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Imagine this world

Can you imagine a world without elephants?
Imagine a world without people-
Now imagine a world without people-who-can’t-
Imagine a world of elephants without people-
Imagine a world of people-
elephants-without-a world.
Now imagine a world
without elephants-without-a-world.
Now imagine that world-without-elephants-without-a-world
within a world with people-who-
Now imagine that that world-without-elephants-without-a-world
is within a world of people-who-not-only-can-
but can’t-imagine-a-world-of-people-who-can’t-imagine
is this world.
Imagine this world.
--Gary Lindorff

If Melania Trump's Facebook Is Being Moderated, She's Sending a Strong Anti-Donald Message!

Does Trump ever look at his wife's Facebook page?


The following image, posted on the anniversary of Trump's inauguration, and the folliowubg comments were copied verbatim directly from her Facebook page's public forum. They suggest that FLOTUS is pretty seriously pissed at The Donald.

First Lady Melania Trump
January 20 at 11:16am · 
This has been a year filled with many wonderful moments. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country & the world!

Melania Trump Facebook page showing her with Marine Escort (sans hubby) posted on anniversary of Trump's InaugurationMelania Trump Facebook page showing her with Marine Escort (sans hubby) posted on anniversary of Trump's Inauguration

Konstantine Anthony Thank you for not posting a photo with your soon-to-be ex-husband.
You deserve so much better than him and the American people support you dumping his @$$!

Dee Dee Bronnier I'm not a fan but God woman, you speak 5 languages. You're smart, cunning, and know ALL the secrets — get your dignity back and leave the pig!!

Dave Ullrich Melania, you know what to do. #DivorceDonnie for cheating on you with #Stormy. Think about your son being raised to be just like daddy. #Cheater

Ricky Lee if she can put up with that piece of shit she is an amazing woman..

Weaponizing Absurdity

Raunchy Russian Cadets Set Off Wave of Political Solidarity

Laughter is a biological imperative, a complex cognitive and physiological response to the human condition that is as necessary for survival as water, air, and freedom.
            -Ron Jenkins, Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy
When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.
            -Hunter Thompson
Recently I wrote about the nature of our more and more regimented society and the expanding social media culture and how it can be liberating in the area of masculinity and femininity, given that "identity" is a complex, significantly artificial thing. The idea of shifting gender as a personal choice is not such a strange idea when you think of the effects i-phone culture and the internet have on human beings, especially the young who are born into a world of i-phone networks as if they were a part of nature. The reality is people can and do choose to be anonymous on social media. Many people regularly don't use real names and totally control their identity. A telling example might be the 35-year-old cop playing a 14-year-old girl to entrap adult male pedophiles. In the cyber world, one can assume an amazing array of identities broadcasted (Tweeted at 5AM?) to a vast formation of possibly millions of anonymously connected human beings that one might look at metaphorically as a giant swarm of birds or a giant school of minnows subject to chaos theory. As we know, with a long history of disinformation, the Russians are particularly good at this kind of thing.

Master clown Ron Jenkins' book and Vladimir Putin showing off his physique and his rodMaster clown Ron Jenkins' book and Vladimir Putin showing off his physique and his rod

In this light, consider the latest subversive, post-Pussy Riot cultural phenomenon in Russia. An on-line video of air transport cadets dancing to the song "Satisfaction" went viral. It's an all-male parody of a rock video by Benni Benassi called "Satisfaction" that featured half-naked, buxom and sweaty women brandishing masculine power tools to a dorky Euro-drone disco beat. The air transport cadets' parody -- kids wearing military-style hats and boots in their BVDs -- is unabashedly homoerotic. The rightist, hypermasculine and homophobic gangster government in Russia was not happy. But once the state tried to crack down on the parody, solidarity videos from school dorms and other places broke out all over the internet like an aggressive rash. And they keep on coming. The state backed away. There’s a lot with males, one of guys in the snow, one of bare-chested young men in riding pants "horsing around" in a horse stable grooming the horses, etc, some feature girls, even one with two humping old babushkas in a spartan apartment kitchen. All to the same drone beat with the lyrics: “Push me. And then just touch me.”

South Korea Slips Off the US Leash

Standing up to empire


The mainstream US media, when it comes to the idea of talks between the governments of North and South Korea, are focused on the idea that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is trying to drive a wedge between the Republic of Korea and the United States. No doubt that is true, but this focus misses a major part of the story.

What we’re really seeing here is South Korean President Moon Jae-in making a bold move to assert South Korea’s independence from the United States.

Nobody should be surprised that Moon, who was swept into power thanks to a surge of voters (he won by 41.1% against two conservative parties which received 24% and 21.1%) last year on a promise to reach out to North Korea and attempt to bring the two warring halves of the Korean Peninsula (they are still technically in a state of war that began in 1950, nearly 68 years ago) back together.

Taking the seeming baby step that he has taken of inviting North Korea to compete in the Winter Olympics being held next month in South Korea might seem like a small thing, but it was actually a bold step for Moon. What most Americans don’t know is that South Korea is technically a kind of colony of the US, given that its military is still under the control of the United States. This is thanks to a UN Security Resolution passed in 1950 authorizing a UN military action against the North and designating the US as the lead authority of the UN operation — a controlling role that the US still clings to.

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, leaders of North and South Korea, are talking, and Trump and the US are not amusedKim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, leaders of North and South Korea, are talking, and Trump and the US are not amused

That situation explains the bizzare warning given about North/South two-party-only negotiations by former Obama-era US State Department Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Russell, who is quoted in a Jan. 3, 2018 article in the New York Times by Mark Landler as revealingly saying, “It is fine for the South Koreans to take the lead, but if they don’t have the US behind them, they won’t get far with North Korea…And if the South Koreans are viewed as running off the leash [my emphasis], it will exacerbate tensions within the alliance.”

Imagine US diplomats telling NATO allies UK, Germany or France not to “run off the leash” in bilateral discussions say, with Russia! Sure, they too are on a leash to some extent, but nobody associated with the US State Department, would ever stick it in their faces like that.

Leo Chang Soon, a Korean-American historian who was a teenager during the Korean War, and whose father faced an assassination threat for standing up, as vice president, to Korean dictator Rhee, says “South Korea has been under the US leash since Syngman Rhee flew into Korea on General Douglas MacArthur’s plane to become the first president of South Korea (ROK) on September 2, 1945.”


He committed murder.
He burned down a house.
He didn’t know what he was doing.
Let him go.
We can’t wake him up.
The sleepwalker is bulding a big bomb
To blow up a church.
In his sleep now
He is weaponizing his unconscious hatred.
The defense: He doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Judgment: Let him go.
Now the sleepwalker
Votes in a racist.
Abuses women.
Embraces violence like a lover.
In a rare lucid moment
He pleads innocent:
I didn’t know what I was doing.
The sleepwalker
Asks the judge,
Can I go now?
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know anything.

Judge: Let him go.
Prosecution: Let there be nuclear war.
Let there be the end of things.
Let the sea rise.
Let the homeless wander the earth.
The sleepwalker walks out.
He walks down the middle of the street.
Cars swerve around him.
He is innocent.
Leave him be.
--Gary Lindorff

Rep. Gabbard Speaks Truth to Power about the Real Reason North Korea has Nukes

One Congresswoman who tells it like it is


We already knew that Tulsi Gabbard was courageous, when the Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii resigned from her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in disgust during the primary season in 2016, declaring publicly what we now know to have been true — that the DNC was manipulating the primaries to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders — was courageous. Now as basically the only member of Congress with the guts to call out the US as the cause of our current knife-edge threat of a nuclear war, she’s demonstrated her courage again.

Gabbard, interviewed on ABC News, declared unambiguously that the reason that North Korea has worked so diligently to develop nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering them to the US is that the United States over several decades and under a number of presidents, has had a policy of “regime change,” and a history of violently attempting to overthrow governments that it doesn’t like. As she put it in an interview over the weekend with ABC news host George Stephanopolos, “Our country's history of regime-change wars has led countries like North Korea to develop and hold on to these nuclear weapons because they see it as their only deterrent against regime change.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on ABC, Click image to go to interview (sorry for the ad at the start)Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on ABC, Click image to go to interview (sorry for the ad at the start)

Rep. Gabbard, who has been calling for the US to negotiate directly “and without pre-conditions” with North Korea to resolve the crisis, says the US also needs to recognize the reality that North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is not going to give them up unless it feels secure from US attack.

She is firm in saying that the US history of overthrowing Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi after first convincing him that if he dropped his efforts to develop a nuclear weapon they would not attempt to overthrow his government, and then invading and overthrowing him, and of invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein after trumping up a fake claim that he was attempting to develop nuclear weapons, will make it all the harder to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to agree to halt or scale back, much less eliminate his nuclear weapons and missile arsenal. She adds that President Trump’s current threat to cancel an agreement reached by his predecessor, President Barack Obama and the leaders of Iran to terminate their nuclear fuel enrichment program in return for the US dropping sanctions on that country will also undermine any future efforts by the US to reach negotiated agreements on weapons and nuclear disarmament with Kim and any other countries that might seek to go nuclear.

Identity Politics Gets Into Our Pants

Gender Politics and Political Justice


Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

[T]he trick of being a man is to give the appearance of keeping your head when, deep inside, the truest part of you is crying out, Oh shit!
- Michael Chabon, Manhood For Amateurs

A shaming can be like a distorting mirror at a funfair, taking human nature and making it look monstrous.
- Jon Ronson, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

God must have a sense of humor in that he gave a man an excitable phallic shaft extending outward from his body that leads him around as if there were a ring in the end of the damn thing and some demon was yanking him into all sorts of dicey predicaments and shame-inducing behaviors. As a kid first getting to know this physiological organ I was blessed or doomed with, I recall an adolescent joke we snickered at: What’s the lightest thing in the world? A dick. You can lift it with a thought.

An ashtray, circa 1950s, from my father's effectsAn ashtray, circa 1950s, from my father's effects

God, in his ribald wisdom, gave women the key to the future in the form of a vagina and uterus. Women got an in-ee and men got an out-ee. He, then, gave men and woman the exact same brain with the same complex and mysterious circuits extending throughout their bodies, an arrangement that makes the joining of the two aforementioned physiological components an incredible pleasure. He or She (I confess: I was a sexist in the first paragraph) also enabled men and women with their powerful minds to be culture-creating creatures, which handed them a great conundrum that has been the source of conflict and narrative delight since humans first carved images on fire-lit cave walls. Non-humans -- ie. animals -- of course, tend not to be culture-creating creatures, and therefore they’re not susceptible to identity politics; they rely on simple and direct allure and brute strength to copulate whenever they get the biological signal to do so.

This God -- I’m not a believer, so the term is used here to mean The Great Mystery -- thus made the enterprise of human sexual intercourse akin to playing chess in a muddy, overcrowded pigpen. Think Last Tango In Paris and the scene where Marlon Brando makes snorting pig sounds while Maria Schneider trills like a bird. Of course, the film is a tragedy, and the male dies in the end from his own aggressive actions, killed by the woman who no longer finds his aggressiveness attractive.

Yesterday's 'Shithole Countries' Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa

The shit's everywhere


When Donald Trump referred to countries like Nigeria and really, all of Africa, and the long-suffering island of Haiti in the Caribbean as “shitholes” to a bunch of stunned members of Congress yesterday, he was not just showing his deeply-rooted ugly racist self, but also his profound ignorance about the world — and his own country.

The truth is that yesterday’s “shithole countries” often become today’s modern success stories. Norway is a case in point. As late as the early 1960s, Norway, as Paul Thornton, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, himself a descendant of Norwegian immigrants to the US, writes, once was “the shithole of Scandinavia,” its people viewed by more prosperous and modern Swedes and Danes as poor, ignorant farmers, Then the country struck oil in the North Sea, and since then, avoiding going the route of many oil-producing nations, has become one of the richest countries in the world on a per-capita basis, with a standard of living about 25% higher than ours here in the US, and with the wealth much more evenly and fairly distributed, too.

Why can’t the US get immigrants from Norway, instead of “shithole” countries in Africa and the Caribbean, the president asked? Well, because nobody in Norway, with its gold-plated free national health care system, excellent and well-funded retirement system and educational system, etc., would want to live here, duh. In fact, Thornton says many second and third-generation Norwegians living in the US are looking at whether they might have a chance of getting citizenship rights in Norway these days.

Shanghai workers commuting on bicycles in the 1990s and Shanghai 25 years laterShanghai workers commuting on bicycles in the 1990s and Shanghai 25 years later

I know what I’m talking about. Back in 1991 when my I got a Fulbright professorship to China and moved for a year with my family to Shanghai, which at the time was one of China’s wealthier cities, the place was, frankly, what you’d call a “shithole.” Most people, including professors at Fudan University, a leading institution of higher education where I was placed to teach journalism, were living in one or two-room concrete flats with no heat and only cold water, often without even a private bathroom or kitchen. (Our daughter’s local elementary school had no heat either, so in the winter, they left the windows open to warm the classrooms up during the daytime, while the kids wore gloves with the tips cut off so they could use their pencils.) As for working class people, many were living in far worse accommodations. The air in winter was filled with soot as people tried to keep warm with charcoal stoves in their apartments, which caused everyone to suffer wracking coughs, myself included.

With @TheRichKidsOfIran Instagrams, Somebody is Stirring Up a Hornet's Nest

Wanna place bets on who's behind the account?


Scroll through the Instagram account @TheRichKidsofTehran or RKOT and ask yourself: Knowing how aggressively the Iranian regime has gone after those -- particularly women -- who flaunt their sexuality and expose themselves with hair uncovered and with parts of their body exposed that in Iran are supposed to be kept covered except at home, who would be putting these clearly inflammatory images of both semi-nudity and ostentatious financial excess online?

If anything would set off riots in Iran, it would be these brazen images of young Iranians who clearly have more money than they know what to do with, thumbing their nose it Islamic rules and at the long-suffering Iranian working class, who have been enduring staggering unemployment rates, inflation that has robbed them of life savings, and repressive religious police who force them to adhere to behaviors that many would prefer to ignore, or to violate them at home at the risk of punishment if caught.

Two images from the Instagram account @TheRichKidsofTehranTwo images from the Instagram account @TheRichKidsofTehran

I have no hard evidence, but you have to wonder why anyone would have participated in this project, and about who is behind it. According to Huffington Post, the "poster or posters" behind the account have announced that its intent is "apolitical." As they wrote, apparently anonymously, in an Instagram post that has subsequently been taken down:

“We Love our city of Tehran. We are in no way trying to put a difference between rich and poor. We are trying to show the world how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are. The Middle East is always on TV receiving negative attention and we just wanted to show that Tehran is not like that. This page is in no way political and we never had any bad intentions. We never thought the page would make headlines all over the world. Some of the people featured in this Instagram account don’t live in Iran. #richkidsoftehran #welovetehran”

The Huff Post article also reports that at least some of the people shown in the RKOT Instagram images are the children of powerful men in Iran, and so are immune from any penalties for their exhibitionism, which may well be true. But still, it's significant that this account first came out in mid-September right at the time that the Iranian government was launching a crackdown on social media in the country. As the article points out: "Last month, for example, seven young Iranians received suspended sentences of jail time and 91 lashes for posting a video online of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

Nobody behind this account could have been unaware of how Iran's poor and working class would react to its depiction of the obscene wealth of Tehran's elite. Half of Iran's urban population is reportedly living below the country's poverty line -- a result both of the sanctions imposed by the US and at least some of its allies, and of corruption in a government that is only nominally democratic, subject as it is, in the final analysis, to the dictates of an unelected group of religious leaders. And indeed, according to foreign news reports, much of the anger fueling the protests in the face of fairly brutal repression (so far 22 protesters are reported to have died at the hands of police since protests began on Dec. 28), resentment at the wealth gap in Iran has been a significant factor in stoking anger among the lower classes across the country. (Though it's worth noting that polling conducted in Iran by the University of Maryland University's Center for International and Security Studies would suggest that most Iranians, while upset at the country's economic situation, aren't that upset with the government, with 81% even supporting President Rouhani's economic policies.)

Iran is a big country, and is going through difficult times, not least because the US under President Trump has has reneged on an international agreement reached by the administration of President Obama and governments of the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia with Iran to lift economic sanctions on that country in return for its agreement not to pursue any nuclear weapons development for a decade and to open its nuclear program to a regime of serious inspections. It would not have taken, nor do I think dirty tricks by such agencies as the CIA or Israel's Mossad could in themselves have sparked the kind of broad protests taking place in Iran. But having said that, I find it hard to believe that those two agencies -- both with their history of dirty tricks and given both countries' stated desire to see "regime change" in Tehran, have not been seeking ways to stir the pot of simmering public anger towards Iran's rulers.

And how easy it would be to do that with something like this Instagram account.

Parallel reality -- a poem

A seahorse thought,
A very small wave
Followed by another.
And way down below,
Its counterpart,
The seahorse . . .
And maybe deeper,
Some quiet resolve
To explore vast spaces
Of eternal quietude beneath oceans
That seem to never end. And yet,
Someday we wind up in the sunlight on a shore
As beautiful as any place imaginable
With no plastic
Nor any trace of war,
And there, to make peace with the memory
That we made it through
By simply being kind.
--Gary Lindorff

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