Friday, December 30, 2022

Cannon for Congress!

Why the donation button on the right side of this page? I'm entering politics!

There has been a great deal of talk about redoing the election which ended in victory for congressperson-elect George Santos, disgraced for lying about every iota of his life history. Not only that, he'll be facing more than one investigation into his shady finances

If a new election comes to pass, I intend to toss in my own trilby. Why not the best? Why not me? Who, I ask, is better qualified?

As devoted readers know, I am a lifelong resident of that place in New York that Santos lives in. I often do many New Yorky things such as eating pizza and talking loud.

If elected, I would be the first Representative to have earned the Bruno Rossi Prize for contributions to high energy astrophysics, the Purple Heart, the Nobel Prize for Blogging, and a Tony for my refreshingly unconventional portrayal of Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd." (Patti Lupone was so jealous she hired a hit man.) As Grand Master of the Knights Templar (eastern seaboard division), I've engaged in many incredibly secret projects that I'm not allowed to talk about, such as the creation of chocolate-flavored artificial adrenochrome. My Ring cycle was better than Solti's. And then there's the time I made a lasting contribution to our national prosperity by inventing Bitcoin.

Am I Jewish? Oy, am I Jewish! My mother, Matilda Shonda, often cooked potato latkas, matzoh ball soup, onion kugel, borekas, sufganiyot, dreidels, yarmulkes, and other very Jewish delicacies. And the guilt I grew up with...! This is true: When Apollo 13 broke down, first thing I did was apologize. Yes, my upbringing was so Jewish you could plotz. 

My father, Kyril Elmer Cannon, inventor of the Post-It Note, was 1/8 Sasquatch on his father's side. If elected, I pledge to be a staunch advocate for the rights of all Bigfoot-Americans.

People of New York and Americans everywhere, you need me as your representative on Capitol Hill. 

If you would like to donate to this campaign, hit the Donation button to your right.

Besides, I've got to come up with some extra scratch by the third or they'll turn my lights off. Thanks! And I promise to post much more frequently in the coming year.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Kissinger vs. Skynet

This is disturbing. From none other than Henry Kissinger:

Auto-nomous weapons already exist, capable of defining, assessing and targeting their own perceived threats and thus in a position to start their own war.

Once the line into this realm is crossed and hi-tech becomes standard weaponry – and computers become the principal executors of strategy – the world will find itself in a condition for which as yet it has no established concept. How can leaders exercise control when computers prescribe strategic instructions on a scale and in a manner that inherently limits and threatens human input? How can civilisation be preserved amid such a maelstrom of conflicting information, perceptions and destructive capabilities?

If you have any talent at all for reading between the lines, you'll sense that Henry the K knows more than he is saying about these weapons systems. Basically, he believes that we should support a negotiated end to the Russo-Ukraine conflict, even if negotiations leave Russia in a overly-powerful position -- because autonomous weaponry could soon escalate the situation without human input.

Should Joe run?

Biden sure as hell looks like he's running again, even though he just cracked the big eight-oh. I like Joe -- always have -- but I think that a run for a second term would probably be disastrous. He had a penchant for gaffes when he first came to my attention back in the '80s. Now, any mistake, however trivial, will be cited as proof of senility.

Nevertheless, many Democrats are cheering him on. Why? Because his approval ratings have ticked up.

Let's put things in perspective. The Wall Street Journal (see our first link) says that Biden's approval rating stands at 43 percent of registered voters. Another poll (see our second link) gives him a 46 percent approval number. 

By way of comparison: In 2014, Hillary Clinton had an approval rating of 59 percent. Her number slipped throughout the year but did not dip below the 50 percent mark until well into 2015

Moral of the story: Things change.

I bring up Hillary's number to drive home another point. Revisionists keep telling us that, in 2016, the party was wrong to nominate someone with Hillary's "baggage." Many who tell the story of that year's election pretend that the majority of Americans have always hated, loathed and abominated Hillary Clinton.

Not true. 

No potential candidate in either party has anything like the popularity that Hillary Clinton had at the start of 2015.

What about Bernie? Sanders has 44 percent approval in this poll and 46 percent approval in this poll. But his negatives are strong. Those who dislike him really, really, really dislike him. Opposition will skyrocket if and when the Republicans haul out the oppo information that they've been sitting on for years.

I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart. And while Sanders supporters might delude themselves into believing that they could have defended him against all of this, there is a name for politicians who play defense all the time: losers.

You should read the rest of that piece, written at the end of 2016. Things will be much worse in 2024, due -- once again -- to the age factor. Bernie Sanders is older than both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And keep in mind that Sanders has never in his life had to face truly vicious opposition.

We need new blood. Forget Kamala: She had her chance. Most people don't like her

May I suggest taking a look at New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham? She's not too far to the left, she's good on the environment, her tough-on-crime stances will forestall a conservative line of attack -- and frankly (though I hate to play the Identity game), a Latina candidate could woo back some of the Hispanic voters who have been leaving the party.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Trump's NFTs: The dark secret

The media is having a guffaw at Donald Trump's Digital Trading Cards, which feature DT's face pasted onto heroic bodies. Everyone is asking one question: Why would Trump get in on the NFT "craze" long after everyone else finally realized that NFTs are junk?

Even Steve Bannon sneers at the things. Even the Freepers sneer at the things. Who would actually pay 99 bucks for this worthless nonsense?

Someone must be buying this "art." According to Newsweek, nearly 14,000 people have already purchased these trading cards. 

As of early Friday morning, the total Trump NFT collection currently has a value of around 460 Ethereum ($570,000).

Who are these people? 

They may not be the working class, beer-bellied MAGA types you have pictured in your head right now. Kurt Eichenwald is one of the few observers who suspects that something quasi-criminal may be going on. He notes that the cards are sold by a shady organization with a post office box address often associated with sleazy enterprizes.

Another man of sparkling character connected to the address of NFT International is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International. In 2004, he was sentenced to eight years in prison in California for money-laundering and extortion, a scam that used shell companies and offshore bank accounts to hide stolen Ukrainian government funds.

Another man linked to 2710 Thomes is Ira N. Rubin - just one more con artist.

That's Eichenwald's characterization. I do not know Mr. Rubin and I have not researched his history. As far as I know, he may be a perfectly upstanding citizen.

Yes (you may be asking) but what's the bottom line? What's the purpose, the motive, the pay-off? Eichenwald does not tell us. 

Here's a clue: Think about the Trump organization's recent legal troubles involving tax evasion. It's fair to presume that the same thing is still going on. But, in today's environment, pulling off such a scheme requires greater creativity.

NFTs serve one -- and as far as I can see, only one -- practical purpose: Money laundering.  

Behind the facade of a bunch of bored rich dudes buying digital artwork at insanely high prices lays a sinister and twisted money laundering scheme for crypto’s ultra-rich elites to make their illegal profits look legal.

Further on:

Buying an NFT from oneself using illicit funds is an easy way to move money while claiming the funds were used for a legitimate art purchase and avoiding taxes in the process. An example was demonstrated by former USA Today journalist Isaiah McCall on his blog earlier this year where he explained the process:

“If you have $1 million in illegal money, you would spend $1 million on your own NFT. You can do this yourself or use a trusted third-party account. Then you resell the trash for nothing and bank the profits.”

The Department of Justice wants to impose some regulations on NFTs because they have become such a useful tool for criminals.

In a report to President Joe Biden earlier this month, the US Justice Department warned that NFT players could be using the digital assets for illicit financing, by “self-laundering, a sequence in which criminals purchase an NFT with illicit funds and then resell to a purchaser who pays for it with clean funds unconnected to a prior crime.”

Application of the act “often turns on whether the transacted item qualifies as ‘value that substitutes for currency,’” the report notes, while “NFT platforms may take the view that this definition does not apply to their activities—and that they are thus not subject to” the act’s anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism requirements. Further, many platforms fail to appropriately implement know-your-customer systems in a market where assets can change hands very quickly, it noted.

Frankly, at this point, I can't imagine why any licit purchaser would invest a lot of money in an NFT. They're silly.

That said: I'm considering coming up with my own counterversion of Trump's nutty cards, featuring Donald and his buddies as supervillains or monsters. If I go through with this little plan, I'll make it very clear that the whole thing is meant to be a joke at Trump's expense. Maybe I'll ask 99 cents. Even at that price, I would not expect many takers -- but so what? The giggles might justify the effort.

Added note: Even if we stipulate that money laundering did not create the sales figures recorded by Newsweek, there is another explanation for the rapid sales: Wash trading. Basically, that term refers to the same party posing as both buyer and seller of a commodity, perhaps using a cut-out (or even a series of cut-outs) to hide his or her identity. 

Why would anyone do this? The most obvious reason is to drive up the price, thereby making the commodity seem desirable. If you sell an NFT to yourself for $1 million, you have, in effect, transformed trash into a million-dollar product. Someone who buys the thing for $500,000 may think he's getting a bargain.

I would have thought that, after the Great Crypto Bust, this scam was old hat. But apparently it still works.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Why Kanye West spoke of "300 Zionists"

Should I revive this blog? Doing so requires following the news closely -- a depressing prospect. Whenever I read the news, I lapse into a Prussian Blue funk which impacts both my work and my relationships with others. 

Nevertheless, I want to get the following on the record somewhere

A hip-hop website tells us that Kanye West (since I do not like the man, I will not use his currently preferred nomenclature) has latched onto an anti-Semitic myth -- a myth which has been exploded many times yet which refuses to die. Most people don't know how this myth began. 

As it happens, I am writing a book which will devote a chapter to this delusion. 

Here's what Kanye said: 

“Somehow, our country has been taken over by about 300 Zionists.”

For a little more than a century, the number 300 has shown up in far-right discourse. Why? Why that number?

If you immerse yourself in the literature produced by believers in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, you will encounter the allegation that those Elders numbered 300. We are told that the cabal is always kept to that number -- no more, no less. Yet the text of the Protocols does not mention the number 300. That detail came later.

(I trust that my readers need not be reminded that the Protocols are, in fact, a massive hoax.)

To understand how this perception took hold, chronology is important. Though written earlier, the Protocols did not enter the public's consciousness until 1920, when White Russian agents circulated the document widely throughout Europe and the United States.

At the same time, another anti-Semitic "mystification" (to use an old-fashioned term) gained prominence in Germany. This grand lie concerned an important German statesman and business leader named Walther Rathenau. 

In 1911, he wrote an article on modern business. His opening words: 

Three hundred men, who all know each other, hold in their hands the economic fortunes of the continent and seek their successors from their own milieu.
He didn’t say that he approved of this situation. In fact, the point of his article -- which went mostly unread, aside from that endlessly-republished first sentence -- was that the German business world was ill-equipped for the challenges of the modern world. A new capitalism, he argued, required new leaders. 

He did not intend three hundred to be taken as an exact number, as if he had personally counted heads. He didn’t say that a secret cabal had decreed that the number be kept at 300 perpetually.

And he certainly did not say that the three hundred were Jews

Quite the opposite, in fact. He directed his remarks at the old Junker aristocracy -- at the land-owning nobility in Prussia, a class traditionally concerned with farming, not factories. When Rathenau spoke of "three hundred," he was talking about the German equivalent of the folks who run Downtown Abbey. Protestants all. 

The public understood none of this. They did not read the whole article -- just Rathenau's first sentence, which anti-Semites presented as proof of a Jewish conspiracy. After the war, after the publication of the Protocols, many Germans presumed that Rathenau’s 300 and the Elders of Zion were one and the same. 

What made the conspiracy theorists so certain? One simple fact: Rathenau himself was Jewish. In their eyes, he was an insider who had inadvertently let the truth slip out. For the rest of his life -- which was cruelly abbreviated -- they would never let him forget it.

Ironically, Rathenau was irreligious and anti-Zionist. He always identified as a German nationalist, not as a Jew. Time and again, he strove to prove his patriotism. 

Walther Rathenau and his father Emil had, quite literally, electrified the country. The family built up a massive electronics conglomerate called AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, German Electricity Company), which set up the nation’s AC transmission systems. AEG, like all other major German concerns, would later support the Nazi party.

Walther oversaw the German economy during the First World War, constantly finding ways to route much-needed raw materials around the Allied naval blockade. Without his efforts, the war effort would have collapsed far earlier.

After the war, Rathenau kick-started the Treaty of Rapallo, which renewed trade with Russia, another pariah state. This agreement meant that Germany could buy raw materials for its covert rearmament program, and could even rebuild the German armed forces on Russian soil. In essence, Walther Rathenau had found a secret way to negate the Treaty of Versailles, which all of his countrymen (left and right) detested.

And yet, no matter what he did or why he did it, the German right – especially the paramilitary Freikorps units – portrayed him as a backstabbing manipulator. Time and again, his critics insisted that Walther Rathenau was himself one of the 300 Elders of Zion. 

He had to be. How else would he know the exact number? 

(Such was the "logic" which prevailed at the time.)

Some contended that Rathenau was the secret ruler of Germany, perhaps of all Europe. In beer halls across the country, fascists chanted: “Death to Walther Rathenau, godforsaken Jewish sow!”

Beginning in 1921, an underground terror group called the O.C. (Organisation Consul) assassinated hundreds of Germans considered traitors by the far right. Often, the killers were unidentified. Even when the killers were caught, police officers and judges tended to look the other way. 

On June 24, 1922, two O.C. assassins, Hermann Fischer and Erwin Kern, ambushed Walther Rathenau’s car, spraying him with bullets and even tossing in a grenade.

German opinion finally turned against the O.C. The police soon found and shot the two killers, who were holed up in an ancient castle. The young man who drove the assassins’ car, Ernst Techow, was tried and convicted. At his trial, Techow stated that he truly believed that Rathenau was one of the 300.

To this day, neo-Nazis continue to demonize Walther Rathenau. They never forget. They absolutely will not rest until they rewrite the history books to conform with their hallucinations.

The myth was resurrected in a book by John Coleman called Conspirators' Hierarchy: The Story of the Committee of 300. Following standard protocol for post-war far rightists, Coleman (who claimed to be a former MI6 agent) tried to avoid mention of the J-word. Modern anti-Semitic myth-makers have found that they make greater inroads with the public when they employ euphemisms. Instead of castigating Jews, they will denounce "international bankers" or "Khazarians" or "globalists." Even "aliens."

That's why Coleman's text blathers on about the Tavistock Institute, the Club of Rome and other right-wing scarecrows. Don't be fooled: He's really just repackaging the old "Elders of Zion" mythos.

Even close students of the far right do not know that Coleman was funded by EJ and Doris Ekker, a remarkable couple who will play a major role in my upcoming book. In the late 1980s, when ufology was all the rage, Doris founded a UFO cult based on her putative channeled messages from an alleged starship commander named Hatonn. Within a short time, Hatonn instructed Doris to republish The Protocols and Henry Ford's equally-infamous volume, The International Jew

The Ekkers were devotees of the fascist mystic William Dudley Pelley. When Doris began to channel, her mentor was one of Pelley's close students. Later, the Ekkers formed an association with the anti-Semitic publishing magnate Willis Carto.

The Hatonn volumes were, of course, ignored by academics and journalists. Nevertheless, within the far right underground, these mad texts became surprisingly influential.

In the late 1990s, Doris and EJ saw fit to move to the Philippines, mostly to escape the legal wrath of people who had "lent" large sums to the cult. I have reason to believe -- but as yet, cannot prove definitively -- that, in their new home, the Ekkers linked up with another expatriate American: Jim Watkins.

Yes, the same guy who is now everyone's favorite candidate for Q.  

But that's a tale for another time. My purpose today has been to tell you why Kanye West focused on the number 300. 

Now you know: He has been reading a bunch of neo-Nazi bullshit. Unfortunately, he's not the only one motivated by hate literature. The same can be said of his dinner partner.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Steve Bannon spots a Satanist: Takes one to know one, Steverino!

From Newsweek (which has become a truly noxious rag of late):

Bannon implied that Fetterman, who's running for U.S. Senate against Trump-backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, is a follower of Satan in a Gettr post on Wednesday. The remark was made while Bannon shared an article from the right-wing website The Washington Free Beacon, which alleged Fetterman was part of a "Democratic Grooming Scandal" because his family was photographed next to a person dressed as an anime character.

"Is Fetterman satanic??" Bannon wrote. "His look, his vibe, his associations ... has there been anyone in the history of the country that exudes more just pure evil than this guy ... the Citizens of the Commonwealth need to ask themselves—do we want someone who hangs with Satanic Groomers to represent us in the US Senate."

Hilarious! Bannon himself is a worshipful devotee of Julius Evola, who was the living embodiment of occult evil.  

In recent times, quite a few writers (though still not enough) have discussed Evola's philosophy of Traditionalism, which we may partially define as a return to feudalism. If you don't know much about that worldview, this book is an absolute must.

But first and foremost, Julius Evola was a Hermetic thinker who genuinely believed in ceremonial magic. Most people are not aware of that fact.

Evola's lover was a self-styled "Satanic Woman" named Maria De Naglowska. Here's a book about her. The cover of the book should tell you much. The blurbage will tell you more:

Maria taught her sex magical doctrines to the symbolist and surrealist artists of 1930's Paris. Her techniques included sensory deprivation, ceremonial magic, sexual intercourse with demons and angels and erotic asphyxia. Please note that this 175 page hard cover book contains approximately 170 illustrations detailing every aspect of Maria's life including Rasputin, The Mariavites, the cafes of Montparnasse, the Surrealists, alchemical diagrams and the magical rituals of the Third Term of the Trinity. Her students included William Seabrook, Michel Leiris, Georges Bataille and her lover, Julius Evola. 
Let us pause to savor the majesty of Bannon's hypocrisy. 

We are supposed to consider Fetterman a "groomer" because a member of Fetterman's family showed up in a photo with someone dressed as an anime character. (If you or anyone you know has ever visited Comic Con, give up all notion of ever entering politics!) But it was perfectly all right for Bannon's hero, Julius Evola, to engage in sex magic and erotic asphyxiation with dear old Maria. 

Oh, but the story gets even weirder. 

Maria's other lover was Georges Bataille, the French philosopher who -- in my view -- made a swift left-to-far-right transition after World War II. Maria helped inspire Bataille to set up his own death/sex occult group called Acephale.

The symbol of that group was a headless man. Why? Because logical thinking is bad. Or so said Bataille.

Some consider Bataille the founding father of postmodernism. Foucault would never have become Foucault without Bataille

In recent years, the right has spent a great deal of time and energy assailing postmodernism. They hate the stuff. I hate it too -- in fact, I've hated the pomos since the early 1980s, long before doing so became cool. The rightwingers continually try to convince their easily-gulled followers that postmodernism is a form of Marxism, which is a complete lie: The pomos were and are anti-Marxists to the core.

Postmodernism is the pre-eminent anti-Enlightenment philosophy of our time. It's a virus. Foucault caught the virus from Battaille, who got it from Evola -- the same Julius Evola that Steve Bannon just loves loves loves

So here's the question: What substantive thing separates Foucault from Bannon? Both are anti-Enlightenment, anti-science and anti-democracy. Those similarities are the only points that matter; everything else is insignificant

The two are really one. 

We battle a monster who sometimes wears a right-wing mask and sometimes a left-wing mask -- but it's always the same monster, a beast who detests both reason and democracy.

For decades, I've struggled to come up with a workable definition of fascism. Here's where I've landed: The term "fascism" may be applied to any anti-Enlightenment philosophy pressed into the service of political action in the modern age. By this definition, there can be right-wing and left-wing fascisms, nationalist and anti-nationalist fascisms, libertarian and "Big Gummint" fascisms, religious and atheist fascisms, materialist and mystical fascisms. There is a fascism for every race and ethnic group, including blacks and Jews. As was pointed out long ago, there can even be a fascism that calls itself anti-fascist -- that truly believes itself to be anti-fascist.

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 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.


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


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.