Silver Bullet

Glenn Greenwald:

To me, as a lawyer, if you think about why Robert Mueller was appointed, it’s because there were potential crimes committed during the 2016 elections. Thus far, he has indicted no American for any crimes in connection with the election. He’s indicted Russians for crimes in connection with the election, and he has indicted Americans for lying during the investigation, or over unrelated crimes like Manafort and his tax evasion and money laundering schemes, unrelated to the election. So, nothing in the past two weeks, or even in the past year, has changed my mind on whether there was criminality as part of the Trump campaign, and the 2016 election, and the Russians.

I thought this whole interview was worth reading for a number of reasons, not least of which is for the extent to which The Observer several times very openly accuses Greenwald of being offside. The Observer‘s refusal to engage on the subject of Harding and Manafort was likewise significant to me.

I realized years (decades?) ago how foolish the injunction “If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention” was. Perpetual outrage seems as ill-advised as perpetual despair, shock, horror, etc. A nurse friend years ago told me of the black humor she and her colleagues used to deal with the emotions they experienced working with intense pain, suffering, death. The sort of dark humor and heavy irony I constantly see on social media seems as off the mark of “fully human” attitudes as outrage.

I am drawn to the ways in which classical poets and artists dealt with this question. We are told Odysseus suffered great torment and struggled to join the sirens with all the strength he had. How might he have conditioned himself such that he might have remained untied, ears open, sane?

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Slack ‘bans users’ who have visited US sanctioned countries


Some users of communication service Slack have reported their accounts have been closed over visits to countries under US sanctions.

The move, which Slack says is to comply with US regulations, is believed to be affecting users who have visited nations including Iran and North Korea.

But many on social media say they were not warned in advance.

Some have said they had not visited the countries in recent years, and believe their bans were in error.

Cuba, Syria and Crimea are other countries and regions where Slack says its systems may not be used.

I was in Crimea this summer, and ran Slack there. I had a visa to visit Syria back in 1998, but ended up staying in Jordan several more days and didn’t get to Syria to see Palmyra. I regret not visiting Syria in 1998. This summer when I was planning visits to Turkey and Kazakhstan I did some looking at the map and thought about driving through Iran and Turkmenistan. I want to go to Iran before too long. I don’t want US corporations to interfere with my ability to chat with people just because I visited countries the US government doesn’t like.

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Boot Images

I read 1984 before Brave New World, and my reading about and experience of government oppression inclined me for years to see Orwell’s dystopia as more probable than Huxley’s. This inclination changed somewhat in, oh, the 90s, perhaps, when the end of history and waves of increasingly sophisticated video soma suggested to me the brave new world might come by way of psychotropics and video rather than genetic engineering and amusement parks. At the end of 1984 O’Brian’s claim to Winston “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever” seemed far too stark.

A conversation today brought back to my mind O’Brian’s explanation that two plus two results in whatever the state wants it to be — three, four, five, or all of them together. This has certainly become my experience of my countrymen. It occurred to me that an accurate picture of the future might be of a boot stamping on the face of a human who not only does not realize he is being kicked in the face, but who is participating both in the manufacture of the boot and the swing of the kick, all the while certain he is engaged in something else: defending his country or earning a livelihood perhaps.

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Curzon Line

I had not previously known that the Curzon Line was drawn by Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, and I’m wondering why this is. How often do we use terms for years without ever troubling to research their etymology?

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American Society

US Marine Lieutenant Lyle Jeremy Rubin:

An American who leaves for war never leaves America. The war is the society and the society is the war, and one who sees that war sees America.

It is exhausting having to declaim the same talking points over and over again: that the majority of the US official adversaries were once clients and allies. That almost every intervention comes with an ex post facto assessment from the government acknowledging the failure of the mission. That investigative reporters and historians almost always unearth internal documents betraying motives that not only run counter to public rationales but undermine all claims to humanitarian intent. 

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Forever Prisoners


Saifullah Paracha, the oldest prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, will probably die in detention without ever being charged.

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US Political Discourse, December 2018


Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become Speaker of the House when Democrats take over the chamber next month, mocked Mr Trump at a later meeting with colleagues on Capitol Hill.

“I was trying to be the mom,” she said, sources told US media. “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

She reportedly added that the president’s insistence on a wall was “a manhood thing”.

How does the US leave this state where major media reports on politicians “mocking” each other, and American social media is full of individuals posting and reposting the sayings of late night comedians? And if the country is unable to transition out of this, and instead continues the present inability to engage in thoughtful public discussion, does power continue to concentrate with non-state actors?

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“Identity” Politics

This is a poll headlining’s web site today, December 2018. This seems very much a tribal approach with little content, certainly no falsifiable content.

I am concerned with the destruction of the liberal democratic state, and the hijacking of its mechanisms by finance capital. “Move us towards a more progressive future”?

“Commits to platform positions to see these connections through”? Whatever does this mean? What does it mean to “see a connection through”?

“A track record of taking on entrenched power and is willing to fight against big institutions”? Is it remotely possible to be considered a viable Democratic Party candidate without the solid support of entrenched power and financial institutions? Which candidates within my memory of the last 40 years in any way wrestled with entrenched power or big institutions? Perhaps efforts to promote single-payer healthcare?

“Restore order in Washington by working across the aisles”? I’ve seen “working across the aisle (singular)” as indicating bipartisan efforts. What does aisles in the plural mean? Have Democrats like Obama, Pelosi, Schumer been remiss in their efforts to work with Republicans?

I am concerned about the threat of nuclear war. I am concerned about climate change. I read about the unprecedented and increasing inequality of both wealth and income in the US. Life expectancy is decreasing, while deaths from suicide and drug overdose increase. How are these issues addressed in Moveon’s poll?

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Tribal Justice

Joseph Natoli:

That all societal structures and ways of knowing can indeed vanish if not continuously renewed is something we are now witnessing.

What is most chilling is this atmosphere of tacit acceptance of a reality in which argument with “the other tribe” is not only useless but also treasonous to one’s own tribe, a reality in which the hope of convincing the other tribe of anything with any kind of proof is considered a hopeless venture. All proof does no more than prove how truly wrong the other tribe is.

If you combine an instinctual nihilism with the worst elements of tribalism, you get some idea of this terrain. The idea that this terrain and Trump can be exposed and replaced, damaged and destroyed by focusing on health care or a diversity of membership increase in the House of Representatives partakes of the atmosphere of tribal lunacy that infects us all.

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Waldfriedhof, Steinbachtal

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