Monday, June 26, 2017

Various Tweets

I didn't know.

Surprising. But West Virginia, according to this, is not really part of the Bible Belt.

(Via @msscheffer)

You'll never know what you'll find at the free-materials cart at the local library. A few days ago I picked up this very issue therefrom.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Roberta Flack, "Making Love."

Kunstler: Rain Dance. (Plus, McCain.)

Kunstler: Rain Dance.

Think of the ObamaCare reform debate now playing in the US Senate as the final gurglings of polity that knows it is whirling around the drain. They’re pretending to attempt to fix a racket that comprises eight percent of the American economy. Yikes! How did that happen? At the beginning of the 20th century it was one-quarter of one percent (.25 percent) of the economy.


The standard explanation is that, first, Medicare jacked up overall healthcare activity in the 1960s, hauling in a customer-base of old folks who previously received no special treatment and were, generally, less well than non-old folk. Secondarily, technological innovation opened up so many new methods of disease control for everybody, young and old, that we’re able to treat more sickness in more complicated ways — and that drove costs up way further.

The greater part of the story remains neatly concealed within the matrix of rackets erected around the money-flows since the big cost bump-up in the 1960s, and these involve insurance companies, Big Pharma, corporatized doctors’ practices, hospital monopolies, and, of course, politicians on-the-take dividing amongst each other a colossal pool of grift that exists mainly for one simple reason: the cost of everything is hidden from public view.

Nobody has any idea what anything costs. Certainly not the patients, sometimes called “customers” or “consumers” — but really hostages. If you go into the hospital for a stent in the left descending coronary artery, nobody will tell you what it costs, starting with the doctors who have performed the procedure a thousand times. They can’t even estimate the cost (or won’t), though they could probably give you a pretty good ballpark number for the cost-and-installation of a new fuel pump on their BMW-28i.

Charges for medical care are never discussed with the patient. Doctors especially pretend to regard such a proposition as beneath the dignity of their profession, rather like British aristocrats regarded all questions pertaining to money in the Downton Abby scheme of things — a filthy business better left to the servants, like disposing of the table-scraps. Of course the “servants” in the hospital scheme of things are a fantastic hierarchy of dangerously overfed clerks overwhelmed by the anomie of spending countless hours typing fictitious numbers into their work stations. A more pointless life can hardly be conceived. If you ask the ones who “interface” with you at the check-out counter how your bill was toted up exactly, you will receive nothing more than a pitiless stare of contempt — which is actually aimed inward at their own existential quandaries, a pathological dynamic that perhaps deserves attention from the research funding troughs.

The cost of everything medical is worked out in a private rain-dance between the aforementioned manifold concerned parties on the basis of what they think they can get away with in any particular case. In hospitals, this is enabled by the notorious ChargeMaster system which, to put it as simply as possible, allows hospitals to just make shit up.

More here.

Edit: And might I say that I've never cared for McCain, not even in 2000, when the media was chattering about him as an alternative to George Bush. This is just another reason why. #mccaintheweathervane

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kunstler: Absent Without Leave.

Kunstler: Absent Without Leave.

It ain’t bragging if it’s true. I’ve said repeatedly on this blog for years that the federal government would only become more impotent, more incompetent, and more ineffectual as The Long Emergency rolled out. And here we are now, at just such pass in history. More here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nancy Nall's New Typeface

I visited a few minutes ago, and I love the new cursive typeface. I'm going to hazard a guess that it's Vanilla Daisy Script.

20 June update: JC Burns replies:

Spectral is indeed the body copy font, designed specifically for extra screen legibility for long reads—and the wacky summer-y script font is Pacifico (also sourced from Google web fonts.)

About Spectral.

About Pacifico.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly vs. 60 Minutes

I haven't watched 60 Minutes in ages, except for its feature on Bruno Mars. I don't plan to watch Megyn Kelly.


I never had any use for Megyn Kelly. Unlike the people I referenced in my first sentence, she’s capable of coming around to humane positions on some issues, as long as they affect her personally. [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.] She was against mandated maternal leave until she had children; she was dismissive of sexual harassment claims until the late Roger Ailes started creeping on her. If, God forbid, one of her kids ever gets shot at school, I doubt she’ll have Alex Jones on her show again. --bitter scribe,

19 June 2017: CNN: The interview ratings. The hullabaloo didn't make too many people watch.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Kunstler: Moby Trump.

Kunstler: Moby Trump.

He breached out of the horse latitudes in the Great Sea of Politics last spring and destroyed all the lesser whales with his mighty flukes, but now the Democratic Pequod, with its diverse and inclusive crew has vowed to chase him to the ends of the earth until he spouts black blood and rolls dead out. It’s Moby Trump! Skin your eyes for him men (and women, and intersectional non-binary zhes, theys, and hirs)! Do ye see a Bitcoin nailed to yonder mast? It goes to ye who raises me that whale of white privilege!

Who is Ahab in this story? Why The New York Times, of course. Such is the vastness of its pious obsession with the cosmic malignity of Moby Trump, who chomped off Ahab’s limb — fondly known as Hillary — the last time the Pequod set sail. With Jim Comey as Starbuck, the ever-upright Quaker mate, cool, aloof, marinated in rectitude, yet deadly with his lance.

And so the great American tragedy plays out on C-Span.

Remember, though, that in the original tale penned by the loser (never made a buck) Herman Melville, the white whale sank the Pequod in a final, desperate, whorl of vengeance, while Ahab drowned entwined in his own harpoon lines, pinned upon the very hump of his inscrutable quarry. And I alone am left to tell thee….

More here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

I don't know about lifeless but creepy, yes


The Chrises, from left to right: Pine, Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt.

Forthcoming: "Why Kunstler?"

In the near future I plan to post "Why Kunstler?" in which I figure where I agree and disagree with Kunstler (and his supporters and detractors).

Monday, June 05, 2017

Kunstler: Gimme Shelter

Kunstler essentially sees Russia as a country with its act together.

Kunstler: Gimme Shelter

“Have you all lost your mind?” Vladimir Putin replied to one of Megyn Kelly’s thrusts about alleged Russian perfidy toward the US in the gala interview that debuted her new Sunday Night star-chamber on CNN [Actually, she's now on NBC--P.Z.]. Old Vlad put his finger on something there. His view of the late goings-on in America is like that of the proverbial detached Martian observer of strange Earthly doings, rattling his antennae and clicking his mouth-parts in mirth.

To which retort, by the way, one would have to answer, ”Yes, absolutely.” The toils of slow economic collapse, accompanied by the ceaseless effort by various arms of the Deep State to spin “the narrative” around the voting public’s collective head, has driven the polity insane. And this, of course, is on view in the bedlam that US politics has become, Trump and all. I’m waiting for The New York Times to run the three-column headline that says Russia Racist, Misogynist, and Islamophobic to finally bring together the programmed paranoia of NeoCon / DemProg alliance with the esprit de corp of the new collegiate Red Guard.

Mr. Putin does not have to lift a finger to detonate the groaning garbage barge of US domestic affairs. It’s already ignited and is faring toward a very peculiar species of civil war. You can be sure that the NeoCon / DemProg axis is determined to get rid of Trump at all costs. Impeachment requires some sort of high crime or misdeamenor. So far, going on a year, they haven’t come up with any evidence that the Golden Golem of Greatness acted as a Russian agent in some fashion, and that itself has got to be a little suspicious, considering the thousands of clerks in the spinning mills of those legendary seventeen Intel outfits the government runs. How could they fail to come up with a video of the Donald and Vladimir swatting each other playfully with birch switches in a Moscow banya? Five TV sitcom writers could surely come up with an angle — as long as it was a plausible entertainment.

More here.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

The Griffin Thing

is another manufactured controversy/much ado about nothing/a consequence of foolish behavior/a golden opportunity for grandstanding and shilling merchandise.

6 June update: From September 2014, "Reappraisals: The Passion of Kathy Griffin."

Octave Minds feat. Chance the Rapper, "Tap Dance."

Friday, June 02, 2017

Kunstler: The So-Called Resistance and Covfefe Land

This week (Monday and today), Kunstler posted two columns about the anti-Trump Resistance movement. He finds both the Resistance and the pro-Trump movements severely lacking in what it takes to deal with the real problem: a contracting economy due in part to oil scarcity.

Kunstler: The So-Called Resistance.

Entropy never sleeps. It works remorselessly to transform things of value into useless, dissipated waste and heat. Complexity stokes it especially as the law of diminishing returns multiplies the wheels of futility spinning down to zero. Hence, the intellectual decay of American life in which spin is everything, anything goes, and nothing matters.

The latest manifestation of this dynamic is the curious movement that styles itself The Resistance, lately adopted by the grotesque handmaiden of the Deep State that the Democratic Party became in the regency of Hillary Clinton. Its mission is to undo the results of the last national election by claiming that Russia undid it. It pretends to seek the restoration of something — but what? Of dissipated power relations within the Deep State itself?

President Trump is actually taking care of that by turning government management over to his generals and the minions of Goldman Sachs. The generals are reinvesting in the strategic black hole of our military adventures overseas. The Goldman Sachs appointees are making Wall Street safe for the continued asset-stripping of the USA. The last time I checked, Hillary’s gang did not oppose either of these endeavors.

Kunstler: Covfefe Land.

The extraordinary thought disorders of this moment in history are equally distributed across the political spectrum. They’re an inevitable product of what Sigmund Freud identified as the discontents of civilization, but they grow especially acute as that civilization enters an economic crack-up zone. The craziness is equally distributed while the nation’s wealth is not. The old middle, or center, is imploding both economically and psychologically, concentrating distortions of reality at each end, Left and Right.

The disordered thought in Trumpism is as self-evident as (a) covfefe, though it came into being out of the authentic pain of those classes that bear the brunt of accelerating collapse. The thought disorders among Trump’s adversaries interest me more, because they emanate from the far more educated ranks of society, the place where rational leadership is supposed to spawn. If you can’t depend on those people to think straight in difficult times, then it raises the question of what exactly is the value of an advanced education?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Kunstler: No Exit.

Kunstler: No Exit.

A most curious feature in the current low state of American politics is the delusional thinking at both ends of the political spectrum. Both factions have gone off the rails mentally, and the parties they represent race toward oblivion like Thelma and Louise in their beater car. More ominously, there are no new factions with a grip on reality even beginning to form anywhere in the background — as in the 1850s when the Whigs foundered and the party of Lincoln segued into power.

To see the Democrats go on about “Russian collusion” you would think we were watching a rerun of the John Birch Society in its heyday. Americans who have done business in Russia as private citizens are being persecuted as though they were trading with the enemy in wartime. Newsflash: we are not at war with Russia, which, by the way, is no longer the Soviet Union. It is one of many European countries that Americans are entitled to do business in — even in the case of General Mike Flynn accepting a $20,000 speaking fee from the RT news company. Has anyone noticed that Ben Bernanke routinely takes $200,000-plus speaking fees in many foreign countries whose interests are not identical to ours and no one is persecuting him.

More here.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Is Arundhati Roy India's answer to Joyce Carol Oates?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Various Tweets

He looks like the kind of guy who loves using profanity in news articles.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lucy Jones's Doomsday Earthquake Scenarios

Kunstler: Do You, Mr. Jones...?

Kunstler: Do You, Mr. Jones...?

In case you wonder how our politics fell into such a slough of despond, the answer is pretty simple. Neither main political party, or their trains of experts, specialists, and mouthpieces, can construct a coherent story about what is happening in this country — and the result is a roaring wave of recursive objurgation and wrath that loops purposelessly towards gathering darkness.

What’s happening is a slow-motion collapse of the economy. Neither Democrats or Republicans know why it is so remorselessly underway. A tiny number of well-positioned scavengers thrive on the debris cast off by the process of disintegration, but they don’t really understand the process either — the lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, contractors, feeders at the troughs of government could not be more cynical or clueless.

The nation suffers desperately from an absence of leadership and perhaps even more from the loss of faith that leadership is even possible after years without it. Perhaps that’s why so much hostility is aimed at Mr. Putin of Russia, a person who appears to know where his country stands in history, and who enjoys ample support among his countrymen. How that must gall the empty vessels like Lindsey Graham, Rubio, Schumer, Feinstein, Ryan, et. al.

So along came the dazzling, zany Trump, who was able to communicate a vague sense-memory of what had been lost in our time of American life, whose sheer bluster resembled something like conviction as projected via the cartoonizing medium of television, and who entered a paralysis of intention the moment he stepped into the oval office, where he proved to be even less authentic than the Wizard of Oz. Turned out he didn’t really understand the economic collapse underway either; he just remembered an America of 1962 and though somehow the national clock might be turned back.

The industrial triumph of America in the 19th and 20th century was really something to behold. But like all stories, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and we’re closer to the end of that story than the middle. It doesn’t mean the end of civilization but it means we have to start a new story that provides some outline of a life worth living on a planet worth caring about.

For the moment the fragmentary stories of redemption revolve around technological rescue remedies, chiefly the idea that electric cars will save the nation. This dumb narrative alone ought to inform you just how lost we are, because the story assumes that our prime objective is to remain car-dependent at all costs — when one of the main features in the story of our future is the absolute end of car dependency and all its furnishings and accessories. We can’t imagine going there. (How would you, without a car?)

More here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kunstler: A Monster Eating the Nation

Is there any question now that the Deep State is preparing to expel President Donald Trump from the body politic like a necrotic organ? The Golden Golem of Greatness has floundered pretty badly on the job, it’s true, but his mighty adversaries in the highly politicized federal agencies want him to fail spectacularly, and fast, and they have a lot of help from the NY Times/WashPo/CNN axis of hysteria, as well as such slippery swamp creatures as Lindsey Graham.

More here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Various Tweets

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kunstler: My New Book: A Safe and Happy Place.

Kunstler: My New Book: A Safe and Happy Place.

As you might imagine, I often hear from wannabe professional writers who have finished a book-length project and are horrified to discover that getting it published is harder than writing the damn thing. (They think I can help them — ha!) I offer them the sagest bit of wisdom I possess, which is that perseverance counts more than talent. A harsh message perhaps, but essential to incorporate in your world-view if you want to take up the vocation.

I came by this knowledge the hard way, having been fucked around by morons in the publishing industry my whole career — not to put too fine a point on it. If you can’t suck up endless adversity and carry on with the task at hand, then culinary school is probably a better career path for you {The culinary world can be tough, and often is much tougher than the publishing world. And some are in both worlds--P.Z.]. It’s especially troublesome if you produce something original, something that doesn’t fit into a tried-and-true marketing template. There is surely an inverse relationship between originality and success in mainstream publishing. Go ask Herman Melville.

The truth is, you are producing work that nobody asked for and that no one especially cares about. You have to grind away at this lonely business day-after-day to get the job done. The only thing that avails to keep you going is your own conviction that it is worth doing. Thus, the second morsel of wisdom I offer wannabes is to give up seeking validation from friends and relatives. I never ask friends to read my works-in-progress. If nothing else, reading loose manuscript pages is a pain in the ass. And most of the people I know spend so much time working in front of a video screen that the last thing they want to do is read your novel on a computer at home. As for mom and dad, they are understandably terrified that they will turn up as odious characters in the pages of your book, and in my case they often did. So I actually hoped they wouldn’t even crack one of my books open in the aisle of Brentanos. Happily, I have no evidence they ever read my published works.

Now that the book industry is whirling around the drain, like the music business before it, managing a career in letters is harder than ever. Publishers grow desperate and therefore only interested in works that seem like absolutely sure things — preferably books by celebrities with a TV-based following. They are, least of all, serious about literature these days (if such a quaint term is still comprehensible). For them, it’s down to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it’ll stick. There must be another way… and I was forced to find it.

I finished my latest “book” project last year around Halloween. In late December, my publisher turned it down. I’d been with The Atlantic Monthly Press, part of the Grove-Atlantic group, for seven books, starting with The Long Emergency. There was a story in my landing there. In 2004, my then-agent didn’t want to even bother trying to sell The Long Emergency. It was “too dark,” he said. This left me no choice but to drop the guy. On my own I tried to interest a half-dozen other experienced agents. They wrinkled their noses. So, I sent the manuscript out to two editors who had expressed some interest in my work over the years. The first guy, Daniel Menaker at Harper Collins, had a snit when he learned I’d made a multiple submission — a no-no for authors in those days — and told me to get lost. The second guy, the editor-in-chief at Grove Atlantic, Morgan Entrekin, offered me a contract. The Long Emergency turned out to be my best-selling book.

They eventually published my four-book World Made By Hand series of novels about life in a small New England town after the sort of economic collapse I described in The Long Emergency, a natural progression for me. I sensed they were none too happy about the project, but perhaps the chance that the series might be picked up by a cable network kept them on the line. My advances sank with each book. In any case, they never offered a kind word (e.g. “Hey, nice job… I enjoyed it….”). They did absolutely nothing in the way of marketing the books. So, when I handed in A Safe and Happy Place last year, they dumped me just in time for Christmas. My current agent didn’t want to try to sell it elsewhere, either. He said it was “off my brand” of hard-hitting polemical non-fiction and no other publisher would want it.

So I decided to publish it myself on Amazon, the arch-enemy of the mainstream publishers and booksellers. I enjoy writing fiction and believe that I do it pretty well, and I intend to persevere at it. I’m not convinced that the long-form work of fiction packaged as a novel will continue to exist as a literary artifact a whole lot longer — it is mainly a product of the past two centuries, which featured great advances in printing and the arrival of a middle-class with leisure time that could be filled with literature — but the novel is not quite dead yet. Anyway, human beings do like stories, whether printed and bound, played upon a stage or screen, or told around the campfire. We like to hear how the rest of the human race is doing.

And so here is A Safe and Happy Place, my story about a hippie commune in Vermont in the 1960s, an era which, all of a sudden, is now a half century ago — meaning the misty, distant past. Why did I decide to write the story of the Sunrise Village commune from a young woman’s point-of-view? Because I hadn’t done anything like it before. It was an interesting challenge, and with all the attention these days on the grievances of women, I wanted to create a plausible heroine who was not a complainer or a sap or a doormat or a designated victim, but a fully imagined capable person without an annoying ideological agenda.

I knew that a lot of people would bristle at the attempt — as if I lacked the credentials to try such a stunt. And, who knows, it may be a reason that my publisher dumped it and me in this idiotically hyper-politicized moment in history. Anyway, I feel that I successfully channeled my narrator, Erica “Pooh” Bollinger from the first sentence, and she lived in my head vividly until the job was done. And now I rather miss communing with her every day. In case you’re wondering, I did not suffer any personal gender confusion in the process.

I liked Pooh more and more the deeper I got into the story — her pluck, her common sense, her humor, her skepticism, her moral compass. The things that came out of her mouth often surprised me. I enjoyed imagining the male-female dynamics of young love from a point-of-view different from my own cis-het-white-privilege bunker. Forgive me for saying it wasn’t that difficult. Sure, men and women are different, but they operate in the same universe and are programmed for a similar menu of emotions. Mostly, I was rooting for Pooh to come through her adventure safely and happily, and in the course of 368 pages she is transformed from a troubled teen to a confident and autonomous adult.

In real life, that journey for me was rather difficult, and that liminal period of development — what we simply call “growing up” — is one of the themes I find myself returning to in my fiction. It also happened that I was there, I was in college through the heart of the hippie era, I saw a great deal of the action — though I skipped Woodstock, thank you very much (crowds were not my thing). I never lived on a commune, but I visited several of them and saw how they operated. I was susceptible to the military draft, but I enjoyed a student deferment from 1966 to 1970, when they instituted the draft lottery, and then I drew nearly the highest number, 353 — nobody above 100 was drafted in the last five years of the Vietnam War.

Like Pooh, I was not entirely on-board with everything about hippie culture. A lot of it was just plain creepy to me. The radical politics of the day seemed nascently despotic to me. I was not into group gropes or spookish oriental mysticism. I went pretty light on the drugs. My “trip” was mostly being an observer of my times. I was interested in trying to understand it all. As it happens, Pooh’s story ends in 1968, before events like the Charlie Manson murders and the fiasco at the Altamont Music Festival drove the Age of Aquarius into darkness. A few years after that, I was working as a professional journalist.

The differences in generational behavior then and now — 1967 to 2017 — seem much less marked than the differences between 1967 and what went before. College kids today can still recite the lyrics to Beatles songs, and quite a few of them affect hippie-ish garb and long hair. When I was a sophomore in 1967, I couldn’t have told you the title of a single pop song hit of the 1920s, and we sure didn’t wear raccoon coats. We didn’t have computers, iPhones, Facebook or even answering machines in 1967, but we managed to find other ways to network, spread the “underground” news, and goof off with friends and lovers. The radical politics of the 1960s had the basic aim of ending a stupid war; today’s campus politics seem bent on starting one. Both styles of youthful idealism had and have their shortcomings, I suppose, and beyond the narrow realm of politics lies the greater magic of emerging into adulthood in this complicated world, with all its joys and sorrows. The 1960s was the time of my coming into personhood, and I wanted a fresh way of presenting the experience in fiction. Hence: Pooh Bollinger.

Authors don’t usually tell you this much about how they came to write a book, but I thought you’d be interested in how and why I decided to self-publish A Safe and Happy Place on Amazon. It’s my way of saying that I intend to persevere. I believe readers will enjoy the journey. If you do happen to like it, write a review on Amazon — it actually helps a lot. And a very big thanks to my Patreon contributors who made it possible to write this book in the absence of a publisher’s advance

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Ignorance of History Brings

Yes, but...

During the American Civil War, Russian-American relations were very generally cooperative. Alone among European powers, Russia offered oratorical support for the Union, largely due to the view that the U.S. served as a counterbalance to the British Empire.[16]

16. Norman A. Graebner, "Northern Diplomacy and European Neutrality," Why the North Won the Civil War, ed. David Donald (New York: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1960), pp. 57-8.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Kunstler: Blood Sports

Kunstler: Blood Sports

What you’re seeing in the political miasma of “RussiaGate” is an exercise in nostalgia. Apart from the symbolic feat of getting a “black” president freely elected in 2008 (remember, Mr. Obama is also half-white) [Note: I might address this in another post, about the continuing denial of Obama's blackness. In the meantime, here's an article about Obama and blackness.--P.Z.], the Democratic Party hasn’t enjoyed a political triumph in half a century to match the Watergate extravaganza of 1972-74, which ended in the departure of Mr. Nixon, the designated Prince of Darkness of those dear dead days. Watergate had had a more satisfying finale than The Brides of Dracula.

So, in its current sad state, devoid of useful political ideas, mired in the mostly manufactured conflicts of race and gender, psychologically crippled by the election loss of a miserable candidate to the Golden Golem of Greatness, the Democratic Party is returning full steam to a gambit that worked so well years ago: beating the devil by congressional inquiry.

In President Trump (uccchhh, the concept!), they’ve got a target much juicier even than Old Nixie. It wasn’t for nothing that they called him “Tricky Dick.” He came back from political near-death twice in his career. The first time, running as Dwight Eisenhower’s veep, he was accused of accepting the gift of a vicuna coat for his wife, Pat, and other secret cash emoluments. He overcame that with one of the first epic performances of the TV age, the “Checkers Speech” — Checkers being the family’s cocker spaniel, who Nixon invoked as a proxy for his own guileless innocence. It worked bigly.

The second near-death was his defeat in the California governor’s race of 1962, following his 1960 squeaker presidential election loss to John F. Kennedy. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore…” he told the press. But he rose from the grave in 1968 — after fortifying his bank account in a Wall Street law practice — when the Vietnam War was tearing the country apart (and wrecking the Democratic Party of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey).

It is not unrecognized that in his first term Nixon functioned as a very capable executive, presiding over social and environmental legislation that would be considered progressive today — though he remained mired in the tarbaby of Vietnam. But then, in the reelection campaign of ’72, he got a little too cute — or, at least, his campaign show-runners did, hiring a klatch of bumbling ex-CIA errand boys to burgle the DNC offices, who were then caught red-handed at the scene, which was the basement of the Watergate apartment complex… and the rest is history.

What a fabulous inquisition Watergate was! What a colorful cast characters: the wily old “country lawyer” Senator Sam Ervin, the dashing chief staff inquisitor Professor Sam Dash, the fallen Republican knights, Elliot Richardson and Archibald Cox, the lonely and heroic bean-spiller, John Dean! And many more. The Watergate hearings on TV were more thrilling than Downtown Abby [sic--P.Z.]. Once Old Nixie went down the path of stonewalling and evasion — covering up an escapade he might not have even known about at the time — he was dead meat.

I remember that sweaty August day that he threw in the towel. (I was a young newspaper reporter when newspapers still mattered.) It was pretty much a national orgasm. “NIXON RESIGNS!” the headlines screamed. A moment later he was on the gangway into the helicopter for the last time. Enter, stage right, the genial Gerald Ford….

Forgive me for getting caught up in the very nostalgia I castigate. And now here we are in the mere early months of Trumptopia about to hit the replay button on a televised inquisition. In my humble opinion, Donald Trump is a far more troubling personality than Tricky Dick ever was, infantile, narcissistic, at times verging on psychotic, but the RussiaGate story looks pretty flimsy. At this point, after about ten months of NSA-FBI investigation, nothing conclusive has turned up about Trump’s people “colluding” with Russia to gain unfair advantage in the election against You-Know-Who. Former NSA chief James Clapper has publicly stated twice in no uncertain terms that there’s no evidence to support the allegations (so far).

And there remains the specter of the actual content of the “collusion” — conveniently ignored by the so-called “Resistance” and its water-carriers at The New York Times — the hacked emails that evince all kinds of actual misbehavior by Secretary of State HRC and the DNC. The General Mike Flynn episode seems especially squishy, since it is the routine duty of incoming foreign affairs officials to check in with the ambassador corps in Washington. Why do you think nations send ambassadors to other countries?

The upshot of all this will be a political circus for the rest of the year and the abandonment of any real business in government, at a moment in history when some very weighty black swans circle above the clouds waiting to crash land. Enjoy the histrionics if you dare, and pay no attention to collapsing economy as it all plays out.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Monday, May 08, 2017

Maybe Sinclair is "particularly so" but the Hawaii local news is middle-of-the-road. KHON leans a little rightward, if anything.

Kunstler: Paris Afterparty.

Kunstler: Paris Afterparty.

First mistake: Emmanuel Macron’s handlers played Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” instead of the French national anthem at the winner’s election rally. Well, at least they didn’t play “Deutschland Über Alles.” The tensions in the Euroland situation remain: the 20 percent-plus youth unemployment, the papered-over insolvency of the European banks, and the implacable contraction of economic activity, especially at the southern rim of the EU.

The clash of civilizations brought on by the EU’s self-induced refugee glut still hangs over the continent like a hijab. That there was no Islamic terror violence around the election should not be reassuring. The interests of the jihadists probably lie in the continued squishiness of the status quo, with its sentimental multiculture fantasies — can’t we all just get along? — so En Marche was their best bet. LePen might have pushed back hard. Macron looks to bathe France’s Islamic antagonists in a nutrient-medium of Hollandaise lite.

The sclerosis of Europe is assured for now. But events are in charge, not elected officials so much, and Europe’s economic fate may be determined by forces far away and beyond its power to control, namely in China, where the phony-baloney banking system is likely to be the first to implode in a global daisy-chain of financial uncontrolled demolition. Much of that depends on the continuing stability of currencies.

The trouble is they are all pegged to fatally unrealistic expectations of economic expansion. Without it, the repayment of interest on monumental outstanding debt becomes an impossibility. And the game of issuing more new debt to pay the interest on the old debt completely falls apart. Once again, the dynamic relationship between real capital creation and the quandaries of the oil industry lurks behind these failures of economy. In a crisis of debt repayment, governments will not know what else to do except “print” more money, and this time they are liable to destroy faith in the value of “money” the world over.

I put “money” in quotation marks because the dollars, euros, yuan, and yen are only worth what people believe them to be, subject to measurement against increasingly fictional indexes of value, such as interest rates, stock and bond markets, government-issued employment and GDP stats, and other benchmarks so egregiously gamed by the issuing authorities that Ole Karl Marx’s hoary warning finally comes to pass and everything solid melts into air.

For the record, I’m not in favor of political chaos and economic anarchy, but that seems to be the only route that Deep Staters ‘round the world want to go down. The convenient protocols of finance in the industrial era which allowed routine borrowing from the future to get today’s enterprise up and running have lost their mojo. The short and practical theory of history applies to this: things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time.

Revolving credit seemed like a good idea through the 20th century, and it sure worked to build an economic matrix based on cheap energy, which is, alas, no more. What remains is the wishful pretense that the old familiar protocols can still work their magic. The disappointment will be epic, and the result next time may be political figures even worse than LePen and Trump. Consider, though, that what you take for the drumbeat of nationalism is actually just a stair-step down on a much-longer journey out of the globally financialized economy. Because the ultimate destination down this stairway is a form of local autarky that the current mandarins of the status quo can’t even imagine.

That journey has already begun, though neither the public nor its elected leaders, have begun to apprehend it. The first spark of recognition will come in the months ahead when the current cover story on markets, “money,” and growth falls away and political leaders can only stand by in wonder and nausea that the world has the impertinence to change without their permission.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Who would donate such a thing, and why?

Friday, May 05, 2017


Comedians and would-be comedians can be:

*funny and not offensive

*funny and offensive

*not funny and not offensive

*not funny and offensive

Guess into which category falls former governor of Arkansas and purveyor of uncle jokes Mike Huckabee:

Kunstler: A Paler Shade of Gray

Kunstler on the health care system.

Kunstler: A Paler Shade of Gray.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Scoot, Scoot

8 May update: Chaffetz was set to give the keynote address at the Hawaii GOP Lincoln Day Dinner tonight. Because of his foot surgery, he was unable to attend and the event has been postponed to 7 July. Hawaii Republicans Postpone Lincoln Day Dinner.

News Release from Hawaii Republican Party, May 1, 2017

Last week, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was advised by his doctors to undergo surgery on his ankle, which he had injured years earlier. The Congressman entered the hospital last Thursday and is expected to be released, with limited mobility, this week. He has informed us that he is unable to travel to Hawaii to be our Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Lincoln Dinner.

Due to these circumstances and with the cooperation of the Hawaii Convention Center and our donors, we are working to establish a new date for the event. As soon as the new date and time are confirmed we will advise the membership immediately.

Jack James
Hawaii Republican Party
Executive Director

The Hill April 27: "Chaffetz resting after 'successful' foot surgery"

* * * * *



Aloha Hawaii Republicans,

We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah will be the keynote speaker for our 2017 Lincoln Dinner, which will be held on Monday, May 8, 2017 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. The proceeds from this event will help us recruit, train, and support candidates for the upcoming 2018 election cycle as well as pay our operating expenses.

Representative Chaffetz became the Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee in January 2015. He is currently serving his fourth term in the US House of Representatives. In the 114th Congress, he also serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

The values Congressman Chaffetz embraces are reflected in the issues he has prioritized during the course of his service. He ran for office on the promise of returning to the core conservative principles of accountability, strong national defense, limited government and fiscal discipline.

Accountability has been a hallmark of his work. Prior to being named Chairman of the Oversight Committee, he played a prominent role in numerous substantive investigations, including the Benghazi terrorist attack, the Fast & Furious gun running operation, the IRS targeting scandal and the Secret Service investigation. He is deeply engaged in exposing waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government.

Foreign policy and national security are a key focus of his work on both the Oversight and previously on the Homeland Security Committee. He has made numerous trips overseas to investigate issues ranging from embassy overspending to foreign aid waste. His trip to Libya in the weeks following the September 11, 2012 attack became the impetus for a broader investigation and the appointment of a Select Committee.

To learn more about Rep. Chaffetz, please click on this link.

To reserve and buy your table or tickets on Eventbrite, please click here.

To get a full size printable flyer, go to this web page.

Please contact Jack James, our Executive Director, at 808-593-8180 for additional details.

For more information and to stay connected, please like us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter @gophawaii, and visit our website at


Fritz Rohlfing

State Chair
People can change their minds and people can learn. But I've never thought much of John McCain. For one thing, he always tries to have it both ways.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Deborah at comments:

"Today on the south side of Chicago Pres Obama and Michelle will unveil a 3d model of the proposed Obama Library. It’s being designed by the architecture couple Billie Tsien and Todd Williams. I can’t wait to see photos of the model."

Here you are.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Kunstler: The Sound of One Wing Flapping.

And suddenly the storms of early Trumptopia subside, or seem to. The surface of things turns eerily placid as the sweets of May sweep away the toils of an elongated mud season. Somebody stuffed Kim Jong Un back in his bunker with a carton of Kools and the Vin Diesel video library. France appears resigned to Hollandaise Lite in the refreshing form of boy wonder Macron. It’s been weeks since The New York Times complained about the Russians stealing Hillary’s turn as leader of the free world. We’re given to understand that Congress managed overnight to cook up a spending bill that will avert a Government shut-down until September. Rest easy America… oh, and buy every dip.

A calm surface is exactly what Black Swans like to land on, though by definition we will not know they’re out there until our reveries are broken by the sound of wings flapping. Some kind of dirty bird showed up on Canada’s thawing pond last week when that country’s biggest home loan lender suffered a 60 percent pukage of shareholder equity and had to be bailed out — not by the Canadian government directly, but by the Ontario Province’s Health Care Workers Pension Fund, a neat bit of hocus pocus that amounts to a one-year emergency loan at ten percent interest.

If that’s a way for insolvent public employee pension plans to find enough “yield” to meet their obligations, then maybe that could be the magic bullet for the USA’s foundering pension funds. The next time Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and friends get a case of the Vapors, let them be bailed out by the Detroit School Bus Drivers’ Pension Fund at ten percent interest. That ought to work. And let Calpers take care of Wells Fargo.

The situation across Western Civilization is as follows: virtually every major financial institution has become a check-kiting operation or a Ponzi scheme, and we’ve reached the point where they can only pretend to be rescued. Bailout or not, the Toronto-based Home Capital Group is still stuck with shit-loads of non-performing sub-prime mortgage loans — its specialty — and Canada’s spectacular real estate bubble has hardly begun to pop. The collateral is starting to turn, like dead meat in the May sunshine, and the odium will waft across the border.

It doesn’t take much to blow things up, as the world discovered in several other historically recent episodes. The 1998 banking contagion started with the collapse of Thailand’s currency, called the baht. I doubt you could count on one hand the number of people in Wall Street or the Federal Reserve (with its 300-plus PhD economists) who gave a flying fuck about the Thai baht. Before you knew it, South Korea and Indonesia started whirling around the drain. And then Russia felt the suck. And then the Nobel Prize winning economists at a Connecticut hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management found out the hard way that their “secret sauce” investment formula which “could not fail in the life of this universe or several like it,” fatally poisoned its balance sheet on a repast of Russian sovereign bonds after only about eighteen months. And it took all the poobahs of American banking to paper over the firm’s death about five minutes before the global banking system would shut down via the greatest daisy chain of cross-collateralized financial booby-traps ever assembled.

And ten years later, there was the fiasco of 2008, starring Lehman Brothers and a demonic host of grifters trafficking in worthless bonded debt around the sub-prime mortgage racket tied into a toxic web of “derivative financial products” — i.e. bad bets between insolvent counter-parties masquerading as “insurance” against unsound investment. Trillions of bailout monies conjured out of thin air fixed that, oh yes it did!

So enjoy the festivities around the Maypole today, and the suddenly calm waters of global affairs, and keep your ears pricked for the sound of wings flapping.

Happy May Day!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Mammoth Release" of Baahubali 2.

Weekend Box Office Results.

BoxOfficeMojo: 'Furious 8' Tops $1 Billion, 'Latin Lover' and 'Baahubali 2' Open Big & 'Guardians 2' Debuts.

In third is the mammoth release of the Tollywood sensation, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion distributed by Great India Films in North America. Playing in a mere 425 theaters the film brought in an estimated $10.1 million, a whopping $23,855 per theater average and nearly three times as much as the opening for the 2015 original. This is the largest opening for an Indian film domestically [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.] and we are still hoping to get a full report regarding its performance outside North America.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Inside the Guts of Macy's Herald Square

Bloomberg: "Big Oil on Track for Back-to-Back Triumphs as Fortunes Turn."

"New York's Never Been Better Than It Is Today"

Maybe I'll visit there someday.

Ladies' Code, "The Rain."

Various Tweets: From @postcarbon

Friday, April 28, 2017

Kunstler: The National Blues

Kunstler is right, but he overstates the extent of the problem. There's still richness and soul in American life.

Kunstler: The National Blues.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"And Then There Was Hannity"

If O'Reilly was Ass't. Principal Vernon, Hannity is Andrew Clark.

Bloomberg News.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Junior: "Mama Used to Say."

More on The New York Observer: The Later Years

Kunstler: Ready, Set, Splat.

Kunstler: Ready, Set, Splat.

As I write, the French stock market (the CAC 40), is doing a grand jeté (up 4.5 percent!) in celebration of Emmanuel Macron’s assumed slaying of the dragon Le Pen. But that was just the first round under the interesting French election system. Consider that two other candidates who were eliminated, Monsieurs Fillon and Mélenchon, got nearly 40 percent of the vote. Are we so sure about where their voters go in the second and final round two weeks from now?

I suspect that most Americans — even the ones who follow Rachel Maddow — are about as interested in French politics as differential calculus. Macron, 36, is a blank slate. He was finance minister under current president François Hollande, of the Socialist Party, but declared during the election campaign that he’s not a socialist, he only wanted to be of service to his country, and this time he ran under his own party, En Marche! He appears to represent the continuation of business-as-usual with the European Union, which seems to put him on the wrong side of history at this crucial moment — if you suppose, as I do, that the EU is so riddled with hopeless financial contradictions and centrifugal political tensions that it is unlikely to persist.

Yet, understandably, people are reluctant to change the system they’re living under. Le Pen wants to blow the EU up, especially the bureaucracy lodged in Brussels that has become a self-serving and self perpetuating monster. Blowing up the EU would necessarily, it seems, mean the end of the European Central Bank, and with it the scams and Ponzi schemes that have provided an appearance of normality, despite an official 10.5 percent unemployment rate in France and a constant chain of public massacres by resident Jihadistas of one sort or another, some of them perpetrated by radical refugees allowed in under EU policy.

Macron might serve the interests of the American Deep State, which is determined to drive a wedge between Europe and the Chinese-Russian-Iranian “silk road” economic bloc that would consolidate trade in the Eastern Hemisphere. The US wants “the West” to remain what it had been for seventy years: the dominant posse. Even if the underlying conditions remained the same, this might not be possible.

But those underlying conditions are changing, and in ways that much of the political maneuvering across the West cannot alter, or even comprehend, for instance, the inability of these mature industrial economies to grow anymore. That is largely a function of the end of affordable energy. Unfortunately, the absence of growth portends not stagnation but collapse as society fails to generate enough new wealth to pay its debts.

Now, we’ve seen a pretty impressive demonstration of advanced nations playing financial games to cover up this corrosive condition. But the dishonesty at work is pretty obvious, and the problem with dishonesty in financial affairs is that it represents unreality. The accrued momentum in colossal sums of money flowing this way and that way has allowed unreality to reign in international finance for a while. But that is now flying apart. The ultimate reality, politicians and economists will soon discover, is that you can’t create your own reality.

So whatever you think now about the French election, or the fate of the EU, is liable to change as the great debt crack-up our time finally gets underway and suddenly every nation has to scramble desperately to keep its shit together. That magic moment may be at hand this week as the US congress returns from Easter recess to face its budget and debt ceiling dilemmas. If the credit-worthiness of this country takes a wrong turn, it will upset the global currency system. In fact, it will rip a hole in financial time-and-space into which the presumed value of all sorts of things represented on paper and computer drives will disappear, never to be seen again.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What would Kunstler make of this?

What Ever Happened to The New York Observer?

That's what I wondered this morning. I subscribed to it from 1999 till the mid-2000s, and every week or so, a pink broadsheet would come in the mail. And it was one of the most delightful and informative periodicals to which I've subscribed. I stopped subscribing well before Jared Kushner bought it. Searching online, I found


CAMEROTA: So Jared Kushner is a pivotal player. He was during the campaign, he is during the transition, and he may be in the White House. He's basically your boss.


CAMEROTA: So from how he has run "The New York Observer", what do you think he brings to the table?

SCHWARTZ: It's interesting to sort of see what's happened to "The New York Observer" over the past few years. Definitely it's leaned more conservative than it has in the past. After the election it was announced that the paper edition of "The Observer" would be shutting down.

CAMEROTA: So the paper would be shutting down but it would still exist online. And was that just modernizing or was that because of some mismanagement? What reason was given?

SCHWARTZ: I think paper media, print media is suffering across the board. So I have to just imagine that it's moving forward.

The Wikipedia article provides a good overview.

It's just as well I stopped subscribing when I did.

The famous illustrator Drew Friedman remembers working at The Observer and dishes some dirt.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

And vice versa.

O'Reilly: Looking Back...and Forward (a post in progress)

26 April update: Leaked E-Mail Shows O'Reilly Tried to Save His Job.

23 April update: An Associated Press article on the options O'Reilly has after Fox News.

Quoted in the article is Michael Harrison, publisher of the radio trade magazine Talkers: “He’s made for TV, this guy, as opposed to radio. He talks with his face.”

Meanwhile, O'Reilly returns Monday (but with no opportunity to talk with his face)with his "No Spin News" podcast, available only to premium subscribers to his website.

National Review: The G-File: Bill O'Reilly's Nostalgia Factor, by Jonah Goldberg.

I always thought O'Reilly (a former teacher, incidentally) was a real-life Asst. Principal Vernon.

VladTV: Cam'Ron's Famous You Mad Interview Resurfaces....

Excerpt from a book on O'Reilly.

O'Reilly's interview with Terry Gross here and here.

Friday, April 21, 2017


More later.

Kunstler: A Matter of Mercy

The metaphor of a dementia-addled patient is strained, but Kunstler is right that stuff happens and is quickly forgotten.--P.Z.

Kunstler: A Matter of Mercy.

Paging Doctor Oz! A patient calling itself The United States wandered into the emergency room disoriented, wearing a filthy warm-up suit, claiming it was “the greatest” this and that… but was unable to complete the nine-page admission protocol or present valid insurance ID. Patient is growing increasingly violent, threatening staff and other patients….

Nations do develop something like Alzheimers. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that for some time now nothing sticks in the national brain-pan — if that’s what we can call the news media and its analogs on the Web waves. For months, an obsession about “Russian interference in the election” raged through the left lobe of the national consciousness. Then, about a week ago, it vanished utterly. Grandpa suffered similar delusions about the Russians meddling with “our precious bodily fluids.” (Paging Doctor Strangelove.)

Not so far back as last summer, a candidate named Trump un-ironically called for “an end to endless war in the Middle East.” The oft-applied policy of “regime change,” he said, was not working out in the various US-engineered failed states such as Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine. About two weeks ago, I seem to recall, the State Department even declared explicitly that we had no brief for regime change in the case of one Bashar al-Assad over in Syria.

Then there was something in the wifi waves about a poison gas attack. The evidence as to exactly who perpetrated it looked, how-you-say, not altogether convincing. This evidence amounted to the US Intel services, in their aggregate omniscience, asserting that, “yes, it was so that this weasel Assad bombed his people with Sarin.” Wolf Blitzer and Rachel Maddow ran so hard with the story that they vanished over the horizon.

The patient had a dream after that: a dream of cruise missiles reigning down hellfire judgment upon a Syrian air base. Quite a few of them went astray and blew up some prickly pears in the desert and a pod of migrating sea turtles out in the Mediterranean. (Thank you Microsoft Windows.) Then the Secretary of State, Mr. Tillerson declared that “Assad must go.” The patient now was completely confused about who was coming or going. Then the patient forgot about the dream and we’ve heard no more about this fairytale land of Syria since then. Oh well….

It seemed like only yesterday that head honcho over North Korea — a character straight out of the James Bond fantasies with the weirdest haircut in recorded history — was threatening to blow up the United States. A US aircraft carrier fleet was soon steaming around his half of the Korean peninsula. A rocket lifted off somewhere… and promptly blew up. Well, at least something blew up. I forgot what, exactly….

And now I see on the morning wire that ISIS has gone and pulled off another terror incident in Paris — one cop dead, one injured in a street shooting. Weren’t there other incidents before this one, possibly even worse ones? I forget. Anyway, in this case, it was easy to figure out the man’s identity (one Karim Cheurfi) because the fucker had spent 15 years in prison after being convicted of three attempted murders, two against police officers, and was released on parole in 2015. There was some additional chatter in the wire story about the incident having an effect on an upcoming French election. But I forget who’s running. And when the darn thing is over, I’ll probably forget who won, and why.

That’s how we roll in the national Alzheimers ward. Shit happens and then is promptly forgotten. Sometimes the shit that happens is forgotten so completely that it’s like living in universe where nothing happens. The auditors who once reported to work in your brain have left their stations — with no duties left after the smart-phone came on the scene. They are among the millions “no longer looking for work” in those BLS reports.

Maybe this is a manifestation of what used to be called “God’s mercy.” Now that we’ve almost succeeded in making the planet uninhabitable, we don’t have to remember how it got that way, or what will happen to us in the meantime, while we’re still here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Hard Fall From the Top