The Babin Republic was a satirical, literary and carnival society founded in 1568 in Babin, Poland. Its Latin motto was: Omnis Homo Mendax (“Every man is a liar”).None of which would have seemed exaggerated at at all to H.L. Mencken, who wrote in 1918 that…
The Babin Republic was set up as a parody of a republican state. To this end, the Republic bestowed sarcastic “offices” and “titles” to those who embarrassed themselves in public due to some fault or folly, and to those who told ridiculously untrue stories. People with poor speaking skills were declared “Speakers of the Republic”, gossipmongers were made members of the “Secret Council”, litigious people were declared “Justices of the Peace”, people who exaggerated their hunting exploits were made “Masters of the Hunt”, etc.
the men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of soft illusion.
This is from Paul Krugman’s blog:
Anyway, given the area I covered, I received a lot of classified reports from the CIA, the State Department, etc.. They had all sorts of warnings in capital letters on their covers: SECRET NOFORN NOCONTRACT PROPIN ORCON, I think, was the standard litany. And there was a security person who came through our offices at night, scooped up any classified documents we left out, put them in a safe, and issued citations. Between the number of classified documents I received and my continuing true identity as an absent-minded professor, I got a lot of citations — second only to Marty.And this is why all the frenzied outrage from the Republic Party about Hillary’s emails is such utter and complete chicken shit. There was a time when I too had access, as our embassy’s press attaché for the “secret” war in Laos, to a daily flood of highly classified material. Virtually everything we were doing in that misbegotten and murderous war made it into the newspapers in spite of (OK, a few times because of) my efforts.
But the reason I kept forgetting to lock the things up was that none of them — literally not one, during a whole year — contained anything actually sensitive. There was nothing in any of them you couldn’t have read in newspapers, or figured out for yourself given public information.
The real reason for much security classification, then and now, is to protect government officials from embarrassment or even incrimination. Another powerful reason is to make your stuff seem so important that your bosses will read it. (Equally important, of course, is to make yourself feel important.)
…far from the tree at all, as we learn from Undernews:
“What many people don’t understand,” Cruz senior continued, “is the fact that Obamacare was actually put in place to act as a bridge for ISIS terrorists. A bridge that’s supposed to enable them to come here illegally and pose as doctors who allegedly want to help. And that’s not surprising, considering the fact that fewer and fewer doctors in our country are actually Caucasian, which is something Obama is well aware of, hence Obamacare as his weapon of choice. Do you understand what I’m saying? Our president is actually helping terrorists come to this country and not only that, he has created a permanent way for them to be able to wreak havoc all across America.”
…a used car from this man?
When I was a young man thinking about the future, I anticipated many things. I knew life would be hard. I knew nothing was free in this world and that I would have to struggle and fight and kick and scratch and claw for every benefit or advantage I would ever get. I knew love would be rare but pain would be plentiful. I knew happiness came in small doses, and that man’s natural estate was a steady grind of work, hunger, sadness, misery and boredom; a brief and futile war against disease and death that defeats us all in the end. I was ready for this.
But nothing prepared me to live in a world where adult human beings would pay fifteen bucks to see Batman vs Superman and think it was a meaningful topic of conversation afterwards. Nothing ever prepared me for that, and I really don’t know what to say about it.
So which gang of millionaires do you want to see win today? Which multi-billionaire ego-maniac prick owner do you want to see even more enriched and bathed in glory at the end of this business day? Personally, I want the Cardinals to win, but that’s only because I like red and they have pretty little cartoon birds on their helmets. That’s the most compelling reason I can think of for rooting for any of them. Regardless of who wins, we’re still doomed to see Peyton Manning on TV every two fucking minutes for the rest of our lives on this lost planet … And that fuckin’ Papa John’s guy, Oh, that fuckin’ Papa John’s guy.
I know I’m relieved. Aren’t you?
The governor of Michigan said on Friday that race was not a factor in the state’s response to lead contamination in the drinking water in Flint, a poor, majority-black city where the supply has been tainted for more than a year, but for much of that time, state officials insisted that it was safe to drink.
Asked whether the Flint crisis was a case of “environmental racism,” Gov. Rick Snyder replied, “Absolutely not.”
It turns out that the Great Wall of Trump would actually lead to more Mexicans free-loading off the hard-working white taxpayer, or whatever the hell it is that the Donald is so afraid of:
Mexican families have to grapple with hard economic and legal realities, and they often conclude that returning to Mexico is their best option.
The Pew Report looks at the years between 2009 and 2014. It combines Mexican survey data on the entry of Mexicans and their families – including American children – with US census data on Mexican entries to the United States. The report is designed to overcome the limitations of national statistics that typically ignore departures.
The study shows a net loss of 140,000 Mexican immigrants from the United States. One million Mexican migrants and their children left the US for Mexico, while just over 860,000 left Mexico for the United States.
To save you the trouble of googling, here’s a link from the New York Daily News to the transcript of Sarah Palin’s endorsement of that other free spirit, Donald Trump. Long, sure — but what a wonderfully perfect specimen of incomprehensible, irrepressible, and innocently ignorant logorrhea! In a child it would be cute. Put her on the ticket, please, pretty please. Oh, I know, but can’t a boy dream?
…we present Donald Trump (at right) with John Wayne’s daughter, Aissa.
Go here and here to remember the actual Martin Luther King, Jr., as opposed to the soft-edged specimen we are generally offered on this day. But the red-baiting J. Edgar Hoover was closer to the mark than we might like to think. Myself, I prefer the radical and real hero, that “goddamned nigger preacher,” as Lyndon Johnson once called him.
…after last night’s GOP “debate”? Don’t blame you, but maybe there’s hope for the human race after all:
That threat was averted, after an unprecedented fund-raising effort by private foundations, donors and the state of Michigan. And now, in what might be described as a bit of unexpected municipal karma, the museum has announced that it is the benefactor of a $1.7 million bequest by the estate of a retired schoolteacher and museum volunteer, money that will be used to acquire contemporary painting and sculpture and to shore up the museum’s operating endowment.Back, however, to reality——
Elizabeth Verdow, who died in 2014 at 86 after spending her entire career teaching art in the Detroit public school system, worked as a volunteer at the museum for almost 20 years and was known to be devoted to the institution and its visitors. But museum officials said they had no idea just how devoted she was: virtually her entire estate, saved and invested carefully over years from a teacher’s salary (she never married and had no children) went to the museum.
Bennett’s book banning takes this vision of Jewish supremacy and extends it into the literary imagination. Why was Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (literally “Hedgerow” but known in English as “Borderlife”) banned from use in high schools? Simply because it dares represent a romantic relationship between a Jewish woman and an Arab man. According to Haaretz:Substitute Aryan for Jew and Jew for Arab in the above, and it becomes clear what Nietzsche meant when he warned of “gazing into the abyss.”
Among the reasons stated for the disqualification of Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” … is the need to maintain what was referred to as “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector” and the belief that “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity.” The Education Ministry also expressed concern that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”
It is important to understand how this fear of miscegenation, one of the hallmarks of racism, has been part of the landscape in Israel for years. There has been wide reporting on the ultra-Orthodox anti-miscegenation squads that target and harass Jewish women who date Arab men. Such efforts have entered Israeli education. In 2008, for example, schools in Kiryat Gat started a program to prevent Jewish girls from dating “exploitative Arabs,” Haaretz reported. The program included an educational video titled “Sleeping With the Enemy.”
“We can take over a bird sanctuary, and drink Capri Suns from little straws, and whisper the Second Amendment in each other’s ear every night …”
“Tell me Obama is evil, just one more time …”
“He’s just like Hitler, baby, and he doesn’t have a birth certificate.”
“Don’t stop, Daddy.”
“ACORN, Planned Parenthood, baby parts!”
The Bureau of Land Management!”
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — For years, the military’s drone pilots have toiled in obscurity from windowless rooms at bases in suburban America, viewed by some in the armed forces more as video game players than as warriors.
But in a reflection of their increasingly important role under President Obama, the drone operators will now be eligible for military honors akin to those given to pilots who flew over the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Defense Department on Thursday is scheduled to announce that it has created a designation to recognize service members who had a direct effect on combat operations even though they were operating remotely, Pentagon officials said. Drone pilots are likely to receive many of the awards, but they may also be given to operators who launch cyberattacks.
“It’s way past time,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who pushed the military to embrace drones. “People should be acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions to accomplishing security objections regardless of where they are located.”
Following this train of thought to its logical conclusion:
I ran across this handy device at a little French boutique the other day. It’s designed for the man who needs to extrude a sudden thought at dinner while his upper orifice is full. “Tout en restant poli,” as they put it over at the Institut Benway.
Somehow L’Anus Parlant seems to remind me of somebody, but who? Help me out here.
Charles P. Pierce of Esquire knows from ringers:
The real action at these rallies is on the fringes. (It should be noted that the entire Trump campaign consists of rallies like the one in Lowell. Well, that, and the endless free media he attracts.) The crowds are edged with a startling amount of security, both public and private. There were cops from several towns on duty in Lowell, and a remarkable number of people in suits, wearing earplugs, but not wearing any Secret Service insignia. By my count, the event was interrupted five times by protesters. The protesters were curiously able to infiltrate the tight security, and their conspicuous removal became an integral part of the show. Their expulsion never failed to give He, Trump another rhetorical launching pad for some of the high-flown, winking contempt he shares for the Other with his crowd. It is what binds them to each other. “Get them out,” he says, and everybody cheers.
From Harvard Magazine, here’s United States Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. A Reagan appointee, he was cited by The Journal of Legal Studies as the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century:
About the Supreme Court, he said, “You know they still have a spittoon sitting beside each chair on the bench? What kind of crap is that? Right?” And: “Now who would say, for example, that the nine Supreme Court justices were the nine best lawyers in the country. That’d be preposterous. Now, what if the proposition was, well, they’re among the hundred best lawyers in the country. That would be ridiculous. Among the thousand best lawyers in the country out of 1 million lawyers? No! I think today’s Supreme Court is extremely mediocre.”
It’s startling to hear a sitting federal judge insult the justices on the record, but Posner’s view is that he gives the court and its precedents the respect they are due. Posner’s favorite Supreme Court ruling to attack in the past decade has been District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 case in which, by 5-4, the conservative majority ruled that the Constitution’s Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a handgun for self-defense.
To Posner, the decision and, in particular, the majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, is “an example of motivated thinking” — thinking shaped by how he and the other justices in the majority wanted the case to come out. They used their own version of history as a basis for their interpretation of the amendment, he believes, even though, by his count, 14 of the 18 historians who signed friend-of-the-court briefs disputed that view. The justices did “what is derisively called ‘law office history,’” Posner wrote about Scalia’s historical account: “The derision is deserved.”
By this time, it is of course a cliché that Traditional Media does not merely react to the phenomenon known as Trumpism; rather, it is deeply involved and implicated in the creation of its own favorite story. The outrageousness, and the outrage thus provoked, are great advertising, analogues of politicians’ earned media. And the best part is, once press coverage boosts it to critical mass, it achieves perpetual motion by feeding on itself.
I’m not by any means saying that Trump is succeeding purely through media attention. He is a consummate salesman whose senses are so closely attuned to his customer that he knows what they want to hear yet fear to speak, and he gives voice to these repressed feelings. His short-sighted selfishness attunes to our less developed instincts of tribal cohesion and external aggression, aspects that manifest more often when we’re feeling stressed. And Trump supporters, who seem from his rallies to be overwhelmingly white and half of whom have high-school educations or less, are objectively under a great deal of economic stress given our current policies and outlook. He is also a master of social media despite his clear inability to grasp what, in fact, the internet is.
Still, the gap between coverage of what can only be called Trump’s antics and that of the serious social policies offered by Bernie Sanders is evidence of a yuuuuge media conspiracy. One, of course, that the participants do not realize they’re involved in; were it otherwise, the veil of secrecy would be easily pierced for all to see. Trump is clearly not 81 times as newsworthy as Sanders; but that’s the ratio of time ABC News, for example, has been clocked at for the entire year. The explanation is simple: covering Trump is simple. No understanding is required; simply record his reality show, as journalism over the past few decades continues gradually slipping into the role of stenographer. No analysis of substantive issues which might provoke backlash from knowledgeable readers or conspiracy-minded cranks, no need to think through the problems involved, in fact no need for conscious thought on the part of writer or reader.
No need, either, to point out that Trump and Sanders have about the same amount of support nationwide, as the Washington Post’s new real-time tool demonstrates.
From CNN News:
“Once again, #MSM is dishonest. ‘Schlonged’ is not vulgar. When I said Hillary got ‘schlonged’ that meant beaten badly,” he said in one tweet.Well, yeah. But with what and whose and what color was it?
A splash of wisdom for the holidays from Professor Ed at Gin and Tacos:
Whenever a person describes him- or herself as a realist, they are doing something they know to be wrong and of which they are ashamed. That’s a free life lesson.
Where was The Donald 30 years ago when we really needed his wall? I’ve lost the link to this story from my files but not the date, September 4, 1985. You could look it up:
NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch, Australian-born publishing magnate, became a U.S. citizen today, removing an obstacle to his acquisition of a network of independent American television stations.
Murdoch, 54, has been living in the United States since 1973. He was joined in the courtroom ceremony by 185 other aliens. By becoming an American citizen, Murdoch gave up his Australian citizenship since neither government recognizes dual citizenship.
Murdoch recently purchased 50% of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and plans to purchase Metromedia, the nation's largest group of independent television stations, including KTTV in Los Angeles. Under federal regulations an alien may not own more than 20% of a broadcast license
Here’s a little dose of stupid to meditate on. Next thing you know they’re gonna declare war on Christmas:
A pastor who largely misunderstood the purpose of yoga and its inclusion in a secular wellness program in three local schools appeared before the Flagler County School Board Tuesday evening to question the program’s development during school hours.
Juan Schembri, pastor at the non-denominational Eternity Church in Bunnell, described “the meditation practices of the Buddhism and the Hinduism” as “the base of the yoga and the meditation” and asked: “With this being known, how is this being allowed to be practiced in the schools? Where is the separation of church and state with these practices? Because I can easily bring in a ton of scripture that Christians would meditate on and would, I would love for our kids to be able to meditate and have these scriptures done in school, but there’s a separation of church and state, but here I see that this program was even granted by State Farm and is being allowed to be done in school and or during school hours, where ours has to be between, before school, after school or on lunch breaks. So my question is, I don’t even know how this even got through, and how this got passed the Board of Education to allow this to — because my concern is the Christian kids.”
What makes the story so fascinating is stuff like this quote.
We've spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.
We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we've done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It's not like we had victory. It's a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!
If like me you didn't watch the GOP debate last night, and unlike me you didn't consume mass quantities of punditry about it, you might be surprised to hear that this spot-on description of our destructive misadventures in Iraq was voiced during the debate itself. Apprised of that, of course, you'd immediately be ready to name the one candidate who could say such things to other Republicans and get away with it, and you'd be right: Trump, the racist birther carnival barker whose biggest lie is that he's a successful businessman. Even a stopped watch, as they say…
I owe a great debt of thanks to Halle Kiefer at the Daily Intelligencer for pointing me to this astonishing interview. As she says, it “is so refreshing, it will bring tears to your eyes… What do you call that sweet spot where something is both really cute and also gives you hope America won’t just collapse over a long weekend?” Killer Mike is an impressive guy with a quick mind and a good grasp of history, and his Atlanta barber shop is the perfect backdrop for talking with Bernie Sanders about all the big issues. Your mileage may vary, but it brought tears to my eyes more than once. With people like this around we always have a chance.
This from an account in The Economist of a Frank Luntz focus group of Donald Trump supporters. Interesting and saddening stuff. But it only hints at the basic reason that a quarter or more of the American electorate is thrilled to death by a lying, loudmouthed, ignorant, bullying braggart. It is not his politics, it is his persona. Nothing strange about it: Little assholes admire big assholes.
It was the same when group members were shown 15 crass or mendacious tweets sent out by Mr. Trump, and were asked to pick the one that bothered them the most, when it came to choosing a future president. The winner, picked by 16 of the 29, was from April, when the property tycoon retweeted a supporter’s observation: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
Still, the supporters fell over themselves to offer excuses. “He’s just a regular guy,” said one. “You don’t think Hillary Clinton says things like that in private?” said another.
It was the same throughout the session — which was in essence a repetition of a private focus group conducted by Mr. Luntz a few months ago, recreated in Alexandria with new participants in order to show the press Mr. Trump’s astonishing immunity to criticism. Supporters repeatedly twisted themselves in knots to exonerate Mr. Trump.
The press are biased, reporters are “assholes” and “socialists”, it was declared. Perhaps the businessman had been provoked. If a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted at a rally, why, that was not Mr. Trump’s fault, it was his security guards (and no matter than Mr. Trump was filmed snarling: “Get him the hell out of here” and later mused: “Maybe he should have been roughed up a little”).
More broadly, it was deemed “refreshing” or “entertaining” when Mr. Trump abused and insulted his Republican rivals. It made him human: everyone has an uncle who gets drunk at Thanksgiving and says things, it was averred.
If there’s anything the Boomers have reliably bequeathed to succeeding generations, it’s the awareness of the fragility of life. And not life in general, the kind that’s easy to feel bad about the loss of, but your own personal copy, the one that matters to you. Growing up in the time of duck-and-cover videos, experiencing the crushing of the American dream with the assassinations of people who might have led us toward if not peace then at least less conflict, watching every new hope for the future gunned down on television, each death blamed on a lone nut with absolutely no connection to anyone in power, seeing images every night on Cronkite or Huntley/Brinkley of our soldiers slogging through tropical mud for reasons nobody understood: but most of all, being aware that the number of nuclear missiles in the world was such that were even a subset to be fired the result would be rubble, pretty much world-wide. That your physical ass was in the hands of people whacked enough to think that made sense. That your life could end in an instant, along with those of everyone you knew.
Nowadays, that end comes in a more personalized package. No longer does your entire city incinerate alongside you; now it’s just you and your coworkers, fellow restaurant- or concert-goers, or transit passengers. What we have is basically the democratization of the power of violence, which the nation-state has greedily claimed for its own from the moment of its inception. In fact that unitary right was almost its legitimization, given the incessant warring and destruction of the later Middle Ages up to the time when it became possible to forge artillery reliable enough to deploy in sieges. And with the easy availability of military-style weaponry around the world and most especially here in the US, it is inevitable not only that more San Bernadinos will happen but that worse is to come. Given the Senate’s craven refusal to prohibit watch-listed terrorists from buying guns, and the number of soldiers who have been trained in counterinsurgency techniques, it’s impossible to imagine that we’ve seen anything approaching peak terrorism.
Complicating the search for solutions is the purely gut-level response of much of the population, who as a result demand that the US do exactly what the terrorists are hoping we’ll do and as in Ted Cruz’s brilliantly creative formulation carpet-bomb them. How one might carpet-bomb a few tens of thousands of fighters amongst a population of millions, the lot spread among cities and rural areas across as many as ten countries, the good Senator and nobody else can explain because it’s a completely ridiculous concept. Yet this passes for reasoned debate in GOP circles!
In the end, though, this really is a clash of civilizations. Or perhaps more aptly it is a clash of civilization with the resistance to same. On the one side are fundamentalists everywhere, from Al-Raqqa to Alaska, for whom every interaction with anyone unlike themselves provokes the fear of learning something and is thus an excuse for violence. For such folks life is, or at least ought to be, black and white, good and evil, prescribed and forbidden. On the other side are relativists around the world, rarely concentrated enough to run a country by any system other than oligarchy, who see nuance and understand that judgments must be made rather than rules subscribed to. Civilization depends on nuance, but the human animal has evolved to promote superstition and fear. As a well-known movie Senator often said, we stand today at a crossroads… But we’ll muddle through, I imagine, much as we have over the last half-century, by daily denial of what we all know to be true: given our choices as a polis, at any moment someone might burst into the room clad in Kevlar, carrying assault weapons, and spraying bullets in our direction. And there’s very little we can do about it.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the NRA for keeping us all free. If it wasn’t for them, government would just keep getting bigger and more intrusive. Out of control government agencies like the NSA would probably be spying on us, listening to our phone calls and monitoring our browsing habits, etc. We would have hyper-militarized police departments bullying the citizenry, banging down doors, shooting people at the drop of a hat and seizing property. We would have ridiculously high defense budgets and we would always be at war, ceaselessly bombing and invading other countries, setting up torture chambers, and generally making the entire world despise us. But that doesn’t happen because we're armed!
Yesiree Bob, if it wasn’t for all those pot-bellied white dudes and their rifles, we’d all be living in a regular 1984 type scenario! So if your kid gets killed at the next school shooting, just remember that freedom isn’t free and that’s the price we all have to pay for liberty, mmmkay?
Here’s one Michael Cohen, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, catching the essence of his boss with perfect accuracy in just two words:
Larry Elliot continues his tradition of insightful and often disturbing economic analyses. This one looks at the current Doha round of trade liberalization, fourteen years in the making with “precious little” achieved in that time. You might remember the first round in Seattle with the attendant protests. The second Uruguay round took seven years to complete, beginning two months after and partially in response to 9/11.
When the Doha round was launched, it was seen as marking the start of a new chapter in the story of globalisation. A decade-long process that had begun with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall had culminated with the birth of the euro and the admission of China into the WTO — both seen as evidence that a new borderless world was in the making. The 1990s had been a decade of rapid growth and technological change.
And we all remember how well that worked out. Kinda like the whole “free movement of capital” ideology that was at the heart of Doha as well as the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and anywhere else that proved resistant to the power of positive money. “The theory was that removing the postwar curbs on finance would allow capital to move to those parts of the world where it was most needed”, a statement of an unutterably idiotic conceptualization. As if capital were a social service, moving about the world looking for spots where it might be wanted!
Things did not work out quite as planned. There were certainly big flows of capital around the globe, but they tended to go into speculative construction booms rather than into the creation of new productive capacity. Financial globalisation did not raise growth rates — or if it did it only did [so] through the creation of enormous bubbles — but it did lead to regular and damaging banking crises, culminating in the big crash of 2007-08.
The public got the impression that the only real beneficiaries of this Frankenstein’s monster was the financial industry itself. And when it became clear that the cost of failure would not be paid by the bankers but by the public, a backlash began.
Of course some benefits were seen to accrue to the working class in the form of cheaper goods. But these were paid for by a loss of manufacturing jobs.
This is the second age of globalisation. The first, also hastened by developments in communication, involved the free movement of capital, goods and people. That era came to an end in 1914 and the next three decades were difficult ones because mainstream politics couldn’t cope with the collapse of the pre-first world war order, and an extreme form of nationalism was unleashed by economic hardship.
Those who say history will not repeat itself should pause for thought. There has been a system failure. Everywhere, an extreme form of nationalism is again on the rise.
And trade pacts, which have done so much to create this horrific possibility, are clearly not the remedy for it. Nor, to be honest, is capitalism itself.