Monday, January 30, 2017

"What Is To Be Done?"

Time, I guess to dredge up Lenin and fight fire with fire.

"What Is To Be Done" is Lenin's 1902 consideration of how to mobilize the working class to oppose and ultimately defeat the Czar and his capitalist minions. It is said that the eminence grise of the Trump regime, one Steve Bannon, ex-Breitbart "News" -- is a Leninite and is political advice to the regime is driven more by Lenin than by Hitler. That remains to be seen.

The recent threat-power display by the regime -- which now refers to the action as a "travel ban" -- was very much in the mold of a Hitler rather than a Lenin, but we'll let that pass for the moment. The point was to exert arbitrary power over a "despised minority" and incite chaos in the process. Worked beautifully. They're probably having quite a chortle over the success of the exercise in inspiring fear, panic, and inchoate "resistance."

There will be many more shocks of this nature, as the regime consolidates its grip on the awesome power of the United States Government.

Czarist Russia had far fewer opportunities for resistance than the US does today, despite the many restrictions on protest and the militarized response to protests considered "serious" by the State -- cf. Standing Rock.

Yet the Czarist state was brittle and fragile and came tumbling down almost without an effort in 1917 when the Mandate of Heaven (ie: the will of the Petrograd proletariat) was withdrawn. Without the ability to command obedience from the Rabble in the Capital, the Czar's rule was suddenly and completely over.

Among my many papers, I have contemporary documents from the (March) Revolution that demonstrate how completely stunning the fall of the Czar and the collapse of Czarist rule was to those who engaged in the Revolution. Their victory was a shock, and they were clearly unprepared to take the reins of the Empire. Interestingly, they were curried by Britain and the US, in order to convince them to continue the war with Germany, because apparently that was all that really mattered to the Allies; the Czar could go to hell.

When Kerensky announced that Russia would continue the war, despite the fact that the war was the proximate cause of the Revolution, it made the overthrow of the Provisional Government by the Bolsheviks a necessity. For the sake of the Russian People, the war had to end.

Trouble was, once the Bolsheviks were successful, they found themselves riding the tiger and facing invasion and civil war which almost brought them down before they had a chance to consolidate their own Revolution.

Such are the vicissitudes...

Anyway, what we have in this country is a very weak "provisional government" based in part on Leninite principles but not ruling on behalf of the People -- despite its populist veneer and propaganda.

The provisional government has demonstrated that it can and will exercise arbitrary power, and in doing so, it tested its authority over the security apparat. Must have been satisfying all in all.

At least the Customs and Border Protection agents at the airports are all in with the Trump regime and will follow their orders without question, regardless of public protest and court orders to desist.

Having demonstrated that, they can move on to the south, imposing arbitrary power to detain and turn back Mexicans and others who arrive at the southern border. This will be even more chaotic and disruptive, as travel between Mexico and the United States at the southern border is far more massive than that between the US and the 7 Countries. Millions of crossings every day.

But they've shown that just detaining a few hundred is enough to put the fear in the remainder.

The chaos that ensues is useful, too.

So. How do we actually confront and counter this -- or do we?

This is the question, and this is why it's time to get out our Lenin -- and Mao for that matter -- and study up. We're in for a bumpy ride.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Back when I was a student -- don't ask how long ago -- the French Revolution was one of my chief interests, perhaps in part because my mother claimed some kind of relationship with Napoleon and with Marie Antoinette. I haven't found any French connection at all, so I can only believe that she came up with this silly notion for reasons of her own, reasons I never knew.

My interest in the French Revolution derived from the simple question, "Why?" I asked the same question about the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and so on. Why? Why go to all that bother, why deliberately induce chaos, when alternatives exist? What's so important that makes a Revolution necessary?

What it often seems to boil down to is the bovine indifference to the plaints of the Rabble by an out of touch ruling class; the Bourbons, if you will. Hanovers in the case of Britain. Romanovs in Russia.

It happens over and over again. The reigning monarchs and their families and the aristocrats who serve them have so little in common with the rough and dirty Lesser People, they barely consider them human. On the other hand -- and this is what generally triggers revolution in the end -- it's not the Rabble rising up that brings down the Old Order and sends the Bourbons to the guillotine. No, it's the excluded faction of the bourgeoisie, the lesser aristos, who actually do the deed.

In other words, piss off the wrong people at or close enough to the top of the heap, and you're done, especially if the Rabble have unaddressed grievances too.

Yes, well. It doesn't happen often in the grand scheme, but it happens often enough that one has to wonder just how bone stupid Our Rulers must be to let these sorts of things happen over and over again. How greedy. How indifferent to the plight of others. How desperately unaware.

And too, Revolutions tend to be anti- rather than pro- "progress" (whatever that may mean at any given time). In other words, they tend to be conservative at the outset. The targeted Bourbons are too progressive in some ways, and they think of their authority and power in terms of what God tells them is good for their people. So they do things that they think are positive and productive for their subjects -- or that they think will be in the long term, no matter the suffering in the interim -- and they can't understand why anyone would object to these forward movements toward the Future.

In the 18th and 19th centuries that might have meant power plays of surpassing stupidity, but for the most part, the rulers were able to get away with them because no one seemed to know what to do about it. The example of Britain's overthrow and execution of King Charles I somehow didn't sink in.

Charles was a "progressive" in his own time and the context of Britain. As was Louis XVI, George III, and to a lesser degree (well, maybe not at all) Nicolas I.

They tried to jigger things enough to enable a better future for themselves and (some of) their subjects, but not everyone in their inner and outer circles saw it that way. They didn't because it meant changed power relationships among the upper crust; some of the aristos would lose power and influence, others would gain. If all of this wasn't worked out well in advance and agreed to by the right people, chaos would most certainly ensue.

And so it did.

The proximate cause of the overthrow of the Bourbons in France was the Crown's inability to further finance the operations of the government without adjusting the relationship between the taxed and the tax collectors, ie: the Rabble and the rulers. The Crown needed more money, and the only way to get it was to squeeze more out of the lower orders, and the only 'legal' way to do that was with their agreement. The Rabble would ultimately be forced to pay, but they weren't asked. Only their Betters were called to assemble at the Estates General to give their assent to changing the ineffective taxation system then in place.

Well, all hell shortly broke loose.

This was partly driven by long held and unaddressed resentments of Paris, the non-capital of France. The poor people of Paris were on starvation rations, if that, because they didn't have enough money -- and couldn't get enough money -- to buy bread, if bread was even available. The economy of France, never all that robust, had broken down, and scarcity had become the rule. This was blamed on the King and his adventurism abroad, ironically including heavy support for the American Revolution to stick it to the British out of revenge. I won't go into that, but yes, the pettiness of the ruling classes is often a matter of well-deserved mockery.

The Estates General was called to begin dealing with some of these delicate matters, and wound up blowing the whole Ancien Regime to bits.

The Bourbons played dumb -- they were dumb -- through the whole episode, much as the Romanovs would do and be a century or so later.

They couldn't imagine that they weren't beloved by their own people, especially not by members of their own aristocracy. It just didn't occur to them.


Well here we are once again. Our own Bourbons are once again facing an uprising-revolt of the Common People -- including parts of their own selected worthies -- but it doesn't/can't occur to them that they've done anything wrong or that they can't still persuade the masses to return to the fold.

They see that a charlatan named Trump is leading them directly over the cliff, and they're torn about whether to try to stop it or just let it happen. After all, from a strategic perspective, letting Trump fail, as he must and will, is perfectly fine. The Bourbons can then pick up the shattered pieces and reign on as the rightful chosen rulers of La Belle France, aussi L'Amerique Perdue. Cf. Louis XVIII, Charles X, etc.

Well, no.

What happens is that once Chaos is injected into the System, there's no going back, no restoration is possible. Nothing will ever be as it was again.

Chaos is our fate at the moment. The Trumpists are flailing wildly and many of their initial efforts at rule are turning against them. Resistance and opposition is growing, not shrinking, and elements of the government they are trying to subdue are openly defiant.

Those defiant elements appear to have broad-based support among the public, including a significant faction of the upper classes.

The Trumpists are pretend Revolutionaries. They are in fact a dissatisfied coalition of the gentry who are determined to rule directly rather than through their bought and paid for agents who stood between them and the ravening Rabble.

Their personal wealth and the power it confers shall be the simplified Ruling Paradigm in place of the ever more complicated neoLibCon structure of power and rule that was the operating system of the previous generation of autocrats, technocrats, bureaucrats, and kleptocrats.

It doesn't actually do away with the tenets of the neoLibCon paradigm -- tenets that have vastly enhanced the wealth and power of the very people and interests that now (sort of) denounce them. What it does is simplify it. Instead of obscure and complex and justified by ever-more ridiculous arguments about lifting all boats, and responsibility and other sorts of bullshit, just make it plain: play along and you'll get along. There ain't no free lunch.

And most of all: There is no alternative.

This is not -- at all -- Revolutionary. It's merely a change in the language and in who among the ruling clique wields the whip against whom.

Trump's personal popularity, never high, is cratering. The congress, itself a loathed institution, with the controlling Republicans even more loathed, is paralyzed with fear of the consequences of achieving their long - sought objectives.

The consequences are stark and are staring them in the face. "You do this, and it's to the tumbrels with you!" The Revolution is Nigh.

Meanwhile, Trump issues a flurry of diktats and ukases from The Oval, then retreats to his Winter Palace or wherever, and his #2, Mr. Pence, steps in to perform the rituals of rule... while elements of the government are in open revolt, and the streets are filling with masses of people appalled at the spectacle.

No, this can't go on. The situation is unstable, chaotic.

The more the Trumpists try to bully their way and abuse their power, the more open and widespread the defiance. The People appear to understand the weakness of the current ruling clique, ironically given their constant threat displays.

On the other hand, the Bourbons, the former ruling clique, are essentially sitting back and watching events unfold. They are convinced they will be restored.

Well, no. I don't think so.

As I've said, once Chaos is injected  into the system, there's no going back. That's where we are now.

What comes next? A real revolution? Perhaps. Or something else?

We'll see.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Water Protectors On Duty

By now everyone's heard that Trump has "restarted" the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline "shut down" by Obama. I use the scare quotes because what's actually happened is a little less declarative than the Narrative would have it.

Obama didn't actually shut down the pipelines, he deferred final decisions on them to a later time, when he was out of office. Trump has not restarted them, he has picked up the ball where Obama left it, and is considering whether to run with it.

I split hairs like this because what is actually going on in this chaotic situation often varies quite a bit from the Narratives put out by the White House and countered by the media. There are lies and lies and more lies, in a blizzard of falsehood -- coming from all sides -- and it's almost impossible for the Rabble to sort out fact from fiction under the circumstances.

Chaos is the key, and keeping things as chaotic and unpredictable as possible appears to be the way Trump intends to rule until he is deposed.

But he's not the only one who can play that game.

Not by a long shot.

Meanwhile up in frozen North Dakota, the Water Protectors were planning to decamp from Sacred Stone and Oceti Sacowin, packing up and moving away from the Standing Rock reservation and setting up camp again at other reservations by invitation. This was to be a voluntary evacuation, but it was in line with the SRS Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault's repeated requests (orders?) that the Water Protector camps be vacated "for the safety" of the campers. Or something.

His position was that while the Environmental Impact Statement ordered by Obama was being prepared, protection/provocation by Water Protectors was counter productive. The less conflict at the site during the process, the better in his view. There have been recent incidents of violence (by police) against Water Protectors at the Backwater Bridge, a continuous flashpoint at Standing Rock. Archambault said he wanted the bridge reopened,, and that couldn't happen so long as incidents of violence kept happening there.

So he issued another request/order that the Water Protectors leave, and he and the tribal council essentially seized the millions of dollars raised for the Water Protectors and declared it tribal funds to use as the tribal council determined. I don't know what happened to the warehouse full of supplies sent to the camps, but last I heard, the tribe was refusing to release them to the camps.

As a point of reference, there have been widespread Water Protector actions primarily against pipelines all over the country since things calmed a bit at Standing Rock. This is the kind of activism that takes on a life of its own, and by spreading out so much -- rather than being concentrated in one spot -- the Water Protectors are ensuring their survival come what may.

It's not unlike the way Occupy dispersed after the coordinated violent crack down against it in 2011 and 2012. While I haven't got around to updating my Occupy links -- many are dead now -- I am quite aware that Occupy is still around and is still active, though for the most part they keep a low profile. As one of the Occupy mottos says, "You can't kill an idea."

That's pretty much where things stood on Monday. On Tuesday everything changed when Trump signed his pipelines memorandum. Keystone XL and Dakota Access were suddenly placed on the track for eventual approval, regardless it seemed of anything else.

The evacuation of the camps at Standing Rock halted and a call went out for Water Protectors to return -- so long as they were physically able to do so and could be self-sufficient once there.

The call did not go out from Archambault, it was issued by Chad IronEyes, one of the Standing Rock Sioux activists who has stayed on top of the evolving situation there and who has occupied the space between the Tribal Chairman and Council and the Water Protectors.

I haven't checked the activist notices today yet, but after Trump's action, there were demonstrations by Water Protectors and their allies in many cities throughout the country. As the Water Protectors reassemble in North Dakota, the state is preparing to force the issue and prohibit protest in so far as they can by law. They've even come up with some kind of law that legalizes running down protesters who block roads -- as long as it's an "accident."

Yes, well. We've already seen that happen during the actions last year. Sport, dontchaknow.

And there have been violent incidents at the Bridge in which numerous Water Protectors and allies have been injured by rubber bullets, water cannon, and other weapons wielded by the police. They've even set up a missile launcher apparently to shoot down drones flown by Water Protectors in order to document what's going on.

Please understand, this is all a dry run for the eventual suppression of any and all popular revolts and uprisings that might come to pass in the future.

The Indians at Standing Rock know this; many of their allies do too. But the general public remains oblivious.

I've pointed out in other fora that serious protest action in the United States has historically been met with serious and deadly force. Kent State is a well known example, but there were many others in those days and previously. Massacres of Indians, of course, were routine in the 19th Century, but strikers, protesters, and other activists who were perceived as threats by The Powers That Be were frequently subjected to use of deadly force by private guards as well as the National Guard and police, occasionally by the Regular Army.

People who understand this history of suppression of dissent know that the Water Protectors, as some of the most successful activists in recent times, are at severe risk of injury or death at the hands of the authorities, no matter where they are, but particularly so in North Dakota. I don't know how many have been injured so far, but hundreds were injured during the action on November 20-21 when water cannon were first turned on the activists at the Bridge.

This is deadly serious.

I've pointed out that the Water Protectors have been showing the way to effective resistance under the current circumstances. They are rebels, yes, but they are not in the mold of past resistance efforts. They are a step beyond them. First, they are grounded in Native American spirituality, something a lot of Anglos like to play with, but something few of them understand or can relate to. It's a different way of looking at the relationship between the Spirits and the People. It's a much more powerful thing than most Anglos can imagine, and it's part of the reason why so many of the Water Protectors can endure the suppression and the violence unleashed against them by the authorities. It's a reason why the Water Protectors understand they might lose from time to time, and they understand the Dakota Access Pipeline might be completed no matter what they do, but that in the end, they will be vindicated and victorious.

They  have endured so much so far, and the struggle is re-engaged, not only at Standing Rock but all over the country now.

It is part of the emerging struggle against the forces of wealth and power so perfectly expressed through the elevation of Trump and his cronies to run the government of these United States.

Water Protectors have led the way. They are the vanguard.

Where the struggle goes from here, we'll have to wait and see -- unless, of course, we are involved in actions to change the situation for the better.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Stimulator Explains It All For You

I haven't linked to The Stimulator for a good long time, though I check in with him every six months or so. After the election he posted this little number (NSFW language and shit) that really helped explain what happened and what to do about it.

Then most recently, he's reposted a little effort from Global Uprising on the J20 actions in DC that were intended to disrupt the inaugural festivities...

These are some of the deeper currents of revolt in this country. They have not been able to gain more than momentary recognition from the public, and what recognition they get is typically bad. On the other hand, the "intersectional" nature of the growing revolt against Trumpism/Fascist USA has meant that even the most marginalized upriser may have a role to play in whatever is to come.

We shall see...

Transformative Presidencies

I was born during the 1948 election campaign between Harry S Truman and Thomas Dewey (Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat.)

The false Chicago Tribune headline would become a legend in November of that year:

Yes, well. "Everyone makes mistakes," right?

I don't remember Truman as president, but I certainly recall Eisenhower and his 1956 re-election campaign against Adlai Stevenson.

I grew up in a Democratic household and there are reasons for it. Loyalty to the Democratic Party on my father's side goes back at least to the anti-Irish riots in Ohio instigated by the Know Nothings -- a third party which amalgamated with the Republicans shortly after the mob violence in Ohio and elsewhere. On my mother's side, it's a little more complicated as her stepfather was a Republican, her mother was a Democrat (primarily due to social issues -- like women's right to vote and so forth) and my mother was initially disinclined to either party but became a Democrat under FDR. She stayed a Democrat the rest of her life, but was sometimes reluctant to vote for them.

Between Truman and Eisenhower, I think we can say that Truman was the Transformative President. Eisenhower consolidated the Truman Transformation.

Because I have no memory of the FDR administration and what I heard about it was somewhat conflicted, I can't say much about it from personal experience. Many of the programs initiated during the FDR administration were continued by Truman and Eisenhower, but many weren't. What I saw and experienced was what remained, the Legacy if you will, of a previous Transformative Presidency.

Of course the Post World War II context of the Truman administration is fundamental to any understanding of what was going on and why.

When I was growing up, WWII vets were everywhere. Some were doing fine. Others I knew were having a lot of psychological problems, what we know as PTSD now, and their difficulties reverberated in the neighborhoods where I lived. There wasn't a lot that was done for them; people were pretty much on their own to work out their war-time difficulties as best they could, or contrariwise, they could be sent to the looney bin.


Truman was Transformative, Eisenhower was not.

Truman authorized the use of nuclear weapons on Japan and was forever after unrepentant. Truman initiated the Cold War with the Soviet Union, something that would reverberate for all of us throughout the '50s and '60s -- and into later decades, and still (for some ungodly reason). Truman integrated the armed forces, which reverberated in unanticipated ways until civil rights and integration for minority non-white populations became the standard, a standard still resisted by die-hard White Supremacists.

Eisenhower, for the most part, just continued FDR and Truman era programs, initiated some of his own -- such as the Interstate Highway construction program -- and allowed particular political and economic interests to have their way. Eugene Joe McCarthy was given leeway to conduct his witch-hunt for example, with no interference from the White House, but what a lot of people don't understand now is that McCarthy was just a temporary phenomenon; the witch hunt for Communists and their sympathizers was continuous and it was everywhere throughout the '50s and early '60s, and it was that continuing witch hunt that inspired the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964 which in turn triggered the student rebellion of the '60s and everything that followed.

But as president, Eisenhower seemed very hands off, even disinterested. After his heart attacks he seemed to turn over much of his power and authority to his vice president, Richard Milhouse Nixon.

Kennedy's was a transformative presidency, but not the way he intended. Well, everything changed after his assassination. Changes we know of, changes we don't. But there were events during his brief presidency that transformed the way we looked at presidents and particularly their wives. They became celebrity figures more than political ones. In the case of Jackie Kennedy, she was not just a celebrity, she was a glamorous icon of beauty, fashion and class, a status she maintained the rest of her life, and which she passed on to her son, John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, November 22, 1963, was the first of many political shocks we would be heir to. What happened was, up till then, inconceivable. No president had been assassinated for decades, and the prior assassinations had been one-off anomalies. We were so far beyond that by 1963. Besides, despite political differences, who in their right mind would want Kennedy dead? There wasn't a Civil War after all, nor were there the kind of movements afoot in the land that led to the assassination of William McKinley.

No, it was crazy, and suspicion fell on the hostile environment generated by the right wing, John Birch Society saturated, white supremacist culture of Texas. In other words, Kennedy must have killed because those white crackers in Dallas hated him for being a Yankee interloper/"nigger lover."

But things got very strange very quickly when Kennedy's accused assassin was himself assassinated live on TeeVee -- nothing like that had happened before, either. It was equally inconceivable -- and the whole world seemed to come tumbling down over the Thanksgiving Weekend.

The elevation of Lyndon Johnson to the presidency was equally shocking. Lyndon Johnson from Texas. How convenient.

But LBJ got the benefit of the doubt from a strangely passive public, and he made the most of it, achieving the most comprehensive and broad-based social legislation in our nation's history, very nearly enacting FDR's Second New Deal over the muted objections of Republicans.

Transformative? There's no doubt about it. In fact, I rank Johnson the most transformative president of my lifetime. He was a steamroller of a President who managed to overcome many, many obstacles to get done what up till then couldn't be done, including civil rights legislation, Medicare, and a host of Great Society programs intended to alleviate poverty and build a better future for all Americans.

Then there was the war in Southeast Asia. How he got suckered into that one, I don't know, but he did, and once he did, there was no going back. They say he saw it as a "man" thing, he had to prove his cojones as a War President, following as he did a man who was hailed as a genuine War Hero. But the carnage in Vietnam and Laos for unclear or venal motives made less and less sense, and it triggered endless mass demonstrations against the war, added to the student demonstrations triggered by the FSM uprising in Berkeley added to the periodic rage and riots in the ghettos of the country. By 1968, it seemed like the whole country was descending into chaos.

And yet on the other side, the US had never been so prosperous and, yes, "progressive." Not everything about it was either good or perfect, but social and economic progress was being made on many fronts, and many of the changes that got under way following the assassination of President Kennedy became institutionalized very quickly. They're with us today. There is likely no going back.

But the assassinations of 1968 were perhaps too much of a shock to an already reeling society, and they helped destroy what little comity was left in the country, leading directly to the inauguration of Richard M. Nixon -- who ran on a platform of ending the War (Humphrey would have continued it on Johnson's terms) and bringing "law and order" to the streets.


Of course he didn't end the War, he intensified it, but he did end the draft, and that took a lot of the piss and vinegar out of the anti-war movement and the student rebellion. His "law and order" campaign had the effect of declaring domestic war on uppity Negroes, particularly males, who were essentially criminalized as a class. Cities stopped burning on a regular basis.

Some of the progressive ideals he'd grown up with continued, however, and so his truncated regime was/is considered a mixed bag. Good-Bad together.

But Nixon was forced from office in yet another shocking course of events. He was shown to be a criminal -- a political criminal -- who abused the office and the power of the presidency to advance his own political interests and ends. At the time, this behavior was unacceptable by both parties and rather than impeach his ass, he was prevailed upon to resign in disgrace. This after his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had been forced to resign in disgrace for his own crimes.

Dear me. People got the idea that the Presidency was a criminal enterprise run by gangsters.

Well. Yes.

Nixon's actions and fall had a powerful effect on society and the presidency that reverberates today, particularly with regard to an obsession with "law enforcement" (by any means necessary) on the proles, and the understanding that if done right, the Presidency can be an Imperial dictatorship. Nixon just didn't do it right. You see.

Yes, a criminal enterprise run by gangsters. What's to stop it?

I guess I will have to concede it was a transformative paradigm of rule, one we have by no means escaped. It's almost become iron law.

Nixon was followed by our first unelected President/Vice President pair, Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller. They were place-holders while the government attempted to get its act together. The War in Southeast Asia ended, finally, essentially petering out, leaving a swath of destruction through the region that is still being recovered from, but somewhat amazingly transforming the relationship between Americans and the people of Vietnam in particular from enmity to high regard. In some ways, they see each other as equally victimized by out of control rulers.

Ford was followed by Carter, whose moral suasion might have been high, but whose ability to implement that suasion from the Oval Office was thwarted by events, particularly the Iranian Revolution which crippled Carter's presidency beyond recovery. He was not re-elected.

Instead, a movie actor who suffered from incipient dementia/Alzheimers, Ronald Reagan, was elevated in a wave election that began the counter revolution against "progressivism" in its entirety. They wasted no time transforming the government and society into a version of what they used to be prior to the Progressive era.

Once again, people who understood that this wouldn't turn out well for the many, but would greatly enhance the comfort and convenience of the few were largely passive in the face of the Reaganite transformation. What could they do, after all? He was elected and he was for most of his reign very popular with a still powerful subset of white men.

Reagan was transformative, but not in a good way, though some of what he did was positive.

Reagan was followed by his vice president G H W Bush, former head of the CIA, and reputed to have been the eminence grise of the Reagan regime. Once installed in the Oval Office on his own account, he seemed almost as bumbling as Ford, and his appalling War on Iraq eventually became an albatross around his neck; wtf, dude? Of course there were the scandals. Jeebus, what had the presidency become?

Then came Clinton. Oh dear. Clinton has been ritualistically scapegoated for everything since the world began, and strangely he seemed to accept the role of scapegoat. No skin off his nose, I guess. He accelerated the neoliberal transformation begun under Reagan (Carter instituted some of it prior to Reagan's efforts) and thus set the stage for catastrophes to come. But he seemed oblivious -- then and now.

After being re-elected, Clinton was absurdly impeached. WTF, Congress? The spectacle was indeed compelling, much like the Trial of OJ, but what the actual fuck? The lesson was that the Presidency was not at all what many Americans thought it to be. It was neither all-powerful, nor was it power-less, but what it was depended more on the political equivalent of teevee ratings than anything else. In the meantime, the neoliberal/neoconservative game plan was churning away in the background, largely unnoticed due to the spectacle of WTF. Shiny objects to distract from what was important and what was really going on.

Clinton's impeachment failed, but I don't think it was meant to succeed. It was Grand Theatre, Grand Guignol, a conscious and cynical spectacle of power run amok. He left office under a cloud but surprisingly popular nonetheless. He is still reviled and revered in almost equal measure.

Then came Bush2, dear me with sparklers. Jeebus what a shit-show.

His rule was an unmitigated disaster almost from the beginning, in part, certainly, because he was illegitimately placed on the throne (yes, by now it should be clear that the Imperial notion of the United States and the presidency inaugurated by Nixon was institutionalized, and the president was in effect an autocrat/Emperor who could be appointed and removed at will -- by whom, though?)

We knew it would be a catastrophe, and it was.

Transformative? Well, it was sick making. Nevertheless, as appalling as it was, the neoliberal/neoconservative game plan continued unabated. In other words, no matter what happened on the surface, no matter how destructive and horrible, the underlying paradigm did not suffer or change.

That should have been a lesson learned, but it wasn't. When Obama rode a wave of fear and revulsion into the White House, as the Redemption Candidate who would fix what had gone wrong, still the underlying neoLibCon paradigm of rule continued without a pause.

Nothing changed except rhetoric and appearances.

Obama had the opportunity to be a transformative and redemptive president, and he actually had the power, but he didn't use it. Instead, he used his charisma to calm things down while instituting or continuing many of the policies and programs that continued the exploitation and destruction of the Rabble. And then convincing much of the Rabble that it was Good For Them. And everything would work out for the best, you'd see.

No. It didn't.

Some of us were not surprised. Others still don't see his sleight of hand/con game for what it was. Others still are ambivalent, whereas there is a strong element of racism and hatred in much of the opposition to him, racism and hatred that effectively distracts from what he was doing.

I have no love for him, in part because so much of what he did was contrary to the interests of the People and served to further concentrate wealth and power among a kleptocracy that now rules directly through a not-very-tightly wrapped upper class twit, a con-man, gangster and raging conspiracist, who is apparently so wild and ego-driven that he is always spinning out out of control, and is more and more likely to be neutralized with extreme prejudice, perhaps by one of his own guards. It's that dicey.

This cannot be happening, but it is.

Where it might lead is anyone's guess, but I've already said it is likely to be the final end of the Republic, and what comes after will be some form of institutionalized autocracy, even hereditary rule -- a throwback to some other time and place. And endless meatgrinder wars.

Jeebus, what have we done to deserve this?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On Losers

A constant theme among Trump cultists and loyalists is the idea that "losers" need to sit down and shut up, be gone, disappear, or be disappeared.

The Women's Marches threw a spanner in that notion, at least temporarily, due to their unprecedented and unexpected size and extent. If these marchers, women, men and children together, are all "losers", the Trump regime is off to a very bad start indeed.

I notice with interest that the Women's Marches are being hailed by the Democratic Party operatives still standing -- despite the obvious lack of Democratic Party loyalists among the speakers in DC -- and are either denounced (by Trump among others) or ignored by those who can't fathom what happened.

Their alternate reality insists that there can't be such a level of opposition to their Gold-Plated God-Emperor. It can't happen, so it didn't. Or if it did, it doesn't matter.

There's always the chance that the opportunity for a mass movement will be thrown away. That seems built in. The follow-on events, to the extent there are any, seem weak and uninteresting. That could be the consequence of Democratic Party operatives' co-optation, but knowing some of the women involved or learning of them during the festivities, I have my doubts that co-optation can succeed.

The success of the Marches can be turned into a loss easily enough. But it can also evolve into something much greater.

There is a pretense of reinventing the wheel, but that's hardly necessary. The way to work this sort of spontaneous uprising for particular goals has long since been figured out. See Gene Sharp's directions for Color Revolutionaries as an example.

There was paranoia among some of the Trump believers immediately after the election that "Soros" was trying to foment a Color Revolution when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose Trump. Comes the Women's March and millions take to the streets and rally in hundreds of cities all over the country and the world, many sporting pink pussy hats, thus inaugurating the "color" aspect of the Revolution. Many speakers used hot headed revolutionary rhetoric without apology. They were not polite. They were deliberately nasty.

They used Trump's own words against him. They demanded their time in the sun. They refuse to be "Losers."

Trump's response was to change the subject to his inauguration and pick a fight with the media over the attendance -- or audience -- there at. Well, isn't that special.

As if it mattered. It didn't, but it was a successful feint and diversion from the Women's Marches at least temporarily.

Trump is deeply unpopular and despised. The reasons why are based both on personality and on policy or likely policies. There is also a class element -- though it's often obscured.

He's riding a tiger, and it's liable to bite him in the throat, but it hasn't quite done so yet.

He sowed the wind, and he's reaping the whirlwind. I think he likes it, though those around him appear not to.

Governance has been thrown into chaos. The permanent government hates chaos. But they're "losers" too, right?

The "loser" trope encompasses the entire country beyond his believers and loyalists. Everyone who doesn't submit is a "loser" -- or even a Clintonite -- according to his metric.

While a dominant minority can rule in this country, it has never been able to do so by rejecting/insulting/denigrating the majority.

The strategy of minority neoLibCon rule has been to rhetorically include everyone, and to provide social if not economic benefits to particular groups on a case-by-case basis. This raises their feeling of status while generally not providing economic security. Clever trick.

On the other hand, the strategy of the Trumpists is to advance the interests of a shrinking minority and no one else. This is classic abuser behavior. Their fantasy is that this strategy is actually benefiting the majority -- that's them -- and anyone who doesn't benefit doesn't deserve to.

They deserve only to be punished or ignored. They're "losers."

As the opposition grows, the Trumpists lose more and more authority; ultimately, like many abusers, they become irrelevant.

We shall see...

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Squeeze

After the coup fizzled out, it looked for a time like Our Betters were simply going to let things devolve under Trump however they might and say fuck it all. A reason why the coup may have fizzled out is that the factions have become too polarized and they have very different visions of what should come after The End. They couldn't agree on a path forward, the military didn't provide buy in, and the factions are too evenly matched power-wise for any of them to assert rule over the others.

So we get Trump getting more and more off kilter as the days go by -- how many has it been? two? -- and his defenders are flailing wildly to hold on to something solid before it all flies apart.

The Squeeze has taken the place of the Coup.

Maybe that's the better way to go, I don't know. If I had confidence that the golpistas had the best interests of the People in mind, I'd go with the Coup (reluctantly), but clearly they don't. It's all against all with them and we the Rabble are the Devil's Hindmost. But the coup-plotters seem to have given up on the project for now, so The Squeeze is coming into play.

Perhaps it's better because it is more populist. And it is closing in from all directions.

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RevCom, RCP, Bob Avakian's little pop stand) is in the vanguard -- of course -- and it makes me laugh a bit because they can't actually do a damned thing, but they're out there, and they're acting all radical and shit, and saying what has to be said: "We gotta stop this fascist shitshow once and for all."

Just putting it as bluntly as that can make a difference. Most commentators dance around the obviousness of what's going on, fearful perhaps that if things are what they look like, those who speak out will be caught up in the meatgrinder and their remains will be fed to the dogs. Yes, that's a real risk. And that's why, no matter how bizarre RCP is/can be (and there are times I don't know what they have to do with any political archeology or ideology, communist or not) their presence on the front lines can make a difference. Somebody has to do it.

RCP is out front. I would think the anarchists would be out there too, but apart from some Black Blocyness during the Inaugural Pageant, I haven't seen much anarchist involvement in the whole hoo-hah, "peaceful transition of power," yadda yadda.. It doesn't mean it's not there, I just haven't seen it, locked as I am in my prison of illness and disability. (Whine, whine). It's possible that anarchists are revving up for something else later on, but my sense is that they're essentially withdrawing into the shadows with perhaps occasional outbursts of Black Blocyness to keep the pot stirred. Survival mode.

Things aren't going to be pretty, after all.

No, the Squeeze isn't coming from the anarchists nor necessarily from the radical vanguard.

It's coming from a consolidation of domestic and international business and financial interests with the anti-Trump factions of the permanent government and from the rising and (more or less) genuine grassroots populist movement -- signified by the spectacular turnout for the Women's March -- on the other.

I don't think Trump will survive it -- but of course, he's pulled through many other efforts to kneecap him, so I'm not placing bets yet. It's risky for those involved, and there's no sign yet of what comes after.

If The Squeeze merely replaces Trump with Pence we're probably worse off than if nothing were done. But we might feel better about it. I don't know. I know I wouldn't, but that's me. I think a lot of anti-Trump activists would be much happier with Pence, though the anti-Fascists would puke. Myself, I'd prefer to see the entire cavalcade swept away, but I don't have much of a solution beyond that, either.

The inability to predict or describe what comes next is one of the chief impediments to action. I would think this was all gamed out long ago by the Ruling Clique, but apparently not. Signs are clear that they were not prepared, not even close, for what's happened. Thus so much wheel spinning.

We don't have an image of what comes next in part because we've been conditioned not to think that way. When people did think that way, we got utopian visions such as Communism, Fascism and Nazi-ism. I think Our Betters want to ensure that never happens again, so thinking through what comes next is almost impossible except for those with an apocalyptic frame of reference. No more utopias, in other words.

Trump was selling a different kind of dystopia, and enough people bought the snake oil to put him into the White House (if that's where he is, I kind of doubt he actually stays there. Not enough gold plate...)  But they're finding out it tastes awful and doesn't cure what ails them. It makes them sicker.

The media is part of The Squeeze, but note, plenty of formerly "progressive"ish websites among the New Media ("") have thrown in their lot with Trump, placing a bet that whatever happens under his rule, it will be better for them to be on the side of the winner than not. That will only work for them if he actually wins in the end. It's a calculated risk, of course, for the Internet as we've known it looks slated to go away sooner rather than later -- and that would be likely whether or not Trump were in the White House. Noncompliant as well as compliant websites and their proprietors are in the crosshairs no matter what. It really won't matter much whether a blog or website proprietor defended Trump or not. The point will be to stifle dissenting points of view and market only approved positions.

The coastal enclaves and their economic clout are part of The Squeeze. Trump ultimately can't do anything without them. And he's done his absolute best to alienate them.

Elements of the military and the MIC are part of The Squeeze. Of course the anti-Trump faction of the intelligence community is part of The Squeeze.

One of the more interesting factors of The Squeeze is that the professional bureaucracy that actually does the business of government is not just resisting, they're actively subverting many of his initiatives and desires. Not just saying "No," they're saying "Fuck you very much."

Oh my. Something like this happened with Reagan, too, but the bureaucrats were ultimately brought around, though it took quite some time and the Reaganites had to yield on many fronts before they were able to get their modified way. They thought they could just wave a wand and compel obedience. That's not how it works.

I don't think Trump will be given that kind of time to sort things out. And if the subversion is as extensive as it seems, he won't be able to mollify the resisters. Too many other things to do on too many other fronts.

The Squeeze is coming from the tech sector, the financial sector, as well as many other sectors which feel uneasy about the advent of this gross abuser in office, and it's coming from some who probably want revenge for some of his behavior in business. This is their chance.

Mob interest must be keen. Factions there, too.

Ultimately, it boils down to a popular revolt. All these interests and more will try to manipulate it, but we can't know in advance how it will turn out.

But recall that early on, the Trump defenders and loyalists were hyperventilating over some sort of Soros-funded Color Revolution their paranoias told them was under way when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets right after the "election."

There were millions in the streets on Saturday, and the color was pink pussy.

The hyper ventilating and paranoia was triggered once again. Soros! Soros! Soros! No doubt he and his money has something to do with the growing resistance, and maybe his idea is to underwrite a Color Revolution in the USofA. So? Not that I approve -- these Color Revolutions elsewhere have turned into disasters for the Rabble -- but when you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind, that's just the way it is. Trump opened this door, and if he doesn't like what's behind it, too fucking bad.

This might be a good time to post a link to Gene Sharp's directions on how to do a Color Revolution. 

Maybe the paranoia is justified as many of the elements Sharp says are necessary are in place.


There are alternatives. 

Take the Square provided the guidebook for Occupy -- one that's been expanded with lessons learned since then.

Peter Gelderloos' How Nonviolence Protects the State is a good and useful reference for understanding just what all those cries for "nonviolent resistance" really mean.

Then there's David Graeber's Revolution in Reverse which turns the whole Revolution!! theory on its head. There are other ways to do it, people. Think!

These are some of the alternatives to a Color Revolution, there are many others, and we really haven't seen anything yet.

I'll close this long-winded screed with the observation that the Internet is designed to overwhelm any likelihood of action. It is filled to bursting with entertainment, fear, uncertainty and doubt. It is made to hold your attention and keep you from doing anything about your situation and condition but submit to what you are told to do. Ie: send money to candidates, vote for one shit-show or the other.

Decoupling is necessary.

Be careful of falling into the propaganda and argument trap. You'll never emerge!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yesterday was Terrific -- Himself's First Full Day on the Throne Was A Disaster of Epic Proportions

Game on, eh?

I watched bits and pieces of the Women's March in DC on C-Span's livestream yesterday -- as it wasn't being covered live on any of the local broadcast stations. Odd I thought, but there you are. There were a lot of people there, obviously, but it was impossible to tell from the camera angle how many. Then I found a long-shot from the Washington Monument, and it was clear the crowd was huge, but still hard to tell how huge. Bigger, obviously, than the inaugural, but the people were arranged differently, facing away from the Capitol rather than towards it, and many, many more were in the streets beside the Mall than was the case during the inauguration.

A lot of people, yes, and they were certainly in a good mood, enjoying most of the speakers and entertainers -- it was certainly an energetic line up -- and even more important, enjoying one another's company. This was like a community get-together on a massive scale. They couldn't march -- there were too many people, and they'd already filled up a good deal of the march route -- so they had a rally instead, and it was good.

While the local stations didn't cover it live, they also didn't cover Trump's rambling, incoherent and self-referential remarks at the CIA live, and they didn't cover Sean Spicer's little tirade at the White House press corps live either.

So I'm still doing catch up on what was going on yesterday, the first full day in office for the new boss. Or whatever he is.

Not sure at this point just how "in charge" he is. But we'll know soon enough.

The masses of people in the streets yesterday, in DC and all over the country, was astonishing. In my condition, I can't do these things any more, and it kind of drives me nuts. I don't want to be sitting at home with oxygen tanks and tubes and doG knows what-all, remembering to take my meds and trying to remember which ones I forgot this time, yadda yadda. But that's the reality I live with, and it means no more marching in protest or hanging out much with various opponents of the status quo...

I have to get news as it comes and I can find it, and the news is often shaped and shaded for a particular purpose in support of a particular agenda. Treading carefully and critically is necessary.

As I cruised around the Internet for news on the marches, my astonishment at the outpouring of community feeling, good fellowship and determined opposition to Trump and all his cronies and minions all over the country and the world only grew. I had no idea -- I don't think anybody did -- that the Women's Marches would be so well-attended. 

750,000 in Los Angeles??? Is that even conceivable? Estimates now range to 650,000 in DC. 100,000 in Denver. 120,000 in Seattle. 10,000 or 20,000 in Albuquerque --- Albuquerque!!  20,000 in Sacramento. 100,000 in Boston. 400,000 to 500,000 in NYC.

And it goes on and on and on, In many places, the largest demonstrations ever seen. Unprecedented. And everywhere, consistent reports of good feeling, community, and determined opposition to Trump and all his bullshit.

I've noted some of the critics of yesterday's demonstrations have taken the tack that the women were incoherent, had no specific goals or items they were protesting, their rage was impotent, their presence in the streets irrelevant. Yadda yadda, the usual anti-protest garbage.

But here's the deal, during this nascent popular uprising -- that's what it is -- the White House and the would be God-Emperor were trying to take control of the narrative, to dominate the coverage, and to make all this Female Business go away.

As I say, neither their efforts nor the marches themselves were covered live on my teevee, and I didn't see that much of what was going on elsewhere when I checked the Internet. But when I did see things...

Trump went to the CIA and yapped for too long about himself, whined about the coverage of the inauguration and denounced the "lies" about attendance. What? WTF, dude. Get over it. Put on your big boy pants and suck it up. Nope. Not him. Whine, whine, whine, whine. Nonstop. That's his style. It's an identity thing. But showing it off at the CIA headquarters may not have been wise. Or maybe it was just what they needed to see to convince them -- if they had any doubt -- that this man cannot be allowed to be "in charge" of anything but a pedal car.

The infantile nature he displayed at the CIA would have been shocking if we hadn't seen it many times before. What was new was his open display of childish tantrum throwing at the headquarters of one of the agencies he's been insulting and denigrating. Yet his audience seemed to love it.

That gave me the sense that the ruling clique's factional contest is more complicated than I thought. These were supposed to be rank-and-file CIA workers in attendance at the Trump appearance yesterday. I don't know if they were or not. But if they were, their reaction was a sign that the agency is split -- as is most of the permanent government -- over whether Mr. Trump is to be obeyed or thwarted. That may be the reason he has not been thwarted... yet. Perhaps it's why there has been no intervention of consequence, despite the many opportunities presented.

If there is such a split in the agencies, then it's likely the split runs throughout the permanent government, and a resolution may not be possible. I will keep that in mind as things devolve.

Later in the day, Sean Spicer, the Presidential Spokesmouth, made remarks at the White House regarding the issues brought up at the CIA by the President. The important issues. Ie: crowd size at the inauguration vs the Women's March, and whether or not a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. was removed from the Oval Office as reported in Time magazine.

He yelled, he threatened, he blustered, he read from a prepared text and stumbled all over his words. He took no questions. The press corps was dumbfounded.

Spicer lied on behalf of his boss. He declared war on the media. Again.

OK then.

What to do about it?

The problem here is that the Media -- as in the big ticket propaganda organs -- has a shitty reputation in part because it is so unreliable and so focused on info-tainment. Many of us simply ignore it or pick and choose very carefully what to watch and listen to and critically assess what to believe.

We won't have cable teevee in our house, in part to make sure that cable "news" never darkens our viewscreens.

To the extent we watch any news on the teevee, it's mostly Amy Goodman -- who I frequently criticize -- and PBS NewsHour, which I also criticize. Network news is rarely seen or heard here.

So when Spicer or Trump criticize the media, they will get little argument from me -- except when they demand, as Spicer did, and Trump has often done, that the media report the lies of the regime as Truth.

The correct answer is No.

But that's hard for the media to do. The threat is that if they don't fall in line, they will be shut out of access, and Trump will go around them, which I guess gives them major heartburn.

So what do they do? They don't know. Not yet. Some are standing up to the abuse, but others are yielding in order to maintain their access to the King. It's a mish-mash.

In the meantime, what these mooks in office are saying is... crazy. Not just crazy but dangerous. Divisive. Destructive.

Personally, I'd rather not see it reported as anything but lies, division, and danger.

But that's not up to me.

Meanwhile I'd like to see the spirit of resistance that was shown in the marches and rallies yesterday be sustained, and I'm not sure at this point it will be (of course, since I can't be there, I don't know what's going on internally.) The massive attendance is probably not repeatable, but it doesn't need to be. What's needed is sustained and focused opposition, and that's very hard to accomplish in this society.

Stranger things have happened. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On the Coronation and the End of the Republic

I've watched parts of every inauguration since Eisenhower's second in 1957. That was my first opportunity to watch the pageant ""live after we got a teevee in 1954.

Yesterday's pageant seemed more like a coronation than any I've witnessed since Nixon's second in 1973. Of course that regime didn't end well, and it wasn't long after the display of Imperial Ruffles and Flourishes before dude was choppered out of DC in disgrace.

That episode was one of many shocks the Republic has had to endure during its lifetime. Replacing Nixon with the unelected Ford (ably assisted by the unelected Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President) will probably be seen by later historians -- if there are any -- as a critical error of judgment by the high and the mighty who ran the government in those days.

It set a standard of presidential impunity that's only been expanded since.

Bill Clinton's impeachment was another critical error of judgment, but with a very different outcome. It was a shock to the system, yes, and stupid as can be, but it demonstrated as clearly as anything could that whatever these people, Our Rulers, do for public entertainment, it's not even as orderly as Kabuki. They're stone (and probably stoned) idiots. What. The. Fuck?

These are only two of the events that have rocked the Republic and its operations in relatively recent times, but there have been many such shocks -- and much worse -- over the centuries that the Republic has more or less endured.

I'm not at all sure the Republic can endure this latest shock and survive in any meaningful way.

And perhaps it's time for this faulty experiment in Constitutional Self-Government to fold up and conclude.

The experiment has failed.

Presidents come and go, of course, and they don't define the meaning of the Republic which endures despite them. Or sometimes because of them. Any government, any form of government, is going to face shocks as a matter of course, and it is up to the governing class (or ruling clique as the case may be) to deal with them appropriately.

That includes the President, of course, but often in our history, Presidents have been little  more than figureheads fronting a government by, for, and controlled by the malefactors of great wealth. They don't use their quasi-imperial power == they may not even understand they have it. I'm not a presidential historian, so I won't delve too deeply into that speculation.

Not all presidents have been mere figureheads by any means. Certainly Nixon and Clinton were not; there's some question over whether GW Bush was a figurehead or actually the guiding hand of his disastrous regime. Accounts from the inside vary.

As for Obama, he seemed to have a sure hand on the tiller from time to time, but so often he was clearly a creature of the Interests Whom He Served. Not, in other words, the People.

I think what may turn out to be the surest measure of his ultimate impotence in the Driver's Seat is the series of disastrous interventions abroad that have turned various areas of the globe into bloody cauldrons and turned many global citizens against the Hegemon. Good heavens, what were they (those in charge of our foreign policy) thinking?

That's just the thing, isn't it? They weren't.

From appearances, it seemed they lost all moral or critical thinking skills whatever. Gone, disappeared, in a fog of neoLibCon ideology that they adopted as the only alternative to chaos (as if) and implemented mindlessly with horrifying results which they deemed "success."

Maybe we should take them at their word. The disasters that have been imposed on the People, at home and abroad, under the rule of the neoLibCon paradigm are exactly what they want and have aimed for.

Many of the hosannas over the elevation of Trump to the Throne have to do with touching faith that Mr. Trump will tear down that disastrous paradigm of neoLibCon rule and end the torture once and for all.

Oh dear.

No. That is not what he has ever said he would do, not even a hint. So far as I know, he's never even used the terms "neoliberal" and "neoconservative." His whole effort has been focused on making the governing paradigm work "better" -- on behalf of himself and his cronies, of course, and if there is anything left over once they have their reward, then providing something, a scrap or two, to the ravening Rabble. Gee. That's part and parcel of the neoLibCon theory of rule.

The Rulers see themselves as having no obligation to the Lower Orders, but in order to secure and maintain their rule, it is wise from time to time to show an interest in the well being of their servants -- if only to exploit them better.

The elevation of Trump via a highly questionable election is tailor made for just such an effort at "showing an interest" in Those People.

Isn't it obvious? Notice who the people being shown an interest in ARE.

The so-called White Male Working Class and Rural White Voters.

The common thread? White.

It's all very highly racialized and overtly White Supremacist. This is in the grand tradition of the US of A. There wouldn't be a US of A without it. Racism and White Supremacy are so deeply ingrained in US culture and society that there is no way to avoid it or extirpate it without bringing down the who structure.

According to the current narrative, the White Male Working Class and their Rural White Cousins have been "left behind" -- while others, brown, black, female -- unworthy -- have profited. There is some truth in it, of course. The working and middle classes in general have paid a heavy price to ensure the comfort and convenience of people like Trump. That cannot be denied and it shouldn't be denied, but focusing exclusively on the travails of the White Male Working Class and their Rural (White) Cousins, is just the kind of Divide the Rabble and Rule Them forever and ever amen tactic that has been employed by their neoLibCon betters throughout history. It's what they do.

So here we go, with a coronated and quite overt White Supremacist now on the Throne, vowing to serve the interests of those white men "left behind" who supposedly elected him. Anyone who gets in the way will face his wrath, for he is Emperor and his Will is Law.

Jeebus Farking Christmas. Do we have to?

Maybe so.

Maybe it takes this kind of Imperial hubris at the top to force those lower down to see what's being done to them, what has been done to them for generations and to finally take action.

I resist the urge to blame the bovine stupidity of the Rabble for what's happened. It simply isn't their fault. With many exceptions along the way, they've tried to do the right thing. They've tried to use the political and operational mechanisms of the Republic to better their own lives and the lives of others, strangers to them, but worthy just the same.

And they have been thwarted every step of the way by a fiercely entitled and resistant Ruling Class. Every/ Step. of the. Way.

Every advance has been fought either to a standstill or has only been accepted -- in modified form -- after decades or generations of struggle.

That's built in to the nature of the Republic, but over the years, the idea of the Republic has decayed to such an extent that it's largely a hollow shell, most of which is inoperative. As hard as it has been to advance under the Republican model, it's been essentially impossible -- with a few exceptions -- to do so for a generation or more.

And this is touted as 'what the people want,' and it isn't. It's false. But Our Rulers, in their ineffable wisdom, believe sincerely that governing contrary to the interests of the Rabble is exactly what they are supposed to do. Whatever the Rabble want or need, do the opposite.

This is insane, but this is how the ruling classes operate. It's a game to them. It's a game to see how many Quatloos they can accumulate before the whole thing implodes.

It's crazy. But there you are.

To say the Republic has been largely useless for the interests of the People for decades is to point to the obvious (I would think.)

So by elevating the Person of Mr. Trump to the quasi-Imperial Throne of the Presidency, it could well be the final nail in the coffin of a long-terminal Republic. Inevitable? Could be.

As for Mr. Trump himself, I'm not at all sure that he sees the Presidency as an "elevation." But given his nature, we can expect him to make it into one. That he's assuming the office in place of a Negro, and he seems to think that the Negro screwed things up majorly, is telling.

The message is that the Mud People and the Lower Orders are simply not fit to rule. Let the magnificence of the Gold Plated "Man of the People" show the right way to do things.

Of course his "Man of the People" shtick is a fraud, but after all the fraud at the top we've witnessed so far, that's nothing new. No, he will rule on his own behalf and that of his cronies, period. As that realization dawns on his faithful followers (he is like a cult leader to them), they somehow manage to rationalize it by hoping a few more scraps will fall from the tables of the Haute Monde than was the case previously. Maybe they will, I don't know, but the hope is all they've got at this point.

He wants to rule as an autocrat/dictator, and he's trying to shape the battle space to ensure that he can and will. From appearances, he seems to be succeeding. As I've said, there is an inherent autocratic component in the Presidency, most often expressed during wartime. Since there is never an end to the current cycle of wars and overthrows this nation engages in, the inherent autocratic nature of the Presidency has no brakes -- except for those the autocrat chooses to engage. Even the Bush-Cheney regime sometimes put the brakes on the autocracy.

But it looks like Trump won't.

OK then. If that's the way he goes, then yes, the Republic is over and done.

What that will mean for the many is yet to be determined.

We'll see.

And if Roberts had been holding a crown of golden laurel leaves yesterday, I have no doubt Mr. Trump would have placed it on his own gold-plated brow and declared himself a god.

Jeebus, what have we done to deserve this.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Problem With Presidents

So as far as we know, later this morning New Mexico time, Mr. Trump will approach the podium set up on the back steps of the Capitol in Washington and be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, to the shock and horror of much of the population of those United States and the world.

W. T. F. America?

So far as we know, there has been no serious intervention that would prevent Mr. Trump's ascension to office. There have been numerous opportunities for intervention since he began his rise during the primary contests with however many rivals the Republican Party threw up against him.

He was a force of nature. Chatty and incoherent, insulting to any and all critics or rivals and ingratiating with his adoring fans, telling everyone he didn't care what they thought of him, he was going to plow on no matter, and he would win, like he always did in business. Just watch.

He ran as an entertainer, a clown, a vicious street fighter, a financial and sexual predator, a bully, a con man, a force of nature to be reckoned with or to yield to. There were no alternatives, at least none offered in his own narrative or that of the propaganda media.

Accept him as he is or reject him; it didn't matter to him, not in the least. He would win, you just watch.

Sure enough, come election night, the shocked and then resigned looks on the faces of the media talking heads told the tale. Though he was never ahead in the overall popular vote as reported, he got enough votes in the crucial battleground states to defeat Mrs. Clinton soundly in the Electoral College, "the only vote that matters."

Hm. Well, there you are then. For the second time in 16 years, the loser of the popular vote will ascend to the White House as President due to the clever Electoral College mechanism specifically designed -- they say -- to prevent this sort of thing from happening. "They say." In fact, the Electoral College ensures this sort of thing will happen more and more often as time goes by. But that's another issue for another day.

What I'd rather deal with today is the problem with Presidents and the Presidency in general.

We have an archaic system of rule that's largely based in the model of the 18th Century British Empire from which what would become the United States rebelled. The rebellion wasn't on behalf of abstract notions of "equality," "freedom," and "liberty," but for the specific purpose of ensuring the advantages obtained by a rising colonial aristocracy. Fine words were employed to support the cause, but in the end, only about a third of the colonial population -- some of the white ones -- supported the rebellion. Had the Crown and Parliament in London actually taken the matter seriously, it's likely the United States as we know it would never have come into being.

But that's as may be. It did come into being, and after some initial difficulty and some internal rebellions, it began to flourish.

The initial concept under the Constitution that was ratified and went into force in 1789 was that of a domestic empire ruled as a Republic by a qualified class of patriotic aristocrats. White Men (only) of Means, Reputation, and Eminence.

For a long time, I thought one of them was among my ancestors, but it turns out he wasn't. While we may share ancestors in common (I haven't found them if they exist), there is no direct relationship between descendants.  I was lied to.

The President is a somewhat anomalous position in that Republic. He (or maybe one day she) has vast powers -- exceeding those of any modern king or potentate, and in some ways exceeding those of 18th Century British monarchs, The President was to be constrained by the monetary appropriations of the Congress, the advice and consent of the Senate, and the rule of law as interpreted by the courts. Initially, the President was considered weaker than a monarch in most respects, but in others -- that is in his representation of the Nation -- he was more glorious than any Emperor.

As the role of the President evolved, however, the Presidency took on not just the trappings of autocracy but the reality of it as well, seen in stark relief during war time, and consolidated with relish during occasional outbreaks of "peace."

In fact, the United States government has engaged in perpetual war domestically and/or internationally for its entire existence, and this constant war-making has had a profound effect on the nature of the Presidency and the US Government as a whole.

Our rulers long ago set themselves up as a warrior caste -- whether or not they personally engaged in military action -- with an ever-varied list of "enemies" to be defeated. Our government runs on the principles of making war, as anyone who's been paying close attention or has had a close relationship with the federal government can recognize.

Behind the Warrior Caste is a Wealth Class, some of whom participate directly in the government, others stay in the shadows directing the government.

This has been the case for as long as there has been a government of the United States, and it isn't changing because Trump is to assume the office of President. He may have pretended to be a Warrior Caste member in his personal pageant, but for decades he's been a member of the Wealth Class who have the power to direct the government to their own advantage from behind the scenes.

This is why the pretense that he is "anti-establishment" is ludicrous. He IS "establishment" -- albeit part of a faction of the establishment that is generally considered contemptible and/or criminal. Nevertheless, it's always been a powerful faction, usually easier to accommodate than contest.

No one quite like him has been "elected" to the Presidency since Andrew Jackson, and the parallels with Jackson are not close enough to be particularly illustrative.

No, this is for all intents and purposes a unique -- and hopefully one-off -- experiment in direct rule by the Plutocracy.

It isn't just the President, the Congress, Courts and Statehouses of the nation are dominated by plutocrats, kleptocrats, and their agents as well.

They have some popular support -- as they have always had in national and state affairs -- but it isn't large, and as long as they have the power, the people's objections to their rule don't matter to them.

Until now, the presidency has been held by an heroic figure such as Mr. Washington, or Mr. Lincoln, or Mr. Eisenhower, or by an agent of the plutocrats, not directly by a member of the plutocracy/kleoptocracy.

But that's about to change, and many of those who celebrate it have no idea what kind of change is in the works.

In my view, this is the end-point of the Republic -- a Republic that was on life support anyway -- and there will be no going back. The experiment in self-government -- never perfected -- will end, either with a crash or a whimper, and that will be that.

The President will no longer be a genuinely powerful but ever-modest figurehead, he (or maybe one day she) will be what the office has always inherently implied: an autocrat, an Emperor in all but name, a divinity.

The Congress and courts and to a great extent the shadowy government of the Wealthy will do his bidding or feel his wrath. The People, the Rabble, will be cut loose to fend for themselves -- and be cut down if they get uppity -- or they will be patriotically "organized" and "coordinated" into Imperial support corps led by Himself.

White Supremacy will be restored to its rightful place in the National Mythology.

Too bad for those who don't fit the ideal.

Too, too bad.

The problem with Presidents and the Presidency is that this kind of authoritarian/autocratic and overtly racist rule has always been inherent in the position itself. I'm sure Mr. Trump will innovate in many ways, doing things we've never seen a President do before, but the nature of the position is such that he can do this with little or no interference from those vaunted "checks and balances." This power and authority has always been inherent in the position, but until now, certain formalities and traditions of the office have generally prevented their open expression.

Since 2001 (and actually before) those formalities and traditions have been under threat, and many have already been jettisoned. We entered an alternate political reality when GW Bush was installed in the Presidency lawlessly in 2001, and that alternate reality has only been reinforced and consolidated ever since. Mr. Obama, while seeming to be Mr. Modest in his rule actually carried on the processes that had been under way for quite a long time, and while he didn't adopt the trappings of an Emperor, he ruled like one where and when he could, and when he couldn't, he provided "Imperial Cover" for pretty much whatever the government's owners and sponsors wanted.

So here we're about to encounter the apotheosis of the Presidency, it's open transformation. There will be no going back.

I'm not sure the Nation can or will survive. A unified national consciousness --- and conscience --- has essentially disappeared.  There are regional and largely independent perspectives, but they conflict with one another to such an extent that there's little common ground between them any more -- if there ever really was. The only times they've come together, and then only temporarily, has been under the gun. Otherwise they fight one another.

A breakup into several semi-autonomous regional super-states is therefore somewhat likely to relieve the stress of the transformations to come. The secessionists in California, Oregon, and Washington see themselves as a vanguard for this breakup, and maybe they are.

But there are all sorts of potential consequences to the coming ascension of Mr. Trump to the Presidency. Once he is in office, an intervention is still possible but much less likely, simply because it's easier to go along with a New Boss than to fight him.

We'll see.

Opposition is pervasive, true enough, but I have no clue where it will lead.

More and more folks are waking up to the New Reality, and to my eyes, more and more of them are saying "No!" -- but it's too late to stop what's coming (oh, I could go on and on about what could have been done) and we'll just have to ride it out.

Or something.

Strap in; it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Frankie Say:

(There are about eighty-eleven different versions of this, but this one seems to fit the mood of the moment....)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jeremy Scahill Explains It All For You

This is from December:

This is from 2009:

Compare and contrast.

The Unknown Murder Mystery

Amid the crises and chaos -- oh my! -- I've been working on a post that could be called "creative nonfiction" about the murder of my mother's grandfather Joe in 1904.

Until recently, I knew nothing at all about it. I'm not sure my mother knew anything about it, either. The only mention I recall she made of her grandfather -- ie: her mother's father -- was that he died years before she was born, and she thought it was in an accident of some kind. But she didn't know.

She did remember Ida, Joe's widow, mother of Edna, my mother's mother. Ida always wore black, she was stern, and she was the matriarch of the house of women my mother was born into in 1911.

The newspaper articles about Joe's murder are pretty juicy, including plenty of salacious details, some gore, and statements from witnesses. My my, "Shorty," as he was called, was quite a character and so was Ella, his mistress/murderess.

In my research prior to discovering the murder story, I found a number of curiosities about Joe that I was unable to resolve, but there are some indications from this murder story about what was going on that are kind of astonishing when I think about it.

At some point, possibly around 1890 -- not long after Edna's birth -- it appears that Joe and Ida separated. I've found Joe apparently living with his mother Eliza, not with Ida. But I also found another Joe (we'll call him "Hastings" because that's one of the aliases he used) living elsewhere. On occasion, there were as many as three "Joes" -- that I suspect were all the same person -- living in different places in Indianapolis.

Then in 1904, the year "Shorty" was killed, Joe is listed as living at the same address as Ida, and someone  named "Francis J" is listed as living at Joe's mother's address. In other years, there is a "Joseph F" listed at Joe's mother's place, and Joe is not listed at Ida's -- except in the 1900 census, in which he is also listed at his mother's address. I'm pretty sure now that "Francis J," "Joseph F," and "Joseph M" are all the same person listed at different times. I have found no listing for "Joe Hastings" however.

Ella -- Joe's mistress/murderess -- and her husband Frank apparently knew Joe as "Joe Hastings." I suspect that Joe used the name "Francis J" sometimes when he was listed at his mother's house because of Frank Hicks, his mistress's husband. How drôle. They were apparently friends, as the newspaper report of the murder indicates that prior to the deed, Frank had invited Joe to stay for lunch with him and Ella.

From all accounts, Joe was a frequent visitor and had been visiting Ella and Frank for at least two years before the murder.

Ella claimed that she did Joe's washing. That's all. And that's why Joe came over as often as he did. But apparently neighbors knew that Joe and Ella were having an affair. Whether Frank knew, I don't know. I suspect he did.

These sorts of things weren't as unusual in the late Victorian era as we've been led to believe. In fact, casual couplings and long term affairs were pretty routine -- and from what I can tell, they were often accepted with little or no complaint or even much notice. Men and women both had affairs, though women (married or not) were at greater risk for consequences when they did.

I'd say such things are less usual these days than they were then.

In doing this research, I found that Ida -- Joe's wife, my mother's grandmother -- gave birth to her son Ralph more than a year before she married Joe. Oops. This wasn't all that unusual either, but still...

It gives rise to speculation: was Joe Ralph's father? Maybe, maybe not. About 18 months after Joe and Ida were married, my mother's mother Edna was born. Not long after that, as far as I can tell, Joe and Ida separated, and Ida, with her children, went back to live with her parents.

Ida's father, John, died in 1902; her mother Mariah Louisa died in 1908. After Ida moved back to her parents' home, she lived there with various relations. Then after her parents died, she lived there with her widowed sisters, her children, and eventually her granddaughter Virginia, my mother.

So from what I can tell, Ida was more or less independent after separating from Joe. But she did not divorce him, and after his death she staged a big funeral for him at her house and led the cortège to the cemetery a couple of miles away. From that day forth, she asserted she was Joe's widow, and she always dressed in black.

Ida also attended Ella's trial -- as the Wronged Widow Woman. Ella was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. I don't know what happened to Frank, or if Ella and Frank had any children. I've found no record of either of them except for the reports of Joe's murder.

It appears that Ida inherited property from her parents -- quite a lot of it if newspaper reports of her property sales are any indication. She was arguably quite well off from these sales. On the other hand, she claimed to be employed as a seamstress. From what my mother remembered of Ida, which wasn't a lot as my mother and her mother left the household in 1917 when my mother was only five years old, she was strict and stern, and I got the impression my mother didn't like her much, perhaps she was afraid of Ida.

Of course she wouldn't have known Joe, and I doubt she heard much about him. If, as I suspect, Joe and Ida separated not long after Edna's birth, then I doubt Edna had a lot of contact with her father, and she was probably much closer to her grandparents, but I don't know.

So much I don't know.

"Creative nonfiction" is about the only way I can deal with what I'm discovering, too.

Monday, January 16, 2017

As the Coup Continues

There seems to be a much more widespread understanding that there may be a Deep State coup under way to either control the incoming Trump regime or to prevent his ascension to the presidency should control prove impractical or unpossible.

Some observers have gone into hysterics over it, calling it "unprecedented" interference and such-like. Horseshit.

I've pointed out that this is what the Permanent Government does. I won't use a term like Deep State most of the time because it's not really hidden, and its ways ought to be pretty well known by now. It isn't just Trump. They try to undermine or control every president. And if that proves to be to be too difficult or the president goes rogue, they have other solutions at their disposal. Those of us who are old enough have witnessed some of those solutions.

After all, presidents. serve for 4 or 8 years, if that. The Permanent Government is there always. And some of the individuals who hold the power of that Government would like to be there in perpetuity. Immortals, they are or would be if they could be.

Some Trump supporters/defenders seem to be relying on the institutions of government, the constitution, the congress, the courts and such like to protect Trump from the machinations of the Deep State. I'd say that trust is misplaced. The institutions themselves are rotten to the core, long ago compromised and corrupted. They can't effectively protect anyone, not even themselves, and they have that institutional knowledge. They might serve as a buffer if things go completely haywire, but beyond that, I can't see them serving any positive function at all.

If the coup is successful, they'll go along. If it isn't, they'll go along. From appearances, they seem to be on the side of their own perpetuation. Thus, they are instinctively golpistas, but they are unlikely to participate directly in the program.

The institutional defense is the constitution. Whereas the incoming Trump regime seems to be intent on circumventing the constitution and ignoring the rule of law -- among other things -- in order to install direct rule by the oligarchs and kleptocrats, the institutions of the permanent government rely on their devotion to the constitution and the rule of law to prop up their shaky legitimacy. In other words, they may be corrupt and compromised, decadent and generally useless on behalf of the People, BUT they follow the process of government as delineated in the constitution and practiced through the ages. It may not work very well, but that doesn't matter, they do it as they have done it for centuries, and this Trump regime is not going to be allowed to operate outside those parameters.

The institutions will not protect Trump and his cronies if they continue to try to operate outside them.

On the other hand, some of the Trump loyalists and defenders seem to think that if this coup-business goes much further, Trump can rely on a faction of the military to protect him and the incoming regime. That may be the case, I don't know. His determination to strategically seed generals in his cabinet and among his close advisors is certainly indicative of an interest in using the military as a shield, and I'm sure that the golpistas are factoring that into their calculations.

Trump supporters seem to think he's popular and that the public wants him to rule. This does not seem to be the case at all. He was never generally popular, and what popularity he had is cratering as the public witnesses more and more of the chaos that ensues from his wild, unpredictable and childish behavior. Even the military is shaken by it. This man isn't capable of governing  a global imperial state like the United States of America, and he apparently refuses to learn how to do it.

That's not to say that direct rule by the oligarchs and kleptocrats is something the military and governing institutions instinctively reject. They don't. Not at all. But a faction of them do reject such rule by Trump simply because he demonstrates every day he is incapable of handling the "awesome responsibility" of the office. He's too scattered, too unpredictable, too resistant to control. He wishes to be an emperor, dictator, and god, against which there can be no opposition.

His supporters largely want him to be that too: an emperor, dictator and god.

How far we have fallen from the ideal of a self-governing republic.

Maybe that was a pipedream all along.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chaos -- and The Wreck

I've been contemplating Chaos the last few weeks, and wouldn't you know, last Wednesday, Ms. Ché was involved in a serious auto accident in Albuquerque. She and the other driver were both injured, and the cars were totaled. This was Albuquerque, and this is what happens day in and day out. You never know when it will happen to you. But you can be almost certain that it will.

So I guess you have to be prepared, but I don't really know how you prepare for what is essentially a random incident. Best you can do is prepare for the risk. Be aware that it can happen at any time, and you never know. 

I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly how this wreck happened or whose liability will eventually be claimed. From what I've been told, it sounds like either driver, or both, may have been at fault. At any rate, that determination is probably weeks or months away.

In the meantime, Ms. Ché is recovering from her injuries (mostly from the airbags) well, and the insurance company has paid off her car loan and provided a modest amount on top of it to use toward another car should we choose.

Well, since Ms. Ché starts back to school at IAIA in Santa Fe on Tuesday, we pretty much have to choose. We have another vehicle, the ancient Astro van that got us here from California back in the day, but she says she can't drive it ("It's too big! My feet won't reach the pedals!") and I really wouldn't want her to, as it is old and the brakes -- among other things -- aren't the best. I've driven it in ice and snow -- whoo-hoo! -- and it's an adventure to say the least.

Another car, though. Hm. A friend wants to sell us a recently restored 1957 T-Bird. Wouldn't that be fun? It's a gorgeous car, but well out of our price range (I believe they want $37,000 and it's worth more), and beyond that, I'm not sure it's the best thing to commute the 50 miles each way between our place and Santa Fe. Still... it would be a treat.

I've contemplated a beater, rust bucket pick up. They are available at pretty low prices in this area, but... Not sure Ms. Ché would be able to drive it any better than she could drive the van, and there would be plenty of safety concerns on that long daily commute. A breakdown along the way could be a serious misadventure.

The car that was wrecked was a Subaru, pretty much an ideal vehicle for New Mexico given the weather and the roads and so forth. She loved it. Now for something else...

The Wreck of course was a chaotic incident. Chaos seems to be our collective fate for a while. Getting through it is not going to be easy, yet some of us are well-adapted to coping with whatever comes our way.

I'm not altogether sure I'm one of them. But we'll see, won't we?

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Coup Intensifies

I dunno.

This Russian Thing is getting more and more bizarre by the hour. The supposed "dossier" has had some effect, but just what it is and will be, who can say?

The intent seems to be more of a warning than a serious effort to undermine/overthrow the President-elect, *quote unquote*, as if to say, "Look, we can do this, and you can't do anything to stop it."

Yes, and? Are they trying to bring him to heel? Or is it something else?

I've been pretty clear that I don't think Trump should take office. His faction of the ruling clique was always small, and from appearances, its core seems to be shrinking. They clearly have a personal interest in seizing the government's levers and dials, and they are being opposed by a much larger cohort that doesn't want to yield. That doesn't mean Trump can't overcome the obstacles being placed in the way of his rule, but each time he has to do something to overcome the obstacles, authoritarianism and rule by diktat are solidified. This may be the intent of the factions of the ruling clique that are facing him down, I don't know.

What I have little doubt of is that these things have been long since gamed out and prepared for. People tend to have very naive notions about how incompetent our government is or how ultimately benign it is. In fact, its operations are quite strictly controlled and internally they are remarkably competently implemented for long time and long term interests and goals. It's not perfect, but on the whole, it's highly organized and well-conducted. And yes, the possibility of someone like Trump arising and being "elected" and what to do about it has probably been one of the scenarios of what could come since before I was born.

The Rabble can certainly affect outcomes, but what's going on is essentially an internal struggle between factions of the ruling clique.

Something like it happened at the outset of the imposed Bush-Cheney Regime when elements of the ruling clique set out to control the incoming regime's scope of action. It worked for a while. Certainly Bush-Cheney was far more publicly benign from its installation in January until the events of 9/11/2001. Once the attacks occurred, however, everything changed fundamentally. Within a month, the government was transformed, and nearly all controls on the actions of Bush-Cheney, domestically as well as overseas were lifted. Opposition within the ruling clique all but disappeared.

And we had one catastrophe of bad judgment after another.

Was that because there was no coherent opposition within government, or was it because a previously prepared game plan was being implemented? I'd say it was a bit of both, plus the effects of whatever spontaneous elements appeared.

It was undeniably catastrophic for millions upon millions of Americans, millions upon millions of people overseas.

And that catastrophe was only partially mitigated in the US, not mitigated at all in the Middle East and elsewhere under the calming rule of Obama and his faction.

Now the Incoming is set to transform government top to bottom (or so they say) and impose catastrophic rule domestically and on a somewhat different set of targets overseas. The permanent government and its ruling clique allies are responding with one grenade after another. I don't think we've ever witnessed anything like it.

It's a kind of a coup. It could turn into a real one. As I said in November, what might come is interim rule by a military figure. But if so, it isn't publicly being prepared for.

Delegitimization of the Incoming is proceeding apace, but beyond that? What? At this point, it's impossible to tell.

The Congress is totally out of control. The Incoming is fighting and flailing. The spectacle is getting more and more chaotic.

What next?

One week before the Inauguration.

Strap in.