Archive for the ‘Republicans’ Category


December 9, 2011

Up until now I’ve resisted the temptation to write about the Republican presidential candidates. This is because they just didn’t seem worth it. This is the sorriest field of candidates I have ever seen. That’s a remarkable statement considering that I’ve seen some truly sorry candidates in my time. (Does anyone remember Al Haig? One of my favorite throwaway gags on The Simpsons was when Homer went rummaging through his attic and found an “Al Haig for President” t-shirt. Of course, Haig would look like Abraham Lincoln standing alongside this current bunch.) These people aren’t even competent bullshitters. (There are 14 million adult Americans who can’t find work, and Newt Gingrich is talking about bringing back child labor.) Yet what gets me is the seeming credulousness that the media show towards these bozos. CNN is an endless parade of talking heads solemnly discussing every nuance of the drivel that comes out of these people’s mouths. It’s as though Dorothy and her companions have discovered the man behind the curtain, but they still think that the giant head is real. (Yeah, I know, that’s the second Wizard of Oz metaphor that I’ve used this week. You have to admit that it’s appropriate, though.)

Consider Rick Perry. He first came to national attention when he made a stupid comment about Texas seceding from the Union. He was than accused of allowing an innocent man to be executed. Yet when he announced his candidacy last summer, the media greeted it with a fanfare worthy of Caesar crossing the Rubicon. They seemed ready to inaugurate him right then. (Alexander Cockburn compared Perry to Ronald Reagan. Before that, he compared Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan.) Almost immediately, Perry slit his own throat by attacking Social Security. (A large chunk of the Republicans’ voter base consists of elderly people. The one thing the Republicans can not attack is Social Security. I’m amazed that Perry’s handlers didn’t tell him that.) He then embarrassed himself during the debates, a remarkable achievement considering that he was on the same stage as Michele Bachmann.

And then there was Herman Cain. Here was a man with no political experience, whose only accomplishment in life was that he laid off employees at Godfather’s Pizza. (Strangely, it didn’t seem to bother anyone that his company’s name was based on an ethnic stereotype.) Yet reporters treated him as a serious candidate, a pretense that became increasingly difficult to maintain, as Cain didn’t try very hard to conceal his lack of interest in politics. (Concerning the sexual harassment allegations, should it surprise anyone that someone who runs a sordid company like Godfather’s Pizza would behave in a sordid manner?)

The news media do not exist to inform us. They exist to maintain the charade that is U.S. politics.

The Murder of Troy Davis and the Culture of Death

September 22, 2011

I was hoping I would not have to write another post about Troy Davis, but the Supreme Court has ensured that I would.

The State of Georgia has murdered Troy Davis. It was interesting to hear government officials deny that the fact that witnesses recanted their testimony was of no importance. They seemed to believe that saying that you committed perjury was an involuntary action, like the hiccups. Numerous studies have found that eyewitness testimony can be unreliable. Yet the criminal justice system seemed to determined to kill Davis rather than admit that witnesses are not infallible.

At a recent Republican debate, the audience burst into applause when it was pointed out that Rick Perry has presided over 234 executions since he became governor of Texas. The same people applauded when Dr. Ron Paul said that people who can’t afford health insurance should die. It seems we are developing a culture that holds human life in contempt.

More Thoughts about Obama’s Budget Deal

August 7, 2011

The raucous debates that preceded the budget deal have led some to the conclusion that the U.S. ruling class is in a state of crisis. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have not gone they way they hoped. The recovery from the last recession has been extremely weak. They are desperately trying to find a way to increase profits while maintaining the empire, but they are divided on how to do it. Some, like the Koch Brothers (the driving force behind the Tea Party), want to simply destroy whatever is left of workers’ living standards, effectively making the U.S. into a “Third World” country. Others favor less drastic measures. The people at Standard & Poor’s are trying to impose their own ideas on the government by downgrading their credit rating. None of these people seem to see unemployment as a problem, even though the more intelligent members of the ruling class must realize that chronic unemployment will eventually lead to social unrest. (The Wisconsin uprising may be a foreshadowing of this.) Yet they are unwilling to accept any New Deal-type reforms that might assuage public anger.

Again, what we need is a movement of unemployed people.

Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011)

June 4, 2011

Jack Kevorkian has died – from natural causes, ironically enough. Kevorkian was an advocate of assisted suicide. The media dubbed him “Dr. Death”. (I think it would have been more clever if they had called him “Suicide Jack”.) I have always had deeply mixed feelings about Kevorkian. On the one hand, I technically agree with the argument he was making. On the other hand, I was put off by the, shall we say, enthusiastic manner in which Kevorkian made his argument. (Derek Humphrey, of the Hemlock Society, called Kevorkian “a zealot”.) Kevorkian promoted himself in such a way that at one point he began to seem like a McDonald’s of death. Still, he was attacked in a manner that struck me as hypocritical. Kevorkian spent eight years in prison for second-degree murder, yet in what way was he any worse than, say, the state of Texas, which has executed hundreds of people, including at least one innocent person?

I actually began to pine for Kevorkian’s voice when the Republicans cynically tried to whip up public hysteria over the Terri Schiavo case. This whole episode deeply offended me. I remember when I went to see my father during the final weeks of his life, I found a notice taped to his refrigerator door, which was signed by my father and by his physician. It was an instruction to emergency medical technicians that under no circumstances was my father to be resuscitated. My father was continually ill during the last ten years of his life. He spent his final months flat on his back. There are times when the most humane thing to do is let go.

Donald Trump

April 20, 2011

When you think about it, a Trump presidency makes perfect sense. He personifies as much as anyone the self-delusion and mindless hype that characterize contemporary capitalism. This is a man who has filed for bankruptcy three times, yet the media celebrate him as a financial wizard, a modern-day King Midas. Who better to preside over a government that gives money to bankers who collapsed the economy? Who better to preside over an unwinnable war in Afghanistan? Who better to preside over a bubble economy heading for another crash?

The downside to a Trump presidency is that we will have to spend four years looking at his weird hair.

Fun Fact: Donald Trump and John Boehner both belong to the same orange-skinned hominid species!

Casino Jack

March 7, 2011

Casino Jack directed by George Hickenlooper (who died just before the film was released) with a screenplay by Norman Snider, is a fictionalized depiction of the Jack Abramoff scandals, with Kevin Spacey in the role of the unscrupulous lobbyist. (Spacey is very good, by the way, as are the other actors in this film.) I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, so I was surprised that Rotten Tomatoes only gave it a 40% fresh rating. The most common complaint in the comments section was that the film doesn’t really explain what makes Abramoff tick. That is true, but a similar criticism could made of many other films. Does The Social Network really explain what makes Mark Zuckerberg tick? I don’t think so. Another complaint that some made was that they found it confusing. I didn’t. Others complained about making a comedy about a man whose actions hurt other people. That argument seems strange to me, when I consider that one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedies ever made, Dr. Strangelove, is about nuclear holocaust. It doesn’t get any darker than that.

I suspect that what really bothers people about this movie is its frank depiction of the pervasive corruption in our political system. Indeed, the film suggests that Abramoff’s real crimes in the eyes of the government were that he was reckless, indiscreet and actually not very bright. In one scene, a fellow lobbyist warns Abramoff that K Street (where many lobbying firms are located in Washington) is afraid that his relentless self-promotion will draw people’s attention to what they are doing. When Abramoff is called before a Senate committee, he notes that some of the Senators condemning him received money from groups that he represented.

I suspect what may also bother people about this movie is its depiction of religious hypocrisy. Abramoff considers himself to be a devout orthodox Jew. He uses some of his ill-gotten gains to fund the building of a religious school. Some of his partners in crime, such as Tom DeLay, consider themselves to be devout Christians. The film doesn’t explain this behavior, but that is not the point. The point is to show the human capacity for self-delusion. It is also to warn us that we shouldn’t be taken in by politicians who talk about their belief in religious values.

I highly recommend seeing Casino Jack.

So Long, Arnold

January 4, 2011

Arnold the Mighty, fearless defender of wealth and privilege.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term as Governor of California has ended. He leaves that state the same way he found it, mired in a budget crisis. Schwarzenegger could always have solved that crisis by raising the income tax rate on the richest one percent of Californians, but he steadfastly refused, on principle, to do such a thing. You may recall that several years ago there was a lot of talk of Arnold running for president. There was talk of amending the Constitution so that someone born outside the U.S. could become president. That’s all gone now. Arnold sacrificed his political career just so the richest people in California wouldn’t have to pay higher taxes.

What a guy.

You may recall that Arnold was elected as part of the recall of Governor Gray Davis. Peter Camejo ran as the Green Party candidate in that election. He ran on a solidly left-wing platform, and he actually received a fair amount of attention from the media, something virtually unheard of for a left-wing candidate in the U.S. A strong showing by Camejo would have sent a powerful message. However, some on the left started screaming that Schwarzenegger is a fascist – which he isn’t – and that was enough to stampede people back into the Democratic Party’s fold. So leftists wasted their votes trying to save the sorry ass of the corrupt and incompetent Davis. Once again, we see the self-defeating effect of the “lesser evil” argument.

Arnold’s successor is Jerry Brown, on whom Alexander Cockburn has a man-crush. In his inaugural address, Brown said, “The year ahead will require courage and sacrifice.” I assume he means courage and sacrifice on the part of the working class. Isn’t that always the way it is?

Now Arnold can go back to doing what he does best, which is appearing in action movies. Note that I said “appearing” and not “acting”. This is a guy who gets paid millions of dollars just to show up for film shoots. A lot of working class people voted for Arnold, yet it was too much to hope that someone with his background would have any sympathy or understanding for people who actually work for a living.

When Stan Tookie Williams was facing execution, Arnold could have done the courageous thing and commuted his sentence, but Mr. Action Hero is actually a coward. Another example of the gap between reality and dreams in Hollywood.

The Controversy Over TSA’s Body Searches Continues to Grow

December 18, 2010

The Oregon Elections

November 5, 2010

Six more years of this.

Here in Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, the Democrat, Pete DeFazio, beat a bizarre Republican candidate, Art Robinson, by only six percentage points. Robinson, who has a PhD in chemistry, has called for abolishing public education. (Robinson sells home schooling kits over the Internet. I’m sure this is purely a coincidence.) Robinson denies global warming and claims that low-level radiation can be good for you. He spent an enormous amount of money on his campaign. His signs were everywhere. He even paid people to drive around with his signs stuck to their cars.

DeFazio has a reputation for being one of the more liberal members of Congress. In a liberal district, why did a right-wing nutjob like Robinson get such a large percentage of the vote? During the campaign, DeFazio made much of the fact that he voted against Obama’s stimulus bill, citing this as evidence of his “independence”. I don’t think this was too bright, considering that many people (myself included) got bigger refund checks because of Obama’s tax cuts. DeFazio should have voted for the stimulus bill and against Obama’s fraudulent “health care reform” bill. (DeFazio is terrible on immigration. He opposes amnesty and calls for beefing up “border security”.) God save us from “liberal” Democrats like DeFazio.

Ron Wyden, another Democrat, was re-elected to the Senate. Like DeFazio, Wyden had the cajones to vote against the bank bailouts, but, like DeFazio, he meekly went along with the health care flim-flam. Wyden’s opponent, somebody named Huffman, was an idiot. Huffman mailed out a campaign flyer that showed a picture of a toilet bowl. The caption read, “This is the state of Oregon’s economy.” Below that was a picture of a roll of toilet paper made out of $100 bills. The caption for this read, “This is Wyden’s plan to save it.” (The color scheme of the flyer was red, white and blue. Get it?) My mother became visibly upset when she found this in her mail. She held it out to me and said, “This is the most vulgar election ad I have ever seen.” She was so angry that she could barely speak. I took the thing from her hand and threw it in the trash. My mother is eighty-one years old, so that tells you something.

Much to my surprise, a measure to enable the medical use of marijuana was voted down. This is in a state where cannabis is a major cash crop, and where I have seen some people brazenly smoking pot in public. I’m still trying to figure out the reason for this defeat. I will write about it in a future post.

Democrats Fall Down, Go Boom

November 3, 2010

I had been planning to write another snarcky post about the stupid e-mails that the Democratic Party keeps sending me, but it began to seem to me like kicking a dead mule. It was clear the Dems were going to take a drubbing, and tonight it has come to pass. The Republicans have taken control of the House and have picked up seats in the Senate. The Democrats have nobody but themselves to blame for this. After controlling Congress for four years, they have nothing to show for themselves but a a fraudulent health care reform bill and a fraudulent finance reform bill. They made no effort to punish the banksters who wreaked the economy. They did not deserve to win these elections.

What’s sad about all this is that the Republicans truly deserved to lose. Their behavior was utterly contemptible: whipping up hatred of Mexicans and Muslims, claiming that unemployed people are lazy, and so on. They subjected us to the shenanigans of the racist and ignorant Tea Party. We can find some comfort in the fact that some of the dumber Republicans lost, such as Sharron Angle, who claimed that they have sharia law in Dearborn, Michigan. (She says she knows this because she read it in an article somewhere. So far as Angle is concerned, Dearborn might as well be on the dark side of the moon.) Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller also lost. (However, the despicable Rand Paul appears to have won.) Perhaps this will finally lay to rest the idea that Sarah Palin is an important political player in this country, but I fear that the media will find some way to spin it as a victory for the Mooseburger Lady.

Another sad note is that Russ Feingold, the only Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act, has apparently lost.

What remains to be seen is what effect this will have on Obama. He has been in office for less than two years, and he’s already beginning to seem as irrelevant as George W. Bush did during his second term. Forget the oil spill, Obama’s Katrina was the health care bill. He used all his political capital to pass an insipid piece of legislation that will actually hurt many people. From that point on, he has been completely out of touch. Last summer he and his family went on expensive and much publicized vacations, while the country was stewing with a 20% unemployment rate. He talks about going after Social Security and Medicare, the two most popular government programs.

With the Republicans controlling the House, my fear is that Obama may be tempted to do something rash in order to regain the initiative, such as attacking Iran or something equally stupid. Whatever happens, it’s not going to be fun.