The U.S. is going to hell

Exhibit A supporting my contention: a group of talentless hacks who possess a genius for self-promotion has captured the country’s attention, making millions of dollars in the process.

I’m referring, of course, to the Kardashian family. As far as I can see it, contributes nothing to humanity by way of genuine entertainment, which requires talent. It is a severe indictment of America that we’ve made them rich. In fact, even now I am scourging myself with hooks for publishing this.

Yes, the famous Kardashian Christmas Card has just been released, showing just the female side of the family, except for the increasingly bizarre Bruce Jenner, who is encased in a tube on the right (the person who sent this to me commented, “If you think your life sucks, just imagine being Bruce Jenner”).

The photo is big and high-resolution, so click on it if you want to savor every detail. The production company of their “reality” show paid the $250,000 for this mess, so the family, rich as it is, doesn’t even have to buy its own Christmas cards.

Kardashians_PRG0_18

And if this isn’t enough for you, go over to the E! site to the fascinating feature, “Analyzing the Kardashian Christmas card: 24 things you might not have noticed.” There you’ll find answers to burning questions like, “Where’s Kanye?” and “How many images of Kim appear in the card?”

Knock yourself out (first figuratively, then literally).

116 Comments

  1. Cara
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Subscribe.

  2. bric
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I never heard of these people. Weren’t the Kardashians something on Star Trek?

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, exactly. I am not an American, so whenever I see the name anywhere I mentally correct :that should be with a C and a double ssssss.

    • Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      LOL – my buddy from zygote days made the same comment a coupla weeks ago and he’s rarely seen Star Trek

      Thanks for that graphic Grania. I’m gonna try and make it Kardassian-like if I can.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Try to keep the “spoon head” part though.

  3. gbjames
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    They exist to horrify us all. Sort of like Santa the Hutt.

    • gluonspring
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Oh no, I looked it up. I should have known better. What’s been seen can not be unseen.

  4. Merilee
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Barf!! While standing in line at the supermarket today i couldn’t miss the headline on one of the tabloids which professed that O.J. was Kim’s father – or maybe it was one her sisters!-

    What do these people actually do except act skanky? At least Paris Hilton seems to be out of the news now.

    • Cliff Melick
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Don’t despair…to paraphrase Sir Elton John, the bitch will be back.

  5. Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I recognize the name, “Kardashian,” as being that of a family that’s rich and famous for being rich and famous. And scandalous, I think.

    But I have no clue about the particulars. I imagine it must be the usual suspects of sex, drugs, and rock and / or roll, but I couldn’t even begin to guess what their hit songs might be, or what drugs they were doing when they were arrested while performing which sex acts with whom.

    Let alone why I should give a damn, of course….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Spirula
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Their only possible value, it seems to me, is that they could used to support the contention that narcissistic personality disorder is a heritable trait.

      • Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, but doing that sort of experiment in public has to be worse than broadcasting a colonoscopy on the evening news….

        b&

        • bric
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          That reminds me of Roger Ebert’s review of Vincent Gallo’s film ‘The Brown Bunny’:
          “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”

          • Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

            Now that’s scathing done right!

            b&

          • Pete Cockerell
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            Haha, but I think he modified his view when Gallo edited the movie down a bit. I’m reading I Hated Hated Hated This Movie at the moment. Ebert was at his best when he was being scathing.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. I have no idea, in particular, who those people are. god bless America.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:28 am | Permalink

      No idea about these people, thirded.

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        Yesterday, a friend at work emailed me a picture with two frames side-by-side. On the left was a young woman in her underwear standing awkwardly with her tongue hanging out; on the right was Bill the Cat in the same pose.

        At dinner with another friend, he explained that it was the daughter of the country singer who wrote that obnoxious “Achy Breaky Heart” song, and that she had had the predictable career trajectory from Mouseketeer to a pop singer known for prancing around on stage, almost naked, with her tongue hanging out.

        Apparently, she’s famous, and I was supposed to have recognized her….

        b&

  6. Scote
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Wow, it looks like a train wrecked the Kardashian’s place…oh, wait…

    • gravityfly
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      …or a group of Al-Shabaab thugs pillaged it.

  7. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Interest on a scale of 1 to 100: minus googolplex.

    Googol = 1 with 100 zeros after it
    Googolplex = 1 with a googol zeros after it.

    • Atheist Powerlifter
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Seconded.

  8. Andrikzen
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Thank you ceiling cat for the delete key.

  9. sailor1031
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Very tasteful. Who are those people again?

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:29 am | Permalink

      Nothing says Christmas like…like…

      Words fail me.

  10. mpatrick65
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I reserve most of my disgust for the fans of these horrible people. For people to stare at a television watching these brainless and tasteless prostitute their useless lives for cash, and then come away feeling somehow entertained, just passeth all understanding as far as I’m concerned. Worse than the Duck People even.

    • bric
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Duck people? Am I on a different planet?

      • compuholio
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Don’t worry. I know how it feels. I feel like I am on the wrong planet in constantly shrinking time intervals.

        And I’m not sure that this is bad thing…

      • mpatrick65
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        That show Duck Commander about the family of red neck duck hunters that is all the rage.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The end is nigh! This has to be one of the signs of the coming apocalypse. Indeed, I’m pretty sure Stephen King must have written a story about this.

    • chascpeterson
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      sez so explicitly right there on the horrid “card”, in neon: The End…Coming Soon

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    “Exhibit A…”

    That worries me ~ are you envisaging a series Jerry? A 24-day anti-advent calendar of mindless celebrity perhaps?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      ….and instead of chocolates in each day, some vicodin to manage the pain.

      • Kevin
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Or scotch…oh wait, I do that every day already. OK more vile pictures = more scotch.

    • Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      No way!

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        Not that you couldn’t find enough material…

  13. Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    A perfect example of being famous for being famous. In America, you can make a fortune peddling hokum and bunk.

    • colnago80
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck anyone?

      • Pete Cockerell
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        I had my first exposure to Alex Jones yesterday. Now there’s a character!

  14. Eddie Janssen
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I never knew this, but the proof is all over this picture. Women have legs.

  15. Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, have you ever watched Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

    • Marta
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      The title of this series alone makes me want to spring out of the room, barking like a dog.

      I figure all these programs are the devil spawn of the Jerry Springer Show. You watch any of them, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad that you accidentally married a Volkswagen.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        I watched one episode of this series to find out what it was about & it’s actually pretty awful because the music overlay is really there to tell the viewers when we should laugh hardest at these people. It’s just a way to make the viewer feel superior to the people on the screen.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

          Most common weeds are superior to the people on the screen…

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

            That was a reference to the Kardashians, by the way. I thought nothing could be worse than that.

            But I just followed the link to (I don’t believe it) Honey Boo Boo, and there is. I could only take about thirty seconds of it. The Kardashians are rich, trendy, shallow and skanky, the Boo Boos are just – repulsive and gross. I’m actually reluctant to let myself go on the subject in case they turn out to be officially mentally challenged and I’m accused of attacking retards.

            On the whole, I’d rather watch Bobbit worms or centipedes. They may be horrific but at least I don’t feel degraded for watching…

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

        *Snort!* Marta, you slay me!

    • Jiten
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:47 am | Permalink

      I just watched some clips. I did not feel superior to these people. I watched them just as I would watch the Yanomamo if I turned up at their village. They’re just different to us. It’s very unkind to say things like “even garden weeds are superior to these people”. These are human beings. They love their children like you do yours. They feel pain like you do. Shakespeare says it better in the Merchant of Venice re the Jews, but applies to anyone who’s not from your in group. Remember they have in their skulls the same most complex object known in the universe as you do. It’s just that they’ve turned out different to you because of their different socioeconomic circumstances and the subsequent opportunities available to them.

      • mpatrick65
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Cultural relativism is a slippery slope. The Yanomamo are reported to be extremely violent and, with regards to “loving their children like you do yours,” that may or may not be true, but they reportedly kill the children of the neighboring villages during raids as a matter of course. While this may be “human nature,” I don’t think you can say it is enlightened behavior. Nor should we say it is no better or worse than our lawful society but “just different.” Killing children is not ok. Period.
        The Kardashians are also acting according to their human nature. But I think it is legitimate to make critical comments about their narcissistic, uneducated, and generally uncouth antics. If I didn’t feel like my worldview was “better” than theirs, I would change it. To say every culture or subculture is equally valid and ethical, “just different,” is to render ethical and moral judgement meaningless.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        My issue with the show is not that someone does or does not feel superior but that the show *tries* to evoke that feeling. If you listen to the music cues you’ll see what I mean. That says a lot about what the producers thinks appeals to the watchers.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

          Are you talking about the Kardashians or the Booboos there?

          Re the Kardashians, I was mulling this over on the train today. I guess if I was being watched by cameras 24 hours a day, I’d be totally boring and if I tried to be ‘interesting’ I’d probably come across as totally self-interested and narcissistic. This isn’t really a condemnation of the Kardashians as people, more of the whole concept of “reality” television.

          As for the Boo Boos, of which I’ve seen 30 seconds and don’t ever wish to see any more, it was gross. Nobody with any self-respect would allow that to be televised for a moment.

          And if I allowed myself to watch any more of it I would be conniving in slobbishness and hence certainly not in any way superior to them. So I agree with Diana’s comment there.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:28 am | Permalink

            The Boo Boo one not Kardashians.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

              I think we were at at cross-purposes for a while there. Or rather, I was anyway.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:39 am | Permalink

        “…because of their different socioeconomic circumstances…”

        I suspect their socioeconomic circumstances are just fine right now.

  16. misstexaskitty
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    They or one of them and Kayne West (played by Jay Pharoah) were good for an SNL sketch that mocked these two. Beyond that, don’t know them, do not care.

  17. bric
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Another instance of U S (perceived) decline – http://www.people-press.org/2013/12/03/public-sees-u-s-power-declining-as-support-for-global-engagement-slips/

  18. ploubere
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    One must consider the possibility that this is actually self-parody, on the chance that they have a sense of humor. I don’t know anything about them, but it could happen, I suppose. In which case, the card is actually pretty funny.

  19. Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Another sign of the apocalypse, seriously.

  20. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard the name but, beyond that I have no knowledge of them. Am I missing out on anything?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      After watching your gripping tattoo & fox videos, I recommend that you avoid Kardashian Konnected Kontent. The Kardashian Klan:- kounter-examples of nature abhorring a vacuum.

      • Graham Martin-Royle
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        I do take some fascinating videos don’t I? ;-) Have you watched all the others? Real seat gripping stuff!

        roflmao.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

          Didn’t actually watch the tattoo ones, but enjoyed chipmunks, humming birds & I think I recall a squirrel one too. Foxes are best though ~ vignettes of unscripted foxy life. More [with a tripod please]! :)

  21. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    That thing on the floor on the right is the love child of a Kardashian and See-Threepio?

  22. prasad
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Meh, better this than royalty. At least these people don’t represent the US on state occasions. And the state isn’t paying to support their lavish existence.

  23. Gary Fletcher
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m crestfallen because when I click on the picture it doesn’t get any bigger. How do I see it in high resolution?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      THIS is bigger, but in so many ways not better

  24. Wolfkiller
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Trying to think of an intellectual way to bring up Kim’s famous rear features and completely failing at it.

    • Pete Cockerell
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      I think we should try to leave that behind…

      (h/t Spinal Tap)

      • Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        “…the looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand, or so I have read…”

        Reading. That’s intellectual.

  25. Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m waiting for the Robin Thicke daguerreotype New Year’s card with blurred greetings.

    Hell hath no fury like a hack scorned.

  26. k_machine
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The thing is, all reality shows work the same way and that is that you’re supposed to hate and despise the people acting in it. It’s been this way seen MTV’s “The Real World” in the 90s. Nobody likes the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo, everybody who watches tunes in to gawk at the train wreck. The TV stations don’t give a damn as long as they deliver an audience to the advertisers. Posts like these only add to the problem, I think. It’s like when critics denounce a film for being too violent, everyone tunes in to see what’s up. Just like thermonuclear war, the only way to win is not to play.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      “Posts like these only add to the problem”

      And then so must comments responding to posts like this. No?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        …and the comments referring to the comments and the comments about the comments referring to the comments and the comment about the comments…. :D

        • NewEnglandBob
          Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          …turtles all the way down.

      • bric
        Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I tremble to think of the effect on civilization as we know it of comments on comments on comments on posts like this

    • Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh for crying out loud. Go to another site if you don’t like it here. I can criticize the excesses of pop culture if I want. And yes, if I’m adding to the “problem,” then so are you.

      • stephen
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        I agree that implied criticism of our gracious host is stepping over the line,but wonder if it was intended simply as an observation. The train-wreck aspect seems correct to me. I am intrigued by your use of the word “hack”, over here in Blighty I think it still refers to a talentless writer,especially a journalist, (some of whom appear to have adopted the label with ironic pride). Has US/North American usage expanded to include any talentless person? Finally,isn’t this sort of thing the Modern American Dream (see what I did there? over here, mad=crazy) and one of the ways the owners try to keep a dysfunctional society functioning?

        • gbjames
          Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

          The “train-wreck” critique, that commenting on social dysfunction encourages the dysfunction, is wrong-headed. It is a form of cognitive myopia… Maybe if we close our eyes the bad thing will go away.

          I’d much rather see the world as it really is and not play “see no evil”.

    • Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      So stop playing! “Derp,” as the kids say.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:45 am | Permalink

      OTOH, you might view it as a public service, so that those of us out of the loop can see what we’re not missing.

  27. Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s telling (and probably not accidental at all) that hapless Bruce is locked in a tube marked “cashier”.

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      What is it telling you? Bruce is by far the least valuable (financially) of the group. I think it’s probably meant to be ironic, if any thought went into it at all.

  28. scott
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this piece of analysis from another article ‘The sisters stand on a pile of “celeb-worship” magazines, the mountain of garbage on which their careers are built on’

  29. Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Kardashian means carver of stone in Armenian. It’s more like if you gaze at them, you will turn to stone.

  30. Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Of course the Kardashians are disgusting, if successful, parasites who apparently feel no compulsion to contribute meaningfully.

    But this kind of thing doesn’t bother me so much. I think quite a lot of people will recognize this for the kitsch that it is.

    Far more concerning, to me, are things like this or this (Tilda Swinton’s and Marina Abramovic’s performance art stunts, respectively). It’s scary how many people with artistic credentials will twist themselves into knots inventing ridiculous post facto rationalizations for why such things are profound, intelligent art.

  31. dev41
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Throw in the “Housewives from Beverly Hills” et.al., and the myriad “reality” shows from 2nd tier cable networks, and it would be fair to surmise that not only is the “US going to hell,” but is doing so in a handbasket, as they say.

  32. Dominic
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    I had only been aware of Kim Kardashian who I am told is some kind of a singer. The name sounds Armenian.

    Happy to ignore her & the rest of them!

    “The U.S. is going to hell”

    …too late – you’re already there! :)

  33. Posted December 4, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Singer? I first learned of KimK through her instructional video on playing the skin flute.

    I remember her father was a lawyer for OJ. A friend as well according to GoogleU.

    I have vague memories of similar worries aboot the decline of civilization for Gilligan’s Island and Beverly Hillbillies. Seems it’s a long slow slide…

  34. Kirth Gersen
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    This post reminds me of Bobcat Goldthwait’s “God Bless America” — evidently he has much the same opinion as our host, albeit in a much more fantasy-murder-spree sort of way.

  35. Curt Cameron
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard of the Kardashians, but I have no idea how they got famous.

    But what the hell is Bruce Jenner doing in the photo? Don’t know what he’s been doing lately, but at least he got famous through talent and hard work.

    • merilee
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Don’t know why I seem to think I know this, but I believe Bruce Jenner married Kim’s mother….

      Speaking of tack and tacky, there was a clip on Jon Stewart last night in which Sarah Palin is being all ecumenical and displaying a menorah on her dining room table for the whole month of December so that her kids would learn about Judaism. Jon S. pointed out that that’s not how one uses a menorah…but as much as I hate to give Sarah credit for anything, perhaps her heart( if not her brain) was actually in the right place here??

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, you are correct. I don’t know how I know either but i’m sure there was a pop reference I was unfamiliar with so I googled it and sadly this information stayed in my brain, most likely replacing much more useful information like where my gloves are, what it was that I knew I had to do but forgot from the time I was in the kitchen & back at my computer and now I’m annoyed that I have a feeling of urgency but no remembrance of matching urgent potential action.

        • Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          I do believe you were going to drop that check for $10,000 in the mail for me….

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            I’m not that far gone…..yet!

  36. Richard Olson
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I’m aware things Kardashian are some sort of cultural phenomenon, and that sums up all I know on the subject. I place it in the reality tv/talk media category: avoid like faith and plague germs. The picture in the topic post is the first image I’ve seen of them, outside of a few photo’s of individual K’s that arrive unsolicited on my computer screen. I did not read any comments here so as to continue my blessed clueless. May Ceiling Cat permit me the grace to remain as ignorant about this forever as I am presently.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink

      In this instance, believe me, ignorance is indeed bliss. :)

  37. Jiten
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    The U.S. is not going to hell. This is the country with the best science labs in the world where world class scientists from all over the world want to come and do research. There is innovation in all fields. There is a lot of creativity in all fields.

    The kardashians are harmless. And can be ignored as I have. Just imagine if the Borgias or the De Medici were filmed!

    • Posted December 5, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      That used to be the case, and the US is still a scientific powerhouse in many ways.

      But we’ve fallen a long way from where we were, and we’re unquestionably no longer at the top of the heap.

      The Higgs should have been found in Texas, as the Superconducting Super Collider; instead, it was found in Europe. The US put the first man on the moon and for decades absolutely dominated space. Today, we can’t even reach the ISS…while China is going to the Moon and India to Mars.

      And it’s going to go rapidly downhill thanks to the NSA. We still, to extent, and for a very short while longer, dominate the Internet…but a very rapid exodus is already under way as everybody else gets as far away from American companies as possible. Nobody even wants to have conferences here any more and have to put up with TSA and border agents groping them — and that’s before foreign companies consider the not merely risk but practical guarantee that the NSA will at least attempt to steal their secrets and hand them over to American competitors. And if you piss off the worng people in the American governmental apparatus? The NSA will be there to blackmail you with either real or fabricated “facts” gleaned from their “intelligence” operations.

      The Sun has unquestionably set on the American Empire, and twilight is upon us. The only remaining questions are whether there’ll ever be another sunrise, and how hellish the night before then.

      b&

      • Jiten
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

        All hope is not lost. There are people fighting to undo and reverse the bad things you mention. In a country of 300 million people there must be sufficient talent to overcome the problems you list. I’m optimistic that these problems can be solved, however there is no guarantee. And it’ll be a struggle.

        • Posted December 5, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          All hope may be lost, but damned little remains. Snowden’s revelations have shown us that we are, in fact, living in a (mostly benign) police state. Not a quasi police state, but a full-bore, no questions asked, police state. All that differentiates it from police states of the past is the brutality of the police.

          History also shows us that, practically invariably, police states are initially not very brutal, but that they quickly devolve into overt brutality. And we’re already seeing that happen, what with the “tough on crime” mantra, SWAT teams raiding little old ladies in their homes, and an unimaginably huge prison population. Worse, the latest news is that reporters are now admitting to self-censoring in order to avoid drawing attention from the NSA; they’re not following up on leads, not contacting certain sources, not writing certain stories out of fear of the NSA. And we have our very own Berlin-style Wall on the Mexican border, complete with innumerable families ripped asunder and forced to live with infrequent tearful reunions between bars.

          The next step, historically, inevitably, is overt police brutality, in the name of security and protection of the homeland. What the citizens of the Soviet Republic felt all too viscerally in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, we will soon know for ourselves: that any petty bureaucrat or beat cop or whomever can make your life a living hell, and there’s damned little you can do about it. Whether that’s followed by Stalinist-style Purges or a Nazi-style Holocaust still isn’t clear; there’s no indication of anything like that on the horizon, but it’s not something I’d bet strongly against. It is, after all, the typical historical pattern, especially in the modern era.

          There’s no easy way out of this. It’s been a long time in the making, and we’ve sunk quite far. If we are to escape — and there’s not at all any reason to think we will — it will only be after a long and painful struggle.

          Perhaps the most discouraging sign is that the American people show little sign of being interested in a painful struggle, and are rather easily distracted by the Kardashian’s Christmas card.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

            Sadly this police state crap is happening in Canada as well. It seems you can violate civil rights and that is ok. There is a book I’m interested in reading called Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko. I haven’t yet because I’d rather read other stuff that isn’t as depressing like how we have no soul, self or free will. That shit doesn’t bother me at all.

            • Posted December 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

              Sadly this police state crap is happening in Canada as well.

              Damn.

              Not good.

              I know a lot of us have contemplated escape up north should it come to it…but if there’s no escape up there even….

              b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                I have dual citizenship with New Zealand. I figure I’ll flee there if it all goes to hell but not so much to hell that I can’t fly there.

                Sadly a lot of bad ideas from the US percolate up here, just more slowly. I’m sure good ones do too but we don’t remember those ones.

              • Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

                Nice as I remember Canuckistan being, if I had a choice between it and Enzed, I have a strong hunch I’d soon be umop apisdn….

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                Let’s hope democracies hold. We did have an influx of immigration during the Bush years thought.

              • Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

                I’m not so sure that what we have now here in the States can realistically be referred to as a democracy. Even superficially, it’s much more of a corporatist plutocracy, and it doesn’t really pretend much otherwise — especially in the wake of Citizens United. Remember how democratic the German Democratic Republic was? For that matter, the Soviets actually had a rather noble constitution of their own, and their government paid it as much attention as ours does ours.

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

                Talk like that is going to get you some extra NSA attention. :) and you know you can’t come to Canuckistan with our confusing round abouts.

                It’s actually shocking how similar some of the things that happen are identical as to what went on in Soviet Russia (still not as extreme but there are parallels).

              • Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

                Probably too late for me to avoid the NSA turning the Eye of Sauron upon me. I rather suspect my registration in the Green Party was all that it took.

                I’ve had exchanges with people who grew up in Russia and Soviet satellite states. There is no question but that what we’re going through is exactly what they went through, just not as violent and oppressive.

                When I was growing up, we used to mock the Russkies for having internal passports, checkpoints everywhere with fully-armed soldiers, an all-knowing secret police, and political prison camps full of innocent people who never even got a trial — along with trivialities like typewriter registration and sillinesses such as stern penalties for taking photographs of bridges. Today, we have all of that to one degree or another, and increasingly in extreme and oppressive degrees. Indeed, I do believe our airports may well be worse than Soviet-era airports, and our secret police knows far more about far more people than the KGB could ever have hoped to have dreamt of. Granted, Guantanamo is much smaller than the Gulag, but that’s scarce consolation when the government has since turned to robot assassins that target American children overseas, and with law enforcement clamoring for more and more military toys.

                …and I really should stop dwelling on this, at least for today….

                b&

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

                @Diana:

                “I have dual citizenship with New Zealand. I figure I’ll flee there if it all goes to hell but not so much to hell that I can’t fly there.

                Sadly a lot of bad ideas from the US percolate up here, just more slowly. I’m sure good ones do too but we don’t remember those ones.”

                Regrettably, a lot of those bad ideas seem to be percolating down here rather rapidly, too. Including electronic spying on everybody’s communications, and a Prime Minister who refuses to answer any questions about who is spying on whom.

                Think of us as like a satellite state (Czechoslovakia? Hungary?) to the US’s Iron Curtain…

                Oh, hullo GCSB…
                (GCSB = NSA)

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 6, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

                I’ve found Canada tends to try out a lot of things NZ already did as well and NZ says, “don’t do it. We did it. It didn’t work” yet Canada does it anyway. The whole West is going nuts.

          • Jiten
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            It looks bad doesn’t it? Even here in Europe (I’m a Brit) there’s been a lurch to the right. But I believe that our democracies, even with all their faults, are robust and will be able to withstand this and not crumble. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll fall apart like Syria. The powerful have a strong grip at the moment but we have the numbers on our side and we need to wake up and get organised.

            • Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

              I’d like to think that…but the Snowden revelations have shown us that the NSA has an iron grip on the political process, whether or not they’re visibly flexing their muscles.

              We know that there are no limits whatsoever to their spying abilities save the qualms of whatever operator who happens to be doing the snooping.

              And that must, of necessity, include both elected officials and candidates for public office.

              As a Brit, you might not remember that the infamous Watergate scandal was, at its heart, about a botched breakin attempt at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, where (Republican) Nixon’s agents were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee had its headquarters. The plan — one that included Nixon and the highest levels of campaign officials, Executive officers, and Nixon himself — was to gain strategic advantage in the upcoming election. The ensuing coverup and scandal would have resulted in Nixon’s impeachment and almost-certain conviction had he not resigned first — and he likely would have been tried and convicted in criminal court had his Vice President and successor, Gerald Ford, not immediately pardoned him.

              It’s not unreasonable to suggest that only through the incompetence of the burglars did the whole scandal come to light.

              The NSA, in contrast, can trivially perform the exact same sorts of surveillance of politicians and their campaigns as Nixon attempted, and do so without leaving a trace.

              You can safely assume that the NSA can control the entire political process in overarching and subtle ways. Any politician who has dirty secrets, if the NSA has an interest in said politician, the NSA knows those secrets and can trivially blackmail the politician. If the NSA prefers one candidate over another in an election, the NSA can do a Watergate-style surveillance of the “bad” politician. The “good” politician doesn’t even have to be in on the act; the “inside scoop” can just as easily be delivered through a senior staffer (who might well be vulnerable to NSA blackmail). If nothing else, the NSA can simply plant kiddie porn on somebody’s computer and “anonymously” tip off the FBI, and then work behind the scenes with the FBI to help them “independently reconstruct” the evidence trail without using any “tainted” (directly supplied by the NSA) sources. The latter ruse has primarily been to avoid public disclosure of the NSA’s involvement in domestic criminal prosecutions, but they’re dropping even that veil now.

              So…I really don’t see anything other than a spontaneous popular mass uprising as being the way out of this, and I don’t see that happening. Today’s revelations (all over the press) is that the NSA tracks not only individual locations via cellphones, but they track people who spend time together and use that information to build networks. Better hope that the guy in your apartment complex who takes the same bus every morning as you isn’t a dope dealer (or, worse, political activist), because the NSA has already tagged you as one of his co-travellers and presumed associates. With that depth and breadth of surveillance, they can trivially target anybody who has a real chance of organizing any sort of disrupting the NSA’s grip on power, whether said person is a politician or regular citizen or whomever, and easily turn said person into an unperson.

              It’s the type of power that can only possibly corrupt, and it’s clearly already corrupted them nearly absolutely.

              Truly scary shit.

              b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

                What bothered me the most about the entire Snowden affair was how the press participated in discrediting him & regular people had a “meh” attitude about it. I’m glad that what he has released has shown itself to be the truth and that attempts to discredit him were not effective. Still, it seems people are not reacting as angrily as they should.

                Bread and circuses distract I think.

              • Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                I think this is even worse than bread and circuses.

                For the masses and the Faux News crowd, yes, it’s bread and circuses.

                For most of the rest, it’s a cross between frightened resignation and a desire to stay below the radar.

                It’s also not at all unlikely that the NSA has had a direct hand in keeping a lid on public reaction. After all, thanks to their knowledge of personal networks, they know who to lean on and how.

                b&


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