Pseudo Book Review Of “Fire And Fury” Or If Only There Was More Space Between The Lines

scary author pic
From the back cover.

Books with scary pictures of authors on inner or back covers should be avoided at all costs. At least that’s what I used to tell myself. Which brings me to this worst-question: did Michael Wolff pick the pic (above) for the back cover or did some other corpo dastardly automaton pick it for him? Nomatter.

Just don’t let you kids near this guy–or President Stupid.

And by-the-buy, I didn’t buy this book. Never in my wildest thoughts did I ever seriously consider even going near this book. What can one read about President Stupid that one hasn’t already had stuffed down his/her throat with gulps of desperation? Either that or one can just watch some moronic TV, preferably WWE or reality-tv, and one can be just as informed. And that’s not all. One can also watch redneck, white trash #americant. Indeed. Watch it or read it. For between the lines of this book might just be a chronicle of the end of the beginning… Or is it the beginning of the end? Nomatter. At the least Wolff is a damn good writer.

I mean, he can spell and he knows how to use some big words. Or maybe not.

Kudos to my son for gifting me this book for my birthday. It’s his thing, don’t you know. I mean, gifting books during gifting season. As best as I can tell he’s mostly only gifted me, his stepmom and his mother, books. Wait. He gifted some bath oil to my better-half recently. So I could be wrong. Jeez. He’s twenty now. I don’t really know what he’s up to anymore anyway, what his motivations are, youthful prodigy confusion, etc. Yet he gave me a book that he should be reading. Yes. This book is for the youth of tomorrow. For those who would see how things shouldn’t be. Oh my. Confusion. Ditto. Confusion.

Let me begin this pseudo-review with some outtakes.

  • Chapter 20 (about The Mooch): “He had paid as much as half a million dollars to have his firm’s logo appear in the movie Wall Street 2 and to buy himself a cameo part in the film.”
  • Chapter 19(a): “Donald Trump’s sons existed in an enforced infantile relationship to their father, a role that embarrassed them, but one that they also professionally embraced. The role was to be Trump’s heirs and attendees. Their father took some regular pleasure in pointing out that they were in the back of the room when God handed out brains. Their sister Invanka, certainly no native genius, was the designated family smart person, her husband Jared the family’s smooth operator.”
  • Chapter 19(b): “The real swamp is the swamp of insular, inbred, incestuous interests (of Washington DC).”
  • Chapter 16: “In presidential annals, the firing of FBI director James Comey may be the most consequential move ever made by a modern president acting entirely on his own.”
  • Chapter 13: “The world of the rich is, in its fashion, self regulating. Social climbing has rules.”
  • Chapter 8: “It became almost immediately clear that the common purpose of the campaign and the urgency of the transition were lost as soon as the Trump team stepped into the White House. They had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him–or at least through him and almost solely for his purposes. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy, nor a team that could reasonably unite behind him.”
  • Chapter 7 (on how money laundering works): “One way the process can work is, roughly speaking, as follows: an oligarch makes an investment in a more or less legitimate third-party investment fund, which, quid pro quo, makes an investment in Trump.”

Chapter 7 is a particularly interesting chapter. It contains five theories on Trump’s Russia collusion which is, probably, the most significant aspect of Trump–other than his regime increasing the US debt to new highs. Of course, dear worst-reader, I read the book in February 2018. The book doesn’t really contain anything new as its content pretty-much ends around the fall of 2017. With that in mind, it does feel like the book is the script from which all news is being reported now. Yet some of it kept me almost enthralled.

This book is, at best, a well chronicled history of the first six months to a year of President Stupid and more importantly President Stupid’s… Trump-ism. If you are anti-Trump then you can easily stomach this book. If you’re pro-Trump this book doesn’t matter because, well, like Trump, you probably don’t read anyway. Also, Wolff does a good job of hiding his biases in this book. Yet when one watches him try to sell it on tv or when he appears on the Interwebnets, it might not be so obvious if he is anti-Trump. Oh how the appearance of being objective might help sales. Except, of course, for the child molesting pic he put on the back cover of this book.

Anywho.

Even though I did find myself struggling through chapters here and there, skipping huge parts of Wolff’s attempt at making something interesting that obviously isn’t, I’d recommend this book. Reason? Trump is literally a projection of not just a weak, spoiled mind, but also of an America that is just as rotten. I mean, come on. How else could such a person get elected? And I’m not sure that was Wolff’s intention. This is certainly no prize-redeeming piece of work. Indeed. Wolff has done nothing more than chronicle a huge $hitshow. And he’s done it fairly well.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-T

Hey Comrade! My School Of Greed Is Gonna Kick Your School Of Greed’s A$$

capitalism crisis deepens richard wolff

In order to cope with the two Ms (monotony & mendacity) of growing up in Suburban Hell of my beloved #Americant, I participated–at the duress of my broken family–in two organised sport activities. One of those activities was tennis. And, if I recall correctly, I was actually ranked within the top-100 players of my state during the tennis season of which I participated. Of course, let it be known, I couldn’t serve worth a hoot. Yet I was “ranked”. Yea, that says a lot about organised sports back then–long before the inheriting, under-achieving classes came to be what they’ve become and thereby given us #Trump. But I digress.

The second sport I participated in was Football. And I don’t mean football of the round ball kind. I played American football–where the ball is the proper shape. The reason for the shape? When that ball flies through the air it is either a bullet or a duck–and you better know what you’re doing when it comes your way. And so… There is clarity in (some) sports, dear worst-reader. That clarity is in how a ball can fly like a bullet through the sky.

Although I did participate in a few other sports here and there, e.g., lacrosse, baseball, wrestling, fencing and girls, football is the one that stands out the most in my worst-memory. Ask me if I regret wasting my time on it, I do. Then again, the sport did teach me a bit about participating with others in a so-called “team”. It really is a shame how my beloved #Americant (sport) and her cult of the entrepreneur (the team) have warped the idear of the game in recent years. “Team” for me had a different meaning once. That was the only thing worthwhile about playing football. No a total waste, that is.

Now get this: I learned a few other things while playing American football. For example, my coach used to tell us when we were doing the cardio portion of our daily practice–and we watched those soccer guys in the field next to us run like gazelles all day–that soccer is a game for communists. Can you believe that, dear worst-reader? Here’s how you teach youngsters–back in the day:

Whaaaa’ da heel kaind ah spo’art is it anywho if’n you caint use yer damn hands? It’s a communist spo’art, I tail yee. Dats zackly wha’ it eezz. Damn darn communists! -My Coach

My coach added something about balls shouldn’t be perfectly round anyway. “Nothing is perfect. Check your own,” he said. Of course, being the prepubescent worst-writer I was, during the last two years of wasting mind and body playing football, I actually believed that soccer players were communists. Heck, when I approached some of the guys on the soccer team, I would even ask them:

Say, Comrade, hoist any sickle and spades lately?

But. Again. I digress.

All this worst-talk about communists brings me to my latest read. It is a book by Comrade Richard Wolff. Comrade Wolff is a “professor of economics”. Comrade Wolff has a somewhat interesting presence on the Interwebnets, too. Much of his work can be found at http://www.democracyatwork.info and he even has a monthly podcast called Economics Update where he talks about all things-worst (man to occupy my heart) in this world of capitalism run amok.

At first I didn’t think much about reading this book. There was/is enough of/from Comrade Wolff online already. But then something he said itched me. That itch was Wolff’s academic POV of all-things economic. Better put, he writes and talks a lot about economics as though… Now hold a sec. Get ready for it. Sit down if you got a weak ticker.

Comrade Wolff talks about economics as if it is science.

Now. Did you get that? Let me repeat it just in case, dear worst-reader. According to worst-writer, economics ain’t no science. Instead it is (should be) an academic field within The Arts. But let’s not get too far off the issue of what itches me.

There is one topic that Comrade Wolff keeps comping back to over and over: He is obsessed with the pseudo economic science of Greece and Germania. That’s the real reason I broke down and bought this book. It’s also the reason I read it over a two month period. It’s not that it is hard to read. It is. It’s just that it is boring, too. Boring as boring can be. Boring as wrongly placed academia can be. But then again, so too are all things that try to be scientific that should instead be artsy. And guess what happened after I finally finished the book? Comrade Wolff’s obsession with Greece and Germania is still a mystery to me. Gosh darn it! I hate it when I pick the wrong friggin book!

Allow me to summarise my issue (itch) with Comrade Wolff’s obsession. Comrade Wolff says that Germania is a locomotive. He also says that Greece is a caboose. In case you’re unaware, the caboose is at the back of a choo-choo-train. A caboose is a special, single car that in olden times served as a kind of housing facility for those who worked on the train as it crossed landscapes. And so… Germania is the front of the train and Greece… Well, ok, you get the metaphor.

Btw, if you were to ask me why I expatriated to the EU my third1 most important reason for doing so would be because of the fascination of witnessing the catastrophe that is an effort to unite something that should never be united as though it were a train crossing some heartily confused landscape. Either that or I am a freak for Schadenfreude?

In #Eurowasteland where the choo-choo-train metaphor can only go so far, that which determines everything… Is the fcuking caboose. -worst-moi after living in this Euro shithole for the last 25 yrs.

Now wait a sec. Comrade Wolff says it another way. Here, try this (pseudo-paraphrase):

The #Eurowasteland caboose is literally a fcuk machine that rides the train. The train is made up of voyeur, perverted nation-states that like gawking at the fcuk-car from the back. And who’s the biggest voyeur of them all? That’s right…

Fcuking Germans!

In his podcast Economic Update I’ve listened to Comrade Wolff lambast the Germans because Greece is an economic disaster. That is, Greece is a disaster, according to Wolff, because of the Germans. IMHO, Comrade Wolff is wrong. Greece’s problems have nothing to do with Germans. Greece has problems because of Greeks. Comrade Wolff likes to focus on banks and bankers and how they take advantage of European pions–all of which is lead by dastardly Germans.

Whaaaaaa?

Worst-writer’s explanation of the Greece problem is much simpler–and much clearer. To paraphrase the great oral tradition now being propagated by #Americants in the form of #Trump: Europe is a shithole and it’s full of shiteaters.

That’s Greece’s problem.

In order to understand Greece and thereby the entirety of #Eurowasteland, aka, Greedland, all one has to do is look at what Europe has given the world. From the Bronze Age to the Renaissance and beyond, we can all thank Europe for mass, systematic, unadulterated greed. Luckily, in recent times, there has been something done to try and mitigate this great gift.

Since WW2 (or maybe it was WW1–who the fcuk is counting?) Europe’s gift to the world has been split into two schools of thought. There is the Anglo-American school (of greed) and there is the Germanic school (of greed). If one looks at the social and political structures of the various confused nations that make up Greedland–from locomotives to the cabooses–it’s easy differentiating between these two schools of greed. It’s also easy to figure out who’s the bigger or biggest Schadenfreud-ist.

Let’s summarise, shall we?

Greece is, out of choice, part of the Anglo-American school (of greed). It is failing miserably as a nation-state because of this choices. Therefore it doesn’t matter if Greece were in the EU, off the coast of the UK or stuck somewhere between Alabama and Montana. Because of its choices, Greece is where it is today. More importantly it doesn’t matter who or what state bank leant money to whom. Greece would be where it is no matter where it was at the end of any train–considering how it has traversed the landscape. Btw, most of southern Europe is failing in the same way as Greece. Those countries too have chosen the Anglo-American greed $hitshow. Which begs the question: Is there enough space at the end of the shit-train for all these fcuking cabooses?

And now for the other school of greed.

Pause. Oh God. Brace Yourself. Here it comes.

Those fcuking Krauts.

The Germania school of greed is not about Germans of old. Can you imagine how things would be if they still wore those stupid, pointy helmets and everybody was named Gunter Leckmichamarsch? No. We’re dealing with new Germans here. And these new Germans got a few things up their slimy sleeves, don’t you know. That’s right. The slime is the one thing that was never defeated in any of those dumba$$ wars, don’t you know. In fact, most of northern Europe likes the slime that is in the German sleeve. Hence northern stoic Europe, compared to the lazy south, is doing just fine. With that in mind, what’s your favourite school of greed?

One shouldn’t look at the caboose to see how the $hitshow train is running. Also, Greece is too minuscule to use as an example of the failures of capitalism. The fact that old Greeks have hoarded everything and thereby practically choked the country to death doesn’t make it an example of what or what not to do. It might just be better (easier) to focus more on human nature–which transcends all of the above–even Comrade Wolff. Again: economics is not science.

Then again, Greece is a good example for something else. Capitalism is nature’s best system for dealing with greed. For Comrade Wolff and so many others like him, everything is easier to decipher when lumped together and thrown into one basket. I guess that’s why I prefer artsy over science (science being the basket). Even though I can sympathise with some of Comrade Wolff’s ranting and raving against capitalism–for I’ve given Marx’s Das Capital a glance or three–he doesn’t really offer any viable alternative other than what all others offer: scapegoating.

Anywho. As usual, I’m off subject. This was supposed to be a quick worst-post about Comrade Wolff’s book:

Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown.

Wanting to understand Comrade Wolff’s POV regarding Greece was the reason I decided to give this book a read. (Un)fortunately this book only substantiates my belief that economics is a pseudo-science.

And so…

Is there an alternatives to the greed $hitshow (capitalism) we’re all living in today? If so, it’s not in this collection of essays. And. NO! Coops and workers taking over the system isn’t an alternative–which is mostly what Comrade Wolff proposes. If, on the other hand, you’re still kind of suffering from the duck-and-cover trauma of the 60s and 70s and hard-up on avoiding all things communist, then you don’t need to read this book. With that in mind, I’m gonna continue checking the Interwebnets for whatever Comrade Wolff has to offer. Who knows. If he keeps at it, he might figure out an alternative someday.

Good luck with that, Comrades.

Rant on.

-T


  1. I’m sure the first and second can be found somewhere at worstwriter.com ↩︎

The Not-So-Great Re-Read Of Someone’s History Re-Told Or How Greed Has Made Your $hitshow

a peoples history - howard zinn

A pseudo-review of this book is here. I recently felt compelled to re-read it. Reason? Something has stuck in my head for the last few years based on something I read about this book a few years back. I can’t remember who wrote it–or maybe it was something I even heard someone say–but it went something like this: A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a book of propaganda.

Whaaaaa? Propaganda?–I thought and thought and thought.

How can such a book be propaganda? All this book does is tell a certain side of a story in a certain way–regarding the history of the United States. It is a point-of-view of the history of the United States. Or? After re-reading it recently, though, especially in the aftermath of the #Trump election that is an abomination, and what’s going on in Charlottesville, VA, I finally realised what someone could mean when making the claim that Zinn’s book is propaganda. And in that vein, allow me to worst-elaborate as only worst-writer can.

My favourite parts of this book are the chapters that cover the history of the US from the Civil War to the end of WW2. I’ve always thought that this time period has determined what #americant is today. In essence, between 1865 to 1945 the United States finally cut the umbilical cord to Europe and set out on its own–as a small rodent prodigy. Luckily, that rodent prodigy, via the genetic and historical proximity of its birth, was endowed with two things that would determine THE future of the western world.

  1. It was born with a really big cock and
  2. It was born with a really little brain.

Coincidentally, such a combination, in order to grow, needed two more things.

  1. Lots of fcuking (see/hear “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz!) and
  2. something to busy its little mind.

I know. I know, dear worst-reader. Fcuking and thinking haven’t proven to be a good combination–considering the human condition. Which also means, according to worst-writer, my beloved #americant achieved its greatness within a grand divide–a juicy oyster-like crevice, if you will–that is between two human acts that are mutually exclusive, especially when compared to other species on this earth.

Big dicks and little brains. Let the magic begin, eh ladies!

The other grand thing that happened between 1865 and 1945–according to what I got out of Howard Zinn’s book–was that the little brain of America was being programmed to think in one very particular small-brain way–which may or may not coincide with the size of genitalia. The ideology of GREED was being permanently embedded in the American psyche after the Civil War. And not just embedded. It was made part of the whole–the whole idear of America–which, IMHO, was/is the only way to get around avoiding facing the reality that is our original sin (slavery). Howard Zinn doesn’t go anywhere near the reality of GREED in his historical re-counting. He simply narrates a somewhat left of centre point-of-view regarding racism, capitalism and a love for all-things greed. And that’s where the crux of Zinn’s book runs awry. Or. Put another way. I’ve finally figure how some people can consider Howard Zinn a propagandist.

One of the motivating factors for writing this post is wanting to expand one of my recent tweets. This tweet was motivated after reading about what’s been going on in Charlottesville, VA. A place I know well, btw. In fact, I lived in various parts of VA in my youth. It is a place I was glad to leave. It is a place I never care to return to. But enough about worst-moi.  Below is the tweet I wish to worst-expand on:

Allow me the following question: what does the racism and stupidity of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA, have to do with Howard Zinn being a propagandist? The answer, I fear, is easy. It’s all just a matter of perspective, of point-of-view, of racists being tired of being discriminated against. I mean, shouldn’t everyone have their say? Shouldn’t even stupid white people and their stupid politics and their well-earned poverty (yes, they’ve earned their poverty!) have a say? That about sums up how #americant can get to where it’s at… after the fcuking Civil War. Whose turn is it to have their say? For right wingers, Howard Zinn had his say (in his book). Since he had his say, others, not unlike the white supremacists of Charlottesville, VA, deserve to have their say, too. Ain’t that how it works, dear worst-reader? One side of the political spectrum wins. Then the other side wins. In-between there is faux newz, Rush Limbaugh, David Duke. Indeed. Really, really stupid white people start gathering after having spent most of their lives living in the wake of their fail-upward belief in a system that has ultimately duped them to the hilt of both mind and cock. This is all way better than openly avoiding (our) original sin.

Greed + small brains = …

It’s all a matter of perspective.

If one reads through some of the book reviews that are quoted on the Wiki page about Zinn’s book, there is one common theme that runs through all of them. Those who praise Zinn are from the left. Those who do not praise him are NOT from the left. For those who think that the political left and right are two threads that may or may not run through what people say about Zinn, I reckon I can’t argue with you on that. That’s because I see the left and right as one these days. Especially considering where my beloved #americant is in its current political iteration. With that in mind, #Trump didn’t win the election. The other politician, the one who would have obviously been better, simply threw the whole thing to the $hitshow. But don’t misunderstand me here, dear worst-reader.  I’m not making false equivalencies either. But. But. But. If you want there to be two parties battling over what you want to believe in, that’s your problem. Seriously. It is your problem.

We are dealing with Everything and the All of #americant, dear worst-reader. Whether it’s love, family, community, church, government, etc., etc., greed is what makes the whole $hitshow function. Greed is what makes people stupid enough to allow white supremacists, in fcuking 2017, to protest their right to take their country back–and, of course, make it great again! Up till the end of the 20th century, America did a pretty good job of managing all this greed. I mean, there was enough (greed) to go around. When, for whatever reason the barrel of greed that is #americant ran out, like our original sin, just avoid it–no matter what the means as long as all that’s left are big dicks and little brains.

If Howard Zinn is a propagandist, I’m good with that. Reason? I’d rather read his version of history than that which is being written now by those with LITTLE dicks and little brains. Re-reading this book can never be the wrong thing to do.

Rant onwards, suckers.

-T

Welcome To The Pseudo Science Of Your World, Your Pocket Book, Your Mind

j is for junk economics cover.jpg

Freedom? Ok. Let’s define it. (Long pause. Think. Continue pause.)

Money?

Travel?

Beauty & Fashion (as per Melania Trump’s RNC speech)?

In my quest to misunderstand this worst-world we must all live in, I periodically read a book or three about economics. Most of these books usually carry a bit of narration with them and leave out all the academic bullshit. That’s the only way I can get through them. This newest endeavour, though, is a bit different. For one, it doesn’t have much narration in it. It’s also a bit overly academic. I mean, it has X-Y charts and graphs that depict whatever it is the author tried to say using words–which, I guess, makes the imagery redundant. Or? Nomatter. There is something in this book that has saved it from ending up stuffed in the back of one of my bookshelves with a sad-face post-it note on its cover. Two-thirds of this book is a dictionary. And a pretty interesting dictionary at that. The rest of it is made up of various articles and essays by the author–most of which lost me because they were, well, too academic.

So me let me try that again. What the hell is freedom?

Answer: I have no fucking clue what freedom is.

From the day I was born to this very moment, other than spitting on a street and telling a teacher once how stupid s/he was, I have no idear what freedom is. And keep in mind, I was born and raised in #americant–you know, that city-on-hill where dreams come true and liberty reigns for all–i.e. as long as you have the money to pay for it. By the time I got to “F” in this pseudo-dictionary-book about the debacle that is today’s Economics, I was hoping that the author would define the word freedom for me. But he didn’t. Instead, Michael Hudson defines “free trade”, “free market” and “free lunch”. He also defines things like earned and unearned income. Then there’s his definition of productive vs. unproductive labor. Etc, etc. Of course he also defines Junk Economics, hence the title.

Michael Hudson goes through the whole economic alphabet and defines lots of other words by telling you what you think they mean–because of how you’ve heard or read about them, on, say, faux news or CNN or whatever it is you use to get informed about how fucked up the world is. And then he tells you what these words actually mean. In other words, according to what I got out of this book, Economics, per the author, is a pseudo-science. Ka-ching, baby!

Which brings me to my own little conclusion after reading this book:

Astrology ——-> Astronomy
Alchemy ———> Chemistry
Economics ——-> ????

The subtitle of this book is “A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception”. Now, dear worst-reader, what could an #americant economics professor mean by that subtitle? Indeed. The thread that permeates this entire book is the simple fact that Americans are being fed pseudo-science when it comes to economics, just like mankind was fed Astrology as it tried to figure out why certain heads go bald, rain didn’t fall when it should or how come I work and don’t get nothing for it? I suppose some would call the words we hear about economics today Orwellian, which Hudson refers to at times. But others, present worst-writing company included, would call it: land of the free to be stupid. So I guess that’s what freedom means. Or?

One of the roots of all the problems of the world today is none other than the misuse of words. Hence, newspeak, doublespeak, Orwell, etc., should be at the top of anyone’s mind when s/he thinks finding answers is out there. Either that or it’s time to move on. Which brings me to one final question. As noted above, if the pseudo-science of Astrology lead to the science of Astronomy, where will/can the pseudo-science of Economics lead?

But I digress.

Rant on.

-T

Becoming What We Defeat

days of destruction days of revolt cover.jpg

The chapters of this book are titled Days Of…

  • Theft
  • Siege
  • Devastation
  • Slavery
  • Revolt

Each chapter of this book takes place in a particular city or town of my beloved #americant. Each chapter goes deeper than the previous into the negative of what makes a once great country no longer great again. And each chapter features characters that were interviewed by Chris Hedges.  But before I get into the good, first this. The only problem I have with this book is 1) other than the chapter Days of Revolt, it doesn’t really inform (me) about what is going on back home that I didn’t already know and 2) the comics–or as others might put–the graphic novel sections of this book–felt to me to be more in the way than on the way. I guess I’m not a fan of comics–sorry, graphic novels. But I am interested in reading and/or owning the graphic novel Watchmen–and I already own Maus. But I digress.

I read Hedge’s American Fascist and Empire of Illusion a few years ago. Since then I’ve been reading his articles on truthdig.com. Unfortunately, not much from his books have stuck with me. That’s not because of Hedges, though. In fact, I’m a big fan of his speeches that are numerous on youtube. It’s just that, well, I guess I’ve started to lose my intellect. Either that or I just don’t give a sh*t anymore (about certain things). I suppose, in a way, I can easily blame such a loss on the frequency that I visit my beloved #americant or the amount of stuff I read about it (her)–which has been quite a bit since my step-father past and my mother isn’t getting any younger and #eurowasteland politics bores the krapp out of me. Indeed. Each visit to my beloved homeland has been scarier and scarier and scarier. My most recent visit, just last month, set new heights regarding what can come of a nation suffering from something that is no less than pathological. America really is starting to look and feel like a land of zombies. In fact, I bought Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt to accompany the trip.

I managed to read two-thirds of the book on the flight to PHL and within the first few days of my arrival. Then I got sick as a dog as the weather in Maryland was worse than in Germany. I mean, I froze my butt off the first few days I was there. And it’s not that I’m not used to cold weather. I guess I’m not used to going from far north Germania, where it was warm, to somewhat southerly Atlantic coast Maryland and freezing my a$$ off. So. Yeah. I got sick. And then I got caught up in the all work I’m supposed to do when visiting my mom. It’s just that my sickness didn’t want to go away. Of my two week visit, I was out of it for almost ten days with the worst head-cold and flu that I’ve had in years. I ended up finishing this book when I got back to Germany. But, again, I digress.

By-the-bye, I got lost in Camden, NJ, once, which is featured in one of the chapters of this book, after I switched my Atlantic flight destination from Dulles Airport to PHL (from Frankfurt). Back then there was no GPS to guide me and I made a few wrong turns leaving PHL and the next thing I know I’m in NJ. Aghast! Other than the panic that ensued being a caucasian driving a rental car through Camden, I remember vividly the landscape of #americant that was nothing new to me. It was just another broken place. In fact, a city like Camden looked as familiar as the small coal mining town my step-father grew up in that has been decimated like any other with mine and plant closings galore. To me, these places are all part of Reganomics and neoliberal greed politics that #americants have been voting for–a world that I was able to get out of so many years ago. As I follow all the goings-on back home, it’s sometimes hard to have mercy on those who are obviously too stupid to see what they are doing to themselves. I guess, in a way, I saw it all coming–first hand! Camden, NJ, is everywhere in the US. It’s everywhere there’s an abandoned strip mall, more potholes than asphalt on highways, it’s in every dive-bar where jaundice drunks occupy the rundown churches as much as the rundown Walmarts and every–EVERYONE!–is screaming about making something great again. Yes. Everywhere.

With that in mind, this book didn’t do much for me on the learning front. Except for the last chapter. Indeed. The last chapter, Days of Revolt, saved this book because I haven’t read enough about the Occupy Movement that, to me, seemed to come and go as fast as a rational thought on #americant cable TV news.  On top of that, Hedges manages to make a connection that has been lingering in the back of my mind for years. When people ask me “why Germany” I usually just tell them it’s because of the girls and the beer. But sometimes I’ll break down and give them the real reason. It was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that brought me to my expatriation–because I was right in the middle of it. And it was not just the joy of living in the end of the Cold War. It was the fact that the idear of authoritarian rule was finally gonna end. In those days I never thought in terms of America being the centre of the universe–whether it’s great or great-again. To me, the idear of how the people in Eastern Europe were able to discard the authority of The Soviets without violence was beyond mesmerising. Never in my wildest childhood Cold War dreams did I think it could happen. And even though the whole movement didn’t start in East Germany, the fall of that Wall will forever be my beacon. And then there’s the connection I started to make–not unlike Hedges makes in the final chapter of this book.

A quarter century has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Neoliberalism is rampant and unabated in the western world not unlike an opposite ideology was rampant in Eastern Europe thirty years ago. The result of having gotten rid of the authoritarian rule of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union hasn’t quite turned out to be what it should be. Or? In my worst-opinion, the west has become the thing we defeated. Hedges manages to see this in the last chapter of this book. And so. I’ve always wondered where are the revolutionists that would call out the West for what it has become. Is that revolutionist Chris Hedges? It might just be. Or was it the movement that came and went with the Wall Street Occupiers in Liberty Square, NY, in 2011? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that there is a heavy irony when considering what #americant has done to itself and subsequently the world since the fall of the Soviet Union. Just look deeply at our response to September 11, 2001, including the subsequent largest government expansion since… And check out those bank bailouts and the amount of consumer credit run amok. And then there’s the recent election that has given the world Trump & awe….

Why has no one been able to see the connection to a not-so-distant past with all that has happened in this still somewhat young new century? Ok. At least Chris Hedges has seen it. I think I have too. So. What the heck. Let history repeat itself.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-t

Who Eats Who And What Is On Third

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“We Kennedys eat Rockefellers for breakfast.”

Imagine Robert Kennedy saying that. Imagine the vehemence that could fill the air once those words were published. Imagine the Kennedy and Rockefeller families with a slight twist: they are the Hatfields and the McCoys. Or just just forget all that and go back to third grade (or maybe fifth or sixth or seventh–or, at the least, never graduate above the sophomoric). In a system that has thrived on greed and allure–both being the catalyst for the economics of trickle down–it’s a wonder that more #americants haven’t slaughtered themselves as trickle down withers to zero. But then again, with what’s going on in Oregon these days, maybe there is something out there that might cause a mass wake up. Most certainly the death (slaughter) of the Kennedy family woke no one up. Yet, worst-writer can’t help but question where all this nonsense comes from. Nonsense being best defined through the behaviour of people, the behaviour of a nation. It is said that a persons true character comes through in a time of crisis. Does the same apply to a nation? But I digress. §I came across the book The Devil’s Chessboard through an interview I watched with the author here back in October. Recent travel meant I had to fill my Kindle and this book made the list. Of course, I was skeptical about buying it but something did stand out based on the above referenced interview. The interview did give off a hint of conspiracy-theory but David Talbot was able to convince me that this piece of work had something more to it. In my quest to maintain as rational a mind as possible, it’s hard at times to sift through the nonsense that is #americant without falling prey to conspiracy theory. The advent of faux newz on the one hand and the long standing mindlessness of conspiracy-theory on the other, it’s a wonder that the country hasn’t fallen prey to some blonde blue-eyed dictator. Or has it? I, for one, never thought much about the conspiracy to kill JFK but the Warren Report didn’t make much of an impression either. Yet the movie by Oliver Stone changed all that. Now don’t get me wrong. The JFK assassination isn’t the same conspiracy-theory as the moon landing. The Zapruder film saw to that. But there is something about all the unanswered questions regarding JFK that the government covered up. I mean, “cover-up” is really the only thing we know that happened. Or? Nomatter. §David Talbot does something different. He’s actually explaining a mindset in this book. He takes a new angle on trying to explain a mindset, a rationale, of how certain people within the upper echelons of government and (big) business actually think. That such a way of thinking could lead to the assassination of Kennedy is a bit far-fetched–and Talbot doesn’t make that direct link. But what he does make clear is that JFK did represent a new way of thinking in America. And that way of thinking was counter to how a few other people thought. Is that then the reason he was killed? What exactly was JFK’s way of thinking? §Enter Allen Dulles, the CIA and a bunch of old, conniving white men who are stuck in the mind of a ten year old that has Howitzers sticking out of every orifice. What to do with those Howitzers, eh? I guess–so goes their rationale–one has to put them to some kind of use otherwise they’d just be a waste. And so. The mindset of adult-children with cannons sticking out of their arses has taken over a once great nation-state. Which means all we can say now is: it was fun while it lasted. Or? Indeed. The Devil’s Chessboard is a bit of a bore to read–if you know anything about American history and American foreign policy. Yet I stayed in the book because of how the author was able to weave a single thread through it from beginning to end. That thread is the idea that a certain way of thinking is what rules the show. It’s not so much about politics, parties or individuals running things. America is run by a way of thinking. And not only is there one way of thinking but a different way of thinking will not be tolerated. This is how the system conspires, how it perpetuates. And since most Americans have fallen for the lie of trickle-down no other way of thinking can prevail. Which brings me to #americant. If anything is true/real about David Talbot’s book, it’s the fact that America still has a chance. It has a chance to break free from the singularity that rules it today. And even though Talbot doesn’t go anywhere near trying to explain that, he does masterfully explain the mindset of one of the rulers, one of the powers-that-be, a man who’s way of thinking is the reason there is so much demagoguery, right-wing batshit, faux newz, and/or militiamen fighting for “rights” they never had in the first place. Or maybe not. Rant on. -Tommi