Sunday, November 24, 2019

Long Litany of LIberal Loserdom

Adding the blog "Lawyers, Guns, & Money" to the rogue's gallery of stupid liberals. Like the scribbling obsessive who writes at "Driftglass" and the insane, shit-head, lying, delusional, all-around-bad-person "Jackie Blue" who supervises "Montreal Simon" and makes sure he stays on message for the Liberal Party of Canada, ... LG&M is simply incapable of processing just how unpopular and out-of-touch their parties and their policies are.

I used to like the blog (and, like all liberals, they're far better people, morally and intelligence-wise) than their conservative counterparts [I'm going to have to make an exception for the detestable, deplorable "Jackie Blue"]; but over time I started to notice a general animosity towards Jeremy Corbyn. And that's a clear sign of insanity. Then people in the comments section there started freely tossing around the baseless smears of anti-Semitism and also tried to make his republicanism and his disdain for Britain's nuclear weapons program as if they were personal failings.

The also can't seem to fathom the appeal of Tulsi Gabbard. Now, Ms. Gabbard is a strange figure. She was raised in an ultra-conservative Hindu family (which, I believe, bordered on cult-like) and joined the US military after 9-11 fully believing in the rightness of the USA, and evils of Muslims and LGBTetc., types. Exposure to the brutality and folly of the US occupation of Iraq, as well as to the repressiveness of fundamentalist religious culture made Gabbard change her views about US foreign policy as well as on the regulation of morals. (Gabbard remains a traditional conservative on a lot of things but does not let that impact her voting record on LGBT issues.)

To make a long story short, the folks at LG&M simply can't see why Gabbard has to be so vocally indignant about the Democratic Party leadership who corrupted the 2016 primary; who support regime-change wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and who cynically use Saudi-backed fundamentalist extremists to fight these wars; who coddle Wall Street criminals and meddle in Latin America to support corrupt oligarchs. And, being unable to process Gabbard's views on the total moral and intellectual bankruptcy of their party (because, after all the Republicans are worse!) they can only sneer at her and mock her. (Don't get me wrong: Tulsi Gabbard has a lot of baggage. But she speaks for a lot of US-Americans in her opposition to the bloody imperialism of US foreign policy and the corruption of the Democratic Party.)

Today, LG&M has posted an entire article about a deluded, fanatical Republican supporter. She becomes unhinged trying to get some super-corrupt, oily Kentucky slimeball re-elected as Governor after it appears he's going to lose. The thing is, these Democratic Party dead-enders might be more intelligent and decent than the Republican Party base, but their partisan fanaticism is just as deep and delusional as their counterparts.

The same can be said for the whining shit-bag "Driftglass" and his stupid vendetta against Glenn Greenwald, or for the deplorable "Jackie Blue" and her screeching about "purity ponies" as she blindly supports the racist, imperialist, corrupt, corporate tool Liberals. And this inability to shake themselves free from their tribalist nonsense, and the way they deliberately warp their thinking so as to make themselves incapable of seeing what's right in front of them, is yet another reason for why humanity is doomed.


Oh yeah. So, the recent brazen right-wing coup in Bolivia: The liberal assholes at LG&M were spending more time stupidly condemning Evo Morales for running for a fourth term than they were condemning the racist, lying shit-for-brains US puppets and pukes who have seized power. Because that's the party-line from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC propaganda outlets that these idiots get their talking-points from.

And you won't find any mention at Montreal Simon's blog of Canada's shameful participation in this abomination, nor any remarks on the sickening hypocrisy wherein Liberal Trudeau and Crystia Freeland impose murderous sanctions on the country of Venezuela for imaginary crimes while welcoming the new government of Bolivia as it massacres indigenous people in the streets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

CNN [more than] a Week or Two Ago ...


So I thought I should post something today. And I remembered I'd wanted to post something a week back but never got around to it. What was it? I remembered.

So I went to the gym after work and in the change room the TV was playing CNN. A bunch of talking heads were discussing Trump's reaction to Robert Mueller's recent press conference wherein "Saint Robert Mueller of WMD Lies" told everybody that he never exonerated Donald Trump. There was Russian meddling, and Trump did try to obstruct Mueller's investigation of it. (Mueller explained that he's not allowed to charge a sitting president with anything, so he couldn't just accuse him of obstruction because that would be unfair. It would be unfair because the accusation would just sit there and, not being a legal "charge" Trump would be unable to challenge it in court and thereby clear his name. It would be unfair to do that to Trump. And Mueller is a fair, principled, straight-shooter. So he didn't accuse Trump of obstruction in the report. He just did it at the press conference.)

Now, Trump being Trump, when he'd first heard about the Mueller investigation it's reported that he said that he was "fucked" and that it would be the end of his presidency. This sounds plausible because Trump knows he's a con-man with a lot of criminal deals in his past. But Mueller was only investigating Trump's collusion with Russia. He wasn't looking into Trump's business dealings. And since (as MUELLER CONCLUDED) Trump hadn't colluded with Russia, the main focus of the subsequent report was that there was "no collusion," and that this, combined with Mueller's lack of investigation into Trump's corrupt business dealings, it looked to Trump as if he'd escaped unscathed.

Relieved, and desiring to look magnanimous, Trump pronounced Mueller an honourable man and said that the process had been fair and he was quite happy.

But, in the early days of the investigation, Trump made noises about trying to stop it. He asked people around him if there was some way that he could fire people or what-not. Repeatedly, he was told "no." What I'm trying to get at here is that there's smoke that looks like it came from a fire called "obstruction." But it's not as clear as that.

Anyhow, to bring to an end this ancient piece of writing that I started a long time ago, suffice to say that Mueller identified moments during his investigation when Trump appeared to be trying to obstruct it. Some Russiagate partisans have twisted things to make it seem like Trump's alleged obstruction is the reason for Mueller's being unable to indict any US citizens for collusion. But this is just not so. Here's an article about where Trump's actions could be construed as obstruction. None of them show Trump successfully blocking Mueller from investigating anything to do with collusion. (Other than an attempt to lie about the meeting with Russian nationals at Trump Tower, which Mueller independently concluded was a nothing-burger.) As I said at the top of this post, Trump knows that he's crooked and so he's justifiably scared of investigations. He's also a moron in many ways who doesn't know how to keep his mouth shut (or his dick in his pants or his hands to himself).

But as Mueller concluded: NOTHING points to any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Putin's Kremlin to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. Therefore, in that regard, Trump is NOT a "traitor." He is NOT a "Kremlin puppet." He is NOT a "Russian asset." This whole thing has been an exercise in the Democratic National Council to use anti-Russian xenophobia to distract US-Americans from the reality that the neo-liberal "Washington Consensus" is massively unpopular with the people of the United States and that is the reason why Trump squeaked out an Electoral College victory against the "Washington Consensus" candidate Hillary "Bat-Shit-Crazy" Clinton.

The thing is, all of this stupid nonsense from the dearly departed Russiagate bullshit scandal which occupied over two years of breathless coverage, pushing more important topics ["more important" in many ways but not the least being that they were REAL as opposed to imaginary] out of the news-cycle, never stopped being stupid nonsense. The reporting on this particular spat between Trump and Mueller as I saw it on the tv-screens at the gym (almost the WHOLE TIME that I was there) was a microcosm of the whole abomination.

Trump's idiocy itself was being characterized as calculated lying. Mueller's dodgy behaviour was portrayed as the height of probity. The dispute over obstruction of justice was being used to insert credibility into the bullshit charges of collusion and "Russian meddling." And the end result of the entire farce was to drive Russiagate partisans deeper into their asylum of hysteria and delusion; to further convince Trump's blinkered supporters that he was, indeed, the victim of a "witch-hunt" conducted by the FAKE NEWS media and the corrupt Democrats; and to further shred the credibility of the mainstream news media.

And I wish I didn't have to write about that crapola. But so many otherwise intelligent people bought into that total drivel and I think it's symptomatic of the reasons why our species is doomed. If intelligent people can be made (through partisan derangement, gullibility, self-delusion) to believe in complete bullshit like this, ... what hope is there for civilization?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Our Doomed Species

NOTE: This was an old, unfinished effort that I decided to dredge out of the "drafts" folder and post just for the hell of it. I added a word about the recent coup in Bolivia and one or two other things and that's about it.

The pathetic dissembling of the "Russia-gaters," as they try to pretend that Mueller's report might somehow still vindicate their moronic and self-destructive conspiracy theory is interesting in so far as it provides real-time evidence of brains struggling to fit reality to their ideologies. In fact, since the implosion of the Hillary Clinton campaign, these useless liberals have becoming increasingly more desperate. They allowed themselves to ignore or rationalize Barack Obama's numerous crimes against humanity and democracy. They convinced themselves that the murderous, racist, corrupt incompetent Hillary Clinton was THE BEST CANDIDATE EVAHHHHH!!!! whose Electoral College defeat can only be attributed to external causes. (Ian Welsh pointed out a long time ago that all sorts of things contributed to HRC's humiliation, but that discounting the legacy of Democratic neo-liberalism and Hillary's personal awfulness is a colossal blind-spot.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Current Reading

Just some of the latest stuff I've been reading.

First: Calypso by David Sedaris [SPOILERS BELOW]

If you don't know already, David Sedaris is a wildly popular US-American humo[u]r writer. I've read four of his other books and I've enjoyed them all. Calypso is a little bit different from his droll, dry, absurdist, hilarious (at times) usual fare. In this one we're given some of the darker aspects of his family and his reflections on the realities of ageing.

For instance, ... haunting most of the book is the spirit of his sister Tiffany, who committed suicide. Tiffany Sedaris is described as a difficult person who had obvious mental problems. Towards the end of her life she lived in squalor, engaging in dumpster-diving and making art out of found-objects. On the internets you can find other sources who say that David Sedaris does her a disservice in his description of her and that she was a beautiful, creative spirit. But Sedaris doesn't claim to be the last word on who his sister was. He describes her as he knew her. And it's pretty obvious that he isn't writing with pride about how the last time he saw her he closed the door in her face when she showed up at one of his book readings.

We learn that Sedaris must have gotten much of his talent for observation and story-telling from his mother as he recounts how all the children lingered around the dinner table after eating to listen to her tell her stories about the people and events she'd experienced during the day. She'd also offer her observations on their own stories. But then Sedaris informs us that his mother became an alcoholic in her last years. That she was an embarrassing raging drunk. Sedaris has already told us how his mother died of cancer when she was 62, but in Calypso he begins to reflect on the fact that he's closing in on 62 himself. One day soon he'll be older than his mother was when she died.

Finally, Sedaris tells us about his father. Previously his father has been described as a devastatingly witty fellow. He was an IBM engineer in the 1960s. He still is (in his nineties) a jazz music aficionado. Sadly however, like many an older white male, he's become a consumer of right-wing rage TV and radio. Moreover (and one of the reasons for his mother's drinking) he's been a hoarder for decades. The Sedaris household was a dilapidated shambles. All the rooms crammed with papers and junk his father had brought home. It's bizarre how his father is obviously still a highly functioning individual while engaging in this nonsensical behaviour.

This is a touching, sad book that still manages to make you smile. Sedaris's response to finding out about "fit-bits" or describing himself as looking like a hand-puppet when wearing a shirt three-times too long for him. Whatever their "eccentricities," Sedaris's parents created a very original set of kids.

Next up is Robert Dallek's Franklin D. Roosevelt: a political life.

This is one of the first general histories of FDR following the release of the personal papers of his cousin and confidante Margaret "Daisy" Suckley who died in 1991 at the age of 99. FDR played his cards very close to his chest for his entire life and very few people knew him. He has occasionally been referred to as a "sphinx" for his inscrutability. Suckley's correspondence gave historians the first glimpse at the inner Roosevelt; his stresses and strains, agonies, intimacies and his passions.

Dallek's book was my first reading of FDR's life in its entirety so I really don't have anything to compare it to. But I will say that it makes me more sympathetic to the man. Roosevelt can obviously be criticized for being an elitist and an imperialist who preserved the inhuman system of capitalism. But it also has to be said that he was a few steps in the right direction for social justice and the welfare state. And, given the strength of reactionary forces in the USA then (and now) he was probably the best that anyone could seriously have hoped for. Reading a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt I found out about several times when FDR purposely confounded the progressive ideas of his wife and her supporters. But reading Dallek it's clear that while he wasn't as forward thinking as his wife, his personal views were farther along than his public utterances.

For instance; he was fairly sympathetic to the labour movement. But the famous sit-down strikes by the Congress of Industrial Organizations were extremely unpopular with both the business class (obviously) as well as the general public. Roosevelt appears to have been perfectly willing to simply let both sides work it out between themselves and would have been happy either with the status-quo or (more importantly) victories for labour. But he couldn't say this. When asked for his opinion he attempted to avoid the question, but was eventually forced to say "A pox on both their houses." This was actually politically courageous because (as I said) public opinion and ruling class opinion) was definitely on the side of business. By saying what he said FDR showed that he would not take the side of employers against workers. However, saying this infuriated CIO leader John L. Lewis whose organization had given large sums to Roosevelt's 1936 re-election and now felt betrayed.

FDR's apparent conservatism was really political prudence. The forces of reaction were far too strong. Considering the hostility of the owners of the media, most of the business elites, and the Southern racists who comprised the strongest bloc within his own Democratic Party, FDR achieved as much as he could and probably more than anyone else could have at the time. And he did it successfully enough to win an unprecedented four presidential elections. (Although without the war both the voters and he, himself, would probably have preferred he be only a two-term president.)

But Dallek missed a few important things. The one that stands out the most was his failure to mention that FDR and Eleanor met while she was working at a settlement house in New York City. He was impressed and charmed by her work among the poor and she, in turn, was impressed with his stated desire to help improve social conditions as a politician. This patrician devotion to social justice was one of the building blocks of their early relationship.

I also just re-read Ernest R. May's Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France. I read it again because it's extremely well-written as well as being about a very important topic. Also, the first time around, all of those new German and French names and bureaucratic institutions overtaxed my soggy brain and I felt the need to give it a second go.

The book is described by its author as a re-examination of ideas presented in an earlier French work titled Strange Defeat written in 1940 by Marc Bloch. In that work, Bloch describes the failure of (among other things) the French high command, who had failed to understand the transformation of warfare since 1918. In Strange Victory, May argues that France wasn't really all that ill-prepared for war in 1939 and that Germany wasn't all that better prepared. Given the forces on either side, the French and the British had good reason to believe in eventual victory. What produced Germany's "strange victory" was a daring strategy of a feint through Belgium with the main armoured thrust going through the Ardennes Forest, combined with French and British intelligence failures to recognize the signs that this was going to happen, and, furthermore, the failure of the French to quickly respond to the new reality when it was obvious.

May makes it very clear that the war could have been over with a defeat for Germany in 1940 if only a few things had been different. (And that therefore, the world would have been a very different place.)

Next I've read Toronto writer Jess Taylor's Just Pervs.

This is a collection of short stories about women's sexual and romantic lives. I'm introducing some female characters into my graphic novel and I've decided that I should read women writers rather than rely on my own half-assed observations of female behaviour and portraits of female characters by male authors.

Taylor is a good writer. Good at describing urban interiors and states of mind. And sequences too I guess. The story that moves from a party boat to an apartment to a pharmacy just flows right along.  I could picture all the small apartments and Toronto bars as she described them. The themes are generally grim. About unrequited love, bad choices, insecurities, delusions and failures.

Finally, I'm almost halfway through E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class.

I should have read this book a long time ago but it wasn't on my university reading lists and for one reason or another I always put off reading it independently. It's a monumental work of over 800 pages detailing the political and social and economic aspirations and realities of ordinary people in late-18th and early 19th-century British people, from agricultural workers to textile workers to skilled artisans and shopkeepers. I'm not sure what I could say that hasn't already been said more eloquently by other reviewers over the last 70 years. I'll just say that it is eminently readable and comprehensible and scholarly.

So that's what I've been up to lately.