Surly

A Bloody Week in Doom– March 17, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Prayers for the victims in Christchurch attacks

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 17, 2019

“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”

 ― Antonio Gramsci  


The latest monster came to call in Christchurch, New Zealand in a story that dwarfed all others this week. I had some other ideas for what might fill this space this week, then the news from Christchurch, New Zealand, followed by the one-two punch of a Twitler emission rendered all moot. Brenton Tarrant strapped on a helmet camera, loaded a car with weapons, drove to a mosque in Christchurch and began shooting at anyone who came across his line of vision. His helmet-cam helped broadcast the act of mass terror live for the world to watch on social media. As of Sunday, the death toll had reached 50.

Tarrant thus joined the roll call of monsters alongside Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas), Anders Breivik (Norway), Robert Gregory Bowers (Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh), Omar Mateen (Pulse, Orlando), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Nikolas Cruz (Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school), Devin Patrick Kelley (Sutherland Springs church in Texas), James Holmes (Aurora), Dylann Roof (Charleston, SC), and, of course, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who kicked off the 21st century with the Columbine massacre.

In ancient Rome, an interregnum was a period between stable governments when anything might happen, and the "the blood-dimmed tide" might be loosed:  civil unrest, competition between warlords, power vacuums, wars of succession. In 1929, in such an interregnum found Italian Marxist philosopher and politician Antonio Gramsci languishing in a fascist prison, writing about the forces tearing Europe  apart. He anticipated civil unrest, war between nations and changing political fault lines.

Interestingly, it was Gramsci who gave us the term "hegemony" now in use. Hegemony is a three dollar word representing a simple idea: the coercion of smaller fish by bigger fish. When the powerful use their influence to convince the less powerful their best interest lies in doing what is actually in the best interest of the powerful, that's hegemony. When we consider the above list of overwhelmingly white terrorists with a nationalist/supremacist bent, we can see terror is one way the powerful preserve their hegemony when they feel their power begin to wane when frightened by demographic changes posed by immigration.

Trump has the sensibility of a spoiled child tearing the wings off of flies. When asked whether white nationalism has anything to do with the tragedy in Christchurch, he replied in the negative. Echoes of “good people on both sides,” a la Charlottesville. The prime minister of New Zealand indicated late Friday coming changes to New Zealand's gun laws. A striking contrast that makes one wonder how many will have to die, again and again and again, until our own politicians, beholden to the NRA and their sea of laundered rubles, are moved to similarly act.

You'll recall that when it was his time to serve in Vietnam, the self proclaimed White House tough guy came up missing like Dick Cheney and his five deferments. Chickenhawks like Cheney always find "other priorities" to service, but are eager to send the disposable sons and daughters of the poor into harm's way, because what else are they for but cannon-fodder? Real military men who have seen battle are loath to commit their fellow citizens to needless battle; but chickenhawks, untroubled by loss or nightmares, send their non-relatives readily into the Valley of Death. 

The mob-boss stylings of Citrus Caligula make a tough sound, especially when talking to the far right media like Breitbart.

Trump said: "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher. Like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress … with all this investigations]—that’s all they want to do is –you know, they do things that are nasty. Republicans never played this.”

When you can't bully a majority of the people and the House of Representatives into accepting your will as fiat, that is apparently vicious tactics. Especially on the part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who Trump refers to as "Nancy."

"So here’s the thing—it’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump said before discussing his supporters. “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay?"

Uh, not OK. This is Trump engaging in stochastic terrorism, or

the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.

Trump is actively encouraging people taking the law into their own hands, in the same way Putin has his Night Riders (see below), as Mussolini had his black shirts, and Hitler his brown shirts. The purpose is unmistakable: to be bullyboys who operate outside of the law and through violent intimidation. For the last two years we've had a president who fundamentally does not believe in democracy, and whose recent utterances show no loyalty to either the Constitution or the traditions of American governance. This IS a time of monsters. And now this: 

Trump’s Breitbart Biker Threat Came From the Putin Playbook—Then Tweet Deleted After Mosque Massacre

Trump told Breitbart there could be biker violence against leftists. It sounded even worse after Brenton Tarrant's mosque massacre manifesto called Trump "a symbol of renewed white identity." It does not get much clearer than that.

The Daily Beast Explains the Putinesque origins of Twitler's latest veiled threat: 

"They call themselves The Night Wolves, “a new kind of motorcycle club,” or, sometimes, “Putin’s Angels.” And just as much as the Orthodox Church or the military, the Wolves have become a symbol of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But the idea that they might be used as his extra-legal enforcers in times of trouble is usually implicit—embedded in their flag-waving Putinized patriotism—never really spelled out….Trump is not so subtle, however, especially when he takes his cues from the Kremlin. Leave it to him to put the potential for violent defense of his interests by a motorcycle gang front and center in the public view."

On Friday morning, as news broke of the massacre, the murderer's manifesto called Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose,” the Breitbart tough-guy tweet came down. Note a wider pattern of American racists and white supremacists looking to Russia for both moral and tactical support.


Charlie Warzel noted that the attack marks a grim new age of social media-fueled terrorism.

A 17-minute video of a portion of the attack, which leapt across the internet faster than social media censors could remove it, is one of the most disturbing, high-definition records of a mass casualty attack of the digital age — a grotesque first-person-shooter-like documentation of man’s capacity for inhumanity.

Videos of attacks are designed to amplify the terror, of course. But what makes this atrocity “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it, is both the methodical nature in which the massacre was conducted and how it was apparently engineered for maximum virality.

Even though Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube scrambled to take down the recording, they were no match for the speed of their users or for their algorithms which make connections for people consuming such content. In minutes, the video was downloaded and mirrored onto additional platforms, and ricocheted around the globe.

Warzel notes,

Internet users dredged up the alleged shooter’s digital history, preserving and sharing images of weapons and body armor. The gunman’s apparent digital footprint — from the rantings of a White Nationalist manifesto to his 8chan message board postings before the murders — was unearthed and, for a time, distributed into far-flung corners of the web.

The killer wanted the world’s attention, and by committing an act of mass terror, he was able to get it.

It was not the first act of violence to be broadcast in real-time. Yet this one was different because ofd the perpetrator's apparent familiarity with the darkest corners of the internet. The recording contains numerous references to online and meme culture, including name-checking a prominent YouTube personality. Tarrant knew his audience.

Tarrent's digital trail depicts a white supremacist motivation for the attack. His 87-page manifesto, for instance, is filled with layers of  commentary apparently written to specifically enrage the communities that appear to have helped radicalize the gunman in the first place. It seems he understands both the platform dynamics that allow misinformation and divisive content to spread but also the way to sow discord.

I recently came across an article by Ezra Klein who identifies an ecosphere of YouTube prophets and avatars who populate the "intellectual dark web:" The rise of YouTube’s reactionary right: How demographic change and YouTube’s algorithms are building a new right. Many right wing publishers benefit from YouTube’s algorithms to build the new right. 

YouTube’s recommendation engine follows the digital footsteps we all make. And it sees connections, not context. It knows when audiences repeatedly come together, but does not grasp why. And it predicts what they’re likely to view next. Thus are the "mainstreams" of conservative thought brought into proximity to the far right fringe.

As Klein has it,

"Many of these YouTubers are less defined by any single ideology than they are by a “reactionary” position: a general opposition to feminism, social justice, or left-wing politics."

On YouTube, tomorrow’s politics are emerging today. Tarrant noted this and made the online community work in the gunman’s favor. Our brown shirts are now digital: not only has their conspiratorial hate spread from the internet to real life, it’s also weaponized to go viral. 


Proof That White Supremacy Is an International Terrorist Threat

It stretches from Christchurch to Pittsburgh and extends out in every direction.

TOPSHOT-NZealand-crime-shooting

The always-dependable Charlie Pierce noted that Anders Breivik, the murderous white-supremacist who killed 72 people in Norway in 2011, has become one of the most significant figures in international terrorism by providing a template for the modern white-supremacist mass murderer.

From Ted Kaczynski, he borrowed the idea of publishing a manifesto. From the Columbine killers, he borrowed the idea of using both bombs and guns. And from the international white-supremacist networks, he borrowed the murderous rage and bloodthirsty rhetoric necessary to carry out acts of mass murder, and to justify his crimes through an elaborate bullshit ideological exoskeleton that he wore like body armor. He put all of this together and created the modern mode of mass political murder, one that was carried out again Thursday in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Pierce notes that Tarrant's latest manifesto

reads like a vicious form of grandiose trolling. But there seems to be little doubt that the crimes themselves speak loudly of the basic truth that this was a right-wing act of war against a target population. And, because of that, we should take the following passage very seriously. The alleged shooter called the President* of the United States "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose." 

When asked if the rise of white natonalism or white supremacy posed a rising threat around the world, Trump replied, 

“I don’t, really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.  If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.”

On Sunday, Mick Mulvaney and other staffers made the rounds and insisted that Trump was "Not a White Supremacist." Which speaks volumes.

White supremacy now poses an international terrorist threat stretching from Norway to Pittsburgh, from Christchurch to Las Vegas, sharing objectives with the Night Riders or the Bikers for Trump, but better armed and more purposeful. Brownshirts used to intimidate; the new generation attacks to sow terror in targeted groups. This poses an existential threat to the very notion of liberal democracy. Today the target is Muslims; Tomorrow's target will be…?

For our purposes this week, Charlie Pierce gets the last word:

From [white supremacist terrorism] runs on a parallel track with the rise of a xenophobic rightwing nationalist politics that is conspicuously successful in a number of putatively democratic nations. Liberal democracy is under attack and, like any revolution, this one has both a respectable political front and a violent auxiliary that operates on its own imperatives. That one of those auxiliaries cites both a Norwegian mass murderer and the President* of the United States as inspiration for killing 49 people is not only evidence of the width of the threat, but also the depth of its commitment to the cause. This is the everyday al Qaeda of the angry white soul, and it's growing.

Now is the time of monsters.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom March 4, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on March 4, 2019

“Everybody’s job at the Trump Org was to protect Mr. Trump. Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country. It’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”

 ― Michael Cohen  


The news in doom this week was front-page headlines: the scarcely-to-be-believed spectacle of Michael Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight Committee. This was testimony from the zip codes of the seamier sides of Manhattan and DC politics, as well as the President's inner darkness, brought into light by Trump's former fixer and goon.

Having lived through Watergate, with memory of Republicans like  Lowell Weicker and Howard Baker eventually pried loose from their defense of Nixon by events, we're now treated to the mummery of Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, who comported themselves as attack dogs bent on derailing or postponing the hearing. Then when that didn't work, they set to discrediting and smearing the witness. 

For all the fulsomeness of their attacks, it should be noted that Jim Jordan and the other Republican members of the committee didn't ask Cohen any questions about Trump. But Cohen provided plenty of answers.

As the New Yorker's John Cassidy notes, "If there has been a previous occasion when a President’s personal lawyer has testified to Congress that his client is a common crook, it has been lost to the history books."

Yet those appalled by the slavishness of the devotion by congressional Republicans need to remember that during Watergate, Republicans stood by defense of Nixon foursquare and were only pried loose by the preponderance of evidence. Republicans abandoned Nixon on the obstruction-of-justice charge only after he complied with the Supreme Court’s order on Aug. 1974, releasing the “smoking gun” tapes that proved he had ordered a cover-up of the Watergate crimes. Still, many Republicans on the Judiciary Committee later maintained that Nixon was innocent of two of the three articles of impeachment sent to the full House. Even after resignation, as Nixon got on the helicopter for what should have been his ride to richly deserved obscurity, he maintained a 24 per cent public approval rating. Even facing impeachment and disgrace with his conspiracy admitted on tape, one in four Americans still stood before "their guy." And this was before Fox News.

Cohen’s seven hours of damning testimony described his former client as “a racist,” “a cheat,” and “a con man.” And a liar who spoke in code, who would not put his mouth to the words but would encourage his subordinates to go along with the official story. 

The night before Cohen's testimony, Trump loyalist Matt Gaetz, owner of what perhaps is DC's most punchable face,  committed ‘witness tampering’ by threatening Michael Cohen via a tweet, just before he was to appear. He deleted the tweet, and may face ethics sanctions from Congress.

In the hearing  Wednesday, we got to peer behind the Trumpland curtain:  about how long the Trump Org pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project. Trump has long denied that there was a Russia deal of any type in the works. Cohen, who spent years working with Trump associate Felix Sater to put together a deal to construct Europe’s tallest building in Moscow, said of Trump:.

“He lied about it, because he never expected to win.”

We also learned Cohen said he regrets working for Trump and warns others not to. That Trump’s tax returns might show evidence of fraud. And why he fears for his family’s safety. If your name was on Cohen's lips during Wednesday's testimony, I'd assume there will be a subpoena coming to a theater or drive in near you.

For all Cohen’s record of duplicity and lying, which he repeatedly fessed up to during the hearing, this statement had the ring of genuine insider knowledge. To be sure, this was a figure who acted as Trump’s fixer and bruiser for more than ten years, and who recently pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to banks, engaging in campaign-finance violations, and lying to the last Congress. But the very things that made Cohen such a problematic witness—his closeness to Trump and his history of finagling on behalf of his boss and himself—are also what made him a compelling one. This was an account of the darkness, told from within.

Cohen implored Republican legislators to stop lying for the President as he said he had for years. They ignored him. Whether driven by perceived profit—financial or electoral—or willful belief, they would hold the line that they had adopted, facts and the public good be damned. In both hearings, one could observe the utter disintegration of politics. We've see this all before.


‘Nattering nabobs of negativism’

For those old enough to recall the events of 1973, Spiro Agnew was in many ways Trump before Trump. Agnew was a far better speechmaker and invective-slinger than the current Dodderer-in-Chief, who hijacked the stage at CPAC this past weekend.  

In Agnew Nixon chose a thoroughly corrupt running mate in 1972. The 49-year-old first-term governor of Maryland was unknown to most of the delegates at the republican convention that year — even after making the nomination speech for Nixon. Nixon may have chosen him for his lack of national profile, since he elevated Agnew past brighter party lights, including Ronald Reagan.

A friend from Maryland once told be that in Maryland, an honest politician is one who stays bought. Agnew stayed bought. He built a career on bribes and kickbacls from government contractors as Baltimore County executive and governor of Maryland. Kickbacks he received on state contracts as governor continued as vice president. He is reported to have received envelopes stuffed with cash on the White House grounds. One such payment was $10,000 in cash delivered by a Maryland contractor who dutifully was making yet another installment payment. Promises made, promises kept.

In 1973, Agnew fell under federal investigation for tax evasion, bribery, and various corrupt practices, most dating back to Agnew's days as governor of Maryland.

And the rhetoric so common now echoes that made by Agnew as he fought the charges that federal investigators brought to his particular trail of slime. Back against the wall, Agnew made slashing attacks on the press as both liberal and untrustworthy, attacking that investigation as a witch-hunt… led by politically-motivated biased malefactors inside a not-to-be-trusted Justice Department. 

Deja-vu? This was something new in American politics. A sitting occupant of the White House, under criminal investigation, trying to save himself by discrediting his own Justice Department.

Agnew also maintained that as vice president he could not be indicted — an assertion that remains untested. At the time, Justice officials were worried that if Nixon were forced from office and Agnew acceded to the presidency, he might pardon himself. Then what?

In the fullness of time, the Vice President of the United States resigned in disgrace, pleading "nolo contendere" to charges of felony tax evasion in a negotiated proceeding. Should you want to relive these events, which ran parallel for a while with the Watergate investigation, you might devote some time to Rachel Maddow's podcast Bag Man, a superbly researched seven part series.


Short Takes

The Age of Tyrannical Surveillance: We’re Being Branded, Bought and Sold for Our Data

You are the product. John Whitehead writes, 

Big Brother—aided and abetted by his corporate partners in crime—wants your data. That’s what we have been reduced to in the eyes of the government and Corporate America: data bits and economic units to be bought, bartered and sold to the highest bidder. Those highest bidders include America’s political class and the politicians aspiring to get elected or re-elected. 

Our browser searches, phones, televisions and digital devices are hoovering up our data and selling us out to whoever's paying.


Climate Change Is Here—and It Looks Like Starvation

While for some of us climate change may mean unseasonably warm weather in February,  a typhoon here, a wildfire there, another species lost, all headlines safely ignored, in the Horn of Africa, invisibly to most Western eyes, it is an existential threat playing out beyond notice of the world's press.

In Somaliland, the catastrophe of climate change has already altered everything.

…cadavers meant a village was near. Usually they started a few miles out: mainly sheep and goats, but also camels and donkeys drying to leather on the bare, red earth. The previous year, the autumn rains had failed to arrive. The spring rains didn’t come either. Everywhere people told me drought had taken as much as 90 percent of their herds—the primary form of capital in an overwhelmingly pastoral economy. And everywhere I saw people on the move: in desperate search of pasture, or, having already lost everything, of some other source of sustenance. New communities were forming on the edges of the cities, ragged camps of the displaced, once-proud herders reduced to gathering gravel for pennies a day with no prospects ahead but further loss.

Here's a look at the future. The drought has left more than 3 million people in need of humanitarian aid, By the end of the summer, nearly a million people had fled their homes.


Trump blames disagreement over sanctions for no deal

Trump and North Korea's Kim met in Hanoi to discuss further denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The talks ended abruptly, and both sides cited different reasons.

In his version of events, Trump said the deal had broken down because Kim wanted complete sanctions relief for dismantling the main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, but the US wanted other nuclear facilities, including covert sites, disabled as well.

“It was about the sanctions basically,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.

The North Koreans saw it differently:

the North Korean foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Pyongyang had only demanded partial sanctions relief in return for closing Yongbyon. He said the US had wasted an opportunity that “may not come again”.


Is Glyphosate In Your Wine Or Beer? Skoal!

Glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, contaminates many more foodstuffs and consumables than we can imagine, from Cheerios to beer and wine. Enough Roundup is sprayed every year to deploy nearly half a pound of glyphosate on every cultivated acre of land in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Even though Monsanto has argued for years that glyphosate is safe for humans, that finding has been successfully challenged in court. Plus, the UN’s World Health Organization [WHO] has declared glyphosate a Group 2A carcinogen.

Now about those beers:

Bottoms up!


The Ocean Is Running Out of Breath, Scientists Warn

Many years ago, I worked on a documentary about the health of the Chesapeake Bay. One of the issues affecting the successful growth of sub-aquatic vegetation, or seagrasses, was a lack of oxygen. This lack of oxygen was caused by the presence of algae, which feasted on nitrogen and phosphorus from "non-point source," or agricultural pollution runoff. No oxygen in the water, no healthy ecosystem. It seemed pretty clear.

Now, what was a localized problem has spread worldwide. Widespread and sometimes drastic marine oxygen declines are stressing sensitive species—a trend that will continue with climate change.

During the past decade, ocean oxygen levels have plummeted in an alarming trend linked to climate change, this according to Andreas Oschlies, an oceanographer at the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany, whose team tracks ocean oxygen levels worldwide.

“We were surprised by the intensity of the changes we saw, how rapidly oxygen is going down in the ocean and how large the effects on marine ecosystems are."

They tell us oxygen levels in some tropical regions have dropped by a startling 40 percent in the last 50 years.

One wonders if the headlines cold get worse. But not for long because they always do.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Week in Doom February 26, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Anthony Freda               

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 26, 2019

"I am dreaming of a way to kill every last person on earth"

 ― Christopher Paul Hasson, white nationalist domestic terrorist  


Last week was really a week for doom-related news!

Bernie Sanders checked in to a 2020 presidential bid, Karl Lagerfeld checked out. Big week in sex crimes, as the Pope presided over a summit on clerical abuse at the Vatican, Patriots owner Robert Kraft endured his second deflated-balls episode when he was charged with soliciting prostitution as part of a sex trafficking sting in a Florida spa, and singer R. Kelly was arrested for sex with underaged girls. California led 16 states in lawsuit against Trump's spurious emergency declaration, Republicans finally found an example of "voter fraud" when North Carolina ordered a new U.S. House election after a vote 'tainted' by corruption…by Republicans. Roger Stone got slapped with a gag order for posting a picture of the presiding judge in his case with crosshairs. Shooting started in Venezuela as the closed the border with Colombia..

But we're not going to review the headlines, because no matter how much havoc is being wreaked by Trump, his minions, and his adoption of the neocon agenda in Venezuela, there are real existential threats to review. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and food supply, and an active duty white nationalist and would-be mass-murderer/ Trump avenger focus the attention elsewhere. 


But We Can't Be Out of Food: We Still Have Chips

One of the common themes the weird rest of this franchise is that collapse is already here. We are living through a slow-motion collapse in terms of climate, biodiversity, and threats to our way of life that simply does not conform to our limited attention spans or are readily observable timeframe.Common Dreams published a summary of a first-of-its kind report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).highlighting the rapid, widespread loss of many of the world's plant and animal species. This poses a direct threat to the food supply of human beings.

What we often fail to realize is that our farming practices, especially industrial agriculture,  is a monoculture reliant on a very small subset of foods. Currently only nine crops account for 66 percent of total crop production, according to FAO. 

"Our forests are shrinking. As they disappear so do the plants, insects, and animals they host…Now is the time to act."

They breathlessly announced that,"This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government's agenda around the world." But since we hear it all the time, we tend to yawn, check our watches, and change the channel. But here is the nut of the report:

According to FAO's study of 91 countries around the world, the loss of thousands of plant and animal species is affecting air and water quality, tree and plant health, and worsening the spread of disease among livestock—all with dangerous implications for the human population and humans' food sources.

"Less biodiversity means that plants and animals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Compounded by our reliance on fewer and fewer species to feed ourselves, the increasing loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture puts food security and nutrition at risk," said Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO's director-general.

It gets worse. FAO blames changes in land and water management, pollution, the warming and the ongoing climate crisis as factors for a catastrophic loss of biodiversity.

Out of 6,000 plant species that can be cultivated for food, fewer than 200 are used significantly as food sources. Where countries, particularly in the third world, lose wild or native food sources, they rely more heavily on industrially-processed foods. Which provides vibrant export market opportunities for Midwestern agribusiness interests. What a coincidence. It's a miracle.

Reports like this come in, and we read them, rub our collective chins, and wonder what is to be done. But as long as Harris Teeter remains open down the road, we're not really out of food, in the same way that if I still have checks, I can't possible be out of money.


The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse

Xraymike is back after a long hiatus, with an article entitled, The Inconvenient Truth of Modern Civilization’s Inevitable Collapse. And he wastes no time in getting directly to the point:

Today’s global consumption of fossil fuels now stands at roughly five times what it was in the 1950s, and one-and-half times that of the 1980s when the science of global warming had already been confirmed and accepted by governments with the implication that there was an urgent need to act.

He points out that the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the last four also being the top warmest years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Global warming leads directly to Ice loss. In Antarctica ice loss has sextupled since the 1970s and Greenland’s pace of ice loss has increased fourfold since 2003. As the Arctic warms, new commerce comes to the top of the world. The Arctic Ocean has lost 95% of its old ice and total volume of ice. But opportunity knocks, for business and tourism.

Meanwhile microplastics enter the food supply with unknown effects. showing up even in Arctic birds. And these are the plastics too small to be seen. The plastic crap large enough to be seen is a different story:

There are five massive oceanic gyres filled with pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other human detritus; one of the these gyres, named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is three times the size of France and growing exponentially.

And of course governments are ill-equipped to do anything about it, because who runs the government? Also, extractive industries pay for well-funded climate disinformation campaigns, and the prevaricator in chief has made his business to put his tiny, if meaty, thumb on the scale.

At a time when compassion, cooperation, and scientific reasoning are needed to deal with the multiple crises we face, politicians are instead conjuring up xenophobia, racism, and conspiracy theories. As inequality grows and the once-stable climate continues to unravel, expect the super-rich to barricade themselves behind heavily fortified mansions while treating climate refugees and the most vulnerable among us with extreme prejudice.

Migration from Latin America is near a 40-year low. But we still intend to build "that big beautiful wall," otherwise known as "the last Confederate monument," an erection dedicated to xenophobia and white rage. And to reelection in 2020. 

There is more in this article, which is well worth the read, but let's just have Xraymike bottom-line this for you:

Humans recognized decades ago the threats they are now facing, yet nothing was done due to political inaction and industry malfeasance which continues to this very day. The scientists who wrote The Limits to Growth decades ago were expecting our political institutions to take action back in the 1970s, but they were met with ridicule and now we stand at the doorstep of modern civilization’s collapse. Political inaction and regulatory capture by the fossil fuel industry appear to be intractable barriers that have condemned the human race to a hellish future. Anyone waiting for some sort of seminal climate change event that is going to galvanize the world’s leaders into action will be tragically disappointed. If seeing the world’s coral reefs dying, its glaciers disappearing, permafrost melting, and the steady uptick in extreme weather and wildfire events does not spur them to action, it is much too late to hope that any single event will ever do so.

The point being that, in terms of "collapse," we are well and truly in it, and there is little to be done about it, because the time for action has passed. And now here's Tammy with the weather.


Arrested Coast Guard Officer Allegedly Planned Attack 'On A Scale Rarely Seen'

A 49-year-old Coast Guard lieutenant charged with stockpiling weapons and drugs is described as a "domestic terrorist" planning "to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country." But since terrorists in the post-truth era are never white, that story is pushed out of the news cycles by the tale of Jussie Smollett and his self inflicted hate crime, prompting release of the already-written stories that, see racial violence really doesn't exist in the United States. The families of Philando Castile, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner were not immediately available for comment.

This guy was planning to unleash a version of hell rarely seen outside of the Middle East. Court documents filed in the case indicate Christopher Paul Hasson espoused extremist and white supremacist views for years — aspiring to establish a "white homeland" — and say he is a "domestic terrorist bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect government conduct," including leading democrats and media figures.

Hasson, a self-described white nationalist living in Silver Spring, Md., was amassing firearms since at least 2017, while cultivating plans to launch a widespread attack on prominent Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and several high-profile television anchors from MSNBC and CNN.

"I am dreaming of a way to kill every last person on earth," Hasson wrote in a draft email dated June 2, 2017, that was uncovered by investigators. He researched the most effective methods to "cause complete destruction" by unleashing a biological attack on the public, followed by contamination of food supplies. He compiled a hit list including Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Beto O'Rourke, Van Jones, don Lemon and Joe Scarborough.

Investigators said Hasson conducted online searches that included “what if trump illegally impeached” and “civil war if trump impeached” after accessing computer files at his suburban Maryland home, according to Politico. He was apparently ready to spring into action to foment such a war.

"Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch. … They will die as will the traitors who actively work toward our demise."

For all of this, the story is slipping into the memory hole despite many unanswered questions about Hasson and his racist goals. Yet few in the media aside from Arizona sites, where Hasson had local ties, are continuing to cover this apparent case of domestic white terrorism. An internet search on Feb. 26 revealed no updates outside of Arizona.


Warren Buffett Does Doom

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the "Sage of Omaha," released his annual letter to shareholders. It is an optimistic letter in which he credits "the American tailwind" for BH's successes. He defends stock buybacks; he acknowledges the massive write-down from Kraft Heinz; and he addresses government debt and deficits while also taking a jab at gold-touting doomsayers. But almost as an aside, while assessing risks in insurance business, he warned about,"the big one." That would be some major catastrophe, fueled by climate change, that would cause economic losses in the trillions of dollars.

"When such a megacatastrophe strikes, we will get our share of the losses and they will be big — very big."

Buffett says the catastrophe may take the form of a natural disaster or could be something more surprising, like a cyber attack. But Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway "will be looking to add business the next day."


As Yellowstone Awakens, Dr. Michio Kaku Warns That It Could "Literally Tear The Guts Out Of The USA"

If things ever get too quiet around the collapsosphere, you can always rely on Yellowstone. That seismic mess continues to bubble under the earth's surface, and can always portend catastrophe on a slow news day. Michael Snyder tells us via Zero Hedge that scientists assure us that one day the absolutely massive Yellowstone supervolcano will once again experience a Category 8 eruption, and if it happened today it would “literally tear the guts out of the United States of America.” That is why what has been happening at Yellowstone in recent months is so alarming.

We know that the ground has been rising and that “a 465-mile-long piece of molten rock” is moving upwards directly under Yellowstone.  And we also know that the major geysers at Yellowstone were more active last year than in any other year in any of our lifetimes.  Are these signs that an eruption is coming?  We better hope not, because as Dr. Michio Kaku recently told Fox News, there is “a sleeping Godzilla underneath Yellowstone”

The image of a slumbering Goliath ready to rip apart the US is always good to stoke fear. Kaku posits that the Yellowstone caldera would not blow all at once, that we'd get a warning. But what if we have already received warnings, and are sleeping through them?

Steamboat geyser erupted more times in 2018 than in any other year in history.  The following comes from National Geographic

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory reports that Steamboat has now set a record by erupting a whopping 32 times in 2018, a personal best for the geyser for a single calendar year. Previously, this geyser made it as high as 29 paroxysms back in 1964.

Prior to last year, there had not been an eruption of the Steamboat geyser for three and a half years.

It is indeed possible that when Yellowstone finally erupts that we will get more of a warning than this.  But it is also possible that we will not.

If Yellowstone blows, life as we have known it would instantly be over.  Snyder estimates that "the immediate kill zone," or Zone 1, a radius of 100 miles, could see 70,000 people die instantly. Zone two, which starts after 100 miles, would be covered in 10ft of volcanic ash at 450C. After the second zone, one's chances of surviving increase, but would still find people heading east on impossibly clogged roads..

Is Yellowstone likely to blow this week or the next? No. Snyder suggests that Mt. Rainier and Mt. Fuji are better candidates. Such handwringing can sell books if you have them on offer, as Snyder does. But for those people who wish to imagine collapse around a single life-changing event, you could do much worse than a category eight super volcano erupting out of Yellowstone. But not this week.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Happy 7th Anniversary Doomstead Diner


gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 19, 2019

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

 ― Hunter S. Thompson  


RE asked me to dump a few words to acknowledge the 7th anniversary of the Doomstead Diner. This is in no way like the US Government beseeching Shinzo Abe on behalf of Trump to nominate Ol' Melonhead for the Nobel Peace Prize. If you are like me, the Diner (and especially the Diner Forum) has been your virtual home away from home and the recipient of altogether too much of your time and attention for the last few years. It's become an unshakeable habit, like porn, online gambling or compulsive masturbation.

Doom blogs come and go, as does the readership and participation. Indeed, how much "doom" can one soul take before he reaches for the remote to find "I Love Lucy" reruns? The endless pessimism that comes with contemplating the end of resources, freedom, days and even humanity is overwhelming. Most "collapse" blogs attempt to predict the future in dire and sensationalistic terms. In 2007-8, sites like like prison planet.com predicted that terrible things would happen in two years. And when they didn't, said terrible things would happen two years later. (You'll recall who was elected President in 2008.) Yet they didn’t happen. Eventually, people tire of all the “end of the world is nigh” BS. One of the things that has made the Doomstead Diner different, in my view, is a foundation of optimism that underpins the regular observation of the way the wheels are coming off the wagon.


See You On The Other Side

One of the qualities that identifies successful people is optimism. Successful hunters, like successful people, never stop learning, practice their craft, cultivate a positive mental attitude, manage stress effectively, and let go of mistakes or reversals quickly. Those who succeed adapt, learn and thrive. Survivors, if you will. A modern genetic theory holds that everyone alive today is descended from those who survived a "population bottleneck," or sharp reduction, that occurred 75,000 years ago. There is controversy in the scientific community over what caused the bottleneck. One theory is that with a volcanic eruption at Lake Toba in Sumatra that blew @75,000 years ago resulting in  massive global cooling effects that may have reduced humanity to fewer than 10,000 souls, or 1000 mating pairs. The debate continues, but the timing is right. Some survived. Some always survive. It's this attitude that lies at the root of the Diner and which separates it from other collapse/doom/survival sites. Not for nothing did I first encounter the tagline, "See You On The Other Side" from RE.

I first "met" RE online in the commentariat of The Burning Platform. in late 2010-2011, as I began to become more collapse-aware. The Burning Platform is Jim Quinn's blog, and while Quinn is a gifted writer capable of keen insight and a felicity of writing style, his touch as a site admin ran to "bully."  He was not above rewriting people's comments to invert or ridicule what they said. Tough room.

JQ found god with the Fourth Turning, created by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, and which theorizes a recurring generational cycle in American history. They described a recurring pattern of four generational types, each with a distinct collective persona, and a corresponding cycle of four different types of era, each with a distinct mood. The overlay of generational types and national moods was able to be shoehorned in a unified theory to account for all moments of Anglo-American crisis, and thus took the position of holy writ at TBP. Here's an typical example:

There have been three prior Fourth Turnings in U.S. history: the American Revolution, Civil War and Great Depression/World War II. The American Revolution preceded the Civil War by 87 years. The Great Depression followed the Civil War by 69 years and this Millenial Crisis arrived 76 years after the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929. Essentially, each prior Fourth Turning has represented a Revolution in American history…

No one knows exactly what events will transpire over the next 15 to 20 years as this Fourth Turning morphs from regeneracy to climax and finally to resolution. The mainstream media, most politicians, and self proclaimed progressives are blind to the cyclicality of history. They believe history proceeds in a linear upwards path. These are the people you see on TV talking about toning down the rhetoric, false gestures of bipartisanship, and soothing words about the financial crisis being a thing of the past. They fail to understand that once the mood of the country is catalyzed by a trigger event or events, there is no turning back the clock… Absolutely no one anticipated the extreme measures taken by the U.S. government and Federal Reserve to “Save” the country from a 2nd Great Depression. These measures have added $5 trillion to the National Debt in the last 40 months. It took 205 years to accumulate the 1st $5 trillion of debt.

And so on. In contrast, here is RE in the comment section of the same article, advancing a point of view that has been remarkably consistent from then to now:

This cycle will in the end be dominated by the effects of decreasing available energy. Complex systems will no longer be supportable, requiring a vast simplification of how our societies are organized. Nation States will progressively break up in a One to the Many devolution, first toward Regional organizations, then Local ones, finally to Tribal organization. There may be larger reorganizations in the short term, but long term this is part of a grand supercycle larger than the 80 year periodicity of Strauss & Howe Turnings. This is the end of a 1600 year cycle that began with the Fall of the Roman Empire and proceeded through Centuries of the Dark Age…

For the rest of this generation, and for generations to come the population of the world will shrink markedly, likely to less than 1% of the current population of Homo Sapiens. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will ride herd over Humanity as War, Pestilence and Famine bring Death to every doorstep. The Age of the Grim Reaper is Upon us Now.

Don't you love listening to the classic hits?

TBP featured a zoo full of characters who revealed their inner hunchbacks in comment-section prose:  LLPOH, SSS, Stucky, Flash, MuckAbout, AWD. Those who think that comment on the Diner Forum gets heated simply never encountered the Bessemer-furnance-like blasts that emanated from the comments section of TBP in those days. Grunts, gas and gurgles. Some, like "Smokey," he of the putative "twelve inches of swinging meat," yielding "baby batter" and "throat yogurt," were real flamethrowers.

Quinn and his TBP jackals made much of the "Free Shit Army" that was, in their minds, about to be unleashed like zombie brigades upon an unsuspecting American public to steal their savings, rape their women, and usurp their precious bodily fluids as soon as a Democrat became President. Other regular TBP features included Quinn's "30 Blocks of Squalor," depicting his commute through the poorer sections of Philadelphia to get to his job as CFO of the Wharton School, the better to blame poverty of circumstances on the poor, and the weekly "People of Walmart" photo features, guaranteed to depict the clueless at their absolute worst and provide a welcome sense of superiority to its mostly male, suburban readers. 

During those days, RE posted a regular column there, entitled the Frostbite Falls Daily Rant. Forum aficionados will note that the "Frostbite Falls" moniker has carried over into the Doomstead Diner forum. RE's writing was materially different from the other postings in TBP. Equally acerbic, equally convinced that the fix was in, equally convinced that the end was nigh, but accusing a different set of villains. It wasn't the "Free Shit Army' that was the danger, it was the crony capitalists and their hireling whore legislators. The Burning Platform was once a blog with a libertarian bent, big on defending individual rights against government encroachment, and Quinn allowed multiple POVs. But in its current incarnation, it has gone full Trump and the commentariat consists of furiously nodding bobbleheads. It is now unreadable. But in those days, RE was a (perhaps overly dramatic) voice of reason and light in a room full of discordant voices.

[What was surprising was Quinn's support for the Occupy movement in its early days. In fall of 2011, I became involved with the Occupy movement's local iteration in Norfolk, Virginia. It was really my first taste of direct political activism, and it was exhilarating. (I also met a woman who was first a comrade and workmate, and who later became my wife. So I am able to answer the question, “How did you two meet,“ with the response, “I met her in the street.“)

Occupy indelibly changed the conversation in this country. Phrases like “The 99%,” “the 1%,” changed the national conversation and the prevailing narrative forever. Occupy exposed how the 1% control our fates through the financialization of all aspects of economic and political life: the middle class drowns in loans, student debt, fraudulent mortgages, and a democracy being sold to the highest bidder, all while our environment is turned into yet another toxic asset, sold off to the highest bidder as well.

We forget how in a country deeply resistant to notions of class, where even $250,000+-per-year professionals consider themselves ”middle class”, the development of any sort of class consciousness is quite remarkable. Most Americans find it difficult to stomach the sight of the capital gains classes being bailed out and then earning obscene profits while they, or their family, friends, and neighbors, are looking for their tax refunds without success.]

In the fullness of time RE and Jim Quinn fell out for good, as a stage can generally hold only one diva at a time. So RE decided to stand up a Yahoo News group, to write in virtual exile for an audience of maybe a dozen. And then in early 2012, RE and Peter Offermann stood up the first version of  a fully-functioning blog and discussion forum, the Doomstead Diner that stands before you today. RE registered and made his first post 2/19/2012 on one of his favorite subjects, Da Fed.

Peter Offermann, the site designer registered in December 23, 2011. We remember Peter as the person who, based on photographic evidence, did "An Analysis of the FBI Video of the Road Block resulting in Lavoy Finicum's Death." He started on Feb. 19, 2012 with a series of how-to posts. I registered on February 21, and made my initial post about the trial of Occupiers arrested for obstruction of justice charges in Norfolk, in which the charges (including those against my daughter) were dismissed.


How Quickly We Forget

What things cost in 2011 :Average Cost of New House : $263,200, a gallon of gas cost $3.91, a First Class Postage Stamp 44 cents, a gallon of milk $3.39, a dozen eggs cost $1.54 and a loaf of Bread was $1.88. The price of gold per ounce in August 2011 was $1,677.95, and the average Yearly Wage was $40,925.

The Top Political Events of 2011-12 included 11 separate mass shooting events, including

  • Shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
  • Mass Shooting in Aurora, Colorado, killing twelve and injuring fifty-eight people on July 20th.
  • Mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, killing 26 people on December 14th, most children. Lanza killed himself before he could be caught.

Other highlights included

  • The Arab Spring
  • Killing of Osama bin Laden
  • Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement
  • US President Barack Obama is re-elected for a second term over Republican opponent Mitt Romney
  • Greece debt crisis
  • The shooting of Trayvon Martin
  • Rising Gas Prices
  • Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law
  • 2012 Summer Olympics
  • Attack in Benghazi, giving Republicans a four year head start on damaging the putative Dem candidate in 2016
  • Hurricane Sandy devastates the US East Coast and kills around two-hundred people on the US Coast and in the Caribbean 
  • Curiosity Rover successfully landed on Mars

Has the Diner been a “success?“ Like most things, that depends on the definition. It has succeeded in surviving with a small but avid following that, according to data from a recent survey RE created, is much more educated than the average. It's been a labor of love, paid for out of the pocket of RE, with a few infrequent donations to help keep the lights on and coal in the server furnace. The Diner has accepted not one cent of advertiser revenue since its inception, with no plans to start anytime soon– even no "Buy at Amazon" button. 

In terms of the optimism that infuses the Diner, RE created the Sustaining Universal Needs (SUN) Foundation, a 501c3 Nonprofit corporation dedicated to developing systems for living in a low per capita energy world, with a goal to assist the transition toward local, community based support and sustainable living in a world of reduced energy inputs. SUN remains largely a notion, but it is a positive effort and a note of sheer optimism at variance with the nihilism that characterizes so much discussion about collapse.

I attribute the survival of Doomstead Diner to the single mindedness and utter stubbornness of RE. He is monomaniacal, a wolverine of a human being. Anyone who has met him in person can attest to this: as disagreeable as Rumpelstiltskin, and with a personality to match, he is often wrong but never in doubt. But he is committed to certain ideas; that no matter how severe a future spin-down, some will survive; that community and sustainable living is possible; and that free-speech should be untrammeled.

We’ve had several episodes during the seven years of Dinerdom where posters have pressed the limits of free speech, running to abuse and acts of outright sabotage. We've learned that free-speech is not absolute, even on a online forum. No one grows up in life wanting to be a board moderator, or to manage the speech of others. It’s a thankless job, but is necessary to maintain at least basic civility. A discussion board is a commons. It turns out that free-speech is not absolute, and those who post to abuse and disrupt have to be managed. 


So whither the future of the Doomstead Diner? Who can say? Those who used to speculate about “peak oil“ have found themselves made irrelevant by events. There are always new processes, and new ways to wring petroleum products out of the last bit of oil sands, as long as price is no object. The frackers have proven that, even though their capital intensive scam shows that nobody makes any money, but the wheels keep on turning as the low-interest loans keep getting rolled over and the can kicked into next year.

Looking down the barrel of “collapse,“ whatever that is, exacts its own costs; it grinds on the soul after a while. What bring us together in this virtual space is the knowledge, the feeling in our bones, that the current way of life is unsustainable. The earth has limits in terms of resources, carrying capacity, and its capacity to absorb human greed. And for a small subset of the collapse-aware, the Diner exists as a waystation of sorts where we share information, talk and/or argue with one another, and post dispatches from waypoints by which we mark another ratchet in the eventual spin down.

People who predict “collapse“ end up looking like Harold Camping or Marshall Applewhite. Which is to say, wrong. But collapse is not a destination, but a process, and one in which we are already well and truly engaged. The fact that collapse cannot be resolved in a 28 minute story arc is our own shortcoming. The best we can do to survive collapse, or any calamity that befalls us, is to create and maintain community, and to support one another as best we can. That is what the Doomstead Diner does on its best days, and why the Diner remains a destination of choice for the happy few that read, participate, and make it what it is.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom Feb. 6, 2019


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 3, 2019

What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” ― Individual-1  

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”                                   ― George Orwell, 1984


After two years, the constant drumbeat of incessant lying emanating from the White House is taking a toll. Having surpassed 8,000 lies in office, Individual-1 has managed to numb the news-following public into wholesale stupefaction. But it's all part of a conscious plan to control each day's news cycle, sow doubt, and discredit reporters of objective fact, including members of his own administration.

Last week Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats presented a summary of espionage and cyber threats from Russia, China and other foreign actors during congressional testimony. The published Worldwide Threat Assessment report (written in straightforward, accessible prose, and worth reading), outlines the greatest threats to the US for espionage and cyber-attacks. Little surprise that foreign governments will act in their own self interest, and at the expense of the US as when necessary.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and other top officials joined Coats in a discussion that covered a wide array of national security challenges, including cyber attacks that will aim to disrupt the 2020 presidential election and the continued threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

Coats, speaking on behalf of the assembled officials, gave a global tour of national security challenges, focused mainly on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

He said that North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.”

Putting his assessment at variance with that of Individual-1, and the Tweets subsequently emanating from the Fox News-infused Oval Office and the alternate reality zone in the mind of the occupant. 

Without forgetting for a moment the roles that US intelligence agencies have played in repression at home and regime change abroad, all for the benefit of US corporate interests, the threat assessment is a clear description of the US's primary international rivalries, and nothing in it was surprising if you follow the headlines. None of the officials affirmed a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Trump may yet declare a national emergency. 

Cold water was repeatedly thrown on the White House’s more imaginative views, such as the claim that the US and North Korea will achieve a lasting peace and that Kim's regime will ultimately give up its nuclear weapons.

Glossed over by most media, during a week when temps in the midwest and east broke well below freezing, was the mention of how Russia and China are capable of launching cyber-attacks that could disrupt electric grids and gas pipelines in the US.  Even Rachel Maddow noticed and interviewed Rebecca Smith, who covered the story for the Wall Street Journal. Maddow asked,

“What would happen if Russia killed the power in Fargo today? What would you do if you lost heat indefinitely as the act of a foreign power on the same day the temperature in your backyard matched the temperature in Antarctica?”

As to Russia's cyberdiddling, it has been known for some time that Russia has been probing our grid. On March 15, the US government released a report describing a massive Russian hacking campaign to infiltrate America’s “critical infrastructure” — things like power plants, nuclear generators, and water facilities. The Russian incursions reported in March were more for observation than sabotage, but as we've seen, the Trump administration's response to Russian impunity has been to lift sanctions on close friends of Putin.

When the report was released last June, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers she that Russian cyber-attacks are “literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day,” and warned that the Department of Energy needs an “office of cybersecurity and emergency response” in order to be prepared for threats like this in the future.

None of this sat well with Il Douche. For the last two years we've had a president who fundamentally does not believe in democracy, with no loyalty to either the Constitution or the traditions of American governance. This week, he demonstrated a visceral contempt for the work product of the intelligence community, oblivious to the fact that many of the conclusions in the report had already been publicized by his own government.

 

Trump maintains his power via Republican control in the Senate, where any impeachment proceeding would be tried. And no matter what they may say privately, Republican Senators are well aware of the fact that Citrus Caligula runs at 90 per cent approval among Republican voters, who make up 20 percent of the population but 100 per cent of Republican primary voters.

Little by little, the media has been figuring out how to deal with Trump's incessant lying, a different thing from the spinning of any previous administration. Greg Sargent explains:

The key point here is that Trump is not engaged in conventional lying. He’s engaged in spreading disinformation.

According to cable news fact checkers, zero per cent of new wall are being built. Zero. Previous administrations might emphasize favorable facts and cast them in the best possible light, but Trump repeats blatantly false statements, in hopes of wearing down the fact-checkers and creating a wholly new reality for his neo-fascist base. And after two years, that day may have arrived.

And vis a vis his wayward intelligence chiefs, Trump summoned them for a meeting, then reported that they had been misquoted (even though the proceedings were broadcast live.)

When you consider that Trump's grip on power is secured by the 35 percent approval rating he manages to maintain, via his 18 per cent of true-believer Republiconfederate neo-fascists, and a large number of low-information/Fox News-watching voters, you understand the importance of "winning" the daily news cycle. And if that takes making outrageous fact free statements, at least you have them talking about you. It works day in and day out because the media can't resist taking the bait. And never forget that when a thoroughly disgraced Richard Nixon prepared to board the helicopter, he maintained a 28 percent approval rating. And this was before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which consequently enabled Fox News.

Google "Trump" and the phrase "without evidence". Just recently you'd have gotten Trump, without evidence, accuses James Comey of lying to HouseTrump, without evidence, says Arizona 'bracing' for surge of immigrantsPresident Trump Claims Without Evidence That Most Federal Employees Impacted by Shutdown Are DemocratsTrump claims without evidence that new migrant caravan is forming, and so on. Similar phrases will yield similar results: Trump rages at Twitter with baseless claim that it is tampering with his followers because of political bias. When you realize what the agenda is, each baseless lie and fresh outrage seems less an assault on truth and more a part of a consistent strategy to deny the notion of an objective reality made of verifiable facts.

Disinformation is the lure. Don't take the bait.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Collapse? It’s already here.


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 22, 2019

The future is here. It’s just unevenly distributed.”

–William Gibson


UPDATE January 27: On Friday Jan. 25 Trump had signed a three-week stopgap bill to reopen those parts of the government shuttered through February 15. Democrats are happily spiking the ball in the end zone, but as the reliable and prescient Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate, the utterances of Trump, Lara Trump, Wilbur Ross et al may have played as clueless out here in the cheap seats,  but served to reinforce traditional Paul Ryan small government talking points, where every social calamity can be addressed via a bake sale or barn raising.

It’s too easy to say that the enduring lesson of the shutdown is simply that Trump and his plutocrat Cabinet are hilariously clueless about how most of us live. The real story is much more grim: They are also trying to other us against one another, positing government workers as unpatriotic if they decline to work for free, and lazy for being unwilling to put the president’s interests ahead of their own.

Government workers have bought a brief respite from further financial calamity for a few weeks, but there is nothing currently on the political horizon that indicates we won't be right back here in three weeks. At least Trump won't have to face the specter of plane delays in and out of Atlanta for the Super Bowl. (Had he interfered with the High Rollers getting their footbaw on, they'd have been burning crosses on the White House lawn on Monday.)

And nothing changes the central thesis of the article: that the mass of Americans are two-three paychecks away from the economic abyss.


Within the Diner much discussion revolves around understanding the various vectors of collapse: fast collapse, slow collapse, Seneca cliff, plague, Carrington/electromagnetic pulse event, climate catastrophe,… how will collapse overtake us?  This screed's purpose is to suggest  that collapse is already here.

Testifying to Congress in the Clinton years, Fed Chair Alan Greenspan explained the success of the boom economy he led as based on what he called “growing worker insecurity,” and thus created the notion of "the precariat." In Greenspan's terms, when working people are insecure, they are unlikely to make demands. Good for business, good for investors.

 Noam Chomsky summarized:

… If working people are insecure, if they’re part of the precariat, living precarious existences, they’re not going to make demands, they’re not going to try to get better wages, they won’t get improved benefits. We can kick ’em out, if we don’t need ’em. And that’s what’s called a “healthy” economy, technically speaking. And he was highly praised for this, greatly admired.

We should have expected nothing less from Greenspan, a member of the inner circle of Ayn Rand, Satan's vicar on earth. The current government shutdown, wholly created by the Orange Shitgibbon, now reaches its fourth week and reveals a new layer of precariat. Look around– over 10 million federal workers, with supposedly middle class jobs, find themselves playing insulin- or groceries- or rent- roulette. 

Like most Americans, federal workers live paycheck to paycheck, and have to scramble to meet their obligations. Since Individual-1 has a long and ignoble history of stiffing people who worked for him, this shutdown might have been expected. Yet the wall, that fetish object of the right, might have been advanced by legislation at any time over the last two years. Yet it was not, for the simple reason that most border state Republicans realize it's an idiotic thing to do with billions of dollars, and don't want any part of it. Only after the Democrats took control of the House did "the wall" rise to the level of "emergency."

That the rich get richer and the poor get poorer seems baked in to American life. "Middle class" means today that you're poor, but without a meth habit. In spite of the fact that we're told that the economy is strong, with unemployment at all-time low, most Americans do not have as much as a paycheck in savings and cannot withstand a major unplanned expense. Aside from the fortunate few who maintain an employer-supported 401(k), fewer workers have adequate savings for retirement. 

The functional cutoff point for being middle-class is whether the family has health insurance. Meaning real health insurance, as opposed to those predatory options that cost $600 dollars a month with $5000 deductibles, rendering them useful only in catastrophe.

One step, one inch at a time..and all by design. The squeeze on workers has been incremental and has unfolded over time, enabled by politicians who have dutifully passed the legislation handed them by the donors who own them. All leading to a pervasive sense of helplessness, and a collectively inability to imagine fixing what's broken: not only the flawed distribution of income, but larger issues like climate change. Complicated issues require long-term thinking, which is difficult to entertain when the wolf is at the door and you're figuring how to "stretch" your insulin to stay alive for the month.

A second generation of workers unable to save, living from paycheck to paycheck, and living in fear of uncertainty of the next missed paycheck comprise a new level of "precariat." Now swollen by 10 million federal workers, and sustained in part by spontaneous eruptions of generosity in the form of food pantries and relief efforts in evidence all over the country.


Two articles made similar points: that collapse American-style is already in progress and well on its way, the culmination of decades-long trends. The #Trumpshutdown brings those trends into relief.  

Why American Collapse Is Only Just Beginning (Not Ending)

Umair Haque describes Six Megatrends That Will Shape the Future, in terms readers of this website will recognize. He is not optimistic about summoning the political will to address the needs of ordinary people (working healthcare, higher education, safety nets, or retirement), because even  though those are what most Americans want, their efforts will run headlong into the waves of organized money marshaled to make sure such solutions never happen.   

The average American’s plight is so desperate that people in other rich countries can scarcely comprehend it. Dying from a lack of insulin? The elderly working at Walmart? Less than a week’s pay in savings? It sounds like a dystopian film, not reality. Yet this points to my second megatrend. American incomes have been flat since the 70s — but all the while, the basics of life, all the things above, from retirement to healthcare, have grown in price…

 

 

Authoritarians don’t need a majority — they never have, and that is foolish myth promoted by American intellectuals. It’s enough for fascists and tyrants to capture perhaps 30–40% of a nation to take over its institutions, norms, and future — because that 30% is like a wrecking ball, that can be used to intimidate, bluster, threaten, and bully (as long as the rest is split). That fringe, lunatic 30% now controls America wholesale — not just making any kind of progress not just impossible, but demanding wholesale regress: banning books, taking science out of schools, putting fundamentalist religion into public life, and so forth. That is my fifth megatrend, authoritarianism, and I am sorry to have to tell you that it will not stop with this President — it will continue, gain strength, and shape America for the foreseeable future…

…my sixth megatrend: ignorance. It is not just American economics, politics, society, and culture which have failed — at a deeper level, American thought has failed. Its intellectuals cannot explain decline, its pundits predict it, its gurus understand it, or its leaders fix it. That is because American ideas became ideologies — capitalism, individualism, aggression, cruelty, rationalism, selfishness, greed — which are all obsolete now.

Normalcy bias keeps us underestimating the breadth of financial stresses on our neighbors, and blind to the human toll of living with collapse with the wolf at the door. We become numb to the overwhelming despair, rage, and anxiety of living in a collapsing society. Many have responded to our neighbors' need with spontaneous outpourings of relief for the affected. But such decency can only deflect the trends of larger American society that is increasingly broke, and as unable to keep its promises as it is to maintain paved roads.


Daisy Luther's article, Here’s What an American Economic Collapse Could Actually Look Like, is worth the read. 

Image result for what american collapse could look like

When we think of “economic collapse” we think of the desperation documented in places like Venezuela or Greece. Starvation, lack of medical care, and waves of suicide by people who simply can’t cope: an apocalyptic breakdown that is immediately visible.

Here in America, Luther also notes collapse is gradual, It will seem like it’s just individual families having a hard time, with money problems out of our hands. The shutdown illuminates a financial divide getting larger. Expenses that are normal will soon become luxuries. How much of a stretch is it to imagine that no one will afford to pay their utility bills? 

Jefferson County in Alabama is the state’s most populous county and also its poorest. One of the poorest of those poor areas is Birmingham, Jefferson County’s largest city. Here water and sewerage bills have quadrupled in the last 15 years and with combined sewerage and water bills coming in at around $300 a month, this leaves the same amount out of the average social security check of $600 a month to cover everything else, food, clothing, and all other utilities. Low paid workers, of which there are many fare no better.

Many people have opted to buy drums of water from petrol stations rather than pay their ever increasing bills. They use these drums of water for drinking, washing and in their portable toilets which can be seen dotting back yards across the area, the modern version of the outhouse. They pay a fee to a sanitation company to remove the waste. It’s cheaper than letting the city take care of it.

Rather than expecting single vectors of large scale catastrophe, look closer to home.  Take a clear-eyed look at the decline that’s already at hand, then consider our options in a world where only rich people can afford electricity, running water and food all at the same time. As we remember that the average American lifespan has decreased for the third consecutive year, and that many fellow citizens find themselves living hand to mouth in a developing nation.


Two existential threats shadow these observations and pose existential threats to humanity:  the threat of nuclear war, with us since 1945. and environmental catastrophe, obscured by a propaganda system that tries to convince people that climate change is just a liberal hoax.

We find ourselves slipping bit by bit down the trajectory John Michael Greer has titled the Long Descent—the process by which every previous human civilization has ended in a dark age. Not something that can be stopped or reversed; merely observed as it unfolds. The normalcy bias noted above tells us that this is as bad as it can get— right? That things cannot possibly get much worse —  and at every juncture, we will go on being painfully wrong.

Collapse is not at hand in America. Collapse is here.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom 12/16: “…at the direction of Individual-1.”


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 16, 2018

“If you can't even get a fawning opportunist like Chris Christie to be your chief of staff, you're in serious trouble.”

 ― David Lazarus, Twitter  


'Dirty deeds': Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's one-time fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal his boss' alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that he agreed time and again to cover up Trump's "dirty deeds" out of "blind loyalty.

From all accounts, said dirty deeds did NOT come dirt cheap.

Cohen will continue cooperating with prosecutors, and is also prepared to tell "all he knows" to Congress if asked. One of the other outcomes from this pleading is that the inhabitant of the White House has a new nickname: "Individual 1."

At the sentencing, defense attorney Guy Petrillo pleaded for leniency for Cohen. Cohen cooperated with the Special Counsel so extravagantly that Mueller recommended leniency. Yet Cohen did not cooperate so completely with the Southern District of New York, the charges from which included the taxi medallion case. It seems clear that Cohen's reluctance to come clean stems from a reluctance to have members of his family disappear and be buried in New Jersey.

It also came out this week that Individual 1, Cohen and David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer, met to discuss payments to two women in 2015, according to multiple reports.

The revelation ― first made public last month by The Wall Street Journal and corroborated this week ― came after the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., signed a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in which it admitted to paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2016 in order to protect Trump’s chances in the presidential election.

Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted  "in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1." Thus the claims potentially implicate Trump in illegality, although it’s unclear how the Justice Department would proceed if investigators found Individual 1 had, in fact, broken the law. The agency has previously held that a president cannot be indicted while in office.

At this point, as The Washington Post reports, mounting legal threats surround Individual 1 as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation. 

Trump’s private company is contending with civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments and with looming state inquiries into its tax practices.

Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers.

Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year.

Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”

One immediate impact is on Individual 1, who is accustomed to dictating the news cycle with his cell phone, but who now has to play defense and spend his political capital — and that of his party. The Post reported that last week, 

…weary Senate Republicans scrambled away from reporters to avoid questions about Trump and his longtime fixer Michael Cohen — and Cohen’s courtroom assertion that he had been covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds” when he paid off two women who claimed they had affairs with the president before he was elected.

Note the one about Trump's inaugural committee reportedly being under federal criminal investigation. It isn't known if Trump is implicated in that investigation. but Ivanka and Mike Pence are seriously implicated in it. In fact, the stink about the inauguration committee may well be why Chris Christie was unavailable as Chief of Staff. See the story below.

For a detailed look at eight takeaways from the Mueller and SDNY filings against Michael Cohen, see the Slate article here.


Trump Hits a Wall

In a meting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Tuesday to negotiate a way around a scheduled government shutdown, the Orange one affirmed that he's  ‘proud’ to shut down government in the name of border security.

Trump clashed sharply with Pelosi and Schumer in a remarkable Oval Office meeting before reporters Tuesday, in which Trump ambushed his guests with the fact that it would be televised for all to see. Apparently he had a spectacle planned. The antagonists traded barbs over Trump’s border wall during what was supposed to be a private negotiating session.

Pelosi coolly explained that he didn't have the votes in the waning days of republican control, and urged him to try. Presiding over the demise of the wall would be a karmically-just manner for Speaker Paul Ryan, once a friend of immigrants, to slither out of office. Clearly frustrated, the Master of the Deal immediately pissed away his political leverage by saying he would be “proud” to preside over a partial shutdown if that’s what it takes to get his campaign promise fulfilled. Brilliant.

Wasting time and taxpayer money over a piece of absurdist art beloved by MAGAts for a completely unnecessary shutdown does nothing so much as signal Individual 1's contempt for the complicated process of governing. 


Christie passes, Mick Mulvaney takes Chief of Staff job.

Chris Christie’s decision to take himself out of consideration left Twitter users speculating as to why.

The former New Jersey governor, historically unpopular when he left office in January, had chaired Trump’s transition team after the 2016 election and was once thought to be angling for a spot in 45's Cabinet. Now not so much.

Christie murmured the usual syllables about spending more time with family, but the truth may have much more to do with how badly Christie got burned by Trump concerning the transition committee.

The indefatigable Bill Palmer of the Palmer Report brought this story to light:

Donald Trump originally put Chris Christie in charge of the transition, but then quickly fired him and replaced him with Mike Pence. Various supposed explanations have surfaced for this, but none of them have ever been confirmed. Here’s the thing. According to the Michael Lewis book The Fifth Risk, as unearthed by Daily Kos, it turns out Trump’s decision to fire Christie had something to do with Trump’s desire to pocket the money. Check out this rather profane passage from the book:

Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling, You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed, Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. […] To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.

Once Trump won the election, he effectively fired Christie because Christie wouldn’t let him simply steal the money, fired the entire transition staff, and then installed Mike Pence, then allegedly proceeded to steal the money. Did Trump think Pence was too stupid to realize the money was being stolen? Or did Trump put Pence in charge because he knew Pence would help him steal the money? 


The Weekly Standard To Fold After 23 Years


Neocon news outlet The Weekly Standard is shutting down after 23 years of circulation. The outlet, which often published influential conservative opinion pieces, had been searching for a new owner, reports CNN, but its publisher told staffers Friday that it was no longer interested in seeking ways to revamp the company. 

Founded by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes in 1995, The Weekly Standard dependably sung the tune for the Cheney-Bush cabal, but in recent years had been consistently critical of Trump, and increasingly out-of-step with a Republican party, whose racist and nationalist leanings have found their apotheosis in Trump.

The paper’s most lasting legacy may be its role in cheerleading the trillion-dollar boondoggle Iraq War, as its editors wrote in the months after 9/11 that they hoped “the president will courageously decide to destroy Saddam’s regime.” Kristol, meanwhile, has remade himself as a Never-Trumper and finds a home on cable news, occupying a chair that might have otherwise been occupied by a liberal voice. And his presence enables the mainstream media to maintain their pious "both sides" pose.


Short takes

The news from Washington, and especially about Trump, is so constant and toxic that it consumes a disproportionate portion of our attention. Nevertheless, dozens of other important stories occur each week. Below is a selection of important stories that moved this week that also deserve your attention. For a daily selection of stories filtered through a view of collapse, check out the Doomstead Diner Daily each day.

Macron's ratings fall further after month of gilets jaunes protests

Theresa May defeats Tory coup over Brexit deal but is left damaged

Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors

7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion

Time's 2018 "Person of Year" is killed and imprisoned journalists

U.S. Stands with Russia and Saudi Arabia Against Climate Science

Scientists ‘shocked’ that warming has wiped out oldest, thickest Arctic sea ice

Extreme Events "Virtually Impossible" without Warming

Scary warming at poles showing up at weird times, places

Another Mass Extinction Is Underway

Corruption is eroding American democracy

America’s Next Civil War: The United States shows all the warning signs of impending social and political collapse

DHS Says Americans Need to Start Prepping for up to six months without electricity!

Don't sleep on this last article. There are some disturbing observations. DHS warns that the electric grid is now a “prime target” of terrorists, and says Americans need to be prepared for a power outage of up to six months.

“People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. We need to improve individual preparedness.” 

The report, titled Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage”,  warns that an attack would likely come with little to no notice and could cause complete chaos for at least a half a year,  

“Long-duration, lasting several weeks to months (at least 2 months, but more likely 6 months or more) due to physical destruction to equipment, such as transformers or transmission lines; or the severity of the event resulting in limited workforce to repair damage, or inability to create or transport replacement parts.

Food for thought. Solar panels and/or portable generators for Christmas?


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

The Lie of “Both-Siderism”


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Anthony Freda                                           

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 10, 2018

“I think there are good people on both sides.”

 ― Donald J. Trump


Let's be clear: this article rejects the notion that both the right and left are equally culpable in the endless political battle for hearts and minds. This is sometimes expressed as the "k'rupt duopoly," ""both sides do it," and "voting doesn't matter."  While true that many of the problems afflicting this country span decades and include administrations from both parties, much of what we face stems from the tendency to kick the can down the road and avoid the pain of near term electoral consequences.

Just this week, the unindicted co-conspirator otherwise known by his new nickname, "Individual 1"  noted, that the national debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office, replied, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.”  All too typical.

"Both-siderism" is a feeble, lazy attempt on the part of media to "balance" their coverage by resorting to the trope that "both sides" are equally culpable. This is part of "gaslighting the world," as remarkably expressed above by the work of Anthony Freda.

Both-siderism is false equivalency, a verbal sleight-of-hand which posits that my peccadillo is as grievous as your armed robbery. Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" was thus answered with, "but her emails," and thus emotionally balanced, neutralized, and quickly forgotten. Both-siderism is a first cousin to "whataboutism," a favored trope of the right and of internet trolls truing to muddy the waters and change the subject in a losing argument. And both derive from the Tu quoque logical fallacy, also known as the appeal to hypocrisy..

One of my many unpaid jobs as Diner busboy and janitor is as primary administrator of the Diner Facebook page. I post articles which appear in the Forum, the Doomstead Diner Daily, and my own musings. I had recently posted an article that  the Office of Trump tax lawyer Edward Burke had been raided by FBI agents, and that the dominoes were starting to fall badly for Trump in an extremely bad week for Making America Grate Again.

One of our respondents, Tony, was quick to offer an object lesson:

DNC grasping at straws. Get ready for more pain in 2020…one way or the other, U.S. politics is a freak show. But this ploy would only work in a week with two Tuesday's.

Contrary, who is one of the admins of the page, replied in reasonably good humor,

Those are some pretty big straws. It's funny how closely Cohen's testimony aligns with the Steele dossier. I'm so loving this. It's like Christmas is coming early… Yep. Raided Deutsch Bank today, too. Deck them halls, we'll have a whole week of Tuesdays!

And then Tony kicked open the lid to the shitter:

What about the Clinton crime syndicate? They haven't fallen, have they? Why isn't Hillary behind bars? How many felonies did she commit, all unpunished? The problem with U.S. crony politics is that crooks can get away with anything in your country, because they have money and power. Another nail in the coffin.

Having nothing to do with the topic at hand. To which I replied,

"Whataboutism" is a crime against nature employed by people who otherwise got nuthin'. I am currently working on an article for the Diner blog about whataboutism and it's twin, "both-siderism." False equivalencies, all. I can't stand Hillary myself, (and hold her class traitor husband in deeper contempt), but the simple fact is that the Clintons have been investigated more than anyone in history, and NOTHING has stuck except a load on a blue dress. Nothing. No Hillary crimes, no felonies, no abuses of the Clinton Foundation. Nothing but rumors and lies spread by the right wing echo chamber. So put your Clinton noisemakers away: they don't work here.

The truth is that one side cheats. One side is the TV villain who grabs a handful of sand and flings it at his eyes of the hero. That's the far right, now identified as "Trumpists" or "the Republican party" (no longer any difference.) Every time you hear someone in the media say, reflexively, "It’s both sides, both sides," you are in the presence of an enabling mechanism for cutting the nutcase out of the truth.

Use of these dodges accelerated last year with Trump's refusal to denounce white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups in the wake of the murder of Heather Heyer. Trump famously equivocated the neo-Nazis and their crimes with the counter-protestors. Refer to the lead quote for this article. No fascists, no antifa, but that's not nearly good enough for the far right. 

It's not just for social media or around the Thanksgiving dinner table: both-siderist media fatcats make handsome livings positing false equivalency between left and right, with the left are now represented by what used to be moderate Republicans, and the right are  represented by seething, armed Nazis and Republiconfederates. The media thus provide undeserved moral cover for these retrogrades and effectively move the "center" of political discourse continually to the right.

There are always those who want to "hug it out, bro," and to those I offer the back of my hand. These false equivalency-seekers try hard to find a middle ground in our current politics. But after 40 years of conservative governance increasingly debased by the malefactors of great wealth, the political donor class and their media hey-boys, that "center" is now located in what used to be called "hard right." 

The preening, glossy-coated corporate lapdogs of the mainstream media thus offer legitimacy and a fresh coat of paint to the politically discredited who want to come slinking back to legitimacy after their leader goes tits-up. Trump’s presidency will eventually end, and his current supporters will predictably want to hose away the stench. They will present themselves as appalled by both their party’s past and the Democrats’ present, and will promise a more responsible future based on fresh rebranding.

It happened with Bush: after it became impossible to wash off the stink of Bush politics, the "Tea Party™" was born, and your Crazy Uncle Liberty was washed clean in the blood of the lamb, reborn as an "Independent" in a tri-corn hat along with his Revolutionary War cosplayer friends.

Watch as more rats go careening off the good ship Trump. You already see the Bill Kristols and Max Boots of the world present as "Never-Trumpers," spouting their usual right wing dogma wrapped in opposition to Orange Jesus. (It still amuses me that people insist MSNBC is "liberal.") Corporate media always prepares the lifeboats for these people. Look at what Fuck Toad reportedly did with "Press the Meat" recently: had on a Heritage Foundation rep to refute climate change. 

So when I take over, I'm rounding up the Chuck Toddses, Kathleen Parkers, Jeff Greenfields, David Fucking Brookses, Ron Forniers, Michael Smerconishes and Andrew Sullivans of the world, and putting them on an island where they can bleat "it’s time to denounce the harsh partisans who feed on polarization” to one another while lighting their own farts.

Now, I am not entirely unreasonable, although it's a position I prefer.  Some people do have a mix of affiliations, and assert that both parties are too controlled by their most strident, uncivil, and extreme elements. To which I reply, "Have you SEEN the Democrats?" And to which I raise a chorus of "Which Side Are You On?"

That fact is that both sides don't. Both sides are not responsible for the recent slaughter in Squirrel Hill, or for the spewing of hateful and divisive rhetoric that enabled it.

Both sides don't have a President* who exhorts hate, encourages bloodshed, and who appeals to the darkest aspects of the spirit.
Both sides haven't resurrected a slur used by murderous dictators like Hitler and Stalin to denounce the "Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People" while spewing provable falsehoods every day.
Both sides don't kidnap children, or target them with tear gas when appearing at our border to request asylum. And then accuse the victims of being used as "human shields."
Both sides didn't launch a presidential campaign on the premise that Mexicans are "rapists" and "drug dealers."
Both sides didn't equate protestors with armed Nazis, and post Charlottesville call the Nazis "very fine people."
Both sides didn't didn't call for a "total and complete shutdown” of Muslim refugees entering the country.
Both sides did not assert, without proof, that "criminals and unknown Middle Easterners" had infiltrated the migrant group of several thousand headed to the U.S. after fleeing violence in their home countries. 

One could go on. But to what point?


There is politics. And there is evil. 

Compromise used to be a value in politics, before the Rs, led by Leroy N. Gingrich, redefined politics as war and his political adversaries as enemies to be destroyed. It is hard to negotiate with someone who wants you dead. Recognizing this fact is a necessary survival skill left-leaners are slow to adopt.

No more. 

Those who say "both sides are the same," “all politicians are corrupt” and  “nothing ever changes anyhow,” or "voting doesn't matter" are simply attempting to justify why they don’t have to expend the energy to address injustice or spend the courage to take a stand to affirm the truth..

All this, for what? For winning an argument, a news cycle? No, for winning a war.

The Republican donor class has a long term plan, of which you will hear nothing, but which will be made evident in sculptural relief by their deeds. The donor class has determined the most efficient way of waging war on democracy is on multiple fronts, and on a long term time frame. A gaggle of billionaires are sick and tired of the government telling them what they may and may not do, and have made common cause with any group who hates the government. Which includes wingnuts, bigots, neo-nazis, anti science fundamentalists, gun nuts, militia nuts, homophobes, Proud Boys, serial masturbators and Klansmen. These hateful lunatics despise the government because the government provides a check on their basest instincts. 

This is why the owners of this dark money project support Trump, whom they generally (if secretly) detest. He is a battering ram to enable and consolidate control over the judiciary, by which the donor class can keep a meaty thumb on the scales of social progress and justice. It's yielded two Supremes so far, and has swollen the federal judiciary with Federalist-society-vetted clones. The dark money boys are patient, and like rust, they never sleep.

Control of the judges and the courts is why a bunch of billionaires have paid to harness all these assholes, to put them to work tearing down the government so that they don't have to pay any goddamn taxes. And they'll select judges who will ratify their political vandalism.  

That's the long term game. The failure to recognize it, and to posit a false equivalency between this hateful agenda and democratic norms is why "both-siderism" and "whataboutism" are such pernicious tools wielded by the well-meaning but inept. So to both-siderists, whataboutists and "centrists" of all stripes, I offer the opportunity to kiss my ass. I'll see you in the streets.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom, Oct.28: Hate Speech in the Streets


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 28, 2018

“Violence is as American as cherry pie.”

 ― H. Rap Brown  


It was almost inevitable. that after two years of lies, white nationalism, xenophobia, and demonization of the press, political enemies, and everyone who failed to take the knee, the rhetoric of #NotMyPresident would result in tragedy. The week's news was defined by pipe bombs sent to the top tier of Democratic politicians and at least two former Presidents. A marginal personality, one Cesar Sayoc, was apprehended after mailing the bombs to critics of the Trump administration, in an attempt at large scale political assassination. And the cesspool of anti-Semitic messages and symbols that social media has become bred a new supertroll, a gunman who invaded a Pittsburgh synagogue and left behind a string of casualties and grief. Meanwhile, the Prevaricator of the Potomac called for "unity" one minute, then a litany of complaints, accusations, whining and blame the next.


There is no acceptably sardonic or funny take on this news. News reports indicate that a random fingerprint and some DNA on at least one of the bombs was enough for the authorities to ID Sayoc. From The New York Times:

Mr. Sayoc, a registered Republican, has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991 that includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb, public records show. His criminal record from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicates that at the time of his last arrest in 2015, he was 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds. He has brown eyes, black hair and a scar on his left arm, the records said, and was born in New York. The records listed Mr. Sayoc’s occupation as “manager.” According to a 2012 bankruptcy petition filed in Miami, Mr. Sayoc resided at the time at his mother’s home. “Lives w/mom,” a handwritten note on the petition said. “Has no furniture.”…

The windows of his van were festooned with stickers of outrageously Trumpist flavor, including images of administration critics in cross-hairs.  Even as reporters sift through Sayoc's Facebook and Twitter feeds, he appears as another lost soul, another casualty of late stage capitalism, with little to his name, less to protect, and no stake in the system– unsuccessful even at crime. And who found in the klaxon call of the Orange Kleagle what brought him his fifteen minutes of fame: enemies. And in blaming those unlike him, he shares a common cause with too many who stain this country with their presence.

We've seen this movie before: home-grown, far-right extremists who have used violence to draw attention to themselves, a cause, a manifesto, or as a way to unleash revenge. The line runs from the Unabomber through Oklahoma City to Boston, Charleston and Orlando. In some cases, these motives are conjoined with mental illness. Rage breaks through with an accelerator. Today it is only fair to wonder whether tensions are being ratcheted up to a new and dangerous level by irresponsible "presidential" rhetoric, the pronouncements of the #NotMyPresident's hired enablers and liars, and the constant drumbeat of reinforcement from the right wing media ecosystem.

 

My day job in meatspace is to lead a group that creates commercials. Any good advertising executive knows the importance of repetition's cumulative effect; it can bend the incredible into the credible. Repetition establishes credibility, creates a beachhead in the mind. Today constant repetition creates markets for psoriasis meds, dick pills, reverse mortgages, and HR certification gatekeepers. In this manner have the serial lies of the Tiny Mushroom established a separate reality for Trumps; phalanx of accepting, uncritical bobbleheads, who show up for his nightly Nuremberg rallies for a feast of blame of The Other.

By now it is clear that accused Bomber Cesar Sayoc Was a Fervent Trump Supporter

"…who in recent weeks was unafraid to taunt and even threaten Trump’s critics on social media. In what appears to be Sayoc’s Twitter account, the alleged bomber tweeted pictures of alligators that had eaten humans to Biden and movie director Ron Howard.

"How and why Sayoc went from online troll — he has posted dozens of tweets per day for months — to the accused serial bomber who grabbed the world’s attention are still unknown. But if his bombs, none of which detonated, were sent because he was inspired by Trump’s violent rhetoric at campaign rallies, Sayoc would not be the first domestic terrorist inspired by conspiracy theories associated with Trump."

Thus do online trolls become real world actors.

As much as the bobbleheads of the drooling right like to invoke the specter of Soros or Antifa for their masturbatory fever dreams, the historical record is full of violent events executed by retrograde elements.

Many of the usual suspects had maintained that the bombs were some sort of false flag manufactured by Democrats to affect the upcoming election. In this they were led by the #NotMyPresident, using his Twitter account to push a self-serving conspiracy theory surrounding the bombs sent to critics. It is also clear that merely arresting a suspect, as it turns out, doesn't keep them from calling it a False Flag. It really is a #Trumpcult.


And on Saturday, as the echoes of "Lock Her Up" faded from Nuremberg Charlotte, news from Pittsburgh came of that oldest of demonizations, anti-Semitism. At least 11 were killed, 6 wounded in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Officials say the suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, taken into custody after a gun battle with police, will face hate-crime charges.

A gunman armed with an assault rifle killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday-morning services in what the Anti-Defamation League called "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

Law enforcement officials said Robert Bowers — a 46-year-old man with a history of making virulently anti-Semitic statements online — was taken into custody after a gun battle with police and is expected to face federal hate crime charges.

“Justice in this case will be swift and it will be severe,” said Scott W. Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Brady said Bowers could be charged sometime Saturday for what he called a “terrible and unspeakable act of hate."

The victims have been named and they range in age from 54 to 97, with two brothers and a married couple among the dead

A stunned nation mourns with the survivors. A reminder that no matter how far we may have thought we had come, anti-semitism is alive and well in the US. We know this from statistical and anecdotal evidence. In February, the Anti-Defamation League released its annual report, stating that

“the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s.”

The massacre in Pittsburgh massacre is just the latest example of the homicidal fury and hatred emerging from the fringes of American right. It brings together the armaments and techniques of other active-shooter incidents of recent memory– the opportunity presented by a "soft target" like a synagogue at prayer, for example. And it underlines the remarkable frequency of mass casualty events in this country compared to nearly every other nation in the world. You'd almost think it was the guns.


The snarling rhetoric of #NotMyPresident has helped rip the mask from this phenomenon. Although he did appeal for "unity" and decry violence in remarks Saturday night. Although his idea of "unity" is that the entire nation stop their resistance, fold their tents, and fall in lockstep behind him.

In Charlotte the other night, America's Chief Victim tried to strike a measured tone. 

“Political violence must never ever be allowed in America and I will do everything in my power to stop it. We must unify as a nation in piece, love, and in harmony.”

That didn't last. 

In literally the next breath he began a lengthy rhetorical barrage against the press, as though it was the mainstream media and not he that had celebratedand incited violence.

“We all say this in all sincerity”—he was not being sincere—“but the media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks—you know that—only to serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate,” he said.

We're supposed to ignore the constant barrage of lies, the promised tax cut that was a complete fiction, the supposed "defense" of Obamacare, the protections for people with pre-existing condition, the assertion that Dems want "open and undefended borders." As David Graham has it in the article cited here,

Trump wants harmony, but he immediately attacks. He demands honest coverage, but like a funhouse George Washington, he cannot tell a truth. He pleads for an end to the politics of personal destruction, but he cannot resist indulging in ad hominem attacks. Trump’s vision of unity is one… that can exist only in one-party states, where there is no meaningful opposition and no criticism. His idea of harmony is that his critics yield entirely to his whims.

An election looms nine days ahead on November 6. It remains to see if the nation will elect legislators who will choose a different path, or whether we will continue to descend into this long national nightmare.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom Oct. 14: Getting Away with Murder


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 14, 2018

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot… Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”

 ― Jamal Khashoggi  


This was a week in which Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Florida Panhandle, and flattened Panama City and erased Mexico Beach. As of this writing, the crack SWAT teams of the Trump Administration had mustered a post-Maria Puerto Rican-style recovery effort, meaning that aside from the Red Cross, residents are on their own. We learned that Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, is closing hundreds of stores under the guidance of designated looter Fast Eddie Lampert. As Sears stores fail, Fast Eddie's real estate company buys out their leases and re-rents the space to flea markets and crack dealers, thus improving the American suburb. The Trump administration is weighing new family separation efforts at the borders.

A West Virginia politician who told liberals to “get you’re [sic] coathangers [sic] ready” in preparation for the overturning of abortion rights by the Supreme Court is now being sued for calling a psychologist a pedophile for defending LGBTQ kids. A newly discovered long and craggy rift is splintering across West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, ready to split off. Illinois and Georgia are actively engaged in voter suppression. A five-year-old was detained at the border and persuaded to sign away her rights, as the Trump administration actively considers new family separation measures. New reports indicate that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is now being investigated for possible perjury charges by Chief Justice John Roberts. But the most compelling story of the week is that a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, entered a Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey and never emerged.


Who is Jamal Khashoggi and Why Should We Care?

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2 and allegations of foul play have inspired outrage. According to Wikipedia, Jamal Khashoggi was most recently a Washington Post columnist, and had a long career as a Saudi journalist,  author, and progressive voice in the Arab world. Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 after the government banned him from Twitter, and afterwards wrote newspaper articles critical of the Saudi government, the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and the country's king, Salman of Saudi Arabia. He also opposed the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Anonymous Turkish police sources have alleged that he was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate.[8][9] The Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, through a rear entrance,[10] but Turkish police say that no CCTV recorded him exiting the consulate.[11]

Turkish government officials allege that Saudi government officials lured Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul with the intention of harming him—and that there are video and audio recordings proving that after he was beaten, tortured and killed inside the Consulate, the body was dismembered. Some reports have it that Khashoggi recorded his own death via his Apple watch, connected to a mobile phone left outside. Whether this is true, or is Turkish disinfo to prevent disclosure of their own spying methods is unclear. 

So the Saudi regime had motive for Khashoggi's disappearance, as detailed in this article:  What You Should Know About Khashoggi: 5 Key Facts. It suggests reasons that the Saudis– and the Trumps who love them– may have the journalist's blood on their hands.

None of this is yet confirmed. But increasingly it seems that the Saudi crown prince, better known as M.B.S., condoned the torture, assassination and dismemberment of an American-based journalist using diplomatic premises in a NATO country. As a New York Times article has it,

Trump has expressed “great confidence” in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him — communicating privately without involving State Department experts — in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself.

The bipartisan cheers from Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street fed his recklessness. If he could be feted after kidnapping a Lebanese prime minister and slaughtering Yemeni children, why expect a fuss for murdering a mere journalist?

For their part, the Saudis are blaming the western press and the Qataris. Saudi Media Casts Khashoggi Disappearance as a Conspiracy, Claims Qatar Owns Washington Post. Saudi Arabia’s interior minister has condemned the accusations as  “lies and baseless allegations,”  according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency. Predictably, Trump's first thought was about money: "I know [Senators] are talking about different kinds of sanctions, but [the Saudis] are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country." Trump also declared the US will uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi, inspiring the same faith as did O.J. Simpson when he pledged to devote the rest of his life to tracking down "the real killers."

Meanwhile, we are all supposed to forget how the Saudi royals are said to have Pampered Princeling Jared Kushner's balls on a keychain. Who should be surprised they act with such impunity?


This week marks the continuation of open season on journalists with no bag limit. In a little noticed trend, it’s been a deadly year for journalists, even in democratic countries where press freedom is nominally an essential part of civil society.

Journalist Victoria Marinova brutally murdered in Bulgaria

Victoria Marinova, a 30-year-old Bulgarian journalist working for regional TV channel TVN, was brutally killed last week in the city of Ruse, located in the north of the country. She is the fourth journalist killed in the EU since 2017 after Kim Wall in Denmark, Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia. 

According to local media reports, her body was found in an area of ​​difficult access, near the Danube river bank. The victim was allegedly raped, beaten and then strangled. She was beaten with such violence that her face was unrecognizable, so she was not identified until last night.

She had recently interviewed two other journalists were arrested last month by Bulgarian police while investigating destruction of documents allegedly revealing corrupt practices by a private road construction company. Dead men (and women) tell no tales.

Khashoggi and Marinova are just this week's casualties in a worrisome trend. At least 43 journalists have been killed around the world thus far in 2018 as a result of their work, according to the Committee to Project Journalists. That number is outpacing last year, and does not include 17 other deaths where motive has not been confirmed. 

Part of the authoritarian playbook has been to discredit journalists and others who shine light on deeds best perpetrated in darkness. Thus, Khashoggi’s Blood Is On Donald Trump’s Hands.

In July, met with A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, the paper most often called out by the  Orange Fraud’s years-long effort to delegitimize the U.S. press. In a statement memorializing the White House meeting, Sulzberger said he had gone to the White House to warn Trump: His vicious criticisms of the American press, especially the description of journalists as the “enemy of the people,” would likely result in  deadly results for reporters.

“I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.”

And here we are. Memory being the liberal superpower, we can remember a few months ago when a crazed gunman shot up the Capital Gazette. With Khashoggi, Sulzberger’s warning has shown that Trump's authoritarian act has traveled overseas, such that a journalist who lives in the U.S. and writes for a major American newspaper can be executed with impunity.

The National Memo article cited above puts it exact:

It’s difficult to overstate the brazenness of the Saudis’ alleged actions in targeting a U.S. resident who writes for an American paper while he was in a NATO country.

It seems unlikely that the Saudi regime — dependent as it is on the U.S., and on the Trump administration specifically — would have tried to kidnap or kill Khashoggi if its rulers thought it would upset Trump. But as Sulzberger warned, Trump’s derision toward reporters gave every indication that he didn’t care. And since Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump has signaled his ongoing apathy. The message the president is sending to dictators around the world is that it is open season on dissident journalists.

Past presidents, aware of the danger of signaling such indifference, might have reacted with outraged statements and a promise of dire consequences for the regime that dared to commit such a crime. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has tried to lay down such a marker, threatening sanctions against the highest levels of the Saudi government if it turns out to be implicated in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

But Trump’s vision of U.S. foreign policy is fundamentally transactional, looking with favor on despots like Crown Prince Mohammed who cater to his whims and sign hefty contracts for U.S. arms, while scorning our democratic allies for not paying “their fair share of common defense costs.”

There is a direct and unmistakable link between Trump’s anti-press rhetoric against journalists and Saudi actions. Since Trump hates journalists, the Saudis may have bet that he wouldn't mind they killed one. Unless Trump and his administration change course and make it clear selective murder of reporters is unacceptable, expect the trend to continue. With authoritarianism ascendant, who is truly safe?


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom, October 7: It’s Ovah


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 6, 2018

“Unimpaired prosperity cannot withstand a single blow; but he who has struggled constantly with his ills becomes hardened through suffering; and yields to no misfortune; nay, even if he falls, he still fights upon his knees.”
― Seneca, "On Providence" (II, 6-10)


So Bart O'Kavanaugh has been steamrolled onto the Supreme Court, the crowning achievement of Mitch McConnell and the cult of vicious, old, white bigots now known as the Republican Party. The lying racist traitor in the White House nominated a lying, movement-conservative hit-man to the Supreme Court, whose nomination was a sham orchestrated by a smirking reptile willing to break the Senate. McConnell was willing to go to any lengths to tip the Supreme Court for a generation and secure Karl Rove's "permanent Republican majority" against any reform laws that might be passed by some future Democrat Congress.

Orange Jesus enjoys 85 per cent approval among Republicans, even as those who identify as Republicans shrinks to 26 per cent of the electorate. What that will mean in the coming midterms is anybody's guess..

Give mad props to Trump: he understands his marks, a base of pimple-backed mouth breathers certain that no matter how low their circumstances, they are still better than women. The GOP has constructed an entire political party out of such swamp creatures, and nourished it by feeding their rage and paranoia.

They love Trump's utter shamelessness about sex, money, and basic human decency. When the Kav nomination seemed to be wavering, he stood up a rally in Mississippi where he went against the advice of counselors and openly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  As a creature of television, Trump knows audiences. And that where he goes, the cameras must follow, and that his most outrageous pronouncements will be excerpted and repeated, repeated, repeated on the cable news programs that exist as filler to hold aloft pods of commercials for reverse mortgages, dick pills and psoriasis meds.

Give Trump credit for dragging this nomination over the finish line by putting steel in the spines of a handful of wavering senators out of step with the GOP's geriatric junta. Loathsome homunculus Mitch McConnell (R-Tartarus) gave full credit to "the mob:"

“We refused to be intimidated by the mob of people that were coming after Republican members at their homes, in the halls. I couldn't be prouder of the Senate Republican Conference."

McConnell had the audacity to thank the grassroots activists who spoke out against Brett Kavanaugh's sham confirmation as part of a "mob" who has finally energized the GOP's base for 2018, "the one thing (the R's were) having trouble doing." Whether or not he remains grateful on November 7 remains to be seen.


Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake Are Frauds, Plain and Simple. Their Kavanaugh Votes Show It.

The demand for the FBI to investigate, as Splinter’s Rafi Schwartz observed last week, was “a classic Jeff Flake move to cover his ass.” It was a fig leaf and a nod to process to get Flake, Collins and Murkowski in line. The investigation spoke only to nine witnesses, Ramirez and a phalanx of Kavanaugh frat boy friends, who observed the code of Georgetown Prep omertà and said nothing. They did not speak to Blasey Ford, Julie Swetnick, or to the dozens of others who desperately called offering corroborating information.

Anyone who expected anything other than a "yes" vote from Jeff Flake (R-Handwringing) or Susan Collins (R-Hypocrisy)  was kidding themselves. Flake received enough phone calls threatening his prospect of post-Senate guaranteed lobbyist employment to bringhim to his knees. And Collins raised a brief murmur of self-importance on Friday to make the most of selling out her female constituents. Her vote has already raised $2.5 million for her as yet-unnamed Democrat challenger. 

Topher Spiro observed that

"To Flake” is now a political verb: “to make speeches, tweets and gestures only to be a coward when it truly matters”

Medhi Hasan of The Intercept put it best

Never again believe Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, or Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., when they claim to be critics of Donald Trump or posture as “moderate” Republicans.

Never again let the media call them the “swing” voters in the Senate or “our best hope for profiles in courage in Congress…”

The debate is over: Collins and Flake are frauds, fakes, pretenders. Their high-minded claim to bipartisanship was always an act; a (melo)dramatic performance. Unlike their fellow so-called swing voter Sen. Lisa Murkowski — who will vote against Kavanaugh thanks, in part, to “Alaska’s complicated politics” — Collins and Flake were never going to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Perspective: remember that Collins has voted with Trump 79 percent of the time — or 4 out of every 5 votes. Flake has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time.  Alligator mouth, hummingbird ass.

The votes of Flake and Collins flatly assert they didn't believe Blasey Ford. But men never believe the women. Ask any victim of sexual assault who has reported the crime. This simple fact has fueled the #MeToo movement, and has enraged men. Trump and his idiot son, Donnie Half-Scoop, were on the trail last week procliming that American men are under attack. Just running the tried-and-true right wing playbook: reflexive snap into the victim pose when caught out, then attack-attack-attack. This invariable follows lie-and-deny-deny-deny. As for the aftermath of pent-up "rage" of female voters as November approaches, who can say? 

Jessica Valenti observes the disconnect across the gender divide in Kavanaugh is the Face of American Male Rage. One in six women is sexually assaulted in the US. The assault marks a woman's life, and often expresses itself in addictions of various kinds, sexual promiscuity, trust issues, difficulties in future relationships, and occasional blasts of volcanic anger. 

 Even as women calmly and expertly explain the ways in which men have hurt us, our pain is immediately drowned out and glossed over by men’s belief that they should not have to answer to us, of all people.

One of the cruel ironies of sexual assault and harassment is that the traumas which frequently inform the trajectory of women’s lives are often not even worth remembering to the men who have inflicted them. And are certainly worth denying, when a job is on the line.


Great Leaps in American Collapse

Umair Hague is quickly becoming one of the more dependable writers documenting American collapse, joining emigre Morris Berman in his assessment that we Americans are on the collapse clock. He traces the escalating sense of unease, lack of faith in institutions, and the falling dominoes of ruinous decisions that have led us to the current era of "smash-and-grab" looting beloved of fascists and their apologists.

Umair notes that in a the same week we have installed an "accused rapist as a Supreme Court justice for life, the Nobel Peace Prize goes to a man and a woman who’ve fought to define mass rape as a war crime. It’s vivid evidence: the world’s richest country is a ruinously failed state, plunging into an authoritarian abyss."

As Americans, we are so relentlessly propagandized and bought into our founding myths, we can no longer discern reality.

"One of the greatest ironies of American collapse is that American leaders thought that it was defeating the terrorists which would give Americans a sense of safety. But predatory capitalism was producing a greater feeling of unsafety, threat, danger, the sense of living in a hostile, unsurvivable world, among Americans than cave-dwelling terrorists ever really could. America beat the terrorists — but it never beat the capitalists." 

Before Haque came along,.Morris Berman had traced the Great American Unwind across a series of books. Decline started with Reaganomics, when we learned that "government was the problem," and we stopped investing in ourselves . As a result, by the 90s we lived shorter, poorer, uglier lives than Europeans, And then 9/11 happened, resulting in another decade of underinvestment while sieving off small fortunes for war profiteers and fortunate sons. Few societies survive such cannibalization of resources for long. At its height, Rome had 33 foreign bases;  today the US maintains over 1,000.

When the history of American collapse is written, I think it will be seen as a series of great leaps, which punctuated slow, steady erosions, corrosions, and crumblings. In norms and values, among institutions and expectations, of rules and responsibilities — until at last democracy itself was a smoking, belching wreck, and in its place arose every kind of backwardness, from authoritarianism and kleptocracy to theocracy and fascism.

American hegemony has resulted in a world where people no longer feel safe. Infrastructure and systems crumble around us, the chance to live a better life fades, and no past promise is guaranteed to be negotiable in the future. Even those able to put aside some crumbs for the future have no guarantee they won't outlive their savings, or that their small sums will be safe from inflation or currency debasement. American society has becomes a kind of jungle, a war of all-against-all, where it’s every man and woman for themselves, and the big fish eat the smaller.  

Smash-and-grab late stage capitalism has resulted in heavier burdens borne by the productive class while social mobility has eroded. My wife has observed that time was when a well-turned out young women with confidence and a gift of gab could talk her way into most any party. Today such a woman would never get past the bodyguards. With commoners divested from a financial stake in the system, and political power concentrated in an oligarchy shaking them down for pocket change and waiting to steal the coins from the eyes of their corpses, one wonders who will be eager to fight the next war.

Another recent post from Umair, Why America’s a More Violent Society Than You Think. is also on point.

"Americans aren’t just at the risk of being shot, or their kids shooting each other — they’re forever at the brink of of losing their livelihoods, homes, belongings, incomes, families, health, and even their lives. Bang! Gone. The spectre of ruin, just one step away, is relentless, and it never ends, tires, or changes. Hence, the average American lives his whole life under an ever-present billy-club of threat and intimidation — of genuine and very real violence befalling them, if they’re not 'productive' or 'useful' or 'employable' (or even 'healthy' or 'strong' or 'young') enough."

And he sounds very Berman-like when he says

… the U.S. is first & foremost a business and the vast majority of its citizens are brainwashed to believe hustling, opportunism, hyper-individualism, and climbing the ladder are exemplary "qualities."

For those interested in Morris Berman and what he is up to, he has released a new book, "Are We There Yet," which consists of a collection of lectures, unpublished essays and reflections on the continued decline of American Empire. Berman has been living in Mexico since 2006, and writes and speaks at length about the sense of community found in Mexico and so missing in the US with its culture of "hustling."

In a recent podcast interview   Berman said 

Sociologists who've written about how in America the religion is America itself… it doesn't matter how good your empirical data are, people caught in the mythology of the "American dream” will  not change their mind based on any factual material. In the industrialized or industrialized world in terms of health care quality, America's number thirty-seven. Most Americans believe it's number one! It's a debacle, a tragedy.

These kinds of facts don't matter and that's when their faces get red they start to spit and wave their arms because they understand that some level that you've got the fact all they've got is the myth and the myth is thin by now.

America will have tried everything to salvage the Empire to no avail and its foreign interventions will continue to fail. Like Alfred McCoy and others, Berman sees the next 2008-style event coming in 2020-21, then the Crash From Which There is No Recovery in 2026. Interestingly, a number of those interested in the question of civilizational decline have all come to the same conclusion independently and almost precisely to the same years.

When asked what he would tell young people asking about their futures, Berman replied

I would say that leaving the country is a sign of great intelligence.

I give lectures and young people come up to me and they say, "what should I do, what should I do," and I say, "Look you're not going to take my advice but I'll give it to you straight.  One of the best things an American can do is emigrate.

What do you think is waiting for you forty years down the line? 40 years in the future:, we will be at war with a country on the other side of the planet that poses no military threat to us whatsoever and will have spent ten trillion dollars. Doing it, we're going to loot the Treasury for no good reason at all. There will be no social safety net, no social security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, none of that will be available to you. And if you're lucky enough to get a job (which will probably be flipping burgers at McDonald's), you're not going to be able to retire because you're not going to be paid enough to be able to afford private health insurance, food, a car, a house.

Whatever you think, you will not be able to retire and you'll die like a dog. Now it's up to you whether you want to stick around. But… forty years from now you're going to say, "You know some guy came to our college when I was an undergraduate and we thought he was a nut case, and he told us all of us that we should emigrate, and now I'd give my left arm to have taken his advice."

Of course the question that remains is, "Go where?"


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom Sept. 30: “He Said, She Said”


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 1, 2018

“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts.  If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”
― Carl Sandburg


Nothing brings out the bluster and tear-stained outrage of the monied elites in this country more than the cold water shock of the realization that their birthright privileges are under challenge. The kabuki staged in Congress for hearing the allegation brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week put that on full display.

Frat boys and the Republiconfederates everywhere decried political correctness, unsubstantiated allegations, Democrat skullduggery and  "no proof" (after the day's hearing met that designed standard.) Right wingers like Bill O'Reilly decreed that the hearing was a byproduct of “a gender war” in America that had been set in motion by “the far-left.” The entitled classes call it "political correctness" when the oppressed finally get tired of eating their shit and push back. More on that later.

So it was this week as the one in six women in the US  who have been sexually assaulted by their fathers, brothers, brothers' friends, priests, teachers and counselors joined in full-throated assent for hearing the plaint of Dr. Blasey Ford, who gave voice to their own pain with credible, detailed testimony informed by personal therapy notes from years ago.

By now the events leading to Thursday and Friday are well known. In the previous hearings, bum-rushed through Judiciary with eleventh-hour partial-document releases and virtually no time to examine them, the process put paid to the notion that the fix was in. Repubs held back and obfuscated; Trump himself tweeted that all Senate Democrats were “mean, angry, and despicable.”

Jeff Flake described “concern” about Donald Trump’s daily assaults on the rule of law. Ben Sasse deplored a do-nothing Congress. And Chuck Grassley bemoaned the fact that Senate Democrats were taking advantage of his “decency and integrity.” But everyone on the Republican side of the aisle, who had overturned most Senate precedents and procedural norms in a rush to politicize the federal judiciary for a generation, insisted that Democrats were breaking the Senate with last minute documents and allegations.

It fell to protesters in heretofore-unseen numbers and unprecedented ferocity, to voice their disgust and dismay and offer themselves for arrest. The more furious the calls for “decorum,”"civility," and “rules,” the louder and more insistent the protesters became.

It was clear from jump that the hearing of Dr. Blasey Ford was a scheduled exercise in box-checking to get Trump's favored nominee out of the Judiciary Committee and rushed to a floor vote for a final vote.  Trump would need legal cover for the expansion of executive power hinted at in Kavanaugh's writings, as well as for the spate of ass-saving pardons Trump is expected to hurl like Jovian thunderbolts after the midterms. Each day the Kavanaugh nomination stuck around, the riper it got.

Kavanaugh obliged his sponsors and Congressional sherpas with a rip-roaring set of accusations of political savagery and conspiracy on the part of Dems, not forgetting to indict the Clintons. The only name missing in the blamestorming was Vince Foster's. Kavanaugh ran the Clarence Thomas playbook of angry, righteous indignation. If they are angry, YOU get angrier. 

(Imagine the reaction had a woman shown up for a Senate hearing, cried, whined and shouted about her feels of persecution and how unfair the process was. Imagine had she lost her temper during her opening statement, or refused to answer yes or no questions. Or evaded follow-ups or turned those questions back on her interlocutors with seething contempt. She'd have been crucified in the public square by nightfall.)

There was a stark contrast between Dr. Blasey Ford’s calm recitation of fact and Kavanaugh’s recital of white-male privilege in A Minor, redolent with twitchy sniffs, sneers, scowls, pursed lips, adolescent sarcasm and self-righteous rage.

A more fit jurist might have demonstrated a demeanor consistent that of a Supreme Court Justice. Instead, an aging, aggrieved frat boy trembled, raged, and hid behind his family’s alleged "suffering" with carefully-coached sanctimony and lawyerly evasion. He offered admission to Yale Law School somehow as evidence that he wasn't capable of sexual assault. Only the best people, you know… As if correlation were causation. (And it turns out that Brett Kavanaugh lied about ‘busting tail’ to get into Yale with ‘no connections’ — he was a legacy.) Bill Clinton was impeached for less.

The lies began to stack like cordwood.

The American Bar Association, whose "well qualified" rating Kavanaugh apologist Lindsay Graham waved aloft as the so-called "gold standard," urged delay until the FBI investigates pending assault allegations. Yet Kavanaugh's performance was full-throated and bristling enough to afford sufficient cover for Senatorial Rs to vote "yes" in move the nomination out of committee. 


As the scheduled vote approached at 9:30 on Thursday, confusion reigned supreme. Jeff Flake, who had revealed misgivings with the Grassley steamroller and grievance about the lack of comity in the Senate, was assailed by two sexual assault survivors in a Capitol elevator who Told Him Exactly What He'd Done. They made it clear what message he signaled he'd be voting "yes" on the nomination.

Despite past tough talk on Team Trump, Flake could be counted upon to take the knee at the votes and do the will of his Orange Master.  So it was on Friday, when he toed the line and announced his plan to vote "yes" on Kavanaugh. Implicitly saying Ford's allegations aren't true—or don't matter.

Judiciary didn't care enough to have the FBI look into the allegations, or to subpoena the key witness—they just scheduled a vote. "Plowed through," as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Hypocrisy) said.

The women's elevator confrontation showed their hearts burned with a searing injustice, and their moral outrage made a sitting United States Senator shrink before our eyes. Staring at the floor in a cramped elevator, we got a closeup of the moral content of Jeff Flake's character.

Once in the committee room, and after conferring with Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, Flake made it clear that the votes would not be there in the Senate unless his demand for an FBI investigation were met. Murkowski and Joe Manchin both immediately signed onto the deal. Grassley had little choice but to accede.

 

And now we have a week for an FBI investigation to proceed. It is not likely to enhance his candidacy.


The Hour of White Male Rage

Charlie Pierce noted how Brett Kavanaugh's prep-school swagger devolved into an exhibition of furious contempt for those who would keep him from what he's entitled.

The Hour of Angry White Male Rage is far from passing out of our politics. This was manifested not only in Kavanaugh's angry truculence with Democratic members of the committee but also by the mid-session defenestration of Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona prosecutor who handled all the questioning for the Republicans when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was on the stand…

What emerged on Thursday was a stunning outburst of wounded privilege and raging contempt for people who would deny him that to which he was entitled. (When Clarence Thomas ran his rap about a "high-tech lynching," he was firm, but he didn't raise his voice.) If Kavanaugh really is entirely innocent, then his anger is somewhat justified. But, I don't think he is, and, therefore, I think he looked like the guy you move to the other end of the bar to avoid.

Kavanaugh embodied the dying myth, furiously defended by the scions of privilege, that they have earned their place at the top of the heap and deserve all the perquisites "earned" by fortunate birth and family connections.

This presumption, that elites are elite because they deserve to be, is something more pernicious that the self-mythology of the successful. It is an alternate reality — a high-walled fortress that preserves and protects the false correlation between status and good character — and worse, establishes an authority intolerant of dissent. No one who doesn’t live inside is allowed to criticize those who do, and all who do live there are bound, by a kind of frat-boy omertà, not to.

What seems to have triggered Kavanaugh most of all… is that a woman dared to challenge his vision of himself. 

How dare she break the code of omerta?? White privilege is still the problem.

People are uncomfortable with the term “privileged,” and I understand that. Some think it's just a veiled form of reverse discrimination and/or racism.

Yet the fact remains that if you were born a white male in America, you were born privileged. It's a simple fact. No shame, no guilt, just fact. We benefit from an entire suite of favorable assumptions before a word is spoken. It's not even a point of argument; Just acknowledge it.

It doesn’t mean anybody gave you anything special, or that you didn't have a hard life or work to make yourself what you are today. It doesn't confer a pass to be lazy and shiftless or guarantee success. It just means that you have a head start over others. In running the race of life, we leave the starting gate quicker and run the race with fewer obstacles. 

The insular pre-school, Ivy League world of Brett Kavanaugh is just another circle of privilege within whiteness where the well-born and well connected enjoy perks not available to the hoi polloi. 

This week's events exposed the viciousness of this country's partisan divide for all to see, and the R's response is to double down on anger and the crazy, in imitation of their Orange Patron. Trump said to Bob Woodward, "You've got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women… If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you're dead. That was a big mistake you made."

If the Kavanaugh nomination moves to the floor, it will be a double middle finger to the women of this country and their allies to justice, to process, to the expectation of fairness under rule of law (whatever that is anymore), and a big lift to the moneyed elites who have always run this country as if by divine right.


Short takes:

Trump’s Speech at the U.N. Triggers Laughter—and Disbelief

‘People actually laughed at a president’: At U.N. speech, Trump suffers the fate he always feared

Trump opens his speech at the United Nations, "In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country…"

And the ENTIRE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY BREAKS UP, LITERALLY LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

“I didn’t expect that reaction," Trump says, sounding dazed.


He'll handle it as well as he handled Stormy's description of his little mushroom dick. But no problem: he'll fix them all. He'll start WWIII. Don't think he won't. 


Wealth Of Top 1% Surpasses $100 Trillion: More Than Global GDP And All Central Bank Balance Sheets

 

Deutsche Bank warned that the "liberal world order" is in jeopardy with the rise in support for right wing populist parties increasing fourfold over the past few years. High double-digit youth unemployment has become a hotbed for anti-establishment sentiment, which has everything to do with the economy, and lack of opportunities. What, me worry?


Behold, Another Signal of the Coming Climate Apocalypse That Will Go Ignored by Half Our Political System

There are methane lakes in the Arctic spouting carbon-trapping gas into the atmosphere. Nobody cares.


In Plain Terms, Judge Brett Kavanaugh Lies About Everything

In one way, Brett Kavanaugh is the perfect nominee for a "President" who has uttered over 5000 lies in 600 days in office. Kavanaugh lied about his days as a Republican operative, about the drinking age in Maryland, about the "Devil's Triangle," about Yale. All of it.

One of the things that men blithely dismiss is the sheer ubiquity of sexual assault. And I'm not talking about bullshit "microaggressions" or talking shit while drunk. I'm taking rape and attempted rape. There are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. Many more women are assaulted than ever report it, because our first response is to blame the victim. Ask the women who have reported.As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape.

If one of the outcomes from this exercise in sordidness and privilege is that young men learn that how you treat women will follow you throughout your life, and if parents learn that they should raise their sons to not be serial gropers, that would be a good thing. It's garden variety empathy, in short supply these days. 


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week in Doom Sept. 16: Florence


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 15, 2018

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

 ― Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5 


Hurricane Florence stormed the East Coast this week inducing dread that roiled millions and left seventeen dead as of Sunday. When they tot up the final losses, what they'll miss are the people who died from stress induced by weather reporting hysteria.

The Weather Channel stands alone. They started weather reporting hysteria as a cynical marketing strategy. They have put their reporters front and right in the middle of the storm. They stand in knee-deep water, windbreakers flapping and report the fact that it is raining to people who can already see that it is wet.

The above pic comes from a video report offered up by TWC's Mike Seidel making the rounds on social media. Seidel appeared to be waging a valiant struggle against the elements, swaying back and forth with mighty effort against the vicissitudes of Florence as he filed his ever-so-essential report. And then… just watch the vid. 

As someone who stared down the barrel of a catastrophic loss on as recently as Wednesday, I find this "hurricane porn" emotionally manipulative. Seidel should resurface as a Starbucks barista, after hurricane survivors throw him a blanket party. 

TWC had an explanation of sorts for Seidel's weather kabuki

“It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted.”

One might ask why they didn't put Seidel on concrete if the "footing was so soft." Or one might just roll their eyes. Such is TWC's credibility.

TWC's cred was flushed when they started naming winter storms. The hyper marketing of the weather stems from the fact that TWC knows that during extreme weather events, a captive audience is locked in on their channel 24/7.and the more fear they stimulate, the longer they can sell into captive eyeballs. What's next, naming thunderstorms? Droughts? 

Marketing-all-the-time is just part of the total commodification of everything in American life.  It's been said that the only original American art form is advertising. Everything is marketing, and ABC stands for, "always be closing" in a land where the only value is in the rightmost cell of the spreadsheet.

On Monday night, Florence was elevated to a category four.and dialing up an catastrophic threat to the East Coast.  I was staring starkly at the prospect of losing my house and everything in it. The National Weather Service called Florence a “storm of a lifetime.” Hyperbole in storm-related jargon is just part odf the skill set, but seemed apt this week.

Cat 1s have previously blown through Norfolk.  In 2005, Hurricane Isabel uprooted enough trees that we were without power for ten days. During several storms and nor'easters, water reached the front steps. The prospect of a direct hit by a Cat 4 on my home left little to the imagination. I contacted my flood insurance company to learn the steps for filing a claim and what to do in the aftermath, just to be prepared. In 30 years of living here, I had never taken this step.

After checking the evacuation zone maps, I made room reservations near my work located out of evacuation zones. I had previously waited out Isabel there with my daughter, and knew it was flood resistant. My workplace is a seriously hardened facility, with 24-7 security, redundant generators and layers of technology. As I told my wife, she'd have ice, filtered water, wi-fi and cable TV, with a couch to watch it on. Thus elevating the chances for a couple of broken down feebs to weather the storm.

At that we were better off than prisoners in South Carolina, where officials announced that they would not be evacuating inmates at least two prisons inside the evacuation zone. During Katrina, Louisiana's legal slaves were abandoned to the elements for four days.

So, after the intervention of both a high-pressure system and Pat Robertson to bend Florence to the south and west, I drew a deep lungful of relief. Even on Friday, the prospect of serious flooding and tornadoes remained high, but abated as the storm wended west. The governor lifted the mandatory evacuation order, and we returned home on Saturday.

Riding that much cortisol for so long exacts costs: both my neighbor and my wife's friend's brother had heart attacks yesterday. The stress induced by TWC's disaster porn assigns costs not counted in flood casualty statistics. While coincidence is not causation, we do know that stress is a killer.

A report from the local paper tells our story: Braced for disaster, Hampton Roads dodges Florence's destructionThe difference in our prospects from Tuesday to today cannot be overstated. For all this, and for the many good wishes we received, we are grateful. With no thanks to The Weather Channel. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south continue to endure Florence.


Speaking of Hurricanes

Inured to denying facts and devoted to inventing alternatives worlds with the aplomb of a Tolkien, the Lout-In-Chief tweeted this on Wednesday as Florence approached:

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…

8:37 AM – Sep 13, 2018

followed by…

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age,  just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!

8:49 AM – Sep 13, 2018

Contrast Trump's self-serving asserions with this heartfelt cry of pain.

They died in pain, at home, of kidney failure unable to access the dialysis clinic for weeks.
They died, gasping for hours near the end, when the oxygen tank they needed to breathe gave out.
They died in the dark and the heat of unsanitary ICU units, of burns or gunshot wounds received before the hurricane that they almost certainly would have survived otherwise.
They died, burning up with fever, of leptospirosis from being in touch with flood waters during the effort to save their neighbors.
They died in fear and confusion after being forced to go off their regular medication.
They died of heat stroke.

They died of diseases of antiquity, in a crisis of neglect unworthy the greatest, wealthiest and most powerful nation in human history.

They died. But we lived. And we remember.

–Eleazar David Melendez


Short takes:

Paul Manafort’s flip is a major turning point in the Mueller investigation

The biggest news this week involves a blowhard of a different sort. Paul Manafort strick a deal with the Special Counsel and pled guilty to a number of charges, limiting his financial exposure from legal fees while committing him to cooperate with Mueller's office for all items great and small. Mueller has been seeking Manafort for nearly a year. Now he’s got the deal he wanted and unparalleled access to information that will put away the next set of tools of the Russian Mafia.

READ IT HERE: Paul Manafort's entire plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller


#Flint: County Officials Accused of Faking Children’s Blood Lead Test Results

We are now 1,605 days into the ongoing crisis with the water in Flint, Mich. The residents are being told that their tap water is below the federal threshold for lead contamination.


Two Russian men charged in nerve agent poisoning of former spy in Britain say they were just tourists

Two men accused by Britain of poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter with a nerve agent claim they had traveled to England as tourists and were not Russian military intelligence agents. They were identified by security cameras.


Mysterious Evacuation Of Solar Observatory Overlooking White Sands Smells Like Espionage

The National Solar Observatory was host to some serious woo-woo stuff, as it was evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one is talking. Shrouded in mystery in a state known for secretive military testing and UFOs, the lengthy evacuation has spawned a wealth of speculation. The official story is that the closing is "a security issue." Rumor had it that the Chinese were using the antenna array for spying.


Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer. According to The New York Times, the population has reached 12,800, contrasted with 2,400 in May 2017. On the eve of Florence's landfall it was revealed that the administration had transferred $10 million from FEMA and DHS had transferred $169 million from other programs to ICE for detention and removal of migrants.

Your tax dollars at work.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom, Sept.9: Crazytown


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 9, 2018

“Real power is, I don't even want to use the word, fear.”

 ― Donald Trump, interview with Bob Woodward, 2016  


This was a week in which the pace of bizarre and unsettling news swirling through the White House could only be described as "epic," a thesaurus full of superlatives thus drained. Excerpts from Bob Woodward's book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” dropped, with the usual eruptions of "Lies!" and "Fake News!" uttered by the usual suspects. The book, which will be officially released on 9/11, promises to be a devastating, meticulously researched account of the Trump Presidency. This is Woodward's eighth book on a President; over 40 years, few have challenged his veracity. The book will be consulted as a first draft of the history of these dark times.

Major takeaways are that the work culture of Trump's White House is so toxic and volatile that many of 45’s top staffers are in the habit of working around a scattered, unstable and uninformed boss.

Trump has been floundering and reacting out of stress as a result of the Russia investigation and related probes. "Fear" was the first of a one-two punch, followed up by the "Anonymous" op ed published in the NYT.

 5 Takeaways From Bob Woodward’s Book on the Trump White House outlines key points, with few surprises:

  • The Russia investigation is a constant source of anxiety for Mr. Trump, and his lawyers.
  • Mueller engaged in lively conversations for months with Mr. Trump’s lawyers.
  • He's as ill-informed as you think: Trump’s advisers are repeatedly stunned by his lack of interest in and knowledge of major issues. 
  • Trump himself was not a primary source for the book.
  • John F. Kelly, the chief of staff, quickly soured on Mr. Trump

White House press secretary perpetual-motion-lie-machine Sarah Huckabee Sanders channeled her best Tammi Wynette with the usual dispatch:

“This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the president look bad… Democrats and their allies in the media understand the President’s policies are working and with success like this, no one can beat him in 2020 – not even close.”

At least she's consistent. Trump was in rare form:

“The book means nothing, it’s a work of fiction…If you look back at Woodward’s past, he had the same problem with other presidents, he likes to get publicity, he sells some books."

Doubling down, he later tweeted:

Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?

Those quoted rushed to declaim their innocence and to deny that they had said any such thing. Mattis was quoted as saying Trump had the "understanding of a fifth-or-sixth grader." Kelly is quoted as saying of Orange Jesus, “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown.” His former attorney, John Dowd, gets credit for “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.” Gary Cohn removed papers from the Resolute desk. Trump is quoted as having called his attorney general "mentally retarded,” and a "traitor." Just a taste: the first ones are free.

Woodward's usual technique is to exhaustingly interview many people people close to or in the White House on "deep background," meaning their anonymity is assured. His books are based on hundreds of hours of firsthand reporting. 

Woodward's reputation is pretty bulletproof. Not every detail is assured, but the gist is that his accounts are remarkably reliable. All 18 of his nonfiction books in the past 35 years have been national bestsellers and 12  have been No. 1 national nonfiction bestsellers. He also takes to the lecture circuit, where my wife and I saw him, and formed a minority-view opinion of his act. Yet for all that, he retains more credibility than the White House's current occupant.



Top appointees are ‘thwarting’ Trump, says ‘senior official’ in administration in New York Times opinion piece

The number two punch is the memo by "Anonymous" published in the NY Times. This really has our boy spun up, inviting him to instruct house hobbit Jeffy Bo to search for the guilty author, even though such an investigation would be patently illegal.

The unnamed author wrote:

“We believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The Times column — headlined “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration”, described a curious flavor of resistance is is indeed:

Ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous…

There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

This ain't a "resistance" I recognize. We're supposed to be somehow grateful?  Charlie Pierce said it best when he called out

… the careerist bleatings of anonymous sources who would like you to know that, by enabling El Caudillo Del Mar-a-Lago and his long, slow slide into howling madness,they are really keeping him from doing some real damage to the country, and shouldn't we all be grateful for their noble, selfless work. 

What the writer wants are Trumpian policies with less baggage, like fewer tweets or porn star payoffs. Trump later tweeted a one-word, all-caps reaction: “TREASON?” The search for the author began almost immediately and continues.

What this op-ed represents is and attempt to build lifeboats for those inside-the-Beltway conservatives who find themselves part of the Trump administration, but who envision the coming endgame, and imagine a life after Trump as part of a ruling Coalition of winners who will inherit power after the Great Man is gone. This is the same technique employed by conservatives after Bush the lesser, in which they shunned Bush, donned tricorn hats, and branded themselves "Tea Party independents." This only works because Americans, as a rule, remember nothing. Not for nothing did Gore Vidal once referred to this country as the "United States of Amnesia."Thus we will we skate on the frozen lakes of hell before Trump offers testimony to the Special Counsel. 


​Short takes

Some other things happened this week, but you may already be familiar with them. The confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh occurred this week featuring a great deal of contention over hidden papers, demonstrations, and debate about whether or not the nominee had lied to Congress under oath..

Senate concludes Kavanaugh hearing

Harris puts Kavanaugh on edge with Mueller question

Sen. Kamala Harris put Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on edge with a surprise question at his confirmation hearing on whether he spoke with anyone about the investigation into Russian election meddling. This after a week of scorched-earth procedures and tactics to prevent Trump from appointing his own judge in a possible future impeachment trial. This includes the Republicans hiding documents proving that Kavanaugh may have committed perjury. Whether any of this will be enough to derail his confirmation is not known.


The Collapse Of Society Is Coming

Michael Snyder sees harbingers in the fact that the rich have their own plans to survive the coming economic collapse (caused by out-of-control algorithms and flash trading) in survival bunkers being shipped from a Texas warehouse to the shores of New Zealand, where they’re buried 11 feet underground. The rich are planning their bolt-holes. Their plans don't include us.

Obama delivers full-throated rebuke of Trump's presidency

BHO returned to the campaign trail ahead of the midterms to rally the troops for the midterms, calling out Trump by name: "He is a symptom, not the cause." Obama is absolutely right, but he's decades too late. 

The loutish, bigoted and aggressively ignorant nature of the Republican base has never been a mystery to anyone… since Lee Atwater unleashed "Willie Horton" nigh on to 40 years ago….except, apparently, to Republican analysts, pollsters, ad-men, every Never Trump Republican now out pimping a book, every conservative think tank, media outlet and the entire Beltway political press. And any right wing troll who wanders into these hallowed grounds.

As noted above, Republicans rebranded themselves as a mighty army of Imaginary "Independents" who always arrive on the verge of saving us all from the Extremes on Both Sides. They are trying to escape the righteous judgment of history by rebranding themselves as some sort of faux resistance.

The "Tea Party" was always an astroturfed fraud. Nothing less than a heavily funded, carefully coordinated political playtoy designed to herd the rubes — the latest layer of Koch-funded, Fox News-promoted bilge splashed over the same goddamn box full of bigots and Bible-thumpers who have comprised the backbone of the Republican Party for most of my adult life.

After they led Poppy away by his drool-cup, there were four kinds of people in the GOP: traitors (e.g. the Kochs), messianic dominionist nut jobs (e.g. Pence), useful idiots (e.g. Tea Tarty), and geriatric bigots on holiday from the John Birch Society. They have always been with us, but we made them wear shoes and leave the room when company came. These people are less conservatives than dangerous, bomb-throwing, vehicular-manslaughter-committing white nationalists and nazis.

In Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean had it exact:

“Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds… They would march American into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. They have the mentality of ‘old-time religion’ on a crusade and they generously give money, time and effort to the cause. They proselytize; they lick stamps; they put pressure on loved ones; and they revel in being loyal to a cohesive group of like thinkers. And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going to go away.”


They remain a minority, which is why they have to ease into control, one child-kidnapping, sanctuary-denying, flag-worshipping, pro-torture, Nike-burning, intolerant, anti-choice, anti-science, Republiconfederate skirmish at a time. No faux-sincere op-ed can disguise the cornpone, “Aw Shucks” Christopathy that, seen over the course of decades, has bumrushed this country relentlessly towards the coming authoritarian nightmare.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because, by making every mistake in the book, he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

 

This Week in Doom September 2: The McCain Edition


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Published on the Doomstead Diner on August 26, 2018

"America has no need to be made great again because America was always great."

–Meghan McCain 


The world's most prominent Resistance meeting took place Saturday as the Washington establishment memorialized the life of John McCain. McCain's body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda, then was moved to the National Cathedral for the final obsequies that would mark his career. Although the service was ostensibly religious, the liturgy advanced was decidedly civic, full of stories of McCain exemplifying those virtues Americans like to believe about themselves told by career politicians,. The real purpose behind the speeches was a recertification of the idealized American civil religion to which John McCain had dedicated his life, in contrast to the self-serving values of the White House's current occupant.

If you watched the service, it didn't take long for the swipes at the Singularly Uninvited Guest to begin. Meghan McCain led off with a tear-strained address in which she said,  “we gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.” At the time she said this, Cadet Bone Spurs was teeing off at Trump National Golf Club in Loudoun County, Virginia, amid a flurry of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the FBI and threatening Canada.

"There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out," Trump tweeted earlier Saturday.

Not a mention of McCain.

Trump did set a record of a sort this week when his disapproval rating has hit an all-time high. 

According to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Friday, 60% of those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s performance in office—the highest of his presidency. Just 36% approve, which is on par with his all-time low.

This comes on the heels of last week's set of calamities, when Paul Manafort — who made his fortune carrying water for foreign governments in Washington — was convicted on eight charges, followed quickly by Michael Cohen pleading guilty on eight counts of his own in which he implicated the president in campaign finance violations. Cohen told a federal court that Trump committed a felony, making Trump an "unindicted co-conspirator, " as Americans over 50 had a deja vu moment. Then other dominoes fell, with National Enquirer Chairman David Pecker and Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg granted immunity.  


Uninvited Man-Child has a hissy

Controversy about the McCain funeral and Trump's exclusion began when McCain pointedly disinvited him, and asked two political opponents to eulogize him. The flames were fanned further when he raised flags at half-staff above the White House just two days after McCain died. After public outcry, the flags were lowered again.

Apparently the serial disses took a toll at home. Meanwhile, Melania feels “humiliated and embarrassed by the multiple Donald insults at the Aretha funeral” and “feel horrible that Donald is not welcome or invited to Aretha’s funeral as well as McCain’s funeral,” according to a Hollywood Life article. It is unclear whether these statements reflect Melania's thinking or are an arch way to troll her porn-star-savoring husband while he’s down, while trying to humanize herself in the process.

Let's review the bidding: Donald was not invited to Barbara Bush’s funeral. He was not invited to the Royal Wedding. He was dissed at Aretha Franklin’s funeral. And of course he’s been banned from John McCain’s funeral, even as Obama and Bush were invited to speak.

When Meghan McCain delivered the line “We don’t need to make America great again, because America was always great,” the reference was clearly to Donald Trump’s political slogan “Make American Great Again,”  unmistakably a rebuke of Donald Trump and everything he stands for.

MAGAts came unglued, on cue. Former Trump adviser Katrina Pierson tweeted that unlike John McCain, "@realDonaldTrump ran for @POTUS ONE time and WON. Some people will never recover from that." Meanwhile, over at the New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser called the funeral not "just another funeral of an elder statesman whose passing would be marked by flowery words about the end of an era. It was a meeting of the Resistance, under vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows."

Overall, the overall mood of the memorial serice was not one of division, but of a tribute to McCain, as appropriate.Not that the man was universally beleoved, but he was respected as sopmeone with the courge of his convictions and the caracter to act on them. McCain’s memorial ultimately served as a reminder of our differences, but also of how it’s possible to overcome them. At least for those who attened and watched. For others, there's Twitter.


Poll: 60 percent disapprove of Trump, while clear majorities back Mueller and Sessions

Karma. In the wake of last week's news about Manafort, Cohen, Pecker and Weisselberg, the news just gets worse for all people named Trump. In a recent poll, sixty percent disapprove of President Donald Trump's job performance, a new all time high for a president per Fortune magazine. Support for Mueller’s investigation is also high: 63% back it, with just 29% opposed.

The poll, released Friday and conducted just days after special counsel Robert Mueller delivered a one-two punch to the Trump administration in federal court, found a little more than one-third of Americans approve of Trump's job performance. The poll was conducted last week…

Trump's approval rating, according to the poll, was 36 percent. In the previous Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted in April, Trump's approval rating was 40 percent and his disapproval rating was 56 percent.

The poll found most Americans would oppose Trump granting a pardon to former associate Manafort — 66 percent of respondents said they were against a pardon. Only 18 percent said they would support a pardon.



Paul Manafort: Guilty

Mueller's office survives its first courtroom test.This occurred last week, but we just enjoy saying it. Even now that Manafort has lost one case, he can always look forward to the promise of the Trump card: The President retains the ultimate, sole authority to pardon him unconditionally. At least on Federal charges. 

Michael Cohen:  Guilty

Cohen pled for reasons that are not entirely clear, but which may include legal culpability for his wife. He

was accused of violating laws that involved his taxi businesshis financial dealings with at least three banks and — it was the headline allegation — his secretive efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. He admitted joining forces with the nation’s best-known supermarket tabloid to buy the silence of at least two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

It remains to be seen whether Cohen will cooperate with other pending investigations. But it also does not preclude him in telling what he knows to investigators working with Mueller.


Short Takes:


What the Political Revolution Is All About': Historic Upset by Progressive Andrew Gillum in Florida

Despite being massively outspent by centrist millionaire opponents and lacking support from the Democratic establishment, progressive Andrew Gillum surprised with a shocking and historic upset victory Tuesday night in Florida's gubernatorial primary. Gillum rode grassroots enthusiasm and old-fashioned get-out-the-vote effort for an unabashedly left-wing agenda of Medicare for All and bold criminal justice reform to a victory.


As Midterms Loom, GOP Reportedly Circulating 'Hell List' of Trump Probes Democrats Could Launch If They Retake House

Horrified by the possibility that Democrats will retake control of the House of Representatives in November, Republican lawmakers are reportedly circulating a private spreadsheet that has been dubbed the "hell list," which consists of investigations the GOP fears Democrats will launch if they are successful in the upcoming midterms. No mention of how afraid they are about Ds investigating the rubles sloshing around in many Republicans' campaign coffers.

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like him, is grateful to not be taking a dirt nap.

This Week in Doom July 22: #Treasonsummit and its Discontents


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 


Published on the Doomstead Diner on July 22, 2018

“I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

 ― Trump


I tried to keep this short, but the week wouldn't let me. Putin and Trump all but held hands during a news conference Monday, as each dismissed the idea that Russia wants to undermine American democracy — and that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into collusion between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign has any merits. This despite Mueller's indictment against 12 Russians for that very thing. Trump's use of the words “strong,” “powerful” and “denial” are tells: self-absorbed, impressed by authority and at home in denial. This makes him easily unlikable to two-thirds of Americans but not necessarily treasonous. Treason, frankly, sounds a little high-flown for such a reckless, clueless assclown  For nearly one out of every three days he has been president, Trump has visited a Trump Organization property, amounting to free publicity and a steady government income stream for the man who bankrupted three casinos. I'm old enough to remember when Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm, because "emoluments." Good times. 


#Treasonsummit

This week, the president* of the United States held a friendly meeting with the Russian leader who sabotaged an American election on the former's behalf, and who, in turn, has been rewarded by a pro-Russian policy pivot.  Trump chose to meet alone with THE former KGB mastermind. What could possibly go wrong? 

Putin made Trump wait for nearly an hour like his little stump-broke bitch, spoke first at the joint presser, and won every point. 45 abandoned any obligation to represent the American people and slobbered Russian talking points. It was clear who was master, and who was wearing the dog collar, to say nothing of the butt plug. As Ralph Peters said on CNN, "Putin pitched a shutout, while Trump got beat up in the locker room." Then came the press conference in which Trump uttered the above featured quote. 

Standing next to Putin, Trump turned on America’s intelligence services, and sided with our adversary. He attacked  the clear-cut findings of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russian hackers interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

 Trump's hangdog, looking-for-a-cookie body language stood in marked contrast to Putin's laid-back manspreading and expressions of obvious contempt. Putin even issued this order to his protege:

“It’s difficult to imagine utter nonsense on a bigger scale than this. Please disregard these issues and don’t think about this anymore again.”

It did not take long for reaction to erupt all over the internets, even from those nominally in favor of All Things Trump. 

From John McCain:

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Or this from Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake (R):

“I never thought I would see the day when our American president would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression.” 

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) released a statement on Twitter promising to "never" support President Donald Trump again after his unbelievable presser performance.

Look, I'm no big deal, but today is the final straw for me. I will never support Trump again. If that makes me a NeverTrumper, so be it.  I am a tea party conservative, that will never change. But Trump was a traitor to this country today. That must not be accepted.  Speak out.

The tweetstorm ensued:

Palmer Report (@PalmerReport)

Donald Trump’s day so far: – Yep he’s guilty of #treason – So is Rand Paul – Russian agent Maria Butina arrest – Newt Gingrich gives up on Trump – John McCain condemns Trump – Time to #ImpeachTrump – Then throw him in prison – Mueller has more coming – It’s still only 8pm

John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan)

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

W. Kamau Bell  (@wkamaubell)

Never forget: If you had a day at work like the day @realDonaldTrump had today, security would be at your office waiting for you, asking for your key card, w/ all your possessions in a box, & a cup for you to pee in. #TreasonSummit #TrumpTreason #ImpeachTrump

There are no "Republican patriots. Rs are all in as the "party of Trump:" Party over country, bitch. Imagine if Obama had said he believed Russia over his own intelligence services. After landing, he would have been pulled from Air Force One by a bloodthirsty mob of Freedom caucusoids and crucified on the tarmac in front of his wife and daughters.

This started the week. As it unfolded, what used to be known as the "free-world" looked on in confusion, accompanied by bipartisan outrage— even concern that Trump may be compromised  was heard outside left media. And for all that, as the week drew to a close, Trump suffered no real consequences. 


But-I, but-I, but-I…

On Tuesday, Trump Tried to walk it all back by saying he "misspoke" when he threw the intelligence agencies under the bus and praised Putin.

Few were buying outside of his phalanx of infinitely re-programmable meat-puppets when he said that he "misspoke," and said "would" rather than "wouldn't." An excuse rejected by anyone capable of observation and deduction, bnut fig leaf enough to satisfy the Newt Gingriches of the world.

BREAKING: President Trump claims he misspoke while discussing election meddling during news conference with Putin: "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' … The sentence should've been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia'.

"Could be other people also," Trump said on Tuesday.

CNN political reporter Chris Cillizza parsed those five key words:

Those five words not only totally undermine what Trump was trying to do with his post-Helsinki summit comments but also run afoul of the intelligence community's 2017 report on Russian interference in the election…  Nowhere else in the IC report is there a mention of another country being even possibly responsible for the broad and deep election-meddling effort focused on the 2016 campaign.


Along Comes Maria..

Just hours after Trump’s disastrous press conference with Putin, the Justice Department announced the arrest of Russian national Maria Butina  for secretly trying to influence US politics via a "gun rights organization (read NRA)."  An affidavit filed by an FBI agent asserts that Butina tried to thus influence a major political party.

Though the affidavit does not name many of the people and groups involved, previous reporting and context clues make it clear that the gun rights group is the National Rifle Association, the party is the Republican Party, and the Russian official is Alexander Torshin.

Now we can surmise how all that sweet, sweet Russian money sloshed through the NRA and into the campaign coffers of every party whose name starts with "R." Let's be clear: Russian citizens do not have gun rights. They never had gun rights. No one is trying to take their guns, because they. do. not. own. guns. There aren't guns sold in grocery stores, pawn shops or gun shows. Butina's group is a sham organization set up to funnel money between Russians and Republicans. Every Republican Congresscitter who has accepted NRA boodle is complicit. Little wonder they are trying to nail the door shut.

By the end of the week, Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov said that Butina was detained on “fabricated charges” and should be released. They want their asset back.


And the from the Dept. of You Can't Make This Shit Up, comes the news that Vlad would like to get his hands on former Ambassadors and other pains in his ass. Sarah Fuckleberry Slattern says, "Hell, that's an interesting idea, we'll get back to you."

U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sell Out

The White House’s refusal to rule out turning over former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul to the Russians has current and former State Department officials seeing red.

As reported by Spencer Ackerman at The Daily Beast, this nation had gotten currently serving ambassadors speaking as if, well, they write this column:

Current and former American diplomats are expressing disgust and horror over the White House’s willingness to entertain permitting Russian officials to question a prominent former U.S. ambassador. 

One serving diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was “at a fucking loss” over comments that can be expected to chill American diplomacy in hostile or authoritarian countries – a comment echoed by former State Department officials as well.

Putin expressed keen interest in "interviewing" Bill Browder, with whom Putin has waged an open feud ever since Browder was instrumental in getting the US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which mightily inconveniences Putin and a handful of Russian oligarchs. Putin is said to be keeping the Magnitsky Suite at the Butyrka prison in Moscow open for guests. He also raised the stakes to include wanting to interview Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia. 

Mouths remained snapped open and outrage continued to fester. The Senate voted 98-0 to suggest this might be a bad idea.

With Trump, every time you think we've hit bottom, we break through to a new floor.


And then it turns out that Trump has definitively has known about Russia tampering with the 2016 election since two weeks before his inauguration. Every denail and claim of "witch hunt" since then has been a lie. The NY Times broke this on Wednesday night:

From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

Trump is having trouble keeping up with and juggling his lies because there are so many of them.


Short Takes:

Trump sucked all the air out of the news cycles for the week, but some othe things did happen. You may want to take as peek before turning the page. 

Trump’s Trade Policy Is an Own Goal for American Consumers 
Trump underestimated the resolve of EU policymakers, and consumers worldwide are about to pay for it.

British And Ecuadorian Authorities In Talks To Evict Julian Assange From London Embassy

The London Times  reported that the British and Ecuadorian governments have been holding secret discussions on plans to evict WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from Ecuador’s London embassy,

Lab-grown burgers could be on menus by 2021

You  may soon be able to go into a restaurant and order "one hamburger, hold the cow." Dutch startup Mosa Meat has secured funding to take lab-grown meat from an expensive laboratory experiment to an affordable commercial commodity. Yum!

Papa John's Founder Regrets Resigning, Whines About Board Making Him Step Down 'Without Any Investigation'

Feckless cunt John Schnatter is apparently ready to drag his former company down with him, now saying that he regrets resigning. We don't. 

Jewish nation state: Israel approves controversial bill

The bill's passage gives color of law to Israels' continued oppression of Palestinians and the continuation of the Zionist Apartheid State.

Comcast Drops Out of Bidding War for Fox to Focus on Sky

Disney can now go ahead with its $71 billion offer to purchase Fox.


What a week. All Trump, all the time. It's exhausting, which is precisely what Trumptards everywhere are counting on– the demoralization of the opposition in the face of a unified (and increasingly Russian owned ) government. Any remedy lies with the House, which currently means the same Congressional Republicans whose political future is tied to Trump’s survival. Their primary voters, pollsters (and donors) tell them so.  Anything that weakens Trump weakens their 2018 reelection prospects, and with that their ability their ability to dispense tax cuts to billionaires, load the judiciary with Federalist Society hacks, and immiserate liberals, gays, women and browns. Their political lives depend on Trump. They are mobbed up.

All of which makes getting your sorry ass to the polls in November more important than ever.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like him, is grateful to not be taking a dirt nap, and who will likewise be disappointed to not be prominently featured on a Trump administration enemies list.

 

The Week in Doom, July 15, 2018


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 15, 2018

“[The beast] also forced everyone… to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark.”

 ― Revelation 13:16-17  


A friend had a close call this week. A reminder of both the fragility and resilience of life and its tenuousness.

As we consider the trajectory of ecocide, it is easy to become demoralized by how little each of us can do. The earth we leave the next generation will be hotter, dryer, more toxic, less fruitful. Extinctions are reported regularly. Glaciers melt, rivers dry, wildfires rage, even in the Arctic, and the ticking methane hydrate bomb continues to lurk.  What can one person do? We can change our habits, prep up, sell our homes and goods and wander the earth like Cain. And the Universe will still turn. What one individual can do is limited, but we can commit to work for change. Difficult to do, and made harder still by the corporate co-optation of the political process. 

If you are collapse-aware and follow current trends in population, energy and resource consumption,, and concludes they are insupportable at current trajectories, what is the moral and ethical course of action? 

We are impatient people. We expect resolution of most stories in the compact arc of TV. Reality has other ideas.  Our current ecocide is a blip in geologic time, and history of Earth is written in eons. The planet doesn't really care what we think. In the fullness of time, after Earth sloughs off the virus known as humanity, within 10,000 years or so– the blink of Nature's eye– the healing will have begun. The planet will be fine; it's humanity that is well and truly fucked. 

It is a depressing prospect. My course of action is to tend to my knitting, and create some happiness and love for those closest to me, and try to leave some small piece of the world in better shape than I found it. It is not nearly enough.


Population Clock Ticking

This week on r/collapse, someone posted this little diversion: TOP 20 LARGEST COUNTRIES BY POPULATION (LIVE)

On this site you can watch the world population clock tot up births in real time as we rush toward the Seneca cliff of population overshoot. China and India tip the scales at a billion and change, and the US is third with 326M. The world population rate of growth is declining as overall population continues to increase.

Population in the world is currently (2018) growing at a rate of around 1.09% per year (down from 1.12% in 2017 and 1.14% in 2016). The current average population increase is estimated at 83 million people per year.

Annual growth rate reached its peak in the late 1960s, when it was at around 2%. The rate of increase has nearly halved since then, and will continue to decline in the coming years.

Human overpopulation exacerbates all of the key environmental issues. Like so many grasshoppers in a wheat field, we consume finite natural resources like fresh water, arable land and fossil fuels, far faster than they can be replenished. Overpopulation aggravates global warming, pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, chemical-intensive farming, etc.

Spend five minutes on this page and consider how sobering the evidence is of a reduced future for the next generation, and the inexorability of massive population increases, all based on easily calculable birth rates.


Whither the economy?

Buoyed by the Trump Tax Cut, the economy is in go-go-go mode. The stock market is up, Even the solons at Marketwatch say so.

Surging sales at retailers is merely part of a broader wave in the economy that’s likely to swell gross domestic product to around 4% growth in the second quarter that runs from April to June.

Times are good. Unemployment is a measly 4%. Companies are hiring so fast they can’t find enough skilled workers. Business investment has strengthened.  And a flood of companies are likely to report heady second-quarter profits in the next few weeks. Americans simply haven’t felt this good about the economy in a few decades.

Happy days are here again! Yet financial journalists sound like touts when you look beyond the low-hanging statistical fruit. For one, the Trump Trade War and escalating tit-for-tat tariffs are not yet priced in. Plus we are at the tail of a prolonged, steady expansion since 2009, the third-longest upward climb on record. Juiced by the tax cut, the United States recorded 111 months without a recession in June. Only the 120-month run in the 1990s, a Golden Age for the U.S. economy created by the end of the Cold War and the rise of the Internet ran longer. 

What goes up…

A personal observation. My business is advertising sales, with revenue highly dependent on auto advertising. The auto sector has lagged projections all year.  Advertising spending is down. After seven straight growth years for domestic new-vehicle sales, manufacturers reported a sales drop of two per cent. 2018 has been equally soft. Edmunds.com predicted in January that domestic auto will be down nearly another two per cent. And when business is in the tank, one of the first things to go is advertising spend. What happens to a banana republic when no one wants bananas?

Zero per cent money helped bankroll the party. That too is ending.  

All this is before Trump's tariffs take that bite. We tend to think of tariffs as transactional, but we forget the ripple effects through the economy.

It's almost as if steel is critical to almost everything made, including… cars. Metals will cost more. Period. Anything manufactured, like soup cans, will cost more. I'm sure Trump is counting on his phalanx of infinitely-re-programmable Fox-watching meatbags to be unable to connect the dots between cause and effect.

American workers will suffer as other countries respond with their own tariffs, meaning that our stuff will become more expensive and/or unwelcome in global markets. Canada, Mexico and China have already announced retaliatory tariffs.

Even Tom Donahoe, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, warns that upwards of two million jobs will be lost.

Donohue wrote according to the Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the memo. “Our businesses will lose customers, workers will lose jobs, and American consumers will lose family income through higher taxes and higher prices.”

America’s relationship with its allies has taken another massive kick in the balls. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on our allies is so unilateral, in violation of existing trade deals, and a breach of protocol that the administration had to invoke "national security," meaning the we had to label our allies as a threat. The Washington Post pointed out on Thursday, the United States is now placing more tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the EU than on China.

The smart money calls for a dip in 2019-20. But auto and related industries are already in a two year dip. For auto a recession is already here. Imagine scenarios that could trigger the "R" word– Democrats win control of the House in 2018 and ignite a long-overdue impeachment. Mueller rolls Manafort or Cohen. The Fed could raise interest rates. China's debt bubble could pop. North Korea could erupt, or Iran could blockade the Straits of Hormuz. 

It only takes one pin to pop a balloon.


Want Chips With That?

The trend for technology to get  smaller and more personal got a boost this week. A story moved about a contraceptive computer chip that can be controlled by remote control. The project, backed by Bill Gates, has resulted in a chip that when Implanted under a woman's skin releases a small dose of hormone. The dosage can be stopped at any time by using a wireless remote control.

No word on what happens when someone else grabs the remote. (They say secure encryption prevents someone from trying to hack your reproductive cycle.)

When microchipping was first advanced as an e-commerce technology in 2004, it was met with wholesale revulsion. It took the place of bar codes as "the mark of the beast" and a sign of pending apocalypse among the tinfoil hat set. 

Now, who knows? There is a real trend among consumers to prioritize convenience. Some say it's inevitable. Over time look for convenience and speed to trump revulsion. I give it 50 years. Glad I'll not live to see it.

As Eddie on the Diner Forum observed, 

And on third world birth control? If women are given a choice, they'll line up around the block top get micro-chipped.

Birth control empowers women, and until now, the major religions and the patriarchal social and political systems in the 3rd world have effectively prevented birth control. If you're chipped, nobody has to know. I predict it'll catch on like you would not believe.

Consider the implications for the abortion fetishists who want to make the fetus property of the State, and the re-chattelization of women a priority. Women's agency is a real threat to these people. What if this technology renders Roe v. Wade moot? What if this normalizes "chipping" and makes it more acceptable, rather than apocalyptic?

Does that "rough beast, its hour come round at last,/ [who] Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born" come with a chip?


Short takes

Trump says the 20-foot-tall angry-baby blimp flying in London makes him feel 'unwelcome'

Maybe it was the 250,000 angry demonstrators.Trump was met by mass protests in Great Britain. Everywhere he went, there they were, although his handlers made sure all of 45's events were outside of the city. 

Strzok: I could have exposed Russia investigation to hurt Trump, but didn’t

In a grueling interrogation in the House, Republican partisans in the House GOP lost all connection to reality and embarrassed themselves in the process. Led around the ninth circle of Hell by Benghazi poster boy Trey Gowdy, the House GOP revealed its abject devotion to all things Trump, and themselves as useful idiots for America’s enemies.

Papa John's Founder Resigns from Board After Using the N-Word on Company Call

Shitty Pizza. Shitty Human being. Papa John's.

Forget Killer Robots: Autonomous Weapons Are Already Online

Unknown to most of us, cyber weapons that operate with great autonomy with the potential to crash financial networks and disable power grids already exist in cyberspace.

Trump pardons Oregon arsonists in case that sparked Malheur refuge occupation

45 sends sovereign citizen fringers an early Christmas present. Depicted as "devoted family men," by the right, the Hammonds set fires to cover up an illegal hunt. This pardon signals a loss for advocates of public lands, and a nod and a wink to theft of the commons by a privileged handful of cowboys. 

Red-hot planet: All-time heat records set across the world last week

From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week. See also:

The sea-level threat is worse than you think

The rate that Antarctica is melting has tripled since 2007, new research shows

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author for Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

This Week In Doom, July 8


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 8, 2018

“The world that you see is being configured to a probable reality that you haven’t yet chosen.”

 ― Douglas Rushkoff  


What occasioned some collapse-related noise this week on the Diner Forum was an article penned by Douglas Rushkoff entitled, Survival of the Richest–The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind. Worth a peek.

Rushkoff is a writer, documentarian, and lecturer whose work focuses on human autonomy in the digital age.  (See his website. ) He had been invited to an exclusive resort to deliver a keynote speech to investment bankers on the subject of “the future of technology.” The fee was un-turn-down-able for a university professor–he described it as  "about half his annual professor’s salary ."

After he arrived, he was ushered into a room he thought might have been the green room, but was instead the setting for him to meet his REAL audience: five super-wealthy hedge fund bankers with questions of their own.

Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless?

Yes, the rich are different from you and me. They have private security. Plus they know we're doomed and have absolutely no intention of doing anything aside from saving their own skins. This should surprise no one. For them, a "talk about the future of technology" is really about

…preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape. 

There was a time within recent memory when the future seemed inventable and accessible, in Rushkoff's words, " a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future." Now, when Elon Musk is launching cars into space, Peter Thiel reversing aging, or Ray Kurzweil uploading his mind, they saw a digital future with far less to do with making the world a better place than with transcending the human condition altogether.

It's been obvious for years that our technology has far outstripped our ethics, this since the moment the Enola Gay released her cargo. At a time when everything that can be commoditized will be, and all transactions, including moral, ethical, and spiritual, are filtered through the logic of the spreadsheet, we should expect nothing else.

Now we wrestle with the ethical dilemmas presented by unchecked technological development at the behest of corporate capitalism. Dreamed-of digital utopias have waxed into marketplaces that have become exploitative and extractive. Bots and algorithms, and even conversations overheard by your cell phone prompt offers of new deals just over the digital horizon. Workplaces for suppliers become increasingly dehumanized and automated (think Amazon). We collectively wring our hands with each story about jobs lost, exploitations of the gig economy, and collapse of local retail. And tthose about the rest of the world, where we export our trash and poisons, create toxic waste dumps in third world countries picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell recovered materials back to the manufacturers. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Our extractive culture exports our problems: out of sight, out of mind. And once out of sight, we escape to fantasies afforded by new tech baubles and toys– VR fantasy worlds, shooter games, movie franchises based on comic heroes and 3D animation, zombie apocalypses, and so on. The zeitgiest is fairly shrieking at us. Ours is the logic of the junkie: we believe that the next tech fix is just around the corner.

When the hedge funders asked Rushkoff how to best maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” He suggested should treat those people really well, right now, engage with their security staffs as they would family members. And extend an "ethos of inclusivity" to  business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution…

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves.

We should take them at their word.


Short takes:

EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid scandals, blames critics 

Pruitt's 14 scandal investigations finally became too much of a burden even for The Orange Lout to take, and Pruitt did an el-foldo, blaming everyone else on the way out the door. Crying the obligatory "witch-hunt," and pour everyone a round. Pruitt's successor promises to be Pruitt without the serial grifts.

China and Russia hit back at Trump tariffs

45 launched his "easy-to-win" trade war this week. China's commerce ministry lodged a new complaint with the WTO. Russia announced extra duties on US imports in retaliation. Beijing accused the US of starting the "largest trade war in economic history". Evidence mounts that Trump's trade fights will be most harmful to the people who voted for him, especially in states with large exports of soy.

It Was Absurdly Hot in North Africa Thursday

The entire globe is in the grips of an unusual heat wave. Following sweltering temperatures in the U.S. and a hot, smoky Siberia (with temps above 90 degrees F at the Arctic Circle), we have what may be the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Africa. The heat dome over Algeria and the rest of North Africa was “3.5 to 4 standard deviations from normal, meaning highly unusual.”

Intense heat wave shattering temperature records in Iran and the Caucasus

An intense heat wave has shattered temperature records in Iran and the Caucasus nations of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, causing power shortages. Weather experts said the heat wave is the result of a high-pressure dome that formed over the Eurasian region and reaches as far north as southern Russia.


Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Oh Say Can You See?


From the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 4, 2018

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

 ― Mark Twain  


As we celebrate the nation's Independence, a virtual pallor seems to hang over the proceedings like a shitmist. There will be parades, fireworks, cookouts and picnics, and the attendant mindlessness of a hot summer day. There will be 21-gun salutes with appropriate solemnity. But in many ways, it's almost as if it's "Bizarro- Fourth of July–" similar, but a bit off. As if our hearts are not fully in it. Given that hundreds of thousands attended over 800 rallies demonstrating against government-sanctioned kidnapping of children and separation of immigrant families, they may not be. Now comes proof we're just not as patriotic as we used to be.


New Low of 52% "Extremely Proud" to Be Americans- Gallup

For the first time in 18 years, a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of US adults are not "extremely proud” to be Americans. That's an average across political ideologies, with the sort of steep differences on either side of the political aisle you might expect.

As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, 52% of U.S. adults say they are "extremely proud" to be Americans, a new low in Gallup's 16-year trend. Americans' patriotism spiked after 9/11, peaking at 70% in 2003, but has declined since, including an eight-percentage-point drop in early 2005 and a five-point drop since 2013.

                                Trend: How proud are you to be an American -- extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little proud or not at all proud?

From a peak of 70 percent in 2003, the proportion of those "extremely proud to be Americans" has eroded consistently, leveling during the final years of the Cheney-Bush regime and most of former Obama. A slide started in 2015 and continues.

No surprise the numbers split along age and political affiliation. Young adults today are significantly less patriotic than in 2001. Also no surprise that liberals (36%) join young adults as the least patriotic major subgroup. Independents, Democrats, non-whites and college graduates are also slow to salute. In contrast are those major subgroups most likely to wave the flag:  Republicans (68%), conservatives (61%) and those 50-64 (64%).

The 23-point gap in patriotism between Rs and Ds is now roughly double what it was in January 2001.

What's it all mean? Gallup suggests that Americans' continued frustration with national conditions — likely tied to their concern about the economy and lack of faith in public institutions — are reasons patriotism is at an ebb. Not surprisingly, I can offer some other thoughts.

How about the erosion of the middle class? For years, we've read the headlines: the middle class in the United States has been in decline.

CNN May 18, 2018: “Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food”
Marketwatch June 2, 2018: “50 million American households can’t even afford basic living expenses”
Wall Street Journal February 13, 2018 : “US households shoulder record $13.15 trillion debt”

In Asia, government policies favor the emergence of a prosperous middle class. In China in 2000, according to McKinsey, just 4% of the population was middle class. By 2012, it had exploded to 68% of the population. 

Meanwhile in the US, The Orange Lout has instituted tariffs against our friends, which will have the net effect of raising prices.  When prices rise faster than wages, the middle class struggles. And that’s what’s been happening. The coming round of price gouges will worsen the buying power of the dollar. Powerless workers will demand wage increases, which will further erode the dollar's worth, producing the inflation which the Fed has so dearly wanted to create. The only ones who will suffer are the wage slaves and retirees. Happy days are here again for the swells and grandees. 

Housing is a powerful example. Simon Black points out:

In late 2011, the average home cost around 3.56 times the average salary in the US, according to data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. By the end of 2017, the average home cost 4.73 times the average salary, even though mortgage rates were essentially unchanged.

In other words, even when you adjust for the fact that people are earning more, housing became 33% more expensive in just six years– and that doesn’t account for increases in property taxes, home owners association dues, insurance premiums, etc.

And of course, rents follow. So even though people are technically earning more dollars, those increasingly-worthless dollars purchase less and less house. And everything else. And we haven't even addressed the medical-industrial wealth-extraction conduit scheme. Such long term inflation and value extraction is simply theft baked in to the system. 

How about security? Consider that the postwar Marshall plan to rebuild Europe and institute a consensus of mutual trade and defense endured for 70 years. We're busily thumbing our allies in the eye over trade, and toying with the notion of leaving NATO, the better to get those Eurochiselers to pay Their Fair Share.  While Trumpsuckers cheer, "America! Fuck, Yeah!" they ignore the fact that the nuclear-tipped arsenal purchases their standard of living, thus enabling them to have that chrome-plated eight burner Weber grill on the deck of their double-wide.

Reflecting on recent history,  Watergate shocked the system as we were exposed to our first criminal President. Then Reagan, and Iran-Contra, and Ollie North, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, and then Fox News. Plus we elected two Republican Presidents that lost the popular vote, and two Democrats that governed as centrist Republicans. A useless war, a PATRIOT Act, Citizen's United, and the theft of a SCOTUS seat all reinforced by lawmakers who gerrymandered their own voters.

Yet another President-without-a-plurality institutes policies at clear variance with our stated "values" and which flout both international law and human decency, such that hundreds of thousands are moved to take to the streets in sweltering summer heat. Little wonder the 'proud to be a 'Murkin'" contingent continues to shrink.

How about the fact that public sentiment and voting seems to have almost no effect on national policies? A 2015 study shows the US is a corrupt oligarchy where ordinary voters barely matter. As the authors put it, 

"Economic elites and organized interest groups play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence."

Who does? Major donors and lobbyists. Your cynicism is well placed. 

Never forget that Grover Norquist's avowed goal was to shrink government to the point that he "could drown it in the bathtub." A good way to do that is to vitiate support for government, especially among its natural constituency. As well as to demoralize the general populace, the better to depress voter turnout. 

The current adminstration's policies are designed to immiserate and outrage. Border atrocities done in our names, attacks on the rule of law, insulting democratic leaders while praising thugs, and breaking up trade agreements are all about turning American exceptionalism on its head even as our "President" brays the words.  The so-called "leadership of the free world" is something we are gleefully throwing away. For what? And who benefits?

When Trump declares war on Mars, where are the young people whose patriotic ranks will swell the all-volunteer Space Force?


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.


 

This Week in Doom June 25, 2018


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
Like us on Facebook

 

 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 25, 2018

“We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

 ― Donald J. Trump, June 20, 2018


This was a week for visceral outrage in the face of unspeakable human rights atrocities. The Orange Lout signed an executive order countering the effects of his previous decision separarting children and infants from their parents, then scattering them to the winds.  The Trump message, scrawled clear as day and quite literally on  the back of Melania Trump, was that the Trump administration could not care less. Independent artists, students, and even actor Jim Carrey, created striking visuals that surfaced on covers of TIME and the New Yorker. (See examples.) The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council, Trump ordered the creation of a new Space Force. The gnomes running the Dow Jones Index removed General Electric, the last 19th century holdover, from its ranks. Open season on black Americans by cops continued, in an episode with personal relevance. 

In spite of the wholesale revulsion expressed by a distraught populace, over the weekend Donald Trump continued to use fear of MS-13 to justify his ‘zero-tolerance’ immigration policy, but only 180 of the 187,000 people apprehended at a major border crossing are connected to the violent criminal group.

It is essential to remember that Trump’s executive order was not a reversal or a capitulation. The administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, under which everyone crossing the border illegally, even those who present themselves as seeking asylum, is subject to criminal prosecution, remains in place. Only the kidnapping of children has been held in abeyance. For now.


Creating a Crisis

Time Magazine Cover, July 2, 2018 Edition New Yorker Magazine Cover, July 2, 2018 Edition          

In pursuit of his singleminded objective to control each day's narrative and the news cycle, thus to suppress his pending exposure of the world's largest money-laundering operation, the current White House incumbent doubled down on crazy. Trump’s inhumane "zero-tolerance" policy forcibly removed children, toddlers and babies as young as three months old from their immigrant parents attempting to enter the United States at our southern border, even those seeking asylum. The Trump ruling junta executed this policy in a move designed to outrage, to alienate, and most important, drive the name "Robert Mueller" from the front pages. Trump reverses course, signs order to keep families together

This heinous operation has been condemned by everyone from the Pope to Fox TV producers to foreign leaders like  Theresa May to top corporate CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook to U.S. airlines (who learned they may have unwittingly transported such children to destinations hundreds of miles away from their parents.) 

The outcry and revulsion from kidnapping without due process, and incarcerating them in internment camp conditions caused schisms in the solid Republican Congressional majority. Even longtime GOP strategist Steve Schmidt threw in the towel.

“Make no mistake about it when you’re ripping breastfeeding children away from their mothers and putting them in detention facilities, that’s an evil policy. To see the Republican Party break up the way it has, to lose its moral compass, it is tragic. It’s tragic for me personally, but I won’t be part of it. I won’t share a party label with people who think it’s all right to put babies in internment camps. My fidelity is to my country, not my political party. Country first.”

The optics were terrible, and the sound was worse. News networks played the sounds of crying infants ripped from their mothers. Outrage mounted across the country, and burst into flame in Portland, where an Occupy-style protest shuttered the local ICE facility. Oregon Public Broadcasting:

“Demonstrators have also been camping outside the building and festooning the area with signs with slogans like “Kick out ICE” and “Will trade racists for refugees.” Two tents on Monday evening had increased to six by Tuesday morning. Twenty-four hours later, nearly 30 tents had been erected…

Tents line trolley tracks outside the ICE facility in Southwest Portland, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Dirk VanderHart/OPB

“The encampment — largely grassroots, but supported by a coalition of local groups — also has a medical tent and a kitchen area overflowing with donated water and food.”

Classic Occupy. The facility reopened, but the backlash continued to grow. The policy credited to Goebbels cosplayer Stephen Miller started to smell like dead fish within 24 hours, and by Wednesday Trump had signed an executive order modifying his earlier decision.

Here is what the executive order does: It keeps families together, keeps them under DHS control, does nothing to reunite families already separated, seeks indefinite detention with a DOJ challenge to Flores v. Reno, a consent decree that limits government detention of immigrant children to 20 days. If successful, they’ll be able to hold families indefinitely. It enlists military facilities as concentration camps. It also blames Congress, since Congress failed to pass immigration legislation, leaving the administration no choice, even as it reversed course.

If these policies seem irredeemably cruel, and the characterization of would-be immigrants as "insects" and "vermin" spectacularly racist, remember that from the beginning, cruelty was the whole point.


Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From U.N. Human Rights Council

On Tuesday, The FSoA withdrew from the world’s most important human rights body in protest of that body's frequent criticism of Israel’s brutal and genocidal treatment of Palestinians. In other words, for telling the truth. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, that counter of sustaining votes, scrivener of dissenters and settler of scores, announced this latest effort by the Trump administration to withdraw and diminish those international organizations and agreements it finds unsuitable to the reward of cronies and punishment of opponents.

It was the first time a member has voluntarily left the United Nations Human Rights Council. With one deft foreign policy stroke, the US now joins other rogue states such as Iran, North Korea and Eritrea, as the only countries that refuse to participate.

“If the Human Rights Council is going to attack countries that uphold human rights and shield countries that abuse human rights, then America should not provide it with any credibility,” Ms. Haley said.

Human rights advocates denounced the decision. 

“All this administration seems to care about when it comes to the council is defending Israel,” said John Sifton, an advocacy director at Human Rights Watch “If the Trump administration’s complaint is that the council is biased and flawed, they’ve just made it more so.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel welcomed the decision. “The U.S. decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough,” he wrote on Tuesday.

The withdrawal came as the administration faced worldwide condemnation from rights groups and governments. Your tax dollars at work. Done in your name.


Victory on Mars

On Monday, the floundering Orange Lout found yet another subject to which to attempt to change the subject from #TrumpRussia.

And this one is really bigly. He ordered the Pentagon to establish a stand-alone Space Force as a new branch of the armed forces.

"We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal," Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House.

"It is going to be something so important."

"Our destiny beyond the earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security, so important for our military and people don’t talk about it," Trump said. "When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space."

Of course, this order, like so many that bubble from the porcine lips of the Prevaricator-in-Chief, is patently illegal and meant to mollify his base of droolers and window-lickers. Establishing a new military branch requires congressional action and corresponding funding, as pointed out by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio):

"Congress has asked DoD to study how we handle space. We still don’t know what a Space Force would do, who is going to be in it, or how much is it going to cost," Turner said. "After we get the report that we required as a legislative body and the president signed off on, then this issue can be appropriately evaluated for what’s best for national security."

But boy, it changes the hell out of a subject. At least for a news cycle.


And Stay Out!  GE Kicked To Curb, Last 19th Century DJI Member Removed 

General Electric added shame to suffering on Tuesday as overseers of the Dow Jones Industrial Average kicked the company out of the benchmark index it had inhabited for more than a century. GE will be replaced by Walgreens. The slippage is just another trailing indicator for what was once the world’s most valuable company.

“It was an issue not of if, but when,” said Quincy Krosby, the chief market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc. “The GE that was dominant in the Dow in the ’70s and ’80s is no longer the same GE.”

Down 26 percent, GE had been the Dow's worst performer in 2018, as it had been last year. Once an embodiment of American industry and managerial know-how, GE had arguably died some time ago. The DJI announcement was just the first shovel of dirt on an open grave.


State Terror Comes Home

Antwon Rose, 17, was shot and killed by police in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nickole Nesby via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

On Wednesday, local police executed 17-year-old Antwon Rose in East Pittsburgh, PA. The boy was fleeing from a traffic stop and and unarmed when he was shot in the back by a cop who had been sworn onto the force mere hours earlier. This story had particular resonance for me because it happened on the next hill over from where I was raised, and I was visiting friends in the area when it occurred.

A bystander’s video showed the officer opening fire as Rose fled from police. In terms of seeking justice, video is the great equalizer. Video does nothing to stem the tide of summary executions of black Americans by rogue cops, but it marginally increases the likelihood of survivors successfully seeking accountability.  

According to the Allegheny County Police Department, police initially responded to reports of a shooting around 8:20 pm on Tuesday, finding a 22-year-old man who had been shot but was taken to the hospital and survived. Police put out a call for a vehicle that was seen fleeing the scene, and officers stopped a car that they said matched the description. While they were detaining the driver of the car, two people jumped out. An officer opened fire, killing a 17-year-old. 

The 17-year-old was Antwon Rose, a student at Woodland Hills School District, according to Shelly Bradbury and Andrew Goldstein at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough said Rose was unarmed, although officers found two guns in the vehicle he fled from.

The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle was released after he was questioned by police. The third occupant of the car remains at large.

A bystander captured a video of the police shooting and posted it on Facebook. It shows two people running away from police cars, with their backs to the officers, as police open fire. Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the shooting. 

On Wednesday night, four of us were driving to a pizza restaurant in East Pittsburgh, a favorite from childhood and adolescence. We'd been planning it all week. We drove east in what for Pittsburgh is a serious storm event, but in coastal Virginia is known as "rain." About half a mile from our destination, we came to a red light where several cop cars were parked, lights flashing. A large trailer truck was trying around in the intersection and reversing field. Another cop car drove toward us and against traffic, parked his car at a slant directly at us. WTF? I moved to turn around by moving to the left lane and asked a cop what the issue was. (This area had previously received national notoriety some weeks ago when landslides demolished houses and blocked PA Route 30, so another rain-induced landslide calamity was by no means out of the question.) The cop said people ahead were demonstrating. In a driving rain. I wondered what they could be possibly demonstrating about in such conditions, as we were not yet aware of the shooting.

We tried to reach our destination another way, by navigating through the rain-slicked streets of our old neighborhood and going back down the hill and approaching from the other direction. The cut-through I recalled from adolescence had been removed at some point in the past forty years. With no other recourse, we turned around and left. 

Only when we got back to my friend's house did I learned of the execution by cop. Antwon Rose was from all accounts a good, bright kid. He attended the same high school we did. The cop is reported to be being treated for "shock," a ruse doubtless from the police union manual on how to execute the unarmed black American without consequence. I expect he will be placed on "administrative (meaning paid) leave,"  and receive a vacation for several months, before his pro forma hearing and exoneration a la Ferguson, Cleveland, et al.

The demonstrations in East Pittsburgh have continued for at least four straight days.


Other short takes worth mentioning as they whiz by include the passing of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer,  the introduction of retaliatory tariffs on US goods  by the European Union in an attack on Trump's trade war, Disney raised their bid for Fox assets to $71.3 billion in cash and stock, topping Comcast, Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users, SCOTUS punted on its biggest decision of its term so far regarding partisan gerrymandering, and a sporting event called the World Cup began group play.

Another week as we spin toward Seneca's cliff.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

Support the Diner

Search the Diner

Surveys & Podcasts

NEW SURVEY

Renewable Energy

VISIT AND FOLLOW US ON DINER SOUNDCLOUD

" As a daily reader of all of the doomsday blogs, e.g. the Diner, Nature Bats Last, Zerohedge, Scribbler, etc… I must say that I most look forward to your “off the microphone” rants. Your analysis, insights, and conclusions are always logical, well supported, and clearly articulated – a trifecta not frequently achieved."- Joe D

Archives

Global Diners

View Full Diner Stats

Global Population Stats

Enter a Country Name for full Population & Demographic Statistics

Lake Mead Watch

http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/NA-BX686_LakeMe_G_20130816175615.jpg

loading

Inside the Diner

Quote from: K-Dog on Today at 08:47:48 PMI did not comment on Ugo's Blog about Dmitri but I'll do here because we both have had dealings with the man.  To comment there would have been rude.Ugo is quite aware ...

Quote from: RE on Today at 09:25:23 AMQuote from: K-Dog on Today at 08:55:44 AM  Ugo is shielded from the American asshole.  The worst of whom seem to be second generation Russians. [/qu...

Quote from: azozeo on Today at 05:58:24 PMQuote from: RE on Today at 04:01:20 PMQuote from: azozeo on Today at 03:38:23 PMWell aren't we the Shell answer ma...

Quote from: RE on Today at 04:01:20 PMQuote from: azozeo on Today at 03:38:23 PMWell aren't we the Shell answer man today. Where's your lab coat & test tube. A little side note here...Yo...

Diner Twitter feed

Knarf’s Knewz

Plastic gets around. Previously, researchers had d [...]

Quote from: knarf on April 17, 2019, 05:03:42 AM6. [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 17, 2019, 05:40:49 AMQu [...]

Diner Newz Feeds

  • Surly
  • Agelbert
  • Knarf
  • Golden Oxen
  • Frostbite Falls

I 3rd the motion.RE [...]

No shit. Surly. Get your ass back here. You are on [...]

Surly, please come home. The children miss your be [...]

Japan Grounds Fleet of F-35As After Fighter Jet Di [...]

At First We Didn’t Believe It”: Fast-Melting Green [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Plastic gets around. Previously, researchers had d [...]

Quote from: knarf on April 17, 2019, 05:03:42 AM6. [...]

Quote from: Eddie on April 17, 2019, 05:40:49 AMQu [...]

Quote from: Golden Oxen on April 12, 2019, 08:38:2 [...]

Alan Dershowitz: Is Julian Assange another Pentago [...]

Agree.But political parties still run everything, [...]

Quote from: RE on April 12, 2019, 12:08:38 AMQuote [...]

Sadly for all of you, I got my latest system up an [...]

[html]    [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on April 14, 2019 [...]

QuoteThe Google Hangouts system I used to use is n [...]

Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on April 14, 2019 [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

Deaf, Dumb and Blind Who Is Better at Conceding They Are Wrong - Conservative or Liberal Extremists? [...]

The Apology: From baby boomers to the handicapped generations. by David Holmgren Re-posted from Holm [...]

Society Is Made Of Narrative. Realizing This Is Awakening From The Matrix. By Caitlin Johnstone Orig [...]

But We Need the Eggs Re-posted from Epsilon Theory   Ben Hunt of Epsilon Theory is one of those rare [...]

About That Liberal Media.... By Cognitive Dissonance   Charts and Info from Business Insider   I dis [...]

Event Update For 2019-04-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-04-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-04-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-04-13http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-04-12http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

Coping with Katsaridaphobia"Desert religions are all about scarcity, sea people invading, and Pharoah casting out the righ [...]

Professor Cobblepot’s Marvelous Purple Fog News Machine"Time will tell whether Cobblepot’s short game is as good as Mueller’s long game.""We [...]

Revenge of the ReGENerates"Will youth take up the challenge — “grasp the nettle” as it were — or will they follow the exa [...]

Black Hawk's 11 Percent Solution"They built a model whose proof of fitness for purpose is that it sustained not only the two-le [...]

A Home in the Sea"African female elephants dropping tusks may be an epigenetic adaptation similar to Surfers Ear [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

To fight climate change, you need to get the world off of fossil fuels. And to do that, you need to [...]

Americans are good on the "thoughts and prayers" thing. Also not so bad about digging in f [...]

In the echo-sphere of political punditry consensus forms rapidly, gels, and then, in short order…cal [...]

Discussions with figures from Noam Chomsky and Peter Senge to Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama off [...]

Lefty Greenies have some laudable ideas. Why is it then that they don't bother to really build [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Gorbachev tried prohibition because Soviet workers were showing up drunk at work all the time. It pr [...]

Most of the nutrients in a Tropical Rain forest is in the canopy of the tree cover and is recycled. [...]

Actually, renewables produce only intermittent electricity, and this is only a substitute for fuels [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Simplifying the Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

Off the Keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

Off the microphone of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Merry Doomy Christmas

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

Off the keyboard of RE Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666...

Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

The VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument on board the Suomi-NPP (National Po [...]

Having sustained, over the course of more than two decades, record-breaking natural catastrophe loss [...]

Given the current concerns about climate change, particularly, the stratospheric temperature effect [...]