Tag Archives: American Politics

Sweet Fancy Moses!

Let me begin by saying I find this video both hilarious and extremely depressing.

Enjoy it if you can stand it. This would make Larry David cringe.


John Ralston Saul gave a talk of sorts a little while back at Victoria Hall in Westmount. It was an oddly conceived event hosted by the Westmount Library and Paragraphe Bookstore (both of which, incidentally, do great work – excellent selections and a palpable commitment to the somewhat overlapping communities they serve) in which Mr. Saul read from his most recent work, the fiction Dark Diversions, a black comedy of international intrigue and the intertwined worlds of dictators and so-called high society.

Though the event was advertised as being part of a series in book-readings, Mr. Saul found that idea distasteful and proceeded instead to speak more freely as an accomplished essayist would doubtless prefer. He in fact seemed to explain much of the thinking that went into the book’s creation, its inspiration shall we say, by stitching together commentary and considerations on our contemporary lives into what appeared to be the framework if not the guts of the novel. We came for a patient reading and quiet discussion of the books themes, and instead got an incisive and witty deconstruction of our world’s egregious excess.

It was well done, to say the very least, and excessively interesting. I took notes.

In any event, at one point Saul said something that really caught my attention. He said now was a good time to be a satirist.

I suppose he’s right. And it’s just about the only quality product being made in America right now.

The problem is that I look at a video like this and think – this is satire.

And yet it’s not. Piers Morgan seems to be legitimately interested in having some kind of a conversation (but then again I wonder how his people could have possibly thought this would have gone well) and Alex Jones is a man for whom conversation is a completely unknown concept. It’s nearly a Monty Python sketch (though they’d still somehow be more subtle, drier) and this radio-host conspiracy theorist is just about the definition of a hot-headed and supremely ignorant and uncritical American Conservative. Exactly the kind of person you simply cannot have a conversation with. Regardless, unless there is some Andy Kaufmann level cringe comedy stunt being pulled live on CNN (and this means without a doubt Ted Turner is the insane comedic genius I’ve always wanted him to be) what we have here is an example of satire so supreme the creators had no idea they were even involved. Absent-minded, accidental, satire.

This clip speaks volumes about contemporary American culture.

News is driven by sensationalism, the more sensational, the better. Morgan’s ratings will rise. As will the ratings of Mr. Jones. They both win, even though nothing of any importance was actually said. Yet because Mr. Jones ‘got to have his say’ there may be a few more people who take him and his dangerous, ignorant and poorly-assembled ideas seriously.

And because the media conglomerate is over-focused on their bottom-line, and they know shit like this sells (a lot, billions of dollars move on TV like this), they unwittingly confuse the public into believing what they see on the screen has some kind of validity. Because we’ll talk about it all day tomorrow at work, and tweet about it and post it all over Facebook, we wind up making this stick more than it should.

Otherwise this would just be the ramblings of a lunatic in the streets. A raving derelict.

Mr. Jones has been employed twice by fellow Austinite Richard Linklater to appear as a ranting street freak in the rotoscoped masterpieces Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.

I’m beginning to want very badly for this to actually be satire; I would find a lot of relief in being had.

About last night…

Another great photograph from Getty Images

So. It looks like I worried for nothing.

I’m rather happy about that…

Is it me or did the Yankees take a big step to the left?

Despite the Republican-sponsored defrauding of the American vote (done, in an Orwellian fashion, largely in the name of eliminating non-existant voter fraud) and viral videos of ‘malfunctioning’ electronic voting machines, absurdly long lines and the spasmodic eruptions of verbal diarrhoea coming from Donald Trump, the United States pulled through and did a lot to restore my faith in their country. Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States, but that’s not the half of it.

The whack-jobs didn’t get in.

Several states recognized gay marriage, a couple more legalized recreational cannabis consumption. There’s a record number of women elected to Congress and the Senate, high participation rates among key minority groups and record low turnout by Republicans.

It may not be a landslide as the term was once described, but given the intense barrage of deceit, amplified ignorance and seemingly endless supply of the bottom-feeding opportunists contemporary American society manages to produce all coming to the fore over the last few months, I can only say that this is a post-modern political landslide – the good held their ground while bullshit mountain crumbled all around them.

Obama’s no saint, but I’m saying that with a Canadian perspective – we like our liberals off in left field, not to the immediate left of the far right. In American terms he’s either a progressive liberal or a veritable socialist in sheep’s clothing – depending on whom you ask. The branding doesn’t matter, Obama has pursued a generally progressive platform (by neo-liberal-centrist standards) and has instituted modest Keynesian fiscal reforms designed to stimulate the economic underpinnings of the country. He’s governed steadily but not spectacularly, and his inaction vis-a-vis the closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison complex and intervention in Syria concern me a great deal. As does the continued torture of PFC Bradley Manning, in which the President is implicated. Going after Wall Street Robber-Barons would impress me much more than the idiotic pursuit of Julian Assange.

That said, he’s head and shoulders above Mitt Romney in every conceivable respect. The GOP should be ashamed of itself, not only for how it conducted this year’s campaign, but for putting such a couple of ignorant schmucks as Romney and Ryan on the same ticket. You would’ve figured they’d learned their lesson in `08 with Palin and McCain.

But no, they had to go full-retard this time around.

Such is their loss. This is a humiliating blow for the Tea Party faction of American politics – the whack-jobs lost.

And that’s fundamentally good for Canada. A stable USA is A-OK for you and I. Now that Obama has four more years I hope he changes and decides to push the pendulum back from towards the left and pursue a grand project for social benefit of the United States. If Obama’s first term was spent cleaning up W’s mess then maybe he can start realizing his own dreams now, and if we’re lucky we’ll catch a glimpse of a real leader, and demand better of those who lead us.

I am cautiously optimistic and far less concerned the Americans are our neighbours now that Obama has comfortably won a second mandate. I’m surprised and delighted with the number of progressive measures and sensible policies that came into existence yesterday. I’m glad Capitol Hill will be a little more diverse, a little more representative of what the States actually is.

And if Obama is the great leader and nation builder I think we all secretly hope he will be, then it is my sincere hope he use his next term in office in the pursuit of world peace, because it seems to me that he has been dealt a winning hand, one which may allow him to go quite far.

There must be American dreams to inspire the world.

Enigmatic Zeitgeist: A Reflection on the Occupy Movement

This is not law enforcement. This is swine hiding behind a badge, and an abuse of basic human dignity.

Originally published by the Forget the Box

I feel we’re not that different you and I, at least I hope not.

We’re both here, so there must be something that unites us.

And even if it is difficult to pinpoint what precisely brought us here, perhaps that’s only an indication of just how grave the situation truly is. A uniting force we can’t yet properly define is braiding together diverse yet inter-related interests into a solid bond. And yet, all I can see for the moment are individual fibres, weak, limp, useless by themselves.

I’ve been reflecting. Haven’t come up with much – nothing but an endless series of questions whose answers elude me.

I’m writing this having spent several days in mock isolation watching countless videos of police brutality. We’ve all seen the videos I’m referring to. The incident at UC Davis, crackdowns in Syria, Tahrir Square – it’s all starting to look alike.

I’ve spent parts of the last few days engaged in an endless argument with an individual purporting to be a representative of the interests of the Occupy Movement. I’m perturbed not only by the images of police brutality, but also the lackadaisical and highly individualistic responses of people caught in the melee.

The individual with whom I’ve been arguing was advocating that the Occupy Movement must remain a peaceful one (which of course cannot be debated) and was cautioning readers against pursuing anything but complete non-violent protest. But does this mean we can’t take measures to defend ourselves against brutality? And what do the many egregious cases of police brutality say about the Occupy Movement in the first place?

Time and time again (and this has subsequently been reinforced through leaked NYPD internal memos and the fact that the Department of Homeland Security orchestrated a nation-wide simultaneous crackdown in the US) I see so-called law enforcement working together, presenting a solid and united front, acting as a team. They are trained to do so. Perhaps you may feel they do so blindly, and certainly, for all those speaking out against those lambasting all police for the actions of a few, I can understand the desire not to paint the aggressor with a wide brush. But on the flip-side, it is also clear the police are not using the same restraint exhibited by the demonstrators. They are the source of aggression, they are clearly to blame for all instances of violence.

Despite this, the police are getting away with it. Why? Because, as far as their portrayal in the Mainstream Media is concerned, the police look like they’re working together. The same cannot be said about demonstrators, who more often than not appear either to be willing to submit to brutality or, when confronted with brutality, work independently and achieve nothing. How do you think this translates through the media’s biased lens?

I’m not advocating to use of violence to achieve political goals. However, we can defend each other non-violently. Every time I see an abusive cop grab a helpless protestor, I wonder why all the other protestors don’t pull that person back, don’t put themselves between the victim and the cop. We have the mass, we have the advantage in numbers, we have all the reason in the world to demonstrate and protest – we are in the right, our world has been fucked by the elites who rule over us.

The very tenets of our democracy are threatened, perhaps more now than ever in the history of Canada or the United States, and similarly, like no time in our past, the foundation of our progressive society is being hacked-away at by the apparently representative governments of our nations. Yet despite the motivation behind the movement, in no way is the movement coming across as a united front that will not rest until change has been affected.

As long as we operate like individuals our cause is hopeless. True solidarity can only be created when individual men and women decide to shed their individualism for the sake of society. Solidarity occurs when you are willing to put yourself in between naked aggression and your fellow man, to defend a stranger as though they were your brother or sister.

When this happens, the media will show something very different to the viewing public – they will show the progressive microcosm, standing together to prevent the destruction of our society. Then, and only then, when we conduct ourselves as brothers and sisters united in a struggle, will we be able to effectively communicate our wants and desires. Until then, the protestors will be subject to abuse and near-total misrepresentation by media.

Perhaps it is time to back off and re-group. The problems we’re dealing with are not going to disappear between now and the spring, but we need to face an unfortunate climatic and geographic reality. For whatever reason, political and economic power in the US and Canada is concentrated in areas subject to the adverse temperatures of winter, and we can’t sustain large-scale occupations without building proper shelters, not to mention using stoves, which are in turn considered a fire hazard.

Moreover, there is additional problem that the Occupy sites have attracted drug addicts and homeless in nearly every major city. The Occupy Movement is in no position to deal with this reality, and the homeless and drug-addled have more a right to protest their condition and the failures of society than someone sporting the latest in high-tech camping gear.

Communications has been spotty and, again, lacks unity (both internally and between cities). The media can prey on stoned protestors for sound bytes inasmuch as the police can prey on unsuspecting victims to serve as a release valve for pent-up First World frustrations. Our lack of organization is no benefit to our cause, though I can understand the appeal of wanting to completely stand against the grain. The point is, if we wish to demonstrate effectively, we need organization, because societies are voluntarily organized out of solidarity.

Final point. Consider this; in the States, next year is a federal election year. If the Occupy Movement were to stand-down (disappear from the media’s radar completely) and spend the next few months organizing, we could return in the spring with larger numbers, more effective protest, and perhaps even play a role in determining not only the outcome in said election, but perhaps even steer the conversation and shape the dialogue from the outset.

The GOP has spent thirty years pushing the centreline of American politics off into the netherworld of populist, theocratic and fundamentally dishonest conservatism – it’s time for the pendulum to swing back to reality. Now, in my humble and honest opinion, is the ideal time to plan, to organize and to ensure, moving forward, we will be listened to and abuse against the people will stop.

The Spring of 2011 belonged to our Arab brothers and sisters, the Spring of 2012 could belong to us.

Rick Perry is a dangerous lunatic – and wants to be President

This is a priceless video of Rick Perry stumbling through a very straightforward question about why he supports abstinence-only sex education despite its proven track record of failing miserably at preventing teen sex and numerous unwanted pregnancies. Perry is responsible for encouraging this type of sex-ed, and now Texas has the third highest rate of teen pregnancy amongst the fifty United States (and what the hell, let’s throw in the USA’s many dependencies, districts, governorships and other scraps of the American Empire for good measure). It’s insane unless its purposely malicious, doubtless a vital component to the manipulated self-perpetuating and clinical poverty which permeates the American working class. It is despicable no matter what way you cut it, and let us not forget that the literal definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over agin, each time expecting a different result.

Is it any wonder this man is also responsible for 230 executions and counting, not to mention five specific cases in which it was more important to satiate the governor's bloodlust than overturn a wrongful conviction. Is it me, or is this asshole a hopeless train wreck of a man?

Which in turn begs the question, why the fuck is he even in the running?

To say he’s a George W. Bush clone in and of itself is overly simplistic. I’d argue instead that he’s being very carefully coached, doubtless by the same individuals responsible for coaching W and Ray-gun Reagan. What this means with regards to the November 2012 US federal election is anyone’s guess.

The fact that people are guessing is pathetic, but that’s another issue I suppose.

In any event, keep in mind as Canadians, as citizens of the world, we will have to deal with whatever catastrophe this guy’s responsible for.

Sleep well – this man may soon have a finger on the nuclear trigger. Given his track record what with executing individual human beings, how do you think he’ll manage the largest nuclear arsenal on Earth?