Cloud Cuckoo Land

After revoking the WaPo’s press credentials for accurately reporting that he insinuated President Obama is in league with terrorists, Trump is now doubling down on that very same bat-shit insane accusation and tweet-wanking over his own alleged prescience yet again:

The embedded article from Trump propaganda outlet Breitbart is entitled “Hillary Clinton Received Secret Memo Stating Obama Admin ‘Support’ for ISIS.” Vigorously auditioning for the role of “MiniTruth” in the dystopian hellhole of a Trump administration, the Breitbartians offer proof of nothing but their own disconnection from reality and inability to comprehend an intelligence report. Hillary Clinton is not amused:

Early on in this circus, someone observed that Trump’s success in the GOP primary was based on his willingness to ratchet up the insults and accusations beyond the bounds of rational discourse but that eventually, he would run out of room to escalate without sounding like a drooling psychopath.

Fellow citizens, we’ve arrived at that moment: The primaries officially ended last night, and Trump is already accusing both his opponent and the sitting President of the United States of being traitors who conspire with ISIS. I don’t believe in Peak Trump, but I am having a hard time imagining where he goes from here. The Illuminati? Chem trails? Lizard people? Help me out here…



I Think I Can Barely See the Light

So I’ve been kicking around this idea for some years now, and it’s been greatly on my mind for the past few weeks. As time goes on, things appear to be getting clearer, and I’m getting a stronger hold on my thesis. This is the beginning of what I hope to be a much longer treatise or series on this theme, and your comments and feedback are very welcome either in public or private to help challenge, develop and hone it. I’ll be around to discuss and explore with commenters, but please, no tech issues or questions today. That’s soon, not today.

Succinctly, I think we are already deep into the effects of Climate Change without realizing it. To be clear, I’m not talking about the alarming carbon dioxide levels or growing average high temperatures, recurring new monthly record high temperature, fires in Alberta, abnormal highs in Alaska, drought in the Southwest, diminished Arctic ice, or decreased reflectivity of glaciers and snow deposits world-wide due to pollution and soot. This is not about any physical aspect of Climate Change and the Anthropocene era. I’m concerned with the internal psychological, value, and cultural effects, those subsequent effects on populations, and what I see as larger trends worldwide.

I’m not usually a doom-and-gloomer, but there are a lot of powerful and scary currents across a wide swathe of humanity right now that seem, at their root, to share some intangible motivation. I think it’s fear – not of the other, not of progress or modernism or capitalism or Judgement Day or gay rights or transsexuals or Donald Trump or women’s rights or blasphemy or sacrilege or hippies or ethnic minorities or anything else rooted in our normal experience.

I think we, as a species, are already waist-deep into Climate Change and we’re acting like many other species do when put under serious, unseen-from-their-perspective environmental stress: we’re freaking out, and as tension rises, striking out against others and tearing down social and cultural edifices and the order that has served us well for the past few hundred years.

I fear that the future truly is undiscovered country as human history, norms, rules, etc. did not develop under this type of environmental stress – we’ve flourished coincident with a mild climate, and moved on when local climate changed too much or too quickly. Too many ascendant disharmonic forces across the globe strongly question, challenge, threaten, or violate their previous norms of behavior, treatment, principles, values, and history for me to not feel there is a trend, and it’s related. And no, it’s not the plants working together to drive us insane and reclaim the Earth for Mother Nature. And yes, for you wiseacres and cynics, in a way, the ascendency of women’s, gay, and transsexual rights is a positive effect of this break with who we thought we were.

It’s Happening Everywhere
I spend a lot of time reading about, thinking about, reading and listening to the Far Right so-called fever swamp. And to my ears, things have changed, and it truly scares me. Trump is like a stumbling, wind-up toy with lit sparklers sticking out of its head in a dry and dusty storeroom filled with rich fuel. But he’s no more than a match, which is horrible enough and will likely be tragic. He’s just one example, too close, gaudy and loud to ignore, and even if we Americans dodge the bully bullet, the rest of the world is also being challenged, and the good guys won’t win everywhere, certainly not every time.

Trumps scares me and it’s taken a lot of introspection to figure out why – it’s what he’s building off of that really scares me. He’s tapped into something for, although I don’t think he’s very smart in a traditional sense, he is a genius (not used lightly) at reading people and getting under their skin, intuiting what will anger them or put them off-balance so he has an advantage. The thing is, the people he’s appealing to are not just in the South or rural areas, or even just the US, or even the Western or developed world. There are far-right/quasi-fascist movements rising across Western and Eastern Europe, even Western Asia that share an anger, rooted in fear. And they are sharing, working together, learning and cross-training. These are movements that promise a return to greatness, incorporating a fundamental theme of palingenesis. They are organizing, recruiting, training, influencing, even winning (or almost winning, thank you Austria!) elections. Far-right leaders across Europe have reached out to or attended meetings or rallies with Trump!

It’s familiar to those of us who have studied the Right or Fascism – a focus on purity, on land, on blood, on heroes of old, on a strong leader who has the will to set things right. On rebirth, trying to recapture some idealized past when things were better and those “others” knew their place and it was at our feet or cowering in fear. When the future was exciting and not full of dread.

The thing is, it’s not just in Russia, the ‘stans, Europe, or the US. It’s ISIS. It’s the LRA. It’s Boko Haram. It’s Somalia/Kenya. It’s Y’all Queda and other resurgent secession and Confederate movements. It’s the Zetas and other drug gangs that are just as horrible as ISIS. (yes, they’re a drug gang but they are also powerful rebellions and mini chiefdoms that control large parts of Mexico’s territory) It’s a dozen more groups spread across the world. It’s happening almost everywhere, and where there’s not such a growing movement, there are established powers that are dropping their masks and embracing division and cultivating fear, selfishness, scarcity, and envy. And not being called on it like they would have been in the past. It’s like norms and expectations no longer are considered important. And it’s happening everywhere. It’s never been this way before, never so pandemic.

The Era of Migrants
Into this maelstrom of psyche and influence, a new problem has emerged. It’s here, and it won’t stop for hundreds of years – the era of mass human migration. Many point to the unprecedented drought in Syria as leading to the mass migration of the rural population to the cities, the subsequent overcrowding, scarcity of jobs, food and relief, the subsequent rebellion and fracturing of the formerly-strong Syrian state, and it did. You move lots of people and things change.

This instability, coupled with the US-caused fractures and instability in Iraq, and touched off by a millennial cult wishing for an end-times-inducing battle between the powers of the West and their holy warriors bathed in blood, has resulted in ISIS and it has spread. And so we now see millions of refugees, internal and external, and this Era is just beginning.

Germany has been at the lead in accepting their brothers and sisters in humanity, but I fear that a few more exploitations by ascendant movements in Europe coupled with inevitable ISIS attacks will result in walls and dogs and machine guns and barbed wire being first tolerated, then accepted, then embraced as these pressures transform us into something different: more reptilian, less Enlightened.

The thing is, climate migrants are not just far away. Certainly, a not-insignificant portion of Central American emigrants are seeking escape from social fractures heralding collapse of their fragile governments and systems. Just a few weeks ago, an entire city of 125,000 people evacuated due to Climate Change-caused fires in Alberta. Luckily, this was a temporary evacuation, but next time, it may be permanent.

In case you missed it, our first domestic climate migrants are escaping the rising water and sinking land. From Southern Louisiana, very poor rural refugees are being helped by a new model program that will become commonplace the rest of our lives – helping Americans, our brothers and sisters, to relocate and not be thrust into abject poverty and hopelessness.

This is good – while our issues are still small and before they grow, we’re trying to figure out how to best handle this type of situation domestically. But as evidenced by a not-insignificant portion of our governing class (ahem, Republicans) not seeing the importance of fully funding our efforts against Zika before it becomes a much bigger problem (and it will), I fear that we will not continue to develop the capacity and mechanisms to move and incorporate internal climate migrants. So when we need to relocate millions of Americans permanently, we will not be able to do it well, and we will have discord and likely pockets of rebellion and retributive violence against falsely-accused “others”. This is what animals do when under extreme environmental pressure.

When an environment changes and the stresses on a population increase, we humans move on or we fade away. That’s been our history as a species, and one of the chief reasons that we’ve been so successful on this planet the past 500,000 years or so. But in this case, we’re all on the Titanic and we’re all just re-arranging the deck chairs since there are no lifeboats. I think that at a very low, primeval level, we, as a species, know that. And so we are already well into freaking out. We just haven’t realized it yet and we don’t have the leadership and level of trust in our cultures to identify, manage, and overcome our animal nature at the worldwide scale.

So while I look around and marvel at the wonders of everything from our technology, art, science, the beauty and glory of this planet, and the wonderful, kind, silly, beautiful things billions of people do for each other every day, I am filled with optimism and joy. But no matter how much I smile and greet the day, I fear that things will quickly devolve.

The only reason we as a planet survived the Cold War was through wisdom, procedure, communication, fear, and the knowledge that one small mistake could blow everything up. I fear that because this is not as much of a conflict and certainly lacks a clear enemy and intuitive visual of the results of failure – a barren, lifeless radioactive planet -we are not going to be able to adapt well to this ever-growing pressure. Although it seems logical that if there’s a major climate-related issue before the election, the Democrat would be elected, I fear that we’re gibbering apes, and the cocky bully baboon will step into power.



Point And Laugh

Yes, the Democratic primary has entered its manic and ugly phase.  Yes, I’d dearly love to see Bernie show some sign he truly cares about getting either Democrat into the White House before any other ambition.  And damn-straight I’m ready to just make it all stop.

But it could be worse.  We could have to face this from one of our own candidates:

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful holiday for our friends in the Jewish community – the Passover,” Kasich told reporters after emerging from the matzah bakery, a box of the fresh-baked stuff in hand.

Yes, Jews are known to love The Passover, almost as much they love The Pre-Election Drop-By from vote-seeking politicians.

…Kasich then launched into a brief appraisal of the links between Passover and, um, the blood of Jesus Christ.

“The great link between the blood that was put above the lampposts” – er, you mean doorposts, governor — “the blood of the lamb, because Jesus Christ is known as the lamb of God. It’s his blood, we believe …” [forwarded by a valued BJ reader]

Putz doesn’t even begin to describe the schmendrick who would say such a thing.  Putz is too grand a word, to expansive.  Kasich is a schmeckel, a schtickl, a petseleh, someone of so little use as to be barely worth noticing.

'A_Fool's_Fool'_by_Thomas_Shields_Clarke

But oy gevalt, is this dumb!  I got two words for Kasich’s advance team:  blood libel.  There’s no bottom to the evil that comes from associating Jewish rituals with the blood of Jesus — and no limit to the stupid it takes to wander into such a thicket.  Ignorance is a pathetic excuse — to the point of being disqualifying (at least for any Jewish voter I know) in a would-be president.

It gets better, which is to say not so much worse as more bathetic.  Before hitting the matzoh bakery, Kasich tried to hang with some yeshiva bochers at a bookstore who told him that they were studying Talmud, specifically, the laws of the Sabbath.  Kasich’s comeback?

“You know who I like?” Kasich finally said. “Joseph. You guys like Joseph?”

Yeah, John.  Just like we enjoy the top ten commandments.

It is to laugh.  And to mutter a little blessing:

Thank the FSM this guy is their problem, not ours.

Image:  Thomas Shields, A Fool’s Foolc. 1887.



Texas, Jake

 

ETA: Annnnnndddd….always read the fine print.  I was taken in by a fake news story at a parody site.  Mea culpa.

I’ll leave this up as (a) a warning to self not to be an idiot, and (b) as a reminder of how hard it is (at least for me), in this election year of our discontent, to tell the difference between what should be obvious parody, and what is.

***************

I’ll start by saying that no state could withstand a characterization drawn only from its most batsh*t crazy denizens.  So I apologize in advance for painting the great, diverse and fascinating state of Texas with a broad brush.

I’ll also note that it does matter a bit that so many of the most batsh*t insane Texans seem to end up in state government.  What this says about the too many of their fellow citizens* who put them there I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader.

Today’s Texan OMG S/HE SAID WUT???!!!! comes from TX state rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Planet Ten), who’s got a problem with the idea of one particular subset of her fellow double-X Americans doing their ladybusiness in public:

Rep. Debbie Riddle requested that the bill be modified to contain some conditions that not all mothers are going to like. Namely, the modified bill states, among other things, that “only women who possess the breast size C-cup or smaller shall be allowed to breastfeed in public areas.” Asked to comment on the discriminatory clause in the bill, Riddle simply stated, “Nature knows what it’s doing.”

I have to say that I really hope that this is somehow a hoax, that Riddle really didn’t say what she’s reported to said.  Because here’s where she is described as going next:

She also added, “It’s for the greater good. We already have more than enough distractions when walking the streets, and we don’t need this one as well.”

Lucas_Cranach_d.Ä._-_Madonna_mit_Kind_(Budapest)

You know that old line, “when you hit bottom, stop digging?”  Riddle apparently does not:

“…everybody knows what happens when a woman with a D-cup size breasts starts breastfeeding her child in the park or on the street. Everybody immediately stops and starts staring.

Riddle also added that“studies have shown that women with bigger breasts are not commonly associated with modest behavior.”

 

Alright.  If the Texan legislator really did say all that (and more! — check out the link!) I got nuthin.  Or perhaps, as our legal beagle friends might say, res ipsa loquitur.

Ladles and Jellyspoons, have at it.  For me, I despair of the Republic.  Or at least that part of it that gave us the Honorable Riddle.

*Somewhere Rousseau — and Jefferson — are weeping.

Image:  Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Virgin Giving Suck c. 1515

 



Three ways in the House

Reading the Huffington Post, I saw this political bodice ripper and I still can’t figure out how to make the mechanics of the piece actually work in our shared reality:

Suddenly they realize, “holy shit, what if we could stop Donald Trump and keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House?”

So they run a moderate establishment Republican as a third-party candidate — 100 percent as a spoiler candidate. Worst case scenario oh, they prevent Donald Trump from winning the White House. Best case scenario they pull enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to prevent her from securing the necessary majority of 270 electoral votes.

Then the election goes to a House of Representatives ballot presided over Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate in 2012.

If neither candidate gets 270 electoral college votes, Congress picks the president. And he will be called President Mitt, the one who is laying the groundwork for this doomsday electoral scenario.

The basic theory is that a third party candidate who is Generic Republican Establishment (no not Pawlenty) would be able to do three things at the same time:

  • Insure that Trump does not get 270 electoral votes
  • win at least one electoral vote
  • Insure that Hillary Clinton does not get 270 electoral votes

In an alternative universe, that could work, but in this universe, I am having a hard time seeing how to actually make it work with a generic Republican running as a non-Trump alternative.

I think the first part is achievable.  However, the third party Republican spoiler is not needed.  Continual video playback of Trump’s speeches to non-Trump fans will isnure that.  If the Republican establishment decided it needed at least one electoral vote, it’s sock pocket could probably win Utah or a Congressional district in Nebraska.  Worse comes to worse, an elector could be a faithless elector.  I’ll concede the mechanics on this one.

The problem with this pre-emptive pants shitting is the third part.

Read more



Schvantz Truthers Unite!

Not so very long ago I remember this guy, funny hair, blocky, ungainly posture, brash fantasist — a Noo Yawk equivalent of those our Texan friends describe as All Hat; No Cattle — infesting the green rooms and bloviator sets of Fox News, talking about President Obama’s birthplace and demanding the infamous “Long Form Birth Certificate.”

Well, we’ve got a new controversy now, a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma:  can the Republican front runner boast masculine sufficiency — or is he a little leaguer, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.*

Given Donald Trump’s distinguished record as a campaigner for truth and unvarnished, unequivocal, impossible-to-falsify empirical evidence on the matter of our current president’s citizenship, there really is only one way forward.

Show us the long form!

Tizian_085

Or rather…please don’t.  Not ever.

Or to put this another way:  perhaps the most remarkable thing about the GOP race this year is the way the Republicans have figured out a new and truly innovative way to kill American jobs.  After last night’s debate, any market for political satirists is dead.  Imagine the writer’s room at The Daily Show right now:  why bother with new copy when you can just revoice that transcript?

This thread?  It despairs of our democracy.  And it is open.

Image: Titian, The Rape of Europa, 1560-1562**

*With absolutely no offense intended to those young ‘uns who actually, you know, swing small bats and run around bases.

**A local favorite — check it out at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum should you ever happen to have a moment in Our Faire Citie



GIGO in the OODA loop

Brad Delong has a good precis on how a functional political system performs quality control on its information and decision system:

(1) Loss of position, (2) loss of informal influence, (3) loss of cushy life, (4) loss of liberty, and (5) loss of life–those are the five forfeits that can be imposed on the losers in any game of high politics. Systems that impose only (1) and (2) tend to cause substantially fewer human and policy disasters than systems that impose (4) and (5).

As Khrushchev once said, of all his achievements the one that he was proudest of was that starting in his reign the losers in the game of Soviet politics were no longer shot or sent to the concentration camps–instead, they were sent off to manage some small-town factory somewhere.

This is why I want to procreate a good mischief on any Cheney family member who is running for office.  They should be kept as far away from power as possible both because they are dangerous in and of themselves and more importantly as a signalling mechanisms to people who would choose to emulate Cheney.

Our national OODA loop is failing because there is minimal cost to being wrong.  Hell, being wrong in the right way can be profitable and career enhancing.