

However, the more I learn about Antifa, the greater my fear that this movement attracts the kind of radicals likeliest to make what I call the Tom Watson Slide. Most members of Antifa are anarchists who oppose conventional Democratic politicians. How can I do anything but oppose their opposition? In response to a previous post, one of my readers insisted on drawing a sharp distinction between Antifa and the violence-prone Black Bloc. But that distinction is far from clear: See here and here and here.

History strongly suggests that today's anti-fascist street-brawler is tomorrow's pro-fascist street-brawler. Those who bravely stood against the Nazis in Charlottesville may find it hard to believe that such a transmogrification is possible. But the Slide has happened before -- many, many times. It will happen again.
I mostly agree with you! But this isn't the time to be directing fire at the left and the perniciousness of anarchists isn't the takeaway. The president said there were many "fine people" in the "quiet" Nazi torch parade. Our country has its Hitler, and he has three and a half years left, minimum. Keep your eye on the ball.
President Trump needs to be impeached and sooner rather than later.

Racism is unacceptable. Trump's narcissism and egoism are a clear and present danger.

I'm not saying anything everyone doesn't already know. So how in the fuck is this idiot not impeached? How are there not impeachment proceedings in the Congress already? How far is the GOP (or Republicans or whatever shit name they want to self-identify with) going to let Trump shit all over the nation and bounce around like a fucking buffoon? Impeach the son of bitch, put Pence in office for the next ~3 years. Then let that evil son of a bitch lose to the Democratic nominee. Which would happen because Michael Pence on his own wouldn't even reach the ~1% level in the primaries that Lindsey Graham had. The Democrats could throw up anyone (except Hillary Clinton) and easily skate to victory in 2020 against Pence and his fellow goombas.

Impeach Trump. Let's get it done, America. No more playing footsies with neo-Nazis, the Alt. Right, the Far Right, the neo-fascists, the ultranationalists, etc. It's time to put an end to these dangerous flirtations before someone gets bedded.

RIP Heather Heyer. May your death lead to America's salvation in getting rid of that imbecile President 45.


What's happening with Steve Bannon?

Whatever it is, it's not essentially about white supremacism. Bannon is not a white supremacist. That term is bandied about so much. Bannon may be willing to use the crackers, just as Trump wouldn't have won the election without geeing up the beer-bellied, uneducated, white gun-toting males who think they're Macho Incarnate but who in the event of a second US civil war might find it hard to pull themselves away from the wrestling on the telly. Any serious military force would be very choosy about who among that rabble of lardarses (probably in many cases addicted to opiates) they wanted to recruit. Even the German SA had standards.

Bannon said last year that the US and China would fight a war within 5-10 years. The background of guys like Bannon and Michael Ledeen is fascism. Not Nazism. Italian fascism. Militarism and war were far more intrinsic to that brand than they were to German national socialism. War is central to Bannon's outlook. Major war between, on one side, the US and at least some of its NATO allies, and on the other, China, Russia, or both. World war three. Nuclear war. Not a bunch of hooded crackers in the US South. It was obvious that Trumpism would cause blood to start flowing in the US. But the crackers are just tools.

Here's a quote from Bannon when he went to a conference in the Vatican in 2014:

"Just to put it in perspective, with the assassination that took place 100 years ago tomorrow in Sarajevo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer, the High Church of England and the Catholic Church and the Christian faith was predominant throughout Europe of practicing Christians. Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties." (emphasis added)

That sounds far more like it.

More recently he came from a different angle:

There’s no military solution (to North Korea’s nuclear threats). Forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no military solution here. They got us.

He is correct in his analysis of the balance of forces in Korea. North Korea could indeed destroy Seoul with conventional weapons within a very short period of time. It would be absolutely impossible for the US to destroy their artillery before they did it. The South Korean elite must be shitting themselves at the thought that their assets will be sacrificed at the altar of the Trump-Kim monster. But they're small fry.

The term "economic war with China" has been deliberately chosen for use by Bannon because of the resonance that is pumped up by its final three words: war with China. His statements about both WW1 and Seoul, even if the latter was couched in forked-tongue negative terms, show he is very well aware of how quickly things can change, how quickly the plan is for them to change. It's at this point in the analysis that comparisons with Nazism are apt.
Eric Hoffer, "The True Believer"
I keep remembering Toni Morrison's description of one of those: he didn't kill because of the organization demanded it, he joined the organization because he wanted to kill, or something to that effect.
The political spectrum is not a straight line but a circle. Liberals on left, conservatives on the right, and libertarians on the bottom. The further left or right that you go you eventuality meet each other at the bottom.
Word in the conspiracy world is that Kessler might be some kind of intelligence agent working for "them". No idea if there is any truth to that but I found it an interesting suggestion. No doubt there are intelligence agents infiltrating these groups on a regular basis.
@William - Sure, that's often true as a first-order observation, but you haven't defined "left" and "right"; nor, for that matter, the horrible term "liberal". Is Trump a "conservative"?

The straight line ("spectrum"), the horseshoe, the circle, the two-dimensional plane (left-right on one axis, despotism-liberalism on the other): they are all confused. We live in dark, dark times, in which to achieve an appreciable amount of critical clarity is a lifelong and ongoing battle. Many of the decent people who reject the right wing, the free market, and the red fascism of Lenin and Stalin, but who are anything but nutcases who are always calling for what few social forces are actually materially positing, have a hard time defining what they are for.

Where would you place Anton Pannekoek, usually considered to be the left of Leninism, on your circle? Nowhere near Ayn Rand, I hope :)
I remember like it was only yesterday how the mainstream media, or corporate media, or the Octopus had condemned blogs and bloggers, who were encroaching on their elite privilege of ownership of information. Underneath any of their sometimes sensible arguments was the self-evident fact: the Internet is anarchy and liberty made actual, no need for steenking badges, n'est-ce pas?

It would be useful to have a national debate about repealing the 22nd amendment which limits the terms of the president. More important, though, the Constitution should be amended to require all candidates for president, vice-president, and Congress to wear paper sacs over their heads to insure that non-photogenic persons (and men who suffer flopsweat) get a fair shake.
The Barcelona attack happened outside this Chabad-certified restaurant.
Other than an obsession with Chabad, I fail to see b's point.
Everyone you mentioned were conspiracists first and foremost. That's the common denominator. When the next cool bit of forbidden knowledge comes along they can't help themselves but to get swept up in it. And no individual is either totally left or totally right on the political spectrum, any more than they're totally good or totally bad.
Anon: So you figured out who was who, even though I dropped no names? Guess I wasn't as oblique as I thought. I could tell some stories -- especially about the East Village Other guy.

Look, you're right about no-one being totally left or right; human behavior is not so schematic. But I've seen the transition too often: A nice liberal guy becomes curious about who was shooting from the grassy knoll, and three years later, the same guy is telling me to read "The Committee of 300" or some similar classic.
The Chabad links to properties close to the sites of terror attacks are way too many to be coincidence, and as with the 7/7 bombings in London there will be Zionist "security" all over the area. No doubt you will say I am a genocidalist Hitler-lover to make that point, small-j joseph, so don't expect a reply.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It belongs in a museum

Wow. I had hoped to discuss the monument issue in Baltimore before the problem received an official solution. But they took it down last night!

By "it" I refer to a rare double-equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Three other monuments were also taken away, but the Lee/Jackson work is the one that made such a striking impression on me when I first explored that neighborhood. The work is -- was -- located in the park across the street from the Baltimore Museum of Art, the same park in which one also may find a memorial to Union soldiers and sailors.

If memory serves, the Lee/Jackson piece was erected in the 1950s. Make no mistake: The purpose of this work is pure glorification. The inscription on the pedestal offers no hint that these men were declared enemies of the United States.

The work has genuine art historical value, since it is very well-executed and double equestrian monuments are quite rare -- in fact, I can't think of another example. However, many African-American families live not far from that park. One can only imagine how parents felt when they brought their children to that place.

When Robert E. Lee re-conquered a city, he would re-enslave the black population. I'm not sure that he approved of this policy (dictated by the government of Jefferson Davis), but he enacted it, and I see no reason why people trying to have a nice day in the park should be reminded of what he did.

After the war, Lee opposed the erection of any monuments to the Confederacy; he felt that healing took precedence over all other considerations. Nevertheless, throughout the next century, many monuments to the Confederacy were built -- often in reaction to the struggle for civil rights.

My view is that such works must not be destroyed. The iconoclastic instinct terrifies historians, particularly art historians -- for example, England lost many important works after Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church. Societies change; values change; politics change. But art endures. Art must endure, even when it offends.

Preservation, however, does not mean that such works should continue to dominate public spaces.

Context is all. A Lee/Jackson statue in a park sends a certain message: These were great men. We, the people of Baltimore, approve of what they did.

That's the wrong message.

In the words of Indiana Jones: It belongs in a museum. A museum setting will change the message.

Most people understand that museums do not glorify; they preserve. They allow us to study an artifact of the past; they do not compel us toward admiration or worship. In a museum setting, signs and curators can tell visitors the truth about Lee and Jackson, and can explain the social context which surrounded the creation of the work.

Everyone knows what Andrew Jackson did to the Cherokees, yet no-one objects to the paintings of Jackson in the National Portrait Gallery. Those portraits do not require us to admire what the man did. They simply say: Here he is. Here is what he looked like. Here is how a 19th century artist saw him.

Speaking as an artist myself, I must also point out that artworks exist to tell the story of the artist. To someone like me, the person that the artist was looking at is often of little importance.

Many people do not understand this point. Many people are very literal: They are word people. They reduce all painting and sculpture to rhetoric; they judge a painting by its subject matter. As I've written in at least one previous post, subject matter is the least interesting aspect of any painting or sculpture -- at least when viewed through the eyes of an artist.

When you visit the National Gallery in DC, you'll come across Jacques-Louis David's famous portrait of Napoleon in his study. If you are not an artist, your first thought will probably be: "Ah. Napoleon!"  

My first thought (back in 1986, during my first trip to DC) was quite different: "Ah. David!"

I see the artist. You see the emperor. I wish to hell I could make you see through my eyes, but you never will. Frankly, I've given up on trying to improve the vision of "word people" like you.

One could argue that this image of Napoleon is every bit as offensive as that double-equestrian statue which was recently removed from its perch in that Baltimore park. You may not care about the burning of Moscow, but Russians do. Napoleon's campaign in Egypt -- which began on the pretext of noble ideals -- devolved into sheer horror:
One particularly valued aid-de-camp named Sulkowski was sent with a message to General Dumas. While riding through the city his horse stumbled, and he was thrown. He was then beaten and massacred by the people, and his body thrown to the dogs. When one of Sulkowski's guides returned to Bonaparte, covered with blood and gave him the news, he was enraged. He ordered an officer named Croiser to take his men and find the tribe responsible for the uprising and the murder, burn their huts, kill their men and bring their heads back to show the population. Croiser and his men returned the next day, laden with sacks. As Bourrienne remembers, "The sacks were opened in the principal square, and the heads rolled out before the assembled populace. I cannot describe the horror I experienced..."
When the French arrived at Jaffa on March 3rd, the defenders there refused to surrender. On the 7th, the French launched a strong attack and the town fell that evening. During and after the attack, many French soldiers ran amok through the town slaughtering Jews, Christians and Moslems indiscriminately (for reasons I cannot divine). The carnage was terrible.
Four thousand men surrendered; Napoleon ordered helpless prisoners to be shot.

So: Should we remove David's painting from the National Gallery? Of course not. If we were to start removing all works that might possibly cause offense, we'll soon have nothing left but pretty florals and landscapes.

People understand -- at least, I hope they understand -- that a museum is not like a public park.

When you see that portrait of Napoleon, you should not walk away thinking: "Here is a great man, worthy of emulation." Some of you will walk away thinking "What an asshole." Indeed he was, but the painting has much more to say. I can only hope that you -- at least a few of you -- will walk away telling your companions: "Say what you will about David, that guy was one hell of a painter."

Context is all.

Museums can offer the right context for the works now being removed from our public spaces.

Preserve. Recontextualize.
Ishmael Reed had an amusing biography listing for his novel "Yellow Back Radio Broke Down". I wish I could quote it exactly. Something along the lines of "Ishmael Reed was born in the south, and consequently spent his early years barking his shins on Confederate statues."
I'm glad you elaborated on the portrait of Napoleon because I first thought it was a promo still of the young Alan Arkin as Napoleon at the conclusion of the grand "Scaramouche" (1952). And will there be a 'Movement' to rename Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia? (Ah, there once was a great vegetarian restaurant there, The Blue Heron Cafe.) Will a group demand that Montgomery Clift's name in "From Here To Eternity", Robert E. Lee Pruit, be scrapped and dubbed with another name when he speaks it, when Burt Lancaster speaks it, and when Donna Reed speaks it?

Coincidentally I just watched "Camille Claudet", which I think is much better than the excellent "Seven Days In May". I don't live within a day's reach of a good museum of fine art. Where I grew up, though, I could walk to some of the best. I was too young to comprehend much about a painting's or sculpture's subject and matter, so I could only stand or sit in awe of the work itself, especially because I loved to draw, paint, and sculpt. Much later, when I visited the British Museum, a lovely docent there recalled to me the time she had read of someone who met a traveller from an antique land who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand, half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive, (stamped on these lifeless things,) the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed: and on the pedestal these words appear: 'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away. Then she directed me to the museum's basement, where I looked at the black Rosetta Stone (or a facsimile) and behind it, in a room of its own, a many thousand-years-old sculpted head from Egypt that was bigger than a duplex. It reminded me of P. D. Ouspensky's passages about the Great Sphinx, how its face is quite modern looking, and its gaze focusses at infinity.

I adore the scenes in "Amelie" (!!!) when the neighbor art copyist obsesses over the young woman's gaze in Renoir's "Luncheon Of The Boating Party".
I could not have said it better, Joseph.
Nice jumping off point for an essay on art and its meaning. What a surprise to hear that some of those confederate things have some actual aesthetic value.

A coincidence to read of the original Ozymandias. Ed and Nancy Reddin Kienholz made an assemblage sculpture called "The Ozymandias
Parade" in 1985. That piece, which I've seen twice, has been on my mind recently. Pretty good write up here:

Kienholz died too long ago to have made a Trump sculpture, but we are free to imagine.
Folks, I forgot to add one point: The reason why that particular statue shocked me when I first saw it was that Maryland remained loyal to the Union. I'd have been less surprised to see a monument of that sort in Tennessee or Virginia.

Maryland was highly unusual in that slavery was still legal here, even though the state did not join the Confederacy. If it had, the Union could never have won the war. Lincoln thus had to tolerate slavery in this one state, at least for a brief while, because doing otherwise would have resulted in victory for the south.

Of course, Alt Left purists pretend not to understand why history sometimes requires these terrible compromises.

You're missing the point about why the Confederate monuments are being taken down. It wasn't about the general's conduct in the war. Lee and Jackson were no more or less cruel than Napoleon, Sherman, or Patton. It's the cause they were fighting for. Napoleon was at the time fighting to preserve the ideals of the French Revolution.
I think you're the one missing the point, Franklin. And it's a very good point, Joseph.
Confederate monumentalism was a product of the Jim Crow era, intended to intimidate the newly freed Blacks. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville was erected in 1924, six decades after the Civil War. It was from the outset a re-assertion of White power. It does not commemorate Lee the man but Lee the racist. Lee himself was against any monuments to the Confederation, so if one wishes to honestly celebrate Lee, taking down the statue would be the best way to do justice to him.

That said, the artistic value of such statues is debatable. Certainly the double chevaliers of Baltimore are a rarity and quite well crafted. But they would hardly be museum-worthy were it not for the historic personalities they represent. As an art genre, equestrian statues are a bit akin to national anthems in music, a mix of craftsmanship and kitsch, to which even the greatest artists have succumbed. Just consider Haydn, who composed “Gott erhalte Franz, den Kaiser” (God save Francis the Emperor). The empire was Austria, but the melody is now the national anthem of Germany (with different lyrics, of course). It is easily Haydn’s most banal invention, and it irks me to no end because Haydn is otherwise my favorite classical composer. You hear this junk ad nauseam in football stadiums, along with Queen’s insufferable “We Are the Champions”, but never in concert halls.

It is no more artistically defensible to build a (necessarily huge) Museum of Equestrian Statues than to hold a concert of national anthems by great composers.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trump lost it

I did not see Trump's presser today, but I've read the transcript and followed the various reactions. It seems obvious that the president lost his shit. And when I say he lost it, I mean...he LOST it. If Josh Gates, Heinrich Schliemann, Vasco da Gama and Indiana Jones mounted a year-long expedition in search of Trump's Lost Shit, they'd come out of it shit-free.

Is there any justification for this "both sides" rhetoric? Or for that reference to "clubs"? Or for applying the "Alt Left" label to the counter-protestors? Some of them were members of Black Lives Matter. The term "Alt Left" usually refers to the BernieBros, and most black people did not support Bernie.

Mind you, I don't have any use for Antifa, which may in fact be a ratfucking operation, although I have not read enough about that group to formulate any hard conclusions. From what I have read, it would appear that most of those kids are self-proclaimed anarchists -- which means that, over the course of the next ten years, they'll no doubt make the traditional anarchism-to-libertarianism-to-GOP transition. How many times have we seen young people go down that well-worn path? Since most of 'em hate the awful, awful DNC more than they hate (say) Paul Ryan, they can't expect any applause from the likes of me.

My understanding is that most of the counter-protestors were locals, not Antifa imports. The NYT reports that none of the anti-Nazis lost their temper until after James Fields plowed his vehicle into a group of innocents. I consider the anti-Nazis' loss of temper to be justifiable, or at least inevitable: Human beings have their breaking points, and violence committed in self-defense does not have the same "semblance of guilt" as violence committed by an aggressor.

Of course, both Trump and the Alt Rightists (especially David Duke) are using that loss-of-temper as an excuse to pretend that both sides were equally at fault. Good Christ, what does Trump expect? Does he really think that decent citizens should meekly accept vehicular homicide committed by an acolyte of Adolf? As one wag noted: By Trumpian logic, the Nazis and the Allies were equally at fault for the violence committed on D-Day.

The Wikipedia entry on the Charlottesville incident offers no evidence for Trump's "both sides" rhetoric. Neither does it offer evidence for Trump's contention that there were non-extremists marching alongside Richard Spencer's tiki-torch Sturmabteilung.

Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll offer my thoughts concerning the knotty problem of public monuments to the so-called "heroes" of the Confederacy. There is an important example here in Bawlmer.

Kelly. You may have seen the instantly-famous photo of General Kelly looking embarrassed during Trump's Loss-of-Shit performance. A number of progressives are now saying that Kelly should quit.

No. No.

North Korea still threatens; war jitters still beset us. In such times, we can't have a White House totally bereft of grown-up supervision. If Trump keeps imitating Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, then Kelly may have to stage his own version of Seven Days in May.

A scenario which liberals once considered nightmarish is starting to look attractive. Or at least less dangerous than the alternative.
The car murder incident has overshadowed the timeline and too many overshadows the timeline. The car murderer will get his and should not be used as an excuse to not analyze what came before.

What was the timeline. Were the intolerants allowed to protest without being physically blockaded, or not? Until that question is answered, it's mindless bullshit propaganda.
Antifa is not a ratfvcking organization, you might be thinking of the black bloc which shows up uninvited and masked to various protests and immediately began to burn things and cause damage. That had the stink of agent provacetuer all over it.

Trump was seething after his staff made him give a mealy-mouthed condemnation of the White Supremacists. Richard Spencer knew it and said so immediately.

Trump is the President no one was going to tell him what to do and with Ivanka out of town and thus unable to brush his lap with her long hair there was no one to mollify his anger. So, he went out a declared himself a Literal Fascist and made it know he is them and they are he...
Antifa---I guess that's an abbreviation of antifascist...I believe we fought a war about that.
Also, we won.

Antifa is the communists attempt to re-brand themselves after we fought a war with them... and won.

Confederate monumentalism was a product of the Jim Crow era, intended to intimidate the newly freed Blacks. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville was erected in 1924, six decades after the Civil War. It was from the outset a re-assertion of White power. It does not commemorate Lee the man but Lee the racist. Lee himself was against any monuments to the Confederation, so if one wishes to honestly celebrate Lee, taking down the statue would be the best way to do justice to him.

That said, the artistic value of such statues is debatable. Certainly the double chevaliers of Baltimore are a rarity and quite well crafted. But they would hardly be museum-worthy were it not for the historic personalities they represent. As an art genre, equestrian statues are a bit akin to national anthems in music, a mix of craftsmanship and kitsch, to which even the greatest artists have succumbed. Just consider Haydn, who composed “Gott erhalte Franz, den Kaiser” (God save Francis the Emperor). The empire was Austria, but the melody is now the national anthem of Germany (with different lyrics, of course). It is easily Haydn’s most banal invention, and it irks me to no end because Haydn is otherwise my favorite classical composer. You hear this junk ad nauseam in football stadiums, along with Queen’s insufferable “We Are the Champions”, but never in concert halls.

It is no more artistically defensible to build a (necessarily huge) Museum of Equestrian Statues than to hold a concert of national anthems by great composers.

Sorry, meant to post above in the Belongs in Museum thread.
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Glad you said it, Richard Spencer

I don't often agree with Richard Spencer, but...well, when yer right, yer right. (In this case, ultra-right.)
Alt-right leader Richard Spencer told reporters from his "office" on Monday that he doesn’t think President Donald Trump condemned his movement when he denounced neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and white supremacists.

"His statement today was more kumbaya nonsense," said Spencer, who attended and was slated to speak at the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday. "Only a dumb person would take those lines seriously."
I wasn't among the dumb (as the preceding post demonstrated). Were you?

Was anyone?

Added note: A long time ago, I wrote a piece which confused Richard Spencer with Robert Spencer, the author of Did Muhammed Exist? (a book I enjoyed, even though I didn't agree with its main thesis). Apparently, the error is a common one. I apologize for the misapprehension; although Robert Spencer is an oddball, he's a different kind of oddball. We should note that the website accuses Robert Spencer of...well, here's the exact wording:
Major Evidence Reveals That Robert Spencer Is Working With Genocidal Satanist Nazi Cult That Plans To Eradicate All Christians In Concentration Camps
I don't think that this is true. I also think that Muhammed was a real person, although I strongly doubt that he chatted with the angel Gabriel. To the best of my knowledge, this opinion is shared by nearly every objective academic.

What mad times we live in! Robert Spencer, Richard Spencer, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, Jack Posobiec, Mike Cernovich... Can you believe that these creatures are taken seriously? That journalists are forced to learn their names and summarize their views? That they've impacted the thinking of the goddamned president and his entourage?

I'm old enough to recall when someone like John Judge was considered wacky.
@Joe Cannon,

I hope you'll consider this post to be in accordance with your "stay close to topic" rule. VICE just put out an excellent documentary (about 1 hour 10 minutes long) called 'A House Divided'. It's an attempt to explore how we got where we are today. I think you and everyone else will enjoy it. See it at:

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Trump hesitated to condemn Nazis because he IS a Nazi

I'm still angry.

I'm so angry that I probably should not try to write. My original intention was to embed a clip from last night's John Oliver episode and let it go at that.

But the need to express myself has taken hold, so I'm going to offer my thoughts -- and if this essay seems unorganized or intemperate, apologies. Again: I'm still angry.

Ever since Trump fastened onto birtherism, we've wondered: Does he really believe in that nonsense? Or is he simply using right-wing conspiracy theories for the purposes of self-promotion?

I think the answer is clear now: Trump really is a True Believer. He is also, at heart, a fascist.

True, he finally denounced the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who assembled at Charlottesville, but he did so only when politically forced to do so. His words came far too late, backed by far too little sincerity.

Conspiracy theory is the road to fascism. Psychologically, Trump is the sort of person likeliest to embrace right-wing conspiracy theories: He's an ill-read, low-IQ blowhard who thinks that he's smarter than he actually is, and who remains perpetually resentful of those who possess greater brainpower.

I've met a lot of guys like that, although the ones I bumped into never had money. There was a time when I tried to debate that sort of person. Always a mistake. Those assimilated into the ConspiraBorg are way beyond argument.

Many years ago, I became peripherally involved with the JFK assassination research community, taking a particular interest in JFK's far-right opponents -- Guy Banister, General Walker, the Birchers and so forth. Researching that subculture brought me into confrontation with people I had read about but never hoped to meet: Illuminati-spotters, Holocaust deniers, and racists who consider "mixmaster" to be the ultimate insult.

Not only that. Some of the JFK assassination researchers -- the good ones, the liberals -- morphed into doppelgangers of JFK's far-right opponents. I will always defend the memory of Jim Garrison, yet I must also admit that some Garrison fans share certain attributes with the fans of Willis Carto and Milton William Cooper. On both left and right, there is the automatic presumption of bad faith on the part of anyone who disagrees. On both sides, one encounters a knee-jerk reliance on ad hominem argumentation, particularly of the "spook-baiting" kind.

In short: Even the "good" conspiracy theorists sometimes descend into a kind of fascism. Yet they sincerely identify themselves as anti-fascists.

On the far right, the F-word evokes mixed feelings. Although James Alex Fields, the white supremacist who used his car as a lethal weapon, has openly proclaimed his love for Hitler, most white nationalists prefer to argue that mainstream liberals and Democrats are the true fascists.

Personally, I'm sick of that doubletalk. Give me the fascist who wears the F-word on his t-shirt without shame or subterfuge. He may be evil, but at least he's honest.

Our president remains a classic doubletalker, though he is not as effective as he once was, perhaps because age and job stress keep eroding his verbal skills (which weren't very impressive to begin with). Even so, most of the country refuses to recognize Trump's fascism for what it is. The truth is simply too horrible to admit.

There's another problem. Too many people cannot get beyond this simplistic equation: Fascism = anti-Semitism. Trump praises Israel and has a Jewish son-in-law. How (many would ask) can one apply the label "fascist" to such a man?

My answer: Fascism has always been a more complex ideology than most Americans realize. Mussolini invented fascism, yet he didn't hate Jews -- at least not in the virulent way that, say, Julius Streicher did. As I keep reminding readers, Anders Brevik -- the neofascist Norwegian mass murderer -- remains an admirer of Israel. The Nazi party of 1940 and Richard Spencer's group are two different things; the new beast is not the old beast.

The current American fascist movement is split between old-schoolers -- those who retain a transcendental hatred of Jews -- and new-schoolers who consider Israel a valuable ally in the battle against Islam.

But the situation becomes ever more complex the closer one looks. Steve Bannon hates Islam and respects Alexander Dugin, yet Dugin admires the more extreme forms of jihadist Islam. For Dugin, the enemy is neither Judaism nor Islam: The true enemies are equality, tolerance, democracy, multiculturalism and progress. In a word: The Enlightenment.

Steve Bannon always insists that he loves Israel, as if that statement could bleach the F-word from his t-shirt -- but only the most foolish Jews would ally themselves themselves with a modern fascist like Bannon. The old-school anti-Semites may be relatively quiet now, but I am certain that they will one day reassert their dominance of the far right. If the supporters of Steve Bannon take full control of this country, no Jew anywhere will be safe.

Americans must understand that we have a Nazi-influenced president who also happens to have a Jewish son-in-law and a daughter who converted to Judaism. Yes, it's a bizarre situation. But it is what it is.

The Russian connection. In recent days, those pushing back on Russiagate have mounted two mutually exclusive attacks.

On one hand, we have a recent article in The Nation (I refuse to link to it) which claims -- insanely -- that the Democratic party is responsible for the leaks that deep-sixed Hillary Clinton. This piece of propaganda actually goes so far as to imply that the Guccifers (both 1 and 2!) were constructs of those hideous, scheming Democrats, especially the hideous, scheming DNC.

I need not offer a detailed counterargument. If you are the sort of person who can take that inane claim seriously, even for an instant, find yourself another blog. A long time ago, I stopped arguing with Holocaust deniers, with Jehovah's Witnessess, and with people who are convinced that the aliens built a base beneath Dulce, New Mexico. Fanatics are beyond debate; I refuse to be sealioned by some nutjob who thinks that the DNC created Guccifer 2.0.

So much for the first line of attack. The second line of attack holds that Obama was warned about Russian interference as early as 2014. Although the Politico article at the other end of that link is worth reading, rightwingers have seized upon this line of investigation to argue that Russian interference is really all the fault of those hideous, scheming Democrats. This absurd claim has already flavored some of Trump's tweets.

Needless to say, Propaganda Claim 1 and Propaganda Claim 2 cannot be reconciled. One can say that Russiagate is imaginary or one can say that Russiagate all the fault of Barack Obama. One cannot say both things at the same time.

How does the Russian connection link up with American neofascism? First and foremost, I'd point to this tweet from David Duke:
White man... your enemy isn't Russia -
#TheScaryThingIs your enemy is those telling you Russia is your enemy, believe me.
Duke adorns this sentiment with the hashtags #TeamWhite and #MAGA.

From there, you may want to proceed to a piece published just a few hours ago in the Observer: "Richard Spencer and His Kook-Right Ilk Are Agents of Russian Influence."
Our extreme right, with very few exceptions, are super-fans of the Russian president, in whom they see a strong, traditional leader who runs the world’s only white nuclear-armed great power. Their websites brim with adulation for Putin as a demigod who resists the Western social justice agenda with more than words.
This article was written by John Schindler, whom I do not trust -- although in this instance, his argument is open to independent verification.

Where next? I would suggest exploring the strange philosophical realms ruled by Alexander Dugin. Although I talk about him a lot, it would be a mistake to regard Dugin as a kind of Marvel comics supervillain. To me, he symbolizes a much larger phenomenon.

Since the 1950s, one faction of the post-war international fascist movement has had a love affair with Russia -- and after the fall of the Soviet Union, many Russians have reciprocated their affection. If the previous sentence seems unfathomably strange to you -- "Didn't Hitler invade Russia? Wasn't there a really horrible siege of Leningrad?" -- I can only direct your attention to Kevin Coogan's important work Dreamer of the Day, which offers a detailed, scholarly investigation of certain little-known developments within the world of post-war fascism.

Coogan's book focuses on an influential fascist "thinker" named Francis Parker Yockey. In the 1950s, Yockey decided that Communism was a temporary affliction, and that the day would come (once the Marxist menace withered away) when Russia would prove an ideal homeland for a new "white power" movement.

Allow me to republish a section of an earlier post:
While doing some research into Robert Spencer, the neo-Nazi who pals around with Steve Bannon and Pam Geller, I found some statements which led me to suspect that Spencer has read Frances Parker Yockey's Imperium. This post-war Nazi "Bible" remains unfamiliar to most Americans.

Have I read it? Of course. I've also read Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan's remarkable biography of Yockey. Although hard to locate -- try inter-library loan -- this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand post-war fascism.

Yockey's Imperium attempts to prove that, in ancient times, the white race -- that "hardy band of adventurers" -- traveled the world, initiating every great intellectual leap made by the human race. Pyramids in Egypt, printing in China, formal logic in India, the wheel, cuneiform writing, fire: Thank Whitey. The so-called "Aryans" did all of these things and so much more.

According to Yockey, creativity is a purely Aryan "thing." Many Aryans do not understand this truth about themselves because they've been deceived by a group which Yockey calls the "culture distorters." And just who are they? Yockey usually plays it coy when it comes to identifying these people, although you may be able to hazard a guess.

If you're thinking that Yockey joined up with the American Nazi Party of George Lincoln Rockwell, you're wrong. Rockwell could not tolerate Yockey's obsessive hatred of America. Surprisingly, Yockey favored Russia. That's right: An American post-war fascist sided with Russia in the middle of the Cold War -- not many years after the battle of Stalingrad!

Although Yockey had no love for communism, Marxism was, in his view, just a temporary affliction. More important, he felt, was the fact that the Russian people eschewed racial mixing, Yockeyism's great sin. They were also more chary of those pesky "culture distorters." Near the end of his life, Stalin's drift toward anti-Semitism made many American hate-mongers rethink their attitudes toward him.

Yockey worked within with the first American fascist movement of the post-WWII era: The National Renaissance Party of James Madole. (The NRP also published the works of Eustace Mullins, who later became very popular with conspiracy buffs on both the right and the left.) Yockey's greatest champion was Willis Carto, founder of Spotlight magazine -- a formative influence on the American conspiracy buff subculture.

(Intriguingly, some theorists have speculated that Carto had a hand in Yockey's mysterious death.)

For five decades, Yockeyism has been the "secret ingredient" laced into the giant pot of stew served up by America's conspiracy buff subculture. Is it any surprise to see Trump's conspiracy-addled entourage spouting riffs that sound like passages from Imperium?

Yockey's most radical ideas can be stated simply: Russia = good. Join forces with Russia. Unravel the power of those evil Wall Street culture distorters who run America.

That's pretty much the message of the Trump campaign, isn't it? Allow me to offer a tentative prediction: Before we are done with the Trump movement, we will see the boldest Trumpers endorse Imperium openly.
Do you take requests, Mr. Cannon? If you do take requests, on some Sunday would you post something about Michelangelo's David's foreskin? Imagine Bathsheba's ghost looking at that huge statue and saying, WTF?

So what if Trump's a Nazi? During his presidential campaign George McGovern compared the Nixon administration to Nazi Germany. Remember? And he implied that Nixon was like Hitler when he recommended "Inside The Mind Of Adolf Hitler". Then Reagan laid a wreath in the SS graveyard. Then G.H.W. Bush employed Nazis in his administration. You have to ask yourself: Are we safer because of Operation Paper Clip? Is it irony, a paradox, or something else, that flipped Nazis developed the space programs for the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and now American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts co-habit the International Space Station?

Were you surprised during the MSNBC coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention when it ran commercial spots for The Nation magazine? I had never seen a commercial for The Nation anywhere before then. In more recent times, The Nation has run many full-page and back cover ads for MSNBC, featuring the news anchors, without which ads it can be argued that The Nation would have gone out of business.

I don't think Trump belatedly condemned racists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK owing to political pressure or public opinion; I think he was simply unfazed during the weekend while he was busy with golf and following the PGA Championship. Only after did he wake up to the possible market effects of his equivocation and hesitancy, and probably he realized he'd never get a lawyer to help him ever again because Roy Cohn was dead. Yet he did condemn them unambiguously, clearly and without any equivocation. Why? Probably because he only likes and supports winners. The racist, white supremacists lost the War Between the States; the Nazi master race lost to the Soviet Slavs and Asiatics and American boys bred from European peasants and serfs. Plus, he doesn't give a crap about those deplorables because he won't be running again.

The U.S. House of Representatives still displays a fasces to the right of the Speaker's chair, and the old Mercury dime, replaced with the current Roosevelt dime, had a fasces on its reverse side. Well before Mussolini, the U.S. had embraced the fascist ideals (and architecture) of the Roman republic. Of course, symbols and emblems of fascism were okay until Hitler co-opted the U.S. murderous ideology of Manifest Destiny for his attempts to fulfill the Aryan dreams for Lebensraum. Hitler didn't need to be a genius or even smart to realize that the U.S. grew into a powerful nation by acts of genocide and legalized slavery. All Hitler needed was a large military force without too many hapless schmucks like George Armstrong Custer.

I wonder how many Americans self-identify as 'white' or 'Caucasian' except when they feel it is useful or necessary, as with the national census or applying for health care insurance or treatment. Then I wonder how many of those believe in 'white supremacy' as an ideology. Finally, how many of those ideologues ever realize they are literally insane and need help?

It's not so much whether or not Trump, the president, finally condemned the insane ideologues as "thugs and criminals", but whether or not all the other elected and appointed politicians will go on record as unambiguously and unequivocally. These are the times that try Trump's loyalty oathers. You first, Jefferson 'Jeff' Sessions, but I hope you're fired.
@Amelie D'bunquerre,

Please comment more. Your commentary here was damn good. Delicious food for the mind.

"[the] U.S. grew into a powerful nation by acts of genocide and legalized slavery."

Dead on, that is exactly how this American federation came into being. And it was not a nation worth fighting for. Have you (or you, Joe Cannon) seen Jada Thacker's incisive account of the early United States of America in the article ' Deep History of America’s Deep State'? It's over at Consortium here:

It is also worth noting that the United States still hasn't abolished slavery. The 13th Amendment was only a partial ban on slavery, not a total and absolutely abolishment of it. 'Criminals', that is, people convicted of any crime, are subject to slavery.

"Abolishes slavery, and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime."

Slavery is alive and well with the prison-industrial complex here in these United States of America. As Alan Moore once observed, the countries (federations) or nation states (unitary states) that have the word 'united' in their name are the least united of all.

Shakesville writer Aphra Behn argues why The Nation magazine's article that DNC emails were leaked not hacked is Russian propaganda.
Three things,
First, I suspect Joseph Cannon and I are among the very few who actually think the votes announced after the election did not reflect the votes cast. As Stalin is reputed to have said, "It isn't who votes, it's who counts the votes." Until a forensic analysis of ALL the voting machines is done, I will believe the vote was fixed.
Second, the fascists of the 1930s and the fascists of today are very much alike in their goals, the creation of a dictatorial regime with those at the top having all the power and the lion's share of the wealth. Their tactics are eerily similar: Create scapegoats, use mob mentality to cower others into silence, and use force rather than reason to achieve their goals.
Third, the notion that Trump and his allies are friends of Israel, or Jews, is ludicrous. They say they support Israel not for Jewish support (most of us have, and will, vote for Democrats) but for Christian Evangelicals. Those evangelicals support Israel only so that all Jews can go there and die in the apocalypse. We have seen the conflagration before, from 1933 to 1945 and aren't interested in seeing it again. How long the evangelicals can hold on to those beliefs is anyone's guess, but if they ever figure out it's not going to happen I suspect they will rapidly abandon Israel.
@Joe and @everyone,

You need to see the video at this link.

It's less than three minutes long, but holy shit it gets to the point. Share with everyone, your friends, your family, coworkers, loved ones. Especially people lured by the Far Right. This includes people who live on a diet of InfoWars, Breitbart News, Drudge, RT (Russia Today), 4chan's /pol/ (or any board or forum on 4chan), DC Whispers, and seemingly countless others.

Alex Jones is right about one thing, there is a war on for your mind. If you let him and his vile allies, they'll brainwash you and have you thinking you're a rebel. But you're not a rebel if you trust him, you'd be a rube.

"You see, we human beings are not born with prejudices. Always they are made for us. Made by someone who wants something."

Traitor Trump can no more denounce the TeaKKKi Party than he can denounce himself; They are Him.

As to Russiagate, I am flabbergasted about The Nation, I expect ratfvkcing from right-wing tool Glenn Greenwald but, the Nation? Fortunately, my subscription came up for renewal and I was able to simply decline to re-up.
I am willing to let Obama off the hook on account of his inability to be strong decisive leader, but alt_left that's a different story. IMO they were actively and purposely part of the Russians campaign to elect dump.
@JSL : 2:53 AM

Thanks for the kind encouragement, though I come here because of Joseph Cannon's heavy lifting (and for the waters). While he may not be a polymath, he's quite the polytasker and one of the best, probably the best for being a one-man band. I overlook many of his idees fixe (accents required there) because he's a steadfast New Deal Democrat and because it's futile to argue on the internet.

You're right about 'united' being a misleading term for most people. After its use as a rallying cry to conclude the Declaration of Independence, and after the failure of the Articles of Confederation to insure binding unity among the states, the term became a term of art as contract and corporate law in the sense that all ratifying states would be bound under the Constitution, that is 'united' as a corporate entity, in this instance, as a republic. Thus, E Pluribus Unum, meaning literally one political entity comprising many political entities. The motto was propagated to mean something else, something like 'one people with many different and diverse persons', i.e., the melting pot. As if. Also, the early 'united we stand, divided we fall' rallying cry was represented by the fasces symbolism.

It's significant that voluntary indentured servitude was never made illegal. The 19th- and early 20th-century waves of immigration brought millions of indentured servants whose passage and subsequent housing was paid for by robber barons and captains of industry, and the immigrants had to work to pay off those debts. But they were paid in company scrip, not U.S. legal tender, and "owed [their] souls to the company store": without legal tender in payment, they couldn't leave and survive.

In our time, voluntary indentured servitude takes the form of home mortgages and auto loans, along with college loans. Financial independence is effectively impossible, so a more or less reliable work force keeps the financial bubbles inflated. Some call it cynicism, some call it business. Only self-delusion and absolute denial, or manufactured consent, rendered by invisible propaganda keep us from acknowledging that most people on the planet are exploited to one degree or another, many wretchedly so.

I imagine, easily, that the decades-long debates about immigration and documentation have more to do with who gets to own voluntary indentured servants than they have to do with any individual's rights.

I'm optimistic because we now stand on the shoulders of FDR, The Beatles, and Steve Jobs. The world is a better place because of them.

joseph, i don't always agree with you, but i do agree with you on your second and third point. As for your first point, you two are not the only ones that do not trust the results. M
omg...are there waters? and salons? and fans?
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Sunday, August 13, 2017

H.L. Mencken, Donald Trump, and false quotation syndrome

I'm furious about Trump's horrific "both sides" rhetoric in response to the neo-Nazi terror attack in Virginia -- so furious, that I can't write about it right now. If I start "angry writing," I'll end up clobbering the keyboard with my fists.

To avoid having to buy a new keyboard, here's a post cobbled together for use on a slow news day. (Remember when we used to have slow news days?) I'm posting this text here and now because any attempt to express my current feelings could get me into trouble.

*  *  *

From time to time, previous posts in this humble blog have discussed what I call "false quotation syndrome." Examples:

1. Some people believe that Aleister Crowley said these words: "After I am dead, people will say that I gave birth to the 20th century." Sorry, folks. It's a bogus quote, probably adapted from a fictional work by Alan Moore.

2. The film America: From Freedom to Fascism features a ridiculous quote about the Federal Reserve attributed to Woodrow Wilson -- a quote which reverses his true feelings.

3. Not long ago, we noted a meme in which Josef Goebbels is quoted as saying "Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty." A reader helpfully pointed out that Goebbels did say something similar, though not as a directive: He was criticizing the rhetoric of Germany's opponents during the first World War. (A similar transmogrification beset the infamous Lenin "pie crust" quote.)

4. A few years back, right-wingers attributed a lengthy quotation to Jeb Bush:
The truth is useless. You have to understand this right now. You can't deposit the truth in a bank. You can't buy groceries with the truth. You can't pay rent with the truth...
And so on. Spurious. All of it.

5. Conspiracy buffs and the Urban dictionary have averred that the Bush family uses the term "one fodder unit" to describe the individual American citizen. Although a man named Al Martin claims that the term was widely heard at Republican cocktail parties in the 1980s, we have no proof beyond his word that anyone named Bush has actually used that term. If you ask for proof, people will accuse you of being a "Bush-lover."

6. During the anti-Hillary mania of 2008, the Obots promulgated a false quotation attributed to Bill Clinton's brother Roger (whose drug issues were no secret). Supposedly, Roger Clinton was recorded saying the following: "Gotta get some for my brother. He has a nose like a vacuum cleaner." No such recording has ever surfaced. What began as a 90s-era right-wing fabrication was repurposed as a pro-Obama fabrication.

Often, fake quotes appear in "image memes" distributed via Facebook. Here's an example:

Need I add that Putin never said such words?

And now I'd like to bring to your attention a very subtle example of the genre. This one has been promulgated by opponents of Donald Trump (not all of them on the left).

This bogus quote festoons the internet in various graphic guises. Another example:

As it happens, Mencken did say something like those words -- but not those exact words. As an adopted son of Baltimore, I feel duty-bound to present the actual text, as it appeared in the July 26, 1920 edition of the Baltimore Evening Sun:

Mass communication has evolved since 1920. No-one can deny that Trump won, in large part, by the force of his personality, although he also conveys the impression that that his mind truly is a vacuum when it comes to "book smarts." 

The final paragraph contains two sentences which the internet meme-pushers have excised: "The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men" and "We move toward a lofty ideal." The former can safely go, but the latter, in my opinion, deserves to be retained.

The key change comes at the end: "The White House will be adorned by a downright moron" has become "The White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron."

In 1920, the term "narcissistic" was primarily used by researchers in psychology, the first academic study of narcissism having appeared in 1911. I can find no authentic example of Mencken using that word. That term was inserted into the text for understandable reasons: Trump is so thoroughly self-absorbed that he probably fantasized about masturbation while siring Barron.

As some of you may recall, a more precise version of Mencken's quote received some distribution during the administration of George W. Bush -- who, at the time, seemed the ultimate example of a White House moron.

Those who accuse Trump of being a habitual liar, those who criticize him for repeating memes without any concern for accuracy, would do well if to avoid distributing a false quotation -- even if the quote is only partially false.

How did this particular exercise in falsification begin? Perhaps the original sinner was the creator of this cartoon...

Mencken, and Will Rogers at another extreme, are among those fossil species from the newspapercene epoch before universal air conditioning and TV, when Mort Sahl kept their torches burning.

Andy Warhol never said In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, or any words to that effect, although its origin has been traced to 1966 in Sweden where one of his installations was being photographed (according to Wikipedia). Actually, in 1966 when Medicare began to be administered, he commented on it and said, "In the future everyone will be patients for fifteen minutes."
He did say, however, "In fifteen minutes, everyone will be famous!"
it occurred to me this morning that those who to this day are going on about Hillary's being the "lesser" of two evils and how "hard" it was to vote for her are not allowed to complain about Trump's "all sides" because they are basically doing the same thing he is by saying that.

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