a musical interlude

…because we need a break.

Or at least I do.

This kind of thing, solidly in the tradition of W.S. Gilbert, is not nearly as common as it should be.

When he talks to crowds of four
he sees ten thousand maybe more,
believing they all think he’s god on earth
and was the product of a virgin birth
and if you disagree you’re the victim of fake news
or feminist shrews
and it confounds the science.

 

Ok, fuck it, we’re on a roll now. No sense to quitting with just one;

you tell me

Since we’re all aghast at how far out into the crazy weeds our political situation has lurched, and since it’s not really possible any more to predict what will or what will not sink a political candidacy and therefore what level of whack-a-doodle lunacy is electable and what’s not, take a look at this.

Is this guy in earnest, or is this parody?

Real politics, or performance art?

If it’s the former, can he be elected?

And for that matter, if it’s the latter, can he be elected?

You tell me, because I’m not sure which way is up anymore.

Donorama

As one griping ad nauseum about the vice grip of donors on politics, there are a few developments these days that point out the cognitive dissonance (or hypocricy, if you’re a cynical and ungenerous sort. I’ll let you know if i come across anyone like that.) when donors and their agendas and messages and current event worlds collide. Along with some bonus easy listening for your weekend pleasure from some earlier prophets. But, if you know any of those cynical sorts, even they might see a very faint glimmer that may even lead to breaking that chokehold, kicking and screaming, when business as usual just won’t hold any longer.

Continue reading

a messaging problem

We’ve talked about this, and we need to keep talking about it, because the narrative liberals are using to comfort themselves right now is that; a) Mueller will uncover some Trump kryptonite, and b) the mid-terms will rescue us from advancing fascism.

Sorry, but no, and no.

Not unless the Dems can find; a) a spine, and b) learn to market ideas and quit putting ordinary people to sleep. Marketing is everything. Given that we’re now on at least the second generation of people who have been marinated in marketing since they were in the crib that’s hardly surprising, is it?  Trump gets this.  Guess who didn’t. And still doesn’t.

As is so often the case with US politics nowadays, the best analyses are being offered by the world’s comedians. Jim Jeffries in this instance.

Discuss.

Because if we fuck this up—and I swear to god that’s exactly what we’re absolutely on the way to doing—we’re gonna wake up one day in a mature fascist authoritarian plutocracy with just about zero ability to do a fucking thing about it.

 

real-world time

A break from the lunacy to immerse in a little real-world time. Our intrepid wildlife correspondent, Jim LeFevre, sent over these pics he took recently while out on the job as a wildlife biologist. All these critters  are in Western Colorado.

First up; A Burrowing Owl.

 

And number two; A Collared Lizard.  Handsome devil, eh?

Finally, a Midget Faded Rattlesnake.  The faded part is obvious enough, but I didn’t fully grasp the “midget” part until I saw the rusty fence staple in the bottom right-hand corner of the image.  That staple would be about the size of your thumb nail maybe, so the snake would fit in the palm of your hand easy as pie.

Not that you’d want it to, probably.

(All photos ©James LeFevre 2017)

Reasons to be Cheerful

I continue to look at the glass as half-full.

And up top, is the title of one of my favorite weird pop songs of the 1980’s.So here is a list to start this new week, apparently by popular demand:

  1. Our most militaristic pro-sports league, the NFL, is now a hotbed of anti-Trump sentiment and public protests.  And aside from Jerry Jones, even the team owners are standing by their players.  Just guess how this is going to turn out!
  2. The Germans dodged a bullet and kept Mrs. Merkel as their leader.  It was close, and the far-right party has seats in their national legislature for the first time in years, but they still have Merkel, and Putin did not win.
  3. Robert Mueller is still hiring new staff and is forging ahead.  We are only eight months into this national farce and the first serious indictments are expected soon – to shake the obvious perps down, regarding the real targets.
    In historical terms, this is fast.  Really really fast.

The original song counted “one, two, three” so I’ll stop there and let you all add to the list.

 

nighty night… (updated) (updated again)

This is Seattle, Washington, USA in the year 2017. Personally I’d have gone with a left hook over a right cross, but otherwise this is an entirely satisfactory outcome.

According to Buzzfeed, some unidentified folks saw this swastika-wearing twat riding a bus and harassing a black man.
As is now routine, a photo was posted online via Twitter, and further Twitter postings revealed that he was then seen haranguing passers-by on a street corner.

Then this happened.

Just to be clear, the official position of 9thousandfeet.com on matters of this kind is that it would be infinitely preferable if people didn’t walk around wearing swastikas and saying hateful  and stupid shit.

But when they do, a reaction like we see here—while justifiably illegal—is entirely understandable.

 

UPDATE;    The video has been pulled down from YouTube. No idea who pulled it, or why.  Meanwhile, plenty videos of cops shooting unarmed black people in the back, and a recent one of cops driving a car in reverse into a crowd of demonstrators in St Louis, remain unmolested.

 

Lets try this one, and see how long it lasts;

UPDATE #2;
The Stranger is now reporting that the original video was taken down by YouTube as violation of “YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying.”
Naturally several other copies were immediately uploaded to the site, where most of them still remain. I guess we’ll see if YouTube can continue to pull them faster than people can upload them.

The Stranger also adds that swastika guy threw a banana at someone prior to getting punched, and that Seattle police issued a statement saying that officers responded to a report of someone wearing a swastika armband and “instigating fights”, and when the officers arrived they found the man on the ground.
No further reports were received, and the swastika guy left after removing the armband and declining to provide further details.

 

UPDATE #3

YouTube keeps pulling the videos down, and people keep putting copies back up.  I just re-set so a current copy will play.

I’m not going to keep monitoring this game of whack-a-mole though. The Buzzfeed link in the article above still leads to a playable video if neither of the YouTube embeds will play.

…some better idea

…that will never, ever come to pass. So said a certain desperately butthurt recent general election loser re: single-payer healthcare. Tomorrow said butthurt former candidate prepares to unleash her tome in a bid to reunite the fractured, but trying, Democratic party. And apparently plans to continue the pity party / tirade throughout the fall on the tometour. Main object of wrath (among legions) of butthurt loser’s ire is a primary loser who is actually doing the job he was elected to do.

On Wednesday, Bernie Sanders releases his plan for single-payer healthcare. Yawn. He’s done this many times over the years, no? And it will never, ever come to pass. Right Nance? Right Di? Chuck? Right Cory, Kamala, Lizzie? But wait…the latter three, as well as Jeff Merkley, are presumably 2020 hopefuls. And they’ve also signed on as co-sponsors for the bill. And shoot me now, even Max Baucus approves and says it’s time. (And i say gee thanks, asshole.)

There has already been kicking and screeching of course. I’ve been at the NYT because i’m a patriot and my country needs me over there, it’s filled to bursting with wankers. Tomasky said recently over there that this is not the way to go, let’s just tweak O’Care. Krugman says that progressives shouldn’t be worring their economically illiterate heads about this, let’s just go back to the safe space and fix O’Care, and focus on paid leave instead. Leonhardt echoes Krugman.

You know what? It’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. But as the butthurt loser was unable to grasp, you start by asking for the the sun, moon, stars, and a pony. And you might get the stars. It’s going to be hard. But 4 possible candidates for 2020 are on record here, they won’t be able to backtrack it without a major hit to cred. Old fossils are going to be toast. And you know what? It’s seriously on the fucking table. Which it wouldn’t be if no one bothered to try. So i’ll be waiting for those numbers, Bern.

In other news – as we all know, Trump kicked DACA back to congress for a permanent fix. Absolutely the right thing to do, that’s whose job it was in the first fucking place. While they’re all screeching themselves blue in order to avoid doing their job casting an actual vote that may or may not be held against them next election. It’s hard to stand for something. Do your fucking job and pass it. I suspect that it will pass.

But. Tomasky had a NYT column postulating a trade for the wall that some other liberal commenters supported to save DACA. He recommended absolutely no way, and i agree. The wall is beyond stupid. But they’re going to have to give up something. What to watch out for – Guiterrez shooting off his trap and saying, no, the inch isn’t good enough, we want the whole mile or we’ll shut down the gov’t. Badly enough to chance blowing it for the DACA kids? Do i need to remind you that your party has gotten slaughtered the last 4 elections, and this issue had a lot to do with at least the past 2 or 3?

And as for the folks who say (roughly paraphrased) – those kids are each worth more than 10 of those white heartland kids, let’s deport them and keep DACA kids blah blah blah? All i can say is – Hi, I’m Steve Bannon and I approve this message.

Antifa

Review of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray

A couple of weeks ago 9k suggested that I post a review of a book I was reading – Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Here it is. No doubt brief and incomplete but my take based on an initial reading. Not sure that I’ll be rereading it anytime soon though.

Mark Bray is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe and was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street. He teaches at nearby, to me at least, Dartmouth College.

The book appears to be well researched with copious references and notes, and uses interview material with activists in the USA and Europe. However the author is at pains to note that antifa is also active throughout the rest of the world. Some of the interviews were conducted anonymously using pseudonyms, and some of these through secure and encrypted channels for an element of intrigue and mystery. The book’s release was hurried in response to Trump’s election and it shows in its abrupt ending, and that it is more of a detailed history and discussion of the movement than a Handbook in the mode of Rules for Radicals.

On opening the book sets out to define fascism and anti-fascism – or antifa. It proposes that fascism is hard to pin down. That it isn’t doctrinal but charismatic, is united by faith and myth, and often co-opts left ideology, strategy, imagery and culture when it suits. Like many things, fascism is best understood in retrospect but several key features are noted for the sake of subsequent understanding. Fascism:

  • Is political behavior obsessed with community decline, humiliation and victimhood
  • Is compensated by a cult of unity, energy and purity
  • Is mass-based, nationalistic and militant, and in uneasy collaboration with traditional elites
  • Abandons democratic liberties and pursues redemptive violence without ethical or legal restraints with the aim of internal cleansing and external expansion

The KKK is defined as fascist, and the Jim Crow south.

Bray says that it would be too simple to define anti-fascism as opposition to the definition and examples above since it obscures an understanding of anti-fascism as a method of politics, a locus of individual and group self-identification, and a transnational movement that adapted preexisting socialist, anarchist, and communist currents to a sudden need to react to the fascist menace.

Antifa is presented as part of a continuum of Revolutionary Socialism from the mid 19th century, through the early 20th, interwar years and beyond. It is Marxist with heroes and icons such as Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacus League. It rejects bourgeois liberal democracy. It is an illiberal politics of social revolutionism applied to fighting the Far Right, not just literal fascists.

Pre WW2 was a time of many factions on the right and left with often as much infighting over doctrine and symbols as against the other side.  Note is made of a Soviet policy change in the mid 1930s towards encouraging the left to participate in liberal democracies and not ferment revolution. And that was typical of the swings, confusion and fragmentation on the left that gave fascism room to grow.

Post WW2 saw some resurgence of right wing street militancy in UK and Europe that was met head on by antifa but it involved small groups on either side and went without much notice. The post Soviet collapse saw the growth of skinheads, football hooligans and neo-Nazis in Europe, particularly in the former communist bloc but also in the Nordic countries. Youth unemployment and immigration were likely catalysts.

Skinheads joined the antifa side too and along with others were often based around particular squats and pubs and clubs, with many groups forming and joining together and then dissolving. Overall numbers were small on both sides with many antifa not being members of a group at all but autonomen who coalesced spontaneously for counter demonstrations. Concern was expressed over the inherent machismo of young men spoiling for a brawl, on both sides, and with or without a deeper motive. Feminist antifa, or fantifa is seen as an antidote.

Like Occupy, neo-nazis and antifa are largely street movements. The fascist’s goal is to be an intimidating presence in a neighborhood or on-the-street and antifa’s is to physically oppose them by pre-occupying the space, blocking or otherwise preventing access to the space or disrupting the fascist’s occupation of the space. In traditional freedom of speech countries like the UK and USA the authorities will only intervene in demonstrations if there is a breach of the peace. Antifa often tries to provoke that breach in order to force the authorities to intervene and disperse the fascists.

It was noted that as neo-nazis move into participatory politics – e.g. the Front National in France – street conflict of the Black Bloc kind doesn’t work and can be counterproductive. Also that in the case of Trump, there needs to be different approaches to those who voted for him because of his misogyny, raceism, ableism and Islamaphobia and those who did in spite of.

As for the Slippery Slope and Who Decides arguments that antifa is anti free speech the author presents, without saying if he agrees with them or not, several counter arguments and justifications:

  • Fascists have no right to speak or be heard
  • There can be no toleration of intolerance and no platform for fascists
  • Antifa are stopping organizing and therefore the possible growth of dangerous fascism and not speech as such
  • For discriminated against and marginalized groups, to be merely tolerated, grudgingly accepted or accepted with criticism is still to be harmed, and they have a right to silence those doing the harm
  • Historically antifa have been good judges of fascists having often been victims of them or close to victims of them, and although anti-capitalist and revolutionary they have usually stopped after their immediate targets have been defeated or withered away. They have not then gone after the next most right wing target and instead have retreated to other activities or disbanded. They aren’t very good revolutionaries
  • And besides antifa is disdainful of liberal free speech where the right to speak and not be heard is worthless to all but the powerful. …rights promoted by capitalist parliamentary government are not inherently worthy of respect
  • Free speech is abstract – the fight against white supremacy, hetero-patriarchy, class oppression, genocide is real
  • Antifa have no tolerance for agreeing to disagree. They can’t accept intolerant opinions as simple political disagreements
  • Also that Antifa’s revolutionary, anarchistic, utopian, bottom-up aims are fundamentally in favor of real free speech

A discussion of liberal anti-fascism, or the belief in the inherent power of civil society and government institutions to stop full-blown fascism, considers why the threat is not taken more seriously. The author proposes that most people see fascism as an all or nothing prospect. That is full-blown Nazi Germany and genocide or not at all. Few believe a fascistic regime will emerge in the USA, and the author agrees that this belief is probably justified in spite of the left’s hand wringing over Trump, but small doses still hurt victims and should be resisted forcefully. It was also noted that historically, perhaps counter intuitively, fascism tends to rise with the success of the politically participating left.

The closest the book comes to a handbook is a list of five historical lessons and many pages of advice from those interviewed.

Five historical lessons:

  • Fascist revolutions have never succeeded. Fascists gained power legally
  • Interwar anti-fascists mistakenly treated fascism as a variant of counter revolutionary politics
  • Socialist and communist leadership were slower to recognize the threat of fascism than their rank and file
  • Fascism steals from left ideology, strategy, imagery and culture
  • It doesn’t take many fascists to make fascism

Some suggestions for effective activism not involving physical Black Bloc violence include:

  • Working with marginal groups to prevent them being co-opted by fascists. Interestingly, Furbies, Bronies (men who like My Little Pony apparently) and football fan clubs were specifically mentioned – something Freudian there
  • Providing support to vulnerable and marginalized groups
  • Doxxing or outing of identified fascist individuals and pushing the culture to shame and disown them, and/or get them fired
  • Pressuring venues to cancel fascists events
  • Boycott businesses associated with fascists
  • Participating in training and propaganda
  • Contesting the dismantling of taboos against the oppression of feminism, black liberation and queer liberation
  • A goal would be to make those who voted for Trump uncomfortable to share that they did. You can’t always change beliefs but you can make them politically, socially, economically, physically costly to articulate

An interesting read but I’m still inclined to believe that antifa and those they oppose are very small and marginal groups with minimal influence even if they garner lots of press coverage occasionally.

(9/9/17 – a few edits for readability)

an eclipse on the prairie

I deliberately didn’t take any photo equipment at all on this trip, except for the camera on the phone, so no fiddling with filters and tripods and all the rest for taking pictures of the sun and moon.

I did, however, feel the urge to snap this shot simply because it was so unexpected.  The sky at the horizon looked like this in every direction (this is looking more or less to the north), and the result of that in combination with the indescribable whiteness of that ring of light surrounding the moon at full totality was both spectacular and a little disorienting.

I suspect a contributing factor was the slight smokey haze across the entire state of Wyoming and beyond as a result of various wildfires now burning across Idaho and other states, something not at all uncommon in the summertime out west. Still, for a couple of minutes, this was how it looked, with various birds of several species flapping around in confusion both on the ground and in the air.

The “structures” you see in the photo are the campsites of just a few of the many thousands of other people who showed up on public lands across the west. A few thousand travelers from all over managed to find this particular patch of prairie—a very large Bureau of Land Management tract just to the west of Casper, Wyoming—where I saw license plates from dozens of states including Alaska and more than a few from various provinces in Canada.

It was all a very mellow scene, with people meticulously respectful of each other in terms of personal space and campsite spacing. About 200 yards, give or take, seemed to be the norm, without any guidance at all from the frequent patrols of cheerfully waving and smiling BLM employees constantly on the lookout for anyone stupid enough to think a campfire on a prairie full of tinder-dry sagebrush would be a good idea. Happily, nobody did.

Hit a couple of traffic jams on the way home, causing the first 40 miles of the return journey to take slightly upwards of a couple of hours. No big deal though. Hell, people who live in more than a few cities face that kind of thing every day of the week. Plenty of cops and highway patrol out there directing traffic. Plenty of waving, no small amount of smiling.

Home again, and I see Der Führer said some things while we were gone. Well fuck that asshole. I’m going to take a couple more days before I even look at any of that. Time to can some jalapeños anyway, and freeze up some fresh tomato sauce.

Oh, and make up a monster batch of my soon-to-be-famous Mexican Lasagna, which freezes beautifully. I’ll cobble together the recipe and post it here before the summertime supply of fresh tomatoes and poblanos winds down.