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August 18, 2017


it illuminates a weak spot in our system of government.


In boot camp, some of our DIs told us that there was no black or white in the Marine Corps. Only green. Then they would tell us, "OK, you light green Marines take a smoking break. You dark green Marines pick up butts."

If you stop and think about it for maybe just another secons or two, you'll realize that the Joint Chiefs all agreed with POTUS.

No, wait! I'm on Obsidian Wings. Y'all won't figure it out.

Y'all won't figure it out.

Yup, it went right over my head.

Clearly "agree" has a very different meaning there in the alternate reality. Very different . . . as in, 180 degrees removed.

How does it feel when the stock market goes up because you got fired?

Trump has definitely said a sentence that agrees with all of those tweets. and if that was all there was to it, arcs would be totally right.

Somehow, reading a written statement, with visible reluctance, followed by enthusiastically repudiating it the next day, doesn't much indicate that the former was real.

A competent actor, or politician, would at least make the statement look sincere. Just one of many things that Trump can't manage.

No, wait! I'm on Obsidian Wings...

So where do you hail from, arcs ?

And did you really believe that's where your POTUS is coming from ?
If so, you genuinely have my sympathy; if not, you really need to sharpen up your windup act.

The last two sentences of this August 16th article: http://prospect.org/article/steve-bannon-unrepentant

The conversation ended with Bannon inviting me to the White House after Labor Day to continue the discussion of China and trade. We’ll see if he’s still there.

For some reason a scene from Disney's the Sword in the Stone springs to mind. Merlin has disappeared, but then his disembodied voice says, "I'm goooooone, but then I am not gone."

My take on this: DJT came the conclusion that having Bannon around is a net minus for him.

I don't see Trump being that analytical. I think it was entirely about Bannon contradicting him over the folks in Charlottesville.

I appreciate - extremely - the joint chiefs making their positions clear.

Trump says Nazis and the KKK are evil, racism is evil, violence is evil.

Then he says the folks who were marching with the Nazis and KKK weren't all bad, and that the alt-left (by whom I assume he means antifa) are just as much to blame.

Also that we are destroying our nation's history and culture, and the beauty of our cities and parks, if we remove statues celebrating the CSA.

So, I get a mixed message from the man. Most of the words (in this case) are literally factual, but the overall meaning is less than clear.

Hard to know what he believes, if anything. Hard to know if "belief", as we normally think of that word, is even part of his cognitive repertoire.

I believe what DJT believes in is DJT. Anything else is not even on the list. He may not know much, but he is very focused on and attentive to what he thinks is good for him.

He also seems to have a self-destructive streak. That, I cannot explain.

Also that we are destroying our nation's history and culture, and the beauty of our cities and parks, if we remove statues celebrating the CSA.

I blame our minimal recollection of WWII on the dearth of Hitler statues in the United States.

"I blame our minimal recollection of WWII on the dearth of Hitler statues in the United States."

And statues of Kaiser Wilhelm also too.

I blame our minimal recollection of WWII on the dearth of Hitler statues in the United States...

Maybe we need to better train our historians in monumental sculpture ?

Fine post, wj.

"Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of our affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels our nature."

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural, March 4 1861

Consider the date and what followed.

Still, thank you Joint Chiefs. Now remove the trouble.

"Maybe we need to better train our historians in monumental sculpture ?"

I, for one, look forward to Trump being bronzed and set up as a statue on the National Mall, as a warning to later generations.

Next week would be good. Just tell He Trump that he's got a appointment for "special" spray tan application.

I wish I'd remembered this. Someone on Twitter had to remind me that He Trump and Mitch McConnell were known before they were born.


Fingers are too big.

Hitler seems not to have been into statues (of himself). I believe I have never seen an original one anywhere. Heads and busts on the other hand were extremly common. Apart from that paintings and authorized photographs were the standard way he was depicted in the public.

As for Wilhelm II. I found a list of just 31 monuments (worldwide) dedicated to him, none initiated by himself* and not all with an actual depiction (as opposed to a mere inscription). And that includes some not in existence anymore.

*he had countless built for his family/ancestors though. That way he could bathe in their glory without the charge of vanity (fruitless, he had an ego not that dissimilar from The Donald).

Good luck and stay safe to all ObWi people marching in Boston or elsewhere today. May the Force be with you.

speaking of people who deserve statues...

Breitbart currently has a headline "‘Populist Hero’ Stephen K. Bannon Returns Home to Breitbart News"

it has 17,000+ comments.

a hero indeed.


We're all aware that the CEOs on Trump's two Presidential advisory councils were resigning left and right. But in other news you may have missed, the members of the President's Commission on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse in a blistering letter :

Reproach and censure in the strongest possible terms are necessary following your support of the hate groups and terrorists who killed and injured fellow Americans in Charlottesville.
And just to add to the fun, conspiracy theorists note that the first letters of each paragraph spell . . . RESIST.

However my first thought was "Trump appointed a commission on the arts???" Since when does he care? But no, turns out it was a holdover from the Obama administration, which he apparently hadn't gotten around to disbanding.

P.Sent. The White House also announced this morning that the President and First Lady will be skipping the Kennedy Center honors this year. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that 3 of the 5 honorees have already announced that they wouldn't attend if Trump was there....

%$#@ autocomplete! That was, obviously, P.S. not P.Sent

russell! (and Tony P.?)


This is the headline, btw: "Boston Right-Wing 'Free Speech' Rally Dwarfed By Counterprotesters"

This is the headline, btw: "Boston Right-Wing 'Free Speech' Rally Dwarfed By Counterprotesters"

Yay! Fingers crossed that all of those good people stay safe.

the report from the barricades:

the venue of the rally was the Parkman bandstand, which is basically a large gazebo toward the south end of the common.

the cops used barrier fence to cordon off maybe a half acre around the bandstand, then set up another barrier fence probably another 150 feet outside the first ring.

so, two sort concentric barrier fences around the bandstand, with a no-go area in betwwen. free speech ralliers inside the inner fence, including the bandstand itself. protestors outside the outer fence. cops, and only cops, in the middle.

well done, boston PD.

the turnout for the free speech crew was probably a couple dozen. maybe 50, probably fewer. they just about filled the bandstand. the rest of their designated area was empty.

the protestors numbered in thousands, maybe tens of thousands.

the free speech rally permit was for noon to 2:00 PM. at about 12:45, they packed it in and went home.

and that was that.

nobody got hurt, weather was good, cops kept it all safe. a good day.

boston has its issues, but i am kind of pleased to be here today.

as a bonus, got a selfie with vermin supreme.

good job, Boston.

you'll always be my favorite city.

"as a bonus, got a selfie with vermin supreme."


We'll make sure to capture that moment on your statue, you betcha.

looks like the final tally, numbers-wise, was 50 free speechers, about 15,000 counterprotestors.

so, 300 to 1.

and yeah, i was hilariously excited to get a selfie with vermin. there was line. he is an extremely chill dude, it was fun to meet him.

I don't get it. Why counter-demonstrate against free speech?

nobody was demonstrating against free speech.

the organizers of the rally style themselves as advocates of free speech, rather than any particular political ideology. i'm not really interested in debating their motives, i'm fine with giving them the benefit of the doubt.

the people they invited to speak were primarily from the "alt-right" stew of white supremacists, neo-fascists, and general right-wing wackos.

a week after charlottesville, folks felt like they to demonstrate their resistance to those views.

not the freedom to speak, but the content of (at least some of) the speech.

so, 300 to 1.

Probiotic effect! We can win this!

Why counter-demonstrate against free speech?

and weren't the Nazis actually socialist?

On the other hand, kill me now.

Oh frabjous day! Calloo, callay! I'm so glad a) nobody got hurt and b) they were so dramatically outnumbered. Nice work, y'all. Onward and upward!

So there's now a meme reading



superimposed on a photo of the clothespin in Philly. I did not create it.

who among us does not hate laundry?

final tally for boston was about 40,000 to maybe 50.

one older woman who was waving an american flag was knocked down when some antifas dudes tried to pull the flag out of hands.

the antifas kiddos yelled at a guy who was being interviewed as he was trying to join the free speechers. other counterprotestors intervened and helped the guy get past the barrier fence and go join the free speechers.

don't have details, but the BLM folks seemed to have some conflicts with the cops.

antifas, please stay home. BLM, I support your message but maybe figure out more skillful ways to negotiate your issues with the cops.

but that's me, an old straight white guy with a day job and a nice little ranch house in the burbs talking.

the antifas thing needs some attention. i appreciate what they think they are trying to do, but they're handing the supremacists and nazis everything they want, on a plate.

skillful means, y'all.

a big thank you to the Boston PD, they kept a lid on it. from all sides. well done.

from the day.

if you hear or read right wingers going on about people who were "prevented from joining the rally", this is from immediately after that incident.

the dude that starts talking about halfway through is pretty much central casting boston.

a heads up: he says a bad word.

The flag incident is being touted to the heavens by the right-wing echo chamber as a brutal leftist assault. They have a lot of experience at working the refs.

It sounds as if for the most part BLM was trying its damnedest to keep the counter-protest peaceful, including forming cordons for the Nazis to get away peacefully and preventing counter-protesters from escalating. With 40,000 people in one place there are going to be some incidents.

Since this is an open thread, a query that's a couple of days past due --

"Blood and soil", I know about. Actually I don't perceive it as specifically Nazi, but a pretty generally shared bit of European right-wing nationalism. But the number of generic right-wing nationalists at Charlottesville from, say. the relics of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, can be safely overlooked. Here and now, it's Nazi, duh.

But "Jews will not replace us?" WTF is that about? The association is beyond clear, but the specific slogan is new and bizarre to me. I can only conjecture that there is some brand-new fascist meme, probably related to the Hungarian anti-Semitic anti-Soros campaign, and it just hasn't got to where I am yet. But that seems kinda lame, even for White Nationalists.

Anybody know where it comes from?

"Jews will not replace us"?
I hate it when people misplace quote marks, especially when it's me.

BTW does anyone else get a kick out of hearing really nasty Republicans (e.g., Lindsey Graham) responding about all those Fine People by explaining what fine people actually do when they find themselves marching with people who wear Nazi and Fascist symbolism and are shouting "Blood and soil" and the like?
Shorter GOP: Be somewhere else. Immediately.
Couldn't say it better myself, though I might improve on the lack of obscenity in the quoted statements.

7. While it is not true that all participants in the demonstration were neo-Nazis, some clearly were as evidenced by their Roman salutes and displays of the swastika. The organizers of the rally screwed up by allowing groups with this orientation at the rally, and allowing this kind of behavior by those who were present. Neo-Nazis are freaks and losers with a dangerous philosophy that can only detract from any serious political event. [Update: It has been claimed that the organizers of the rally specifically invited neo-Nazi organizations to attend the rally, or made no effort to exclude them when they knew they would be showing up. This indeed seems to be true, as I previously suspected, and was a very severe lapse of judgment by the organizers of “Unite the Right.”]
Some Initial Thoughts on Charlottesville

From CharlesWT's link

The psychology of the Left is aptly described in the “Mass Psychology of Leftism” section of Ted Kaczynski’s “The Industrial Society and Its Future” (this not to say that Kaczynski is an admirable person or that his wider anti-tech ideology is correct).
Kaczynski accurately characterizes the Left as follows: (followed by usual drek, emph. mine)

I usually don't click on your links, and I'm reminded why I don't...

the dude that starts talking about halfway through is pretty much central casting boston

Speaking purely for myself, I love that dude. Righteous anger, righteous actions.

“Jews will not replace us” (a reference to the view that it is Jewish political power that is fostering mass immigration as a strategy to replace the white majority with immigrants).

Porlock Junior, this is from CharlesWT's link at attackthesystem.com. I have no idea if this is correct, but it's the only explanation I have seen.

I usually don't click on your links, and I'm reminded why I don't...

Well, the author is a left-anarchist, more or less, with some conspiracy theory thrown in apparently. For example, the quote in #44 which he seems to agree with.

But, I think he does a pretty good job describing the Charlottesville situation.


I am not familiar with the antifa movement in the US, but in Europe, they have been traditionally violent anarchists. People who actively seek violent confrontation with extreme right wing lunatics. In Finland, the term has been hijacked successfully by Putinists. "The antifascist committee" is the name used by the local Putinist fringe who were courting extreme left in early 2000's before turning to extreme right.

So, as European, I am quite sceptic of anyons calling themselves antifa. In the best case, they are violent rabble who will ruin your peaceful demonstration, trying to turn it into a riot. In the worst case, they are doing this knowingly serving foreign interests.

antifas, please stay home. BLM, I support your message but maybe figure out more skillful ways to negotiate your issues with the cops.

Posted by: russell | August 19, 2017 at 09:51 PM

Co-sign. I understand the frustrations of those on the left who are tired of "losing" and want more aggressive and strident tactics, but I tend to hold my team to a higher standard than the other side. Antifas frequently fall below that standard and BLM occasionally has (but had been better since the primaries).

I am not familiar with the antifa movement in the US, but in Europe, they have been traditionally violent anarchists. People who actively seek violent confrontation with extreme right wing lunatics.

Posted by: Lurker | August 20, 2017 at 07:44 AM

I view the American Antifas as an outgrowth of their European forebears which I don't hold in high regard. Although to be fair, I assume some of the younger folks claiming to be Antifa may not appreciate the baggage associated with the movement.

If someone is writing about the rally, and thinks that

The most reasonable response thus far has come from, ironically, President Trump himself for daring to point out that violent street fighting involving “hatred, bigotry and violence” actually occurred on “many sides” during the course of this disaster, rather than merely taking one side as if violent Communists and other left-wing extremists are not dangerous and undesirable in a manner that parallels their fascist/Nazi rivals

I really doubt they have a grasp of what was going on. You really ought to do better than this.

a heads up: he says a bad word.

I found his apology toward the end to be amusing. I would totally hang out with that dude.

from my limited exposure to them, i would say that antifa tends to be young folks - 18 to maybe 30 - with a highly romantic vision of themselves as undersung heroes fighting the imminent advent of a truly fascist regime.

they are provocateurs, really, and are generally looking for physical confrontation. if they don't find it, they may create it.

i affirm their resistance to undemocratic economic institutions, and to political authoritarianism. i think the tactics they employ are naive, self-indulgent, and counterproductive.

they mostly strike me as kind of dilletante anarchists, in love with their image of themselves as "sticking it to the man", but with no real understanding of the consequences of their actions.

that said, their medic corps are pretty solid.

there is also a much broader and more diverse anarchist community in the US, who run the gamut as far as their embrace of forcible means. a lot of them are basically pacifist.

in any public setting, when i see someone dressed in black with a masked face, i avoid them. some kind of mess is likely on its way.

also - ted kaczynski was a paranoid schizophrenic who isolated himself from the world and expressed his paranoia by blowing people up.

i would take his analyses with a grain of salt.

from the Statement Of Purpose page on the attack the system site CharlesWT linked to:

We work towards a cultivation of harmony between the currently scattered anarchist tendencies and the development of anarchist unity against our common enemy, the state. These include collectivist-anarchism, syndicalism, mutualism, post-structuralism, Green anarchism, anarcho-primitivism neo-tribal anarchism, Geo-anarchism, democratic confederalism, anti-civilization anarchism, nihilist anarchism, queer anarchism, transgender-focused anarchism, transgendered anarcha-feminism and anti-oppression anarchism, third wave anarcha-feminism, and Christian left-anarchism from the Left; anarcho-capitalism, anarcho-monarchism, anarcho-feudalism, national-anarchism, tribal-anarchism, paleo-anarchism and Christian right-anarchism from the Right; and anarchist tendencies that defy left/right categorization such as Stirnerism, Nietzschean anarchism, synthesist anarchism, post-left anarchism, situationism, Zapatismo, black anarchism, native anarchism, Islamic anarchism, geoanarchism, transhumanist anarchism, libertarian-voluntaryist queer anarchism, and queer national-anarchism.

that's.... a lot of -isms.

one wouldn't expect anarchists to be so hung up on categorization.

anarchism is great until you have to pay rent.

I know some folks who pursue an anarchist path, sincerely and peacefully, into adult life. It requires some sacrifice on their part. it's not for amateurs.

most of the antifa folks are kids.

a friend of mine shared a funny video with me. it's a clip of zigaboo modeliste, great drummer for the Meters, on some gig or other. he wasn't happy with somebody's playing, or general vibe, or whatever.

he turns to the guy and says:

"You're messing with my ism!"

Words to live by.

they mostly strike me as kind of dilletante anarchists, in love with their image of themselves as "sticking it to the man", but with no real understanding of the consequences of their actions.

These sorts, on both the left and right, are the embodiment of why sophomores got that label. It's relatively easy to get enthused about a nonsense philosophy, based on its abstract beauty and ability to explain everything, while someone else is paying your bills. Most outgrow it once they get jobs and have to start living in the real world. Some do not.

Until now, the most visible current examples have been from the libertarians. Including of those who don't grow up and accept reality -- cf Congressman Ryan.

When I was in college, most were still Marxists. Real ones, not fans of Russian communism. They put a lot of energy into their philosophical disagreements with the "Trots" (Trotskyites). I never did figure out how to break thru their rose tinted glasses to show them reality, and eventually decided it would just take time and life smacking them on the nose repeatedly.

what wj said.

The Berlin district of Spandau saw a failed Neo-Nazi demonstration on Saturday. It intended to march to the place where the prison was where Rudolf Hess was imprisoned until he committed suicide in August 1987 (aged 93). (The prison got torn down immediately afterwards in order not to create a place of pilgrimage).
They failed because counter-protesters blocked all routes until the guys (about 800) gave up in desperation. It stayed peaceful since the usual suspects (black bloc etc.) were absent and the police thoroughly checked the nazis in advance for weaponry.

I suppose its my age but I find myself feeling really contemptuous of antifa. I think violence is self-indulgent. And counter-productive. That's probably my real objection--I dont like assholes who show up and turn some kind of public event into a story about them getting into fights. I dont buy them as heors for getting into fights I see them as saboteurs, intentionally or otherwise.

What wonkie said. "Self-indulgent" is exactly right.

I see them as saboteurs, intentionally or otherwise.

I agree. I'm not sure whether things will deteriorate into a full scale civil war (and I'm very worried that they might), but street fights aren't the way to go in any case.

what everybody said

The US doesn't have enough young people for a full-scale civil war.

Not enough? How do you figure?

Or maybe my question is How many do you think it would take?

I should have said the ratio of young/old people is too low.

A TL;DR argument for the need for youthful populations for civil wars.

Even after controlling for the fact that more youthful countries are less developed and have more vulnerable political regimes, my research finds that a large difference in the number of young adults compared to the number of older adults—“relative cohort size”—can help predict civil war, particularly insurgent-based civil wars.
The Young and the Restless: Population Age Structure and Civil War (.pdf)

Antifa/black bloc relate to protesters like hooligans to football(soccer) fans. Both disguise their desire for vandalism as something 'noble'. The former just sport (pun unintended) a pdeudo-intellectual veneer and lack a regular timetable.

From cleek's link: "We work towards a cultivation of harmony ........"

So much for anarchy.

I'm working my way towards the totality of the solar eclipse near Grand Island, Nebraska. It crosses I-70 smack dab down the centerline.

Got my NASA certified eclipse glasses ready.

Great finish to the road trip, lest it's cloudy.

I read that rump and true believers believe the eclipse is a hoax.

Either that or Obama is conspiring to blacken the sun. Sun God rump's staff is awaiting the parsing and reading of rump's morning toilet for their public strategy.

This from this link

Bannon frequently butt heads with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and national security adviser H.R McMaster.

How does one conjugate 'to butt heads'?

Bannon frequently butt

Who can argue with that ?

I read that rump and true believers believe the eclipse is a hoax.

It is. It was perpetrated to distract people so Confederate graves could be dug up. Didn't you get the memo?

How does one conjugate 'to butt heads'?

The same way you conjugate "I text [sic] him yesterday to say I'd be there at 2:00."

I think in the heads of people who say this it's "tex-ed," or they just can't wrap their heads around the double sound of tex-t-ed.

they just can't wrap their heads around the double sound of tex-t-ed.

Which goes for "butt-ed" too, of course. And maybe there's an unconscious echo of irregular bite/bit.

I bet Language Log has something about it, but I don't have time to check right now.

But "bet" is an even better example. "Butt/butt" is just like "bet/bet" (present/past).

:-) I do love language in the morning.

There are lots of things that happen where I just say "but but?" and sometimes a few more buts.

I'm guessing that they hear "butted" and think that they heard "butt head". Although that does turn "butted heads" into something repetitively redundant....

One of those "just have to share" items:

On Trump's reaction to elites fleeing him. I was particularly taken by the description of the wannabe kid from Queens' reaction to the honorees at the Kennedy Center refusing to meet with him. More than anything else, I wouldn't be surprised if that is the sort of thing that drives him to resign. Eventually.

wj, I can't believe he will ever resign. Or: what mountain range of excuses would it take for him to decide that his glorious gloriousness would be more served by going than by staying?

I don't see Trump resigning, for any reason. If he goes it will not be by his own choice.

I can see him resigning if he decides that the alternative (staying) would be worse.

For example, if he became convinced that he would be impeached (let alone removed), I think he would resign -- while claiming victory. Specifically, claiming that he had accomplished what he promised, indeed more than any President in history in so short a time (or maybe even at all), and so didn't need to stay. Because, after all, if he got removed by Congress, that would make him (look like) a "loser", which he cannot abide.

Could he be convinced of that? In particular, that a majority of Congress, including members of his own party, would vote against him. Hard to say. But he does have a history (see his CEO advisory councils) of noticing something bad coming and attempting to preempt it.

The other possibility is that he gets a subpoena for his tax records. Or just gets told that Congress, which isn't bound by the IRS's confidentiality constraints, has order a copy to look at -- which, obviously, his enemies there might then make public. Given how panicky he gets on the subject, it seems possible that the mere threat could motivate him to arrange to resign rather than have it happen.

I suppose I could vaguely see one of those scenarios happening.

What would he pillage on the way out? Would there be anything left in the White House?

he's currently trying to bankrupt the Secret Service.

This one has the best headline on that subject:

The Secret Service Is Out of Money Because of Trump's Big Stupid Family

RIP Brian Aldiss.

RIP Brian Aldiss.

One of the greats.

"Civilization is the distance man has placed between himself and his excreta." —Brian Aldiss

I guess I could maybe see him resigning if the alternative was crossing one of his Russian mafia buddies.

Better a loser than to sleep with the fishes.

Other than that, I think he'd prefer to burn the place down than go peacefully.

We'll see. It could be that he'll do his whole four years. Maybe eight.

I'm all out of predictions these days.

Since this is an open thread, and I'm too damned lazy to go start a new one:

What the hell is going on with the Navy? Two collisions in two months, plus another ship run aground in Tokyo?

Are we just having a bad year?

i like the Russian GPS spoofing theory (because it ties in with the driverless cars thing).

I'm all out of predictions these days.

My sister has embraced an old family tradition, and started a "ship's pool" on when he'll be gone. Still waiting for all the selections to come in. I'll be interested to see how my guess (April Fool's Day 2018) compares to the rest of the family.

Two collisions this year, one last year, and one in 2014. Before that? 2004, 2000 and 1989. So a troubling pattern emerging.

You can see why the CNO has ordered a world-wide Operational pause* and a sweeping review of safety procedures and training. Something is seriously not right.

* Not sure exactly what an "operational pause" amounts to. But having all commanders stand down for a couple of days is not something trivial.

GPS spoofing would account for running aground, if that was what was happening. But for running into other ships, you need to have radar problems and/or nobody looking at the screen or out the window (although the latest one was while it was still dark).

Adam Silverman at BJ had a post about the Navy collisions -- and the spoofing theory -- last night.

GPS spoofing would account for running aground, if that was what was happening.

the idea here is that the GPS satellites transmit at such low power that it is possible to mask their signal with local, low-power transmitters. you don't need to fool every ship on the earth, you just need to get near the ones you want to confuse. so, get a little boat, get it near a Navy ship, turn on your spoofer and watch the fun.

this would be easy to verify, if we knew the merchant ships involved had GPS problems at the same time.


Sounds like they need something like encrypted keys from the satellites and inertial navigation to guard against spoofing.

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