July 22, 2016
Original Sin

You always knew this, of course, but still it’s nice to see it confirmed by an expert. From Harper’s Magazine, by Dan Baum:

In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results? Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “war on drugs” and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”



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Historical Perspectives | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | Republicans | Weakening America
July 20, 2016
Let's You and Him Fight

Both Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were serial draft dodgers. Go to the links. Neither is a patriot. Both are cowards. I use the word patriot here not in its larger sense, but in the narrower one which they themselves so simplemindedly employ. Coward I use in its customary sense.

It may be that both men are aware of their own cowardice, and that this explains their constant fawning (on full and fulsome display at the convention) over big, strong military men. But this is almost certainly not the case. Sociopaths, by definition, are incapable of self-examination.



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Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans | Warmongers
July 19, 2016
What a Fool I Was…

…I wrote speeches for two presidential campaigns and a president and I never thought of this:



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Arts and Literature | Elections | Republicans | Reveling in the Weird
Trump’s House N-word

In case you missed this yesterday:

Hello Republicans! I’m Pastor Mark Burns from the great state of South Carolina! I’m going to pray and I’m going to give the benediction. And you know why? Because we are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ. And Republicans, we got to be united because our enemy is not other Republicans — but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Let’s pray together. Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him, the you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God.

To defeat every attack that comes against us, to protect the life of Donald Trump, give him the words, give him the space, give him the power and the authority to be the next President of the United States of America, in Jesus’ name — if you believe it, shout Amen!



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An Angel Directs the Storm | Idiots | Politics and Religion | Race | Reveling in the Weird
Stupid Is As Stupid Does

It becomes plainer by the day that the Trump team — Manafort’s babblings below stand out for incompetence even in this crowd — couldn’t manage a two-car funeral. And this certainly includes Little Donnie himself. We know from which end a fish rots.

Trump communications adviser Jason Miller, in a response early Tuesday, acknowledged that Melania Trump plagiarized “fragments” of her speech and referred to a “team of writers,” essentially refuting her claim that she wrote the speech.

“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” Miller said in a statement. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Tuesday tried to shift blame for the plagiarism issue to Hillary Clinton supporters. “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” he said on CNN’s “New Day.” “These were common words and values that she cares about — her family, things like that.”

“I mean, she was speaking in front of 35 million people last night,” Mr. Manafort said. “She knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

“I mean, this is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”


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Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird
July 18, 2016
Invitation to a Hunging

From Tristateupdate.com:

Michael Folk, a republican for the West Virginia House of Delegates representing District 63, is in hot water after a tweet he posted Friday night. The tweet, quoted as saying, “Hillary Clinton, you should be tried for treason, murder, and crimes against the US Constitution... then hung on the Mall in Washington, DC.”
Michael, Michael. It’s “hanged,” not “hung.” Hung is what Little Donnie wishes he was.



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Turns Out There’s Another Gutter…

…beneath the Republicans’ regular one. And so the GOP groped around down there until it managed to fish up a candidate so debased that he makes Tricky Dick Nixon look classy. From History News Network:

Critics of Pres. Richard M. Nixon regarded him as a politician who not only wanted to defeat his enemy, but to destroy him. Yet, in his presidential re-election bid in 1972 when he ran against Sen. George McGovern (D-SD), Nixon showed restraint by keeping a secret that could have wrecked McGovern’s career. This information concerned the fact that McGovern had fathered an out-of-wedlock child in 1941 when he was an 18 year-old college student.



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American Heroes | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans | Rich White Trash
American Idiocy

Full grown adults are wandering into traffic and getting killed playing Pokemon. They also pay twelve bucks to see superhero movies and think Batman versus Superman is a worthy topic of debate. Donald Trump might become president.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the way a species goes extinct.

Downward into the void, my friends.


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July 17, 2016
The Adoring Waste Of Souls

Just for the hell of it, here’s a poem by James Joyce called “Nightpiece.”

Gaunt in gloom,
The pale stars their torches,
Enshrouded, wave.
Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume,
Arches on soaring arches,
Night's sindark nave.

The lost hosts awaken
To service till
In moonless gloom each lapses muted, dim,
Raised when she has and shaken
Her thurible.

And long and loud,
To night's nave upsoaring,
A starknell tolls
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.


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July 16, 2016
Two Logos…

…with butt a single theme:



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Arts and Literature | Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird
July 14, 2016
Man Bites Snake!

No, not in Cleveland. In Karachi.This just in from Gulf News Pakistan:

Islamabad: Around 100 snakes have been ruthlessly killed as part of a so-called magic show at the Karachi zoo, it was reported on Tuesday.

Titled “The snake-eating man”, the stunt has been attracting hundreds of visitors since the first day of Eid and is likely to continue for a few more days, the Dawn reported.

The snakes are killed by a performer who breaks their necks with his teeth before skinning them, and tasting their blood dripping from their mutilated bodies…

“The show is being held only for a few days and in no way damages the public image of the zoo,” director Fahim Khan said.



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Animal blogging | Reveling in the Weird | Snakes
July 13, 2016
Gutter Journalism

How come all the GOP can come up with is Carly Fiorina, and the Scottish Conservatives get Ruth Davidson? Our Thailand correspondent, Thaan Win, sends along the following:

OK, Here's the actual quotation by Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives as reported in The Guardian:

“That's the difference between our two parties: Labour is still fumbling with its flies while the Tories are enjoying their post-coital cigarette. After withdrawing our massive Johnson,” she added, making the room full of reporters, politicians and advisers, burst out laughing.

“I didn’t say that, you can’t report that, and it would be gutter journalism of the highest order if you wrote down exactly what I’ve just said,” she added, in a joke aimed at Leadsom, who criticised a journalist after her controversial comments on motherhood were published.



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Reveling in the Weird
July 12, 2016
Nothing New Under the Sun

I am rereading, by no means for the first time, Thurman Arnold’s great book, The Folklore of Capitalism. Published in 1937, it has aged well. Sad to say. These excerpts are from chapter eight, “The Personification of Corporation.”
The Supreme Court of the United States, because it could express better than any other institution the myth of the corporate personality, was able to hamper federal powers to an extent which foreigners, not realizing the emotional power of the myth, could not understand. This court invented most of the ceremonies which kept the myth alive and preached about them in the most dramatic setting. It dressed huge corporations in the clothes of simple farmers and merchants and thus made attempts to regulate them appear as attacks on liberty and the home. So long as men instinctively thought of these great organizations as individuals, the emotional analogies of home and freedom and all the other trappings of “rugged individualism” became their most potent protection…

This entire volume could be filled with the queer effects of the personification of industrial enterprises in mixing ceremony with the production and distribution of goods. Control of great organizations drifted out of the hands of those who knew the techniques of the business and into the hands of bankers. Stock manipulation became more important in control than efficiency of production. Organizations competed with each other in building magnificent structures for pure show in order to gain dignity and prestige in the company of their peers…

Nothing in the Middle Ages compares for sheer fantasy with the holding company, or with modern security manipulation by which control of large organizations may be obtained without investment risk. Equally fantastic was the notion that a corporation had the rights of a citizen of the state which incorporated it. This permitted the use of the sacred doctrine of states rights to hamper regulation of industrial empires which had no connection with any particular state…


…Read on

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America is Doomed | Class Warriors | Economics and Society | Historical Perspectives
July 11, 2016
Hillary Listens

Ezra Klein has just written the most useful look at Hillary Clinton that I’ve seen anywhere. Here’s a short snippet from it:

This is not a profile of Hillary Clinton. It is not a review of her career or an assessment of her campaign. You won’t find any shocking revelations on her emails, on Benghazi, on Whitewater, or even on her health care plan.

This is an effort to answer a question I’ve been struggling with since at least 2008: Why is the Hillary Clinton described to me by her staff, her colleagues, and even her foes so different from the one I see on the campaign trail?



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Political Commentary | Presidential Hopefuls
July 08, 2016
The People’s Republic of North Dakota

Yves Smith tells you something you didn’t know. North Dakota? Apart from a lonely Democratic senator, North Dakota’s government is about as deep red as you can get.

In 1932, North Dakotans voted 57 to 43 to ban corporations from owning or leasing farmland. In 1963, the legislature enacted a law that required pharmacies be owned by a state-registered pharmacist. The effect was to ban chains, except those operating at the time the law was passed. In 1980, North Dakotans voted to establish a State Housing Finance Agency to provide mortgages to low-income households.

In recent years several of these laws protecting independent farmers and businesses have come under attack by big corporations. After several attempts by Big Pharmacy failed to convince the legislature to repeal the Pharmacy Ownership Law, Walmart spent $9.3 million to finance a ballot initiative. In November 2014, the initiative lost by a vote of 59-41.

In 2015, big corporations did convince the legislature to overturn the 1932 anti-corporate farming law. This June, North Dakotans voted to reinstate the old law by a resounding margin of 76-24.

Today the economic structure of North Dakota reflects its focus on independent and cooperative businesses. The Pharmacy Ownership law, for example, has markedly benefited North Dakota. A report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) found that on every key measure of pharmacy care, including quality and the price of drugs, North Dakota’s independent pharmacies outperform those of neighboring states and the U.S. as a whole. Unsurprisingly North Dakota also has more pharmacies per capita than other states. Its rural residents are more likely to have a nearby pharmacist.

North Dakota’s banking system reflects a similar community-based structure. An analysis by ILSR found that, on a per capita basis, the state boasts almost six times as many locally owned financial institutions as the rest of the nation (89 small and mid-sized community banks and 38 credit unions). These control 83 percent of the deposits of the state. North Dakota’s community banks have given 400 percent more small business loans than the national average. Student loan rates are among the lowest in the country.

As Stacy Mitchell, director of ILSR’s Community-Scaled Economy Initiativeobserves, “While the publicly owned BND might well be characterized as a socialist institution, it has had the effect of enabling North Dakota’s local banks to be very successful capitalists.” In recent years, local banks in North Dakota have earned a return on capital nearly twice that of the nation’s largest 20 banks.



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Economics and Society | Glimmers of Sanity | Historical Perspectives | The Problem with Capitalism
July 07, 2016
Hillary’s First Hundred Days

What can we expect during the first hundred days of a Clinton presidency? The New York Times lets us know:

Should she win the presidency, Hillary Clinton would quickly try to find common ground with Republicans on an immigration overhaul and infrastructure spending, risking the wrath of liberals who would like nothing more than to twist the knife in a wounded opposition party.
Economic inequality is destroying the United States. It’s fractured the Republicans, led to the emergence of a proto-fascist demagogue, and nearly cost Hillary the democratic nomination (to a socialist, no less). It’s warping the entire character of this nation and gradually turning it into a third world country. It is the fundamental political problem of our time, and it’s causing upheavals not just in the United States but in Europe as well. Ignoring it constitutes political malfeasance of the highest order.

But our next president and her handlers, tucked away in the soundproof womb of the Beltway, don’t see or hear any of it. The tectonic plates of history are shifting and buckling beneath their feet, but when they put their big brains together all they can come up with is … bipartisan immigration reform!

This is vision on the level of a Warren Harding or a James Buchanan. At best, this is the usual bipartisan happy talk that all candidates have to use to sooth the folks and reassure the powerful. At worst, it reflects a staggering disconnectedness from the actual world.

And how will Hillary achieve this bipartisan miracle? Simple. she’s going to change the upholstery, and this is somehow going to make the car run better:

In her first 100 days, she would also tap women to make up half of her cabinet in hopes of bringing a new tone and collaborative sensibility to Washington, while also looking past Wall Street to places like Silicon Valley for talent — perhaps wooing Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and maybe asking Tim Cook from Apple to become the first openly gay cabinet secretary.

Women, gays and Silicon Valley CEOs are going to bring a new tone! Sounds like a brave new world to me. Why hasn’t anybody ever thought of this before?

This from a campaign that routinely derided Sander’s supporters as shallow naifs, as foolish children who believed in change fairies and unicorns and thought you could just wave a magic wand and get things done.

She’s incapable of thinking beyond the narrow Washington group-think that has formed her entire worldview. She’s spent a lifetime inside the bowels of the establishment, which can only be done if you never rock the boat and never go below the surface politics of things. Even if she does grasp the fundamentals of our predicament, she would never have the political will to act on it. It would go against the grain of her entire life. She will tinker around the edges, like Obama and her husband before her, a nip here, a tuck there, and rainbow colored band-aids everywhere, while the great rotting barge of the country drifts ever closer to the iceberg. Putting her in the White House at this moment in history is like putting an orthodontist in charge of a major heart operation.


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July 06, 2016
Those Were the Good Old Days

Nick Turse compares upwardly failing retired general and push-up champion David Petraeus with the man who won World War II:

General George C. Marshall reportedly refused a number of lucrative offers to write his memoirs, including the then-princely sum of a million dollars after taxes from Time and Life publisher Henry Luce. He did so on the grounds that it was unethical to profit from service to the United States or to benefit from the sacrifices of the men who had served under him, supposedly telling one publisher “that he had not spent his life serving the government in order to sell his life story to the Saturday Evening Post.” In his last years, he finally cooperated with a biographer and gave his archives to the George C. Marshall Research Foundation on “the condition that no monetary returns from a book or books based on his materials would go to him or his family but would be used for the research program of the Marshall Foundation.” Even his biographer was asked to “waive the right to any royalties from the biography.” Marshall also declined to serve on any corporate boards.

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American Heroes | Idiots
July 05, 2016
Glad We Got That Straightened Out

From The Huffington Post

CORRECTION: This article has been updated with the correct nickname of Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie. A previous version of the story incorrectly identified him as Matt “The Megaton” Stonie.


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Animal blogging | Good Eats | Reveling in the Weird
“Lemme hear that dirty word: socialism!”

The western world is in crisis as shown by the Trump phenomenon and the Brexit vote.

Some call it reductionist to claim immigration and racism are not central to the discontent. But imagine for a moment a world unlike the current one in which every individual had enough: food, housing, clothing, medical care, transportation provided for all. In such a world, I argue, racism would remain a factor in social and political life, but its impact would be reduced because some subset of this issue involves unearned white privilege and a sense that something I’m due as, for example, a white American I’m not getting because someone with a darker skin color has cut line in front of me. This undeniably racist sentiment is ugly and must be confronted for what it is, must be shown to be culturally unacceptable. But I claim it is separate from the issue that everyone must be provided for economically.

A universal basic income is one of many approaches that might create this world. But to approach the issue from the viewpoint of technique is to miss the main point: capitalism is failing on the world stage. It fails to meet its stated goal of providing a good life for all because its basic premise prevents such an outcome. What, after all, is capital? It is the profit accumulated from the efforts of labor to convert raw materials, whether they be coal and iron or data, into finished products. That difference in value is created by labor and the results should accrue, at least mostly, to labor. In capitalism, it accumulates into the hands of capitalists, who quickly become more powerful than labor, able to dictate terms that keep labor underpaid and dependent. Such a system by its very nature does not distribute the fruits, it concentrates them. That is indeed its stated goal.

One can argue that in times of scarce resources capitalism provides efficiencies unavailable to more egalitarian systems. But as noted as early as Keynes, we no longer live in such times. The question now is how to distribute the necessities of life to every individual in the world at this wonderful new stage in which humanity is richer than it’s ever been throughout history. One thing is certain: capitalism will not provide an answer to a question antithetical to its basic premise.

On the other hand, socialism is designed precisely to answer this question. Its basic premise as I understand it is that decisions affecting society as a whole should be made with society as the prime beneficiary. This does not mean Elon Musk shouldn’t have a higher income than a clerical worker; it means social policy should not focus on enriching the rich at the cost of impoverishing others, as it currently undeniably does. It is, for example, manifestly not in society’s interest for some people to own multiple houses and yachts while others cannot feed their children, let alone themselves. If by democratic means we were to create a solution for that problem, we would boost both our productivity and our morality; we would be participating in the creation of a fairer state. To me it seems obvious that incorporating socialist ideals is a requirement of the world that has evolved.

This will of course require changes in our sense of morality. Many now believe that slackers deserve to be hungry; but considered from a high level socially-oriented viewpoint everyone having enough provides more positives than negatives, and as a group we benefit even if some take advantage of the situation. Morality must evolve along with ideology; refusing viable work, for instance, might become similar to publicly expressing racist sentiments: something not acceptable to SOCIETY and not considered viable as a lifestyle.

Thus I stand with J. Billington Bulworth in saying, “Let me hear that dirty word: socialism!” Great movie, ignore the IMDB rating; it's more valuable than that 6.8 captures. Check it out if you’ve never…


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Economics and Society
July 03, 2016
Name That Holiday

War movies and sports are on TV. American flags are everywhere. You smell hot dogs, and all day long you’ve been urged to give thanks and remember the troops (living or dead? You can’t remember) because they gave us our freedom. Every half-ass used car salesmen and furniture store is running ads that beat you over the head with their patriotism. There is a peculiar listlessness to it all. People’s joy seems perfunctory, or at any rate less natural than on a typical Friday night. They’re doing what they do because that’s what you always do that day.

What holiday is being celebrated? Is it Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July? Does it matter?


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July 02, 2016
The Old Gang

Thanks to Facebook, I get to see which of my high school chums turned into right wing morons. There are a couple, mostly gun worshiping NRA zealots (with a smattering of climate change denial thrown in for fun. It reveals itself in smug quips that they think are debate stoppingly witty, but in fact are just witlessly, debate stoppingly stupid, like, “It just snowed here. Suck on that, Al Gore, yuk yuk).

They are walking, talking examples of the need for increased spending on education, which of course they oppose with guns at the ready, like Thomas Jefferson would have wanted (and George Washington too, or didn’t you commie libs learn American history in school?)

It’s a study in disappointment, another grim life lesson learned. They were so nice and fun when we were young, and now they are just, well, not. Sometimes it’s better to lose touch.

I’m not the butter-cheeked optimist I used to be either, but I didn’t become a belligerent, gun-loving misanthrope the day I discovered the boss is an asshole. These guys did. These guys became touchy and defensive “libertarians” the minute they had to start paying child support or were fined fifty bucks by the DMV. Such are the mundane traumas that drive our hysterical right; such are the oppressions that call these patriots to arms.

If I was watching from a different planet I’d piss my pants laughing, assuming I hadn’t been bored into a coma first.


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Coulter Outs Clinton as Gay!

No, not Hillary. Bill. Ann Coulter’s proof is that he didn’t know Monica Lewinsky’s first name. Well, one of her proofs. For the full story on our eighth gay president, take a look:


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America is Doomed | Reveling in the Weird
A Sorry State of Affairs

A propos of nothing, here’s a piece I did for The Harvard Crimson in 1986 while I was teaching there:
Several years ago scores of passengers came down with severe diarrhea after eating a meal aboard a Japan Air Lines jet. It turned out that a food handler at a stopover in Alaska had caused the outbreak by coming to work, in violation of airline rules, with an infected cut on his thumb.

Just one of those things, and, fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. Until a few days later, when the Japanese executive in charge of JAL’s food service department apologized to everyone concerned by committing suicide.

Americans react differently to these matters. After the leaky booster rocket made by his company caused Challenger to explode, the chairman of Morton Thiokol was asked if he should have resigned. His name is Charles S. Locke. Here is what Mr. Locke said: “You explain to me why I should.”

We don’t go in much for kid stuff like responsibility or honor, here in the Land of the Setting Sun.

And so I was mildly surprised a few weeks ago to read that Bernard Kalb, a former newsman, had resigned as State Department spokesman on what sounded a good deal like a point of personal honor. It was like seeing a cow eat a chocolate bar; no physical reason why the thing can’t be done, but you don’t run across it every day…

…Read on

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June 29, 2016

I know it’s tough, people, but how about looking in a mirror now and then? Linh Dinh shows you how:

While Clinton compares Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, Sanders states, “To temper Russian aggression, we must freeze Russian government assets all over the world, and encourage international corporations with huge investments in Russia to divest from that nation’s increasingly hostile political aims.”

Russia is a threat to world peace, they both agree. In boring reality, however, it is the United States that has surrounded Russia with missiles, staged provocative war games on Russia’s borders and pushed Georgia and Ukraine into wars with Russia.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is used by Big Brother to fan hatred and paranoia of Muslims. From 9/11 to the Orlando Shooting, every “Muslim” terror attack on American soil has been framed and narrated, with no real evidence, by Big Brother. As with the Boston Bombing, Portland Christmas Tree Plot and the Shoe Bomber Plot, etc., Big Brother has either steered and coached the alleged terrorists, or had foreknowledge of them.

In boring reality, the US has also attacked Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan and Syria. Waging war on all these Muslim countries, the US has killed millions and generated millions more in refugees. According to Big Brother, however, the US is not a most brutal and systematic assailant of Muslims, but their hapless target.

Killing Muslims and stealing their land, Israel has also painted itself as a civilized, dignified and unbelievably restrained victim of barbaric Muslim terror.

Without Israel, the US would not be killing and demonizing Muslims endlessly, nor would it suffer these terror attacks pinned on Muslims. Without Israel, not just the US but the entire world would be much more peaceful.



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Historical Perspectives | Our Long National Nightmare | War on "Terror" | Warmongers | Weakening America
Our Hideous Prospects

Okay, I won’t bash Hillary anymore. We’re acutely aware of her flaws. We know she is distressingly hawkish and neoliberal. We know she is a dull, stale, depressingly conventional figure and her policies will reflect that. She’ll deliver four years of tepid, lackluster, gruel and tap water “leadership” that’s going to teach us all what it was like to live under Millard Fillmore. “Living History” indeed. Her atrocious sycophants — the Lanny Davis, Susan Estrich types — will invade the airwaves like a pestilence to convince us she’s the greatest thing since Roosevelt, and they will accuse the opposition of sexism at every goddamn turn because that’s all they’ll have.

Meanwhile, the screeching apes on the right will howl that she’s a lezzo feminist pinko bent on destroying the Constitution. Good God, it’s enough to make us want to renounce our citizenship and become a gardener in Uruguay.

And every evening we will scratch our head and wonder how the country of our birth degenerated into such a ludicrous cartoon madhouse. Are we really this awful?

Obnoxious sound and obnoxious fury signifying absolutely fucking nothing.

But we must vote for her, and we will, because her opponent is Donald Trump, a dangerous, stunted narcissist who must never, ever, ever be allowed to wield power.

This is the best we can do.


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June 27, 2016
Take That, Beethoven!

From Slipped Disc:

We’ve just seen the Nielsen Soundscan sales ratings for last week and can pronounce, in full confidence, that fewer classical records were sold than at any time since records were kept.

For the first time, no release sold as many as 100 copies in the entire USA – that’s CD sales and downloads combined.

Of the enfeebled remainder, the top three consisted of two albums of monkish chant and one of Yo Yo Ma.



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June 25, 2016
Inside The Clinton White House, 2018

Once again, the Democrats have been shellacked in the midterms. There is stunned disbelief in the White House. Niether Hillary nor her political team saw it coming, which was surprising because they were the most diverse group of experts ever to be assembled from both Harvard and Yale. They were the brightest minds in the country, a group Thomas Friedman compared favorably to presidential brain trusts of the past. Think JFK with an iPhone, he gushed, trying to convey something of their sheer dazzling awesomeness to an unenlightened public.

They were young, hip, dynamic and cutting edge. Thinking outside the box and pushing boundaries was mother’s milk to them. Hell, they practically did it in their sleep. They watched Game of Thrones, compulsively used Twitter, and put cute little emojis in their email correspondence …

They told Hillary to resurrect TPP and fast track it through Congress. She did. They told to her cut Social Security. She did. They told her to go easy on Wall Street. She did. They told not to raise the minimum wage. She didn’t. They said strengthen ties with Israel, get tough with Putin, and when it came to Syria and ISIS, there were only four little words: boots on the ground. Done, done and done.

Then, shockingly, the Democrats got trounced, and none of Hillary’s bright young political sharpies had the faintest idea why. They frantically texted back and forth that it was, like, the Dark Side had won, and, like, Sith lords controlled America!

Now Hillary was staring down the barrel of Republican domination and one term mediocrity. Was it possible that the most qualified candidate in the history of the universe would rank alongside like Herbert Hoover or, gasp, G.H.W. Bush? Despair grips the White House. The atmosphere is funereal.

President Clinton gazes out of the Oval Office, cradling a cup of herbal tea with both hands. It is her second cup in a row — an unseemly indulgence, to be sure, but these were extraordinary times. Surely Hugh Rodham, glowering down from his Methodist heaven, wouldn’t begrudge her this minor lapse? She had, after all, earned straight A’s at Wellesley and became America’s first female president.

Huma Abedin tip toes up as quietly as a mortician and whispers in Hillary’s ear: “Jeb Bush sends his condolences. He says he knows exactly how you feel.”

…Read on

Posted by OHollern at 1:45 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (2)
June 24, 2016
Bad Press

Ever wonder why your local paper went out of business long ago or sucks so much it might as well have? A 1999 article in the American Journalism Review has your answer. Excerpts:

In addition to minding the books, Ryerson says he had to monitor the amount of film the photographers used, check odometer readings in employees’ cars against expense accounts, and lock up the supply cabinet “because people would be stealing tape to take home for Christmas presents…”

As in New Haven, she says, the operations manager was ordered to check the odometer readings in reporters’ cars. “When you’re paying people so little — we paid $17,000 — and then you sneak around like that, it makes people feel like dirt…”

On JRC’s first day at the helm, September 27, 1993 — still known there as “takeover day” — the company fired 25 employees. Under family ownership the paper had weathered the lean years of the recession without layoffs, so the cuts shocked employees. “They lined us up in two lines like cattle,” recalls Maureen Burk, an advertising sales representative. Each line led to a different set of strangers who would rule on their future. As the top salesperson in her department, Burk was “totally confident” she would keep her job. When she entered a conference room, she says, the new publisher smiled broadly, then told her, “We have no place for you.” When she walked out, “people were crying and sobbing. One woman took her arm and swept everything off her desk…”

The executive called him “an ignorant moron,” Penick says. “I wrote it down. ‘Ignorant moron.’ ” But what triggered his resignation was an incident that took place at another budget meeting — on a Saturday — when he got a message that his son, who lived with his ex-wife in Illinois, had been injured in an automobile accident. He told the group he had to catch a plane. “They said, ‘No, you can’t leave. How bad is he? Call the hospital.’ I said, ‘I don’t believe you people. I’m leaving right now.’ “ Penick now manages home delivery for the Indianapolis Star and News.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:18 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Media | Our Sordid Press Corps
June 18, 2016
What Would The NRA’s Ideal Country Look Like?

I’ve never had strong opinions about gun control, but I find myself utterly detesting the NRA and and its legions of brain dead gun zealots. They just drive me up the wall. I don’t really care that much about guns. If Billy Bob and Darrell want to run off into the woods in their camos and play Rambo with their rifles, that’s fine by me. In fact, I would prefer that they do that instead of engaging in activities that are more directly harmful to society, like, say, voting or breeding. But every time I hear some conservative asshole say that more guns equal less crime, or that it takes a “good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,” I want to kick him in the nuts and put him on the first flight to Somalia, where there is no debate about gun control or the nanny state.

Let him see a truly libertarian paradise in action. Let him see how “more guns equal less crime.” Let him see how well his liberty is preserved in a country where open-carry is zealously practiced by armed gangs of young men. Let him see what happens when one group of “good guys with guns” tries to stop another group of “bad guys with guns.”

Anybody who tells you that putting more guns into more people’s hands makes you safer is a lying mercenary for the NRA, a moron, or a lunatic. Would you honestly feel safer if every eighteen year old male in the country went around with an AR-15? Would that make you feel secure? Would that encourage you to exercise your right to free speech?

What happens when a group of these ardent Second Amendment freedom lovers goes bad? What happens when they decide they want to rape your daughter? Are you gonna just whip out your magnum and shoot ’em up, like in the movies? You wouldn’t have time. Knowing you were armed, they would have taken your ass out right away. You’d be dead on the ground faster than you can say “well-regulated militia.”

But it’s okay, because in our NRA Utopia everyone is armed, so another citizen, let’s call him Good Guy One, pulls his gun and starts blazing away at those Bad Guys! Problem solved, right?

Except Good Guy One’s first shot misses and hits a bystander. The Bad Guys then turn and start blasting at him. Bullets are flying everywhere. There is utter chaos and pandemonium. You and your daughter are dead. Viva freedom!

Enter Good Guy Two, locked and loaded and ready for action. He draws his piece and opens fire. The trouble is, Good Guy Two doesn’t know who the good guys or the bad guys are, so he actually aims and hits Good Guy One.

At that point, another good guy, Good Guy Three, rolls up and starts shooting at Good Guy Two. The ground is littered with dead bodies, but Good Guy Three is undaunted. He knows that freedom isn’t free and that this is the price you pay for liberty. He knows that any compromise on gun rights puts you on a slippery slope to Hitler. Why didn’t liberals understand that? He concludes that liberalism is a mental disorder and continues blasting away at anything and everything that moves, winging one of the Bad Guys and killing some terrified schlub who was just walking to his part-time minimum wage job at Wal-Mart. Viva freedom!

Then the police show up, and they have no idea who the good guys and the bad guys are. They just see a bunch of lunatics shooting at each other. They open fire and kill them all.

And look at that. Even in the face of all that freedom, Big Government still wins!

The next time you hear some glib politician say that more guns equal less crime, or that more guns are the solution to mass shootings, just think about the consequences of what they are recommending, and then ask yourself what kind of human being would advocate such a thing.


Posted by OHollern at 1:49 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
June 15, 2016
Three Tell-tale Events

Three events coming up have the potential to change the entire atmosphere of the general election for President – depending very much on how they are set up and how they play out. No one else seems to have thought about the contingent possibility of those three related events, so I’ll presume to take a shot at it.

The three events will take place at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July. They are: (1) the keynote address; (2) the address putting Hillary Clinton’s name into nomination for President; and (3) Clinton’s acceptance speech. These speeches – particularly the nominating and acceptance speeches – are usually pretty ho-hum. But this year they will signal whether the ensuing post-conventions campaign process will be muddy and inconclusive … or exciting, surprising political drama for the ages.

Signs so far from the Democratic side are that it will be the former: Hillary pontificates in a drab, policy-thick uninspiring dimension, and her Republican opponent bloviates in an alien, far-off, but vivid dimension, the two shouting past each other – to the perplexity of the rest of us.

Now that Hillary has sewn up the Democratic nomination (I am writing this on Memorial Day, 2016), we are getting evidence of her attitude to the overall contest. In very recent “survey” articles in one of our national newspapers, the Clintonians speak – a real pot pourri:

…Read on

Posted by A. David Tucker at 4:58 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Elections | Political Commentary | Presidential Hopefuls