NRA

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
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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.

 

Guns Don’t Kill People: Confederate Flags Kill People

Off the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on the Daily Impact on June 24, 2015

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We have just seen another massive, and masterly, prestidigitation by the people who love guns and dislike poor people, and who understand that large majorities of Americans dislike gun violence and are poor. The continued existence of free and open elections in this country — albeit less free and less open every year — constrain these people from talking too openly about their vision for America, i.e. one nation, under God, armed to the teeth with people dying in the streets. So they obfuscate, and misdirect, and bloviate and lay down smoke.

And when confronted with a truly obscene massacre of innocent black people by a white  whack job with a racist manifesto and a gun, right wingnuts have to work overtime to come up with a diversion to keep the chattering class from talking about their manifesto. This time, after nine people at prayer were gunned down in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, they knew they were going to have to be really good to get this off TV and out of the minds of Americans before any damage was done to their Second Amendment Rights.

They were better than good. They were awesome. They tried a few honkers first, including one actually voiced by a state representative: that if only those elderly folk who went to that Bible study class had been packing heat, they would still be alive. And in any case, they should have fought back instead of waiting their turn to be shot. Honest to God. He said that.

Now, I don’t know who came up with the Confederate-flag meme. I doubt that it was one of the right wingnuts because, really, they are not that subtle. But when someone juxtaposed the fact that there had been a racist massacre and, just a few blocks away, a Confederate flag was flying, the right knew at once that this was the right thing. Pundits were puzzled that pols who had been declaring for decades that you could have their Confederate flag when you pried it from their cold dead hands were practically burning it in public. Why? the pundits wondered. Was this a historic paradigm shift, a nation suddenly discovering its conscience?

Old rule: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. Another old rule: the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding, in this case, was that within 48 hours of the atrocity, all the websites and the cable news channels had room for was pictures of the Confederate flag flying over a memorial near the state capitol. The chattering class, in full stampede, trampled each other to vilify the Stars and Bars, along with any state, county or grocery store that would tolerate its display.

Their syllogism was as simple as it was silly: Dylann Roof displayed the Confederate flag; subsequently, Dylann Roof killed a lot of people; therefore we have to get rid of the Confederate flag. I guess the headline they envision, coming soon to Fox News, would be: “Last Confederate flag comes down, mass shootings stop.” Yeah, I know, they don’t really think that. What they think is, by the time everybody finally runs out of things to shout about the Confederate flag, another shooting massacre will be old news, forgotten by everybody but the husbands and the wives and the children and the parents and the relatives and the friends.

The sound and the fury have been magnificent, from revisionist and simplistic history lessons about the Civil War to the discovery of Confederate symbols and colors lurking in other flags.

Meanwhile, cold hard facts lie disused in the basement of our culture, ignored by the party going on upstairs. Fact: the militants who have slaughtered more Americans since 9/11/2001 than any other group are white, right-wing Christian extremists (as none other than the New York Times has just pointed out — again). The violent extremists about whom police are most worried, as surveys by the Times and others have confirmed, are “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” (by which they mean people who recognize the authority of no government).  As The Daily Impact pointed out three months ago.

Wait, what? Not the Muslim “lone wolf” popularized by frequent FBI news conferences, the crazed ISIS recruit who, if we don’t stay alert and buy more tanks, is going to kill us all in our beds (as presidential candidate Lindsey Graham put it)? No indeed. Loosely defined, presumptive, dumb-as-a-stump Islamic terrorists have killed three people in America  so far this year. A far more dangerous group, that racked up five fatalities so far — toddlers. It’s a fact.

So spare me, pundits, your comic-book versions of Civil War history that explain, neatly and without nuance, the motivations behind a conflict that over four bitter years inflicted a million casualties on our young nation. Spare me your tortured logic that says, among other things, that since most of the people who display the Confederate flag today are racists, the flag itself is racist. Using that construct, what could we say about the flag of the United States?

There is too much violence, and too much racism, in our country right now. Could we talk about that? Could you folks please stop changing the subject?


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The Open-Carry Cargo Cult

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23 m athletic. you

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on November 30, 2014

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“A Right Unexercised is a Right Lost.”

-opencarry.org

Thus was the morning peace broken, and “the ceremony of innocence drowned.”

It was a quiet autumn Sunday morning in southeastern Virginia.  After an initial cup of coffee, Contrary realized that she was out of cigarettes (a filthy habit, yes, but not the point of this soon-to-be overheated screed.) She drove several blocks to a convenience store adjacent to the campus of the large urban university with which we share a neighborhood.

She entered the store, and immediately encountered a man displaying a large caliber weapon holstered at his side. He was not wearing a uniform, or any insignia to indicate that he should be brandishing such a weapon.   Her first thought whirled along the lines of, “Why is this man carrying a weapon? Is he going to rob the place? Might I be a hostage? Why am I being obliged to entertain thoughts about my personal safety at 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning? She managed to escape with both her Marlboros and her life. As she told me upon arriving back at our home, her first response was to be terrified. “It was a jolt. It’s incredibly disconcerting. You don’t expect to see a big fat gun on someone’s hip at 7 in the morning… It scared me.”

She was unhappy; so thus was I. Having come to near-dotage in a comfortable suburb chosen precisely because it looked a safe place to raise a family, and having lived here in suburban tranquillity for 30 years, thisunwelcome development harshed my mellow. Worse, the open carrier could well have been one of my neighbors.

Contrary’s encounter with the armed man was our most personal and direct experience of the “open carry” movement whipped up among Second Amendment fetishists and endorsed by the shock troops of the National Rifle Association, that gaggle of lickspittles and lobbyists who exist to further the aims and profits of the arms manufacturing industry.

For a brief moment this past spring, the NRA decried the growing trend of “open carry” as “weird” and “scary.” That lasted for about ten minutes as described in Reason:

Are people who assert their Second Amendment rights by bringing rifles and shotguns into stores and restaurants “weird” and “scary”? At least one staff member at the National Rifle Association (NRA) thought so, and he expressed that view in an online commentary that the organization felt compelled to retract last week after it caused an uproar among gun rights advocates.

The controversial essay, which the NRA posted on May 30, argued that protesters associated with Open Carry Texas had “crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness” by openly carrying rifles into coffee shops and restaurants. Although such displays are legal in Texas, the unnamed author said, they “can be downright scary” to people who do not understand what’s going on, and they risk alienating potential supporters, making “folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.”

That article, which was originally attributed to the NRA itself, has since disappeared from the organization’s website, replaced by a video in which Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, insists that “the National Rifle Association supports open carry…unequivocally.”

Of course they do.

A necessary disclaimer here: I have nothing against Americans executing their Second Amendment rights; indeed, my home, like many others, is insured by Smith & Wesson. Need a concealed handgun for personal protection, because you’re transporting large amounts of money, or because you are endangered by a stalker? Get your permit, and carry away. Hunting? Target shooting? Have at it. Want to amass a stockpile of small arms sufficient to arm your own band of mercs to defend your domicile, ringed by Claymores and concertina wire? It’s your right. Yet the entire phenomenon of open carry, the need for people to brandish weapons ranging from small arms to assault weapons in some overcompensating display of manhood or personal agency, is something very new.  And it seems only worth doing if done in some quasi-public space to make a point, that point in dubious taste in the wake of regular slaughter of schoolchildren and other innocents by armed crazies.

So why call “open carry” a cargo cult? In Melanesia, contact with western trading societies led to a breakdown of the old order and to the rise of commodity fetishism, a belief that certain ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of wealth or other benefits:

Cargo cults often develop during a combination of crises. Under conditions of social stress, such a movement may form under the leadership of a charismatic figure. This leader may have a “vision” (or “myth-dream”) of the future, often linked to an ancestral efficacy thought to be recoverable by a return to traditional morality. This leader may characterize the present state (often imposed by colonial capitalist regimes) as a dismantling of the old social order, meaning that social hierarchy and ego boundaries have been broken down. (Wikipedia)

Even the casual reader can limn the obvious parallels. The “myth-dream” here is that the Kenyan Usurper is coming for their gunz… When Contrary came home from her encounter, she unloaded her fear and shock to me, and I began to think about what the open carrier was trying to accomplish. Anyone who has raised a child and has learned to rise to the challenge of “being smarter than the kid” will have learned to ask, “What is the child trying to accomplish?” So my thinking went right to, “What is the open carry acolyte trying to accomplish?”

A cry for attention? Check.  To strike fear? Terror? To exact respect not otherwise forthcoming in ordinary hours? And certainly to make a point. Open carry is certainly a political statement of right wing dickwaving.  A writer runs the risk of perhaps out-kicking his coverage when speculating about the rise of open carry at the same time decent jobs have become so hard to come by, when real incomes are plummeting, when personal bankruptcies are rising, when the average age of the homeless person in the US is nine, and when every other television commercial seems to be for “male enhancement product.” Perhaps men impotent by every important traditional measure find a sense of puissance in such primate display behavior?

Part of this is the elevation of the individual to a place of primacy at the expense of the notion of the common good, part of the mischief come of our current libertarian moment. In a recent article in The Atlantic, Angela Stroud, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, has spent years researching social meanings of concealed handgun licensing. She has conducted over 40 interviews and even took the handgun license test herself to be more informed.

There are those opposed to guns who consider ‘what’s best for society’, and those who are pro-second amendment for whom the ‘greater good’ does not form part of their argument. “There is a major privileging of the individual,” she said. “And it’s a powerful experience to become enmeshed in this worldview. There’s a fear. Instead of saying that incidents like Virginia Tech rarely happen, they say that even a one-in-a-million chance of being murdered is a frightening thing. They see two major threats — one is a criminal who wants to kill you; the other is a government that wants to control you.”

And, as the case of John Crawford makes crystal clear, open carry is an exclusively whites only club. (Digby gets this one right.)

And I wasn’t the only person  to note or take exception to the open carry phenomenon as practiced in Virginia. Esquire magazine’s Robert Bateman, an active duty military officer with presumed experience with a variety of weaponry, had a similar experience in the seaside village of Wachapreague, a locale I know well.  He was in a well-known restaurant, and ironically enough, also on a quiet Sunday morning.

We were passing the Delmarva Peninsula at the time, an area I know well from my youth. My wife sat opposite me across a plain varnished pinewood table and my baby daughter sat in a high-seat next to me. Three tables of this roughly sixty-table restaurant were filled.

As we ate, looking over the beautiful waters at the Island House Restaurant in Wachapreague, I noticed over my wife’s shoulder the large man sitting in the table next to ours. It is not all that often that I notice people significantly larger than I am, but this guy qualified enough so that one could not help but look when he got up a few feet away. Going I know not where, I also noticed something else, the obvious presence of a concealed weapon at his hip, nominally, loosely “concealed” beneath his oversized T-shirt.

Really? A gun, at Sunday Brunch? Are you seriously that afraid of the 75-year-old farming couple, the only other people in the restaurant, who probably raised the daughter who babysat you 30 years ago? Or is it the middle-class transient family of three, with the baby, us, who frighten you? I mean, really, there were eight people in that restaurant at the time.

As people continue to file in, several dozen retirees joined by the after church crowd, Bateman was seized with a recognition of how utterly delusional this person was. As it turns out, the packer proudly displayed his affiliation.

What kind of idiot carries a gun in a family restaurant for family brunch? Well, that would be one of the folks influenced by the NRA-approved “Molon Labe” movement.

The dude sort of confirmed that when I noticed, a few minutes after he returned to his table, that he had the word “Molon” on his left forearm and “Labe” on his right forearm, tattooed in 2-inch letters. Or maybe it was just a Sharpie drawing he renewed periodically, I could not really tell. But either way, it was pretty obvious.

speedo-gun-guy“Molon Labe” what? “What the heck is that?” you might rightly ask…. It is the de facto motto of those people who are absolutely paranoid about how any possible changes to America’s gun culture, which wounds or kills in excess of 110,000 Americans per year lately, might be enacted by the majority of Americans.

Molon Labe purports to be the response given to the Persian king Xerxes by the Spartan king Leonidas when Xerxes demanded that the Greek force lay down their weapons. It is generally translated as, “Come and get them.” And here is where the irony strikes a dramatic, freshly-oiled pose: in choosing this quote and context, the “freedom lovers” are quoting the absolute ruler of the most rigidly controlled military state in the ancient world. Let’s recall that the Sparta of Leonidas was a state in which the individual had almost no rights save the will of the state, and which held a massive population (the “Helots”) in subjugation and slavery. Pretty much the exact opposite of freedom.

Yet the story itself is apocryphal, written by someone who was not there, and makes a point redolent with irony.  Sparta was no democracy, and whatever these people know about Greek history was learned from the movie 300.  As Bateman says,

“The Molon Labe folks are perhaps the most historically ignorant people in all of American History, and that is saying quite a lot.”

HL Mencken once famously pointed out, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Molon Labe, indeed.

The Republic is now in the grips of people who believe it is their God given right to carry automatic weapons into Target, Starbucks, Kroger’s, and even my local Miller Mart adjacent to Old Dominion University. They make the rules, via having become a noisy and unpleasant minority with no sense of decency. And it is their moment: the enthusiasms are theirs. The vast majority make no sound in protest, we sit on our hands during an election cycle through disaffection or disgust, and cede public life to those who view public life as combat, not compromise.  Thus is Yeats (“The Second Coming”) made flesh:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

gunz

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and is grateful each day for the life he has with her, and that he is not yet taking a dirt nap.

The Week That Was in Doom June 1, 2014

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on June 1, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

bilderberg6

“The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. …  They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. 

“You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all… It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.”

― George Carlin

 

It has been a week less potent with news events than with movements and shifts with long term consequences. Not sure than anyone outside the Beltway has begun to wrap their minds around the consequences of the Russia-China energy and trade deal. Besides having a trillion dollars of planned trade not settled in petrodollars, what do you suppose having China as a trading partner is going to do the bite of sanctions? And how will the EU feel when they are shivering in the dark, waiting for the endless flow of fracked hydrocarbons from Saudi America? Mammon remains hungry, as a mounting toll of senseless and preventable deaths reflects our appetite for weapons and lack of common sense. And the Bildaboogers were at it again, enjoying a gathering you weren’t invited to, not that you’re bitter. You’re not in the club. Welcome to “The Week That Was in Doom-” a fascinating week, so let’s go right to the videotape.

Last week, we wrote about Fukushima, and the environmental catastrophe unfolding on the Pacific Rim. All of which will, in the fullness of time, be playing At a Theater Near You. More recent news from the Far East: China and Russia inked a little deal that some say herald the beginning of a new “Eurasian century.”

“Geopolitical Earthquake” That Is Historic China Russia Agreement Not Appreciated

The agreement between Putin and Jinpeng last week is historic, not only because trade between the two economic superpowers will not be carried out in dollars, but also because locking in China as a customer for all of those Russian hydrocarbons throws a trump on NATO’s plan to use sanctions to punish the Russians for what they are doing (or thinking about doing) in Ukraine.

The deal goes beyond just hydrocarbons. The two countries are considering joint construction of power plants in Russia, including nuclear power plants. Yes, in Russia. What could possibly go wrong? The Chinese are also making suggestions to the Germans that they use existing rail lines to decrease cargo travel time from eastern China to Europe.

And what potential quid for the pro quo might China exact? You might recall China flexing its  muscles lately with Japan in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, and this past week with Vietnam in the Paracels (see below). A little Russian help with the Security Council vis-à-vis Japan couldn’t hurt. From the Russian perspective, having another friendly face (and vote) at the UN in re Ukraine, Syria, and Iran might prove useful in further negotiations with Western neocon – controlled regimes.

According to a report in Goldcore, Russia will sail $1 trillion worth of natural gas to China, all of which will be settled in rubles and yuan. If you are scoring at home, you might remember that in July, the BRICS Development Bank was announced as an alternative to the IMF for the developing world. None of which is good news for the petrodollar. If you read the Goldcore article, these guys positively are giddy about the prospects for gold, what with Ukraine simmering and the usual unrest in the usual sewers in the Middle East. Not to mention the potential flight into safety of American wealth as the rentier class wakes up to what the rest of the world is acting like it already knows. Given the state of what passes for media in this country, that won’t be happening anytime soon.

 

Situation in Paracels- China Attacks, Sinks Vietnamese Fishing Vessel

On Tuesday, as China pressed oil drilling claims in the South China Sea off the Paracel Islands (waters which Vietnam also claims). China had amassed a virtual armada of over 70 vessels around the Paracels around its oil rig. Yahoo Japan reported that “a Vietnamese fishing vessel is sunk after being rammed by a Chinese vessel and the 10 fishermen have been rescued.” Stern communiqués ensued. Here’s Vietnam’s:

According to new information received, at 16 am on 26/5, the Chinese fishing boat collided number 11209 90 152 DNA sinking fishing boats of fishermen in South southwest of Da Nang, Hai Duong rig – rig by 981 and 17 nm , is a traditional fishing grounds, under the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam.

In 10/10 fishermen on board the ship Da Nang we picked and safe rescue.

At the time of the incident, there are 40 Chinese fishing boats surrounded unruly group of our vessels.

ZeroHedge reported the “verbal grenades” tossed by both sides of the dispute:

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry held a press conference on Friday when officials stressed the country’s historical claim to the Paracels.

“Historical and legal evidence shows that Vietnam has absolute sovereignty in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos,” said Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Vietnam’s National Border Committee.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang disagreed.

“Seeing that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry held a press conference last Friday on the subject, I felt it was extremely ridiculous,” he said at a briefing on Monday. “The Paracels are the indisputable territory of the Chinese people.”

At other times, a face-off between fleets of fishing vessels might seem to be a fit subject for musical comedy. But things are a bit antsier today. Think ahead to the end game: the prospect of the United States intervening to help Vietnam assert territorial claims vis-à-vis mainland China? View that through the lens of someone whose friends and relatives served in the war in Vietnam, and get back to me.

Gunz

The post-Sandy Hook toll of gun violence continues without respite here in the FSoA, where any suggestion of common sense or political will to curtail the availability of automatic weapons and other mass killing devices is met with the snarling fury of the National Rifle Association, lobbyist for the weapons manufacturers. Any attempt to limit the availability of such weapons is met with righteous indignation as curtailing “our freedom.”  Your scribe looks on wistfully, wishing that the ardor brought in defense of the Second Amendment might have been utilized in defense of the First, Fourth, Fifth and Eighth. Just sayin’.

Even before Elliot Rodger went on a shooting spree in Isla Vista California, there were at least 80 gun related deaths across the country, according to Huffington Post.

That these shootings failed to garner the national attention that the one in Isla Vista did shouldn’t shock anyone who has followed the gun control debate. High-profile instances of gun violence are more likely to grab the spotlight than the everyday scourge of gun-related killings. And certainly, the shooting of three (and stabbing of three others) by the 22-year-old son of a Hollywood director who happened to leave a dark, depressing trail of self-made YouTube videos qualifies as high-profile.

But instances such as the one at UC Santa Barbara are rare in respect to gun-related homicides. In fact, FBI data shows that there were 900 people who died in mass shootings from 2006 through 2012. By contrast, firearms were used in 11,078 homicides in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Huffpo article notes that many of the shootings failed to garner press attention outside of their own localities. Perhaps we have become as inured to them as acceptable “background noise” for our insane culture as we have to “greed is good.” Both violence and greed are BAU in the FSA.

No need for an alternative blog to mention the work of The Grey Lady, but the New York Times’ Joe Nocera has been publishing “The Gun Report.” It is poignant to read for the matter of factness of it all; pulled from local news reports, the blog recounts in declarative journalistic style the people, many of them children, killed and injured by gun violence the past week. It concludes: 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 7,650 people have been injured by gun violence in America and 4,358 have been killed since Jan. 1, 2014. That number includes 15 police officers killed, 475 children injured or killed and 355 instances of defensive gun use.

To which I’ll add this local item that I came across this morning:

James Andrew Brown II, of Norfolk, Va. was previously charged with assaulting an officer and carrying a loaded weapon, but but he got the charged reduced to a misdemeanor, so that he could exercise his Second Amendment rights, and continue to “open carry”. He was known around his neighborhood as “Wyatt Earp” because he always carried a gun on his hip. Friday May 30 Mr. Brown randomly killed a 17-yr old high school junior and an on-duty police officer, wounded a second police officer, before a third officer killed Brown. Everybody thought he was just another “good guy with a gun”. 

Res ipsa loquitur.

 

 

Bilderberg

The Bilderburgers were it again this week, with all the hue and cry, hand wringing and consternation that their meeting generates. There are those who insist that this notoriously secretive gathering of the world’s most powerful bankers, politicians and business people meet behind closed doors to create a new world government. For its part, the official Bilderberg website is as mild as mother’s milk:

Bilderberg is an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America.
Every year, between 120-150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference. About two thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields.
The conference is a forum for informal discussions about megatrends and major issues facing the world. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor of any other participant may be revealed.
There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.

Much was made on RT and some other sites about the so-called “secret agenda” leaked. If you really want to know here it is:

1. Nuclear diplomacy and the deal with Iran currently in the making.
2. Gas deal between Russia and China.
3. Rise of nationalist moods in Europe.
4. EU internet privacy regulations.
5. Cyberwarfare and its potential effect on internet freedoms.
6. From Ukraine to Syria, Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
7. Climate change.
8. The new architecture of the Middle East
9. Ukraine
10. The future of democracy and the middle class trap

Read RT’s reporting here, and The Guardian’s snark at not being able to get inside here. The Bilderberg Group has been at this for six decades, and any gaggle of the world’s most influential individuals, politicians, officials, businessmen, academics and European royalty (dare we say Illuminati?) who regularly gather to discuss global policy issues is going to attract critics. And there is little doubt that these days this group is under far more scrutiny than before. Some see them as acting as a shadow unelected government, de facto rulers of the world, making decisions affecting billions him behind closed doors, with little regard for the needs or wishes of mere proles. What is ironic is that, of the subjects listed on the so-called “secret agenda,” most have been addressed in this space over the past weeks. But then ironies abound.

 

And in closing–

Real Life Mosquito Tornado Is Far More Terrifying Than Sharknado

Photo credit: Ana Filipa Scarpa

Damn…  and from io9, this:

While visiting Leziria Grande at Vila Franca de Xira in Portugal recently, photographer Ana Filipa Scarpa noticed something off in the distance that resembled a funnel cloud. But it wasn’t a tornado, or even a funnel for that matter. Rather, it was something… alive.

What you’re seeing here is an insect swarm. A swarm of mosquitoes, to be exact.

“It was a very high funnel swinging to the left and to the right. I pointed my camera and began shooting before it hit me. But the funnel did not move toward me — and I thought it was so strange — so I got into my car and started to drive towards it, and that’s when I realized it was a mosquito twister.”

As she drove nearer, the mosquitoes actually started entering into her car.

Leziria Grande de Vila Franca de Xira is a highly fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, Scarpa told me, because there are many water branches to assure water to animals and harvests.

Scarpa says the swarm extended about 1,000 feet high and was nearly a quarter mile (300 meters) from her position.

 

And if the rest of this week’s analysis is not left your skin crawling, this last item certainly will.
***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and a shifting menagerie of women both young and young at heart.

 

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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