Saturday, December 31, 2016

Billy Joel, "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)."

I've never heard of this song till just now, seeing it mentioned here.

Richard Marx's 1993 cover:

And the movies Cherry 2000 and The Running Man are set in a dystopian 2017.

Although the scenarios put forth here are unlikely to happen, let us all strive for peace in the year ahead.

Two Thousand-Sixteen Was A Year of Manifold Turmoil.

Friday, December 30, 2016

"Aussie Jingle Bells", "My Little Christmas Belle", and "Six White Boomers."

The Congo Dandies

Various Tweets and a Link

To be read in conjunction with the Vanity Fair restaurant review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Eva O and Eric Clayton, "O Holy Night."

Kurtis Blow, "Christmas Rappin'"

A Very Aussie Christmas.

A Very Aussie Christmas.

Various Tweets

Monday, December 26, 2016

More on George Michael

Kunstler: Exit, Hope and Change

Kunstler's overview of the Obama administration.

Kunstler: Exit, Hope and Change.

Yes, that was a gag.

By now, anyone in this country still of sound mind knows that Barack Obama presided through eight years of remarkable continuity — of changeless conditions that left a great many hopeless. As the days of his tenure dwindle, what do we make of the departing 44th president?

He played the role with cool-headed decorum, but that raises the question: was he just playing a role? From the get-go, he made himself hostage to some of the most sinister puppeteers of the Deep State: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner on the money side, and the Beltway Neocon war party infestation on the foreign affairs side. I’m convinced that the top dogs of both these gangs worked Obama over woodshed-style sometime after the 2008 election and told him to stick with the program, or else.

What was the program? On the money side, it was to float the banks and the whole groaning daisy chain of their dependents in shadow finance, real estate, and insurance, at all costs. Hence, the extension of Bush Two’s bailout policy with the trillion-dollar “shovel-ready” stimulus, the rescue of the car-makers, and a much greater and surreptitious multi-trillion dollar hand-off from the Federal Reserve to backstop the European banks with counter-party obligations to US banks.

In April of 2009, Obama’s new SEC appointees, strong-armed by bank lobbyists, pushed the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) into suspending their crucial Rule 157, which had required publically-held companies to report their asset holdings based on standard market-based valuation procedures — called “mark-to-market.” After that, companies like Too-Big-Too-Fail banks could just make shit up. This opened the door to the pervasive accounting fraud that allowed the financial sector to pretend it was healthy for the eight years that followed. The net effect of their criminal fakery was to only make the financial sector artificially larger, more dangerously fragile, and more prone to cataclysmic collapse.

Another feature of life on the money-side of the Obama presidency was that nobody paid a personal price for financial misconduct. This established the basic ethos of Obama-era finance: anything goes, and nothing matters. All the regulators looked the other way most of the time. And when forced to act by egregious behavior, they made deals that let banking executives off-the-hook while their companies shelled out fines that amounted to the mere cost of doing business. It happened again and again. The poster boy for this kind of “policy” — or just plain racketeering — was Jon Corzine, the head of the commodities brokerage MF Global, whose company looted “segregated” customer accounts to the tune of nearly a billion dollars in the fall of 2011. Corzine was never prosecuted and remains at large to this day.

Another signal failure in the money realm was Obama’s response to the 2010 Citizen United Supreme Court decision, which declared that the alleged legal “personhood” of corporations entitled them to exercise “free speech” by giving as much money as they wanted to political candidates for election. Big business no longer had to just rent congressmen and senators, they could buy them outright with cash.

A conservative Supreme Court made the call, but Obama could have acted forcefully in the face of it. The former constitutional law professor-turned-politician could have marshaled a response in his Democratic Party-controlled congress to draft legislation, or a constitutional amendment, that would properly redefine the personhood of corporations. It should be obvious, for instance, that corporations, unlike human citizens, do not have duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest; by legal charter they have only to answer to their shareholders and boards of directors. How does this confer the kind of political free speech “rights” that the court allowed them to claim? And how did the Obama and his allies in the legislative branch roll over to allow this disgraceful affront to the constitution to stand? And how is that almost nobody in the mainstream press or academic law even pressed these issues? Thanks to all of them, we’ve set up the primary means for establishing a fascist Deep State: the official marriage of corporate money and politics. Anything goes and nothing matters.

Finally, in foreign affairs, there is Obama’s mystifying campaign against the Russian Federation. The US had an agreement with Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union that we would not expand NATO if they gave us a quantity of nuclear material that was in danger of falling into questionable hands in the disorder that followed the collapse. Russia complied. What did we do? We expanded NATO to include most of the former eastern European countries (except the remnants of Yugoslavia), and then under Obama, NATO began holding war games on Russia’s border. For what reason? The fictitious notion that Russia wanted to “take back” these nations — as if they needed to adopt a host of dependents that had only recently bankrupted the Soviet state. Any reasonable analysis would call these war games naked aggression by the West.

Then there was the 2014 US State Department-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected government and the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. Why? Because his government wanted to join the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union instead of an association with European Union. We didn’t like that and we decided to oppose it by subverting the Ukrainian government. In the violence and disorder that ensued, Russia took back the Crimea — which had been gifted to the former Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic (a province of Soviet Russia) one drunken night by the Ukraine-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. What did we expect after turning Ukraine into another failed state? The Crimean peninsula had been part of Russia for longer than the US had been a country. Its only warm water naval ports were located there. They held a referendum and the Crimean people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia. So, President Obama decided to punish Russia with economic sanctions.

Then there was Syria, a battleground between the different branches of Islam, their sponsors (Iran and Saudi Arabia), and their proxies, (Hezbollah and the various Salafist jihad armies). The US “solution” was to sponsor the downfall of the legitimate Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad. We apparently still favored foreign relations based on creating failed states — after our experience in Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and Ukraine. President Obama completely muffed his initial attempt at intervention — the “line-in-the-sand” moment — and then decided to send arms and money to the various Salafist jihadi groups fighting Assad, claiming that our bad guys were “moderates.” Meanwhile, Russia stepped in to prop up Assad’s government, apparently based on the idea that the Middle East didn’t need yet another failed state. We castigated Russia for that.

The idiotic behavior of the US toward Russia in these matters led to the most dangerous state of relations between the two since the heart of the Cold War. It culminated in the ridiculous campaign this fall to blame Russia for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. And here we are.

I didn’t vote for Hillary or Donald Trump (I wrote-in David Stockman). I’m not happy to see Donald Trump become president. But I’ve had enough of Mr. Obama. He put up a good front. He seemed congenial and intelligent. But in the end, he appears to be a kind of stooge for the darker forces in America’s overgrown bureaucratic Deep State racketeering operation. Washington truly is a swamp that needs to be drained. Barack Obama was not one of the alligators in it, but he was some kind of bird with elegant plumage that sang a song of greeting at every sunrise to the reptiles who stirred in the mud. And now he is flying away.
[Emphasis mine.--P.Z.]

Next week, I’ll post the 2017 forecast..

Sunday, December 25, 2016

R.I.P. George Michael

At a family Christmas dinner, I found out George Michael died today.

I saw this video in the fall of 1990.

This one came out later in the fall. And the Friday before Christmas, at Rhythm and Reading, I bought the cassette of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, along with LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out cassette.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spanky & Our Gang, "I'd Like to Get to Know You."

I've heard this song countless times, but Jimmy Fallon's latest Tonight Show promo piqued my interest. Now I know the name of the band.

"Nebo i Zemlya."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Saving Gullah Geechee Culture.

I saved this in draft form since early March.

The Russian Ambassador to Turkey is Assassinated.

Kunstler: The Deep State Blues.

Kunstler: The Deep State Blues. (Alternate site at Patreon here.)

Lest you wonder, not only did I not vote for Mr. Trump (or Hillary), but I relished heaping opprobrium on him during the election campaign. Just so you know, I’m not advocating for him, but I’m alarmed that the Deep State (the White House + the Intel Agency gang) now appears to be trying to hack the electoral college vote against him.

The headline deployed everywhere last week, “Russia Hacks Election,” was designed by the Deep State players to deviously lead the broadly dim public to think that Russia somehow interfered with the balloting process, which was not possible since voting machines are not hooked up to the internet. And then it was repeated endlessly by the cable news networks and the newspapers, under the number one rule of propaganda: that if you repeat something often enough, the public will swallow it.

This dishonest meme was also designed to distract the public from the substance of the emails disclosed by WikiLeaks — namely, the scamming and trickery of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the influence-peddling of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, which had her flirting with indictment last summer, and only reinforced her already-established public image as an unscrupulous person.

The New York Times especially worked the “Russia Hacks Election” story to a fare-the-well, saying in its Sunday edition:

The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Moscow put its thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump through the release of hacked Democratic emails, which provided fodder for many of the most pernicious false attacks on Mrs. Clinton on social media.

False attacks? What, that Hillary’s cronies put the DNC’s “thumb on the scale” against Bernie Sanders? That Donna Brazille gave Hillary debate questions beforehand? That as Secretary of State Hillary gave more face-time to foreign supplicants based on their contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and expedited arms deals for especially big givers? That she collected millions in speaking fees for sucking up to Too-Big-To-Fail bankers? That The Times and The WashPo and CNN reporters were taking direction from Hillary’s PR operatives?

Consider, too, how the Deep State “Russia Hacks Election” meme was ramped up to top volume coincidentally the week before the electoral college vote, as a last-ditch effort was launched by the old-line media, the diehard Hillary partisans, and a bunch of Hollywood celebrities, to persuade electoral college delegates to switch their votes to deprive Trump of his election victory.

President Obama did his bit to amplify the message by coloring Russian President Vladimir Putin as being behind the so-called hacking because “not much happens in Russia without, you know, Vladimir Putin,” just like not much happened in old Puritan New England without the involvement of Old Scratch. So now we have an up-to-date Devil figure to stir the paranoid imaginations of an already divided and perturbed public.

Hillary and her supporters have vehemently asserted that “seventeen intelligence agencies” agree with the assessment that Russia hacked the election. It might be greater news to the American people to hear that there actually are seventeen such agencies out there. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama might explain exactly what they are beyond the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, the NSA, and DHS. Personally, I feel less secure knowing that there are so many additional surveillance services sifting through everybody’s digital debris trail.

There’s been some chagrin among more prudent observers that neither the various Intel gang chiefs, including James Clapper, overall Director of National Intelligence, nor the White House have provided a shred of evidence that WikiLeaks got the Hillary emails from the Russians. One might even suppose that we discovered the hack by hacking the Russians, perhaps even Mr. Putin’s personal iPhone — but, wait a minute… we don’t intrude on other nations’ business. We don’t use the internet to spy (!) on anybody.

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Trump gets along with the Intel gang when (and if) he actually makes it into the oval office. It’s nice to think that he will fire a bunch of them, and then fire a bunch more, and maybe take a good hard look at these seventeen security and surveillance agencies and maybe shut a few of them down. In the meantime, their activity begins to look like the attempted coup d’état I warned about a few months ago.

Forgive me for changing the subject so briskly, but there was another front page piece in The New York Times on Sunday that kind of said it all about where that Old Gray Lady’s collective head is at these days. Behold this quote from the story What Women Really Think of Men:

As the country prepares to revert to white male rule, our common condition for all but eight of the last 240 years, we should think harder about why we assume so little of men, including ones we may be married to. Too many men don’t prove those expectations wrong, and are rewarded anyway with prizes like the presidency.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

R.I.P. Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I logged in just now and learned Zsa Zsa Gabor has died at age ninety-nine.

She had wanted to return to Hungary and die there.

In 1952 she made her movie debut in the musical Lovely to Look At as--who else?--Zsa Zsa.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yes, But...

Not that Moniz isn't highly educated and competent. And not that Perry would be in way over his head. But... "Sec. Moniz Bullish on Nuclear to Help Solve Carbon Dilemma."

"Truthout (US): Nuclear Power Is on the Wane, Despite Efforts of High-Profile Boosters."

CounterPunch: "The Real Nuclear Threats."

Yes, I heard.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Kunstler: Trumpxuberance… Until It’s Not

Note: Kunstler's main site is under a distributed-denial-of-service attack. Today's column is posted at his Patreon page.

“Markets shrugged off the Brexit vote in a couple of days. They shrugged off Donald Trump’s election in a single day. They shrugged off the Italian referendum result in a couple of hours. Heck, in this mood they would shrug off an alien invasion of planet Earth.”
— Albert Edwards, Société Générale

At this time of year, only the hardest, coldest heart can fail to show good will to fellow man. That said, the silvery orb of Donald Trump’s post-election honeymoon may set sooner than expected as Ms. Yellin prepares to hoist her interest rate petard this week. Even a modest up-bump in the Fed Funds Rate is liable to prang the orgy of corporate share buybacks fueling the eight-year bull market that many formerly sane observers think is a permanent feature of the human condition. The bond market bull also seemed to last a lifetime and that’s gone south now, too.

Poor Trump’s mammoth ego has led him by the snout into a deadfall trap. The Trumpublican voters and cheerleaders expect another Morning in America miracle. Sorry, been there, done that, that was then, this is now. Conditions were quite different in 1981. For one thing, a brutal decade after the 1970 all-time US oil production peak, the Alaska North Slope fields came into full flow, along with the North Sea and Siberian fields.

The Alaska bonanza did not boost US production back to 1970 levels, but it did take the leverage away from OPEC, and it stuffed the elevated price-per-barrel back down to levels that an industrial economy could tolerate. The rest of the Reagan miracle was accomplished with debt. The case was similar for Mrs. Thatcher over in the UK. She was not an economic magician, just the beneficiary of a brief oil boom that made Britain a net energy exporter for two decades, providing an illusion of permanent prosperity and cover for the financialization of the economy. Now, with the North Sea oil playing out, all that’s left is the banking necromancy in Threadneedle Street.

Reagan also came in at the height of Fed Chair Paul Volker’s war on inflation, when the interest rate on the ten-year US treasury bond topped at 15 percent in September of 1981. Imagine paying 18 percent interest rates on your mortgage! How was that a good thing? Well, it wasn’t, not at all, it was a very bad thing for a while — but for Lucky Ronnie Reagan it meant interest rates had nowhere to go but down. And because bond prices correlate opposite to rates, the value of bonds had nowhere to go but up, which they did for 30-odd years until right now. And all that time, the world bond market couldn’t get enough of them — also till now, when big holders like China and Saudi Arabia are puking them back out.

When Reagan stepped in the national debt was only (only!) about half a trillion dollars. It will be over $20 trillion when Trump hangs his golden logo on the White House portico. Oh, by the way, consider that a trillion dollars is a thousand billion dollars and a billion dollars is a thousand million dollars. Just so you know. Reagan had room for plenty of government finance monkey business. Trump has no room. Bush One, Clinton, Bush Two and Obama dug the deadfall debt trap for poor Donald and the election shoved him right into it. He thinks he’s on an upper floor of his enchanted tower; he’s actually down in a pit.

Trump thinks he’s going to rebuild highways and bridges for another century of Happy Motoring — to make America like it was in 1962 forever. Fuggeddabowdit. The bond market is poised for collapse as I write, and Trump’s money people (that is, the Goldman Sachs gang he has assembled) are talking about issuing fifty and 100 year “Build America” bonds. Their nostrils must be rimed with the frost of Medellin.

They're certainly not going to accomplish this trick by raising taxes. On who? Corporations? Ha! The One Percent? Double-Ha! Everyone else? Pitchforks and torches!

American oil companies can no longer make a buck doing their thing. Exxon-Mobil's U.S. production business lost $477 million in the third quarter, the seventh straight quarter in the red. Why? Because it costs a lot more to get the stuff out of the ground than it did ten years ago, and that high cost is bankrupting oil companies and industrial economies. That is the stealth action of Peak Oil that so many people pretend is not happening. It will ultimately destroy the banking system.

The disappointment issuing from this dire set of circumstances is apt to be epic as Trump flounders and the furious tweets of futility waft out of the hole he’s trapped in. Christmas will be over, and with it the hopes of a retail reprieve. Gasoline may remain cheap, but the little people won’t be able to buy the cars to run it in. Or buy much of anything else. Not even tattoos. We’ll soon discover the temperamental difference between Donald J. Trump and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Fifteen American Things Europeans Find Weird

On Sunday, I began cleaning up the living room to make room for the Christmas tree. Apparently, I stirred up a lot of dust because I was sneezing all day yesterday.

Grammy nominations out.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Kunstler: The Deepening Deep State.

Kunstler: The Deepening Deep State.

One amusing angle on the news media broadside about Russia “hacking” the US election is the failure to mention — or even imagine! — that the US incessantly and continually runs propaganda psy-ops against every other country in the world. And I’m not even including the venerable, old, out-in-the-open propaganda organs like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe (reminder: the Iron Curtain came down a quarter century ago). Do you suppose that nobody at Langley, or the Pentagon, or the NSA’s sprawling 1.5 million square foot Utah Data Center is laboring night and day to sow confusion among other societies to push our various agendas?

The main offensive started with The Washington Post’s publication on Nov 26 of “The List,” a story calling out dozens of blogs and web news-sites as purveyors of “fake news” fronting for Russian disinformation forces. The list included Zero Hedge, Naked Capitalism, and David Stockman’s blog. There were several whack-job sites mixed in the list for seasoning — The Daily Stormer (Nazis), (Evangelical apocalyptic), GalacticConnection (UFO shit). The rest range between tabloid-silly and genuine, valuable news commentary. What else would you expect in a society with an Internet AND a completely incoherent consensus about reality?

Pretty obviously, the struggle between mainstream news and Web news climaxed over the election, with the mainstream overwhelmingly pimping for Hillary, and then having a nervous breakdown when she lost. Desperate to explain the loss, the two leading old-line newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, ran with the Russia-Hacks-Election story — because only Satanic intervention could explain the fall of Ms. It’s-My-Turn / I’m-With-Her. Thus, the story went, Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC), gave the hacked emails to Wikileaks, and sabotaged not only Hillary herself but the livelihoods of every myrmidon in the American Deep State termite mound, an unforgivable act.

Also interestingly, these newspapers and their handmaidens on TV, were far less concerned as to whether the leaked information was true or not — e.g. the Clinton Foundation donors’ influence-peddling around arms deals made in the State Department; the DNC’s campaign to undermine Bernie Sanders in the primaries; DNC temporary chair (and CNN employee) Donna Brazille conveying debate questions to HRC; the content of HRC’s quarter-million-dollar speeches to Wall Street banks. All of that turned out to be true, of course.

Then, a few weeks after the election, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 6393, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Blogger Ronald Thomas West reports:

Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

The measure has not been passed by the Senate or signed into law yet, and the holiday recess may prevent that. But it is easy to see how it would empower the Deep State to shut down whichever websites they happened to not like. My reference to the Deep State might even imply to some readers that I’m infected by the paranoia virus. But I’m simply talking about the massive “security” and surveillance matrix that has unquestionably expanded since the 9/11 airplane attacks, creating a gigantic NSA superstructure above and beyond the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense’s DIA, and the hoary old FBI.

A little paranoia about the growing fascist behavior of the US government is a useful corrective to trends that citizens ought to be concerned about — for instance, the militarization of police; the outrageous “civil forfeiture” scam that allows police to steal citizens cash and property without any due process of law; the preferential application of law as seen in the handling of the Clinton Foundation activities and the misconduct of banking executives; the attempt to impose a “cashless society” that would herd all citizens into a financial surveillance hub and eliminate their economic liberty.

These matters are especially crucial as the nation stumbles into the next financial crisis and the Deep State becomes desperate to harvest every nickel it can to rescue itself plus the cast of “systemically important” (Too-Big-To-Fail) banks and related institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are about to once again be left holding colossal bags of worthless non-performing mortgages, not to mention the pension funds and insurance companies that will also founder in the Great Unwind that is likely to commence as Trump hangs his golden logo over the White House portico.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Various Tweets

 "Herman Cain Dropping Syndication in 2017, Staying on WSB, Four Other Cox Media Group Stations."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

For $100 You Can...

buy this:

Or donate to a worthy organization.


Aloha Medical Mission.

Committee to Protect Journalists.

National Association for Free and Charitable Clinics.

National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Flag: When Familiarity Breeds Contempt

"VFW Angry Over Kid Rock Super Bowl Poncho."

The VFW is upset that media outlets are ignoring the poncho Rock wore during the Super Bowl halftime show, which was made by cutting a slit in an American flag. Rock later tossed the flag into the crowd.

The VFW’s commander in chief, Edward Banas Senior, says Rock’s outfit was “in poor taste and extremely disrespectful.”

12 December update: That could describe Kid Rock's new line of Trumpian T-shirts and baseball caps.

12 December update #2: Keith Olbermann runs afoul of the flag code by donning a flag as a shawl. (Maybe Max Blumenthal can compile a series of photos of people misusing the American flag, although with the best of intentions.)

The U.S. Flag Code.

§176. Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
• (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
• (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
• (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
• (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
• (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

Remember this?

Tampa Bay Times, "The Buzz: Did Allen West Violate Federal Law by Scuba Diving With U.S. Flag?"

Right. But why is she using the emoji for the Malaysian flag?

The State Calendar State calendar a useful tool for reporters and activists.

Kirkus Prize, 2016

From September:

29 November update: The 2016 Kirkus Prize winners are announced.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

(Via @nnall)

Besides the "lemon-face" expression both sport, the men couldn't be more dissimilar.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Some Thanksgiving Eve Tweets

Via @maxblumenthal

Via ‏@jnthnwwlsn (via @markamesexiled)

Via @TheMichaelMoran (via @jnthnwwlsn)

Via @petepaphides (via @TheMichaelMoran via @jnthnwwlsn)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Kunstler: "Boo Hoo" + Tulsi News

Emotions are still raw a few weeks later. So I'm linking to Kunstler's latest, but not posting it in full. Interestingly he says, "If that circus [i.e., controversy about Hillary's e-mails and the Clinton Fdn.--P.Z.] comes to town, Trump could benefit from the distraction it offers the public." Hasn't he already?

Kunstler: "Boo Hoo."


Imani Gandy's tweet led me to search online about Tulsi's meeting with Trump. Hattie's Web addresses the meeting and includes a link to this. It would seem strange for her to leapfrog from a very safe Congressional seat to the Trump administration. At this point, given her youth, charisma, and her being a Democrat, Gabbard could be a representative as long as she wants. Campaigning is but a formality. Tulsi issues a statement about her meeting. In part, it reads:

“President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.

“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress—I saw firsthand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.

“Let me be clear, I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Anderson .Paak feat. ScHoolboy Q: "Am I Wrong."

On the Texas Oil Bonanza

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kunstler: "What Now?"

Kunstler on the election aftermath. All emphases mine.--P.Z.

Kunstler: "What Now?"

Not to put too fine a point on it, America coughed up Hillary Clinton like a hairball last week — the catch being it then had to swallow the Cheeto-colored bolus called Donald Trump. It was worth it to see the fog of Hillary-smuggery lift across the cable TV networks since the “I’m With Her / It’s Her Turn” fog was a cover for the looting operation that the permanent Washington DC establishment had turned into, including the Clinton Foundation.

Obviously, the nation is reeling from this emetic, struggling to process the meaning of it all. The big “tell” for me came at a moment in last week’s Slate Political Gabfest, a leftish-oriented podcast, when moderator David Plotz asked his sidekicks John Dickerson (of CBS News) and Emily Bazelon (of The NY Times) what the Democratic Party might do to regain legitimacy after this electoral disaster. Dead silence on the air. Nothing came to mind.

Something came to my mind as a long-time disaffected (registered) Democrat: jettison the stupid identity politics and get back to reality. Alas, that may be too much to ask. For now, the party lies in ruins without a single figure of stature to represent a coherent set of ideas other than boosting the self-esteem of its favor-seeking constituent groups. Here’s my idea: how about forming a credible opposition to the so-called Deep State, the matrix of racketeering and empire-building that has drained the life out of this polity. That was impossible with the racketeer-in-chief leading the blue electoral ticket, but now the dynamic stands naked and obvious, answering the question: what to do next?

Another catch, of course, is that opposing the Deep State of Rackets is pretty much what Mr. Trump has promised to do, if “draining the swamp” means anything. He never quite articulated it clearly beyond that metaphor, but you can bet that’s what the DC establishment is so alarmed about. Trump’s behavior on the campaign trail is now being hailed in the media as a kind of genius. To me, it still seems oafish to an extreme, and it remains to be seen how such a blunderer might finesse our escape from the empire of rackets and the racket of empire. He begins to look like a man in a tunnel staring down the harsh light of the onrushing gravy train.

Mr. Trump might not know it yet, but his chief task will be managing contraction. It would appear to be problematic, since his chief promise — “to make America great again” — is based on restarting the epic expansions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Well, things have changed. This is no longer a virgin continent filled with motherlodes, untapped oil bonanzas, and fabulous soils begging to be exploited. In fact, we’re close to being played out where those resources are concerned. And the techno-industrial economy engineered out of those assets is wobbling badly.

There is a Great Wish that this system might be replaced just-in-time with some as-yet-unrealized Green Alt Economy of solar-charged driverless electric cars — but, of course, the unchallenged pathetic idiocy of the assumed car dependence at the center of this fantasy ought to tell you how exactly unreal it is. The contraction we face has mandates of its own, and it doesn’t include the continuation of Happy Motoring on any terms. I’m quite certain that the Trump forces haven’t even imagined it.

I would propose three meta-matters in consideration of how America might survive the disorders of the Long Emergency: the financialization of the economy, the burdens of empire, and the fiasco of our suburban living arrangement.

The financialization of the economy is already playing into its disastrous climax as I write, with bond markets tanking all over the planet. What this means is that the long-ignored chickens of risk associated with debt are coming home to roost. As they do, they are going to shit over everything on the financial landscape. Industrial societies have been borrowing from the future to a grotesque degree for decades, pretending that these debts were assets rather than liabilities. That perception is about to change, and with it an enormous amount of presumed notional wealth is going to disappear. That will manifest in rising bond yields (and falling bond values), cratering currencies, panicked capital flows, banking emergencies, and weird action in markets. If that seems too metaphysical, you can also think of it as contracting economies and the withering of global trade relations. There’s also the chance it will express itself in kinetic conflict, i.e. war.

My sense of things is that this meta-predicament alone could overwhelm the Trump government from the very start. We could have problems with money orders of magnitude worse than anything FDR faced in 1933, with bank closures, the seizing of accounts, and the paralysis of everyday business. That would easily lead to civil disorders, a breakdown in law, and the immiseration of most Americans. It could also lead to previously-unimagined political outcomes, such as a discontinuity of government. This is connected with the second meta-problem, the burdens of empire.

The USA is squandering its vitality trying to maintain a half-assed global empire of supposed interests, economic, ideological, and existential. Lately, this hapless project has only resulted in wars with no end in places we don’t belong. It includes reckless experiments such as the promotion of regime change (Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Egypt, Syria), and senseless, provocative exercises such as the use of NATO forces to run war games near Russia’s border. The monetary cost of all this is off the hook, of course, redounding to the financial mess. Reigning [sic--P.Z.] in these imperial impulses could be on the Trump agenda, but his own gold-plated imperial pretensions suggest that he might actually make the situation worse by conflating a reduction of our empire with a loss of the very “greatness” he wants to reclaim. As it happens, America may be forced by economic circumstances to yield the burdens of empire. The world is about to become a bigger place again as globalism winds down and the larger nations establish more realistic spheres of influence. We better get with the program.

Thirdly comes the question of how Americans inhabit the terrain: the suburban fiasco and all its accessories and furnishings. You can just stick a fork in that. The great project awaiting this country is how we might redistribute our people into re-scaled walkable communities with re-localized economies, including re-scaled agriculture. It’s going to happen whether we like it or not. It’s only a matter of how disorderly the process may be. Obviously all the suburban crapola out there also represents a tremendous load of presumed wealth. The vested “value” in suburban houses alone is the underlayment of structured finance. There is almost no conscious political awareness in any party — including the Greens — as to how we might attempt to work this out.

But, for example, and for a start, Mr. Trump might consider the effect that national chain “Big Box” shopping has had on Main Street America. It literally destroyed local commercial economies all over the land, and with it numberless vocational niches and social roles in communities. He can’t sign an edict against the Big Box empire, but his people might start imagining the process of rebuilding local networks of commerce and actively de-incentivizing the Big Box business model. That model has many other ways to fail, incidentally, and already is failing to some degree between the impoverishment of its customers and the growing problems with global supply lines. But anything that might lubricate the transition would be better than the stark collapse of the current arrangement.

The chatter this week has been all about the upcoming “infrastructure” orgy that Trump will undertake. That depends first of all on how badly the financial sector cracks up. I hope we do not squander more of our dwindling capital on the accessories of car dependence, because that addiction is on the way out. One thing Mr. Trump might get behind is restoring the passenger railroads of America so that we can at least get around the continental nation when the Happy Motoring fiesta grinds to a halt. It would put an awful lot of people to work on something with real long-term benefit — it ties into the restoration of Main Street towns and their economies — and it is a do-able project that might give us the needed encouragement to get on with the many other necessary projects awaiting our attention.

In case you were wondering, I was not jumping up and down cheering the Trump victory, amazing as it was. I figured the good news was that Hillary lost and the bad news was that Trump won. Now, we just have to roll with it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Leonard Cohen Was Canadian.

And Cohen was Canadian.
Anyone who uses the Trump presidential victory as an excuse to menace people of color, the disabled, Jews, Muslims, or anyone else should be named and shamed.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Diversion

Until yesterday, when I read this, retweeted by Twisty, I had no idea Vanilla Ice covered "Fight the Power."

It's actually decent, with more of an industrial/rap-rock sound. "Nineteen eighty-nine"? No, it's the sound of 1998.

Likewise, the "Insane" cover. His delivery isn't as nasal as B-Real's.

"Jump Around" to a rocking guitar sound.

Interestingly, Ice sounds more like Chuck D here than on "Fight the Power." He kept most of the record-scratching but the industrial sound here is a bit generic.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Aftermath (A Post in Progress)

This election will have ramifications for decades to come.


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Trump Has Won.

Nine forty-five p.m. as I type this. Trump has won.

He has no room to talk, not after piddling away his vote on Jeremy Corbyn.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Election Eve

Instead of posting only Kunstler's Monday column here, I'm gathering links to several of my favorite blogs for their takes on E-Day.

Washington Babylon: "Forget the Election, Time for Opposition."

Louis Proyect: "Should the Left Try to Take Over the Democratic Party?"

World Socialist Web Site: "The Nightmare Election Campaign Staggers to Its End."

Hattie's Web: "Watching Dumb Flicks and Waiting For the Election to Be Over."

Rod Dreher: "Dies Irae=Election Day."

Justin Raimondo: "Any Way You Put It."

Ian Lind: "Starting the Week Right (Photo)."

Not commentary, but a news-you-can-use articlePBS NewsHour, The Rundown: "In the hospital on Election Day? You can still vote. Here’s how."

Kunstler: The Fat Lady Has a Sore Throat.

A mighty nausea wells up across the land as the awful day cometh. Who will receive the black spot of fate on Tuesday? I wouldn’t want to be him or her on that dreadful day. The flagship of Modernity has lost its vaunted mojo and nobody knows what to do about it as the USS-USA pitches and yaws into the maelstrom.

Much opinion “out there” contends that we will have to suffer an election overtime, with the results contested on every hill and molehill from sea to shining sea. That scenario suggests various outcomes, all of them pretty bad: 1) the election is once again relegated to a Supreme Court case, only this time it ends up a 4-4 tie. Constitutional crisis time. 2) Perhaps as a function of No. 1, it ends up in the US House of Representatives. The catch is: members aren’t limited to Trump or HRC. They can vote for whoever they like. 3) A lot of web chatter has President Obama invoking some sort of emergency with the election postponed until some conclave of political viziers can figure a way out of it. Unlikely, but possible.

FBI Director James Comey’s eleventh hour reprieve of Hillary in the email server case sent an odor of rotting carp wafting across the political landscape. Like, his peeps actually vetted 650,000 emails in a week? I’m sure. Of course, the FBI does not issue indictments; that’s AG Loretta Lynch’s job over at the Department of Justice. The FBI only makes criminal referrals to such. But this puts too fine a point on the matter because the much more serious issue is the Clinton Foundation case, and the arrant sale of influence while HRC ran the State Department.

That currently overshadowed case is not closed. It sends up the odor not of a single rotting carp but of an entire whale pod dead on the beach. Half the emirs in Arabia dropped millions on the foundation to facilitate arms deals or to influence policy at State, and that was only part of what looks exactly like a classic racketeering operation. The Clinton Foundation story is not going away anytime soon and it will suck all the air out of the public arena for as far ahead as anyone can see when Hillary is in the oval office.

All of that obscures the gathering calamity in banking and finance that drives the waiting, whirling maelstrom. Thanks to eight years of central bank experiments, the engines of capital are hopelessly gunked up with political additives like QE and ZIRP™. Nothing is priced correctly, especially money. It’s all kept running on an ether of accounting fraud. We can’t come to grips with the resource realities behind the fraud, especially the end of cheap oil. And the bottom line is the already-manifest slowdown of global business. The poobahs of banking pretend to be confounded by all this because everything — their reputations, their jobs, their fortunes — depends on the Potemkin narrative that ever-greater economic expansion lies just around the corner.

Not so. What waits around the corner is a global scramble for the table scraps of the late techno-industrial banquet. Scrambles like that are liable to foment kinetic conflict. Neither Hillary or Trump appear to have a clue what this means and so they are likely to misinterpret the true signals amid all the noise and start an unnecessary war. Hillary is already hard at it with her cawing over supposed “Russian hackers” in the election.

The tragedy of Trump is that he represented a roster of legitimate grievances but argued them so poorly and then betrayed them with behavior so oafish and crude that he often looked not sane enough to hold high office. His partisans brushed that aside, saying it was good enough that he personified a giant “fuck you” to the political establishment. No, that wasn’t good enough because in the process he de-legitimized the issues.

For instance, There are excellent arguments for a “time-out” from immigration. Congress acted on that in 1925, after a half-century flood of immigration needed to man the factories of the early 20th century. The consensus on that policy change was arrived at with minimal rancor — and just in time, by the way, for the Great Depression, when manufacturing employment crashed. We’re also in for a collapse of activity, only this time it won’t be the few remaining factory workers. It’ll be everyone from the McDonalds counter jockeys to the bond packagers of Goldman Sachs.

The establishment will get its “fuck you” anyway. I do go along with the argument advanced by others that it would probably be better for Hillary to win, because that way the right people (the gang already in power) will be blamed for the descent into the maelstrom and will be expeditiously swept away.

Just about anything may rise up across America after that — the true corn-pone Nazi who succeeds Trump in the meshuggeneh branch of conservative politics… a second civil war… or a World Made By Hand. I detect a general awareness that the country must pass through some epic ordeal to straighten itself out. Well, here it is, just in time or the holidays.

Me? I’m going to write-in my vote for Homey D. Clown, because he don’t mess around. [It was "Homey don't play that!"--P.Z.]

Monday, October 31, 2016

Kunstler: Halloween Nation.

Kunstler's latest.

Halloween Nation.

What was with James Comey’s Friday letter to congress? It looks to me like the FBI Director had to go nuclear against his parent agency, the Department of Justice, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, his boss, in particular. Why? Because the Attorney General refused to pursue the Clinton email case when more evidence turned up in the underage sexting case against Anthony Weiner, husband of Hillary’s chief of staff, Huma Abedin.

Over the weekend, the astounding news story broke that the FBI had not obtained a warrant to examine the emails on Weiner’s computer and other devices after three weeks of getting stonewalled by DOJ attorneys. What does it mean when the Director of the FBI can’t get a warrant in a New York minute? It must mean that the DOJ is at war with the FBI. Watergate is looking like thin gruel compared to this fantastic Bouillabaisse of a presidential campaign fiasco.

One way you can tell is that The New York Times is playing down the story Monday morning. Columnist Paul Krugman calls the Comey letter “cryptic.” Krugman’s personal cryptograph insinuates that Comey is trying to squash an investigation of “Russian meddling in American elections.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid chimed in with a statement that “it has become clear that you [Comey] possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government.” How’s that for stupid and ugly? It’s the Russian’s fault that Hillary finds herself in trouble again?

Earlier this week, lawyers at the DOJ attempted to quash a parallel investigation of the Clinton Foundation. They must be out of their minds to think that story will go away. Isn’t it about time that a House or Senate committee subpoenaed Bill Clinton to testify under oath about his June airport meeting with Loretta Lynch. He doesn’t enjoy any special immunity in this case.

Speaking of immunity, when will we learn what kind of immunity Huma Abedin may have been granted in previous cycles of the email investigation? Plenty of other Clinton campaign associates got immunity from prosecution earlier this year, rendering bales of evidence on their own laptops inadmissible in the email server case.

Things as yet unknown: Where is US Attorney (for the Southern District of New York) Preet Bharara in this case? He works for the DOJ, but he is known to be an independent operator, and he must be already involved at least in the underage sexting case against Weiner, meaning he’s had access to an awful lot of collateral evidence from Weiner’s laptop, and must have obtained some kind of warrants of his own.

What appears to be unraveling is the AG Loretta Lynch’s effort to protect Hillary Clinton and now, in this Alfred Hitchcock movie of a presidential election, she’s trying to make it look like James Comey is stabbing Hillary in the shower. (Film buffs note: in Hitchcock’s Psycho the character played by Janet Leigh made off with a bundle of money from her place of employment before Norman Bates worked his hoodoo on her at the motel.)

Trump, of course, is playing the escapade up in his usual idiotic way. It would be unfortunate if it ended up getting him elected — but how would it not be unfortunate for Hillary to wind up in the White House under a cloud of possible indictment? She will be doing Chinese fire drills with a special prosecutor the whole time she is in office, tempted at every moment to start a war with the Russians to divert attention from her legal problems.

Soon we will learn what kind of tensions are roiling between the FBI and the DOJ, and internally within each of these agencies. There are too many pissed off people there to prevent leakage, and probably plenty of email memoranda among the officials that would nicely lay out a trail of incrimination leading into the Attorney General’s office itself.

What a fine mess. And anybody who thinks that any of it might be resolved before November 8 will be disappointed. This story has so many legs, it looks like a Amazonian centipede compared to the lumbering cockroach that was Watergate. The awful proceedings will grind on and on while the US economy and its vampire squid matrix of financial rackets implode in 2017 along with the European Union and global trade. How do you like The Long Emergency now?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Nancy Nall is appalled but not surprised her former paper, The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, has endorsed Donald Trump. It's a qualified endorsement that really favors Pence.

(Interestingly, a commenter at Nancy Nall's blog recently suggested Clinton and Trump be moved aside for a Pence-Kaine contest.)

My alma mater, that excuse for a newspaper that should be made to surrender its Pulitzer Prize, used just that argument to justify its endorsement of Trump on Friday. I knew it was coming; I mean, the editorial page editor has been pee-dancing (Roy’s priceless phrase) around Trump, mainly over GUNZ, WHICH HILLARY IS GOING TO TAKE AWAY, JUST LIKE OBAMA DID. [...] It’s a pathetic argument, which seems to run this way: Yes, Trump is a problem, but Pence! And Hillary is SO BAD. So vote Trump, because Pence.

I’m so embarrassed to have ever worked there. My new resume line is that I worked at “the News-Sentinel, a Knight-Ridder daily which, sadly, no longer exists.” It’s true. What’s left is a shopper.

Here's the Wikipedia list of newspaper endorsements in the 2016 presidential election.

Friday, October 28, 2016

(It's a good show.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Various Links

Dennis Kucinich asks in The Nation: "Why is the Foreign Policy Establishment Spoiling For More War? Look at Their Donors."

Remembering Tom Hayden, Jack Chick, and Kigeli V of Rwanda, among many others.