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.]