Irish bookies, Nate Silver and the New York Times are all saying the same thing: Trump is dead, the campaign is over, Hillary is assured victory. No one seems jubilant at the news, which tells us everything we need to know about this dismal election.
If Trump is kaput as a candidate, perhaps he will at least provide us with one final thrill in the political grind house by going down firing on full-automatic like Pacino in Scarface, spraying the airwaves with every salacious scandal of the Clinton Era, real, imagined or fabricated.
Nothing is beneath Trump, even pushing his wife, Melania, out on CNN and Fox News as a kind of human shield for his serial lechery. Of course, Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1992 and Melania, looking like a well-turned out hostage, nervously cribbed from Hillary’s own script for her stiff appearances before the cameras, as a couple of months ago she had confidently recited those airy platitudes lifted from Michelle’s Obama’s speech.
There’s a difference, though. A relatively isolated figure in New York, imprisoned like some Gothic maiden in the gilded aerie of Trump Tower, Melania likely felt compelled to defend her philandering husband in order to preserve her stake in the untaxed Trump fortune. And who could blame her? We know how ruthlessly Donald “schlonged” Marla Maples in their divorce settlement. Trump’s deplorable treatment of Ms. Maples lends credence to the speculation among Trumpologists that, as in a Jacobean revenge play, Marla may have been the source for the lethal leak of the family tax returns showing Donald’s billion dollar write off.
By contrast, Hillary leapt eagerly to Bill’s defense, desperate to safeguard her shot at power. Perhaps I was reading too much into Melania’s meticulously sculpted face, but I thought she seemed genuinely aggrieved by Trump’s crude sybaritism. With each ripe disclosure of Clinton’s bad behavior, Hillary, on the other hand, has displayed merely a chilly disappointment that Bill’s irrepressible licentiousness nearly wrecked their plans to rule the empire.
America’s hypocrisies on sex and death haven’t evolved all that much from the days of Nathaniel Hawthorne. We are simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by both. But the media only seems capable of fixating on sex, focusing relentlessly on Trump’s naked and ignoring Hillary’s dead. Death is a killer when it comes to market share, hence coverage of the fatal missile strikes in Yemen has been reduced to the news crawl, flashing across the screen faster than the credits in a Michael Bay movie. For two full weeks now, Trump’s sexual predations have dominated the coverage on nearly every cable network and national newspaper. Even the normally antiseptic prose of the New York Times has proved to be a racier read than the National Enquirier.
But what have we learned? That Trump is a bigot, a braggart, a buffoon, a boor, a cheat, a creep, a knave, a blackguard, a lout and a low-down dirty-rotten scoundrel? What’s new? Haven’t we known all of this since his well-chronicled escapades at Studio 54 in the 1970s?
Rape sells, atrocities repel. The masters of the media believe, with the ratings to back them up, that Americans want to know every ugly move Trump’s hands made against the victims of his sexual advances, each filthy word he spoke, what wall or bed in Mar-a-Lago he tried to pin unsuspecting women to, how old they were, what the women looked like then and now, subconsciously rating their features as Trump himself has urged us to do. We’ve been treated to two weeks of this rape porn as “news” and still can’t seem to get enough.
Meanwhile, the body count continues to mount from policies of state that Hillary helped to craft and set in motion: in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Somalia and Yemen, in Iraq and Syria, in Libya and Gaza, on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland. The faceless, nameless dead are too depressing for our sustained attention, the details of their deaths too revolting to be ascribed to her resumé of slaughter.
Here in “death’s dream kingdom,” our politics remain resolutely gothic, where the twin engines of desire and revulsion continue to propel the insidious psychic legacy of our national puritanism.
Assange Derangement Syndrome
Julian Assange, living in the sanctuary of the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, has totally unnerved the political establishment of the United States. How did he do this? By throwing their own words in their faces. Wikileaks has revealed the sleazy truth about how politics really operates in late-capitalist America and for that he must be demonized, silenced and declared an agent of a foreign power.
The Democrats have refused to acknowledge the authenticity of their own emails, some even going so far as to suggest that the thousands of emails, many quite mundane, were the creation of Russian intelligence. Imagine the collection of talent it must have taken to fabricate all those DNC emails, they probably had to farm the work out to the firm of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Checkov, Turgenev, Lermontov & Bulgakov!
After Wikileaks published Hillary’s speeches to Goldman, speeches she has concealed for more than a year, the collective mind of the Beltway Elite seemed to snap. Joe Biden rushed to the Sunday talks vowing to retaliate. The clear implication of Biden’s threat was that US intelligence was going to launch a cyber attack on Russian networks, as the CIA had done to Iranian networks several years ago.
But instead of hacking Russian systems, the US State Department bullied the Ecuadoran government to shut down Assange’s internet access. Here we have the pettiness of US foreign policy in action. One might well say that the State Department was once again rushing to Hillary’s rescue in a failsafe measure to “rig” the election for her and her Wall Street investors. Of course, they’ve had experience in rigging elections around the world for the last century. And when they can’t stuff the ballot box or hack the voting machines, they lend their support to the more traditional method of regime change the coup d’etat. (See Brazil and Honduras for fresh case studies.)
This may well be a tacit admission that the evidence against the Russians in the hacking of the Podesta email is considerably less compelling than the hype.
+ Others, like Bob Beckle and Hillary herself who joked about droning Assange, want his head. This week a certain Col. Morris Davis tweeted the following: “@ColMorrisDav @Drone strike was a bad hypo. Substitute a 7.62 round on Assange’s forehead instead. Would Art. 51 permit it assuming no collateral damage?” Col. Davis isn’t your normal bellicose retired military office. He was the former chief prosecutor at the Gitmo tribunals, which gives you a pretty good idea how deranged things have been down there.
+ For a depraved example of how political consultant’s really think, check out John Podesta’s initial reaction to the massacre in San Bernardino: “It would be better if San Bernardino shooter was white.”
+ Here’s Neera Tanden and John Pedestal slam-chatting about Lawrence Lessig, who briefly considered running on a campaign finance reform platform.
Neera: The smugness of Larry Lessig.
Podesta: An everyday pompous American law professor.
Neera: I fucking hate that guy. I’d like to kick the shit out of him on twitter…though I know that is dumb.
Now Bernie is out on the trail urging his troops to vote for Mrs. Super-PAC because HRC will get $$ of out politics! Has Sanders read any of the emails released by Wikileaks or was he scared off by CNN’s Chris Cuomo’s ludicrous assert that to even read them was to commit a crime. Perhaps Jane should take Bernie in for an Alzheimer’s check up?
Bernie’s assertion is not just irrational, it’s bat-shit crazy. HRC’s sole hope of getting re-elected will be to raise as much Dark Money as possible in order to fatten up her Super-PACs and she’ll start on Day One. Hillary’s not going to be getting any money from grassroots next time round. She barely did this year. Trump is the man who fully exploited the Bernie model, even to the point of profiting off of it, as Trumps are wont to do….
+ + More and more, Hillary reminds me of Tony Blair in a pantsuit. She just seems less substantial than Thatcher, Meir or Merkel and so transparently a creature of her financial backers.
+ The Wall Street crowd can count on Hillary to answer their 3 am phone call, sounding chipper and willing to please.
+ The FBI has released it’s own 100-page document detailing its passive inquiry into Hillary’s emails and private server. The prose is less graphic than the Podesta emails, but it still makes for damning reading. One section actually references the “Shadow Government” at the State Department, which was overseeing the declassification and release of Clinton’s emails, a disclosure which must come as vindication for connoisseurs of “Deep State” politics:
“There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as ‘The 7th Floor Group’ or ‘The Shadow Government.’ This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiry.”
+ The Clinton campaign emails have revealed new DNC chair Donna Brazile to be just as corrupt as the previous chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In the spring of this year, Brazile was working as a commentator at CNN and it appears she may have used her position at the network to slip debate questions to the Clinton campaign. On March 12 2016, Brazile wrote Podesta an email with the subject line “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” The email was sent a day before Hillary was going to appear at a Town Hall session hosted by CNN. The text of the email reads:
Here’s one that worries me about HRC.
19 states and the District of Columbia have banned the death penalty. 31 states, including Ohio, still have the death penalty. According to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, since 1973, 156 people have been on death row and later set free. Since 1976, 1,414 people have been executed in the U.S. That’s 11% of Americans who were sentenced to die, but later exonerated and freed. Should Ohio and the 30 other states join the current list and abolish the death penalty?
A few hours later, one of Clinton’s top staffers, Jennifer Palmieri, thanked Brazile for the message. The next night Roland Martin asked Clinton about her position on the death penalty using remarkably similar language.
Secretary Clinton, since 1976, we have executed 1,414 people in this country. Since 1973, 156 who were convicted have been exonerated from the death row. This gentleman here is one of them. This is Ricky Jackson, wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975, he spent 39 years in prison. He is undecided. Ricky, what is your question?
Brazile has denied slipping the question to the Clinton campaign, but when Fox News’s Megyn Kelly pressed her on the matter, Brazile reacted bizarrely, as if Kelly and violated her safe space and tripped a few of her trigger warnings: “As a Christian woman, I understand persecution, but I will not stand here and be persecuted, because your information is totally false.”
Brazile may be a “Christian woman,” but she’s no stranger to political dirty tricks. In 1988, Brazile was working the lamentable campaign of Michael Dukakis, when she tried to get the press to follow up on a rumor sweeping DC that George HW Bush was having an affair with a State Department staffer. “George Bush owes it to the American people to fess up,” Brazile said. “The American people have every right to know if Barbara Bush will share that bed with him in the White House.”
Brazile resigned the next day and the Dukakis campaign retracted the allegation. But she was back to work managing Al Gore’s campaign in 2000 and her attitude had only hardened. “I had to decide if I’d be a bitch or a whore. I chose bitch,” she told the Washington Post. “I’d have to be strong, tough, abrasive. But I also knew I could be fair.”
Fair to whom? Certainly not Bernie Sanders, who Brazile appears to loathe. On May 12, 2016, Brazile was asked by a Washington Post reporter to comment on tensions between the Sanders and Clinton camps. Brazile forwarded the query to the DNC, with a note (later released by Wikileaks) saying: “I have no intentions of touching this. Why? Because I will cuss out the Sanders camp!”
Is it really so hard to believe she leaked that debate question to the Hillary camp?
+ Why won’t good, human-rights loving Democrats EVER speak out for rights of Palestinians? Here’s billionaire Haim Saban in an email to HRC, Robby Mook and Podesta: “We mustn’t let them steal the Jewish vote!” Never was much risk of that.
+ The Clinton campaign emails make explicit what political taxonomist have known for decades: Palestinians are the “untouchables” of American politics.
+ Clinton crowd hates Progressives and takes delight in being able to manipulate Progressives into voting for people who hate them!
+ Of course, the USA is a representative democracy. Just follow the money and you’ll see precisely who it represents.
+ For the New York Times, if you object to Israel’s crimes against Palestinians your are a de facto anti-semitic. Welcome to the club Jeremy Corbyn…
+ The press hasn’t been bought off by the Clintons. They’ve actually paid handsomely for the privilege of writing dictation for her. According to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, 480 professional journalists have contributed money to the two presidential candidates: 50 journalists gave a total of $15,000 to Trump and 430 gave a combined total of $396.000 to Hillary.
+ The same pay-to-play press corps that has badgered Trump for booting out reporters from his events is silent on Obama administration’s gagging of Julian Assange.
+ CNN reporting on Podesta Emails refuses to use “dick” (re: Richardson), but invokes “pussy” about 1037 times in relation to Trump.
+ From the mouth of Mike Pence: “the Lewinsky scandal represented the most appalling behavior by any president.” Sorry, Mike, but that didn’t even rise to the level of being the most appalling scandal of the Clinton presidency. On the depravity meter, it’s hard to top intentionally starving to death more than 500,000 people in Iraq, many of them children, and then showing no remorse at all for your crime against humanity.
+ The New York Times reported this week on the escalation of Obama’s “shadow war” in Somalia, a campaign of assassinations, special forces, private mercenaries and drone strikes. The US military presence in Somalia today is greater than it was back in 1993, during the peak of the Somalian civil war, a debacle chronicled from the US point of view in Black Hawk Down. There are, of course, no protests against this bloody intervention, no congressional hearings, no authorization for war. It’s just another secret, unaccountable military action that’s become routinized–one of at least 30 distinct interventions authorized by the AUMF enacted after 9/11. After you win the Nobel Peace Prize, you are free to go to war anywhere you want with impunity…
+ A note from Andrew Cockburn on the true strategic goal of the battle of Mosul: “The US plan: take Mosul, let ISIS escape to fight Assad.” Makes sense to me.
+ Georgia Police are currently investigating the Democratic Party campaign bus for illegal dumping of sewage. That’s no surprise. Clinton and her surrogates have been talking shit coast-to-coast for months now.
+ John McCain, still trembling from assaults on him from the Alt Right, has vowed that the Senate will block any Supreme Court nominee offered up by Hillary Clinton in the next four years. Of course, this may not be a bad idea. Most of the recent Supremes nominated by Democrats have been pretty dreadful, none of them as honorable as John Paul Stevens and David Souter, both put on the bench by Republicans. Moreover, governmental gridlock is good at every level.
+ Still McCain’s snarling taunt reveals much about his true character. Like Trump, the public image of McCain was manufactured by the media. He was dubbed the “Maverick,” the GOP senator the liberal press loved to hang out with, sharing dirty jokes and dissing dirt on fellow senators. But to those of us who know how McCain really operates, how thin-skinned, petulant and brutal he is, the man has always been Senator McNasty.
+ From his perch at Vox, Matthew Yglesias has evolved into one of the most tedious liberal pundits. In seeking to provide journalistic cover for Hillary’s statement to Wall Street bankers that she had perfected the art of displaying two faces on contentious issues from pipelines to banking reform, one for public consumption and the other for private decision making, Yglesias wrote: “If a politician says one thing in public and another in private, there’s no reason to think the private position is the ‘real’ one.” Of course, this pattern of behavior is self-evident from years of tracking what Clinton says from what she actually does. One wonders, does Yglesias practice these banalities in the shower before he Tweets them out to an indifferent world?
+ Earlier this week, BuzzFeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti wrote about an encounter he had with Ivanka Trump, where she expressed a desire to see “a mulatto cock”: “Surprised Ivanka would be shocked by lewd language. I met her once & she casually said: ‘I’ve never seen a mulatto cock, but I’d like to!’”
Ivanka denies the allegation and I tend to side with her. Does anyone really say “Mulatto” anymore–maybe she meant a “Gelatto”cock, one that melts in your mouth? Then, again, given Donald’s hands…
Remember when Bill O’Reilly’s phone sex tapes came out and he confused “felafel” for “loofah,” when describing how wanted to scrub his mistress’s body with his favorite sex toy? Cockburn wrote one of his funniest columns about it. Plato’s Retreat has nothing on the Dionysian shenanigans aswirl in the Fox News Room.
+ In the middle of the hottest year in the hottest decade on record, when the storm surge from a late-season hurricane nearly sank Jacksonville, global warming denier Marco Rubio conceded that if, indeed, sea levels were rising that he was “100 percent in favor of mitigation.” Of course, he is. “Mitigation” means billions in contracts for Marco’s cronies. Why endeavor to curb climate change, when you can profit from the ruination it exacts?
+ When the New Yorker claims Marx as one of their own, you know it’s time to pack up your tattered copy of The 18th Brumaire move on to tackle the more troublesome Feuerbach or Gramsci…
+ Here’s a new phrase to be carted off for the Guillotine: “baked-in”, as in polls, as in a fraught issue for which there is no need to report on further (unless it involves sex). Every talking head must use “baked-in” at least twice every appearance, otherwise they are considered amateurs. Last election cycle it was all about “optics.” Chop, chop!
What I’m listening to this week.
1/ Complete Third: Big Star.
2/ The MANuscript: Dave Hollister.
3/ Ilusíon: Gaby Moreno
4/ Zigzagger: Takuya Kuroda
5/ Blond/Blonde: Frank Ocean
What I’m reading this week.
1/ The Storyteller: Tales Out of Loneliness: Walter Benjamin.
2/ Ghostland: an American History in Haunted Places: Colin Dickey.
3/ Odes: Sharon Olds.
The Progress of Unhappiness
Norman O. Brown: “Mankind today is still making history without having any conscious idea of what it really wants or under what conditions it would stop being unhappy; in fact what it is doing seems to be making itself more unhappy and calling that unhappiness progress.”
From Life Against Death.