Archive for the ‘Republicans’ Category

Vice

January 3, 2019

Vice is a biographical film about Dick Cheney, written and directed by Adam McKay.

This film came out at a propitious moment. All too many are now looking back at the Bush Administration with rose-tinted glasses. McKay’s film reminds us that it was actually a disaster, the consequences of which we are still living with. And it subtly implies that Trump is one of these consequences.

The film follows the rise of Cheney (Christian Bale) from working as a lineman in Wyoming to becoming Vice President, and, arguably, the most powerful man in the world. However, this film is almost equally about Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), who acted as a sort of Mephistopheles to Cheney, when the latter was young. Cheney became a Congressional aide to Rumsfeld when he was in the House of Representatives. When Rumsfeld joined the Nixon White House, he brought Cheney with him. As Nixon and Kissinger are planning the bombing of Cambodia, Cheney says to Rumsfeld, “What do we believe in?” Rumsfeld responds by laughing. The answer is left unstated: beliefs are unimportant. Only power is important, obtaining it and wielding it.

The film ends with Cheney truculently defending everything he did. The implication is that we can’t get rid of the Dick Cheneys of this world. The most we can hope to do is to try to minimize the damage that they do. I think this is too grim. It is possible to build a better world. We just have to figure out how.

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Some Thoughts about the Election

July 31, 2016

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Donald Trump now claims that his comment about getting Russia to look for Hillary’s missing e-mails was meant to be sarcastic. I don’t know about that. It didn’t sound like sarcasm at the time. Besides, Trump doesn’t do sarcasm. He does dismissive put-downs and childish insults, but not sarcasm. He deliberately pitches his rhetoric to people who can’t understand sarcasm (let alone irony).

I love these conservatives who are now recoiling in horror at Donald Trump. These people helped create the political base that enabled Trump’s rise to power. We should let them stew in their misery. The Democrats should not reach out to them. It was a mistake having Leon Panetta and Michael Bloomberg speak at the convention.

Contrary to Jeffrey St Clair’s claims in Counterpunch, Sanders did not betray his supporters. He said all along that he would support the party nominee. It’s not his fault if some of his supporters weren’t listening.

The Democrats set a neat little trap for Trump when they had that Muslim couple whose son was killed in Iraq speak at the convention. They expected Trump to say something stupid about this, and the Orange One obliged. Can you say “Pavlov’s dog”?

What Moderate Republicans?

May 7, 2016

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According to Yahoo News, the Clinton campaign is considering ways to woo moderate Republican voters. My question is: what moderate Republican voters? Trump steamrolled the other Republican candidates. The “moderate” Kasich went nowhere. The only candidate who managed to put up any kind of fight against Trump was Ted Cruz, who is on the far right. So, where were all these moderate Republicans? Were they too busy watching Duck Dynasty to go vote? So, Clinton expects these moderate Republicans who didn’t stop Trump to help her stop Trump. Could it be that, outside of a few policy thinktanks, there aren’t many moderate Republicans left? I am old enough to remember a time when there were such things as liberal Republicans. They have gone the way of the dodo bird. Ever since Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, the Republican Party has been moving ever rightwards. (And this has been true of the Democratic Party since the 1980’s.) There probably aren’t many moderate Republicans left. Most of them have likely become either Indpendents or Libertarians or conservative Democrats.

Earlier this week, the Clinton campaign released a “brutal” ad attacking Trump. It’s all clips of Republicans, most of them the ones that Trump defeated in the primaries, criticizing. Who, exactly, is this ad supposed to appeal to? The Republicans who didn’t vote for these candidates? Democrats and Independents who despise these same politicians?

It doesn’t appear to me that the people in the Clinton camp know what they are doing.

Spotlight

December 31, 2015

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My father was raised as a Catholic. He left the Catholic Church as a young man. I remember when I was growing up, my younger brother once attended a party at a neighbor’s house. My family learned afterwards that he had spoken to a priest at the party. My father become extremely upset when he heard about this. The rest of us couldn’t understand why.

Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe investigation of child sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church. When Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives as the new editor of the Globe, people are afraid he’s going to cut jobs. Instead, he suggests to the paper’s Spotlight investigative team, led by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), that they investigate a case of a local priest who has been accused of molesting a child. In the course of their investigation, they learn that there may be as many as 87 pedophile priests in the city. They eventually learn that Cardinal Law, the head of the archdiocese, has been aware of this for over a decade.

I’ve never been able to share the admiration that some leftists have for Pope Francis. He is part of the system that produces the sort of behavior depicted in this film. It tells us something that the Church’s reaction to the scandal in Boston was to promote Law. At the very least, Law should have removed these pedophiles from the priesthood. Instead, he moved them from one parish to another, knowing that they would likely carry out the same abuses. Even in terms of self-interest, such behavior makes no sense. These pedophile priests cause people to leave the church. They undermine its moral authority. They cause the church to become embroiled in costly lawsuits. The fact that the church leaders can’t see this shows that they are out of touch with reality, let alone common decency.

Dennis Miller: Human Slime

October 21, 2013

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It would be hard to imagine a more repulsive human being than Dennis Miller. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Miller was a popular stand-up comedian and talk show host back in the 1990’s. (Before most of you were born.) His persona was that of a hip, iconoclastic liberal. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, however, he opportunistically reinvented himself as a right-wing twit, an advocate of racism, militarism, and imperialism. (Miller was like Christopher Hitchens on steroids.) This worked well for Miller for a time, but then the public soured on the Iraq War, and his career went south. He is now condemned to the purgatory of right-wing talk radio. On a recent episode of his talk show, he gave a small business owner some advice on what to do about Obamacare:

    If for your purposes you have to let some people go, kind of get the office wrangle of who’s an Obama supporter, who’s an Affordable Care Act – and do the right thing. You can’t go on seniority anymore, there’s some people who think this is crap. Fire a believer, they’ll understand. Just say “we’re all in this together, this is what you wanted, I have to let you go. But at least you’ll have health care in the single payer.

Miller then offered advice on how a boss should determine his employees’ views on Obamacare:

    Go out, into the parking lot, if somebody has to be cut to 29 hours, if somebody has to be fired, you know how proud they are, the Obama-Biden bumper stickers in their original permutation they’re still on five years down the road. Clock who they are, as you have to fire people, call those people into the office. Not somebody who doesn’t believe in it, that’s been there two days less than them, that’s the past, that’s silly. You’re doing the right thing, you’re not being mean. Look them in the eyes and say, “You know,this is your thing. I can’t afford you anymore. So at least you know I’m doing the right thing.

(It’s perhaps an indication of how out-of-touch Miller is that he doesn’t mention Facebook here.)

Miller calls himself a “libertarian”. Miller apparently thinks that “liberty” means tailoring your beliefs to keep your asshole boss happy.

Greg Palast Has a Man-Crush on Alex Jones

January 21, 2013

And you thought that Alex Jones is just a loud-mouthed buffoon. According to Greg Palast, Jones, who promotes 9/11 conspiracy theories, as well anti-immigrant racism, is “the host of one of the only intellectually substantive, fact-heavy forums on American radio”.

Palast likes Jones a lot. How much does Palast like Alex Jones? He tells us:

    I love Alex Jones. If I were a woman, I’d appear on his show in my highest heels and shortest mini-skirt.

Palast also tells us that Jones has “iron balls”.

Some things simply defy satire.

Why does Palast like Jones so much? It has to do with a story he once did. He tells us:

    While the BBC ran the story regardless of the threat, my investigations of Singer, despite gaining the cover of Nation, were suddenly pulled from US airwaves, including Piers’ CNN. A major news service said it was spiked not by editors, but by “high up”. Even MSNBC said, coyly, that the story was “too complex for our viewers”.

    But not Jones’ audience. “This is complex,” Jones told me, “so we’ll give you a full hour to explain it.” Which is part of the reason Alex is such a hero in the US – he has the cojones to venture where the mainstream media fear to tread.

So what? The people who listen to Jones’s conspiracist rants aren’t going to build a movement for social change. They’re going to stock up on assault rifles and wait for Armageddon to come. Palast, however, is so vain, he is willing to slobber all over Jones just for letting him talk on his show.

To be fair, Palast says he doesn’t agree with everything that Jones says. Which is nice to know.

Vice.com promises us that this article is the first of a three-part series, in which, among other things, Greg Palast will talk about his penis. I can hardly wait.

You can find out more about Alex Jones here.

Libertarianism: A Trojan Horse

December 11, 2012

Timothy P. Carney recetnly wrote in the Washington Examiner regarding the retiring senator, Jim DeMint:

    For libertarians, Christian conservative pro-lifer Jim DeMint was the best thing to come through the Senate in decades. DeMint, quitting early to run the conservative Heritage Foundation, embodied an underappreciated fact of life in Washington: The politicians who most consistently defend economic liberty are the cultural conservatives.

This is further proof of what I’ve always argued: that libertarianism is a Trojan Horse for the far right. Naive young people are attracted to libertarianism because of its position on decriminalizing drugs as well as its opposition to foreign wars. Yet when election time rolls around, libertarians start arguing to support socially conservative, pro-war Republicans. DeMint supported the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Honduras. He wants mandatory prayer in public schools, and he wants to outlaw abortion, including in cases of rape and incest. Yet Carney admires him for his support for “economic liberty”, meaning the right of corporations to screw us over.

Some on the left have been lulled by Ron Paul because of his criticism of U.S. foreign policy, ignoring his history of making racist statements. In his farewell speech to Congress, Paul denounced “pure democracy”, saying that it results in people demanding things from the government. An argument that echoes the racist comments made by Bill O’Reilly after Obama’s re-election.

The pupose of libertarianism is to steer people into the Republican Party. We should have no illusions about this.

Prep School Bully Gets a Wedgie

November 7, 2012

I’m glad that Mitt Romney lost, partly for reasons I discussed in a previous post, and partly because I won’t have to spend the next four years looking at his smug, arrogant face. I also like the fact that this is a thumb in the eye to Rupert Murdoch, whose propaganda machine did everything in its power to prevent Obama’s re-election. Since Obama has been good to Murdoch’s Wall Street friends, one can only suppose that race is the reason for Murdoch’s antipathy. The same goes for the Koch brothers and their Tea Party zombies.

Romney was arguably the most feckless presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater. Try as he might, he could hide that fact that his worldview is essentially that of a prep school bully. One striking giveaway was his comments about the London Olympics. The man just brims over with sneering condescension towards other people, particularly foreigners. Mind you, the reason Romney was nominated was because the other candidates were considered to be even more inept. At this point, one must whether the Republican Party has any future. It seems to be kept on life support by Fox News.

This election indicates that the U.S. is becoming more socially liberal. Marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington, Maine, and Maryland. Unfortunately, the U.S. doesn’t seem to be becoming more progressive on economic and foreign policy issues. We still a lot of work to do.

Barack Obama and the Persistence of the Old Regime

October 26, 2012

The Atlantic Monthly has dared to suggest what none have so far dared to say: that President Barack Obama should be impeached for the murder of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. There is, of course, zero possibility of this actually happening, but the idea is worth raising if only to show what a sham our democracy is. The Republicans are not going to make an issue out of this, no doubt because they don’t see anything wrong with what the President did. For all their huffing and puffing, the Republicans are not really an opposition party. (It would be more accurate to call them an obstruction party.) Certainly Romney would have done the same thing Obama did.

The historical trend has always been to give more and more power to the executive branch. There was a brief push back against this during the Watergate scandal, but that is ancient history now. The idea that the president is not above the law is now regarded as one of those quaint fads of the 1970’s, along with leisure suits and bell-bottom pants.

Consider, for example, how often the president is referred to as the “commander-in-chief”. This is misleading. The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He is not the commander-in-chief of anything else. Reporters and pundits must surely be aware of this, but they use the term anyway, even though they must know that many people are not kwowledgeable about the Constitution. (And why aren’t they? That’s a question that will have to be addressed at another time.) One must seriously question their motives for doing this.

For the Left, there is nothing to recommend Obama. He has better positions on women’s reproductive rights than Romney does, but that is about it. Yet it can be argued that a defeat for Obama would be a triumph for the forces of reaction in this country. Every president gets criticized, but both the quality and the quantity of the criticism aimed at Obama are different from that aimed at previous presidents. Bill Clinton was the subject of paroxysms of paranoia on the right, but the attacks on him mostly had to do with real matters: Clinton’s marital infidelities, the accusations of sexual harassment (which were plausible), his involvement with the Whitewater scandal, and the slightly suspicious death of Vince Foster. Yet the accusations against Obama have nothing to do with reality. We’re told that Obama ia a Muslim, that he associates with terrorists, that he wants to create death panels and put people in re-education camps. There are accusations of a “missing” birth certificate that isn’t missing. This summer a movie was shown in theaters all across the country that argues that Obama is a “Kenyan nationalist” who wants to undermine the U.S. power in the world. (In fact, Obama has gone out of his way to try to shore up the U.S.’s empire.) It’s not hard to see that this is all tied to Obama’s race. Some people are incensed that a black man – the Other – now occupies the White House. Donald Trump, for angrily demands that Obama release his college transcripts. It is inconceivable to Trump that a black man could be more successful and better educated than he is. (I think it fair to say that most black people are better educated than Donald Trump.)

It has often been noted that the so-called blue state/red state divide bears a striking resemblance to the North/South divide of the Civil War. Race is at the center of both these divides, although people were more honest about this in 1861. The Republican Party has absorbed, and in turn been taken over by, the Old Democratic Party of Jim Crow. It is perhaps significant that in recent years, the idea of secession, once confined to a handful of crackpots, has crept its way into mainstream discourse. (The nitwits at CounterPunch bear some responsibility for this.) Romney is too smart to believe the Tea Party’s nonsense, but he pandered to them during the primaries, and a Romney victory will be seen as a win for them.

This raises a critical issue for the Left. Should the racism of Obama’s opponents be considered the most critical issue in this election? I haven’t made up my own mind about this, but I think it is a question that the Left should consider.

Barack Obama Wants to Compromise with You Whether You Like It or Not

October 14, 2012


Obama thinks to himself, “Why doesn’t he like me? I try so hard to be nice to him. Doesn’t he like my bipartisanship?”

Many liberals expressed disappointment – and in some cases even shock – at Obama’s weak performance in the first debate. Over at Gawker, Mobutu Sese Seko (not his real name, in case you’re wondering) has pointed out that Obama’s performance was precisely what we should have expected:

    After spending five years watching a diffident political compromiser campaign for and occupy the White House, Democrats were still shocked that Wednesday’s debate didn’t reveal Barack Obama: Political Nut-Cutter.

Liberals still haven’t realized that the secret behind Obama’s extraordinarily rapid political rise is that he is a non-threatening black man. (True, Tea Partiers find him threatening, but these same people would be terrified at the sight of Trayvon Martin coming towards them with a bag of Skittles.) Remember Jesse Jackson? He wasn’t’ really all that radical. (He liked capitalism.) Yet white Americans reacted towards him almost as if he were a Mau Mau threatening to send them to the gas chambers. For all his reasonableness and articulateness, Jackson was too much of a rough diamond for whites to feel comfortable with him. They applauded when Bill Clinton criticized Jackson for merely being on a panel with Sister Souljah (whose views weren’t any more radical than Jeremiah Wright’s.)

Obama, on the other hand, was polished to an unblemished smoothness by the time he spent at places such as Harvard Law School. He is bland, but without being boring (no easy feat, you must admit). The worst thing I can recall him saying about anyone is his “she’s likable enough” comment about Hillary Clinton. (An extremely mild comment, especially considering that he was talking about Hillary Clinton.)

A corollary of Obama’s smoothness is his eagerness to please people who will do absolutely nothing for him. When Obama was at Harvard Law School, a group of liberal and left-wing students, some of them black, expended considerable effort to get him appointed as the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. Obama then returned the favor by appointing right-wingers to the editorial board, to the bafflement and even anger of his supporters.

This is the man that liberals expect to be the scourge of the Right.