My favorite active New Yorker cartoonist Ed Steed designed these hilarious posters for the 2016 USA presidential candidates. I love how accurately they catch the tone of each candidate’s personality and policies, from Ted Cruz’s intense evangelicalism to Bernie Sanders’ embrace of youthful counterculture.

You can find the source of these posters here.


favourite musicals: Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of Fleet street

(Broadway 1979, West end 1980, Movie adaptation 2007)

They all deserve to die. Tell you why, Mrs. Lovett, tell you why! Because in all of the whole human race, Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two. There’s the one staying put in his proper place and one with his foot in the other one’s face. Look at me, Mrs Lovett! Look at you! No, we all deserve to die… Even you, Mrs Lovett, even I! Because the lives of the wicked should be made brief. For the rest of us death will be a relief. We all deserve to die… And I’ll never see Johanna, no I’ll never hug my girl to me… FINISHED!

Sanders, Ed. Fuck God in the Ass. New York: Fuck You Press, 1967. First edition. 4to, 17 pp, stab-stapled; mimeographed from typescript, holograph and drawings.

This was published the year after the raid by police on Sanders’ Peace Eye bookshop and his ensuing legal difficulties on obscenity charges - the title perhaps inspired by his obscenity battles with the authorities, and another salvo in Sanders’ all out assault on culture. This is the trade edition of 500 copies - the colophone states “Printed in 4 editions - the Trade Edition of 500 copies - The Rough Trade Edition of 10 signed & numbered copies, hardbound - The Tree Fig edition - an edition of four signed & spewd-on volumes, each containing an actual photograph of Ed Sanders coming into the oily summer crotch of an Elm tree - The Marianne Moore Fantasy Edition– an edition of three signed, numbered, boxed copies with beautiful drawings by the brilliant artisit Joe Brainard revealing the author’s secret dream fantasies of carnal union with Marianne Moore. Never in the history of Western civilization have such frank depictions of poetic polugropy been published." 

From today’s new arrivals. All the bibliographic niceties at the Division Leap website


“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007)

Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin…

Judge Turpin is the reigning magistrate of London. Judge Turpin arrested and exiled Benjamin Barker to Australia, due to his infatuation with Barker’s wife, Lucy. Lucy is heartbroken, and becomes a recluse, never coming down from her home. At his house, during a masque ball, he drugs and then rapes Lucy, who tries to kill herself by drinking poison; she survives, but is driven insane and reduced to begging in the street.

Turpin then takes Barker’s infant daughter, Johanna, and raises her as his ward. He keeps her locked away from the world and spies on her through a peep-hole in her wall. When Johanna turns 15, Turpin offers her his hand in marriage. She refuses, to which he seems baffled. When he spots Anthony Hope with Johanna, he threatens to kill him if he ever returns…  

American Cartel: How America’s Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy

Cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.

A little over two decades ago, on December 2, 1993, the principle engineer of Colombia’s infamous cocaine empire, Pablo Escobar, was killed while fleeing police on the barrio rooftops of his hometown, Medellin. Before he died he had amassed an organization of state-like power, challenging, in fact, the government of Columbia itself over the question of its extradition policies — and winning. Dubbed the Medellin drug cartel, his international cocaine operation grew to prominence functioning similarly to the corporations which dominate today’s global economy. Escobar knew, by controlling every possible link in the drug chain from production to retail, he could corral suppliers under a single umbrella, dictate the price of his product, and severely limit any would-be competitors from challenging his power.

Escobar was not alone in learning from the strategies of corporate giants. If anything he was late. Few organizations have pervasively and durably monopolized a market as well as America’s Republican and Democratic parties. The two dominant machines steering the U.S. electorate have consistently diminished the potential for a freer America. That’s because the reality is, rather than arch rivals, liberals and conservatives are two factions of the same team. Both are capitalist. Both are imperialist. Both are white supremacist surrogates. And both are controlled by a plutocratic elite who have discovered what Escobar learned in his early twenties, that competition is best neutralized by eliminating all possible outliers. We merely perceive the two parties as markedly different because of the degree to which the spectrum of possibilities has been narrowed.

American Cartel

Politics, at its barest, is a market characterized by power — and the struggle for how power will be distributed. As CrimethInc illustrated some time ago, in this market ideas function similar to currency. Delineated by ideas which can build capital enough for the acquisition of more power, and those which might unbind power, political parties are tethered to the same basic operating principles of any capitalist enterprise. They must solidify market share in the realm of ideas and grow, wherever and whenever possible, or go bankrupt. Incubated within this constant power play, self-preservation becomes the party’s central priority; and it does not matter if the ideas which accomplish this outcome are beneficial to the electorate or detrimental, so long as it achieves the imperative to survive.

Political organizations which maintain growth long enough to survive often do so by normalizing their ideological framework. When they have obtained a disproportionate amount of influence over their immediate surroundings, they can metastasize into monopolies and control large swaths of the idea-economy. New ideas about how society ought to function can enter the market to contest old ideas, but usually encapsulated within reforms incapable of unseating the dominant paradigm. Characteristic of any capitalist system, once market monopolies are established “power tends to flow upward to the top of a hierarchy, from which the masters, the ones qualified to employ it, decide matters for everyone else.”

Remember the age-old question, what do all those with power want? More power. As such, two monopolies have dominated American politics for over 150 years — the Democratic Party, founded in 1828, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Together, they form a political cartel, or an association of political parties with the purpose of maintaining concentrated power and restricting or repressing competition. Throughout the past century its loosely managed agreements, often wholly unofficial, but embedded deep within its standard operation, have been the quasi-coordinated production, distribution, and enforcement of a set of normalized choices which reflect only the range of needs of private corporate power.

Essentially, to solidify and gain greater control, the two parties staked out a set of positions within a predetermined and standardized framework which express the basic ideas of the status quo. This way any “new” solutions about what might be possible tend toward ideas which pose no serious danger to the framework itself, which produce reforms only capable of gutting radical resistance while leaving the underlying problems intact. Any outliers are assimilated or positioned to enhance the strength of current institutions. In other words, all ideas must first be filtered through the umbrella of the Democrat-Republican cartel, which dictates the pedigree of ideas both old and new, and therefore severely limiting any competition from threatening its hegemony.

American Sicarios

Central to the project of any cartel is control. And within most drug cartels there is an armed group responsible for carrying out violence in an effort to maintain it. In Colombia they were called sicarios. Though the violence is systematically different, American sicarios are most accurately found in state institutions like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Such an observation should not be seen as hyperbole. Even the most marginally informed American should know their government frequently has been involved in shameful acts of violence, whether it was the assassination, framing, and political neutralization of black, brown, indigenous, and left-radical movements and their leaders, or organized coups in the Middle East, Africa, and Central or South America.

Without enforcers America’s political cartel simply could not exist. As I wrote in Gangs Of The State: Police And The Hierarchy Of Violence, our society operates on a clearly defined, yet often unarticulated, hierarchy of violence; and the function of politicians and police agencies is to normalize and enforce that violence. As an institution, these agencies act as state-sanctioned gangs, or, in this instance, the sicarios of America’s political ideology, charged with the task of upholding the violent, racist hierarchy of white supremacist capitalism. Wherever and whenever possible, they are tasked with solidifying a monopoly of power where all violence from/by those higher on the hierarchy upon those lower can be normalized into business as usual. Any deviation from the status quo, any resistance whatsoever, is met with brutal repression.

(Read Full Text)