Friday, January 13, 2017

weird scenes in the update of Suetonius' history, American version

The reaction to Buzzfeed letting us ugly and obscure people read what the glitterati in DC are reading - Donald Trump's Smutty Vacation in Russia - has produced more of the same from the prep school journalism crowd. The writers for the waPost and the NYT. You know the guys. The ones who watched, during the election, as a tape was released showing Trump uncautiously talking about groping pussy - and who asked not one question relating to that at the press conference, as Trump lectured the assorted sycophants about how clever he is in avoiding being tape recorded or videoed surreptitiously. I guess said sycophants didn't want to get into locker room talk. It is so not serious! This from the corps of journalists who, at the NYT, held a symposium about Mariah Carey's woes after her New Years fuckup.

Well, these are the people who carried water for the CIA after the intelligant agency was accused, correctly, of covering for coke dealers in the illegal Nicaragua affair. Who bent over collectively for Goerge Bush and licked his little Texas asshole till it was nice and shiny. Those folks.

Weirdly, though, the poobahs have been joined by other people, professional placers of the turd in the punch bowl. People like the Intercept crowd.

Who've decided it is all the Deep State attacking la Donald.

My gut feeling is that this crowd was, correctly, suspicious of the neo-con Putin hate nights lately staged by Clintonites and McCainites, singing in perfect harmony. But not wanting the cold war to start shouldn't mean covering up for Putin, who is a monster on the George W. Bush order. Chechnya, the false flag Moscow bombings, the hatching from the rotten vulture's nest of Yeltsin's horrible clan - it is all true. It is also true that whoever hacked the DNC did a good thing. If Clinton wanted her fuckin speeches kept private, she shouldn't have run for the presidency. And if the DNC under the thumb of establishment Dems had decided not to put another heavy thumb on the scale for Clinton in the primaries, there wouldn't have been any scandal about their doings - such that Debra Wasserman Schulz had to resign. On the same Procropian principle that secret history is what the cops and judges cram up your asshole if you don't watch it, Buzzfeed did us a service releasing that dossier. Now we know much more about what it contains, who commissioned it, and how it was constructed than we do - well, about the FBI - CIA report about the hacking of the DNC.

As for its "bizarreness" - as one of my twitter opponents phrased it this morning, dissing Buzzfeed - are you kidding me? Did the sexual assault stories, the headlines about Trump for the last thirty years, his delight in birddogging and cheating, just slip the collective media mind? Given Trump's M,O. and his sense of safety in Moscow (where he's touting the Miss Universe pageant - hey, page up those reports from Miss Universe contestants about what the son of a bitch was doing), Trump orgying with prostitutes seems pretty plausible - much more plausible than Trump becoming president of this big balled up nation.

I'm pleased to see that there is some pushback pro Buzzfeed. Not enough though. And the press, which has a huge gender problem (hence their inability to even check and see whether Trump had bit parts in Playboy movies, when I am sure as shit that if Clinton had the smallest bit part in a Playboy movie it would even have interested the moribund NYT), is going into covering an administration in which Trump and his minions will continue to pretend they are in Hugh Hefner's mansion - and they bring to this scene the morals of a Victorian judge guarding the public decency. Gonna be interesting seeing them in full sycophant mode, pretending this isn't going on. And getting shocked when internet news sites, clickbaiting away, put this shit up for Mr and Mrs. America to swing to

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

No, voxers, exploitation is not a virtue

There's a well meaning but infuriating meme going around among liberals, which is that if Trump "expels" illegal immigrants, we won't have anybody to harvest our foods. It is well meaning in that it gestures towards immigrants as part of the community. It is infuriating because it replicates the usual neo-liberal gesture of turning exploitation into virtue. In fact, the harsh reality it gestures to is an industry that depends on underpaying its labor force and providing it with not benefits. When you read that, for instance, sugar cane growers "can't find" americans to harvest sugar cane, you should read: sugar cane growers are unwilling to either pay a living wage or ameliorate conditions of labor and provide healthcare insurance for their laborers, because they are sucking off the top in enormous profits for fat cats. Under the guise of "tolerance" what is being tolerated is 19th century working conditions. To hell with that! If Pres Fuckface tries to expell illegal immigrants en masse, oppose him on human rights grounds, and then remember that we need strong labor laws that abolish exploitative work practices both in the country and the city, on the farm and in the coffee shop.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Middle spirits, wanking, and Trump

Between 1980 and 1990, one colossus bestrode the world like… like a verminous scarecrow over a dying field of corn. Or something like that. I’m talking, of course, about his senility, Ronald Reagan.  During those years, I protested against Reagan, and my friends uniformly found him to be a joke, a turd, and a fascist.

However, I do not think of Reagan when I think of those years. Not really. One reason may be that I did not own a television in that decade. Reagan, to me, was pre-eminently a beast of print.  In a sense, I did not have that false, trans-haptic sense of knowing him which one gets from watching tv or movies and seeing, constantly, the same faces and bodies. The stars.

I’ve never been within pissing distance of a single powerful figure in my life. I’ve never been at arms end – I’ve never seen the skins and smelled the smells of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Obama. 
Yet they move, definitely, as images through my life. In the eighties and the nineties, even, it was possible to keep them at arm’s length, so to speak – to coldly judge them without getting them up one’s nose. So I could pretty clearly say that I knew only the parade balloon that I saw photographed in newspapers and magazines, really, and the words that were written for them by other people. They were, in a sense, “middle spirits”. Itake the phrase from Empson, who uses it in a review of Francis Yates bookabout Renaissance Hermeticism:

“C.S. Lewis, in the first chapter of his survey of English 16th-century literature (1954), said that earlier writers had treated magic as fanciful and remote, but in this period they felt it might be going on in the next street; and one reason was a thing they surprisingly called ‘Platonism’: ‘the doctrine that the region between the earth and the moon is crowded with airy creatures who are capable of fertile union with our own species.’ Another reason for feeling at home with the spirits was the doctrine ‘that the invisible population of the universe includes a whole crowd of beings who might also be called theologically neutral’. That is, they die like the beasts, and never come before the Judgment Seat; they are ‘far from Heaven, and safe from Hell’. They are not morally neutral, being a mixture of good and bad like ourselves: but they are not angels or devils, permanently engaged in a Manichean battle, wearing the uniform either of God or Satan. Clearly, this makes them likely to be useful to us, perhaps even to tell the secrets of Nature, if we have something to offer in return. It is an important change. But Dame Frances will have none of it, and so she does not mention the names of Puck or Ariel.
Lewis used his dubious phrase about neutrality to introduce the idea, I think, because the full doctrine is seldom stated. It would be considered heretical, and would anyhow be shocking: but the feeling of it, or an approach to it, is widespread in the period. One of the chief reasons for wanting some kind of belief in Middle Spirits was the reverence felt for the newly recovered classics, together with the belief, often expressed, that it would be impudent to deny experiences which had once been generally attested. Apollo could not have been nothing, and it was very disagreeable to believe him a devil. It was clear that he had lasted a long time, say two thousand years, and pretty certain that he was now dead; to believe he had been a Middle Spirit fitted very well. It would be unfitting if he were summoned to the Day of Judgment, so the educated tended to assume that this would not happen.”
I would call such creatures ontologically neutral, and I would list in this category the stars and celebs who, while “capable of fertile union” with the likes of us, definitely carry with them the hint of the faery realm in which they are most engaged.  
The Middle Spirits have, I think, come crashing down because the audio-visual media of the twentieth century that supported them have crashed into the internet. In 1980, if someone sent personal letters to some other person, a Middle Spirit, a star, this act of fandom seemed a bit eccentric; after all, there was no way to ‘know’ the person on the other end. Now, of course, on facebook and twitter, and on blogs, we are in communication with people we don’t “know” all the time. One of the happier things about keeping up a blog for fourteen years is that I “know” a lot of the people who comment on it or send me emails.
In this transformation of the confederacy of Middle spirits, my feeling about politicians has changed. It has become much more personal. When George Bush was elected, I frankly didn’t care. Bush and Gore were, to me, much like two version of the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow man in Ghostbusters: comically exaggerated dangerous monsters. But Bush’s coup came at the same time that my interaction with the computer intensified dramatically. I started a blog, a zine, and went around looking for writing jobs on the internet. 9/11 marked the beginning of my actual dislike of George Bush – and it was a change of dislikes. It was not distant, but very close. It was as if I knew the fuck up.
I knew that this was not a good thing for my mental health, but I also knew, and know, that it signaled a good thing in general. It used to be that this kind of knowing – a mook’s knowing, a sort of entrance into a faux-haptic space – was a reality for the elite alone. Now, they’ve been stripped of this perogative. The press still can’t get over that. HRC ran, curiously, as if this never happened – while Obama was hyperconscious of it. He was the candidate of these new circs. Trump, who has grabbed us by the pussy like untreatable case of clap, is, oddly, also aware of it. Probably this is due to pornography. Trump has always been a camp follower of soft-core, and probably hard-core, porn. Porn was, in the seventies and eighties, something like the parody zone of the Middle Spirits. It cashed out on faux-haptic knowing big time. Look but don’t touch turing into look but touch yourself – the cardinal rule, except for the big Mooks, like Trump. But porn, famously, made the jump to the internet and never looked back, even as the whole industry that had grown up in the seventies and eighties collapsed.  Trump, of course, has kept faith with the golden era porn creed, but as well, he followed the industry in its transmorgified form into the net.  We are supposed to think of Trump’s appeal to white nationalists as the core of his success. I think the appeal to the older wanker set was just as important.  There was a very good reason that the Republican primary consisted of a mudfight over the cock sizes of the candidates: because this was a real issue. It was the issue of knowing the candidate, and knowing where he’d put his organ. Into whose pixeled angelic hands.

I am going to have a harder time ignoring Trump than I had ignoring Reagan. But I think I can make it. I’ll blast his fuckedupness whenever I get a chance, but I am not letting him under my skin like I let Bush. I’m too tired and wary to go all the way with yesterday’s Wanker.  

Meryl Streep and President Fuckface

I have never had a lot of patience with celebrity culture, but after Meryl Streep's speech, and Prez fuckface's response, I suddenly see a use for it: bugging Trump! Every day for the next four years, some celeb should denounce Trump. In the Bush years, demonstrating did nothing. The press ignored it, the Dems rolled over for Bush, and Bush laughingly did his torture dance through Iraq. But apparently Meryl Streep can press Trump's buttons with the merest whisp of a speech. Trump's touchiness won him the presidency, but maybe it will lose him the efficiency he needs to put his monster dreams in motion. I don't know. But I do know celebs now have a duty in their interviews speeches and whatever. Make Trump mad. It is the least you can do for your country.

PS: speaking of actresses, Ray Davis at Pseudopodium riffs off of my post about HRC and Chicago to introduce his fave actress (and mine) Barbara Stanwyck as the excluded third in this discussion. 

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...