Book Review: The Mueller Report

The Mueller Report by Robert S. Mueller makes for a somewhat different kind of book review.

Well, I did it. I slugged through the entire report. It’s all free online, don’t even have to steal it.

As eBooks go, this is not the most entertaining page-turner. There are a lot of footnotes, for example, which tend to interrupt the flow.

Moreover, as a narrative this is one of the all-time most anticlimactic stories ever told.

Rather than a book to be judged on its own merits, it’s really more about the news cycle context than anything else.

All this makes it rather difficult to review.

But let us try. Firstly, the context of Volume I: This section heavily details Russian interference in that infamous 2016 election via social media spamming as well the DNC hack. Is this still a controversial fact in some circles? If you are interested in learning about the IRA—the Internet Research Agency—this report is as good a source as any. If you dismiss it as a left-wing conspiracy theory fake news or something, then apparently nothing will truly convince especially some legalistic government report.

The schizophrenia of the U.S. government at this time is quite fascinating, how the highest level of the executive branch can have such a different spin than the entire intelligence apparatus (although recent tweets may have finally admitted that he had help, if tweets are something we are going to get into then).

Which perhaps is the whole point. In these post-truth times, can anyone be convinced of anything anymore?

Then we have endless detail on collusion. Yes, outright collusion. There’s a colorful cast of characters, such as foreign policy “expert” George Papadopoulos and the ever-present diplomat Sergey Kislyak. There’s Richard Gates, Roger Stone, and of course Don Jr. and the big tower meeting. What a stream of reports and reports and reports about how much they welcomed Russian help and even tried and failed to further collude but couldn’t get as far as they’d have liked due to incompetence.

It does not make for a very satisfying read. To learn all this, and then find out that the legal definition for conspiracy is so narrow that they ultimately find it inconclusive and ultimately don’t charge the big guy. Cue the insipid right-wing exoneration talking points.

One particularly close example of what may be illegal, as far as specifically trading campaign work for favors, is the question of the Republican party changing their stance on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine at the RNC convention. This highlights the entire problem with the report right there–we have a question that is unanswered. Did or didn’t officials in the campaign trade influence? This subject even part of the written answers with the president, which were dismissed and sadly not followed up on. More on that failure of a Q & A below.

These near-misses continue; again and again it’s a running theme. Was it illegal for Don Jr. to have a meeting with Russians, whether or not it was really about adoptions? The answer is yes, due to campaign finance law, that’s clearly against the law. But then… they say let’s go ahead and not charge him because he probably didn’t know it was illegal and it would be hard to prove intent in court and whatever in this case ignorance of the law is apparently a valid excuse.

So much painstaking research, and so much giving up. These impossible standards keep making it frustrating for the reader.

Not that there aren’t plenty of convictions and crimes uncovered. Paul Manafort was a pretty large get, let’s acknowledge that. But when it comes to the most powerful of the powerful, there is a sense of exasperation. That in the end, America is about protecting those who are too big to lose and the system will always find a way to make sure those on top will never face the consequences they deserve.

And at least we reach Volume II: Obstruction. Here is where it may or may not get good. There are the ten examples of the president unambiguously obstructing justice to the best of his ability. Public witness-tampering, changing the story on firing Comey, live on TV no less, demands of loyalty, et al. There’s quite a lot of that whole thing.

[And please don’t give me that line about how there can’t be obstruction if there’s no underlying crime. 1: That’s not true, period. If it was true, wouldn’t it be an incentive to obstruct because if it works criminals would get away with the crime? 2: More importantly, there were so many crimes! The president’s own personal lawyer Cohen lied about the Moscow tower, is in jail now, and let’s not even get into the campaign finance violation with the porn star affair hush money. If nothing else simply firing Comey in order to protect his friend Michael Flynn, a convicted criminal, then that is clearly obstructing justice. It’s not only about evidence of collusion/conspiracy at the top. There’s still plenty of obstructing investigations if only to protect his dirty circle. If that’s not corrupt, what is?]

So, then it all ends in a pathetically lame copout in which DOJ guidelines say they can’t indict so they don’t bother indicting. Yes, Mueller went on television trying to explain his logic puzzle of how you can’t charge a crime against someone who can’t go to trial, even though at the same time it’s not an exoneration, punting to Congress as he hints that only they can hold the office to account. Yeah, like oversight is going to go well.

This is the core frustration of this document, and of this entire era we live in. It is postmodern enough that everybody gets their own talking point. You get to interpret the entire investigation however you want. Witch hunt or a valid call for impeachment, pick and chose your own interpretation. Attorney General Barr certainly wants you to interpret it in a political way that benefits his side, based on his initial coverup-y behavior. Mueller simply wants you to be smart enough to read 400 pages and decide for yourself (one of the most naïve positions possible in this age).

In the end, everyone is unsatisfied and the waters couldn’t be muddier. So if you want a sense of closure after reading this, you will still have a long while to wait as we see how history unfolds. So far, to put it lightly, I’m not sensing anything close to a national consensus in the near future.

Isn’t it amazing? This was supposed to be it, and the polls show that right-wingers still believe what they believe, they even have a few quotes to highlight to defend their extreme rationalizations. While the rest of the country vaguely listen to mainstream news summations and have ever so slightly leaned towards kinda’ maybe let’s-investigate-more-and-maybe-impeach-even-though-it’s-for-naught-cause-of-the-Senate.

Sadly, it seems that perhaps obstruction totally works and the people will never know. The appendix in which the president submits his written answers are certainly more of the same. Mueller even says more or less outright that the questionnaire isn’t enough, but he must give up because a subpoena would take too long and he wants to get this damn thing over with. Over thirty answers of “I don’t remember” with no chance to follow up. Once again, the system let’s the powerful get away with anything.

Hell, perhaps all the good stuff is redacted. There are a lot of redactions. So if this is a coverup, then one can only conclude that coverups work.

The story is still continuing. The television drama won’t be over any time soon. In the meantime, the vast majority of Americans will not read this free report. They won’t even read the summaries.

I suppose all that’s left is to depend on the Democrats, and that is a sad notion indeed.

The country is in trouble.

For these reasons above, for this humble reader at this particular time in history, one can only judge this book however full of facts to be a terrible disappointment.

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2011 – 2012: Growing up, turning 30, weddings, and the end of the world

Previous: 2009 to 2010  The Expat Life: A new decade living it up in Shenzhen, China 

Read all at Webtoons.com

2011 and 2012, beginning with my Guangzhou year. Didn’t work out well, so I returned to Shenzhen. Meanwhile so much travel, all over Southeast Asia and returns to Israel and Japan. Plus foreshadowing in Taiwan, and Hipster Pacific Northwest too. And I go to both my sister’s wedding and my best friend’s wedding. Growing up!

 

2009 – 2010 comics: Experiencing the new decade as an expat in China

Previous: 2007 to 2008 How Burning Man and psychedelics led me to China

Read all at Webtoons.com

2009 and 2010, the beginnings of a new decade, as I become acclimated to life in Shenzhen/Hong Kong and have fun traveling in Southeast Asia (and America), and family stuff… plus I start dating somewhat regularly. Crazy, right?

 

Wishing a Happy 2019! And may this all be over with soon…

Happy New Year!

So at this time of reflection, I think back on 2018 and all that’s happened. It was yet another great personal year, while the world around seemed to fall apart…

Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention, my own big news is that I’ve been working on my autobiographical comic Always Goodbye. Stay tuned for more. Eventually, a completed book. (Guess this is replacing my ‘career’ as a prose author, huh)

This past year I moved to the more central part of Taipei, and I’m continuing to enjoy living in Taiwan. As more and more news develops from the bamboo curtain–like that social credit score everyone is talking about but I’m not even going to get into–I’m quite glad to have escaped the People’s Republic.

I kind of did a ridiculous amount of travel in ’18. I started out last New Year’s in Japan,  then went to Africa,  and in the summer I returned to America to sadly sell my entire comics collection. For 2019, I plan to not get into an airplane even once.

And there were a whole lot of superhero movies.

As for the rest of the world. Well, politics. It was an exhausting year in which most things seem to have gotten worse, but there was also a bit of hope. Personally, I’m so very over it. Perhaps it’s all finally coming to a head. This chapter of history needs to close already, doesn’t it?

It’s been a while since I felt like writing an entire overt political post, and I’m sure you all know by now how I truly feel. American has learned some dark things about itself, and the time has come to get better. Consequences may be in the coming. And once it’s over with, I hope to never ever say the T-word for the rest of my life because that guy has gotten enough of my bloody attention and I’d just rather focus on other things.

Well, here’s hoping!

Please have yourselves a great 2019, everyone 😀

 

Ray

 

Requiem for a Comics Collection

 

It’s been a long while.

Once upon a time, as I’ve written about before, I liked to collect comic books. It’s pretty much my favorite storytelling medium, that mix of visual and verbal with so much dynamic imagination, it’s my first love and as much as I enjoy prose and film nothing will ever compare to flipping through a picture book…

Back in 2005, so long ago, I moved to California and left my collection in my dad’s closet. Guess that was growing up.

After years of subscribing and going to the comics shop every Wednesday, and a lot of digging around at comic conventions and used bookstores, my collection was about 5,000 issues strong. It took up a lot of space.

Flash-forward to early 2008. Even before I moved abroad that year, I knew I had to get it together. I decided to take a month off my west coast life to stay in Cincinnati and sort out about half of my collection. Ebay became my full-time job. I was constantly working on the computer and going back and forth from the post office. I sold all my Marvel, manga, independents, and even more than a few toys. That amounted to half of my stuff.  If I remember correctly, I made about a thousand US dollars.

And that was the compromise. I was a big DC fan at the time, and hoped my knowledge of continuity might actually help me as an author one day, so I kept all of those. Then, as we all know, I moved all the way to China. It was a heck of a year.

I admit I didn’t have a good long-term plan. Some two dozen boxes stayed in my dad’s closet, until he eventually retired and moved and issued an ultimatum that I needed to find another storage solution. Luckily, I have friends. One was kind enough to curate them for a year, but then he went through some drama and had to move. Another good friend took them up and they remained in his grandma’s basement for another year or two. All while I lived thousands of miles away. I felt bad that these people went through so much trouble on my account, but what could I do other than say thanks and wire some gifts…

It has now been a full decade since I’ve left America, and it’s time to get it together. Let’s face facts and admit I’m not coming back any time soon. Owning two dozen heavy boxes of books simply isn’t so compatible with the expat lifestyle.

Last month, I went on my big trip to the United States. For almost the entirety of July, Bronwen and I traveled throughout my troubled country. For the first half we mostly stayed in Southern California, exploring Los Angeles and Orange County by way of Long Beach as homebase. It was a rather good trip.

For the second half of the journey, we stayed in my adopted hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Not quite as much tourist action, but she seemed to enjoy it. A good introduction to middle America, right?

It was where I grew up, where I could drive around the various neighborhoods and indulge in nostalgia, and a good middle ground where my relatives from Indiana and Florida and old friends from east coast could all come together to meet me once again… And, of course, where my comics were.

The family and friends and sight-seeing where all important parts of the trip. But this post is about the comics.

Suffice to say, it was not easy juggling so much in such a short time. Not to mention the workout of dragging all those boxes from house to house. My apologies to anyone who felt left out as I sorted out all that stuff.

 

Anyway, my little sister had agreed to help me sell some on Ebay (my own Ebay account had long since deactivated in the ensuing decade). I didn’t have time to organize the entire collection, but I did post a select few which I thought could get a good price.

There was the New Teen Titans, from the 1980s and up:

 

The complete 2000s JSA/Justice Society by Geoff Johns, including his first work Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. and Hawkman and more:

 

Sadly, the entire 1980s-1990s Justice League International by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis wasn’t more popular for some reason, though that fun-loving run is among the best to me:

 

One thing I did discover about Ebay is that it’s much easier to post graphic novels as books rather than organize hundreds of magazine issues. If you type in the ISBN, it not only gives you the stock photo but even suggests a price. Fine by me! I decided to sell the remaining dozen or so graphic novels that way, sold about half of them for five to ten dollars each, and it only took two trips to the post office.

Leaving a substantial percentage for my little sister’s PayPal as a gift, because I try to be a decent brother.

 

Meanwhile, mailing out full runs box-by-box just wasn’t feasible. So I decided to post a summary on both Craigslist, and that new Facebook Marketplace, pitching anyone to come by to my hotel and look through the entire lot and negotiate a price.

That wasn’t not weird, is it?

 

https://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bks/d/dc-comics-mega-collection/6641380143.html

DC COMICS MEGA-COLLECTION FOR SALE, from the 80s and 90s and 2000s! Massive sets of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League International, Teen Titans, Legion – thousands of comics by such creators as Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, and much more!

I am selling my entire comic collection consisting of several thousand which I have built up over many years. This is a great deal because I am moving and simply trying to pass them on quickly to a fan. 

Please come by personally to check them out in Blue Ash, Cincinnati and then we can agree on an exact price. For example, if you want the entire set for a bulk purchase in the four-figures, that’s possible. Or, more specifically, I can sell some of these various bundles of hundreds per set for a two- to three-figure sum each:

All comics are in very fine to near mint condition unless otherwise stated. Please message me for more details and the whole inventory…

-Superman 90s and 90s: reboot by John Byrne starting from issue #1, Death and Rebirth of Superman era by Dan Jurgens, featuring many extra Supergirl and Superboy issues and even some Shazam!

-Superman 2000s: featuring the Y2K and Our Worlds at War/Imperiex War crossover, many issues by Geoff Johns and also Birthright by Waid

-Batman: bundle particularly with lots of spinoff issues of Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey written by Chuck Dixon; plus even old Outsiders

-Wonder Woman: massive bundle starting from issue #1 with the George Perez post-Crisis reboot, as well as John Byrne’s 90s run and Phil Jimenz in the 2000s and many more

-Complete 80s Justice League! This huge bundle features the entire run of the classic 80s Justice League International era by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMattis “Bawahaha” comedy era #1-60, plus many more with some Firestorm thrown in 

-The New Teen Titans: huge bundle of the 80s Marv Wolfman and George Perez era of the Titans starting from #1 on to the Judas Contract with Slade/Deathstroke the Terminator, and lots of extras from latter decades…

-Geoff Johns MEGA bundle with complete Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. that started it all plus Teen Titans, and Flash Rebirth!

-Infinite Crisis 2005 crossover by Geoff Johns including Villains United and the Secret Six series by Gail Simone, Villains United

-Justice Society by Geoff Johns: The complete JSA by Geoff Johns, plus various Starman issues by James Robinson as well as Spectre and old 80s All-Star Squadron and Johns’ Hawkman plus more 

-90s Young Justice by Peter David, and others by the acclaimed writer

-52 by Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison: complete set plus spinoffs from of the epic ‘real-time’ comic from the 2000s of the year skip

-Grant Morrison bundle featuring the complete Seven Soldiers of Victory, All-Star Superman, Final Crisis, Batman and more from the mad genius DC writer

-Grant Morrison Vertigo bundle! Featuring complete runs of his hard-to-find brilliant miniseries such as the complete Flex Mentallo, We3, Sea Guy, Vimanarama, Joe the Barbarian, plus some Doom Patrol

-DC crossovers! Zero Hour, Invasion!, Millenium, Joker’s Last Laugh, Identity Crisis, and Tons of DC crossovers from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s featuring all the iconic superheroes saving the universe

-Legion of Superheroes from the 80s – and even some 70s and 60s – and 2000s: massive bundle of Legion issues by with a couple of valuable Silver Age ones, many Paul Levitz classics both pre-Crisis and post-Crisis, and also the first issues of the Mark Waid ‘threeboot’ in the 2000s

-Complete Legion of Superheroes 90s reboot: every single one of the post-Zero Hour reboot by Mark Waid & more. Giant set of Legion and Legionnaires and Legion Lost and more spinoffs!

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Fire and Fury review, or Too Much F*cking Tr*mp

Although it’s not my primary focus, I do write about politics on occasion (it has been a while). I try to stay informed, and as an American I hope I have well-thought out opinions worth sharing. And, of course, these days how can one not pay attention!

Coupling that with my propensity to write book reviews, I would like to go outside of my lane a bit and do an extensive review of the explosive new book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

No doubt you’ve heard of it, as well as all the fallout. This is my take.

Overall I think the book is excellent and damn what a fascinating read, but there is a certain challenge in it. Not that I think criticisms of the accuracy are what’s wrong—I will defend them below. But the problem is that that living in this age and rehashing the past year has been very mentally stressful. And at the same time to read, there’s keeping up with the endless barrage of new scandals which threatens to overwhelm my feeble mind.

Simply put, too much fucking Tr*mp. I get conflicted because this is important and worth paying attention to. Yet the sad fact of it is that he is the history’s all-time greatest attention whore and good or bad press he no doubt relishes in all the constant fretting. Note that in my small way I try to rebel against this by hereafter only referring to Prez you-know-who as 45.

As to the merits of the book, here I go: I genuinely think it is excellent and everyone should read it. It came at the right time, just when one may worry that we are getting used to it and normalization has set in, this amazing story was suddenly published to usher in more fresh outrages. And fatigue or not, outrages is the sensible reaction. Michael Wolff has done a great service.

Starting from the scene of election night at the campaign when they shockingly won, the premise from the get-go that no one expected him to win. The campaign was a terrible mess, as was reported on at the time, thought the one guy who believed he could make it happen was Bannon. From beginning to end, Bannon is certainly the protagonist of the book.

Wolff lays out the insanity of recent history in a readable and dare I say entertaining manner. It’s not only the dry facts, but a narrative arc that somehow all makes sense. Some may criticize that but I think it is a perfectly fair way engage the reader. There is even commentary on the reality show nature of the current presidency to create this sort of drama, which we’ve all been witnessing. Usually history is made sense of and turned into story long after the fact, but this is the new postmodern age isn’t it? Wolff is simply transcribing in the most appropriate way possible.

Some may think it grossly irresponsible for Wolff to relay rumors, but so far there isn’t anything specific which has turned out not to be true. No one has denied any quotes. Wolff is upfront in the book when the same events often have competing interpretations from different camps. I find the author’s judgment to always be fair. If there are later corrections made then so be it.

If one can just call a spade a spade, we know it’s all basically true. Like, the way the book states that 45 hated his own inauguration and was visibly fighting with Melania. Anyone can watch the videos to know this is truth. Another example that comes to mind is when Bannon gave the speech at CPAC which was a dig at Jared, it’s obvious! All the behind the scenes footage is valid and America knows it. Above all, the glaringly open secret that 45 is an idiot and everyone who works for him constantly talks about it.

Moreover, the rumory nature of the book is what has gotten headlines but for the most part it’s about Michael Wolff’s analysis of public happenings than just the gossip. Wolff, in omniscient narrator fashion, gives thorough critical examination to the firings and the scandals and panic, and without the lame partisanship in so much punditry. Although the central theme that 45 is shallow and empty and doesn’t read and constantly watches TV (an interesting term, he’s “post-literate”) and he can’t control his worst impulses and who refuses to even know that he doesn’t know, barring that overall important point the other characters are indeed analyzed with respect. There’s still more to learn about 45 beyond his mere stupidity, like the way he prefers loyalty of women. There are the the occasional pop psychological riffs on his motivations to just be liked, paternal-related and otherwise.

In any case, 45 and his defenders have rather had an enormous problem with the concept of objective truth… So why listen to their attacks on Wolff? I for one trust the leaks.

Michael Wolff is clearly talented at writing about politics in surprising ways. For example, he does repeatedly criticize the so-called liberal media. Makes it all the more poignant when he explains the world of right-wing media with its far lower standards of entry. And after all the due respect given to the original core members of the cabinet, it can’t be denied that the unqualified Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller’s promotions towards the end show an absolute problem with finding professional staff. Wolff simply, as they say, tells it like it is. 

One of the most haunting analyses that come to mind is when white supremacist Richard Spencer is declared to be the intellectual base of “Trumpism”, which is all the more a horrifying concept because the more one thinks about it the more it can’t be denied to be true.

Overall, the book is about the disastrous and chaotic infighting which took place in the White House. From chiefs of staff Preibus to Kelly, when it all settles we find ourselves nearly caught up in the low morale present. There’s the Scaramucci affair, which turns out to be yet worse knowing the backstory. Often it’s 45’s own family, Jared and Ivanka, who are the worst of the worst.

If Bannon is the main character, then the utterly incompetent “Jarvanka” family faction proves to be the antagonist. Spoiler: They win in the end. It’s hard to say if that’s a happy or sad ending.

In satisfying faction, by the time of the infamous Charlottesville “many sides” comment, absolutely everybody knows that 45 is a lost cause who cannot do this job. Not to mention the tweets. Then there’s the growing Russian scandal, which initially is given a lot of skepticism but grows worse and worse veering into that incredibly inept Comey firing and then revelations of inexplicable meetings and subsequent coverups and obstruction of justice allegations and Rosenstein’s revenge in the form of the Mueller Special Counsel. By the conclusion no less an authority than Bannon himself has to admit that eventually this will bring the administration down.

Because we are living this, the story goes on.

The odds indeed are very high that scandal is going to take this administration down, perhaps even soon, but for a reader who has learned so much I am left wondering why the hell it is taking so long.

At last, Bannon loses his job but remains hopeful for the future of his outsider revolution, and the book ends with as much feeling of closure that can be expected. Yet, now we know that due to the fallout of the book Bannon has even been let go from his Breitbart, which does seem just. I just hope to read in the paperback updated edition of Michael Wolff’s take on the latest.

A recurring motif is that 45 as such an anomaly to everyone in Washington, with everyone who doubted the loud-mouthed reality show host having to reluctantly work with what they have. Sadly, as true as the strangeness of this strange chapter of American history is, Wolff does leave something out after all that focus on 45 and his ilk. The question still remains on how America—even if not due to the majority of voters—could let this happen. How can this train wreck of a government have happened and so many citizens supporting such chaos and bigotry and corruption? Those questions may have to be answered by future historians after far more time passes.

Meanwhile, Wolff did his best to explain the inner workings withing Fire and Fury and America must wait and see to further understand and reflect.

Disgusted. Horrified. Enraged. I don’t really have the words…

I don’t know what else I can say about the current events. No doubt you all know what is bothering me. That time I concluded America is irreconcilable seems to apply. I don’t even want to get into the details now, it’s too damn much.

I simply do not feel like summing up the events of the last few days in you-know-where and the comments by you-know-who. All I can say is just when it seems it can’t get any more disgraceful and internationally embarrassing, new depths are uncovered. Surely we cannot get used to this?

I especially don’t feel like calmly debating the merits of opposing racism and why Nazism is a uniquely negative thing compared to other forms of protest. The very normalization and mainstreaming of white supremacy is of itself outrageous.

Well, thanks for ruining everything Internet!

But really, I mean, there are so many other things politically that the United States and the world should be focusing on. Shouldn’t unequivocally denouncing Nazism be the lowest possible bloody standard?! Sadly, there’s a lot of backtracking and soul-searching to be done before anything else can progress. It is overwhelming to think about how much education is needed.

I also must say that I feel rather guilty for not being in the United States at this time. I wish I could do more. Here I am, comfortably typing from thousands of miles away. I should be there and I should be doing more. Another sadder part of me however is glad that I am thousands of miles away and not in that weird country. If there was ever a time to be a citizen of the world, or what.

And now here we are. A fringe group known as the alt right, the worst possible people in the heart of my homeland, the very worst of America, and they are actually being encouraged by the highest levels of government. I will never understand how we got here. Turns out I was rather naive wasn’t I.

It will be interesting to see what will be in the next three years. Impeachment cannot come soon enough. The tweeting and the impromptu press conferences and petty party (and tribal) politics, all of that needs to be over. We cannot take any more of this.

In the meantime, it won’t be easy to keep sane. I wish the good guys luck.

 

Anyway, the very least I can do is share this extremely important and extremely distrurbing Vice report which absolutely everyone must see:

 

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Cyberwarfare: Finally, welcome to the new normal of 21st Century poltics

 

In my series of political blogs of which I am in now way qualified to write (the last one’s concluding America is irreconcilable), I would like to explore the topic of cyberwarfare. Note that I am just one American citizen who tries to be thoughtful and learn what I can. Maybe I am slightly more worldly than average. Mainly, I simply like to think about these things and I occasionally share. If my perspective matters, here you are.

Let us think about the big picture a bit. Looking back on this time in the future, how will future generations remember the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st Century?

So, I recently made a Facebook post in an attempt to sum up my current thoughts as pithily as possible:

 

Been thinking about the real narrative that will define the 21st century: Cyberwarfare

Russia now attacking the United Kingdom, completely devastating the Ukraine, failing in France, and of course there is the fall of the former United States of the America. DNC hack a premonition of much more to come? The previous American administration revealed to have completely blown it, and the current administration along with their cult-like followers refusing to acknowledge this is happening (either for reasons of politically not being able to admit it, or more disturbingly because of collusion).

This is the future that cyberpunk science fiction promised us all these years. It’s finally here. Except it turns out not to be terrorist hacker kids to worry about, but entire nation-states—incidentally, the threat of Islamic terrorism may turn out to be a minor footnote in the grand scheme of all this.

2016 was only the beginning. We are in the middle of it right now, but we are too close to realize how big a deal this is. China’s PLA seems to know what they are doing, especially relative to the western powers. Israel seems very compromised by that American administration. So many players, from the ransomware attempts to IS and the entire European Union, who knows what is to come next and who is going to survive the century. Misinformation and illegitimate democracy, oh my.

Comey tried to warn us, “They are coming after America. They will be back.” He may have understated it.

The FBI and CIA better lax their standards, and hire potheads already.

It looks like the next world war is going to be a cyberwar…

The 21st century is going to be quite a ride

 

And that is about it. I contend that we are in even more extraordinary times than we even know, and we already know crazy shit is going down.

I refer you to this important article from Wired: How an Entire Nation Became Russia’s Test Lab For Cyberwar. This is very likely a blueprint for what is to come indeed. Unfortunate for the Ukraine, and the west can’t even seem to this warning seriously…

I’ve given this a lot of thought. The talking point defense of that certain executive branch it is that we should be skeptical of Russia-bashing. And also be against the deep state, or something. Right?

I just can’t buy it. To suggest that the intelligence agencies are unanimously in on a conspiracy to discredit the 2016 election is outrageous. It is on par with 9/11 conspiracies, in which hundreds of people would be in on it. Sorry but I can no longer live in conspiracy lala land, and we must deal with verifiable reality. There is definitely fire where there is smoke this time. Something is happening.

The DNC hack was *not* a false flag framing Russia. This developing investigation is *not* just an excuse to explain why the democrats lost. Outright cyberwarfare *is* happening in the Ukraine. And Putin is certainly no good guy fighting against some evil globalist status quo.

(Incidentally, it would be nice if republicans were so skeptical back in the days when the American gov was pushing the invasion of Iraq based off false WMD intelligence. Then again the mistakes of that era were pushed by the executive branch, so perhaps the lesson is that we should trust the independent agencies and distrust the politicians with corrupt agendas…?)

I have to admit I wasn’t sure about this at first. There was enough reason to oppose the monster in the office of president without getting into hacking and traitors and such. But concerned humans can no longer ignore the new reality. And waiting for 2020, or even horrifyingly 2024, to go back to “normal” is not enough. We now need to prepare for a century of cyberwarfare if we know what’s good for us.

Keep following the Washington Post for updates. Don’t follow you-know-who’s Twitter account. Obama failed us in preventing the fall of legitimate democracy in the United States if not the western world. Now the world must deal with an executive branch either guilty of collusion or in the best-case scenario they are merely incredibly incompetent. Russia is ahead of the game. China seems to know what they are doing, as America and their ally Israel are falling way behind. At least Europeans voters are getting savvy.

For fuck’s sake, American intelligence agencies just need to hire stoner hackers to keep up. Get it together already.

In a way, these are exciting times. Hey in the past week there’s even been a new international ransomware attack. It’s like Mr. Robot, except the stakes are even worse because these are entire nation-states fighting against each other.

Meanwhile the masses are easily distracted and the middle-America set would rather ban Mexicans and Iranians — but never the Saudis — than deal with the actual major threat. Misinformation is at an all-time high. Thanks, Internet!

 

Well, that’s that. And all the while I just wish I was raised to be better at computers. Why oh why didn’t I learn code??

 

Stay secure and vigilant, citizens of the world~

America is irreconcilable

There has been so much in the news lately to fret over, hasn’t there~

With the 100 days marker having come and gone, there’s been plenty of review over how horrible this current administration is.

Luckily, if you call that luck, it seems that the problem hasn’t turned out so much to be ruthless fascism but instead it’s simply that the president is a total idiot and his people are completely incompetent. What else to expect from such a lying con artist? So not much at all has been accomplished, other than the very low bar of not a government shutdown and that they narrowly approved a supreme court justice which should have been a sure thing anyway.

Overall, the main takeaway is that the whole world is in an anxious mess worrying about what madness is to come next. The point is, constant worrying is apparently the new normal. Try rejecting that normalization.

Hell, perhaps my analysis last month that America is without a President is correct and we can hold out for hope if we only wait patiently. There’s even the interpretation that this mess is in a partisan political sense, because the party with record-low approval ratings may have technically won but in the long term the other party is going to make gains next.

But you know what? Fuck that interpretation. Too much damage has already been done to the American character. It’s not worth it.

I for one am sick of the double-standard in which America’s default is to have idiotic leadership, and the rational leadership has to try that much harder. Just why is it that everything is Clinton’s fault (which she herself has to acknowledge) but the right can get away with anything? Is this truly how the system works, that the left has to be perfectly flawless and excite voter turnout and have a charismatic leader at all times, and anything less that that must result in America being like this? Seriously, it’s not enough to win by 3 million votes!

What a ridiculously broken system.

In fact, I am currently debating with myself whether my moral next step is is to figure out how give up American citizenship altogether or to register to vote in my home swing state of Ohio. That’s a lot of inner conflict.

 

Anyway, I do have a point to get at. I think that America is irreconcilable. The nation-state as a thing is probably over. The nationalist surges around the world are the death throws of a failed system, and whatever corporate dystopia that is to come may or may not be that bad but in any case don’t depend on the government to take care of the people. Whether one wants healthcare or bringing back factory jobs, it’s not going to work. And it raises the question if there is much reason to have such things as nation-states anymore.

The reason that the situation is irreconcilable, in America specifically, is mostly because of the stupidity and bigotry of the people. Yeah, that makes me an arrogant liberal or something to say that out loud. Now it’s bad political strategy to admit it, or whatever.

But come on. The latest extreme confirmation of this is the recent poll that shows 98% of those voters do not regret their vote. Doesn’t get much more dire for faith in humanity than that.

I can only conclude that it is useless to debate with these people. No matter what happens, no matter what executive orders fail or what petty tweets praise dictators, a major segment of the American population is literally in a cult of personality. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. These people will declare any information they don’t like as fake news. They may not be the majority, but the pendulum swinging back and forth no longer matters. The whole system is a lost cause.

It’s interesting to note that the the latest bizarre statement controversy is about the Civil War, y’know those shockingly ignorant comments about Andrew Jackson. It makes one one wonder if it was a mistake to preserve the Union, and if the South should have been left alone to become a failed state without the support of the North. But then, that wouldn’t have been very good for the slaves, and slavery is the obvious historical reason for the Civil war no matter what neo-confederate racists think.

I just can’t even try to empathize with these people anymore. They are not my people. We have nothing in common. Maybe they should just have their own country and leave the rest of the world alone. Fine, try out your traditional values/theocratic form of government. While I do feel bad for the minorities who suffer under this, perhaps the best-case scenario is that they move somewhere better. Nowhere’s perfect, but truly some places are a lot worse.

And I honestly hope that the California secessionist movement takes off and the state becomes it’s own country. In that case, I would be proud to be a California citizen. Would definitely solve my personal quandary.

 

Anyway, this is old news from 2013 but I find it more pertinent that ever. Check out this theory from Colin Woodard about how the country should more accurately be referred to as 11 nations — including Canada and Mexico by the way. More a cultural North American thing, than that that outdated nation-state with borders thing.

This truly explains it so well. I may be a Midlander myself, but Yankees and Left Coasters for all their flaws are alright and can at least run a decent country and economy with a minimal decency of human rights. I blame those voters in the Far West and Deep South who have irrevocably ruined it all for western civilization.

And that there is all the sense I can make of it:

 

NPR – Forget the 50 States: The U.S. Is Really 11 Nations, Author Says

Washington Post – Which of the 11 American Nations Do You Live In

 

 

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America without a president

Once again, I feel that I should share my personal musings on the American political situation. We are now in the, what, middle of the month 2? It both seems that the times have gone by so fast, and after all the crap overload it also felt likes it’s been forever. Anyway this is my general update.

Near as I can tell, the most I can come up with for an optimistic interpretation of current events is that basically America does not have a president at all.

Think about it. No one is in charge.

Even if you live in bigoted right-wing bubble-land, in which it’s been “carnage” and the country needs fascism or whatever to fight the evils of centrist democrats, what exactly has been accomplished so far? The only real action was the oppressive travel ban, a disaster by any measure, and now there’s a new lighter version (which still makes no sense, they can’t even cite any terrorist threat from those six countries since Iraq was taken off the list. There’s no cited threat from refugees of any of those countries!) which my very well may be also overturned by a court .

Apparently, with all the nonstop Russian revelation scandals, the new narrative is it’s all because of… Obama! That boogeyman role just won’t go away. Funny how if you believe in that then you get to blame your own failings on the opposition forever. More on being divorced from reality below.

Even with the GOP controlling both houses, the repealing and replacing of Obamacare is a train wreck of nothing getting done. Why is it so hard after years of criticizing the healthcare plan? The president is supposed to get his way with his party in charge of the legislative, and yet still there is nothing. Hell, the only thing both sides of the aisle seem to agree on is that the new healthcare plan sucks.

And there is the fact that hundreds of administrative positions are still yet to be filled, because there are “too many government jobs.” Apparently this is due to real-president Bannon, who has said he wants to dismantle the permanent administrative state.

So in conclusion, this is not a real government. This is a shell of a government, with a TV president. Anything at all worth supporting exists only in the minds of the cult of the right-wing media bubble, and the entire world outside that audience demographic is looking on in horror as America just phones it in. All for show, and a shit show at that.

This is bad. Very bad. But perhaps, in a way, it’s not that bad. At the very least, we can know that these people are to incompetent to even run their fantasy tyrannical dictatorship.

 

So, of course I have to mention the latest tweets. What can I say? This is undeniable proof that the guy supposedly in charge doesn’t understand how his job works. He doesn’t understand anything about government, he doesn’t understand the separation of powers, which is kind of a big deal. Most bizarrely of all, he doesn’t even think to simply ask his employees if his predecessor illegally wiretapped him. His whole role of commander is to generate controversy on the internet and that’s about it.

Rather than ask his damn employees, this guy–who we know literally spends more time on Twitter than national security meetings–reads something unsubstantiated from the right-wing bubblesphere and proceeds to go on an embarrassing tweet rant. Why would he do that? What is the point of disrespecting the office of president so very deeply?  Is it really that worth it to rally his ever-shrinking base by whining about Obama, if that’s what it is, and therefore accomplish absolutely nothing other than making him impossible to work with?

No doubt law enforcement is not into this. This can’t be good for the FBI, CIA, NSA, and every other organization who reportedly no longer give classified information to their boss because of the valid fear of Russian leaks.

Maybe the true mark of this new era is that it doesn’t really matter anymore who is president. From here on, it’s just going to be idiot celebrities.

Ha, and can you believe that everyone was so impressed with the whole “the time for trivial fights is over” speech?? What a joke that pivot was! I repeat: HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

It’s like, I used to believe that when someone becomes president the secret masters of the universe would take him to a back room and explain how the system really works. I assumed that happened to Obama, because honestly he did sell out on many issues. But with this guy, I don’t think those who really run things took him to the back room. I think they ignored him

Therefore, basically I don’t believe he’s a real president.

Sadly, in this new era of wannabe celebrity kings, many ordinary people will fall through the cracks. It’s going to be a difficult transition, and people will have to do a better job of taking care of each other as the welfare state and infrastructure slowly collapses. The environmental damage will possibly be the worst. In those few roles with which the executive branch is still doing anything, there is still tremendous damage to be done. It’s not fun for the immigrants arrested in raids, for example.

But overall, now we’ll get to see how the far society can go on when no one is in charge

And maybe just maybe it will somehow work out, and that’s the only thing there is to be mildly optimistic about.

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Reflections on the year 2016

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2016 was, to say the least, a tumultuous year.

It’s already something of a meme to say that 2016 sucks so much. And yeah, that’s largely true specifically in the political sense anyway.

However, in my personal life I can definitely declare that though it’s been hard I can claim lot of positive growth over the past year. I traveled the world, I promoted some writing, I published here and there, wrote another book, and I even moved in with my girlfriend!

There has been a lot on this very blog worth share. I reviewed, I interviewed. And although at this stage it’s hard to say if it will lead anywhere, one of my personal productive favorites of the year was starting anew on my hobby of drawing silly little comics.

In thinking over this arbitrary marking of the Earth going around the sun that we all mark on our calendars, I have thought about it most nostalgically and created a list of links below. Here, a few posts that stand out to me to sum up the crazy intensities of this most epically year:

 

In February, right after Chinese New Year, I was lucky enough to be detained by the Chinese police after attending an unlicensed rave party. I tested negative for drugs and was soon released, while sadly others I knew tested positive, leaving me with the opportunity to write what proved to be my most popular piece of writing ever. The guys over at Reddit China were somewhat opinionated. But I had my say.

Hey it even led to a piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

 

With my novel South China Morning Blues published — from Blacksmith Books, Hong Kong — in late 2015, I was very focused on promoting the book all over Shenzhen (and Guangzhou, and Hong Kong) over the beginning of the following year and on. It was a big part of my job for months on end. The highlight was definitely in March when I went to both Beijing and Chengdu for a little get-together known as the Bookworm Literary Festival.

 

The travel it did continue. I visited the great country/not country of Taiwan as part of my girlfriend Bronwen’s art residency in May. Absolutely wonderful place. There will be more on Taiwan come the next new year.

And in June it was time to go to Israel for the bi-annual visiting of the family. What a trip I met some little nieces and nephews, saw my parents, had emotions, all the while some legal complications came up and had to be dealt with.

 

One event that really stood out in the summer was the art exhibition by Bronwen and some other locally sourced artists over at Sin Sin Fine Art in Hong Kong. Great work. I happened to write an article about it.

 

At last, the dreaded subject of American politics. Over the second half of 2016, I carried on with my life and moved and wrote and promoted, meanwhile in America (totally affecting the rest of the world) it all went well and truly insane. I became rather consumed in following the politics of the horrible election cycle. Finally, of all things, I was forced to start writing political columns. The anxieties of the day before, then November’s horrific results, and a touch of conspiracy theory commentary.

Sadly, at this rate I will probably have yet more to say in 2017. A lot more. Despite the apocalyptic scenarios at hand, I’ll try to be optimistic about the new year. What’s certainly true is that nobody knows what will happen next.

 

Thus was the year. I and you survived. Thanks for paying attention to me and my humble perspective. On a concluding note, let us mourn the actual concept of truth and facts with this cartoon by Tom Tomorrow… RIP truth~

Good luck to 2017, we’ll need it!

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Politics and conspiracy theories, a personal note

The world keeps getting crazier, and I keep having to blog about it.

I give in. I am now officially a political blogger. Sorry about that.

While I am not qualified to be a proper journalist or columnist, I hope I do have something of an interesting point of view. As an American abroad who just likes to read and has a bit of an international background, I’ll share. It’s my perspective, after all, and while I’m hardly the most knowledgeable person in the world I still may have something interesting to say on occasion.

For this week’s post I’d like to talk about the current prevalence of conspiracy theories—or as some would prefer the term conspiracy fables—in the current national dialogue. This issue is in fact near and dear to me, as I have been a fan of such mythology for many years. Honestly, I am shocked that the fringe stuff me and my friends researched back in the early 2000s, which I always thought should be taken with a grain of salt, is now taken very seriously by the mainstream. Yes, the mainstream; if you won the election then you are officially the mainstream.

I feel like my favorite underground band sold out, and sold out bad.

So here’s my story. I happen have the privilege of being able to claim conspiracy theory subculture even before 9/11. I have been fascinated by all kinds of things since I was young, and perhaps it was even a bit gothy to have an interest in the occult. Certainly nerdy. Oft times I lurked the metaphysical section of my local bookstores, and absorbed much.

Honestly, look up my old conspiracy bookshelf on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636-ray?shelf=conspiracy

One crucial book that comes to mind is The Biggest Secret by noted crackpot David Icke. Yes his whole reptilian thing is a joke and the British in particular like to mock him. But his books are interesting as a sort of thought experiment in combining every New World Order/Illuminati theory into one arch crazed mindset. All those UFO ancient astronaut theories, mixed with the extreme far right and “law of attraction”-eque New Age. It’s certainly… something.

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It was in those books that I first heard of the child abuse allegations that are now so big on reddit. Basically, I thought the idea that world leaders where all pedophile Satanists to be a highly improbable worst-case scenario and not worth taking too seriously.

What I still really appreciate about my reading at the time was discovering Robert Anton Wilson, who co-wrote the epic conspiracy satire novel(s) The Illuminatus! Trilogy. RAW, in a valid mix of philosophy and psychology and science, taught that everything is subjective on some level. That there are many optional reality tunnels, and the only rational way to make it through the paranoia of conspiracy theory subculture is by way of the radical agonistic.

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And then in the autumn of 2001 it happened. 9/11 changed America and changed the world, as we all know. At the time it seemed to actually confirm some suspicions that global government and authoritarian martial law really was just around the corner. I don’t know, perhaps the weirdness bubbling under the surface in the late 90s wasn’t so much predicting the future but rather Jungian collective unconscious. Who knows.

The Bush years gave a lot to be paranoid about. First there was the stolen election, then the mandatory patriotism right after the attack, and eventually an anti-war movement which never gained enough steam as the neocons invaded Iraq. There was much to protest, even if the protesters stayed in the fringes. Eventually history proved that the WMDs were a lie and it was a tremendous mistake to nation build in the Middle East. You’d think the main antiwar movement from the time would now get more credit since then instead of the new far right.

As a thoroughly self-righteous collegiate, I ranted on Myspace about the evil government. And, while hopefully maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism, I posted links Infowars articles and watched Alex Jones documentaries about how 9/11 was an inside job…

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During the Bush years, any alternate media source was appreciated. The thing about conspiracy theories though, is that we’ll never know for sure. If something is truly covered up, one can speculate but claiming to know for sure is dangerous. Still, I was a media junkie and wanted to consider as many sides as possible. I also listened to talk radio and watched Fox News and read heavily-cited books by liberal journalists. In trying to be an independent, I was no democrat and often took up the libertarian viewpoint.

There was a lot of overlap between libertarians and conspiracy theorists in those days. The Ron Paul candidacy in 2008 even seemed hopeful. Alex Jones, while obviously nuts for the most part, did seem to be one of many sources worth at least slightly considering. He was supposed to be against all government, smashing the false left-right paradigm, an interesting character if nothing else. Now it’s all gone to hell and it turns out the worst elements of the so-called movement, like complaining about feminists, was the only side that stuck. Infowars is currently a partisan hack website that only cares about one side of the aisle, becoming even less of a viable alternative media source.

I guess it was because I moved to China during the Obama years that I didn’t realize how extreme America was getting. Although I tried not to be partisan, I certainly had to eventually conclude that the democrats are the lesser evil (if one must get into lesser and worser evils). Criticizing Obama was fine by me, on for example issues of Wall Street. But being a racist asshole saying he’s secretly an illegal immigrant was not fine by me.

I grew out of the need for fringe conspiracy theory information, choosing to instead indulge in more evidence-based reading material. I have gleamed some valuable information about the Bilderberg Group of Bohemian Grove or the Federal Reserve or what have you, but it was time for me to take that and move on. I had gotten enough out of it, I questioned the system and all that, and then I was to learn about the world in a more realistic light. Little did I know how bad it was getting in the meantime.

An article about how many of the online libertarian scene completely sold out (or lied all along) to become the alt-right: http://www.salon.com/2016/12/09/how-the-alt-right-became-racist-part-2-long-before-trump-white-nationalists-flocked-to-ron-paul/

Well, here we are in the horrifying political year of 2016, and I may have been premature in considering conspiracy theory websites to be irrelevant.

It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around it. Fine, they always leaned right, but this has gotten ridiculously hypocritical. Logically, if someone believes that 9/11 was perpetrated by the government then isn’t that a bigger deal than where Obama was secretly born or Hillary’s emails? I do not understand the priorities of conspiracy theorists anymore. I suppose most of them were bigots the entire time, easily switching from the old Birch Society days with the ‘Jews run the world’ narrative to contemporary fears of Muslim infiltration; the fact that they were anti-Bush for a while was the aberration.

 

Here we are now in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, and I have found myself arguing with grown adults about Pizzagate. Here in Shenzhen. Can you believe it?

I’m called a sheeple, and weird counterculture types support the tyrant monster that is Trump, because of Pizzagate.

That’s how bad it has gotten.

I’m loathe to even get into it, but here’s the Snopes if you don’t know already: http://www.snopes.com/pizzagate-conspiracy

Mostly I find it unbelievable that artist Marina Abramovic is a cannibal member of the Illuminati. Seriously, it is a dark theory and must be a red herring even if one does believe that the government is filled with pedophiles. A deep-level misinformation campaign perhaps. All in all come on, that’s just not a rational reason to support fucking Trump.

But the Internet has spoken and reddit can’t stop it and humanity is officially doomed.

 

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And I said I wasn’t going to be a political blogger…

 

And I said wasn’t going to be a political blogger…

Been a devastating week since I posted about what I really think of American politics.

I’m not taking the election results well. I, like most people in my world, did not see that coming. Does this mean we should’ve trusted Michael Moore and Ann Coulter?

Seriously, I don’t mean expats who are far from America didn’t see this coming, I mean everyone I know back in America as well as Americans I know in Shenzhen and all over the world. I had no idea I was so out of touch. That’s what really hurts.

I feel betrayed by the news media. Those liberal websites I followed with their pundits and polls — which I guess is no longer a thing in this brave new world– they had no idea what was going on. Huffington Post was worst of all, but all the sites suck. I’m over it. Since then, no more talk shows for me either, no topical comedy, no SNL skits. I want none of it. I deeply regret all that time I spent trying to keep in touch with America and it turned out to be a complete waste.

(No, I won’t getting into right-wing propaganda :post-facts” websites either. I am thinking of only following British news sources from now on. At least international news has a good excuse for being out of touch with middle Americans.)

 

I didn’t sleep the first day. I talked to my best friend back home for hours, analyzing and analyzing and trying to make sense. He didn’t take it well either. I ranted to my poor girlfriend nonstop about the American system and how everything is so much worse than I realized.

I want to be an optimistic person, believe it or not, I really do. But now that I realize the entire global system is so fragile it’s very difficult to anticipate anything good can come of this. Sure it was flawed. But now this? All the gains of the past have been thrown out the window. Nobody knows for sure what will happen next. Most likely, if you believe that the shit-spouting candidate will do what he said he was going to do, real fascism is coming.

 

Why did this happen? Because of the FBI? Because Hillary Clinton truly is that bad a candidate? Because of apathetic voters who stayed home, or the nationwide gerry-mandering that is the electoral college?

I mean, how can this be the same country that elected Obama? It’s so hard to make sense of it.

In terms of numbers, what apparently occurred is that the same amount of Republicans voted in 2008 and 2012, but Democrats voted in smaller numbers and hence lost all the swing states. So it’s not a popular vote country. Perhaps Obama is the aberration, an incredible individual who turned the tide on America on his own yet now the pendulum swung way back into the gutter more Americans are used to.

God, why couldn’t it at least have been a normal Republican who won…

There are new rules for politics. I suppose it might be interesting to see what may come next. I realize that Obama even beat Clinton in 2008 because he had such little experience, not despite it even that that was what the right criticized him for. Turns out experience is a liability. Americans like “outsiders” now or something.

And while third parties never did gain any traction, just about anybody can take over the major parties. What a damn tragedy that the DNC cheated Bernie Sanders out of winning the candidacy, how amazing it would have been to see how that would turn out.

 

I still replay this all in my mind and it’s so hard to find a narrative that makes sense. Just what is the lesson?

He didn’t even really try. He lost all the debates, his campaign staff was a mess, and his rhetoric was all over the place. Only the fascistic elements were consistent. It seemed obvious to me that he just wanted to launch a TV network.

I mean, it was the most negative campaign in modern history. Is it going to be this way now, everyone has to be as ruthless as possible to win?

And he lied so much. Pathologically. Anyone can look it up on Politico, or debunk myths on Snopes, but for some reason most don’t care about the lies. His base doesn’t care about his lies whatsoever.

Apparently, the biggest problem today is that so many people live in different bubbles due to their own Internet medias of choice. The right likes to whine about the “mainstream media” but there’s no such thing. Reality TV had a hell of a lot more influence than the news media. The new culture of anti-intellectualism rejects fact-checking and chooses their own facts. Thanks, Facebook.

And fool that I am I always though digital technology was going to save humanity… Shows what the hell I know.

 

So currently the narrative is forming that we are supposed to respect the supporters, because they’ve had it bad and it was liberal arrogance that pushed them away. We shouldn’t have called them racists or whatever.

Sure, snobby liberals can have their faults but I find this election a serious overreaction! I mean, seriously?! Boo hoo, people got mad because of political correctness and so you nominate a disgusting vulgar fascist.

Don’t even get me started on how I don’t understand women voters.

The truth is that humans are fundamentally stupid. We are instinctual animals that can sometimes be rational, not rational beings who sometimes give in to emotions. People do not want to learn. People want “strong leaders”, that is they want dictators.

I will certainly concede that the supporters are not all necessarily hardcore white supremacists (though many many indeed are). But the majority did turn a blind eye to some very dark forces indeed. They chose being willfully ignorant and made excuses for bigotry — be it against Muslims or Hispanics or women — and instead of thinking deeply about personal bias they had a temper tantrum  because they don’t like being labeled as what they are. Well at best, they are suckers.

I don’t think this new era is going to go well for the white working class. Let’s bet on it.

I guess it will be “different,” whatever that means, whatever it is people want so bad.

 

Seriously, this is different than George W. Bush’s presidency, which was very bad, or McCain or Romney or even what Ted Cruz could have been. This is ushering in a new paradigm of embracing the worst of humanity.

So here we are with a documented explosion of hate crimes and an unprecedentedly corrupt — from not releasing tax records to refusing a blind trust and giving his kids positions like a third-world tyrant — executive branch with no idea what it’s doing. It begins.

 

I’m lucky to be in China, now that China is pretty much certain to take over the world.

I may never go back to America. To be fair, I wasn’t planning on going back any time soon.

I do admire the new protest movement. I wish I was there to express my horror at what is happening and fight the good fight, I wish I could.

But what to do? Efficient governance has failed, due to a completely broken democratic system. I can only conclude that anarcho-libertarianism is the appropriate ideology in this age, everyone has got to take care of themselves. Let’s just hope that the environmental damage to the planet Earth doesn’t ruin it forever for every selfish individual out there.

 

Funny thing about being a hopeless white guy right now, my black friend really did see this coming. Damn I was naive. I assured him the monster candidate couldn’t win, yeah he wasn’t supposed to get this far but his base was fringe, that this was a story of Republicans imploding, and history would progress. He really knew better. He’s planning on leaving the country and I support that decision; it’s not hyperbole, he has the means to do it.

 

There will probably be a hero of the new left in four years time, that ol’ pendulum will swing back, but by then things will have changed so drastically it may be impossible to repair. I do hold out hope that something can happen in the next two months, like he’ll quit to work on Drumpf TV and we’ll be left with Mike Pence as a weak status quo Republican. It’s not ideal but the world would make a bit more sense.

 

I wonder if this is one of those “great men” theories of history or if this was inevitable because of historical forces. Is he such an enormous personality that he gets to change history, or would that have happened to someone else regardless at the rate America is going?

It seems around the world authoritarianism is gaining ground. Xi, Putin, Brexit, Neo-Nazi parties in Europe, Duterte, the recent coup in Brazil, Thailand crackdowns, the Likud Party in my homeland (I’m just going to go ahead and introduce myself as Israeli nowadays, not American. Never thought I’d see the day), and so much more everywhere. I wish people were educated enough to know how to properly blame corporatist elites for the ruined economy around the world, I wish they had better ideas about alleviating poverty and violence, but maybe it’s because of Internet bubbles or maybe it’s because of the human tribal instincts but in any case this is happening.

 

 

It really feels like we’re in an alternate reality. I for one fully believe in the many worlds multiverse more than ever.

 

That’s about all I can say. No endless links, no articles to quote with the hopes of changing minds. That never worked. That did no good.

It’s over, and this is the world we live in.

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What I really think… American politics

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So hard to choose just one Tom Tomorrow cartoon to encapsulate all Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/17/1582847/-Cartoon-Word-salad

 

 

So, I am admittedly writing this at the last possible moment. Not trying to change minds here, I guess, I’m just trying to figure things out for myself and express it as rationally and sincerely as possible. These issues are important and should be thought about deeply. That’s all I’m generally attempting to do.

I follow politics as much as I can, and as an American abroad I think it’s even more important to be aware of what is happening in the world. It matters. The times, they are serious. If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed the articles I choose to share. While I try not to be too annoying or angry when it comes to political rants, there are things worth being aware of and I say what I can.

However, I’m not truly qualified to be a columnist and a pundit and I don’t usually take up this sort of writing. My journalism tends to be light, and my fiction tends to be about human experiences in small scales. I am not the kind of blogger to try to save the world or anything.

Yet now I am writing this post in a rush in an attempt to organize all that is going on in my mind. History is unfolding right before the world’s eyes, and I must attempt to comment upon it before the results of the polls come in and it’s too late.  Here I go.

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First of all, as someone who generally tries to be a moral person I am going to start this out by talking about Nazis. Yeah, went there, let’s get it out of the way already. There is indeed a valid reason every argument seems to get into Nazis eventually, and that’s because it really is a point in world history worth making comparisons. And is it just me, or is it more poignant that ever?

I do have a point I’m getting to. The main question remains: Was the average German citizen in the 1930s particularly evil, or were they merely caught up in historical forces beyond their understanding? And moreover, where they victims of propaganda or do they deserve to be held responsible for supporting the worst dictatorship in history?

I used to lean towards the side that it wasn’t quite the average person’s fault. Both cynically and sympathetically, I used to conclude that the average folk of most societies would probably support a Nazi party if historical forces added up, and that it wasn’t really their fault. We must be ever more wary and question ourselves for that reason, so that we can have the perspective to not get caught up in evil ideologies. I mean, we should hope that future historians don’t look back and ask the question of why we of today are so evil. Shouldn’t that be a good benchmark for inner contemplation on human morality?

That’s what I used to think. I don’t think that way that any longer. Today, I can no longer help but think that the average German citizenry who supported Nazism – or at least was too apathetic to care so long as they’re Aryan – were terrible people and should be judged accordingly for it. I think this because contemporary Trump supporters are the modern equivalent.

That’s what I’m saying. As a (hopefully) thoughtful American, I believe that Trump supporters are terrible human beings and they should know better and don’t deserve sympathy and history will judge them as monsters.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a greater perspective. Like, pretty much everywhere is evil when you break it down. I live in the People’s Republic of China, which one used to at least be able to say was going in a positive direction until Xi Jinging took power. I have connections to Israel, which certainly does have its human-rights abusing issues and currently the Likud party in particular. I went to South Africa last year, full of upper-class whites who got where they are by way of apartheid. Even the United States has a complicated history of aboriginal genocide and slavery and oppression throughout the 20th century, and hell the Bush years of illegal war-mongering wasn’t that long ago and the Obama administration wasn’t as different as it was supposed to be! And that just goes for the countries with the most power, plenty of less developed nations have terrible challenges. It’s a complex web of historical privilege, apathy, and some brainwashing that usually makes it not totally the fault of citizens that their governments can be forces of evil.

Yet something else is going on right now. Something ugly. There is a powerful new movement within my country and it can’t be excused as them just getting caught up in a manipulated framework they don’t understand. No, they are willfully-ignorant people who support authoritarian policies. There is no other way to put it.

The Trump legions are not supporters of conservative economic policy which we can debate. They do not have some rational thoughts about being hawkish on defense policy. They don’t want to fix immigration. They don’t really care about how an outsider of politics can save the country.

No, what they have are racial resentments, serious problems with hypocrisy, and for some reason support a strongman dictatorship which is against everything good that America is supposed to stand for.

They are supporters of bigotry. They are supporters of hate. That is what’s going on.

I probably won’t change any minds by being all arrogant and mad. I do wish I had some brilliant arguments that would cause Trump supporters to soul search and question themselves. It doesn’t work that way though. Hey, it’s a post-fact political world.

Still, I have a lot to say and I must say it.

Something dark is happening in my country. There’s always been partisanship, and there have been ugly times in history worse than we remember regardless of the mythical “Great Again” that they’re supposed to make America. But specifically it appears that Internet culture is the difference these days, and it disturbs me.

Dammit, society was supposed to be evolving. When Obama was elected in ’08 – who clearly did sell out on many issues but didn’t deserve the vitriol of the opposition party the past eight years – it was heralded as a new era in terms of online participation. Internet-savvy young people, we were told, turned the tide.

Nowadays, with you-know-who on Twitter, the fury of ignorance has become the loudest voice in the digital sphere. As experts smarter than me have explained, the danger of online media is that people become lost in their own echo chamber and ignore news that disagrees with their preconceived notion, and they believe things that aren’t true. Facts don’t matter. It’s confirmation bias on steroids. Furthermore, the anonymity of the medium has let loose millions of fully racist commentors. The trolls are attempting to take over the most powerful government on earth.

Here is an intelligent article about the white supremacist alt-right movement which forms the backbone of Trump supporters, and everyone needs to read this:

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/alt-right

To summarize, the young generation of white supremacists (or white separatists, or racial realists, or whatever shit these people call themselves lately) are very savvy when it comes to memes and propaganda etc. and have started taking their own trolling seriously. The worst of YouTube comments basically have a political movement now, and it is organized.

It really is that bad.

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What happened? Is it the fault of new media technologies? I am scared it’s deeper than the usual pattern of how when the economy gets bad far isolationist right-wing parties take power – as happened in many places in Europe. I get that it happens. What I am afraid of is that although they will lose they are still going to be a permanent part of the modern American landscape from now on.

How the hell has this happened?! I mean, I used to follow conservative media. I did. I used to watch Fox News and listen to talk radio. I used to be… I shudder to say it… a libertarian. Of course, I do feel it’s important to be an independent and get all sides of the various issues that affect our world.

The conservative ideology used to be quite clear. The mainstream was liberal biased, and the best way to grow an economy was through free market principals. Oh, and welfare is bad. Then some optional religious stuff. That was the gist as I understood it.

I have since come to recognize that it was all a lie. For years conservatives told a certain story, and their audience ate it up, and it was a lie. Sure we know that the Tea Party was kind of a monster the Republican Party propped up and then couldn’t control any more. But it’s an even worse mess than that. Because Donald Trump does not even pretend to be a conservative on any issue. He is an extremist nationalist, and that is the main issue that his people believe in. That’s all it ever was.

Like really, Sean Hannity turned around on the Iraq War? Really, Hannity?!?! They believe in nothing. Except for bigotry.

Say, for example, with welfare. Turns out those masses of people were lying when they said they were against the dole due to economic and moral grounds. No, they don’t care about taxes or incentives to work. They just care that certain ethnic groups don’t deserve the welfare that they deserve.

It has turned out that it was always more about white identity politics more than anything else.

Take the fact that Trump’s base are evangelicals, and the fact that Catholics and especially Mormons have largely rejected him (good on them). This truly pisses me off. It shows that evangelicals are ignorant about even the very basics of the Christian religion, and that they always have been, and what they care about in fact is being part of an ethnic community and rejecting other communities. Seriously, does anyone with a brain believe that Trump is a real Christian? What else can it be with those people? At least Catholics and Mormons have the ability to be consistent in their values.

It is not a left-right thing anymore. Not even close. The right has abandoned everything they ever said they believe in just to prop up a nationalist monster.

Hell, even the conspiracy theory land people like with Infowars have abandoned everything they used to stand for. (I know it was a crazy site, but during the Bush years it was something of a source for the anti-war movement. Even in the early Obama years there were valid points about the banking corruption in the ol’ Alex Jones documentaries. Now he gave it all up for nothing more than the bigotry of being anti-feminist or something, along with the whole uber-nationalism shitck.)

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There is a certain narrative going around that intelligent people are supposed to feel sorry for Trump supporters because they are blue-collar working class who have sadly lost their jobs due to globalist free trade policies.

There is this Cracked article about how to empathize with Trump supporters because it’s a city versus country thing: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

Usually I like Cracked. Good with myth-busting. But this one wasn’t good.

Obviously Republicans do tend to be more rural and Democrats tend to be more urban. And one could argue that it’s lack of education which causes people to inadvertently have such awful politics.

But that isn’t the case. Here’s what’s really going on to a much larger degree:

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/15/13286498/donald-trump-voters-race-economic-anxiety

Got it? To sum it up, evidence shows that Trump’s base isn’t necessarily that poor. Polling shows that racial anxiety is the real issue that worries the majority. This is what is happening, this is what kind of people they are.

Again, the fact that Trump’s other main issue besides kicking out Mexicans and Muslims is protectionist trade policies – long thought the purview of the radical left – shows how out of whack the usual liberal vs conservative definitions are.

And yet I still contend that the factories going to China issue isn’t even what they’re serious about in the first place. Deep down, only the bigotry matters.

 

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