The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use the comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Josh Hawley Moves to Become Trump’s Heir Presumptive


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 3, 2021


  1. Trinity

    A new year, a new scapegoat.

    I appreciate all the “year in review” articles that appear when the calendar year is incremented. It’s always nice to be reminded of recent events that happened that I may have forgotten (like CA’s Prop 22).

    What I really want to gripe about are all the articles saying “how awful” 2020 was and how thankful we should be that the calendar has flipped. Because 2020 was a bad year! Shame on you, 2020! 2021 has to be better, because the calendar has flipped. We are so lucky the calendar year is changing. Whew! Close one!

    The arrogance (conceit, hubris, self importance, egotism) in these statements is breathtaking. We are kidding ourselves in saying we are an advanced, rational society. When the going gets rough, superstition and stupidity win every time. When all else fails, fall back on magical thinking. This will somehow keep us safe AND it’s conveniently not our fault if things go sideways.

    Humans, apparently, have no agency at all, but a concept (a calendar) does. Which is the point, so we can redirect blame AND accountability onto something else and then just wait until it disappears or changes (because it will, because it’s a concept that we ourselves created to mark time).

    And, we can conveniently pin our hopes and dreams on a new version of that concept which in reality is just a label change to discretize time. But no matter, we can go on our merry way, pretending we have no agency while continuing to destroy the ability of the planet (which is not a concept) to sustain lives, and simultaneously destroying any meaning (or point) for living due to those exact same activities.

    All indicators are that things will get worse, not better. Even taking the default prediction (tomorrow will look very much like today) means tomorrow will be pretty nasty.

    I don’t seek to destroy hope, but I do wish people would wake up and stop trying to change things they cannot change and instead focus on things they can change. Not having agency at one scale doesn’t mean you don’t at others. Unless you have the ability to successfully organize a revolution or rewrite policy, find something else. If nothing else, make a plan as Che advised.

    The worse part of this idea of a “bad year that finally ended” is it encourages passivity (and why ever might that be useful, and to whom?). I think exploring the ways in which we do have agency, collectively or individually, would make a great series of articles, here or elsewhere. Because the more we are encouraged to put our hope into the passing of time to solve our problems, the more likely the future will not resemble what we want and need.

  2. Eric Anderson

    Love to hear what people are reading these days.
    Anyone done the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer?

  3. Eric Anderson

    “I think exploring the ways in which we do have agency, collectively or individually, would make a great series of articles, here or elsewhere.”

    Working on it. As intimated in the thread to Ian’s last post, I’ve been nibbling around the edges of a post about learned helplessness for a while. The answer to your question, I think, lies in mountain of research on depression and explanatory style.

    Too many are tipping into the “this is the way the world is” explanation rather than the “this is happening b/c of factors xyz which I have some control over. The entire country needs a cognitive behavioral intervention.

  4. bruce wilder

    @ Trinity

    People try to understand the society and body politic in which they are embedded, but most do not try very hard. It is important to a primitive, narcissistic sense of safety and security to feel that the world is a reliable parent, or if a clearly untrustworthy parent, then one which can be manipulated reliably by whatever means seem to be available.

    Education can help people build up a more sophisticated sense of the way the world works and add to their repertoire of skills in getting what they need and want.

    Unfortunately, the Media in American society is owned by and run for the benefit of a several hundred billionaire oligarchs and a self-satisfied class of their servants who administer that apparatus. That class is educated and cosmopolitan but has no incentive to inquire into the mechanisms in which they are well-oiled cogs, because those mechanisms are cruel and malevolent in their operation. The Media exists to disseminate disinformation and cultivate ignorance and stupidity and then complain about and ridicule the ignorance and stupidity. It’s a living.

  5. Dan

    That class is educated and cosmopolitan but has no incentive to inquire into the mechanisms in which they are well-oiled cogs, because those mechanisms are cruel and malevolent in their operation.

    And the few that do look seriously into the system that maintains them are not in any way prepared psychically for what they are going to find. Given this simple reality, the retreat to comfort and security – as a mindset and as a known lived reality – is both inevitable and understandable.

  6. New translations of the Art of Peace and The Way and It’s Power.

    Next up a cross-reread of Albion’s Seed and Nine Nations of North American, which has been somewhat updated to eleven. I read both for different reasons past, Seed for the Cavalier influence on the “American” “founding” (the Puritan bullshit is the biggest con ever) and Nine Nations when looking at how things might fall apart; both have unique insights on the various architectures imported from England that I didn’t pay as much attention to as I should have. Also on tap the Ancillary Justice trilogy, though I doubt it will satisfy.

    February’s a ways away …

  7. Eric Anderson

    Thanks for the ideas Ten Bears. Def interested in the Art of Peace as a dialectic to Art of War, which I’ve read several times over the years. Also, the Ancillary Justice series seems right up my fiction road. Moving through Charles Stross’s Laundry Files right now. Not my usual vein, but he’s fun and has invented a genre all his own.

  8. different clue

    Learned helplessness often has to be taught. Thinking about learned helplessness in the American political arena might benefit from thinking about and studying taught-helplessness. The helplessness-design-engineers very carefully enforce and re-enforce and re-re-enforce the learned-helplessness lessons being taught and demonstrated to the serially betrayed. So it might be good to study and describe the learned-helplessness-design engineers and how they design and build learned helplessness.

    What is the opposite of learned helplessness? Is there a word for it? Something like learned helpishness? How is helpishness learned? How might a putative “helpishness re-learning” wannabe-movement lead people onto some conquerable battlefields and some ” We diddit! We won!” moments?

    And is the infliction of visible pain on the enemy in itself a victory worth winning in order to savor?

  9. Stirling S Newberry

    Now 12 senators will object to the election results. One can see how a civil war starts – moves by a corrupt party to appease their more stupid base. Were there errors in the vote count? Undoubtedly. However, they were, generally, for Biden, not Trump. But the phants want to burn more oil and coal. They can’t realize that they don’t have money left in their accounts because they still have checks left. So the corrupt members of Congress vote to say that if they were in office such mathematically thinking would not be allowed.

    It is a farce but one that will have real and deadly consequences.

  10. Eric Anderson

    “Learning” is the establishment of behavior from positive and negative stimulus.
    The opposite of learned helplessness is “agency.”
    We remain helpless so long as we rely on a non-agency “explanatory style” or worldview.
    Coming together with others to live the shared experience and trade explanatory styles in overcoming powerlessness is key.
    This is why I so often rail on television. It’s cancer for community. And, due to the fact that it was invented solely for the purpose of selling us stuff we don’t need by degrading our self-image, we adopt the explanatory style that is shoved in our face 24/7/365 from the day we are born.

    Yes. Propaganda works. And media is an addiction. The vehemence that people will respond with when you critique their media habits is a thing to behold in the face of the knowledge on figures like Bernays, Watson, et al. Or, Chomsky and Herman in manufacturing consent.

    Any one that’s ever taken a social psych course is either dismayed .. or working for Madison Ave.

    These are the chains that bind us, sitting right out in the open for us to smash. But we don’t. We’re addicted.

  11. Hugh

    The Trumpist Republicans are pushing the line that elections only count if they win them. It’s OK if they lie and cheat and win. It is not OK if anyone else wins, period.

    It’s also mature and responsible to completely blow the response to a pandemic, and then begrudge even crumbs to those suffering because of it.

  12. Ten Bears

    I should clarify, the Art of Peace is a translation of the Art of War by a woman, who quite credibly argues Master Tzu’s commentary is more about the management of Peace, of civil society, than the waging of War. It is the male translator’s penchant for War, not to mention the very fascistic nature of those early kingdoms, that has produced the translations we are familiar with.

    And because it’s always good to read a woman’s perspective, I’ve also been thumbing through blogger Mahabarb‘s book the Circle of the Way though it is a bit more Buddhist than I care for. I like it over’easy, wouldn’t want to take things too seriously.

    Re. the Cavaliers and the Pilgrim myth: the younger sons (and daughters) of midland royalty without lands to inherit in England were establishing baronial, feudal estates in mid-Atlantic “America”, replete with serfs ‘n peons and eventually slaves two hundred years before the Mayflower sailors ran out of beer and dumped those sour-assed assholes off a couple hundred miles north of originally agreed upon. The greatest con ever pulled was getting the rubes to buy that pilgrim bullshit.

    I just want to know why they call those houses “saltboxes”.

  13. different clue

    I hope we can find a better word than “agency” to mean the opposite of “learned helplessness”.
    “Agency”? What “agency” do you mean? The Indian Agency? The Insurance Agency?

    “Agency” is one of those brilliant intellectual words that the brilliant intellectuals use to show off how they are so much smarter than the rest of us.

    I will keep searching for a word or phrase which explains itself as soon as it is seen. I will keep searching for a word which does not need brilliant intellectual explanations and definitions to tell me what it means. Maybe something like “effective power” or something. I will leave the fancy word “agency” to people who are smarter than me.

  14. nihil obstet

    Solidarity!!! Let’s make that part of our plan going forward.

    The right wing has it easy — just obey the leader and be a good member of the tribe.

    The left wing has it harder. Each of us has our own thoughts, beliefs, interpretations, likes, reactions, dreams. . . . While I figure if you don’t immediately agree with me and in fact be blown away by my brilliance you’re evil and stupid, I propose that we work a little harder on fighting the right wing and not each other. Someone who disagrees does not necessarily lack integrity. Someone who has a different decision rule about how to act is not necessarily stupid. We can have good discussions without verbally abusing each other.

  15. NR

    Now 12 senators will object to the election results.

    The statement by the Republican Senators who plan to object to the election results doesn’t cite any proof of fraud. It simply cites public ‘distrust’ over the election results.

    But the Republicans created that distrust by spreading lies about fraud. So their attack on the election results is circular.

  16. Ten Bears

    This ten day audit they’re asking for strikes me as a double-edged sword, something they should be careful in wishing for. There are rumors of irregularities in Kentucky, S Carolina and Alabama, it may be things’ll turn up McConnell, Graham or Collins wouldn’t want to turn up.

    Silver linings ~ the longer they run it out, the more they stand to lose.

  17. Mark Pontin

    Eric Anderson: “Anyone done the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer?”

    Yeah. They were good enough I read all three, and I don’t do duty-reading. VanderMeer can write. That said, the first novel is by far the best and got him the big contract from the publishers. The latter two volumes were written to fill that contract over eighteen months and it shows.

    Particularly, the third book might be expected to provide a climax to the trilogy and give answers, or at least some speculative ideation to carry away about the nature and causes of Area X . But of course VanderMeer was writing the whole thing on mood, and is by temperament, artistic intent, and lack of capability not just unable but _opposed_ to delivering such ideas and answers. So the average reader may be as frustrated by that final volume as, say, the average TV viewer was by the final season of LOST.

    Whatever. I’d accepted going in that, firstly, VanderMeer was that kind of writer; and, secondly, that since the trilogy’s theme was a Zone transformed by the Alien Unknowable, it’d contradict that thesis to actually provide literal hard answers, wouldn’t it?

    That said, the idea of a Zone is a classic SF trope and the older writers who developed it wrote some of the genre’s classics: Stanislaw Lem’s SOLARIS; Algis Budrys’s ROGUE MOON; and the Strugatsky brothers’ ROADSIDE PICNIC, which became Tarkovsky’s STALKER. Those are books with plenty of ideas — nobody ever had more ideas that Lem, in particular.

    Whereas VanderMeer can write, but he has no ideas. And personally I kind of feel that science fiction is a literature of ideas or it’s nothing.

  18. Dan

    Ten Bears, I’m interested in the Art of Peace book you mentioned but the only editions I’m seeing are by Morihei Ueshiba, the male founder of aikido. What’s the female author’s name?

  19. Ten Bears

    I was still obtuse. I gotta’ work on that. I called it Art of Peace, m’bad.

    Dallas Galvin, who also provides some fascinating background on the Japanese translations, and its influence on those particularly warlike societies. The differences twixt them remind me of a joke an old Buckaroo of my youthful aquait was fond of, ’bout the old bull and the young bull: the young bull wants to run down there and make love to one of those cows …

    Don’t know anything about Aikido – is that Stephen Segal’s Hollywood style? – not really interested in that sort of thing, but I have read the T’ai Classics, and see a lot of both Tzu’s – Lao and Sun – in them. The Three Body Problem came up here recently and again elsewhere today talking about the radio anomaly from our nearest neighboring star, a three body system. I read it earlier this year upon Obama’s recommendation and wasn’t necessarily impressed. I’ve been reading scifi so long I find it hard to find something new, and this just struck me as a Chinese guy read a bunch of Asimov and ran with it. Nothing wrong with that. Notable in my review though was the way the couple thousand years of influence the Tzu’s have had on Chinese thought bled through. Not necessarily something new, but different.

  20. Ten Bears

    Oh No!

  21. different clue

    @ nihil obstet,

    That sounds like a good approach. I have sometimes thought in terms of TAGs and TOCs.

    A TOC is a Theory Of Change. A TAG is a Theory Action Group . . . a groupload of people who all subscribe to the same TOC ( Theory Of Change) and all try to do their co-ordinated or focused or TOC-guided action to win a victory which they think their Theory Of Change will let them understand how to win it.

    Different separate TAGs should leave eachother alone to pursue their different separate TOCs.
    Every so often, they can revue eachother’s progress to see what they all think is working or not.
    And they could have the decency to not try raiding eachother for recruits.

    And some people could lend a little support to one TAG on some days, and to another TAG on other days.

  22. Eric Anderson

    Mark, thanks for that.
    “And personally I kind of feel that science fiction is a literature of ideas or it’s nothing.”

    Yes. Break the genres. That’s why I’m digging Stross so much right now. For those that haven’t read the Laundry Files, Stross combines three separate concepts to create humorous/intense/intellectually challenging reading.
    It begins with the acceptance that any technology sufficiently advanced that we can’t understand it is effectively magic. The three generas thus are:
    1. The James Bond thriller. But instead, the bond characters are generally highly skilled programmers and math geeks. Spells are maths.
    2. Horror: using these spells summons demons (read, other sentient life forms from parallel universes that share the same physical and mathematical law).
    3. The Office: The humor is generally spent on examining the bureaucracy involved in running a top heavy agency where your superiors are constantly mucking things up and you never have the resources to do your job properly.

    And, he can write with the best mainstream novelists out there.

  23. Eric Anderson

    Hey Mandos? Read up?

    Great article here from Thom Hartmann. I love his historical dives. He’s good.

  24. Dan

    @ Ten Bears,

    While perusing, I noticed the Dallas Galvin edition of The Art of War but it didn’t occur to me at the time that this is what you were referring to, as the name “Dallas” has a strong male connotation in my mind. I look forward to reading it.

    As to Aikido, I don’t know much about it myself, though I don’t think Morihei Ueshiba had Stevie Seagal or Hollywood in mind when he was developing it.


  25. S Brennan

    Well 2020 was an election year.

    As the year started the media focus was on supporting Pelosi’s attempt to impeach Trump. Though the impeachment was purely a political stunt, the idea was to energized neoD donors/associated-lemmings to damage Trump going into the 2020 election. It was fraud but hey, the Bernie-to-Biden voters here would eat it up…hook, line and sinker.

    Impeachment was destined for failure but it did successfully make Trump look political when he attempted to shut/slow down travel to and from China; by this time China, the 2nd biggest air carrier in the world, had wisely shut down all internal air traffic. The regular commenters here [sans Bruce W] enthusiastically backed the “Trump is a Han hater” shtick; and in this sense impeachment suited the neoD’s needs by making any attempt by Trump to use the power of the federal government appear purely political in nature…and certainly that POV was argued and well supported on this blog.

    Early and clumsy attempts by neoD’s to place Buttigieg as a front-runner in the primary after Kamala was shot down by the villainous Tulsi Gabbard [see 10-fluffy-feathers “she’s a Russian agent post”]. BTW, Tulsi was the only one on the debate stage who supported Sanders in 2016 [before Sanders redux of the cheap folding lawn chair act]. Ian and almost all Bernie supporters here rewarded Tulsi’s manifest loyalty to principle with a sharp wack with the back of their hand…and she was slapped down hard by the neoD’s here who purport to be liberals but find Biden much to their liking. The neoD’s efforts on behalf of Buttigieg was overcome by Pete’s intense, some would say manifest, sociopathic inability to show the slightest empathy for working people.

    That left the neoD’s/blue-no-matter-who with a quandary. DNCers/neoD’s solved the issue by going to the original, if over the hill, neoD…Biden, Bernie Sanders supporters here eagerly switched to Biden with a “Trump=Hitler**=>Biden TINA” campaign. It worked. And here we are…and so it goes.

    *USA leads the world in air travel a sit does in defense spending, almost half the world’s air travel is USA based…something Ian has yet to notice and when he does…it will be long after it mattered.

    *Hugh/Willey/10-fluffy-feathers were first to blame Trump for every Covid death..even the ones that entailed gunshot wounds and car accidents…

  26. Eric Anderson

    Paging Reality Checker.
    S. Brennan needs an intervention.

  27. NL

    Apologies for a repost, but this probably belongs here better than in the previous post.

    American badly needs a benevolent leader like this. From wiki:
    “Genghis Khan introduced many innovative ways of organizing his army … forbade the selling of women, theft, fighting among the Mongols, and the hunting of animals during the breeding season.[23]

    …In addition to laws regarding family, food, and the army, Genghis also decreed religious freedom and supported domestic and international trade. He exempted the poor and the clergy from taxation.[24] He also encouraged literacy, adopting the Uyghur script, which would form the Uyghur-Mongolian script of the empire…”

  28. NL

    Genghis Khan “implemented a policy of sharing spoils with his warriors and their families instead of giving it all to the” oligarchs [21].

    “These policies brought him into conflict with” the oligarchs (“his uncles,) who were also legitimate heirs to the throne; they regarded Temujin (aka Genghis Khan) not as a leader but as an insolent usurper. ”

    But with a reliance on the people Genghis Khan won a war against the oligarchy and became Genghis Khan, which means the Universal Leader.

    It is easer demise or a universal leader, there is no third path forward.

  29. Willy

    I thought Genghis Khan was the guy who’d launch severed heads over city walls and then after they surrendered, voinked all the best women. I saw a movie about him once. John Wayne seemed kinda miscast in that one, but once I got past him calling the Tartars “pilgrims” it wasn’t so bad. Like Trump and/or Hitler, Genghis did do some good stuff, but millions had to die first. We’d have to figure out how to let our particular Dear Leader know for certain that we wouldn’t tolerate the rough stuff.

    An aside, but I do enjoy the variety of writing styles which get presented here. I don’t have time for much else.

    Whether it’s “nuanced yet easy to read” style like Ians, or the “crazy old man waving canes at clouds” style (like you know who), I really do enjoy them all. I even like the guys whose style unashamedly proclaims: “So why take a hundred words when a thousand will do?” To that I say: “So why not, when you’ve got the stage my friend!”

    If I do have a writing style bugaboo it’d be the “word salad” style. It seems like they’re always trying to hide something. Maybe they’re actually an improperly debugged A.I.? Or maybe I’ve just never met anybody who speaks like that in person. I did meet a remote Japanese coworker who wrote in excellent English, but in person, oy vey! Very hard to understand. We quickly went back to emails. Maybe the word salad situation is the reverse of that, I dunno. When you meet them in person they seem all normal and stuff.

    It’s always something.

  30. Eric Anderson

    In other interesting news:

    But, good lord. When people keep living longer and longer, we essentially lock in the power of the oldest and successively disempower successive generations.

  31. Eric Anderson

    “the ‘crazy old man waving canes at clouds’ style (like you know who).”

    That ain’t you Willy. You’re all anecdote, and I love it.

  32. NL

    I thought Genghis Khan was the guy who’d launch severed heads over city walls and then after they surrendered, voinked all the best women.

    Well, first, are we that forthright in our moral fortitude to accuse Genghis Khan in excessive cruelty? I really think that we can’t afford to become weak, because there is a long line to peoples and tribes out there waiting to take a revenge on us.

    Second, the Universal Leader created one of the largest cosmopolitan empires (in the original true Roman meaning of this word) in the world history that was at the time well ahead of other kingdoms in administration, tolerance and freedom. Isn’t it ironic that it takes a tyrant to ensure freedom? The world works in mysterious ways…

    Third, and Trumpists take a note, Genghis Khan’s empire was the ONLY empire ever to defeat both the proto-Russia and China! Learn from it if you are serious about taking on Russia and China.

    Willy: “Like Trump and/or Hitler, Genghis did do some good stuff, but millions had to die first.”

    Ha ha, how sad, what do you think we are doing in accepting death of our citizens owing to COVID to “preserve the economy”? The cruelty of the universal leader was overstated on purpose as a type of psychological warfare (just as the size of his armies was artificially made to look to be larger). I am not sure our cruelty by indifference and arrogance and just plain cruelty are any better. The intellectuals are living in a zoo imagining that their stake just shows up from the sky – ha ha – someone has to kill it!. And being vegetarian do not “save” you from this, I am not really talking about meat, I am talking about labor, sweat and blood of the people that serve you.

    Genghis Khan was better than us, we may be just simply evil — has this proposition ever occurred to you?

    Hitler did nothing good. He was an impostor created by the Germane oligarchy to detract from the true leaders. He was an intelligence officer, like I would guess there are intelligence officers on these sites monitoring us. It was the tragedy of Germany not having a true leader. It will be a tragedy of American in not having a true leader.

    Willy: “We’d have to figure out how to let our particular Dear Leader know for certain that we wouldn’t tolerate the rough stuff.”

    I don’t mean to insult you, I just want to state the way things are — you do not matter and never did and never will matter. Made a billion first, then you may be you will matter, until then, stop being delusional….

  33. Ten Bears

    I do not wave my cane at clouds, I yell at them. Only to those who listen.

  34. Geheimdienstoffizier

    Nein! There are no intelligence officers monitoring this site. By the way, do you spell NL with one N or two?

  35. NL


    Ha ha, funny…

  36. Nlc

    I guess my message to the intelligence officers is we love you but please do not become a Hitler. Thank you.

  37. NL

    Nlc = NL

  38. someofparts

    ten bears – Nine Nations – great one, has a permanent place on my bookshelf

    If you are going to hear from women, let’s get down with it –

    Where we stand – class matters – bell hooks
    Ain’t I a woman- black women and feminism – bell hooks again
    Three Guineas – Virginia Woolf
    Where and when I enter – Paula Giddings
    The creation of patriarchy – Gerda Lerner
    When god was a woman – Merlin Stone

  39. Ten Bears

    I have read excerpts of Class Matters, been meaning to get it. Really interested in When god was a woman; long been my contention ’bout five thousand years ago the cults of male domination usurped the woman’s rightful place in the proper ordering of the world and all else that follows: War, the church, government, pornography, alcoholism, the church; slavery, genocide, pornography, the church; War, government … serves naught but to enforce that domination.

    Will look for that …

  40. someofparts

    ten bears – check out the Orestia trilogy – first play- dad makes human sacrifice of daughter to get the gods to send wind to get his army to Troy, second play – mom plots revenge for daughter’s murder and kills husband when he returns from war, third play – the son, Orestes, has a problem because he is duty-bound to kill anyone who murders his father, but he is also not supposed to kill his own mother. What’s a boy to do? Apollo settles the matter by coming to earth in person to adjudicate things, whereupon he decides that a father’s claim to the loyalty of his children is greater than a mother’s claim.

    I guess before we perfected propaganda people were more upfront about things.

    Also wanted to share this with the community –

    “I lived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens.

    This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.”

    “Second, Americans have completely unrealistic expectations of, well, many things, but specifically how long recovery will take. You think you’re going to vote this away in a few weeks? Lol, no. Speaking as a recovered collapse addict, recovery doesn’t take months, quarters, or even years.

    Recovery takes generations.”

    “America is not corrupt on an African or Asian scale, America is wildly corrupt. It’s off the scale, American (and the UK) make the most craven dictator blush.

    Corruption, once you have it, is like lice. It doesn’t just come out in one wash, believe me. We battled head lice on our daughter for months, and the lice didn’t control the Supreme Court. You can see the rot in your Postal Service, your CDC, your basic institutions. Now imagine what you can’t see. Across your institutions, good people have fled and rats are running the ship. Clearing out this mess won’t take months, or even years. Centuries of institutional knowledge is just gone. Especially with your apex court, recovery will take generations.”

    “You have got to start thinking generationally. This may actually help your mental state because — while difficult — generational change is at least not impossible. You’re trying to change everything right now and the only thing that’s going to give is your brain.

    Yes, you probably can’t do shit now, but what example will you set? No, the bastards won’t disappear in one election, but how are you raising your children? This is all possible. You need to start thinking about your children. If you’re lucky they’ll remember the lives you lived, and not the news.”

  41. Mel

    What I thought was refreshing about the early Steve Segal movies was that they weren’t built out of the Hero’s Quest. The hero didn’t have to descend into Hell, endure torment, all that yada yada. He just went through the story finding bad guys and neutralizing them. Aikido training (maybe soft martial arts generally?) seemed to be about purifying action, and eliminating the capital-D Drama. The movies fit that, though no substitute for practice.

  42. anon y'mouse

    S Brennan–

    some of us did not vote for BidenTime for Kopmala. even choosing at one point to vote for Bernie (should he have made it that far) was a compromise for us.

  43. I am making an effort to revive my voter’s revenge app, which was an ugly total flop in 2016. Due to the close-to-impossible goal of making and hosting a working app by Jan 6 or Jan 7, I’m expecting this to be futile. I have appealed for contribution of paid programming labor at (I don’t solicit or accept money, personally).

    I describe briefly the project, and how it might help impact the current certification controversy, at:

  44. Ten Bears

    I did enjoy some of Steven Segal’s early movies, the wiseguy/streetpunk stuff; and he did do a redemption story – up in Alaska, blew up an oil refinery – but swimming in the Arctic naked is little out there for we lunatics even. It’s interesting how his … character, for lack of a better term, and indeed other white guys of the genre, parallels in many ways the early days (as I know of them) of the comics, where Batman and Superman et al were out there beating up loansharks, taking slumlords and crooked cops to task and once or twice a week save babies … before they became (((Government Super Heroes))). Maybe metaphoric, all those guys: Segal, Norris, to a lesser extent that French-Canadian guy, did some really good, some really fun stuff when they were young but then they started putting on the pounds, got co-opted by the propaganda and starting turning out stuff like Under Siege and Invasion USA. Propaganda, glorifying War.

  45. Hi All,
    I recommend Colin Woodard’s “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. He credits Garreau in being the inspiration for his book. He is a journalist and so has a very easy flowing style that makes it possible to zip through which I did. Okay, He may be a little prejudiced towards Yankeedom.
    I had been suspect of arbitrary state lines and after reading “The People’s History of the Civil War” thought it might have been wiser to just have the country split into three parts; North, South and West. I kept thinking that we are just too large a country with too many people to govern effectively. I can see Montana hitching up with the Northwest so we could have some ports. Got to have ports. As it is, most movies about Montana are shot in Alberta for tax incentives so that’s a good fit. I enjoyed my time in Yankeedom from growing up in Illinois, schooled in Michigan and then lots of time in New York. The West is a mixed bag as the mines attracted the Irish to Montana, but there are a lot of Finns and Norweigans too who couldn’t be more culturally different. My local watering hole is very much a Star Wars Bar sitting right on I-90. It still feels like it is on the edge of the Frontier with Norweigans, Irish, a movie star, tourists from the UK, and annoying investment bankers who have bought up the ranches. I agree with Ray Oldenberg that we need those Great Good Places that disappeared with the rise of the suburbs.
    I am a fan of Christopher Lasch’s “The Revolt of the Elites” which with his other books like “Culture of Narcissim” were ahead of its time. I think his time is now. I am reading “The True and Only Heaven.”

  46. js

    Some may believe everything will be better in 2020. I think for many it’s a bit of a running joke of sorts, anything bad that happened “well it is 2020” and shouldn’t be taken seriously. A lot of people just want their social lives back from the coronavirus. That’s what the coronavirus, and the bad management of it, stole from people that the usual catastrophes don’t.

    As for “agency” that’s why some organizations focus on local and smaller political victories, maybe at best a congressperson. We need change at the highest level perhaps, but how is that working out? And how is investing all one’s political energy thinking about it working out? Other than you know, breeding more and more helplessness and cynicism, and these go arm in arm. Increased cynicism IS increased helplessness. And if one only pushes cynicism one has to wonder what side they are really working for. But as for the particulars of focusing on smaller victories, local government is also usually pretty bad barring a few good people that get in (the small victories), I don’t think it’s a complete answer either. Maybe unionization is. I look forward to essays on what agency we have.

  47. Hugh

    It’s funny to watch the full on political whoring of 2024 wannabes like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley as they undermine the integrity of US elections in the name of that self-same integrity. It’s like watching the world through funny mirrors that turn everything upside down. Just think how much this group of American nazis would be screaming if a Democrat did even a tenth of what they are doing. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 whingeing was little league compared to this, and she won the popular vote.

    The Republicans are normalizing the line that no Republican can lose an election regardless of the vote results. As I said in a previous comment, they already are a minority party and undermining the legitimacy of elections and overturning their results is the only way for them to hold on to power.

  48. different clue

    The name ” Chuck Norris” brings to mind the following memory.

    I once saw Chuck Norris on the cover of a magazine called Cigar Aficionado, holding a big cigar.
    I thought of buying a copy but waited too long. I thought it would have been funny to expand that cover picture to poster size and then caption it with . . . . ” Famous anti-drug activist posing with drug delivery device”

  49. Seattle Resident

    Reading Money by Martin Amis: Uproarious account of a ad executive who spends his live consuming vast amounts of sex, drugs, food, and booze while navigating the politics of making a movie during the go go 80’s.

  50. Klv

    NL said,

    > “Genghis Khan introduced many innovative ways of organizing his army … forbade the selling of women, theft, fighting among the Mongols, and the hunting of animals during the breeding season.[23]

    Yes he did. But the peoples he conquered probably did not quite appreciate all the progressive improvements he introduced. So did other conquerors. E.g. when Mohammed united Arabs, his reforms (e.g. women’s rights) were also improvements over contemporary tribal practices. People conquered by Arabs probably also did not appreciate all these progressive reforms.

    > I thought Genghis Khan was the guy who’d launch severed heads over city walls
    > and then after they surrendered, voinked all the best women.

    Terror has been a tool of war since times immemorial. Assyrians were famous for it. Romans did it. Lots of others too. Ironically it helps to save lives by making wars shorter, because the enemy is so scared that he gives up the fight quickly. For Mongols, terror had deliberate rational purpose – frighten the enemy into surrender; saving both Mongol and enemy lives. Only way Mongols could win so many wars given how small their numbers were.

    > Well, first, are we that forthright in our moral fortitude to accuse Genghis Khan
    > in excessive cruelty?

    When Caesar conquered Gaul, he killed something like 1/3 of the population. Many of the things he did would be considered genocide today. The Romans prided themselves of being civilized people, bringing enlightenment to the barbarians.

  51. Ten Bears

    I’m pretty sure, Klv, that was Truman’s justification for nuking Japan.

    Upwards of thirty-five million First Americans were put to the sword in the name of the white dog in what we today think of as “America” alone, a genocide of perhaps a hundred million Humans Beings across the “western hemisphere”. Do we really want to broach that branch of social darwinism? That the Chinese enjoyed fulling functioning empire while the Yurps were still living in caves.

    I remember that magazine cover, dc, remember thinking then as I often do now when I see Lush Rimjob’s famous cover of the same magazine: do you have any idea what that thing in your mouth looks like!?

  52. Eric Anderson

    Maven: “My local watering hole is very much a Star Wars Bar sitting right on I-90.”

    Rock Creek Lodge … home of the rocky mountain oyster? That’s my best take on an I-90 star wars bar. Was thinking maybe Trixie’s, but somehow I don’t think that’s your speed 🙂
    I’d enjoy making your acquaintance next time I’m in the hood. And yeah, I’d recommend Colin’s book as well. It was fascinating and I learned a ton.

    js: “As for ‘agency’ that’s why some organizations focus on local and smaller political victories, maybe at best a congressperson.”
    Yes. That future post I’ve been referencing will incorporate how to get out of the learned helplessness cycle too. It’s basically the same approach AA takes. Stop thinking about yourself and DO FOR OTHERS. So, the post will also focus on how we’ve ceded wholesale to corporations and PACs the 1st amendment’s right (and I’d argue DUTY) to petition one’s government for redress of grievances. We need DSA members to (i) turn off the television and (ii) commit to having a member at every damn city council, county commission, school board, etc. meeting that happens in every little burg across this country. That’s how you make an impact at the grassroots level and effect policy all the way up the chain.

    Ten Bears: “Lush Rimjob” lol 🙂

  53. Hugh

    BTW the Washington Post has tape of Trump telling Georgia’s Secretary of State to give him another 11,780 votes so he Trump can win the state. It’s all OK though because in our country only Republicans, and Trump in particular are allowed to win elections.

  54. Eric Anderson

    Maven: checked the blog. You’re on ‘that’ side of the state, I don’t get to too often. But, it’s been along time since I skied Bridger. How’s the snow?

  55. Ten Bears

    Both Montana Bars off just off 90, but neither qualifies as a Star Wars bar 😉

    And Maven (and Eric), I forgot – Go Griz!

  56. Eric Anderson

    You ever been to teste fest, Ten Bears? I swear I saw a Gungan, an Ewok and a Twilek fighting over a nut.

    Or, I could have been smashed. I dunno …

  57. Eric Anderson

    And be careful, I think Maven may be a Bobcat!

  58. NR

    BTW the Washington Post has tape of Trump telling Georgia’s Secretary of State to give him another 11,780 votes so he Trump can win the state.

    Also note that this call took place *yesterday.*

    This is Trump’s *current state of mind.*

  59. montanamaven

    Okay, so Eric my love, I’m in Big Timber as I married a cattle rancher there.. So most people here are Bobcats. I went to college in Michigan, so I am a Wolverine. Been in Montana for over 25 years. I’m in Upstate NY right now trying to get back to Montana. But tricky because of virus. should be back in February. Picking up an Aussie/Border Collie Pup then. When I’m back, let’s meet up.

  60. Hugh

    Some legal takes on Trump’s phone call:

    52 U.S. Code § 20511

    A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office—(2) knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by— (B) the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held, shall be fined in accordance with title 18 or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

    18 U.S. Code § 872 – Extortion by officers or employees of the United States

    Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both

  61. mago

    You’re all too clever and insider by half.
    We would all be speaking a modern day version of Mongolian today if it weren’t for the death of the Great Kahn when the hordes turned back home from attacking the Italian and Rhine fortifications.
    Maybe. Has more to do with the influence of fermented mare’s milk methinks.
    And yeah, it’s way dumb to think things are gonna change with the date on a calendar. Nonetheless I maintain good expectations and wish anyone who may read this and those who don’t great furtherance and a positive transmigration. For what it’s worth and whatever it means.

  62. Eric Anderson

    UffDa. Sorry to hear that. So much for the snow report, eh?
    But, I’ve got a good buddy in Helena I ski with quite a bit and I’m due for a trip over the divide.
    I’ll look you up.

    Safe travels when you get a chance in the meantime.

    Peace to you and yours.

  63. Ten Bears

    I was a Cat for junior college, a Griz at university and a year of law school.

    And only eight years out of Deer Lodge …

    I had lunch at Rock Creek (checks speeding ticket) August 5. Yep, there’s still a speed trap at Superior. Chap my ass. It was there twenty-five years ago when the kids and I had a house there.

    Stuck out east too, for a time, Boston area, but I’ll be baaaccck …

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