Fascism is Alive and Well in the United States of America

Categories: 2017, Personal, Politics, and Society.

I must admit that I have been somewhat of a “Trump optimist” these last few months. I believed in his obvious, demonstrable incompetence at just about everything he does (except branding and self-promotion, obviously). (He’s been abetted in this incompetence by untold numbers of people if you’re wondering why someone who is generally incompetent can be rich; con-men are only good at convincing you they’re good at something.) When others told me he was dangerous, I told them that I would believe it when I saw it but, for the time being, I preferred to believe that he would just Read More

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (2008, Stefan Forbes)

Categories: 2008 and Movies.

This is a TV-quality documentary that offers a lot of insight into the man it’s about, but also the South and modern American politics. There’s a lot here to chew on that’s worthwhile. But, there’s also a number of problems, including a lack of context for non-American viewers and an odd structure that veers between straight-chronological and episodic. The lessons of Atwater’s life, if there are any, are extremely relevant to the US today so, for that reason alone, this is worth watching. 7/10 Read More

Well that was Stupid

Categories: 2016, Politics, and Society.

Regardless of how you feel about last night’s US general election, why did that take 18 months? Why does it take 18 months to make a decision about who should be president? 18 months! This is not normal. No other democracy in the world takes this long to pick its head of state. None. This is abnormal. Until Americans realize this en masse, it’s safe to say meaningful electoral reform will not occur. Read More

House of Cards (2013)

Categories: 2013 and TV.

The following review contains major SPOILERS!!! Do not read it if you haven’t finished Season 3. Even after I had watched only a few episodes of the American version of House of Cards, I told myself I wouldn’t watch a fourth season if they made one. I made that resolution because of a particular phobia I have with shows that run too long. This comes from two beloved shows that were ruined by running too long: the original The Prisoner (not the bizarre remake) and Twin Peaks. Both were limited ideas that were expanded because of ratings (i.e. money) and Read More

Prohibition (2011, Ken Burns, Lynn Novick)

Categories: 2011 and TV.

This is the shortest Burns mini-series yet, and I am tempted to say it is the best, or at least the most consistent. It also feels the least mythological, which is refreshing coming from Burns, a man who can never avoid mythologizing or re-mythologizing his country’s history. Though I knew a fair amount about the era, it’s safe to say there is still plenty to learn about it in such an intensive treatment (6 hours or so) and, as always, Burns provides interesting personal stories and interesting insight from people who have thought about this a lot more than you Read More

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008) by Vincent Bugliosi

Categories: 2008, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I have “read” one book by Vincent Bugliosi before (I say “read” because it was an audio book) and in that book Bugliosi impressed me with his rather ruthless rigour of thought about an issue that was clouded by too many books and opinions.But this book is a pale imitation. Instead of a rigorous, thorough prosecution of Bush – and there is that in part – we get character assassination, out of control hyperbole and personal attacks against the press and the reader! It is a very angry polemic. Bugliosi spends tons of time just ripping on Bush as a Read More

The House I Live in (2012, directed by Eugene Jarecki)

Categories: 2012 and Movies.

This documentary has a number of major problems but I think I can put them aside given not only the emotional pull of the content but also specifically because this film made me think about the “Drug War” – a policy I have viewed as a failure my whole adult life – in a new way, and that is a valuable thing to me, so valuable that I am willing to overlook some of the flaws in the film. SPOILER ALERT The conclusion of this film is that the US War on Drugs is on the path to genocide. This Read More

But I’m Not Wrong (2010) by Bill Maher

Categories: 2010 and Movies.

I agree with Maher on a lot – perhaps most – of his political views. But I want my comedy to be edgy and provocative and, funnily enough, funny. I found myself nodding in agreement to much of what Maher says, but rarely laughing. I did laugh out loud maybe five or six times before the encore, which is far and away the funniest part of the performance. It’s not so funny that it’s worth sitting through the first hour+ for, but it’s funny. So this is unfortunate: I feel like I have heard most of this before on Larry Read More

Treason is what you make it

Categories: Politics and Society.

I am a regular viewer of the Amazing Race, the only “reality” show I can handle which isn’t cooking-related. I am aware that the show is not exactly what it seems, as I am aware that it is edited and that the crew manipulate the results. I don’t care. I enjoy the “race” aspect of it, much like I once enjoyed It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and I enjoy seeing different parts of the world from my couch, as we can’t really afford to travel to most of these places. My girlfriend and I watched last Read More

Mark Rubio Drinks Water

Categories: 2013 and Philosophy.

As do I, Riley Haas. Contrary to what some “Eastern” mystics say, all human beings need to drink water to live. A human being may need to drink water during a speech. A human being may need to drink water on camera. A human being may need to drink water on camera during his own speech. It happens. It is a biological need. Criticizing your political opponent because he is human is the opposite of constructive. It is divisive and frankly ridiculous. I am a self-described liberal, and to you self-described liberals who think that Mark Rubio drinking water on Read More

Armchair Governing

Categories: Politics and Society.

For decades we have known about the phenomenon of “Armchair Quarterbacks”: fans who watch so much football that they decide – probably subconsciously at first – that they would be better at the offensive coordinator job than the experienced professional currently holding that position. And it extends to other football decisions and other sports decisions. I am myself guilty of being an Armchair Hockey GM. It is rife within both the sports media and sports fan communities. In fact, many sports media and pseudo-media make their careers off of it. Read More

"The Fiscal Cliff": Another triumph of rhetoric over policy

Categories: 2012, Economics, and Politics.

I am not economist and perhaps that’s why I have trouble understanding the panic and the political stubbornness around the non-crisis of the so-called “fiscal cliff. (On the other hand, it is perhaps because of the fact that I am a not an economist that I have perspective, something that seems to be sadly lackly in most “mainstream” American economics.) The Republicans, were they the fiscal conservatives so many of them claim to be, should welcome the fiscal cliff. Fiscal conservatives should be happy that, without acting in the present moment, the debt will be reduced automatically. This is normally the goal Read More

Sandy Hook and Self-Censorship

Categories: Politics and Society.

The BBC informs me that Django Unchained‘s premiere has been canceled on account of the massacre in Newtown, CT. This is the second film to be delayed because of this tragedy – as far as I know – though it is certainly the more artistically significant of the two. I think this is a mistake. Let me explain. Read More

What is Neo-Conservatism?

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, and Society.

Since before the recent US election the use of the term conservative has been driving me crazy. To tell you the truth, it has driven me crazy since I learned about ideology in university over ten years ago, but now that I have a blog, and now that I am inundated daily with misuse of the term, I figured maybe I should try to get my consternation out there. The word conservative is used by media, public and politicians to describe a particular ideology or set of beliefs that isn’t conservative in most ways, and this is extraordinarily frustrating to Read More

A very brief note on tonight’s election

Categories: 2012, Politics, and Society.

Dear Mr. Obama, If you win – and you probably will – please stop perpetuating post-September 11th “security” abuses. Dear. Mr Romney, If you win – and you just might – please don’t get into a nuclear conflict over Iran and kill us all. Dear American voter, Regardless of which candidate wins, can you please, finally, tear yourself away from your horrible electoral system next time around and vote for someone who does not owe everything they have to the self-perpetuating political establishment? Read More

Goddammit, you're all liberals, goddammit.

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, and Society.

Every US presidential election makes me insane. I do my very best to avoid paying attention but it is very hard, with how dominant the TV coverage is, even in Canada. I find I have to pay attention to US government policy in my current job and so I find that this year I am having more trouble ignoring it than usual. So I’d like to get something off my chest: Read More

Accuracy in the media

Categories: 2012, Journalism, and Society.

During the hullabaloo about the SOPA boycott various members of the US Congress and Senate were quoted saying utterly ridiculous things about how wikipedia – a free site – was punishing its consumers (and other such idiotic things: apparently Congressmen and Senators only approve of grandstanding when they do it themselves). But the worst comments I saw came from a former US Senator who is now the head of the MPAA.  Because he is a former US Senator, the articles I read inclusively treated him as if he were a spokesperson for the government. But the MPAA is not a Read More

The Mendacity of Hope (2010) by Roger D. Hodge

Categories: 2010, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I was extremely skeptical of this book when I was lent it by my father. I don’t particularly like polemics and I figured, despite the claims on the back cover, that I would react the usual way to such things: which is that I would dismiss outright after 25-50 pages. Sure enough that was my first reaction. I can’t help but say to Hodge that, like anyone else, Obama is only one man, and any man who is subject to all the favour-promising of the American presidential cycle is hardly someone to count upon. And I can’t help but think Read More

American Fascists by Chris Hedges (Free Press 2008)

Categories: 2008, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I agree with Hedges just about 100% in regard to the similarities between the Christian Right in the United States and Nazis, Fascists and the like. So he was preaching to the converted with me. I think his relatively cogent assessment of fascism is definitely helped by the investigative journalist parts which add a human dimension which would be missing from a straight up assessment of Christian Right as Fascism. Where Hedges falters is when he tries to decisively link the rise in popularity of the Christian Right with certain economic changes in the US. Yes, there is certainly a Read More

The US Census

Categories: Politics and Society.

I’ve been spending a lot time watching the Madness over the last few days and I’ve noticed something: embedded PSAs for the US Census. In these PSAs, the broadcasters would tell us (the presumably American audience) to fill out the census and to remember to mail it back. Then a little icon would pop up on the screen saying “2010 US Census” as another supposedly friendly reminder. Well, I don’t think we should take it. Why does the government need us to send in this information? They already know everything about us through our ID cards, cellular phones, and what Read More

Palin is coming to Hamilton

Categories: 2009, Politics, and Society.

I don’t know why she’s coming to Hamilton. I can guess. Supposedly she’s coming to speak at a hospital fundraiser. I figure she’s really coming because she’s already spoken everywhere in the US that would take her. Though she is probably the dumbest politician I have ever seen (dumber than Quale, and that’s saying something), I don’t worry about her being elected President. Here’s why: A number of years ago I made bets with some fellow grad students. At the time, John Kerry and George Bush were vying to see who would become President. Most of my colleagues believed that Read More

Won’t somebody please think of the children?!

Categories: 2009, Politics, and Society.

The Harlem Children’s Zone estimates that it takes $5000 per child per year to bring these kids out of their situation and up to the level of potential college students. The US annual budget was $2.979 trillion in 2008, and the portion spent on the military was 21% at minimum, that’s over $625 billion dollars and that doesn’t include another $190 billion ear-marked for the “war on terror.” In 2004, there were 53.2 million school-age (5-17) children in the US. That’s $266 billion dollars for all the kids in the US to get charter-school level education, if and only if Read More

Americans Are Crazy

Categories: 2009, Politics, Psychology, and Society.

http://www.the912project.com/ I try not to be anti-American, I really do. Especially since my relatives are American. But this is fucking crazy…I love how on one of these pages I guy thinks he’s writing an open letter to the government and it begins with name-calling and “???”s. That’s how you get politicians to pay attention to you, definitely. Read More

Debt and such

Categories: Economics and Society.

Disclaimer: I am not partisan. If I had my dual citizenship, and had to vote, I wouldn’t vote for either Republicans or Democrats. I think the Democrats are almost as bad, and as much of a machine, as the Republicans. It’s a myth that Republicans are fiscally responsible. The debt trebled under Reagan. It didn’t stop increasing under Bush I. The only balanced budget in the last few decades came under a Democrat. Bush II was one of the most fiscally irresponsible leaders ever. The debt went from under $6 Billion to nearly $9 Billion in his eight years. And Read More

Sometimes it’s hard not to be a racist

Categories: 2008, Politics, and Society.

In high school, we had both Serbs and Croats. There was an effort by the administration to make us understand that the civil war then going on was not a one sided affair, Serbia wasn’t the “bad guy.” Some of us understood that there was more than one side to the story, some of us understood that both sides (in any conflict, not just that one) were likely to commit and were committing acts outside the Geneva Conventions. But at the time I couldn’t help thinking it seemed disproportionate. And now they are burning the US embassy because Kosovo wants Read More

The US election

Categories: 2008, Politics, and Society.

Though I’m an optimist, I don’t like to hope. I know that sounds contradictory, but hear me out. I don’t like to hope, because I don’t like to get let down. I am a cynic. Think the best won’t happen, but be pleasantly surprised by the results, that sort of thing. And I am starting to hope. And it is worrying me. I am hoping that an Obama / McCain race could be a civil, even unifying election campaign. Maybe I’m totally wrong. Part of me would say that is naive. But it has occurred to me, both of them have shown Read More

Bush

Categories: 2007, Politics, and Society.

My dad mentioned to me today that Karl Rove had said, recently, that history will be kind to Bush. Of course, this is the usual self-deception we expect from these insane folks, but it made me think. The question, for history, is not ‘was Bush the worst President in US history?’ but rather, “how did the worst President in US history last two terms?’ Read More

Uh-oh

Categories: 2007, Journalism, Politics, and Society.

So, the FBI has raided the house of the supposed source of the leak for the illegal NSA wire-taps. I did not learn this from the television, and if I had, that would mean they are actually covering real news. However, they’re too busy with the the bridge. The bridge, the bridge, the bridge. Is this not significant? Does it not bother people that the United States government is is investigating whistleblowers serving the public good? Does this not reek of abuse of power? I mean, this is just ridiculous. Ridamndiculous. Wow, that country is a mess. It’s just mind-boggling. Read More