To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed.--TL Simons

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hedges Destroys Reich

Lucas sent this to me.  Thanks, CL.

Hedges annihilates Reich, who hangs his hat on his "fifty-years" association with Clinton (like that is meaningful to anyone but himself).

I won't vote for him (it's Stein all the way) but I hope Trump trounces the beech.

The case for how bad-off America would be under Trump is over-blown.  If it's not, well, the country gets what it deserves.

Most people are too fucking stupid to understand what has happened. Bunch of suckers.


My Summer Vacation II


New Book

This is the POD collection of my pieces for CounterPunch online.

Don't hesitate to buy.  Like all of my work it'll soon become as collectible as dinosaur bones.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Will the Train Run on Time?

Scheduled to leave on the train in 2 hours.

I wonder if Trump could make the trains run on time?  Maybe we'll find out, ha!

Long trip, hard to sleep (I've done this before) but plenty of good sights along the way.  I'll try to shoot some video and stills.

I'm traveling by train to Grand Forks and then busing into Minnesota.

Looking forward to seeing my daughter and her family.


Too Funny

When Elizabeth Warren voiced her support for Hillary Clinton, the rabble began chanting — “Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs.”--RM

And on and on.  The rabble acting up in a good way.





(There in spirit if not in person, she fell on the sword for the corrupt DNC, Hillary, Wall Street, the MIC, and the neocons.  She'll be rewarded even if she's tossed out of the House.)

One of the most common arguments being made against the walkout is that delegates will somehow abandon their chance to fight for Bernie’s politics and lose their voice by leaving. But the walkout will happen well after the platform and nomination votes are over. After the nomination roll call, the convention becomes ever more purely ceremonial, undemocratic, and scripted: The Hillary Show™--KS

Good move, highly symbolic protest of the machine if nothing else.


Monday, July 25, 2016

My Summer Vacation

Taking the train east tomorrow and outta here for a few weeks to visit family.

I'll keep you posted, some pics maybe.  Montana, North Dakota. Minnesota.

It's sad how this nation has forgotten trains.


The Throes of Desire

Pretty speeches
Loads of bullshit
Nothing changes


RP Thomas/Spider

It lives in my garage. I feed it maimed flies. I maim them with a rubber band. Shoot them lightly and chuck the Saint Vitus twitch fly into the web. Spider is all over it. I like spiders and dislike flies.--RPT


Mouth Wide Open

One might think that at least Bernie’s supporters would applaud Trump’s left-wing transformation of the old conservative, pro-corporate neocon Cheney-Bush core of the Republican Party. But nobody had a single good word to say about Trump’s assertions that he would wind down confrontation with Russia, reduce military spending on the grounds that NATO is obsolete, and oppose the TPP and TTIP as well as rewrite NAFTA’s terms.

The Democrats are misrepresenting this election’s rivalry with the Republicans by attacking Trump’s anti-neocon positions. This leaves Hillary as the neocon choice.--CP

Some extraneous thoughts.

BTW:  Why is HC's big mouth always wide open like a whale's? Nothing is that funny every time you have your picture taken.

Unless--wait--she's laughing at the little people!

She is a fraud.  Hopefully, a fly will soon nest in her spidery, web-strung pie hole.


Training Soldiers/Interview Excerpt

BD: When we left off you were talking about power. How does power work in your estimation?

TS: Power is often a subtle phenomenon. At other times it works quite openly. It works in various ways, but it always has similar results; the subjugation of a particular individual or group of individuals whom elites have determined are threatening to a long-standing imposed order. When talking about subjugation you are actually referencing control mechanisms that the stakeholders determine will best undermine rebellion, or the potential for rebellion, in all its manifestations. Order is of utmost importance to the stakeholders. Money is merely a symbol of power, then. Money hasn't any real purpose except to assist in the imposition of control. War is the most fundamental example of the imposition of order. Quite simply, the stakeholders will train their subjects to kill to maintain the control that has evolved from hierarchical systems over time. We refer to such a display as defensive. The point is to keep what's yours.  But the powerful are often not satisfied with simply maintaining the control—say of resources—they are also interested in obtaining more, a surplus of whatever it is—minerals, which is land, navigable waterways, airspace, etc. It is very easy for the defensive posture to mutate into an offensive quest. The shift can be subtle and is often explained away with organized propaganda, intimidation, fear mongering and a regeneration of newer and even more subtle symbols.  If control is to be maintained it must be wrapped in this increasingly subtle and tentacled apparatus. Symbolic order is the highest manipulative form of regeneration. Power is dynastic and clannish. That's sort of basic, isn't it? Power isn't a very complicated process at all. The key lies in training and organizing killers...

Read the rest of my conversation with Buddy Dooley, and other good stuff, here.


Stirring the Pot

Ha, ha!  Good on them.

The way it ought to be.

Sanders chose his own irrelevancy.  That's what politicians do.

Right now the delegates are chanting his name ironically, and he doesn't get that either.

A couple of months ago CD suggested Sanders might be senile because the "radical" wouldn't quit before all the delegates declared.  Well, if he wasn't senile then he is now.

Bernie, people are fucking with you because you deserve to be fucked with.  It's what happens, man. Ha, ha!

And before anybody shits on my parade, understand I don't have a horse in the front row.  It wouldn't bother me one iota if Trump became 45.

He and Pence are a couple of tools, but the world is full of them. Blow the fashion show/convention to smithereens!


Print Edition

This will be an expanded print edition of my Kindle eBook with a similar title.  Publishing date in early August.  So save your pennies.

That's one of Dooley's lame paintings on the cover, but my favorite by him amid a narrow field.


Sunday, July 24, 2016


This is a very funny and enlightened romp on boredom.

A must read selection.


For You, Beloved Reader

The End:  Your election special:  "What's Going On?"

Poem of the Day:  Stephen Crane.


The Women

The End:  Election 2016, Women Speak.

Poem of the Day:  Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Raising Kaine

He relinquishes a powerful Senate seat to lead guided tours of the Rose Garden for the church ladies.

Can't be too goddamned bright.

"In her announcement e-mail to supporters, however, Clinton described Kaine a progressive who grew up steeped in church-based social justice movements."

Therein lies the rub.  Clinton is now officially a church lady.  Really!?


Friday, July 22, 2016

Don't look at the camera...

Meanwhile, back at the Pentagon...


Past and Present

The End:  2016 Election Extravaganza!  Memphis Slim's "Chicago Seven."  Just in time for the DNC and the coronation of our Queen! How fitting...

Poem of the Day:  Nia Francisco.


Perfectly Clear

Racial, gender, and ethnic diversity matters, of course, but political correctness (PC) tied to bourgeois identity politics can be deadly to Left thinkers and activists and to the causes of peace and social justice. Part of what made the deeply conservative Barack Obama attractive to the U.S. corporate and imperial establishment during the long run up to the 2008 presidential election was the American power elite’s reasonable, born-out expectation that Obama’s skin color and status as a First Black President (FBP) would help make progressives, leftists, and serious liberals reluctant to forthrightly protest his coming service to the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, class, empire, and (curiously and stealthily enough) white privilege. Smart power brokers calculated correctly that political correctness around race – and the related fear of being considered racist because one dared to criticize a FBP – would help keep the left in check on Obama’s corporatist, Wall Street-pleasing, and imperial policies.

With Hillary Clinton in the White House (the likely though hardly certain outcome of the coming presidential election), we’ll have some of the same problem around gender. Numerous progressives, liberals, and even leftists will be unduly reluctant to criticize an arch-militarist, super-corporatist Clinton45 White House because of Hillary’s status (should she win) as a First Female President (FFP).--PS

Paul Street homes in on the reality of the power-elite vetting process that gave us Obama and will soon enough, barring an upset, give us Clinton.

This is about as fine of an elucidation of how it works that I've seen recently.

I addressed some of the same points, albeit with lesser clarity, in this April 15 piece at CP.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stupid Ploys

I have another piece at CounterPunch today.

In it I make fun of Trump for stealing Queen's music for his campaign.

But the thieving doesn't start or stop with Trump; a history of this sort of malfeasance dates back to Reagan and his clueless misinterpretation of Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

This one was sanctioned but should have been avoided, simply because it was saccharine and in poor taste--much like the Clintons themselves I suppose.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Give a Damn?

Despite the widely-held belief that the Republican Party and the fossil fuel industry are natural allies, one of the world's most prominent fracking tycoons admitted Tuesday that, actually, his business has fared better under Democrats.

"The industry has actually historically done better under Democratic presidents during my 42 years, going back, than under Republican presidents," said Scott Sheffield, chairman and CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, which runs an enormous oil drilling operation in West Texas' Permian Basin.

Sheffield went on to explain how from the time Democratic President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 to the crash of the oil market at the end of 2014, his business skyrocketed, with Pioneer stock reaching the fifth place on the S&P exchange and first in the industry market.--LM

Someone finally says it.

Yep, those Dems and particularly the fracking-girl herself, have it all figured out.


Monday, July 18, 2016

War and Wine

The End:  Another lousy election, 2016, Jose Feliciano.

Poem of the Day: Paul Laurence Dunbar.



Courtesy of Tom Clark's blog, Beyond the Pale.

About Carlos Latuff.



The cache of material, known as the Oyneg Shabes Archive, was buried by writers, led by the historian Emanuel Ringelblum, as German occupation forces were liquidating the ghetto. They meticulously documented all aspects of life in the ghetto and the annihilation of the Jews by the Nazis.--CH

Hedges writes from Warsaw.



We’re all gonna need to put on Hazmat suits before watching Trump and Clinton debate. Otherwise the Zika virus of Clinton’s hypocrisy and/or Trump’s severe case of moral Ebola will drip right through the screen and infect us all. Please take precautions, everyone. A Safe America Begins With You! In the long run, the only way to really stay safe is simply not to indulge.--JE

No doubt it will be cringe-worthy.  FWIW, she'll mop the floor with him.  Doesn't mean she'll have anything pertinent to say, just that he will be as bad as he ever was.

Fortunately for a guy who could give a rat's ass about either one of these candidates, American football programming will take priority in my brain this Fall--a justifiable escape into the the lesser-of-two evils programming options.

I'd rather watch pigskins flying than lying pigs.


Sunday, July 17, 2016


Lucas sent me a reminder of this beginners' Stones album today.   I had it in 1969, played it until I wore it out.

Among my Stones favorites, this is a very young garage band just learning how to do it; the Stones would progress rapidly to true masterpieces such as "Sympathy for the Devil."


Prison-Industrial Complex

An interesting article on private prisons written by a Mother Jones journalist who worked in one for four months.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ruth, Ruth, Ruth

I get why Ruth was so close to Scalia.  Not knowing when to keep it zipped as a member of SCOTUS is indefensible.

Ruth, here's a tip.  Liz Warren can cream the Donald any time she pleases.  You simply need to shut up and write what I, a little man buried in the fray, would consider appropriate arguments.

Keep it up and they'll start calling you an "activist judge," and they would be right even if they are wrong


Terence Connery

"Material for a Collage"



An amazing collection of photos from the attempted coup in Turkey, gathered by Tom Clark at Beyond the Pale.



The End:  Protest, "Let the Sunshine In."

Poem of the Day: Anita Endrezzee.


Friday, July 15, 2016

The Optimist Nears the End

The prez hasn't failed because he's black in racist America, or a Muslim born in Kenya, or isn't tough enough on "terrorism."

He hasn't failed because of his utter faith in drone technology and empty rhetoric.

He hasn't failed because the world is filled with bad apples and he's picking and choosing which ones to murder with a delicate hand.

He hasn't failed because he copied the Massachusetts health care system of Mitt Romney and called it the Affordable Care Act.

He hasn't failed because he's a socialist (that would be too much to hope for).

He hasn't failed because he's left handed or gone grey like they all do (except Reagan who kept Grecian Formula near his bed).

He hasn't failed because Congress booby traps his best causes.

He hasn't failed because Guantanamo is still open or because his NSA is out of control or because aliens from Mexico and others from ISIS and the beyond are coming after us.

He hasn't failed because he's a Democrat in the duopoly and a learned oligarch.

He hasn't failed because his jokes fall flat.

He hasn't failed because of Benghazi or the Crimea or because his foreign policy is "weak." (I don't understand why the right deplores the prez; he strikes me as one of "them."  He's good at killing people he dislikes.)

He hasn't failed because of Afghanistan, Libya, Tunisia, Mali, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen or Iraq, nor all of Latin America.

He hasn't failed because he talked to Iran rather than blowing it to smithereens.

He hasn't failed because the economy is bad and people are jobless (it's actually better than it was and about where the bankers want it, the rich are doing fine).

He hasn't failed because of the national debt, Wall Street or the military-industrial complex.

He hasn't failed for a lot of reasons, all of them optimistic, none of them real.



My god!  This is outrageous, Dooley!  You remind me of me in junior high.  What a wastrel you've become!  What a pity!


Article of the Day

‘Criminality’ is substantially tied to participation in the ‘informal’ economy by which those excluded from the formal economy survive. As evidenced by current widespread use of opioids prescribed through official channels and the ready availability of cheap, plentiful alcohol, the powers-that-be have no problem with socially destructive drug usage as long as the drugs are distributed through official channels so that profits can be made. It is other than paradoxical that the public health interest put forward to explain drug law enforcement finds its most violent expression through repressive policing in poor neighborhoods. Were concern for public health the motivation the police would be helping the poor find jobs, get needed health care and assuring the availability of nutritious food.--BU

Brilliantly spelled out.


Waits and Collins

The End:  Politics as usual:  Tom Waits

Poem of the Day: Billy Collins


Thursday, July 14, 2016

The HuffPost is the Hack Post

The Huffington Post has to be the world's worst website with the poorest content around.

Big news events such as the massacre in Nice last night are given huge headlines.  Fine. The New York Post-like, yellow-journalism quality of the presentation is insufferable, but expected.

But then sub-groupings of what you're led to believe are specifics about the story are written in smaller font, enticing you with what appears to be new, updated news; but guess what, those links take you to the same main story!

The HuffPost is all headlines.  The content is lacking, unless you're interested in gossip, which I'm not.

Not the first time I've noticed this, but this piece of shit gives other semi-aggregate websites a bad name and needs to fail.

Maybe I'll discover a new diet regimen out of the HP website.  That's about all one can hope for.

Want to know why news reporting, indeed journalism in general, is suffering these days?

HP's biggest drawback is that it is trying to be all things to all people. The task has overwhelmed the website.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Breaking Up is Easy to Do

Chasing Sanders: Getting Berned in the Age of False Pragmatism  

You thought you might be interested; believed there might be a chance at real love.

What would be the harm in giving it a go, testing the waters, seeing if something might be there? You never know you told yourself while recalling balancing acts, small successes, and major disappointments from your past.

So you didn’t throw caution to the wind this time.  You’ve learned your lesson about doing that.

Thenceforth, you courted for a year. Along the way you sensed that something was wrong.  You instinctively knew this one wasn't going anywhere, like so many others, but you didn’t want to admit that too readily.

Hope springs eternal, and all that.

The attraction was there initially; it couldn’t be denied.  There was a glimmer. You figured you had some things in common that could be talked about comfortably over coffee or a beer.  After all, you knew what you were looking for—someone with a worldview similar to yours, someone with a spark and a keen intellect who might agree with you in a number of areas.  Not philosophy—that’s too heavy. Some common sense things, then.  Real stuff:

Health care for all.  Free or drastically reduced educational costs. Jobs for all whom want one.  A renewed electoral process with fairness at its base. Wall Street out of the room.  Wars avoided or chosen with something other than empire and profitability as cause and effect.  New rules for punishment and incarceration. Full equality under the law. Housing for those in distress.  On and on.

Your dates were nice, but the passion was superficial. You could feel it.  What started with a nod and a wink didn't amount to more than a smile, and finally, disappointingly, a kiss on the cheek.

When you were done courting you weren't even sure you wanted to be friends.

What would be the point of it?

They say you have to live with somebody for a stretch of time before you really get to know them.

Now you know.  You knew it all along, right?

Love is damn hard to find, even harder to keep.

Note:  This piece will appear in the Weekend Edition of CounterPunch on Friday.


Killer Mac Salad

I make crazy good Mac Salad.

Key ingredients:

jumbo macaroni
mayo and mustard
black olives
dill relish
boiled eggs
diced onion
salt and pepper
Weber's roasted garlic and herb seasoning


Bye Bye Bernie

I join millions of Americans who see Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the opposite of what they and Bernie Sanders have fought for. Despite her penchant for flip flopping rhetoric, Hillary Clinton has spent decades consistently serving the causes of Wall Street, war and the Walmart economy.

The policies she fought for – along with her husband and political partner, Bill Clinton – have been foundations of the economic disaster most Americans are still struggling with: the abuses of deregulated Wall Street, rigged corporate trade agreements, racist mass incarceration, and the destruction of the social safety net for poor women and children. The consistent efforts of the Democratic Party to minimize, sideline, and sabotage the Sanders campaign are a wake up call that we can’t have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party.--JS

Jill Stein unloads on Sanders, Hillary and the New Democrats.

Sanders had an opportunity but, as promised, buckled.

Time to put the pragmatists in their place and Bernie in the rear view mirror.  Lesser-Evilism is a charade and, well, evil.

Listen, no one man or woman is going to change the system alone or otherwise be the antidote to the poison that floods us from above, but America needs a real choice--not a battle of the oligarchs.

The Dems led by Clinton are, however, running backwards like a race car stuck in reverse.  It's never pretty when that happens.

Other voices:

David Lindorff here.

Kshama Sawant here.

Russell Mokhiber here.

Robert Scheer here.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Good Ol' Pragmatism

Conservatives — including Trump — continue to fight unabashedly for the needs of corporate America, while neoliberals like President Obama and Hillary Clinton insist that progressive initiatives must be curbed in the interest of "getting things done."

But such a commitment to "pragmatism" is, in reality, a lack of commitment to the systemic change necessary in the midst of unprecedented inequality, horrific levels of child poverty, an intolerably high rate of infant mortality, neglected communities, and other crises that require radical action.--JJ

Yep, it's all here.

from "I Protest"

I protest
all of the isms
particularly pragmatism
and its idiocy
day in/day out
I protest

from Nightscape in Empire & The Talent Poems


Huh, What Racism?

No racism here.

Good lord, I still don't understand how people, particularly those sworn to "serve and protect," can disagree with the concept.

Unless...unless, you know what...


And They Call it "Unity"

An enormous cheer erupted from the crowd at Sanders' endorsement, but not everyone in the audience was pleased: one reporter tweeted that around "30-40 Sanders supporters just walked out on Bernie endorsing Hillary in a single line in front of the press."--CD

I would have led the walkout had I been there.

Others applauded the endorsement. The grassroots group Progressive Change Campaign Committee released a statement arguing that "Bernie Sanders' endorsement is the latest proof that the Democratic Party is increasingly unified around big, bold, progressive ideas—and that is good for Democrats in November."-CD

"Unified around big, bold, progressive ideas?"  Show me one amidst the smokescreen and down-on-their-knees grovelling.

Sanders, a man of his word, said he'd do this when he started, unfortunately. It came down to trying to win a few points at the platform committee meetings--a non-binding dreamworld that the neoconservatives backing Clinton's warmongering must be laughing at with all the glee of children in a toy store.

Just as Clinton is the wrong woman to lead an uprising of gender-focused political idealism and true progressiveness, Sanders was the wrong candidate to ever utter the words "political revolution."

But you already knew that.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Colonized Neighborhoods/Hedges

Police officers carry out random acts of legalized murder against poor people of color not because they are racist, although they may be, or even because they are rogue cops, but because impoverished urban communities have evolved into miniature police states.

Police can stop citizens at will, question and arrest them without probable cause, kick down doors in the middle of the night on the basis of warrants for nonviolent offenses, carry out wholesale surveillance, confiscate property and money and hold people—some of them innocent—in county jails for years before forcing them to accept plea agreements that send them to prison for decades. They can also, largely with impunity, murder them.--CH

I think this is an important piece, like much of what Hedges has to say. He lays out some fundamental aspects of inequality with his usual clarity and uncompromising principles.

Think about all the fire power this country employs in a multitude of ways.  What is its actual final justification, other than to suppress the majority of poor where they live?

A must read.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

In the Garden with a Keg of Beer

The End:  Politics, "Woodstock."

Poem of the Day: Carl Sandburg.


Here We Are

The killing machine has become spectacularized, endlessly looped through the mainstream cultural apparatuses both as a way to increase ratings and as an unconscious testimony to the ruthlessness of the violence waged by a racist state. Once again, Americans and the rest of the world are witness to a brutal killing machine, a form of domestic terrorism, responsible for the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling who were shot point blank by white policemen who follow the script of a racist policy of disposability that suggests that black lives not only do not matter, but that black people can be killed with impunity since the police in the United States are rarely held accountable for such crimes.--HG

Henry Giroux speaks, and you would be foolish not to heed him, unless of course what is going on around you is perfectly acceptable.


Dems in Action: $15 and a Wet Dream

The trend continued on the second-to-last day of platform negotiations in Orlando, Florida, when Clinton surrogates on Friday rejected an amendment supporting the creation of a postal banking system, modeled on the one in North Dakota, as well as measures that would end corporate welfare and lay penalties on companies for offshoring jobs, lift the $250,000 income cap on the social security tax, and expand cost of living increases for senior citizens' social security benefits.--NK

I know all of Hillary Clinton's robots will be rich one day; why else would they deny Social Security cost of living initiatives in the Democratic platform committee sessions?  Ha, ha...

Seems like just yesterday when Thomas Frank penned What's the Matter with Kansas?, a book questioning why poor people in that state (it's true everywhere) vote against their own best interests every chance they get.

As the wealth gap grows in the U.S. huge swaths of Democrats can't be persuaded to Listen, Liberal.

O woe...


Friday, July 8, 2016

Standard Logic

To those too young or too stupid to remember, I offer two words that should scare the crap out of any potential Jill Stein voter: Ralph Nader. Thank you, Ralph, for causing eight years of the-worst-president-in-the-republic's-history. Don't be an idiot!--Spear03 in a Guardian comment.

Here is an example of a fallacious extrapolation that is all too common among the sheep in the Democratic Party these days, the sniveling brats who want "unity" without paying for it.   There are several reasons why Spear03 is dead wrong, and shallow, and ludicrous.

First, he presumes that Nader voters would have automatically voted for Gore had Nader not been on the ballot. It's more likely that they would have simply not voted and in some cases may have even voted Bush.  How would that have guaranteed a Gore victory?  Plainly, a lot of people detested Gore in the same way they detest Hillary Clinton, and for similar reasons.

Second, he doesn't mention that Gore is a pussy and a neoliberal corporate shill, again like Hillary. In other words, Gore wasn't good enough to win a clear majority of voters against even a dynastic clown.  That's on him, not the voters whom he bored to death with his own stupidites.

Third, Spear's comment stinks of rank "lesser-evilism," which is exactly how the financial elites like it.

And just for the hell of it, why not blame the 2000 election on the Supreme Court?  Or the "hanging chads," or the weather?  But most importantly, why not name the people who voted for Bush to blame?

All together now, who is calling whom an idiot?

Here is how one John Wilson smartly answered the arrogant Spear:

So in the Guardian's polling Sander's supporters are expected to vote for Clinton. Well they didn't ask me. I would never vote for the hideous woman. I'd rather just not vote. But this really does raise a great possibility by Stein. I hope Bernie goes for it. And please don't talk about the crap about Nader splitting the vote. I voted for Nader because he was also a good man and that's my choice because that's what democracy is all about. It's not about having to vote for one evil Wall St warmonger so to keep some racial bigot out. Neither of them should be on the ticket anyway.

There it is.  Quit blaming leftists for the fucked-up mess. They've never held real power in this country.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Lecture Series

Dr. Jason Smith sent me a note with his lectures attached.

While the video is a little rough technically in places, the Texas A&M lecturer gets his points across well-enough.


New Header by Buddy Dooley

As you may have noticed, I've changed my header, incorporating a collage by the visual artist, Buddy Dooley.

Decided to go big time and experiment with color for the time being. Just for the hell of it.  But don't worry, the blog's content will be as fucked up as ever.

Note:  Because Blogger's template says so, the working-title of this site is now "Dinosaur Speak." The web address remains unchanged.

Oh well...I started this blog before Google upgraded its blogging tools.


New Release/My CP Pieces on Kindle

My newest collection of political essays, published at CounterPunch in the past year, ought to be up by Thursday morning for all of you eBook aficionados.

Buy it and rejoice!  See it here for a blurb and an attitude adjustment.

The cover image is from a ceramic painting by Portland artist Charles Lucas, whom I credit here to avoid a lawsuit.


Stupid, Evil Fuck

I believe history will agree that it was the correct, if difficult, decision to remove Saddam Hussein. Had we not done so, today we would likely confront a nuclear-armed Iraq facing off against a nuclear armed Iran. Bad as the unrest in the region is today, that would be worse.--Paul Bremer

This is one of the most fucked up pieces of pure bullshit that you will ever have opportunity to read.

The dumb shit should be in jail along with the rest of the Iraq War-mongering thugs.


Reality TV

This really happened.

Read the rest of the story here.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Two: The Sad Weekend

Two of my favorite movie directors passed in the last few days, both septuagenarian freaks of nature.

Kiarostami and Cimino.

I feel disheartened not only because they were great craftsmen and visionaries, but also because I am of the age when I too could blink out in a heartbeat (or lack thereof).

Here is a short study of Kiarostami I published in Alt-Everything:

Kiarostami at 1:40:33

Frames similar to this one throughout Abbas Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) create a postcard motif within the film.  The Iranian director returns to the locale in this frame again and again as his character struggles with the persistence of an old woman’s refusal to die according to a convenient schedule.
Kiarostami uses many medium shots with a motionless camera throughout the movie, but he harkens back to this veranda throughout the film.  At 1:40:33 the shot lingers on the protagonist as he bites into a strawberry.  This medium-shot frame is a frontal view of the veranda and the entries to the rooms that house the protagonist and his filmmaking crew.  Some wonderful symmetrical work fills the frame beginning with the wooden-grated railing which dominates the foreground while angling slightly downward towards the left of the frame.  Hand-wrought and angular natural wood shaped into differing gauges and lengths, the railing is primitive, another relic in a village that thrives on tradition and old customs.

Two potted, flowered plants with beautiful green plumage are attached to the railing; indeed, green is the dominate color within the frame, as even the doors to the two rooms, and the window frame at the left have green shading, contrasting with the light, airy feel of the veranda and the ecru tone of the building and rail.  The red strawberries rest in a green bowl.  The bowl is the approximate hue of the plants.
The protagonist, holding the colorful bowl, leans slightly against a pole off-centered right from mid-frame.  The pole is a structural element of the railing, probably attached to the house’s roof and creates stability for the veranda in the same manner in which it props up the protagonist as he bites the strawberry, seemingly lost in thought, or perhaps confusion.

A crying baby from the opposite veranda and chirping birds are all the viewer hears in this contemplative moment. We have learned earlier that the protagonist’s co-workers bought the strawberries, but they are nowhere to be found.  It is not clear what has happened to them, but the point of the frame is to demonstrate that the protagonist finds succor in the berries; he has bickered for days with his impatient co-workers, who want to get the job done and head back to Tehran.  Perhaps they found a ride out of the village for the 450 mile return trip to the capital?
Several other elements within the composition are striking.  To the left, hanging from a clothing line and at mid-depth within the frame, an ultra-white towel complements the white shirt the protagonist is wearing on this day (his other favorite shirt, not coincidentally, is a checked-green one that in other scenes enhances the veranda’s green motif).

Other dashes of whiteness give the frame a controlled pattern; on the wall behind the towel, a small white item, which appears to be a thermostat, creates a horizontal rectangle that contrasts with the larger, vertical rectangular towel.  Together within the frame the two items create closely related forms that are then echoed in other patterns throughout the frame.  The partially open window to the left has two elements; one side is open, the other closed.

The closed portion creates yet another vertical and rectangular form, while the closed portion holds three panes of glass that create vertical but smaller forms.  On the exterior wall at the frame’s left, which juts out from the background wall to form an L configuration, a greenish tapestry is tacked to the wall; again it is in the form of a rectangle.  Below that, a large ceramic vase is green, and its roundness contrasts with the rectangular theme of the frame.
In this particular frame the background is dominated by the doors to the filmmakers’ rooms.  One is open, creating a darkened rectangular shape, yet it is bright enough to reveal a picture of a young person on the wall inside the room.  This has the effect of placing a smaller rectangular form within the larger rectangular shape of the door’s arch.  The picture also has a whitish background, which addresses the dual color theme of white/green within the frame.

The other door, partially ajar, has two window panes that create rectangular forms that sit at an angle to the overall dominate frontal composition of the frame.  These rectangular panes of glass have the effect of breaking up the sameness that a rectangular motif might create if not varied enough within its borders.  The wood below the window panes is also molded into rectangular forms that echo the panes and enhance the rectangular motif.  The wood is a shade of green that nicely balances the deep green of the plants, vase, and strawberry bowl.  The effect of the door being ajar in the background reveals a surprising dash of another color, red, in the form of a tapestry on the wall inside this second room.  The gape in the door then essentially frames the tapestry into a longer, vertical rectangular form that continues the frame’s dominate motif.
To the right of the slightly opened door a lantern hangs in a space on the wall that obviously needed to be filled to balance the composition; within the context of a medium-shot frame, which this one is, the lantern becomes rectangular, just as one can imagine the various elements of the railing, with its unevenly matched wood verticals and horizontal top, as spatially rectangular in its construction.
Finally, the director or set designer throws a monkey wrench into the composition in what one imagines is a fit of mirth.   Two triangles threaten the dominate motif.  One is on the L configured wall at the left of the frame; the other is above the slightly ajar door at center-right of the composition.  Upsetting the frame’s dominating rectangular motif, the triangles become focal and save the frame from cliché by suggesting the essence of imperfection.


Have a Happy 4th! (In Memory of Ben Linder)

(This piece also appears at CounterPunch under the title "Too Close for Comfort: Ben Linder, Elliott Abrams and Hillary Clinton.")

You cannot stress the point too much.  When (not if) Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States of America, U.S. foreign relations will take a step back thirty years to the dark ages of Ronald Reagan.

By comparison, the age of Obama’s drone wars will appear delicate.

The danger of a Hillary Clinton presidency will rear its ugly head from day one, when she officially huddles with the Council on Foreign Relations and its Middle East policy “educator,” Elliott Abrams.

Because neocons like Hillary Clinton more than they do the unpredictable villain Donald Trump, this setup is not a secret and Abrams is but one of Clinton’s many neoconservative champions.

Elliott Abrams is a dangerous man, and everything he scribbles proves it.  Read at your leisure.

One of the most infuriating and shameful acts of U.S. foreign policy in my time, excluding the Vietnam War, which amounted to a genocide beyond the pale, was the Reagan Administration's support of the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s. The Sandinista rebel, Daniel Ortega, had come to power on the promise of economic reform in the Central American nation after the overthrow of the U.S. backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza.

Somoza, a U.S.-educated elite from a family of dictators, initially fled, his suitcases stuffed with cash, to Miami in 1979.  President Jimmy Carter threw him out and he alit in Paraguay, where Sandinista hitmen finished him off in 1980.

Along came the Reagan Revolution after Carter’s perfunctory humanism—recall Carter was as anti-Soviet Union as the next American politician.

Ortega's promise to attack poverty and illiteracy in Nicaragua had swept him into power via free elections and threatened U.S. influence in the region. Reagan and his underlings fought back with all the poison the CIA could muster, including the illegal arms-for-hostages deal with Iran and the arming of anti-Ortega rebels—the so-called Contras, mainly the malingerers of Somoza’s security forces.

Reagan used the long-dead horse of falling dominoes to justify his policy, while later claiming ignorance of the deal.  A mostly complacent America went along with the ruse, one of the last incongruities of Cold War containment philosophy.

Into the Nicaraguan conflagration walked a Portland, Oregon kid named Ben Linder, an idealistic and committed activist with a recently-earned engineering degree from the University of Washington. Ben was working on a small hydroelectric project in a rural area north of Managua, April, 1987, when the Contras found him and two local co-workers, tossed grenades at them, and finished the trio off with bullets to the head. Ben and his friends were assassinated by a U.S. sponsored death squad. Our nation was, in the very least, morally culpable.

But you couldn't tell that to Florida Rep. Connie Mack III, grandson of the baseball legend, and State Department functionary Elliott Abrams after the brutal act. They blamed Ben Linder.

Going before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ben's parents sought answers about why their son had to die, and blamed U.S. policy-makers for his death. What transpired at those hearings is one of the most despicable and disgraceful abuses of power in the U.S.'s long history of despicable and disgraceful abuses.

Abrams and Mack seemed to relish their roles as protectors of the CIA-sponsored right-wing death squads controlling the Nicaraguan countryside.

Ben’s mother, Elizabeth, pleaded that the U.S. government should go after the killers.  Abrams and Mack angrily told her to mind her own business.

They were heartless, and the entire fiasco was on television for all to see.

That Elliott Abrams could resurface on George W. Bush's team, after being convicted in 1991 of obstruction charges related to his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, is all you need to know about the deep corruption of the power-elite lineage in America.

Now Abrams, who has grown up to become the senior fellow for Middle East studies at the CFR is counting Hillary Clinton among his friends.  The courting and first kiss is about to happen.

Wait for it.


Sunday, July 3, 2016