A Presidential Debate with Pere Ubu?? From the start, UD has been with Nancy Pelosi: “Why bother.”

UD has been against debates – you don’t debate a lying ranting paranoid.

UD didn’t watch tonight. All the reactions she’s gathered – beginning with Mr UD’s and then the media’s – vindicate her. Masochists and nihilists who want to watch yet another venerable American tradition be shredded to shit in front of their eyes might have enjoyed this; they might enjoy the anticipation of two more identical events. The rest of us should hope that Pelosi’s common sense will now prevail.

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Pelosi’s rolling her eyes. Why didn’t anyone listen to her?

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[W]hat we had was Trump ranting, visibly angry, launching off on numerous digressions, lying. It was ugly, unhinged and exhausting – a good summary of Trump’s entire presidency.

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“What a dark event we have just witnessed.”

Okay, so UD wants to issue an apology, a mea culpa, whatever, to Bandy X. Lee and other psychiatrists who were out in front months ago warning about Trump’s dangerous mental instability, and indeed calling for some form of congressional intervention in the situation before … before a nation had to watch a shit show that “scared America.”

They were right.

A timely reminder that the beloved people of this country have always vastly outnumbered the hateful.

[I]t is to the good of the whole, as well as to the interest of the individual, that everyone, who can, sets himself down to his business, and contributes his quota of taxes. [It] is one of the first duties he owes to his family, to himself, and to his country. Every amusement ought to be dispensed with, every indulgence curtailed, and every possible economy practiced, both public and private, until a revenue sufficient for the protection and good of the country is obtained, and the debt to public justice satisfied.

We are the heirs of Thomas Paine. We will find our way back to him.

‘Trump is an aspiring fascist who would burn democracy to the ground.’

It’s time. Violence-fomenting aspiring fascists who refuse peaceful transfer of power: We’re back in the Second World War; and it’s time to dust off its songs, alter them a bit, and SING.

When the lights go on again all over this land

And we have our victory all over this land

Then we will work together to rebuild the polity we almost killed

The sadist’s going home —  we couldn’t be more thrilled

When the lights go on again all over this land

And we ship our fascist pols far far from this land

Then our democracy will find its wings and free hearts will sing

When the lights go on again all over this land

‘Under [economist Thomas] Piketty’s preferred system of taxation, it would be exceedingly difficult to maintain fortunes greater than thirty-eight million dollars or so in the United States—that is, greater than a hundred times average private wealth. Jeff Bezos would receive a bill for a hundred and nine billion dollars in Year One.’

Yeah? And? Is that so horrible? Haven’t you been rolling around in your mind this week the announcement that Bezos now has a personal fortune of well over two hundred billion dollars? UD has been rolling it around in her mind. Cuz… I dunno. It ain’t sitting right…

Even Steve Cohen’s paltry thirteen billion ain’t sitting right…

Yet

if a [presidential] candidate were to go the full Piketty—by proposing enormous taxes on the rich and taking steps toward surrendering [national] sovereignty to a transnational socialistic union—do we really think that nativism and nationalism would retreat, rather than redouble? Would erstwhile supporters of Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, and Geert Wilders evolve beyond their fears of Muslim migration and accept the new utopia?

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Anyway. However you feel about Piketty’s proposals, you have to admire his refusal to be censored by radically unequal China. Think of all the copies of his latest book he could sell there. But he won’t, because he’s a man of principle. Bravo.

UD always knew…

… that under the grotesquerie of Trump lay the ordinariness and decency of the American majority. She didn’t need the roll call video (start at 7:37) to tell her that. But it’s fun to watch.

Hey – if the people of Belarus turn out to be able to get rid of Lukashenko…

… maybe there’s hope for us to get rid of Donald Trump.

Dare you to watch this without crying.

Princeton’s Committee of Public Safety…

up and running.

“Picking [Susan Rice],” said one Democratic foreign policy aide, “would send an important sign that Biden is willing to tell the conspiratorial right to go fuck themselves.”

Yes.

#FreeEmnaChargui

A young Tunisian woman is sentenced to six months in jail because she retweeted a covid health advisory which uses religious calligraphy.

Progressive German Politicians Remain Adamant:

Making children wear burqas is criminal. Another German state – Baden-Württemberg – bans them for schoolgirls.

Steven Pinker Letter Update.

Conor Friedersdorf writes:

[The letter writers use] the same tenuous, abuse-prone, guilty-by-association tactics that the far right has used to tar academics by linking them to Communism or Islamism… [They are] trying to radically narrow the bounds of acceptable speech and inquiry… A closer look at the letter lays bare the specific ideological orthodoxies and political tests that at least hundreds of linguists now feel comfortable openly imposing on their colleagues… [They are] poring over years of individual tweets, asserting uncharitable interpretations of those they highlight, assigning guilt by association, and imposing multiple orthodoxies that are incompatible with academic freedom… The desire to significantly narrow the bounds of acceptable speech is not a fringe proposition; it is a project that hundreds of people in a single academic field are willing to pursue openly.

Shit Fishing in America

Wee UD was so excited to read the opening pages of Christopher Lasch’s Culture of Narcissism (1979). Already tutored in the Wastelander philosophy of her Northwestern University professor Erich Heller (a refugee from Hitler, he came by his despair honestly), she was way ready for the everything’s shit in America thing Lasch had going. She enjoyed imagining herself far superior to the shallow narcissists at the heart of his analysis; and she for sure enjoyed his incessant invocation of an entirely catastrophic US of A.

It took UD years to recognize that total, eloquent denunciations of the total despicableness of this or that culture are seductive and dangerous things. Fascists and communists specialized in them. Sharia-touts will gas on all night about the comprehensive decadence of America and Europe. Cathophates (UD‘s term for Catholics who want to gift us with a Catholic caliphate) write books and books and books with the following come-on: Hey, citizen of a democratic secular state – aren’t you depressed and lonely and empty? Wouldn’t you like to be part of a warm embracing community that will endow your suicidal existence with meaning and purpose and eternal life so you won’t even have death-anxiety?

Elder-UD has learned to appreciate people like Cancel-Culture-Target-du-Jour Steven Pinker. While no Pangloss, he’s not simply one more intellectual trying to snow you with the hopelessness of it all.

Of course UD still thinks things are pretty stinkin’ – what with the ascendancy of Trump – and she still thinks dark-eyed despair sexier than clear-eyed calm… But she’s wary, now, of high-gloss misery peddlers. Cuz most of them are selling something. Something extreme.

“The case will drag on.”

Our girl Shamima is still at it, trying this way and that way to get back into the country she left in order to be a broodmare for ISIS, whup Yazidi slave girls, and tailor suicide vests to human bombs. What an interesting sojourn that was! And now that an appeals court has ruled she can return to England to try to get her British citizenship back, it’s time to look to the future with fresh eyes.

But, as legal analysts note, Begum is still due to spend forever in the Syrian desert, because the British government is just as fanatical about keeping this incredibly dangerous woman out of the country as she was about tugging her burqa aside for long lines of ISIS sperm depositors. No one’s going anywhere for a long time.

And as for how to think about England ultimately having to spend millions in taxpayer money to transport, house, and protect a vicious, committed enemy of everything for which the country stands…. Well, dedicated UD readers know UD‘s take on that one. No price is too high when the fight is truly for the survival of a free and democratic state. Pay whatever it takes to try her, expose her atrocities, and ship her back.

Antinomies

Although UD‘s fascinated by Autonomies, a dystopian Israeli film, she’ll never watch it. She’s triggered by images of female slave cultures. But what’s amazing about this imagination of an Israel that devolved into bloody secular/religious civil war thirty years ago and is now entirely balkanized between a strict haredi sect territory in and around Jerusalem, and a modern territory in and around Tel Aviv, is that at least one important Israeli intellectual says dystopia shmystopia! It’s a great idea and let’s get going on it!

The series is very clever, with bracing realism (a smuggler makes an excellent living smuggling porn and pork into Haredi Autonomy), but what it’s really about, if you ask ol’ UD, is the horror of surrender to theocracy. Israel has only itself to blame for decades of cynical accommodation to massed ignorant fools who think every offense against liberty and dignity they commit comes stamped with God’s Approval; no wonder Israel’s artist class now depicts the tragicomic walls within walls within walls within walls location that place has become. You don’t reason with the lord’s annointed; they don’t do reason; they’re pre-reason; they’re non-reason; they’re anti-reason. Let them ride roughshod over your democracy and hey look ma no democracy.

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[Israeli media conglomerate] Keshet is also in the early planning stages of an English-language adaptation of the format, set in the United States and using America’s own blue state-red state divide as a substitute for the original Israeli plot.

Oh really? Oh reallllllyyyy? So let me tell you something, Buster. Happy to have you do that; plan away. But the overlay ain’t working for me.

Let’s see. Half of America is dirt poor (the other half is unimaginably rich); no one there has any occupational skills and anyway everyone refuses to work because keening over religious texts will feed their children. So their children are starving. They don’t believe in the germ theory of disease so coronavirus is killing everyone over sixty. Anyone interested in their territory is making a play for it since except for a small group of secular mercenaries no one fights. Daily street riots rage between teenyweeny ultraorthodox sects headed by senile warring rabbis. Women are totally absent from the world. There aren’t any. No one knows where they are; where they went. There aren’t any.

This is totally cool drama-wise for sure. I just don’t think we can manage it. I’m seeing plenty of yahoos waving Confederate flags, yes. Absolutely someone’s breaking into a gender theory class at Oberlin waving an AK-47. I’m not saying our blue-red state divide is without dramatic potential. I’m saying we just totally do not measure up.

But what if tens of millions of people want precisely this?

I mean, they do, don’t they? They voted for it. They will vote for it.

Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country who [has] ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.

It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.

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Why do people want barbarians? Read Cavafy’s Waiting for the Barbarians.

… night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

This man is a solution. Like all primitive ideologues he shushes our anxiety about enlightenment and tucks us in to the dark. Around him, in our new America, range viciously authoritarian Harvard law professors and whorishly indifferent attorneys general – a whole pack of barbarians at the very highest levels to take us where we want to go. These people are a kind of solution.

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Recall Roger Shattuck’s words about Trump’s dada, Ubu the king.

[Ubu is] the representative of primitive earthy conduct, unrelieved by any insight into his own monstrosity, uncontrollable as an elephant on the rampage… [M]ankind in the shape of Ubu dredges the depths of its nature…


Can we really laugh at Ubu, at his character?  It is doubtful, for he lacks the necessary vulnerability,  the vestiges of original sin.  Not without dread, we mock, rather, his childish innocence and primitive soul and cannot harm him.  He remains a threat because he can destroy at will, and the political horrors of the twentieth century make the lesson disturbingly real… [Alfred] Jarry’s humor [in the play] may be regarded as a psychological refusal to repress distasteful images.  He laughed and invited us to laugh at Ubu’s most monstrous behavior, not because we are immune – we are, in fact, deathly afraid of the ‘truth’ of Ubu  – but because it is a means of domesticating fear and pain… [Humor] demands that we reckon with the realities of human nature and the world without falling into grimness and despair.

The sleep of reason produces monsters, doncha know. Donald Trump is the specifically American monster that happened while we were sleeping.

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Less artsy discussion here.

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