Saturday, August 13, 2022

Thought experiment

Donald Trump. Steve Bannon. Roger Stone. 

If there is a future in which two of those three end up behind bars, which two would you choose?

Now imagine a future in which only one of the three goes to the pokey.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Trump's stolen documents: The only theory that makes sense (UPDATE)

We now know more about what the FBI was looking for when the raided Mar-A-Lago. Just a few minutes ago, I heard an MSNBC analyst note the most interesting fact about the recently-released search warrant: The feds don't just want the documents -- they want to see evidence that documents have been altered.  

In response, Donald Trump pseudo-tweeted a bizarre, unfounded accusation that Barack Obama was the one who stole illegal took documents, including nuclear documents.

If you pay attention to the right side of the interwebs, you'll see that the Trumpers have recently gone all-out to resurrect the big lie that Hillary Clinton divulged nuclear secrets to the Russians. See, for example, here and here -- and this stuff was published just today

Few have asked what I consider the key question: Why did Trump take nuclear-related documents? Hell, any documents? He doesn't read. He doesn't do anything unless he can derive a personal benefit from it.

Putting it all together, I've finally come up with a likely answer to that question. 

Donald Trump and his associates -- I'm thinking in particular of an associate with the initials R.S. -- had concocted a scheme to release (anonymously) a tranch of above-top-secret nucler-related documents, altered in such a way as to smear either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or both. The purpose of the smear would be not just to attack those individuals but to portray the Democratic party as the party of treason. 

If timed correctly -- that is, just before an election -- the smear would have altered history before it could be effectively rebutted. 

Admit it. That's the way R.S. thinks, isn't it? Can you come up with any other theory which explains why Trump would go to such lengths to retain those documents, and why the DOJ emphasized the concept of alteration?

I can only presume that Trump's mole, whoever he is, balked at the idea of releasing highly-classified documents in order to smear the dems.

UPDATE: We now know that there are three potential charges which prompted the raid. One of them -- the one that everyone is paying attention to -- is a possible violation of the Espionage Act.

Does the citation of this law invalidate my idea? No. 

I have read that Act. (Here ya go.) Most people think that the law refers only to espionage on behalf of a foreign government, but it also applies to any scheme to use classified information to "the injury of the United States." 

Any scheme to manipulate an election constitutes a plan to do injury to the United States -- at least in MY book. And I betcha that any jury will use the same book.

The raid was also prompted by the possibility that Trump hoped to alter document. So, I still think that my theory of his motive is solid.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Reversing the field -- or: Who is your hypnotist?

Writing a book -- yes, another book that no-one will read -- has kept me away from current events, and from this blog. Sorry. When my brain spends the morning in 1967, it's tough to haul it back into the present day for the after-lunch writing session. My brain used to have that kind of suppleness. Nowadays, the transition seems to require a night's rest.

But...

But I just read this. And then I found myself half-agreeing -- actually, more than half -- with this

In a time of global peril, I see my party turning into a hyper-woke hideosity determined to repel the electorate. Increasingly, I consider "my team" an alien presence. At the same time, the other party has turned into a conclave of reason-free conspiracy-crazed neo-Nazis who must be resisted at every turn. 

Absolutely everyone, left and right, espouses ideas and ideals that they once would have found abhorrent. Everything has changed, and not for the better. EveryONE has changed. But nobody will admit that change that they have changed. 

We're all in a trance. 

I speak literally. Earlier this morning, I wrote a riff about George Estabrooks, who -- many decades ago -- was the head of the psychology department at Colgate University. In 1943, he wrote a strange and influential book called Hypnotism, which was revised and reprinted a number of times. Esty (as he was known) was the wild man of his science, if what he wrote about can even be called science. He could also be a monster. 

That said: In 1943, he had some astute things to say about the world situation. The apocalypse of his time bears a too-close-for-comfort resemblance to the apocalypse of our time. Below the asterisks, you'll find a section of the piece I wrote this morning. These words may not appear in the final book, but I want them to show up somewhere.

*  *  *

The ’43 version of Esty’s magnum opus contains a chapter on Hitler as a master hypnotist. A few of these thoughts deserve repetition here, given the current fascist revival.

Both the hypnotist and the demagogue (says Estabrooks) can “reverse his field” within seconds:

With hypnotism we can have the subject weeping at one moment, laughing a minute later and very angry in five minutes more.

So Hitler can whip up in his people an almost fanatical hatred for the Russians over five years, then suddenly change his tactics completely. Over night he shifts his ground. The Russians are splendid people. It is really the Poles who are the great menace – and his people accept this as the hypnotized subject does any hypnotic suggestion, which is exactly what it is.

Then, overnight, it is again the Russians.

Any of this sound familiar?

The “party of balanced budgets” keeps running up obscene deficits and then denies having done so. When Covid came, the advocates of frugality embraced massive handouts. The voters who cheered an absurd war in Iraq have convinced themselves that it was all someone else’s idea. After the Ukraine invasion, a demagogue who damned the NATO alliance pretended to be Putin’s foe. Libertarians-turned-Nazis suddenly realized that socialized medicine may have value in the whites-only “utopia” of their dreams. Former fans of Richard Dawkins have embraced Traditionalism, a kind of theocracy. One-time Objectivists have turned to the Dark Enlightenment – a scheme to supplant reason with unreason, liberal capitalism with monarchy.

So, too, with those who take the left road to fascism. The free speech fundamentalists of the ACLU have become censors. Former advocates of science have embraced chic hogwash about gender – hogwash which arose from the postmodernism of Michel Foucault, who hated science. Liberals who once encouraged creativity have turned the arts into exercises in didacticism so repellent that even Madame Mao would have vomited. The alleged heirs of the Civil Rights movement now embrace segregation. Feminists now strain to make sentences without the word “female.” The children of the flower children scream “Conform or die! 

If you want to know what Estabrooks meant by reversing the field, consider this: Rightwingers have become the ones sharing links to videos featuring Noam Chomsky, particularly those videos in which Chomsky kicks the pomos. And when Chomsky came out against deplatforming, lefties damned him as “regressive.” Yes: Noam fucking Chomsky.

The astonishment lies not not the fact that these 180-degree shifts occur so often but in the fact that those who shift refuse to admit that they’ve shifted. That is to say: They refuse to admit that they no longer think for themselves. The horse turns right; the horse turns left. The horse does not hold the reins, yet he believes that he chooses the path.

Estabrooks:

We wish to emphasize the fact that this astounding control is just as much hypnotic as that ever exercised in any laboratory. It depends on direct prestige suggestion registering on a brain highly sensitized by emotion. That is about as good a description of hypnosis as we can have.

 

Monday, March 28, 2022

GARLAND MUST GO

Donald Trump has committed felonies, says a federal judge. But NO-ONE expects an indictment from the Merrick Garland Justice Department. 

Corruption has been normalized. We expect it.

Garland will let Trump commit felony obstruction. Garland won't enforce congressional subpoenas. Garland allows the Trumpers to get away with contempt of Congress. Everyone knows that Garland will do nothing about the January 6 terrorists, no matter what the congressional committee turns up. 

(Why is Congress doing an investigation that DOJ should have completed months ago?) 

And why didn't Garland do anything with Mueller's evidence?

Mueller's probe was terribly compromised. Where was the counterintelligence investigation we all expected? Where was the probe of Trump's financial dealings with Russians? Yet in the end, Mueller's team handed the Biden DOJ ten counts of obstruction of justice, all neatly packaged and ready to go. No further investigation needed. Those counts could have resulted in an indictment the day after Trump's presidency ended. Mueller made that very point in his congressional testimony.

Do you really think that Mueller's evidence was insufficient to convince a D.C. jury? Trump could and should have been jailed a year ago.

Garland's damnable inaction is indistinguishable from collusion. If Trump had chosen the Attorney General, would the results be any different? Frankly, at this point, I consider Jeff Sessions preferable to Merrick Garland.

Merrick Garland is the real reason why Biden's poll numbers are sinking with Democrats. Democratic voters mobilized in 2020 not because they were enthused about Joe Biden or his ideas but because they saw Trump's criminality and yearned to see him brought to justice. We really don't care about the current administration's policies. We want to see Trump in an orange jump suit. 

We need that visual as much as we need food or water.

Biden has pursued the course I feared he would take: In the name of unity, he has shown an absurd degree of lenience toward his opponents, toward fanatics who would slit his throat if they could get away with it. Dems must forget about bringing everyone together for a national kumbaya moment. Unity is no longer possible. We're in an ideological war which will end only when one side is defeated. 

I love Marcy Wheeler, but what people like her do not understand is that the public does not -- cannot -- follow the details of the many scandals that buzz in and out the news. People judge by results. If a jury hears evidence and sends Trump to jail, many (though by no means all) of Trump's followers will snap out of their collective trance. If Trump walks free, then a majority of your fellow citizens will buy into the narrative that the allegations were false and that he has always been the victim of conspiratorial forces.

Garland must go. 

To further prove my point...

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Z mystery

I've been giving some thought to Putin's use of the Z symbol.

Nobody quite knows how this symbol came to take on its current significance. The Cyrillic alphabet does not contain the Latin letter Z. That sound is made by a character that looks like a backward 3. 

Actually, Z is not the only symbol currently associated with Putin's aggression. Russian military vehicles have also been adorned with an O, a V, and -- most interesting of all -- a black numeral 4 on a white background within a red hexagon.

The meaning of the last-mentioned glyph is the easy to guess. The best-known book of Alexander Dugin -- friend to Steve Bannon, Putin's house philosopher, and the most important "intellectual" of modern fascism -- is called The Fourth Political Theory

In the book, Dugin states that he is laying the foundations for an entirely new political ideology, the fourth political theory, which integrates and supersedes liberal democracy, Marxism, and fascism.[1] In this theory, the main subject of politics is not individualism, class struggle, or nation, but rather Dasein (existence itself).

Dugin is being disingenuous when he pretends to differentiate his system from fascism. He knows that the Russian people cannot accept an explicitly fascist system, so he hopes to convince his readers that he's really talking about something new and untried. In fact, Duginism has been tried. The results were unpleasant. 

(Note the black-white-red color scheme of the 4 symbol adorning Russian tanks.)

Dasein is a concept taken from Martin Heidegger, one of the two important Nazi philosophers that certain lefties love to excuse and rationalize. The other is Nietzsche.

Please note that I did not call Nietzsche a proto-Nazi. In my opinion, he concocted the poison and thus deserves the title. As for all of those excuses and rationalizations offered by Walter Kaufmann and other "liberals" who have tried to convince us of Nietzsche's essential grooviness: See here and here. I hope Kaufmann is frying in Hell right next to Freddikins.

On a later occasion, I'll have much more to say about Heidegger, Dugin, Land and all the other Deep Thinkers who have danced the "I am not a Nazi polka" without fooling anyone. Right now, let's return to the Z mystery.

My personal attempts to ferret out the first usage of this glyph in its current context have yielded nothing useful. All I can offer now is a new theory -- something that seemed obvious to me from the first, although no-one else has mentioned it.

I think the answer has to do with runes.

Runes are an ancient northern European writing system. Since the letters were carved into wood and stone, the shapes were kept as simple as possible. A rune is always made with straight lines, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has ever tried to carve anything into rock. The letter Z in our alphabet was not originally a rune, though it might well have been.

Many modern-day esoteric thinkers believe that the individual runes have philosophical or mystical meanings; thus, runes have been used for divination in recent times. The magical use of the runes may have a truly ancient lineage. Some large boulders in Europe display very old runes which do not spell words -- in fact, the characters appear to be randomly chosen. It is thought that these stones served a ritual purpose. 

You may already know that the SS symbol is composed of an ancient rune repeated twice. This glyph is known as the sowillo rune. To certain mystically-minded Nazis, this sign represents "victory." 

The sowillo rune was originally written like this:

Give that symbol a 90 degree turn and reverse it, and you have a Z. 

There's precedent for turning the rune backward. The Nazi swastika was a reversal of a traditional sigil used by a number of ancient cultures. 

The sowilo rune had positive connotations until Hitler ruined its reputation (so to speak). Those who use runes for divination believe that the backwards sowilo represents destruction and retribution. That's fitting.

(The reverse sowilo is also said to represent poor advice. That interpretation nicely describes the Ukraine invasion.) 

If you do a little Googling, you'll see many references to something called "Russian Runes." I'm afraid that this allegedly ancient writing system is an example of modern-day fakelore. Occultists are forever inventing new stuff and pretending that it's really old stuff. They can't help themselves; that's what they do.

The Slavic peoples had no writing system until St. Cyril invented the Glagolitic alphabet around 860. Granted, there was a fair amount of intermarriage between the Scandinavians and the Slavs, so it is quite possible that some Slavs learned about the runes. But there is no evidence that pre-1860 Slavs used runes (or anything else) as a writing system. Remember: Runes are carved into rock. If Russian runes really were in widespread use in the days before St. Cyril wandered up north, one would expect to see a few surviving examples.

But does history really matter? To a mystic like Dugin, what's important is not reality but what people believe

Dugin's cultists have convinced themselves that the Slavs really did use runes in ancient times -- that rune magic is a quintessentially Russian thing. On the Fourth Political Theory website -- one of the most evil places on the internet -- you'll find an essay which confirms my point

This essay, apparently written by Dugin himself, does not mention the sowilo sign. But the text does refer to the circular O symbol currently seen on some Russian tanks. We are told that this glyph represents the sun overhead at noon. 

(Dugin seems to be under the impression that some ancient rune systems used curved glyphs. I guess he hasn't done much rock carving.)

The swastika was also considered a sun symbol. If you can't display a swastika in mixed company, use an O. It won't offend anyone, but you and your buddies will know the secret meaning and you will consider yourselves ever so clever.

I must again emphasize that Dugin's dubious history lesson is unimportant in and of itself. What matters is that Russians in position of power actually believe in this madness. 

(Incidentally, Dugin's website is adorned with a 4 subtly altered to look like the astrological symbol for Jupiter. Maybe Dugin saw 2001 too many times.)

Do you find it hard to believe that Putin takes Dugin's malarky seriously? Look at the prominent Republicans who take Qanon's malarky seriously.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Why I'll always be a Democrat

If anyone wants to know why I'll always be a Dem -- despite my antipathy for all things woke and my disgust with Identity politics -- look here

Biden has proposed a budget which will help restore fiscal health by taxing the ultra-wealthy. If his plan is followed (which it won't be), the deficit will be reduced by a trillion bucks over the course of ten years. In fact:

The fading of the pandemic and the growth has enabled the deficit to fall from $3.1 trillion in fiscal 2020 to $2.8 trillion last year and a projected $1.4 trillion this year.

The Republicans got us into the deep red, and it is up to the Dems to fix things -- or at least to transform the Alizarin Crimson into a tolerable shade of pink. This shit has been going on for as long as I can recall, and I can recall longer than most of you. 

Reagan got into office, in large part, by decrying wasteful spending. He then ran up a deficit far larger than all previous deficits put together. The situation worsened under Bush the Elder. 

Clinton came in, cleaned up the mess, and actually ran up a surplus, something no other modern president has done. Moreover, he put together a plan that -- if followed over the course of multiple administrations -- not only would have eliminated our annual deficit but would have paid off all debt incurred throughout our history.

(About 14 percent of your tax bill goes to paying the interest on borrowed money. When Ralph Nader screwed Gore in 2000, he screwed you out of a whole lotta dough.)

Bush the Dumber tossed out Clinton's perfectly sensible plan. "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," proclaimed Cheney. The deficit soared once more -- up, up and away.

After dealing with Dubya's Great Recession, Obama slowly but surely started bringing deficits back down to manageable levels

And then Trump did it again, spending like the proverbial drunken sailor and putting it all on the credit card. See here: "Donald Trump Built a National Debt So Big (Even Before the Pandemic) That It’ll Weigh Down the Economy for Years."

The growth in the annual deficit under Trump ranks as the third-biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any U.S. presidential administration, according to a calculation by a leading Washington budget maven, Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. And unlike George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the larger relative increases in deficits, Trump did not launch two foreign conflicts or have to pay for a civil war.

No, it wasn't Covid that did it. Trump's spending spree began well before Covid.

The combination of Trump’s 2017 tax cut and the lack of any serious spending restraint helped both the deficit and the debt soar.

Trump insisted that his tax cuts for the wealthy would magically transform debt into income. In 2017, Trump told Sean Hannity:

“We have $21 trillion in debt. When this [the 2017 tax cut] really kicks in, we’ll start paying off that debt like it’s water.”

Nope. Didn't work out that way. Trump raised the national debt by a full third.

Despite this history, Trump's dimwitted followers damn the Democrats as the party of financial irresponsibility. Such is the power of propaganda over history, over lived reality. This situation is beyond infuriating. 

(It is a matter of debate as to whether high debt leads to inflation. Although post hoc ergo propter hoc is a fallacy, it is undeniable that inflation followed hard upon Trump's irresponsible spendthrift economics. Unfortunately, the main tool for combating inflation is raising the interest rate, which will slow the economy.) 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Ukraine: The fragging has begun

The following comes from the French version of Vanity Fair. I thought I'd offer a translation. It may put a grim smile on your face.

*  *  *

Ukraine: A rebellious Russian tank driver crushes his commander

"Even in Chechnya, we never saw that." In a recording published on March 22 on the Facebook page of the Ukrainian secret services, we hear two Russian soldiers -- whose conversation was intercepted -- lay bare the madness of the Russian invasion. 

The publication of the recording reveals a climate of debacle that pushed a Russian soldier to run over his commander with his tank. The tank driver "wanted Colonel Yury Medvedev for the death of his friends," wrote the Ukrainian journalist Roman Tsimbalyuk on Facebook. 

According to him, the incident occurred after two groups of Russian soldiers lost half of their workforce in Makarov, in the Kyiv region. "After waiting for the right moment, during the fight, he ran over the commander with his tank, injuring his legs" continues Tsimbalyuk. Colonel Medvedev is at the hospital in Belarus, pending financial compensation for injuries suffered during "the special military operation to protect the Donbass."

It's difficult to verify this version of events but a video published this month on VK by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov confirms that Medvedev was transported to the hospital. The leader posted the video to show the responsiveness of the emergency services on the battlefield. "These moments of struggle bring us together."

On March 22, NATO estimated that between 7000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers died in four weeks, compared with 15,000 in ten years in Afghanistan. "It's so messy here, one of our own planes bombed us," continues one of the soldiers in the intercepted conversation. "Basically, this whole thing's a charade. That's how I'd put it. "

*  *  *

Cannon here. Christo Grozev of Bellingcat tweeted a link to this story. A Russian-language response said that this story has "zero evidence" to support it. A response to the response says that there is video of the wounded colonel. 

While I wish we had a better source, I tend to think that the story is true, in part because I want it to be true, but also because there is historical precedent. During the Vietnam war, fragging was more common than most Americans wanted to believe. It seems likely that some of these Russian conscripts feel the same sense of betrayal and cosmic disgust.    

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Manhattan D.A. Bragg MUST GO

They say that the simplest explanation is the best. The simplest explanations for the inaction of Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg are bribery and blackmail.

I no longer want to hear his side of the story. He doesn't have a side. BRAGG MUST GO. The time for the cautious weighing of possible explanations is over. If this doesn't make you angry, what will?

If you're a waitperson in NY, here's some advice: If Bragg or any member of his family orders from your restaurant, drench his food in spit and piss.

Bragg is FILTH. 

Come on. Are we really supposed to believe that a New York jury would find the evidence insufficient? Trump's own former lawyer says that Trump is guilty. Besides, everyone knows that a New York jury would convict Donald Trump of pretty much anything, up to and including the JFK assassination. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The wacko parties

Howard Stern has made headlines by proclaiming the GOP to be "the wacko party." The epithet is neither clever nor original, but the man who said it is famous. Thus, headlines. 

I can predict the response: What about the progressives who argue (without evidence) that gender has no relationship to biology? Aren't they pretty damned wacko?

Which party insulted millions of Latinos by trying to foist the phrase "LatinX" on them? Which side "cancelled" J.K. Rowling because she referred to women as women, not as "people who menstruate" or some such absurd locution? Which ideology turned our universities into toxic waste-pits of Identity politics? Which faction has embraced the vile postmodernist philosophy of Michel "Kidfucker" Foucault? 

It's time to face the possibility that both parties are wacko. 

I remain a Democrat because I consider the Dems the less wacko of our two wacko parties. But I'm not going to let any loudmouth wackos on "my" side stop me from trying to de-wackify my brethren.

Consider this: Roger Stone -- who is practically advertising his links to Vladimir Putin these days -- has always stressed the importance of running against the candidate you want to run against. In primary season, ratfuck the centrist and bolster the extremist. To put it in 1972 terms, ratfuck Muskie and bolster McGovern. 

In 2016 terms, we now know that certain loud voices who shouted "Vote Bernie" in 2016 were actually working for Stone. Bernie was the McGovern, Hillary was the Muskie.

In 2020 terms, pro-fascist forces secretly tossed money and attention at anyone who cried "Defund the police!" Those three words brought Trump agonizingly close to victory and insured only the narrowest of wins in the Senate, leaving all policy decisions in the hands of Joe Manchin. 

The utterly otiose and self-defeating riots of 2020 helped the Trumpists. If you can't admit that fact, you're an obstinate buffoon.

Much the same thing can be said of the idiots who continue to push a pernicious bit of agitprop called "The 1619 Project." You should read what the World Socialist Website has to say about that. (And I'll be very amused if you try to argue that the Socialists are corporate shills.)

Woke idiots continue to push the racist delusion that white Americans invented slavery. I guess today's kids never saw Ben-Hur.

Here's a little fact that woke progressives never want us to mention: If you believe that non-whites invented civilization, then you must believe that non-whites invented slavery. Slavery goes back to the beginning of the beginning. 

Here's another truth-which-must-not-be-spoken (and which may get this blog cancelled again): American whites invented abolition

There had been a few earlier attempts to end slavery on moral grounds, in China and elsewhere. But Vermont and Pennsylvania were the first states to outlaw the practice permanently

Not the first states in the union: In the world. Technically, our present union did not yet exist, since these laws were passed during the period of the Articles of Confederation.

In 1804, the eight anti-slavery states within the United States were the only anti-slavery governments to be found anywhere on this globe. Slavery was legal and widely-practiced all over Africa and Asia and South America.

Americans invented abolition. But we are not allowed to crow about that fact, or even to mention it.

Young people are not taught about the radical accomplishment of those eight states because doing so would injure the  narrative that white people -- and only white people -- are devils. 

That narrative, paradoxically, is killing black people.

Nobody is quite sure how many chattel slaves exist in the modern world, but most think that the number is about three or four times higher than the number of slaves in the United States before the Civil War. Modern slaves must suffer in silence. Our society forbids mention of their plight. 

Why the censorship? Because today's slaves are owned by the wrong people -- by black Africans and Muslims. Progressives consider these people holy. Beyond criticism. 

Modern slavery will become a discussion-worthy topic only if someone can come up with a way to demonize white males while talking about the problem. 

So here we are, stuck in a culture in which the descendants of those who owned slaves two hundred years ago may never be forgiven, while those who own slaves today may never be mentioned. 

We are stuck in a culture in which the Democrats must perpetually run as the "Whites suck!" party. And then they will be astonished when they lose massively in 2022 and 2024, just as they were astonished in 2020, when cries of "Defund the police!" almost allowed Trump to eke out a win in despite predictions of a Biden landslide. 

Thanks to the Woke Monster, we face a future in which Congress will be controlled by the more pathological and dangerous of our two wacko parties -- the pro-Putin wacko party, the party of Donald Trump and Roger Stone and Steve Bannon. In a roundabout way, the "Whites suck!" narrative endangers not only the slaves of Africa and the Middle East, but also the eastern European nations whom Putin wants to conquer.  

Wake up, liberals. Woke is killing the world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Where we are

You know those panoramic views that are stitched together from multiple photos? Here is a brief panorama of our society right now.

1. Senator Mike Braun of Indiana signaled opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that legalized interracial marriage in all states. He later tried to walk it back. Prediction: He'll suffer no electoral consequences for this gaffe. 

2. Lindsay Graham flew into a rage because Ketanji Brown Jackson opposed detention without trial. 

3. Trump supporters seem to be increasingly united behind their true leader: Vladimir Putin. The author offers several reasons as to why this is so, although the most important reasons were left out. 

  • Putin's hacks control cyberspace to a greater degree than most of us care to admit.
  • Putin's money buys obedience to a greater degree than most of us care to admit.
  • Our oligarchy is pro-Putin to a greater degree than most of us care to admit.
  • Fascism is more popular in the United States than most of us care to admit. 

4. Jackson is trying her best to sound like an originalist. In other words, a Democratic president's nominee must try to sound as conservative as possible, while a Republican president's nominee must...try to sound as conservative as possible.

(Originalism is hypocritical bullshit. Have you ever seen an "originalist" jurist advocate a return to the Founders' quaint notion that only Congress can declare war?)

5. Josh Hawley's insane pretense that Jackson is a pedo-enabler is the Q-uintessence of Q-ism. 

Put it all together, and what do you see? The country has gone far to the right, and the right has gone mad.

But that's not really it. Better, I would say, to argue that the country has gone to the extremes -- and we may never again find a rational center.

Added note: To illustrate that political insanity is a right/left affair, note Cassandra Fairbanks' unabashed embrace of Putin. For the longest time, Cassandra was a Bernie supporter who convinced many that she was a lefty. She was actually working for Stone. And Stone, I suspect, is working for Putin. 

 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The speech of the century

 

Y'know, this guy ought to go into politics.

Confessions of a former Putin fan

Confession: I used to support Vladimir Putin. 

Not completely, not blindly. The man's anti-democratic instincts were always apparent. 

But in the days before the advent of Trump -- before we learned about Alexander Dugin and Steve Bannon, before we learned about Russia's embrace of the very fascism which had once threatened its existence, before we learned about Russian links to the worldwide Nazi revival -- I found ways to rationalize Putin's tyranny.

Why? Because roughly a decade ago, certain voices -- Mitt Romney's among them -- began to call for a new Cold War. And frankly, I wasn't fond of the first one. 

(For that matter, I wasn't very fond of Romney.) 

Before we proceed, consider this question: What is your earliest memory? Your earliest vivid memory, as opposed to fleeting flashes?

Mine goes back to an October afternoon when my father carried me to my room while Mom wept uncontrollably -- and I mean uncontrollably. She had never acted that way before. 

My father insisted that I stay in bed while they went back to the living room to talk. This situation struck me as both confounding and unfair. Bed? The sun was still out! Mom and Dad had broken the rules, and they wouldn't tell me why. 

After nightfall, I toddled cautiously into the living room. All was dark except for one table lamp with a shade that tinted the room amber. Mom (in capri pants) and Dad huddled together on that stupid mid-century "modern" sofa, while a newscast flickered on an old black-and-white TV set with rabbit ears and a nearly-circular screen. Mom still wept, though she was no longer in a state of near-hysteria. 

She kept asking my father: "They wouldn't really do it, would they?" 

Dad tried to sound professorial and reassuring, as you would expect from a young scientist in the early 1960s. My parents still wouldn't tell me what was wrong, but at least they weren't mad at me and they weren't fighting with each other.    

Realization came years later, after I had learned a little history. My mom had lost her shit on the worst day of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

That memory -- especially, for some reason, the amber-tinged lighting -- remains permanently scorched into my cerebral cortex. I hope no other young mother feels what my mother felt on that day. 

My father was a patriot with no sympathies for communism -- he held a security clearance, and he had served with honor in Korea -- but he was also a liberal Democrat who hated war. He was a proud JFK supporter who later suspected that LBJ had a hand in the assassination. 

I grew up well-instructed in the evils of McCarthyism. I knew that Tailgunner Joe's chief hatchet man, Roy Cohn -- the man Trump and Stone considered a mentor -- used fake "eyewitness" testimony to smear innocent labor leaders. 

(If you don't recognize the name Harvey Matusow, look him up. He lived long enough to have a website.)

I despised the Vietnam war at a time when my childhood friends still played with their G.I. Joes. (Remember the original version of the dolls-we-dared-not-call-dolls?) The assassinations of the 1960s taught me cynicism. The civil rights protesters taught me defiance. The hippies taught me nonconformity. (They seemed colorful and fun, at least at first. Then I realized that these "nonconformists" all looked and sounded alike, and that they weren't as thoughtful as they pretended.)

In 1968, I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time in a theater in Canoga Park, in the San Fernando Valley. After the show, my friend and I explored the entrance to the bomb shelter located under the Topanga Plaza mall. This "shelter" didn't look very protective. My friend explained that we'd have to survive on crackers and canned beans. I asked him if he thought we would make it to 2001. 

No, I was not fond of the Cold War. 

Neither was I fond of Ronald Reagan. Remember all of that insane talk about how we would survive nuclear war with "enough shovels"? A couple of years later, Gore Vidal declared: "Whenever they tell you 'The Russians are coming,' hang onto your wallet. It's just another raid on the Treasury."

We must now turn to the Syrian Civil War, which followed hard upon Dubya's obscene Iraq misadventure -- indeed, one conflict seemed a continuance of the other. Dubya's vile excursion into Iraq filled me with the same fury -- and impotence -- now felt by the more thoughtful Russians. 

Opposition to the Iraq war inspired me to start a blog. Today, any Russian who feels a similar inspiration runs a risk I never had to face. That is an important difference between our two nations, a difference I did not appreciate until late in life.

Our needless, atrocious invasion emboldened the foes of democracy by proving our malign intent, by making the entire American system seem like a sham. In an orgasm of hubris, Karl Rove declared "We're an empire now." For those words alone -- words that would have made John Adams vomit -- we deserved to get our asses kicked.  

Before the bootprint on our hindquarters faded, the Syrian war convulsed the region and commandeered our attention. (Attention has shifted, though the war is still going on.) Throughout 2013 and beyond, America's neocons kept insisting that this country should do everything possible to help oust Bashar al-Assad. Insanity, I thought.

Whenever the topic of the Syrian Civil War comes up these days, the revisionists leave out the fact that Assad's downfall would have insured the victory of fundamentalist barbarism. Let's not kid ourselves: Absent Assad, ISIS would have taken over all of Syria as rapidly and as thoroughly as the Taliban took complete control in Afghanistan. 

Yes, there was a quasi-fictional entity called the Free Syrian Army, supposedly composed of small-d democrats who believed in Truth, Justice and the American Way. War hawks like John McCain tried to convince us that these flailing marionettes could conquer both Assad and ISIS. 

Bullshit. 

The Free Syrian Army (which became subsumed into an entity called the Syrian Democratic Forces) had few followers and no real muscle. NBC called them an "army in name only." ISIS, al Qaeda, Nusra -- they were the ones with muscle. If Assad fell, he would be replaced by eschatologically-obsessed psychopaths pursuing sick dreams of apocalypse.

Nobody wanted to admit that fact in 2013. Nobody wants to admit it now. A mere dozen years after 9/11, America had decided to back the jihadists.

Once one understood that the Free Syrian Army was a joke, the situation in Syria became brutally simple: Either Assad would win or ISIS would win. I was -- am -- convinced that Assad was the lesser of those two evils.

Putin backed Assad. Therefore, I applauded Putin.

I convinced myself that Putin, like Assad, was a magnificent bastard whose sins should be rationalized away, the same way Americans in WWII had rationalized away Stalin's crimes. 

As the Syrian war scaled the heights of insanity, neoconservatives began to murmur about the need to contain Putin. Whenever I heard this talk, a familiar scene would play on the great movie screen inside my cranium: An amber-lit POV shot of a weeping young mother asking if they would really be insane enough do...it.   

Did I want a remake of that movie? No. No to Cold War II.

I did not yet understand that Putin would soon emerge as a threat worse than ISIS. I did not yet understand the man's weltanschauung. I never thought he would be audacious enough to attack us.

In 2013, I covered my eyes with cast iron sunglasses. Worse, I thought those shades looked pretty damn hip. 

Those sunglasses finally hit the ground in 2016, when this humble blog became the first to speak -- cautiously, theoretically -- of Vladimir Adolphovitch Putin as the secret power behind Trump.   

And now, here I am: A lifelong peacenik and a confirmed anti-Cold Warrior who suddenly finds himself unable to repress a gritted-teeth grin every time he sees video of Russian corpses on Ukraine's soil. Bastards got what they deserved. I just wish Tony Stark were real. He'd make 'em ALL fry.

God help me, I'm even cheering for the See-freakin'-Aye-A. 

What you've just read is not my full mea culpa -- just Part One. My earlier writings on Ukraine deserve another full round of grovelling and wailing and self-laceration. Just thinking about those posts makes me want to bash my head against the wall hard enough to puncture the gypsum board. 

Part Two will come soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

BACK! And just in time for the Apocalypse!

From 2004 to 2021, CANNONFIRE kept finding ways to irk nearly everyone on nearly every side of nearly every issue. Last year, Google shut down the site. 

Why? Dunno. 

The banishment occurred without warning. Despite numerous inquiries, Google refused to explain or to rescind its edict.

The shutdown may have some connection to the compromising of my email. (Damn hackers!) Or maybe it has some connection to my history as a surly, unclassifiable oddball.

But now the site is back. Don't ask me why or how. Resurrection is a mysterious business and this one is particularly confounding. Revival came only when a reader calling herself Faust -- I'm not making this up -- employed incantations and conjurations unknown to mere mortals. Somehow, she compelled the gods of Google to raise the dead. I owe this female Faust a massive debt. As a notable 18th century highway commissioner once said: Das ewig weibliche zieht uns hinan.

The site may migrate to another platform in the future. Google's capriciousness has injured my trust.

For the sake of newcomers, a few words of introduction are in order.

My name is Joseph Cannon. That's the name I've used professionally throughout this century; feel free to call me Joseph or Joe. I've decided to use my former name -- my 20th century name, if you will -- when writing about true crime and other non-political topics. Why? Reasons. If Google can be mysterious and capricious, so can I.

Righties will always hate me because I'm a die-hard Keynesian, a confirmed anti-Randroid, a big fan of FDR and JFK, a defender of Social Security and an advocate of universal health insurance. In short, I love alla that there Big Gummint stuff. Always have. Always will.

Above and beyond all partisan policy considerations, I think that the fight against fascism is the battle of our time. Frankly, at this stage of life I'd rather write about other topics -- heavy stuff, fun stuff, any stuff other than political stuff. But as long as the acolytes of Adolf threaten democracy and Enlightenment values, we are compelled to do battle. Even if all you have is a slingshot, load your weapon and join the fight.

Lefties of a certain stripe -- far lefties, young lefties -- will always hate me because I seek to cancel "cancel culture." I despise postmodernism and all of its misshapen offspring. I think that Critical Race Theory is itself racist to the core. I think that Identity politics is -- and I speak literally -- a synonym for fascism

(Did you know that the term "Identity" originated on the racist right? Topic for a future post...) 

I lived in West Hollywood for a while and always got along fine with gays and trans folks, but the current po-mo pissants who pretend to speak for those communities have left me well and truly repulsed. My pronouns are "go," "fuck," and "yourself." I stopped calling myself a feminist when the Me Tooers took Al Franken's scalp. I now call myself an equalist

Wokeness has pissed off a whole lotta good people: Bill Maher, Helen Pluckrose, John McWhorter, Stephen Fry, J.K. Rowling, a massive number of Latinos, a growing number of blacks, and almost the entire American working class -- the class that used to be the backbone of the Democratic party. Modern feminism has alienated Margaret freakin' Atwood, fer chrissakes. Woke comic books have destroyed an American art form at a time when it should be more popular than ever. 

It's time to admit that the the critics of Woke-ism are not imagining things or over-reacting or falling for a right-wing propaganda ploy. Wokeness is a cultural disaster. It has done nothing to aid those it claims to champion. It serves only to aid the fascist assault on the Enlightenment. Woke idiots make liberals seem unelectable and toxic.

This piece by Sarah Hepola does much to explain why the Dems will be slaughtered in November, and why the fascists will rebound in 2024.

Every day, I scrolled the endless river of outrage and all-caps, watching people express similar views to mine only to be pounced upon. Once-celebrated writers were being publicly rebranded as ghoulish, pieces of trash, red-pilled. The unwritten rule of elite media tribes seemed to be this: You spout the company line, or you shut up. And that’s why, midway through a career built on speaking out, I shut up.

One last thing. For some reason, many folks are talking about Karl Marx these days, although nobody quotes his writings. Guess I had better make my own position clear.

While I do not advocate Marxism -- the labor theory of value never persuaded me -- I do have fond memories of the days when folks calling themselves "Marxists" would occasionally show evidence that they had read Capital. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Uncle Karl was an economist. He didn't write about race or gender or any of that Identity shit. Whether you love or loathe the man, a "Marxism" without Marx is surrealism, not socialism.

Here's a cute mnemonic device to help you discern real Marxism from the fake stuff: Marx means money. If it ain't about money, it ain't Marxism.

Yes, it really is that simple. 

Unfortunately, both the po-mo pseudolefties and the disingenuous libertarians (I'm looking at you, James Lindsay and Jordan Peterson) are united in a conspiracy to mislead and deceive. These right/left conspirators want you to believe that Uncle Karl wrote "Whites should wallow in self-loathing," not "Workers of the world, unite." Both the left-wing misleaders and the right-wing deceivers are funded, or at least applauded, by high-tech corporatists, by Dark Enlightenment neo-monarchists, by Putin's hacks, by Bannon-esque "Traditionalists," by all the oligarchs who dislike democracy and profit from ever-worsening income inequality. 

These manipulators want a working class oblivious to class. A working class at war with itself. Divide and rule.

Yes, it really is that simple. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Enough Already

The Deprogramming Dilemma – 21

Enough Already

By D-Jay

How much longer are we going to put up with this homicidal stupidity?

While Anthony Fauci worries that the U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” and “it’s not going to be good,” statistical models warn that daily Covid cases could surge back into the hundreds of thousands by early August.

Why?

Do you really need to ask?

Equipped as we are with ample supplies of some of the most effective vaccines in history, the people of the United States have the power to stop Covid-19 in its tracks and lead the world back to normality.

Instead, the usual Trump cult/QAnon crowd is driving us full speed back into a full-blown pandemic, with all the misery and death that entails.

Now don’t get me wrong.  If this was strictly a case of suicidal stupidity and the willful idiots themselves were the only ones likely to be affected, I really wouldn’t have a problem with it.

To be perfectly blunt, the more of them who kill or incapacitate themselves, the more they demonstrate the depths of their delusions in the starkest possible terms, the better.

They are, after all, hellbent on destroying not just American democracy, but rational thought itself…and let’s not even think about their potential impact on the climate catastrophe.

However…

In this case, the members of the foolish fringe are not threatening only themselves, their families and their communities of like-minded morons.

Let ultra-virulent viruses like the Covid-19 Delta Variant run rampant and before too long it will evolve into something resistant to the vaccines as well.

Looking at the recent growth in breakthrough cases of fully vaccinated individuals coming down with the virus, a case could be made that this might already be happening.

Fortunately, the great majority of the most serious cases and deaths are still occurring amount the unvaccinated, but how long do we have?

Who knows?

Unless the suicidal/homicidal vaccine resistance dam is broken, however, one thing we can with near certainty is that it is just a matter of time.

So enough already!

Enough coddling the people who have let themselves fall prey to this most ignorant and destructive of delusions.

Time to take off the kid gloves.

The fantasists have sunk so far into their anti-vaccine propaganda world that it is tearing their families apart.  Loving wives are leaving their husbands, broken-hearted husbands are divorcing their wives, children are forced to cut off all contact with their parents.

Carrots do not work with people who are so far gone.

Time for some sticks.

The bigger, the better.

Of course, mandates of every sort should be put in place everywhere they can.

France and other European countries have shown that nothing brings about a massive uptick in vaccination rates as the imposition of an effective vaccination passport system

New York Mayor De Blasio’s new mandate requiring vaccination or weekly testing for ALL city employees is also an excellent step.

But why stop there.

If I were President Biden, I would do all that and also issue the following Presidential directives:

- After 30 days for the proclamation, Medicare, Medicaid, ACA funded insurance and all private health insurance companies would no longer cover Covid-19 treatment for people eligible for a vaccination who had not received at least their first dose and 30 days later this would be extended to the second dose (except in the case of the single-dose J&J vaccine).

- All federal government employees, starting with the military and security services, will be required to be vaccinated.

- Insofar as it doesn’t violate their Hippocratic Oath, hospitals should prioritize treatment for patients who are vaccinated over those who have chosen not to be, especially when the situation becomes bad enough that some sort of triage is needed.

- The FBI, CIA and other national law enforcement and intelligence agencies will identify the people, companies and foreign intelligence services most responsible for spreading vaccine disinformation. All non-classified material will be made public, and those who have had family members, business partners, etc. die or been seriously impacted by Covid after having fallen prey to the disinformation campaigns will be encouraged to participate in (multi-billion dollar) class-action lawsuits against them. While these suits would be civil, the federal government would support them in every way possible.

- The broadcast licenses of any television or radio stations deliberately promoting vaccine disinformation would be suspended.

In short, hit them hard…now.

These people are not our friends and – at least until they change their ways - they don’t deserve our sympathy.

 

****************************************************************************************

Contributing factors to our democratic decline:

From the Right

Truth Decay – Destruction of the Ability to Distinguish Fantasy from Reality

Ever Worsening Demonization of the Media

Manufactured Distrust of Science and Expertise

The Iron Bubble of Disinformation

The Dark Money Conspiracy

Information Warfare Aimed at Us

Domestic Terrorism

Emergence of a Full-blown Cult of Personality

Ongoing Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering

Election Security

Continued Weaponization of Social Media

Toxic Right-wing Pseudo-Christianity

Racism

Sexism and a Pseudo-Macho Mentality

Putinism and the International Neo-Fascist Movement

Lack of Education in Civics and Critical Thinking Skills

Destruction of Crucial Democratic Norms

The Collapse of Good Manners and Propriety

Radicalization

Sedition

From the Left (and Sometimes the Center)

OTT PC (Over-The-Top Political Correctness)

Inept Messaging

Lack of Media Investment

Arrogance

Surrender of Rural America Without a Fight

Failure to Call Out and Counteract Toxic Right-Wing Christianity

Failure to Call Out Right-Wing Racism, Sexism and Fascism for what it is, and Counteract it in Time

Framing Too Many Issues as Being Rooted in Race Rather than Economics and Class

Failure to Recognize Just How Bad Things Can Really Get

Forever Bringing Beanbags to a Knife Fight

Failure to Protect Critical Norms

 

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