Category Archives: links

201111

Trump Tees Up a New Type of Coup: In Plain Sight
by Ted Rall, 201111

Donald Trump revolutionized political campaigning. It was by accident. Because he was too lazy to prepare for or memorize a stump speech, he ad-libbed his rallies; TV networks gave him $2 billion worth of free airtime because something he said might prove newsworthy. Because he was cheap, he made appearances at any random dump that would have him for free; he used the money he saved on big data research that paid off handsomely.

Now the president is attempting to revolutionize the art of the coup d’état.

Leaders of broad-based movements who want to overthrow an existing government usually agitate for revolution in plain sight. The activism of a popular front attracts new recruits.

A coup is the opposite of a revolution. Unlike revolutionaries, who need the masses to succeed, coup plotters require secrecy. A coup is usually carried out by a very small group of insiders. Coup schemers are not interested in, or have concluded that they cannot, obtain popular support. They do not seek to transform society. They simply want power. It is an attempt by a minnow to swallow a whale.

Without the protection of millions of adherents and operating outside constitutional norms, politicians and/or military men who plot a coup must take over the government by surprise. Leaders of the outgoing regime have to be in prison or dead, and thus powerless, before their supporters realize that their nation has been seized by a small faction. A coup d’état is over before it begins in the event that some element of the conspiracy comes to light before the zero hour. The classic example of a failed coup is Operation Valkyrie, the 1944 attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler and overthrow of the Nazi government of Germany by a group of military officers. The plot unraveled when Hitler survived a bomb attack and went on the radio.

Successful coups include the 2004 overthrow of democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, whom the CIA kidnapped and spirited away to the Central African Republic, whose president Ange-Félix Patassé had himself been deposed in a coup a year earlier, the Taliban-supported takeover of Pakistan by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, and the bizarre 1993 self-coup by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who illegally shelled and dissolved parliament.

All of these events seemingly came out of nowhere. By contrast, Donald Trump is laying the groundwork for a coup attempt in plain sight.

Defying tradition, Trump is still refusing to concede the election since the Associated Press and other media organizations called the race in favor of Joe Biden on Saturday, November 7th. Without presenting evidence of fraud or other wrongdoing, he has filed several lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the vote count.

Most top Republicans are supporting Trump, or remaining silent and refusing to congratulate Biden. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the U.S. Senate. “President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” said McConnell. “Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”

Asked whether he planned to congratulate Biden, Ron Johnson (R-WI) replied: “Nothing to congratulate him about.” Even as world leaders called to acknowledge Biden’s win, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Roger Stone, the political adviser and loyalist pardoned by Trump, previewed the possibility of a post-election military takeover in September. If Trump lost, Stone said at the time, he ought to declare “martial law,” invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, nationalize state police forces and round up critics and political opponents including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “the Clintons,” and journalists because they’re involved in “seditious activities.” On November 2nd Stone said Former CIA Director John Brennan, Former FBI Director James Comey and other former officials who offended Trump “must be tried and convicted of treason” and then “they must be hung by the neck until dead.” Stone is still tight with Trump: news just broke that the president had the IRS wipe away Stone’s bill for back taxes, which totaled $1.5 million.

Attorney General William Barr, following Stone’s recommendation, ordered the Department of Justice to investigate irregularities and improprieties in the election.

In order to enforce martial law Trump would need, and has, widespread support among the police. He would also need the military. Though inherently reactionary, active-duty troops have moved away from the president in recent months. So he is replacing top Pentagon brass with compliant loyalists likelier to follow his illegal and unconstitutional orders.

On November 9th Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who refused to deploy troops against Black Lives Matters protesters in June. “In my experience, there would only be a few reasons to fire a Secretary of Defense with 72 days left in an administration,” Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and an official in Obama’s Pentagon, said. “[One] would be because the President wants to take actions that he believes his Secretary of Defense would refuse to take, which would be alarming.”

“Two White House officials said later on Monday that Mr. Trump was not finished, and that Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, and Gina Haspel, the CIA director, could be next in line to be fired. Removing these senior officials — in effect decapitating the nation’s national security bureaucracy — would be without parallel by an outgoing president who has just lost re-election,” reported The New York Times.

In a major, unprecedented transition-period shakeup, policy chief James Anderson, intelligence boss Joseph Kernan and Esper’s chief of staff Jen Stewart have also been fired from the Pentagon. Anderson’s replacement is retired Army General Anthony Tata, a nutty far-right white nationalist who called Obama a “terrorist leader,” said Islam was the “most oppressive violent religion I know of” and used a racist slur against CNN host Don Lemon. He will do whatever Trump wants.

What’s going on? Stupid impetuous drama? Or a real coup?

If it turns out to be a coup, it may well prove that teeing it up in plain sight improves its chances of success. Trump’s supporters, disproportionately prone to violence and more heavily armed, are watching and waiting. They can only pitch in as paramilitaries or freelance goons if, like the rest of us, they see the dark days ahead.

Then Trump’s coup becomes a counterrevolution.


Coups For Dummies
by Clay Jones, 201111

On November 10, 2016, President Obama hosted President-elect (sic) Donald Trump in the White House. Vice-President Joe Biden hosted vice-president elect (sic) Mike Pence in the VP residence. First Lady Michelle Obama gave a White House tour to Melania Trump. Today, it’s November 11, 2020, and instead of inviting the future president of the United States to the White House, Donald Trump is hiding inside his bunker in denial he lost. What makes this even worse is that he has enablers. These enablers are helping Donald Trump thwart democracy.

Republicans are pointing out that Democrats whined about the 2016 election. This is true. I whined. I didn’t like the results. I still don’t like it. But while I said the election was tampered with and Russia meddled, I never said any ballots were fraudulent. No Democrats opposed the transition of power. Today, the Trump administration is not allowing a transfer of power.

The Trump Administration could still pursue legal challenges over the election while allowing the process of a transition to happen. That would be in the best interest of the nation. Instead, offices are not being created for the transition, funds aren’t being released, and the next president isn’t even being given security briefings. These were all acts afforded to Donald Trump when he was the incoming president (sic).

The United States condemns leaders of other nations who refuse to leave office and give up power after losing fair elections. Now, our leader (sic) is refusing to give up power and is hiding inside his palace sending his minions out to help him stage a coup. Donald Trump has not been seen since last Thursday.

Mitch McConnell is supporting Trump’s legal challenges even though there isn’t any evidence of massive voter fraud. Lindsey Graham is telling Trump not to concede. McConnell and Graham both won their Senate elections last week but neither one of these two men refused their opponent’s concessions.

Ted Cruz says allowing the media to declare the winner is not how we do it in America. Except, he was more than happy to accept the media’s declaration of a winner in 2016. He was more than happy to accept their declaration in 2018 when he won reelection to the Senate.

When asked if he had congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden yet, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, whose state went for Biden, said he doesn’t have anything to congratulate Biden for.

Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said, “We have got to allow our courts to hear these allegations of voting irregularities by the president.” You may as well allow the courts to hear allegations of lizard people running our government too because you have just as much evidence of that as you do of voter fraud.

North Carolina’s Thom Tillis was finally declared the winner of his race yesterday and he said about the presidential election, “Every vote legally cast must be counted.” Who says they shouldn’t? Who says they haven’t been counted? Guess what. Tillis didn’t stop his opponent from conceding saying, “Every legal vote must be counted” bullshit.

Isn’t it fucked up that right after you elect someone, that they make a pronouncement against democracy and fair elections?

Attorney General William Barr is releasing the Justice Department’s legal hounds to fight Trump’s loss in the courts. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani is holding press conferences outside dildo shops claiming the election was stolen from Trump.

It’s funny Democrats stole the election for Biden while simultaneously losing the Senate and seats in the House. It’s also funny that it hasn’t occurred to any of these Republicans claiming fraudulent ballots, that they also have their names on those “fraudulent” ballots. If we’re going to wipe out who won the election, that should also mean we wipe out all those Republican victories. Should we wipe out McConnell’s, Graham’s, and Tillis’ victories?

Each government department is being told to prepare their budgets for next year as though the administration will still be operating. As if they’re still going to be in town and not all applying at Fox News at the same time. And Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the nation’s top diplomat has said there will be a “smooth transition…to a SECOND Trump administration.”

What the fuck? The top diplomat or the world’s leading democracy is telling the world we don’t obey election results anymore. Pompeo said the eletion has not been decided. It has LITERALLY been decided.

Can you imagine the outrage if instead of conceding the election the day after, Hillary Clinton had refused to admit defeat, mounted legal challenged, and claimed the election had been stolen? Can you imagine if instead of inviting Trump to the White House, President Obama had refused to release transition funding?

In Michigan, Trump beat Clinton by 10,704 votes in 2016. In 2020 in Michigan, Biden beat Trump by over 146,000 (and still counting). In case you’re a Republican, 146,000 is greater than 10,000.

In Pennsylvania, Trump beat Clinton by 46,765. In 2020 in Pennsylvania, Biden beat Trump by over 48,000 (and still counting). In case you’re a Republican, 48,000 is more than 46,000. Now, Trump is suing to overturn the election in Pennsylvania.

As the counting continues, Biden is heading for a 306 electoral vote win. That’s the exact same amount Trump won with in 2016. How are they going to win the presidency by overturning one state without any actual evidence of election fraud? They would need to overturn more than one state. Maybe they can do it in Georgia where the two GOP senators are calling for their own Republican Secretary of State to resign because they don’t like that his count shows Donald Trump is losing.

This is banana republic type shit here, people. This is a coup attempt. Maybe people like Pompeo are just trying to appease Trump for now. Maybe Pompeo is a coward. He wants to appease Trump’s base for when he runs for the Senate in Kansas or even for the presidency in 2024, if Trump doesn’t. Or maybe, he’s afraid of being fired two months before he’s scheduled to lose his job. Trump is already lashing out and firing people.

Maybe people like Mitch McConnell, John Kennedy (not the good one), Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis, and Ted Cruz are all just big, fat ass kissers. Or…they’re trying to steal an election and are engaging in a coup.

I predicted before the election that Joe Biden would win… but I did not predict he’d take the White House because I was afraid the Republicans would try to steal the election. Even before the election, Trump said the only way he could lose was if there was corruption and voter fraud. Boy, did I call it or did I call it?

We know this about Trump supporters: They are all cowards. They have made their party into one of a cult. They put one man before their nation. They are putting one man before democracy. They don’t care if they turn our democracy into a dictatorship.

The Trump administration will NOT legally continue, but the resistance must.

MUA

today is the third day of NOT using Kontact, the MUA that i have been using pretty much ever since i switched to linux, back in the dark ages.

i really liked kontact. it did EXACTLY what i wanted it to do: it handled all of my email addresses in a logical way, made it easy to switch from one email address to another, worked well with my business set-up, my installation of sigrot

but it had a fatal flaw which i have been trying (and, mostly, succeeding) to work around for quite some time now, and that is its use of akonadi, which is the interface between the MUA and the SQL database that lives behind it.

for the first few years i didn’t even notice a problem, but then i upgraded my operating system, and everything blew up. i ended up installing the new operating system from scratch, and summarily trashing three or four years worth of collected email. it was a difficult process, but i got through it.

through the years, i have tried installing a number of MUAs, in order to try and get away from kontact, but either they didn’t do what i wanted, or they simply didn’t work at all, so i gave up and went back to fighting with kontact…

“the devil you know”, right?

after that, there were a number of times, primarily during updates or upgrades, when i had to battle with kontact/akonadi/SQL, to get it to work, and i had to trash a number of years of collected email at least one more time before reaching the point at which i am, now.

four days ago, i ran the operating system updates, and, after i was done, i tried starting up kontact, and nothing happened. i tried starting it from the konsole (rather than “clicking” on the “icon”, which is how you start it in the GUI), got a vaguely worded, cryptic message about being unable to start “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell”, and then it hung up.

which is very odd, because i have never even installed the hebrew language pack, and have no idea why it would even be attempting to start the hebrew spelling dictionary…

i tried asking Kubuntu Forums for solutions, and got the same answer that i have gotten every OTHER time i have asked about how to fix kontact, which is “kontact is broken, install thunderbird instead”.

so i tried installing thunderbird (AGAIN), and, after having some “words” with my operating system about whether this new piece of software actually worked (or not), i successfully installed and more-or-less correctly configured it, and started using it.

it’s a little different than kontact… or, at least, my perception is that it is a little different than kontact. after some futzing around, i learned how to configure it to use more than one email address — actually, i may have done it “the other way” first, because the terminology for “accounts” and “identities” is slightly different on kontact — and, as far as i can tell, there is no easy way to add an “X-” header line to outgoing email, like there is in kontact, but that may just be because i have yet to find the place where such a thing is configured.

and, then, yesterday (after i had, more or less, given up on kontact), i discovered that kontact actually worked… it had been a few days since i had given up trying to start it, because of “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell” not working, and, without thinking about it, i “clicked” on the “icon” and kontact sprang back to life!

so, the first thing i did was transfer all of my contacts, and most of my RSS feeds (i got bored and antsy, so i’ll finish them later) to thunderbird.

for some time, now, when i “quit” kontact (select “quit” from the “file” menu), i have had to go to the konsole, and “kill” the process that kontact was running, so that it would actually quit. i also discovered that “kill”ing kontact STILL allows incoming mail to be downloaded, a process that i don’t completely understand (it may have something to do with akonadi interacting with the POP3 mailserver).

also, for even longer (i recall at least two kontact upgrades that have had this behaviour, prior to the one i am currently (not) using), when i first start kontact, after booting up my computer in the morning, about 98.9% of the time it gets to the point where it’s displaying correctly on the screen, but before i have the chance to do anything, it puts up a dialogue box that says that there has been a fatal error and kontact will quit now. the dialogue doesn’t say what the fatal error is, and it only has an “OK” button, which makes everything disappear when i click it. under this circumstance, when i run “ps -u salamandir | grep kontact” in the konsole, kontact is, actually, not running (unlike when i select “quit” from the “file” menu), and if i restart kontact, it works without any further problems…

except that, sometimes (usually at least once a day), it freezes for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and when it does, there’s a very good chance (greater than half the time) that it will crash. usually this happens when i have just selected a message to reply to, and/or usually it happens when it is in the process of downloading new mail or RSS feeds. sometimes i can anticipate when it’s going to happen, when i have to reply to a message and it is in the process of downloading.

thunderbird doesn’t have these problem. when i select “quit” from the “file” menu, in thunderbird, it actually quits, and doesn’t keep downloading mail anyway. thunderbird doesn’t crash for no reason, or freeze and crash. it may not be kontact, but on the other hand, it’s not kontact.

my impression is that the operating system struggles when there is more than one MUA running, and, because of the difficulties i’ve been having getting kontact to quit, i don’t like to keep both of them running for long periods of time, especially since, apparently, kontact’s interface with the POP3 mailserver takes precedence, even after i “quit” and “kill” it, and even when i start up thunderbird first (which it shouldn’t, but it goes to support the fact that “kontact is broken”).

you’re probably wondering why i posted this…

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कारचित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ १॥

The processors
Manas, buddhi, ahaṅkāra and chitta are the qualitative differentiation within the mind. They are used interchangeably based on context, and yet they are different.

Manas is the faculty of perception, the instrument by which the objects of senses affect the Atman. It is the faculty of thought, desire, imagination. Buddhi is the intellect, by which one discerns, comprehends. Ahaṅkāra is the sense of identity, that which creates ‘I-ness’, ego. Chittam is the one that observes, is aware. All these are the faculties that process what comes from outside.

I am none of these processors.

The instruments
Shrotra is the ear, the organ of hearing. Jihvā is tongue, the organ of tasting. Ghrāṅa is nose, the sense of smelling. And netra is eye, the sense of seeing.

I am none of these instruments.

The building blocks of matter
Vyoma is the space, the gap between the matter. It is the space between planetary bodies as well as the space around Earth, and even the space inside anything. It is also one of the five basic elements.

Bhūmi is the Earth, or the solid matter.

Tejas is the heat or light (both interconnected) like the fire or the Sun.

Vāyu is the wind, the circulating forces, not just on Earth but also inside our bodies, responsible for circulating whether nutrition or blood etc.

I am none of these building blocks of which the material world is made.

The faculties get the information using the senses about the outside world.

I am none of them.

I am pure bliss form of consciousness.
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

— Practical Sanskrit

—–

it is Adi Shankara‘s birthday, and, if i can be said to “follow” a “religion”, it would probably be the one espoused by adi shankara.

the reason for this is that adi shankara spoke of a “god” which exists beyond what we experience as “good” or “evil”. this “god” is neither (or, possibly, both) “good” and/or “evil”… which is, pretty much, EXACTLY the kind of “god” i feel, which “operates” this plane of existence. this “god” both “exists” and “does not exist”, at the same time, creating no contradictions. this “god” is both “illogical” and “logical” at the same time, creating no contradictions…

and if you don’t understand this, you probably think i’m crazy.

so be it.

this sanskrit shloka, part of Nirvanashatkam is, pretty much, exactly what i believe about myself: i may have all these things holding me back; depression, anhedonia, a brain injury, etc., but those are relics of 60 years of living in this plane of existence. in spite of how “real” these things are, in spite of how “real” these things seem to be TO ME, they are NOT “who i am”, in the “real” sense of the word. i am beyond all this: i “really” exist in a realm where “good” and “evil” are two sides of the same coin… and that “coin” is worth less than a penny.

🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬‼

ever since he was born, i have been afraid that i will be forced into the situation where i have to apologise to my son for bringing him into a world that, through no fault of his own, is going to end, for all intents and purposes, before his life will end. to me, it seems a large amount of irresponsible, to have brought a being into the world, who is faced with his own death, before his time, especially since i seem to be charmed when it comes to the potential of my life ending before my time.

and it’s even harder for me, because i have been fighting my entire adult life to change the things that i can, that would lead to my not having to offer that apology.

ezra, i’m sorry that the world is such a fucked up place. i’m sorry i brought you into this world, with no way to change it. i’m sorry you have to share this world with people who don’t care that it will end before your lifetime is complete.

A Grim New Definition of Generation X
by Ted Rall – 191231

People born in the 1960s may be the last human beings who will get to live out their full actuarial life expectancies. “Climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat” to humanity, warns a recent policy paper by an Australian think tank. Civilization, scientists say, could collapse by 2050. Some people may survive. Not many.

Some dismiss such purveyors of apocalyptic prognoses as hysterics. To the contrary, they’re Pollyannas. Every previous “worst-case scenario” prediction for the climate has turned out to have understated the gravity of the situation. “Paleoclimatologists have shown that past warming episodes show that there are mechanisms which magnify its effects, not represented in current climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the Paris Accords,” reports The Independent. It’s probably too optimistic to assume that we’ll make it to 2050.

Gives new meaning to Generation X.

Millennials and the children we call Generation Z face the horrifying prospect that they will get stuck with the tab for humanity’s centuries-long rape of planet earth, the mass desecration of which radically accelerated after 1950. There is an intolerably high chance that today’s young people will starve to death, die of thirst, be killed by a superstorm, succumb to a new disease, boil to death, asphyxiate from air pollution, be murdered in a riot or shot or blown up in a war sparked by environmentally-related political instability long before they survive to old age.

Long threatened, never taken seriously, not even now that it’s staring us right in the face, human extinction is coming for the children and grandchildren we claim to love but won’t lift a finger to save.

Shelves sag under the weight of books that have been written arguing that we still have a chance to save ourselves. I wish I could believe that. Human population has tripled since the 1950s. More than a million species have gone extinct. Ninety percent of the fish in the ocean have vanished, replaced by one billion tons of plastic. Two-thirds of the trees have been cut down. The polar ice cap is gone; it’s never coming back.

We can’t stop global warming. An increase of four degrees Celsius over the baseline set at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution means game over. We’re well on our way there. It doesn’t make sense to think that we can avoid extinction.

What if we woke up and demanded action from our political leaders? Radical problems require radical solutions; only the most radical of solutions could resolve the most radical problem of ruining our planet’s ability to sustain us: revolution. We would have to rise up and abolish — immediately — consumer capitalism in all the major greenhouse gas-producing nations, prioritize cleaning the environment as the human race’s top concern, and pivot to an economic mindset in which we extract the bare minimum from the ecosystem that we need in order to survive and nothing more.

Voting might achieve some incremental reforms but reform falls far short of what we require. Saving our young people (and their children, should they be foolish enough to have any) would require global revolution, the violent overthrow of the ruling elites and replacing them with people who understand what must be done. It would need to happen today. Fifty years ago would be better. Got a time machine?

None of this is going to happen. We are going to sleepwalk to our doom in a haze of social media and corporate entertainment distraction.

So it’s time for people who are younger than I am to start thinking about how they want to spend the rest of their likely-to-be-truncated lives, and how they plan to face mass premature death.

Pending human extinction destroys the answers provided by religion and philosophy. Knowing that there won’t be anyone to know that we were ever here raises the question: why bother to do anything? This column, this year’s “important” presidential election, love, hate, everything will lose its meaning when the last member of our species draws her last breath. Earth is unlikely to be visited by an alien archaeologist, much less uncover everything we’ve made and created (assuming any of it survives), much less figure out what any of it meant, before the sun expands into a red giant and ends it all.

Much is to be said for hedonism: eat, drink, have sex, and don’t bother to sort your recycling, for tomorrow we die. Stoicism has its advantages too; go out with dignity rather than weeping and gnashing your teeth and making your fellow survivors miserable.

Nihilism is about to become the best worst possible life strategy. Life is meaningless. That will soon become obvious. Moral principles, relics of a time with a future, will blow away like the irradiated dust we leave behind.

None of this will have mattered.