Saturday, July 15, 2017

PLAYING CATCH UP ~ I GOTTA WHOLE LOTTA LINKS!

Continuing with the task of clearing off my scratch-pad of stuff that I've wanted to blog about, here is a selection of "Suggested Readings" that I'd collected in the last two months and failed to pass along. I originally had a ton more links to share, but some--like this story about Trump cancelling a long-standing White House tradition of celebrating the end of Ramadan with a special dinner--haven't aged well, which means that what's left has already gone through a winnowing of sorts, so you know they're all top quality reads, chock-a-block with important, usable information, or as in the case of The Onion's "Trump Papers" project, just funny as all get out. So let's get started, shall we? - Jerky

Graeme Wood's in-depth profile of alt.right poster-boy Richard Spencer for The Atlantic, cheekily entitled "His Kampf", makes for pretty compelling reading. The fact that Wood and Spencer were high-school classmates in Dallas gives the interview sections a certain degree of intimacy, making the reader feel like they're sitting across the table from Spencer, sharing a sincere, if somewhat distasteful, conversation. Of note is the fact that Wood interviewed Spencer twice for this profile, once before the infamous incident wherein Spencer was punched by a masked "antifa" while being interviewed for Australian TV, and once after. This brush with real-world consequences seemed to take a bit of the bombast out of him, perhaps even dampening his evident glee in the wake of Trump's ascendancy:
“Am I just going to be harassed for the rest of my life? Living in Whitefish is quite difficult,” he said, due to protests. “I thought there would be a little bit of anonymity” in Alexandria. Now he could not walk around without fear. 
He said he was going to change his haircut—I’d remarked that it made him stand out—but insisted that fashion was the reason. “I think the fascist haircut has peaked. Aesthetically, I think it can definitely be improved on. Maybe I’ll try a Tom Cruise, from Mission: Impossible IV.” 
He sounded vulnerable, for the first time since he’d said the St. Mark’s campaign had wounded him. “I have a right as a citizen to walk the streets and not be attacked, and I have the right to be protected,” he complained. 
Spencer was obviously right when he said he should not be assaulted. But we both could taste the irony in the situation. If he hadn’t caught himself, he might have started talking about his “human right” not to be brutalized with impunity. Instead he recovered, and used the irony to his advantage. “The fact that they are excusing violence against Richard Spencer inherently means that they believe that there’s a state of exception, where we can use violence,” he said. “I think they’re actually kind of right.” 
“War is politics by other means and politics is war by other means,” he said. “We don’t all want the same thing. And that’s why I think there is a kind of state of war going on.”
It's a long profile, jam-packed with references to everything from Nietzsche to William F. Buckley Jr to more obscure figures in the history of Far Right thought. It also covers a lot of ground that probably didn't need covering, such as Spencer's short-lived foray into the world of drama club geekdom. However, it is the most complete portrait that we currently have of a man who, regardless of what we may think of him, now finds himself in the position of being a significant though leader in what passes for America's political culture. So stick with it. The concluding paragraphs are well worth the slog.

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Okay, so now that we've got THAT dirty business out of the way, why not unwind by spending a little time with The Onion's new large-form project, The Trump Documents? Check out this video explaining the incredible, expansive trove of classified documents and secret recordings that the nation's most trusted news source has procured from a whistleblower from within the White House itself...

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And it's right back into the darkness, with this Washington Post expose about a secret back-channel to the Kremlin being set up by Blackwater (aka Academi, aka Xe Services, aka Evil Incorporated) founder, Trump co-conspirator, and wannabe Bond villain Erik Prince, one of the shadiest among the vast armies of Shadow People currently casting their darkness upon the land.


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Meanwhile, as the Deep State's rogue New Fascist International faction is poised to capitalize upon its current situational advantage in such a way as to cripple and eliminate any competition, thus permanently consolidating its position as the sole meaningful power at the levers of societal control, the DumDum Left is doing everything in its tragicomically degraded power to make it as easy as possible for them to achieve that goal. As the late, lamented cultural critic Mark Fisher wrote a few years back in his increasingly relevant essay Exiting the Vampire Castle:
‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.
One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. ... The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog. 
Then there was Russell Brand. ... For some of us, Brand’s forensic take-down of [BBC anchor Jeremy] Paxman was intensely moving, miraculous; I couldn’t remember the last time a person from a working class background had been given the space to so consummately destroy a class ‘superior’ using intelligence and reason. This wasn’t Johnny Rotten swearing at Bill Grundy – an act of antagonism which confirmed rather than challenged class stereotypes. Brand had outwitted Paxman – and the use of humour was what separated Brand from the dourness of so much ‘leftism’. 
Brand makes people feel good about themselves; whereas the moralising left specialises in making people feed bad, and is not happy until their heads are bent in guilt and self-loathing. The moralising left quickly ensured that the story was not about Brand’s extraordinary breach of the bland conventions of mainstream media ‘debate’, nor about his claim that revolution was going to happen. ... For the moralisers, the dominant story was to be about Brand’s personal conduct – specifically his sexism. In the febrile McCarthyite atmosphere fermented by the moralising left, remarks that could be construed as sexist mean that Brand is a sexist, which also meant that he is a misogynist. Cut and dried, finished, condemned.
Sorry for the lengthy, and much-edited, sampling of Fischer's essay, here, but I feel that his anecdote about the DumDum Left's reaction to Brand's utterly harmless use of such 'gendered" terms of endearment as "bird" and "dearie" perfectly sums up an attitude that we've all encountered among some ostensible allies, and will thus have the ring of familiarity for much of my readers, as left-leaning and liberal (in the New World sense of that word) as they may otherwise be. Fisher, who generally wrote about culture and the arts, committed suicide earlier this year. He was 48 years old. Read Consider reading the Vampire Castle to be your good deed for the day.

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"Quick! Save his life so we can torture him for a decade!"
For all the outrage being expressed in certain circles over the Canadian government settling with former child soldier and Guantanamo Bay torture survivor Omar Khadr for ten and a half million dollars in recognition of their long-term failure to intervene on Khadr's behalf while his basic rights were being trampled over and over again for over a decade, one wonders whether any of these people have ever stopped and examined the so-called evidence against Khadr in the first place, which is basically a ridiculous tissue of lies. 

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Being a bit of a scribbler, himself, yer old pal Jerky was tickled by the howls of butthurt outrage generated by The Guardian editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson's savage take on the Finsbury Park terror attack, in which a van was driven into a crowd of Muslims by a man shouting Islamophobic slurs. For the cartoon in question, reproduced above, Rowson simply slapped the logos of London's two most notoriously Islamophobic daily newspapers, The Sun and The Daily Mail, onto the side of the vehicular murder weapon. And, boy oh boy, those papers did NOT react well. But it seems to me you'd have to be willfully blind to think that THIS wouldn't one day bear some rotten fruit...

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