by Jeffrey St. Clair
November 18, 2016
guilty consciences, they're afraid - and fear
and guilty consciences have a good savor in the
nostrils of the gods.
gods take pleasure in such poor souls.
oust them from the favor of the gods? What,
moreover, could you give them in exchange?
digestions, the gray monotony of provincial
life, and the boredom - ah, the soul-destroying
boredom - of long days of mild content.
No one inside
machine saw it coming...
They were whacked from behind, while
sitting at the bar, casually ordering cocktails to celebrate their
predestined triumph, as clueless of their fate as Luca Brasi in The
A half-million computer simulations generated by
Robby Mook assured them that
their victory was foretold, a sure thing. They had the press. They
had Wall Street and Silicon Valley.
They had the
Council on Foreign Relations,
Colin Powell and
They had women.
They had blacks, Hispanics and
They owned the East Coast, the
West Coast and the Great Lakes.
Even those flinty Cuban exiles
would help them take Florida this time.
You can almost hear the smug snickering
the Podesta emails. Fuck every
place else. We don't need them.
Those Jurassic States with their
deplorable constituents - their Sunday schools and pick-ups, their
deer hunts and bingo parlors - deserved what they were going to get
(which, of course, wasn't going to be much different than what
they'd been getting since the rise of the neoliberals in the late
70s: nothing but condescension).
This one was in the bag...
Alas, there was a bug in their program, call it the Hubris Virus,
that blinded them to the sands eroding beneath the hulking edifice
of their own conceit. Mook's app couldn't measure human emotion.
Their software couldn't calibrate the
visceral mood of the electorate, which any amateur sociologist could
detect in almost every bar in America.
One of the trademarks of neoliberalism is that the working poor are
to be blamed for,
their own desperate condition
their failure to adapt to the
shock therapy foisted upon them
their refusal to embrace the
austere strictures of the new modernity
This election (2016)
was the chance for the America preterite, the left
behind and demeaned, to strike back at one of their most vulnerable
and pious oppressors.
From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, they did
so with a vengeance.
The Clinton campaign, like
Luca Brasi, now sleeps with
the fishes, but that virus persists, gnawing away at the brainstem
of the vanquished Clinton team and the leaders of the Democratic
The same self-righteous surrogates who
assured nervous liberals of the mathematical inevitability of
Hillary's election have now been deployed to rationalize her
Each day a new scapegoat emerges:
rigged voting machines
fake stories on Facebook
...even Bernie Sanders himself,
the man who debased himself by campaigning his ass off for a
candidate who ridiculed him behind his back and then blamed him for
her own predictable demise.
Oh, and if it's Friday, it must be
Susan Sarandon's fault for
being one of the few "celebrities" with a conscience and the courage
to articulate it.
See the online ravings about her by,
In Greek tragedy, hubris is a
kind of all-consuming arrogance that blinds characters to the limits
of their own power and the ruthlessness of their own deeds, as in
the plays of Sophocles.
Usually, the hero over-reaches, ignores
oracular warnings, commits a grievous crime, falls from grace and
then awakens, often near the point of death, to his or her own
failures as a human being.
Thus the hero and the audience
experience a catharsis, a purification through understanding.
But Aristotle, who was obsessed with the
notion of hubris, described another
variety of this disorder of the power elites, a kind of sadistic
pleasure derived from the suffering of others.
Here's Aristotle writing in his
Treatise on Rhetoric:
"Hubris consists in doing and saying
things that cause shame to the victim simply for the pleasure of
it. Retaliation is not hubris, but revenge. Young men and the
rich are hubristic because they think they are better than other
The Clintons and their acolytes are
afflicted by both species of hubris.
They are the power-hungry agents of
their own downfall, yet shame the victims of their own inhumane
policies, from the gutting of welfare to racist crime policies to
the obliteration of Libya.
They show no remorse, engage in no
self-circumspection, admit no culpability for their own actions and
deflect the blame for all failures on others. In this sense, they
are beyond redemption or purification and richly deserve their fate.
Live by the polls, die at the polls. But
the country at large is about to pay a heavy price for the
The malign incompetence of this vain
neoliberal coterie has unleashed a chilling and lethal force on the
intolerant, self-righteous, bigoted
There's no way to diminish the threat
that Trump poses to the most vulnerable among us.
These aren't chickens coming home to
roost, but ravenous pterodactyls, emerging from a cthonic darkness,
with maximum havoc on their minds.
We are, however, blessed that the Democratic Party, always little
more than a vaporous sanctuary for the American underclass, no
longer exists as an oppositional force.
Their frail Maginot Line has been
breached, routed and trampled. Like the French Resistance, we are
now responsible for our own collective defense.
Let us unite in a new "refus absurd."
Alexander Cockburn used to talk
all the time about his admiration for the pragmatism of the
American voter. This year the choice of lesser evils seemed
more vexing than ever.
According to Zigby, 4 percent of
voters decided which presidential candidate they were voting
for on the day of the election, 3 percent scratched their
heads until they were inside the voting booth.
Another 3% aren't sure when, or
even if, they decided.
Suddenly it's all about Steve
Bannon, the shadowy Machiavelli of the Sturm und Trump
movement. Bannon's a white nationalist. Bannon's a racist.
Bannon's a sexist.
And, most fatal of all slurs in
American politics, Bannon's an anti-semite. Is Bannon an
anti-semite? I have no idea. He's certainly not disguised
his hatred of Muslim-semites.
But does that qualify as a
transgression in American politics? Hardly. It's been the
path to career advancement.
Certainly, Bannon's alleged
anti-semitism hasn't bothered the Israeli government, whose
ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, defended Bannon against
his critics and calmed nervous American Jews by saying that
he "has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend
Of course, the Israeli government has never been worried
about real anti-semitism. It's anti-Zionism that they are
determined to violently suppress.
Of course, if any
pro-Palestinian politicians had cheered Bannon's appointment
as a possible indicator of a re-set in US policy in the
Middle East, the Israeli government would have quickly
denounced them as anti-semites.
In the past, Bannon has
described himself as a Leninist when it comes to the
exercising of executive power.
This appellation would prove
unappetizing to his Breitbart audience, so in an an
interview with the Hollywood Reporter he rephrased it terms
that would make his governing philosophy more digestible to
middle America, mentioning familiar figures of darkness they
could understand and warm up to, Cheney, Darth Vader, Satan.
"That's power," Bannon said,
wryly one hopes.
His real model is Thomas
Cromwell, the dark power behind Henry VIII. Ready for the
Trump Reformation? Hold on to your heads.
(Naturally, that advisory about
holding on to your head should apply to Bannon as well.
Cromwell didn't take good enough care of his.)
With the nomination of Jeff
Sessions, a man whose views on race are more rancid than
Strom Thurmond's, Trump seems intent on replacing the
neocons with the neocon-federates.
Someone told me that Sessions
had "softened" with age. Old Strom never did "soften."
Thurmond said they'd have to "whack my pecker down with a
baseball bat to close my coffin."
So the world won't end with a
whimper after all. (A BK Whopper, perhaps.)
Trump wants to name Mike
Huckabee as his ambassador to Israel and the Huckster is
already telling his friends at AIPAC that Trump is committed
to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. Huckabee always was
He must be feeling pretty giddy
about being one big step closer to that glorious moment when
he will arise like a giant dirigible into the sky on
rapturous currents after the final battle at Megiddo.
Trump's mad pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is
not new. This genuflection to the Armageddon Lobby was also
made by his golfing bud Bill Clinton and Bills' pal George W
Bush. Both of them soon backed down, when their inner
circles informed them of the prospect of all hell breaking
Of course, all hell breaking
loose may be just what Trump's inner circle wants.
Last week, the Democrats were
calling Trump the American Hitler.
This week, new Senate Minority
leader, Chuck Schumer, Wall Street's new favorite on the
Hill, says he may be willing to work with Trump to end the
"Washington stalemate." Who will break the news to Rachel
In a big piece for the New York
Times, Steven Erlanger and Alison Smale call Angela Merkel
the "Liberal West's Last Defender."
A few years ago, Merkel, the
Scourge of Greece, was considered to be to the right of
Nicolas Sarkozy. Of course, if you define "liberal" as
"agent of austerity," which the Times has always supported,
I guess they might have a point.
Team Trump floated the name of
Nikki Haley for Secretary of State.
Resume: Degree in accounting,
experience in the fashion industry, governor of small
southern state. Not much bloodshed on that CV. Probably a
less lethal choice than Hillary, the worse decision Obama
Still would she take it if
offered? It would give her an excused absence for leaving
the country as often as possible over the next four years…
The International Energy Agency
has just issued a report saying that the Paris Climate
Accord didn't go far enough to reverse or even halt climate
change and that even those targets would be impossible for
most, if not all, signatories to the treaty to meet.
Doomed under Obama, doomed under
Trump. Doomed, doomed, doomed.
By the way, 2016 will be the hottest year on record, after
the hottest year on record, after the hottest year on
record. Over to you, Myron Ebell.
I get a lot of groans for
talking this way, especially at the kitchen table here in
Why are you always so
depressing? That's no way to motivate people! But regardless
of how we speak about it, climate change is beyond control
now. The time to act was 50 years ago.
Want some recent evidence of the
way things are heading? Temperatures at the North Pole this
week are 36 degrees higher than normal. The living planet
will survive, though our species, speaking of hubris, likely
won't in the long term.
Life on earth survived the
Permian Extinction, when more than 98 percent of the species
on the planet were wiped out almost overnight geologically
speaking. From that extinction new forms of life emerged,
evolving in wild new directions.
See Stephen Jay Gould's
Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History,
which might be considered an uplifting book if your timeline
is expansive enough.
For the last 20 years, Bernie
Sanders has presented himself as either an independent
socialist or an independent, although he voted in lockstep
with the Democrats in the House and the Senate 95% of the
time, even when they wanted to expand the police state, bomb
a socialist country, and overthrow the governments of Iraq
Now Sanders self-identifies as a Democrat and this very week
accepted a leadership position (director of outreach,
whatever that means) under Charles Schumer, the Senator from
The pretense has been dropped.
Sanders is now an aging pitchman for a party that abandoned
the working class about the time he entered congress. When
Bernie "reaches out" to you, I'd think twice before giving
him your credit card number.
Will one banal celebrity
That's the hope of some diehard
Democrats who are looking to recruit Tom Hanks to run
against Trump in 2020. I've never understood the allure of
Hanks. As an actor, he seems stiffer than Gary Cooper.
In the film Castaway, written by
Cockburn's old pal Bill Broyles, Hanks was overshadowed by
Wilson the Volleyball. His politics seem like leftovers from
the Dukakis campaign.
His one watchable film, Turner
and Hooch, was carried by Hooch. Hooch for veep!
This week Obama ensured that his
real legacy, where he left his deepest mark on the world,
will endure, when the White House announced that he will not
restrict or redact his drone kill book for the incoming
Continuity in government you can
Norway is set to ban the sale of
cars powered by fossil fuels within the next ten years. This
welcome news was immediately applauded by the mad CEO of
Tesla, Elon Musk.
Hopefully, the Norwegians will
also see the wisdom in banning Elon Musk, who believes the
future of humans lies in the terra(de)forming of Mars, from
The awful James Clapper, Obama's
director of National Intelligence, who famously gave
perjurious testimony before congress on the extent of the
administration's domestic spying operations, has sent the
president his letter of resignation, rushing, like a manic
Black Friday shopper, to get near the front of the clemency
line, right behind Hillary Clinton, who Jesse Jackson,
servile to the bitter end, has already begged Obama to
SEC chair Mary Jo White has also
announced she is abandoning her post, as K Street lobbyists
sharpen their blades for the gutting of Dodd-Frank.
Apparently, Bernie Madoff has
forwarded his application for the post to Trump Tower,
saying he could easily run the new SEC from his cell at the
Butner Federal Prison.
Suddenly the Left is all aflame
over word that Trump is considering a "Muslim registry."
Apparently, these brave
defenders of civil liberties are unaware that a "Muslim
registry" called the National Security Entry-Exit
Registration System was imposed shortly after 9/11 with the
endorsement of Hillary Clinton and many other Democrats and
persisted well into Obama time, only being officially
abandoned in 2011.
(Who is to say when, or if, it
unofficially ended?) Ajamu Baraka told me that he was
stopped and interrogated about his residency and status no
less than five times during that decade of dread.
Let us also recall that Mrs.
Clinton made a dramatic gesture of returning campaign
contributions from American Muslims and Muslim groups during
her senate campaign, more than a year before the events of
The DNC's Record of losses Under
Obama / Kaine / Wasserman Schultz: 1 Presidency,
11 Senate seats, 60 House seats, 14 governorships, 900 state
Try, try, try again. Being a Democrat means never having to
say you're sorry. (I mean that in both senses of the word.)
In 1920, Eugene Debs ran for
president from his prison cell in Atlanta, Georgia, where he
was serving a 10 year sentence for violating the Espionage
Act by opposing Woodrow Wilson's entry into World War I and
for promoting Socialism.
(Even the infamous Mitchell
Palmer thought that Debs should have been pardoned, but
Wilson, one of the cruelest presidents, refused. It took
Warren Harding to commute his sentence to time served.)
Debs was also disenfranchised
for life. Debs still won nearly 4 percent of the vote,
nearly as much as all third parties in this year's election.
Many of the same structural problems continue to plague the
Yet our politics has become
hollower, spiritless, more and more hopeless.
My old partner, Ken Silverstein,
nails Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times's dullest
columnist (give or take Tom "Sominex" Freidman), for his
outrageous speaking fees ($30,000 to talk about his
reporting on global poverty!) and travel reimbursements.
So many dollars, so little
Lena Dunham breaks down the
"It's painful to know that
white women, so unable to see the unity of female
identity, so unable to look past their violent
privilege, so inoculated with hate for themselves,
showed up at the polls for him, too."
If only Hillary had used Ms.
Dunham more aggressively on the campaign trail… she might
have lost California, too.