Monday, April 30, 2018

The Heartbreak of Neoliberal Brand Damage

MSNBC pundit Joy Reid said on Saturday that it was "heartbreaking" for her to discover that she used to be such a blatant homophobe and that she "didn't do better back then," in the Dark Ages of the Early 21st Century. But to prove to her corporate sponsors that even damaged brands like hers can be rehabilitated with just the right public relations product, she used her Saturday "AM Joy" show to scrub herself clean with a whole panel full of LGBTQ human brillo pads. She sudsed and she buffed and she polished, she apologized and she pleaded, in a valiant 30-minute infomercial attempt to transform her tarnished image to brand new heights of surface brightness.

 And lo, she was verily declared to be a Profile in Courage by the members of The Club. Both the Queen of Russiagate herself, Rachel Maddow, and drone assassination legal eagle Eric Holder tweeted out their awe and admiration. And thus the defense contractors and the Big Pharma pill-pushers who keep Joy Reid on the air have given her a reprieve. Since not one single sponsor is fleeing in protest, Reid will keep her job as the go-to scold for the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party will continue to pretend that Joy Reid is a "public intellectual" for the accomplishment of once having written a fawning book about Barack Obama, and for continuing to support Hillary Clinton while putting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump into the same deplorable basket. Reid will keep the centrist identity politics dream alive in the interests of capitalism and citizen-consumership.

So what if she's bashed gays and Muslims in even some of her relatively recent tweets?  So what if she initially tried to weasel her way out of her dilemma by lying and claiming that her old blog had been "hacked?" All is forgiven if one is a member of The Club.

Members of The Club just can't seem to get enough of showing their true right-wing liberal colors these days. After circling the wagons around Joy Reid, they're circling the wagons around their beloved faux-nemesis, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. In case you hadn't heard, Sarah came in for a scathing put-down by comic Michelle Wolf at Saturday's annual Correspondents' Dinner. Here's a clip of the performance, which still has The Club mavens clutching their pearls in dismay:

In the interests of the free corporate press and the selective interpretation of the First Amendment, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association issued a lengthy apology for Wolf's performance, apparently having assumed that Wolf would act like Joy Reid and restrict her hilarious wrath to Trump, the Whole Trump and Nothing But the Trump. So when Wolf also eviscerated the corporate media, it was simply too much to bear. It does not advance "the interests of journalism" to have the interests of journalism critiqued at an event whose sole incestuous purpose has always been mutual masturbation among close relatives in the Media-Political Complex. (The one previous exception to this rule was when Stephen Colbert blasted the press for literally going along with Bush's invasion of Iraq. That was before Colbert achieved membership, and thus redemption, in The Club himself and his faux pas is now as newly old as Joy Reid's homophobic blog posts.)

Anyway, Michelle Wolf should probably be worried, because some of the quips from journalists are even funnier than her own routine. Peter Baker of the New York Times sniped that "I don't think we advanced the cause of journalism tonight."  What an understatement. What modesty.

Andrea Mitchell of NBC said Wolf's routine was even worse than that time Don Imus ridiculed Bill Clinton for his philandering. Maggie Haberman of the Times praised Sarah Huckabee Sanders for "impressively" not walking out when she found herself on the receiving end of the taunts for a change.

But the best defense of The Club of all comes from Mika "Morning Joe" Brzezinski:

Apparently, Mika would be more amenable to watching a childless single woman get humiliated on national TV, or watching a less-important woman get humiliated in a Walmart parking lot. It's not the humiliation that irks Mika - it's the fact of Mika watching it happen. She broadcasts her own sexism by defining the status of women based not upon their brains or accomplishments or ethics, but upon their marital and procreative status. Women have to support a lying liar like Huckabee simply because she virtuously possesses a husband and kids. Mika also broadcasts her classism when she asserts that all women have a duty to unite whenever female Club attack animals are attacked in public. I'm sure, though, that if her bigotry and hypocrisy were ever pointed out to her, Mika would be every bit as heartbroken as her NBC colleague, Joy Reid.

What I found way more offensive than Michelle Wolf (and I didn't find her offensive at all) were the incest-fests where Barack Obama joked in 2010 about killing the Jonas Brothers with drones and where George W. Bush pretended in 2004 to be looking for those non-existent WMDs under his Oval Office desk. No discomfort or heartbreak was displayed by the corporate press back then, in the Dark Ages of the Early 21st Century. On the contrary. The Club roared and howled and guffawed in appreciative laughter at each of those performances, because they were absolutely complicit in them.

No apologies were issued by The Club, and no big public relations efforts at damage control ensued. Nobody suggested cancelling future White House Correspondents' dinners, because nobody with coveted membership credentials was even close to feeling disgusted.

 War and war marketing pay a lot of their bills, and the obscene profits and destruction and jingoism help to keep them in the careerist lifestyles and mindsets to which they all have become so grotesquely accustomed.

Only in Dark Ages America could a comic's cracks about a White House propagandist's eye-shadow be deemed more offensive than millions of people getting killed and maimed in the US Imperium's endless crusades of state-sponsored terrorism.

As Michelle Wolf noted at the end of her routine: "And Flint still has no water."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Rent Is Too Damned Low

So says that zany HUD director, Ben Carson, who wants people receiving Section 8 housing assistance to start paying as much as triple their current rent. His reasoning, if you can call it that, is that a triple kick in the teeth by the landlord will be just like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The moribund renters will immediately hoist themselves off their cushy catafalques of dependency, flee their apartments, and land a fantastic, good-paying job that very same day.

No matter that, unless they're elderly or disabled, most of the people who receive government rent subsidies already do work, often at two or three minimum-wage jobs -- and that, without the Section 8 vouchers, their monthly take-home pay couldn't cover the costs of food, utilities, gas and vehicle maintenance, child care and clothing.

As much as the Trump administration loves to bash the Democrats, its campaign to punish the poor builds directly upon the Clinton administration's agenda to "end welfare as we know it." The Trumpies have even dubbed it Welfare Reform 2.0, in homage to Bill Clinton's Step 1.0. The 1996 termination of cash welfare benefits effectively condemned a million and a half Americans, mostly women and children, to whole lifetimes of extreme poverty. That's defined as existing (you can't call it living) on $2 or less per day.

Not satisfied with those figures, Donald Trump signed another one of his vague orders earlier this year, calling for federal agencies to impose work requirements on people receiving food assistance and Medicaid as well as public housing assistance. At least seven states have already required Medicaid clients to either work or enroll in job training programs at their own expense if they want to continue getting health care.

The demonization of poor people as lazy "takers" even as the extremely wealthy are getting outrageously richer thanks to recent Republican tax cuts, is of course nothing new. Ben Carson, good Christian that he is, is merely following the playbook of all the missionaries before him, dividing the good and deserving poor from the bad and undeserving poor, who are selfishly sucking up all that glorious rental assistance. Rather than calling for the wealthy to be taxed more to take care of the poor, Carson and his cohort believe that the poor should be forced to share their meager resources among themselves. There are too many miserable people allegedly "gaming" the system and deliberately impoverishing their fellow poor people. Therefore, the bureaucratic system should be adjusted so as to appear more generous as it dispenses fewer dollars to a greater number of people.

Carson seems to be plagiarizing the tract of two trailblazing Victorian housing "reformists", who after investigating "the condition of the abject poor" in Dickensian London, concluded,
"An attempt must be made to relieve in some wise and practical, though very limited way, the abounding misery, whilst care is taken to prevent the abuse of charity. In this manner the injudicious and inexperienced may easily do more harm than good, pauperising the people whom they wish to help, and making hypocrites instead of Christians. To indicate what we mean we may mention one case pointed out to us of a woman who attended three different places of worship on the Sunday and some others during the week, because she obtained charitable help from all."

Lest he, too, be accused of hypocritically pauperizing the poor, Carson proposes relieving the misery by raising the rent for subsidized housing clients to 35% of their gross income, up from the current 30%. This hike would affect about half of the nearly 5 million families now receiving benefits. The very poorest of the poor -- about 712,000 households -- would end up paying $150, or three times the current cap of $50. The Number Three does have some pretty heavy mystical Christian symbolism, after all. Both Jesus and Lazarus were supposedly resurrected after three days in the tomb, Christ was on the cross for three hours, and then of course there's the Holy Trinity, and Peter denying Jesus three times, etc. and ad infinitum.

But, I digress.

 It's not fair, said Carson in a conference call with reporters, for a quarter of poor Americans to be getting housing aid when another 75% of them are on waiting lists or even dying before receiving vouchers. From the Washington Post:
   Every year, it takes more money, millions of dollars more, to serve the same number of households,” Carson said. “It's clear from a budget perspective and a human point of view that the current system is unsustainable.”
He added that decades-old rules on rent calculations are “far too confusing,” often resulting in families who earn the same income paying vastly different rent “because they know how to work the system.”
HUD wants to scrap rules allowing deductions for medical and child-care costs when determining rent, which Carson said gave some tenants an unfair advantage.
“They know how to include certain deductions that other people may not be aware of,” Carson said. “We really want to level the playing field and make it much more even for everyone.”
Carson wants to make Charles Dickens's descriptions of abject Victorian poverty come to great life again, right here in Exceptional USA. Because if he and his kleptocratic cronies can't divide poor people and pit them against one another in a violent battle for stingy government help, then what possible good does it do to have an oligarchy?

With any luck, the Democratic minority will minimize the damage, and perhaps negotiate a slightly less onerous rent increase rather than, say, agitating for the construction of more public housing stock as well as shortening the outrageously long wait times for Section 8 vouchers. In Los Angeles, for example, the list was recently reopened after having been closed to new applicants for the past 13 years.

This might also be an optimal time for the Rent Is Too Damned High Party to go totally national and mainstream. Jimmy McMillan, the New York gubernatorial candidate who quit politics a couple of years ago because he said voters are too "brainwashed," received 41,000 votes out of 4 million cast in the 2010 election.

In the customary derogatory style with which it writes about "fringe" candidates, the New York Times groused in 2015 that McMillan had had some nerve running on a tenants' rights platform when, as a Vietnam War vet, he was selfishly collecting disability payments and living rent-free in a subsidized apartment himself. Forget about the return of Charles Dickens-era living conditions for tenants in the Age of Trump, because as far as the Times was concerned, McMillan himself was nothing but one of those comical minor characters straight out of a Dickens novel.

Now, I know this might seem hard for some of you to believe, but the Times actually deemed McMillan to be even zanier than our current HUD director, whom the clownish Trump once had the chutzpah to call "sleepy" right in the middle of a campaign debate. Very serious reporter Alexander Burns wrote that incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo had cynically used McMillan to boost his own candidacy. (a ploy later used less successfully by the Clintonites, when they attempted to damage Jeb Bush by cynically triangulating and boosting Donald Trump):
In a move intended to minimize the influence of his Republican opponent, Carl P. Paladino, Mr. Cuomo insisted that a televised debate include all of the minor-party candidates running for governor. Mr. McMillan, a fast-talking performer in Dickensian costume, was a breakout star.
A “Rent Is Too Damn High” music video followed, along with appearances on cable television — a plot twist that may have presaged, in some respects, the rise of other populist entertainer-cum-candidates, like Donald J. Trump.
Well, times and political realities have certainly changed. "Send in the Clowns," once considered such a plaintive romantic song, has suddenly morphed into a victory dance with a brass band. The last election proves that anything is possible. New doors have been opened. So I think Jimmy should seriously consider staging a comeback, even this late in his career, and run against either Cuomo or Trump, if for no other reason than it would drive the New York Times utterly bonkers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Should Big Brother Be Public or Private?

According to a new Pew poll, Americans hate the idea of the government controlling what they see, hear and read. But they're just fine with Silicon Valley calling the shots over what is and what is not "fake news."

Or so it seems on the surface. You see, the pollsters artificially limited their survey to just those two choices: public control of information vs. private control of information. Respondents were not asked whether they'd prefer no  censorship at all. See the explanatory note at the bottom of the graphic: "Respondents who did not give an answer are not shown." 

The non-answerers appear to have taken a tip from Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener: as a form of protest against bullshit and control, they "preferred not to" to choose between two Big Brothers. So as far as the Pew Charitable Trust is concerned, the refusenicks don't count as desirable authoritarian personalities.

Offering people that third sensible alternative of nobody controlling internet information would not be in keeping with the aims of the Surveillance State. Let's face it: there is no real dichotomy between the nation-state and the corporate social media giants. Silicon Valley is essentially a nation-state in its own right, what with its annual GDP far exceeding that of many sovereign countries.

Therefore, offering people a "choice" between control by the Empires of Twitter, Apple, Google and Facebook, or control by their elected representatives is no choice at all. The oligarch-controlled government and the tech empires are essentially the same parasite, existing only to feast and grow fat off the money and data of the citizen-consumers of America.

Both legislators and social media tycoons will now be able to wave this distorted poll around as proof positive that Americans would dearly love to have all their news consolidated and monitored for their own protection. The only controversy will be which powerful entity can protect us better.

In an effort to keep the truth about the distorted nature of the poll from as many citizen-consumers as possible, the Pew people then proceeded to artificially divide the citizen-consumers of America into the artificial categories of Democrat and Republican. This is the standard fake attempt to make some fake sense out of the "fake news crisis initiative" that's taken precedence over discussion of social policies for the public good.

 It's all about the marketing of fake freedom.
 Majorities of both parties agree that people’s freedom to access and publish information online is a priority over having the government take action to curtail false information in a way that could limit those freedoms (60% of Republicans and Republican leaners say this, as do 57% of Democrats and Democratic leaners). There are partisan differences when it comes to steps from technology companies. A majority of Democrats (60%) favor action by technology companies to restrict misinformation, even if it includes broader information limits online. Republicans, on the other hand, are about equally divided between the two options: 48% favor technology companies taking steps to control misinformation, and 50% favor protecting freedoms.
That Democrats would favor the tech giants controlling and restricting information more so than do Republicans would be kind of surprising, were it not for the Democratic Party's relentless, 18-month-long Russiaphobia campaign. After being raked over the coals by the DNC for publishing anti-Clinton ads from a St. Petersburg troll farm, Facebook has now become penitent enough to hire thousands of security state and law enforcement personnel to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

But luckily for actual democracy, the poll found that younger people of all political persuasions are less likely to accept surveillance by the tech giants than are adults 50 or older, 64% of whom said they'd welcome their news being policed by private overseers. "Only" about half of younger respondents want their information to be so controlled.

Maybe the control-loving youthful half just haven't had enough post-secondary education yet, because most respondents with at least some college oppose outside efforts to curb "fake news" and prefer to make their own decisions about what is true and what is bogus. The less education that people have, the more willing they are to have others higher up the technocratic food chain make their decisions for them.

No wonder there is a war on teachers, kids, and public education. The only freedom that the ruling class racketeers are marketing to an ever more dumbed-down population is the freedom from independent, critical thought. Their method of enslaving people is to offer them them the illusion of autonomy and choice, and then cynically label it "empowerment."

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hillary's Hypocrisy Will Never Cease

Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State once allegedly joked in a cabinet meeting that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be droned to death for publishing state secrets, has now morphed into her newest role: champion of free speech and press freedoms in the Age of Trump.

For some reason, Clinton was invited to give the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture at PEN America's World Festival in New York City on Sunday night. As reported by Sopan Deb of the New York Times,
 She criticized Mr. Trump, not so subtly comparing him to authoritarian leaders who had suppressed journalism in their countries.
“Today, we have a president who seems to reject the role of a free press in our democracy,” she said. “Although obsessed with his own press coverage, he evaluates it based not on whether it provides knowledge or understanding, but solely on whether the daily coverage helps him and hurts his opponents.”
After listing more examples of Mr. Trump’s attacks on the news media, Mrs. Clinton said, “Now given his track record, is it any surprise that, according to the latest round of revelations, he joked about throwing reporters in jail to make them ‘talk’?”
This is highly ironic, given that when Clinton headed the State Department, she operated with a decidedly authoritarian bent herself when it came to the freedom of the press. While calling for a free and open internet abroad, and while praising the Arab Spring and the "Twitter and Facebook revolutions" inspired by Wikileaks, she doubled down on censorship at home. She went so far as to attempt purging Wikileaks from the web after it dumped embarrassing State Department cables for the whole world to see, covering everything from US war crimes and cover-ups to dirty tricks and petty gossip. One particularly cringe-worthy cable detailed how Clinton herself had ordered that all the plastic cups used by foreign diplomats at a U.N. conference be collected for DNA testing.

Meanwhile, her official 2011 Internet Freedom Agenda stated, “the internet has become the public space of the 21st century – the world’s town square, classroom, marketplace, coffeehouse, and nightclub. . . The value of these spaces derives from the variety of activities people can pursue in them, from holding a rally to selling their vegetables, to having a private conversation. These spaces provide an open platform, and so does the internet. It does not serve any particular agenda, and it never should.”

But as Timothy Garton Ash notes, this agenda simply did not and does not apply when it comes to the exercise of free speech within the United States itself. He calls it the Clinton Paradox:
When WikiLeaks, founded to release publicly significant information not published elsewhere, published information embarrassing to the US government, Clinton helped to co-ordinate action by government, banks and internet service providers to withdraw support from the organization and (unsuccessfully) remove it from the web. Other domestic policies likewise tend away from freedom and towards control. For example, the US Federal Communications Commission has now ruled that mobile devices are not subject to the net neutrality rules that prohibit discrimination of media content based on its source or destination.  Instead, mobile operators, who now control the means through which an increasing number of people go online, can block, throttle, or degrade any kind of content they like.  Most recently, the ominously named E-PARASITE bill was introduced into the US Congress. It stipulates that an internet service provider can be liable for any content or site that it delivers that has a “high probability” of being used for copyright infringement.  Critics of the bill claim that this provision could extend to almost any site that hosts user-generated content.
(Note: thanks in large part to freedom of expression on the internet, the "e-parasite bill" ultimately went down in defeat. But then came the destruction of net neutrality under Trump. Hillary did not address net neutrality during Sunday's "press freedom" speech and refused, as Wikileaks-released emails show, to champion it during her 2016 campaign. )

So it was something of a mystery to me why PEN, an organization of writers devoted to protecting the First Amendment and standing up to government censorship, would have invited Hillary Clinton to deliver their keynote address in the first place. So I went to the PEN website in search of clues. And I immediately got my answer.

It's the anti-Trump #Resistance, stupid! Writer-members have obediently and narrowly channeled their crusade for free self-expression into the vile person of Donald J. Trump, and only Donald J. Trump. He did, after all, just obligingly confirm their worst fears by joking he'd like to put reporters critical of his regime in jail for a couple of days to keep them in line. To be fair to Trump, though, this threat was merely on the say-so of fired FBI Director James Comey, who for his own jokey authoritarian part, also thinks it would be a fine idea to "put some (journalists' and leakers') heads on pikes" in this country if they start talking and writing too un-American. 

So I guess as far as PEN is concerned, the enemy of our enemies (Trump and Comey) is our friend, regardless of whether she would love to silence Wikileaks and jokily kill its founder. No matter that the Obama administration in which Hillary served was dubbed by former New York Times reporter James Risen "the greatest enemy of press freedoms in a generation" and that Barack Obama prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous regimes combined. The PEN blurb heralding Hillary's appearance gushes:
The theme of this year’s Festival—beginning April 16 and comprising more than 60 events across New York City—is Resist and Reimagine. The line-up will draw on global experiences, perspectives, and narratives to help light the way toward surmounting current crises here at home. At a time of unprecedented threats to free speech, open discourse, and the rights of historically marginalized groups​, Secretary Clinton will draw on her experience as the nation’s top diplomat and her ​career in politics​ to underline the centrality of free speech—broadly defined and vociferously defended—in sustaining healthy democracies and vibrant societies. Clinton has shown a life-long commitment to amplifying lesser-heard voices and buttressing safeguards for free expression.
Back in 2011, however, when Hillary Clinton was strenuously engaged in trying to purge Wikileaks from the Internet, and even allegedly calling for death to Assange, the PEN organization was vigorously defending him and his organization, and encouraging media outlets not to bow to government pressure against publishing the released documents. From its statement: 
The Wikileaks issue marks a significant turning point in the evolution of the media and the sometimes conflicting principles of freedom of expression and privacy and security concerns. The culture of increasing secrecy in governments and the rise of new technology will inevitably lead to an increasing number of transparency issues of this sort. PEN International believes it is important to acknowledge that while the leaking of government documents is a crime under U.S laws, the publication of documents by Wikileaks is not a crime. Wikileaks is doing what the media has historically done, the only difference being that the documents have not been edited.
PEN International urges those voicing opinions regarding the Wikileaks debate to adopt a responsible tone, and not to play to the more extreme sections of society. In a world where journalists are regularly physically attacked, imprisoned and killed with impunity, calling for the death of a journalist is irresponsible and deplorable.
Yet only two years later, a survey by the PEN organization revealed that many of its member-writers were feeling so cowed by Edward Snowden's revelations of mass NSA surveillance on US citizens that they had begun to self-censor. 

More than a quarter of the writers reported curtailing their time spent on the Internet and deliberately avoiding writing about and talking about certain topics in email and phone conversations. Another 16 percent admitted to censoring themselves in their articles and books. The majority of respondents thought that their activities were being monitored by the US government. The topics that they reported being afraid to write or talk about included military affairs, the Occupy movement, the Middle East and North Africa, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the study of "certain languages," and criticism of the US government.

Fast forward another four years, and the fear and self-censorship have apparently reached soaring new heights. PEN invites Hillary Clinton, of all people, to lecture professional writers about freedom of speech.

 Arthur Miller must be rolling in his grave. 

 And Julian Assange is still a political prisoner, his own Internet connection completely cut off under pressure from the US government. The Democratic Party is even bizarrely suing him, along with his supposed co-conspirators Trump and Russia, for a "conspiracy" to steal the election from Hillary Clinton and thereby destroy American democracy.

For such a sore loser, Hillary Clinton has certainly turned out to be one hell of a big winner. She keeps right on ticking. And sadly, PEN seems to have become just one more inmate in what Firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher so pithily called the "veal pen."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Speaking Ill of Barbara Bush Is Deemed Un-American

Randa Jarrar, a tenured creative writing professor at Cal State Fresno, is being investigated by her employer for tweeting: "Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.”

This amazing departure from the flood of hagiography on the late Barbara Bush has evoked the wrath of decent people and Internet trolls all over America. Their belief in the First Amendment is apparently not as important in their belief in Emily Post, not to mention their belief a wrathful Old Testament God.

It is deemed improper to speak ill of the dead no matter how awful they may have been in life. And when an awfully important and powerful person dies, it is especially incumbent upon all good nonthinking Americans to pretend that they were living saints, regardless of whether you "agreed" with them or not. Death is a magical thing to magical-thinking people. It bestows upon the corpse, especially the still-warm corpse, a glow of righteousness for the mere fact that it no longer breathes. Speak ill of the dead, and you risk the dead person striking you dead, whether it be from their exalted perch in heaven and from the lowest circle of Hell. Even the most enlightened and liberal Americans can harbor an atavistic belief in ghosts and divine retribution.

And even if you don't believe in ghosts, and you have not joined in lockstep awe of Barbara Bush, you should feel ashamed of yourself for dissing her while her loved ones are still grieving. This is despite the fact that her loved ones are not so grief-stricken themselves that they canceled their previously scheduled plutocratic confab in Dallas. (see my previous post.) Just like a multi-day wake, it will end on the very day of Barbara's funeral in a Christian church.

Even though some of America's richest people are now gathered together at Dubya's presidential shrine to talk about money and power and influence instead of gathering to pray for the Matriarch, Professor Randa Jarrar and all of you heretics should at least feel ashamed of yourselves for not being in lockstep with our beloved awesome liberal ex-presidents, who are falling all over themselves in awe of Barbara Bush. 

The Washington Post leads its own smear piece on the comparatively powerless Professor Jarrar by juxtaposing her irreverent tweet with the bland words of two of the most powerful men in the country:
In the hours after Barbara Bush died Tuesday, even those who didn’t share the former first lady’s political views expressed their condolences and recounted warm memories of the Bush family matriarch.

Former president Bill Clinton, the man who once campaigned against her husband, called Bush “a remarkable woman” with “grit & grace, brains & beauty.” Another former president, Barack Obama, said she had “humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.”
The Post then goes on to compare these calm and reasonable words with the "rants" of Jarrar against the Twitter backlash. 
School officials also said they were reviewing the tenured professor’s position.
More than 2,000 people had replied to Jarrar before she made her Twitter account private, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Some were upset at what they viewed as her incivility about a woman widely regarded as genteel.
For others, the sin was more basic: She had spoken ill of the dead.
Jarrar pointed to the comments as an example of “what it’s like to be an Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout online expressing an opinion.”
“Look at the racists going crazy in my mentions right now,” she tweeted.
The Post quotes the college's president as saying that Jarrar's "taunting" remarks (including her snarkily referring Twitter critics to a suicide prevention hotline) "were beyond free speech. This was disrespectful. A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish. We are all held accountable for our actions."

Well, not so much if you started an illegal war and "tortured some folks" as did the honored and rehabilitated George W. Bush, or if you destroyed the entire global economy, as did the Wall Street bankers. This is, after all, Exceptional America. In any event, Jarrar has apparently so threatened Fresno State that officials have now put "extra security" in place in order to safeguard the safe-thinking population who harbor nothing but kind words and thoughts about Mrs. Bush.  And for further protection, in appeasement to the wrathful etiquette gods, the campus flags were lowered to half staff,  and College Republicans have scheduled a memorial service in her honor.

In case that isn't enough paranoia and superstition, the public shaming and virtual stoning of the free-thinking Professor Jarrar has even migrated to the Kingdom of Amazon where trolls have posted hundreds of harsh reviews on her books (which they haven't read) and thus lowered her ratings.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, who owns both the Washington Post and Amazon, will deliver a sold-out speech at George W. Bush's shrine on Saturday. This appearance has nothing whatsoever to do with honoring Barbara Bush, and everything to do with burnishing his image and instilling hope in Dallas that he will pick that Texas city as his second US headquarters, at much taxpayer expense. 

Cash-strapped municipalities are in a virtual bidding war to become part of the Bezos Empire. In exchange for his promise to create an estimated 50,000 new low-paying jobs for the winning city, the winning city will be expected to foot the bill for the infrastructure to ensure the smooth and ceaseless flow of profits to the richest man in America as well the smooth and ceaseless flow of goods to America's good-thinking citizen-consumers.

Only in America could this oligarch, whose employees are so poorly paid that they qualify for food stamps and Medicaid, enjoy the respect and a greater right to free speech than a professor whose talent and specialty is creative writing. 

She not only thinks independently, she's in the business of teaching young people to think independently and then to convey those thoughts to others via the power of the written word. Randa Jarrar is therefore deemed to be a clear and present danger.

If you still had any doubts that the USA is a full-blown fascist state with repressive religious undertones, you might as well disabuse yourself of them right now.  

Sinclair Lewis was right. Fascism arrived cloaked in the American flag, emblazoned with a cross, as evidenced most recently on the campus of Fresno State.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mourning Barbara: The Bush Way of Death

George W. Bush finally explained himself this morning on Fox Business News. What more perfect venue could there be for a bereaved plutocrat for whom capitalistic life must go on regardless of the fact that his mother Barbara is not yet decently buried?

The day after Mrs. Bush's death at the ripe old age of 92, a tearless, stoically jovial George told Maria Bartiromo that as Babs lay moribund she joked to the doctor, "You want to know why George is the way he is? Because I drank and smoked when I was pregnant with him!"

Calling Doctor Freud. Spoiled son blames Mom for his personality disorder, which as far as we know first manifested itself in the 1950s when he stuffed firecrackers up the rectums of frogs just to watch them blow up. Could the frat boy draft dodger who went on to send lesser mortals to their deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq be a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome?

The glowing New York Times review does not go there. It's too soon. It is especially too soon to speak ill of the war criminal sons of newly-dead ruling class matriarchs. Instead, we are regaled in article after article about Barbara Bush's iconic "saltiness" vying with her down-to-earth grandmotherly persona, and how she kept George and the rest of clan laughing their asses off right up to her final dying breath. And beyond. Because as far as Dubya is concerned, there's no such thing as tear-stained laughter. Leave that maudlin stuff to his daughters grieving over their "Gammy." In his septuagenarian world of grief, there's just the usual unseemly preppie guffawing. We saw this in action at a 2016 memorial service for the slain Dallas police officers, when George showed his sorrow by giggling and swaying back and forth in a kind of goofy dance.

Dubya couldn't go on TV soon enough to tell his heartwarming anecdote about his life in utero. To be fair, the interview had already been scheduled long before Mrs. Bush decided to forgo further treatment for her failing heart and lungs. And he will also nevertheless persist in hosting his annual "leadership forum" to be held today at his presidential shrine in Dallas (Mom will be interred on the grounds of the first President Bush's shrine on Saturday). The Times reported approvingly, 
“My mother would say, ‘Make darn sure you participate fully in the leadership forum,’” he said. “In other words, ‘Don’t sit around and feel sorry for me or yourself, more importantly, but move on with life.’ And that’s what we’re doing.”
Nothing, not even the death of a mother, will ever get in the way of End Stage Capitalism as practiced by America's great ruling class dynasties.

The honored guest at this year's confab will be Priscilla Chan, wife of embattled Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. She'll be talking about school privatization and machine learning for plutocratic fun and profit.
 “We’re thrilled that Priscilla Chan will lend her visionary expertise to a conversation around how our children learn and the future of how we educate students in this country,” said Ken Hersh, President and CEO of the Bush Center. “Education is core to our mission at the Bush Institute, and we share The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative’s belief that every child should have the opportunity to recognize their full potential. I look forward to an important conversation around how parents, educators, organizations, and communities can contribute to learning environments that meet the needs of all children.”
If nothing else, her discourse is sure to beat the grief-addled Dubya's plaintive "the question must be asked: is our children learning?" back when he was pushing his repressive No Child Left Behind initiative for plutocratic fun and profit. Chan reportedly will also talk about "access to" affordable housing - as opposed to, say, the actual building of affordable housing for the poor financed by the tax dollars of the wealthy, or an actual increase in federally subsidized rent assistance programs.

It's so heartwarming that Bush's oil tycoon pal Hersh can also get past Barbara Bush's death and gush that every child should get just enough education to "recognize" their potential, as opposed to oil tycoons like himself getting fairly taxed to make sure that poor children can realize their full potential and avoid going to their own deathbeds saddled with onerous college and medical debt.

Also appearing at the non-cancelled Leadership Forum will be former Federal Reserve Chairman and Brookings fellow Ben Bernanke: New York Times op-ed contributor and American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks; Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace. Closing the festivities will be America's richest oligarch, Jeff Bezos, founder of the Amazon oligopoly and owner of the Washington Post.

Sadly, both the Forum and the Funeral will be closed to the public. Because privatized plutocratic life must always go on, and George W. is absolutely convinced that Mom is fondly looking down on the whole charade from her own privileged perch in heaven. To paraphrase Babs herself, she was privileged to begin with, so this is all working out very well for her whole family and their close circle of friends. It will work out so well for them, in fact, that they'll even save themselves the expense of an extra-long trip on their private Lear jets to attend her funeral in Houston.

May they all rest in the peace and knowledge of their own exalted rectitude.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fraudulence of the Democrats

In the interests of my mental health, I've taken a break from the Nooze and the Internet and blogging for the past several days.

So I have nothing to write about the media feud between Donald Trump and James Comey, because spats between plutocrats have no bearing on how the bottom 90 percent of the American population struggles to survive day to day. I also skipped the over-hyped interview on ABC Sunday night, and I don't plan to waste my time slogging through Comey's self-serving book, let alone perusing the morning-after annotated transcripts of the George Stephanopoulos gab-fest being served up by the New York Times and the Washington Post. Comments sections are limited to readers picking a side and rooting for their favorite rich guy. Thanks, but no thanks.

As for the bombing of Syria, it is really quite amazing that the mass media aren't falling in line this time around, and calling Trump "presidential." As a matter of fact, the president has fallen so far within the approved line of expressing venom toward Russia that their whole #Russiagate narrative would be falling apart were it not for Comey keeping it on life support. (Yes, even though I boycotted the Nooze, it was impossible to completely avoid the multiple teasers of Comey saying it was "possible" that prostitutes were peeing all over each other, if not upon Trump directly.)

So at least they're finally making a stab at going after Trump's sleazy business empire by way of his "fixer," Michael Cohen. This is decades after they gave him a free pass over his sleazy gambling empire in New Jersey, for the mere fact that even in bankruptcy, he was deemed too big and newsworthy to fail on the public stage. Plus, too many corrupt Jersey politicians (in both parties) and law enforcement officials had been in cahoots with him.

 Meanwhile, centrist Democrats, through one of their favorite media spokespeople, are still doubling down on running as the true party of fiscal responsibility and thinking that they can win the midterms on the same wonkish pragmatism that cost Hillary Clinton the presidency. More likely, they're not really interested in regaining the majority at all, because raising money off the largely astroturfed #Resistance and keeping Trump and the GOP right where they can self-righteously flail at them in outrage is really their endgame. What would they possibly do without Trump to kick around? People might start realizing they're still the liberal wing of that Bird of Prey that Upton Sinclair wrote about a century or so ago.

So the gist of David Leonhardt's New York Times column is not that deficits shouldn't matter when people are needlessly suffering and dying and struggling in the richest country on earth. What he finds outrageous is that the Republicans are fake deficit hawks, and the Democrats are the true deficit hawks.  Pundits have finally - finally - realized that media darling Paul Ryan was a con artist and a phony hawk this whole time, what with those humongous  tax cuts for the rich and all. A phony epiphany is apparently better than no epiphany at all.

Still, Leonhardt thinks the Dems aren't getting the credit they deserve for being the more honest Social Darwinists. Whenever they give crumbs to one group of vulnerable people, they always neuter themselves by taking from another vulnerable community. It's what Barack Obama often insipidly called his "balanced approach." (Too bad, according to Leonhardt, that the media also refuse to acknowledge that Obama's great failure as president was his refusal to carpet-bomb Syria's chemical weapons arsenals when he had the chance. Letting Trump claim that glorious victory is almost too much for the liberal class to bear, apparently.)

But back to the main Dollars Over the Demos theme, as Leonhardt writes:
Ever so slowly, conventional wisdom has started to recognize this reality. After Ryan’s retirement announcement last week, only a few headlines called him a deficit hawk. People are catching on to the con. But there is still a major way that the conventional wisdom is wrong: It doesn’t give the Democratic Party enough credit for its actual fiscal conservatism. Over the last few decades, Democrats have repeatedly reduced the deficit. They have raised taxes. They have cut military spending and corporate welfare. Some of them have even tried to hold down the cost of cherished social programs. Obamacare, for example, included enough cost controls and tax increases that it’s cut the deficit on net....
 So it would certainly be false to claim that Democrats are perfect fiscal stewards and that Republicans are all profligates. Yet it’s just as false to claim that the parties aren’t fundamentally different. One party has now spent almost 40 years cutting taxes and expanding government programs without paying for them. The other party has raised taxes and usually been careful to pay for its new programs.
The Dems' claim to having cut military spending on paper (due to the bipartisan Sequestration fraud of an excuse to punish regular people in the name of fiscal responsibility) was more than offset by a sleight-of-hand maneuver, appropriating billions of dollars in unaccountable "contingency" funding to the Pentagon during Barack Obama's presidency. This included half a billion dollars in 2016 alone for more of the Predator drones used in Obama's secretive and unaccountable assassination program, as well as $8 billion for the military's slush fund for miscellaneous secret programs that year.

My published comment on Leonhardt's deeply dishonest piece:
Nowhere in this column is there any mention of the bipartisan profligacy of the permanent war/surveillance state. Congress traditionally has given the Pentagon and the "intelligence" community carte blanche to do their violent unaccountable things with only the slightest levels of token oversight.

Yes, Democrats are more "fiscally responsible" regarding taxes. But during the cycles that they're in power, they're very willing to wheel and deal with the GOP on cuts to the social safety net. It was only due to the recalcitrance of the Tea Party that President Obama was unable to achieve his own "Grand Bargain" with House Speaker John Boehner, after the so-called Cat Food Commission for Fiscal Responsibility had also failed to make "sensible" cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

The Democratic Party abandoned the poor and working class decades ago in the name of this "fiscal responsibility." And they wonder why millions of financially strapped people turned to the fake populism of Donald Trump in the last cycle.

Desperate people don't vote for wonks, pragmatists, fiscal hawks and a better life for themselves someday, but just not right now. If you don't believe me, look at what's happening to Gov. Cuomo in New York State. The Working Families Party abandoned him for the sole reason that he has stiffed working families in the interests of his oligarchic backers.
It's a testament to its hard-centrist ideology that the Times dismissively characterized this rather bland offshoot of the Democratic Party (they ditched Zephyr Teachout for the thuggish Andrew Cuomo in his second campaign) as "progressive die-hards." It's also a testament to the corporate capture of labor unions that several of them ditched the Working Families Party over the weekend in order to display their own slavish Trump-like loyalty to Andrew Cuomo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Zuck Gets the Senatorial Spa Treatment

I have to laugh at all the "Zuckerberg Gets Grilled!" headlines today, or the equally annoying ones that insist he was raked over the coals or pounded flat on the congressional cutting board.

If you actually watched all or part of Tuesday's Senate hearing pretending to explore what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg knew about Cambridge Analytica and when he knew it, you would have realized that he was being massaged like the tiny loaf of pasty white dough he so closely resembles. You knew he was in for a luxurious kneading when Sen. Jon Tester praised his tax-evading fortune as a "charity" before he got the first question.

You knew who really was in charge of this puff pastry lesson when Zuckerberg prefaced almost every evasive answer to a softball question with a condescending, "That is a really good question, Senator."

You could almost see Zuck patting each of their empty little heads as he took frequent sips of the US Senate-brand bottled designer water. It was the only sign that he was even remotely nervous. In fact, he must have felt like the Pillsbury Doughboy after awhile, because the over-hyped Grand Inquisition consisted of one ticklish finger-jab after the other. The disingenuous queries about whether he is afraid Facebook might become a monopoly were particularly amusing.

He got so confident, in fact, that he actually pulled a Hillary Clinton and credited himself with inspiring the #MeToo movement. This is really pretty amazing, given that he originally started Facebook as a hacking tool to shame and rate the bodies and faces of his female Harvard classmates. But no matter. The way he told it to the senators, he started Facebook because he wanted to make the world a better place. His only fault, he implied, was that he was just a wee lad of 19 when he had his utopian brainstorm in his humble dorm room. Callow youth that he was and still is, he never dreamed that his apps and his algorithms could be abused by "bad actors." If the old Coke theme song selling perfect harmony and a smile on the face of an earth e-moji had started echoing through the Senate chamber during his testimony, I would not have been surprised. 

Zuck's real ace in the hole was when he coyly let out that Facebook has been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that he will gladly be cooperating with the investigation of Donald Trump, and Russian meddling and other colluding things. Beyond that, though, he can't be more specific lest national security be threatened. But of course, he'll be glad to tell them everything he knows in a more secret setting so that actual people can be kept in the dark. Just as he is opaque about how exactly his apps and his algorithms suck up and misuse the information of billions of global Facebook users, he will be opaque about his own exalted role in both bringing down a president and helping the "intelligence" communities simultaneously censor users and spy upon them.

Not that he himself knows much of anything, of course. Callow idealist that he is, the details have escaped him. But he'll have "his team" get back to the Senate team. Because they're all on the same team. And we're just bystanders who are too stupid to read the fine print of the convoluted user agreements we sign as we sell our souls to the Silicon Valley devils.

As the New York Times reported in its own rehash of the "grilling,"
The technological gap between Silicon Valley and Washington was apparent when Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican of Mississippi, asked about internet regulation.
Mr. Zuckerberg explained that when thinking about regulations, government officials need to differentiate between internet companies like his and broadband providers, the companies that build and run the “pipes” that carry internet traffic, like AT&T and Comcast. 
The difference is at the heart of net neutrality, a hotly debated regulation that was overturned last year. The rules prevent internet service providers from favoring the flow of all internet content through their pipes.
“I think in general the expectations that people have of the pipes are somewhat different from the platforms,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.
“When you say pipes, you mean?” Mr. Wicker asked.
Zuckerberg must have felt like Julia Child trying to teach a first-day class of culinary students who'd never boiled an egg in their lives how to prepare Beef Wellington.

Another plutocrat has hit the jackpot. It's the Luck of the Zuck, or as it's more commonly known among the ruling class racketeers: "the house always wins."

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tinfoil Hat Time

I don't know if I'll end up on Homeland Security's watch list of "hundreds of thousands" of journalists and bloggers. But since I do know that Google has drastically suppressed search results and traffic to this site, it might be just a little harder for even Big Brother himself to track me down. 

And while I don't know who-all will end up in the database, I do know that Homeland Security is contracting out this creepy new job. This means that the government can declare itself totally unaccountable for the mistakes that will be made and the damage that will be done to individual psyches, careers, and livelihoods, not to mention the violations of the First Amendment.

From The Independent:
The DHS Media Monitoring plan would allow for “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalist, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc” to identify “any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.”
DHS spokesman Todd Houlton tweeted to say that despite what was being reported this was nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media.
If I do nothing, say nothing, write nothing, or think nothing wrong, then I will have nothing at all to worry about! Phew. I'm so glad that got all straightened out ahead of time, because now I can safely say that Homeland Security is nothing but an out-of-control paranoid fascist state within a fascist state, and that smarmy creep Todd Houlton can kiss my grits.
I don't know whether the FBI's raid on Donald Trump's lawyer's office will turn up any smoking guns on graft and corruption, or whether Michael Cohen is not as dumb as his client and therefore proactively shredded, burned, ate or otherwise destroyed any incriminating evidence. But I do know that the timing of this raid is suspicious, given that the permanent political establishment is champing at the bit for an all-out war in Syria against Russia and Iran. So maybe this raid served as a not so subtle nudge to a president who only last week had uttered the blasphemy of wanting to bring the troops back from Syria.

This is a guy who on more than one occasion has been unable to tell the difference between the country and his company. So when Trump fumed that the FBI raid was "an attack on our country" and since he has a history of poor impulse control, perhaps the Neocons will succeed in manipulating his elevated adrenaline levels at the object of their own desires, a/k/a Assad the Animal. John Bolton simpering in the background behind his foamy-white mustache as Trump foamed at the mouth for the TV cameras was not a pleasant sight.

I don't know if there really was a gas attack in Syria right before the FBI raid, or whether the "unverified" footage of children foaming at the mouth was both a nudge to Trump and a clumsy means to get a war-weary American public to believe that the perfect way to avenge a hundred deaths of innocents is to kill a thousand or a million more innocents. But I do know that it's very easy to make chlorine gas. I manufactured it once myself, totally by accident, about 30 years ago. Having run out of laundry detergent one day, I thought it would be OK to mix Dawn dish detergent with bleach in the washing machine. Luckily, the laundry area was in the basement, so I was able to shut the door and evacuate the premises at the first asphyxiating whiff. So for the pols and TV news personalities to rail that Vlad Putin lied about arranging for Assad to rid his country of chemical weapons is really kind of silly.

I don't know whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's media circus testimony before Congress this week will result in any punishment or government control. But I do know that the senators railing about the dangers to our privacy are cynical or disingenuous at best, and as dumb as they look at worst. The government needs Facebook as much as Facebook needs the government. How else will politicians directly target their ads at us? How else will Homeland Security keep track of all our thoughts and our wildcat strikes and our dissenting opinions and protest rallies that are not directly sanctioned by the Democratic Party/Hollywood #Resistance, Inc.?

Since many if not most congress critters receive generous campaign donations from Silicon Valley and relentless visits from its lobbyists, don't look for them to impose punitive new taxes on Big Tech any time soon, either. Since we the people are only as valuable to the oligarchs as our data, perhaps a direct tax on the data he's extracted from us will hit Zuck right where it hurts. So would a law requiring him and other tech giants, like Google and Amazon, to share their secret algorithms and data-collecting tools with the public. 

These billionaire nerds are acting just like impervious banks. They're misusing our information as wantonly as Wall Street gambles with its customers' money. As big as whole countries and with revenues and assets far exceeding those of most countries, these monstrosities consider themselves too big to fail.  Goldman Sachs and Citigroup still own the place, of course, but Amazon and Facebook and Google are literally giving them a run for their money, if not outright usurping the throne.

"Finance capitalism will be as old-fashioned as Flower Power. Some may miss it dearly, but that fondness will be little more than nostalgia," predict Oxford economists Viktor Mayer- Schonberger and Thomas Ramge in "Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data."

  "Using rich information streams is superior to relying on money alone. As the economy shifts to data-rich and thus more efficient markets, most of the information necessary for these markets to function will no longer flow through banks," they observe.

And established public companies in Silicon Valley attract more and more concentrated globs of capital, for no other reason than that they can. No wonder the media-political establishment is coming to the defense of the vampiric Amazon, which has lost billions of dollars in stock value since lesser oligarch Donald Trump decided to pick a fight with the greatest oligarch now living: Jeff Bezos. The definition of democracy is capitalism on crack, and don't let us ever forget it.

So Zuckerberg probably has as much to worry about as his fellow "thought leaders" in the East Coast division (Wall Street) did when they were hauled before Congress in 2009 and castigated for ruining the whole economy and sucking trillions of dollars from the homes and savings of ordinary people. Mistakes were made then, too, because of complex algorithms that ordinary people (including even congressional multimillionaires) couldn't possibly understand. Unaccountability is built right into their self-serving system.

The bankers lackadaisically left the hearings in their limousines and openly laughed all the way back to their banks in their Lear jets. Zuckerberg will probably be a little more circumspect. He'll probably contain his own glee behind the charming smirk and crocodile tears he's been coached to project by some of the same political operatives employed by the congressional inquisitors themselves.

It's the permanent closed feedback loop of the permanent ruling class. Money begets power begets more money begets more power.  Not only are we not in their big club, they're pounding us over the head with it at every opportunity.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fear and Fawning In Hillaryland

"I should tell you that Hillary did try to warn me," confesses Jennifer Palmieri in the latest memoir about the ill-fated Clinton campaign. "On March 23, 2015, my first day on the campaign staff, Hillary sat me and communications director Kristina Schake down and basically vomited up what it was like to have been her for the past twenty-five years."

Even if you've grown tired of the nauseating "everybody is to blame but Hillary" literary genre, you still have to give Palmieri's "Dear Madam President" props for at least graphically feeling our pain while she goes to great gut-wrenching lengths to blame everybody but Hillary for losing: particularly, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Former FBI Director James Comey, Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, and Donald Trump; and more generally, millions of anonymous sexist men. And of course, Palmieri also beats herself up on almost every other page. Masochism does have its rewards:
Friends, #DearMadamPresident is a NYT bestseller!!! I may faint. So grateful to all who bought the book & see their own story reflected in it. Please continue to tell your family & friends. Word of mouth & belief in your own power is how this happened. So grateful 🙏 ❤️…
2 hours ago · Twitter
The money quote in the book comes early:

"We (Hillary's campaign staff) failed. It was on us to save America and we let her blow up." 

(I think Palmieri is referring to the country, and not to her candidate. I can only surmise that the publishing deadline must have gotten in the way of the editing.)

Palmieri is the campaign communications director who, just one day after the election, helped set in motion the Russiagate propaganda franchise and the beginnings of Cold War 2.0. So it's telling that she readily admits in her memoir that she was not living in a reality-based community in the days and months following the election.
 "This campaign is going to have to go all the way to December 19 and win the electoral college. Another five grueling weeks of campaigning in overtime. Then we'll look back on this bleak Wednesday when we get a glimpse of what life would be like in the dark, parallel universe where Donald Trump actually won, and we'll laugh "'Remember how unfathomably awful that Wednesday morning felt?'"
Do we ever, especially as the Cold War turns into a Warm War, threatening to blow us up. And given the unfathomable campaign that is Russiagate and the interminable sore-loser war being waged by Hillary herself, it's the booby prize that keeps on giving.

But this isn't about you, the "people", and it never was. "And now she suffers this," Palmieri laments, claiming that Hillary had this "cosmic foreboding of disaster" even before she had to be "convinced" by the Democratic Party to enter the race in the first place.

The memoir, which purports to be an extended inspirational pep talk to some mystery woman who will one day become the president of the United States, actually comes across like a discouraging dud. To be fair, Palmieri admits she hastily cobbled her slim tome together only after the "Game Change 3.0" movie she was working on with accused sexual harasser Mark Halperin fell apart. The #MeToo movement is what she says then "empowered" her to tell her own story.

"Brace yourself," she chides her hypothetical Madam President. "Nothing draws fire like a woman moving forward." 

You have to keep in mind when reading this memoir that it's the job description of a political communications pro to spit words out in quick, easily digestible, sloganeering soundbites. If you're a centrist Democrat, it's also smart to emulate Facebook COO and bestselling author Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg, who is currently missing in action.

 You don't even have to worry about always writing the absolute truth, as in Palmieri's preposterous claim in Chapter One that Hillary was the first woman to run for the Senate. I think she probably meant she was the first First Lady ever to run for the Senate. What happened to her pal Dianne Feinstein, to name just one? The longest-serving woman, Margaret Chase Smith, must be rolling in her grave and choking on her cigar.

"Before I delve into all that happened in the campaign, I want to be clear that while misogyny and sexism were a problem on the campaign trail, I don't believe that everyone who voted against Hillary did so for sexist reasons," Palmieri allows, before glibly double-talking it with "But I do think we encountered an unconscious but pervasive gender bias that held Hillary back in many ways."

One of Hillary's biggest problems, Palmieri writes with an apparent straight face, was that she wasn't self-centered enough. She was too invested in "helping others." If only people didn't praise her all the time for "serving" as a male president's Secretary of State instead of for her actual alleged accomplishments in that and other posts! According to the author, public service as it's applied to women politicians is too uncomfortably close to the stereotype of women as caregivers.

More tidbits, all presented as concerned warnings for any future "Madam President":

-Hillary's private email server was an issue "we just couldn't put to bed." It was unfair that people demanded that Hillary apologize for something that hurt her, and only her. "The American people weren't the injured party here," Palmieri sniffs. "They didn't want her to apologize. They wanted her to confess to a crime." Harrumph.

-It is absolutely necessary to keep reliving and rehashing the Hillary Clinton campaign in order to clear the path for the next woman president, who will be inundated by haters as Proxy Hillary. The Clintonites have to keep complaining and blame-gaming to try to altruistically "sort everything out" for the sole benefit of the future female candidate.

-Jennifer Palmieri, as a self-proclaimed member of the permanent political establishment, is not ashamed to name-drop early and name-drop often. She's been in the "world's most powerful rooms" -- the Oval Office, the prime minister's inner sanctum at No. 10 Downing Street, the German Chancellor's office in Berlin, the Blue House in Seoul, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo... even The Kremlin! This memo to a future Madam President obviously doubles as her C.V. and job application. As Obama's deputy communications director, for example, she was a member of the Boys' Club and she knew when to "lean forward". This was easy, mainly because Obama was so adept at relieving the stress she chronically felt over the gossip rag stories in Politico. Obama sounds like Valium in a suit with a Zen chaser.

  -Hillary's female campaign staffers, on the other hand, were way too "zipped-up and agreeable" - and stoic. If only Palmieri had cried more, she might not have landed in the hospital in August 2016 due to an unspecified illness whose after-effects still bother her. Hillary was actually nice enough to send her a get-well OMG!! email in ALL CAPS. And then Hillary came down with pneumonia. Neither of them took care of themselves, and that is a very toxic thing that women do to themselves. "Let's nod less and cry more... crying isn't a sign of weakness, it's the ultimate female power play!" she writes. And you'll pleasantly discover that whenever the fawning media cover your meltdown, they're apt to say trite things like "she was visibly moved" or "she got all choked up." So accepting defeat graciously with a stony face is just so yesterday.

-When the Obamacare Marketplace website crashed in 2013, it was kind of a "silly crisis" and despite the media hype nowhere near as bad as the Ebola outbreak. There was no time for crying then, though, because there was too much positive spinning to be done. Palmieri stoically found a few people who had successfully signed up for health insurance, and then she put them right on TV. Zen Master Obama, though, wisely cautioned her that the story wasn't going away until they got the website working. What a stress-reliever he was! So all they had to do was sell a story that "the work was being done" and set up a few photo ops of nerds tinkering with the computers, and it all worked out so well in the end.

-After James Comey reopened the email investigation right before the election, Hillary bought a tearful Huma Abedin and Jennifer ice cream sundaes to cheer them up, and everybody acted very stoical and pretended not to care.

- Jennifer Palmieri's facial wrinkles tell a story she wants the world to see. "Embrace your battle scars," she says to her Madam President. "They will show us all what you endured in your life and in this job."

-Palmieri and other operatives thought Hillary Clinton's biography wasn't all that compelling. Hillary hadn't had enough struggles in her life. But that's our fault, too, for not appreciating her innate value "in real time." Still, Palmieri has to agree that Hillary does have a grating voice. To which criticism Hillary responded, "What would really help Hillary is if they could tell you the name of a woman on the world stage who does it exactly right."

(Oh, I don't know... Oprah?)

-Hillary's Blame Game Tour has been so worth it. "She keeps going, and eventually her story was heard. In the end, much of the press ended up applauding her candor during her book tour," Palmieri writes approvingly.

 What end? As far as Hillary is concerned, it's always the cosmic and candid and authentic beginning. Again and again and again. She might even think that Palmieri's book is an encouraging paeon to her, Hillary 3.0. And she probably wouldn't be wrong.