Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Alt-country player Al Perry’s song and video, “Jukebox Jihad,” has evidently fallen victim to the PC police — outraged by, what else?, “islamophobia” — and has been taken down by Youtube. (We put “censored” in quotes in the headline, because it’s within Youtube’s rights to only host what they want; but the political intent, the desire to restrict political speech, is obvious.)

Here’s the takedown notice:

If you haven’t heard the song, “Jukebox Jihad” is a rockabilly tune, light, funny mockery (admittedly in questionable taste) of the murderous religious fanatics who have slaughtered and enslaved tens, probably hundreds, of thousands of people, most of whom were/are their fellow Muslims.

We loathe attacks on free speech. We loathe anything smacking of censorship. And we loathe those who think they know what others should be allowed to see and hear.

So, we’ve just put up the “Jukebox Jihad” video on the See Sharp Press web site. I spoke with Al earlier this evening, and he encourages others to download “Jukebox Jihad” and put it up on their own sites.

Without further ado, here’s the link to “Jukebox Jihad.”

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Doomed City, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, front cover(The Doomed City, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016, 462 pp., $18.99)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

Brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky were the most popular science fiction writers in the Eastern Bloc from the 1950s through the early 1990s (when the Bloc dissolved), and were arguably the most popular science fiction authors ever. In his illuminating forward, fellow Russian sci-fi novelist Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of Metro 2033, reveals that their many novels in the 1970s had initial press runs of 500,000 and sold out immediately. Their 1964 novel, Hard to be a God, is very probably the biggest selling science fiction title of all time, the world over.

During the 1980s and 1990s, I became a Strugatsky enthusiast and read everything I could find by them in English. So, I was excited to see the appearance of Doomed City last year — a Strugatsky novel I’d never heard of.

It turns out that they wrote it in 1972, but hid the manuscript and didn’t dare to send it to a publisher for fear of being thrown in a gulag (yes, it could have happened even to such immensely popular authors) until the perestroika period in the late 1980s. It finally appeared in Russian in 1989, and the English translation only appeared last year.

Why? Doomed City is a bleak, brutal, and very thinly veiled critique of the Soviet Union and the ideology that produced it and all of its horrors.

Doomed City is set in the City (always capitalized), a place entirely isolated that might not even be on Earth, and which is the site of the Experiment (the nature of which is never explained, nor are the experimenters named). The residents of the City are all volunteers drawn from all over the world: Russians, Americans, Brits, Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Swedes, and Germans, including former Nazis. Once in the City, they’re arbitrarily assigned to jobs unrelated to their previous occupations.

The protagonist, and by far the best drawn character, is Andrei Voronin, a former astrophysicist who, at the beginning of the book, is working as a garbage collector. He’s also, not coincidentally, a former Komsomol (official Communist Party youth organization) member, a conventional Marxist-Leninist, and a bit of a blockhead.

Through the following 400+ pages, we follow Voronin and his acquaintances as he works respectively as a garbage collector, detective, journalist, political boss, and adventurer/expedition leader (while still a political boss).

What’s striking throughout all this is how Voronin’s work, the amount of power he has in each job, and his position within the City’s hierarchy, is reflected in his attitudes.

As a garbage collector, he’s a blind believer in the Experiment, despite his bottom-of-the-heap position and the grossly obvious flaws in the City and its workings.

As a policeman, he becomes distrustful, suspects everyone, and becomes increasingly willing to use brutality — supplied by former Nazis who are now fellow policemen — against those he looks down on, which is pretty much the entire population of the City, including his supposed friends.

As a journalist, he adopts an adversarial attitude toward those in power.

And as a political boss, he adopts the attitudes of a political boss: entitlement, contempt for those he supposedly serves, willingness to suck up to even the slimiest political hierarchs, willingness to use violence and coercion to remain in power, and acceptance of a rigidly stratified society, with the political bosses on top and the vast army of proles (including personal servants) beneath them.

It would be hard to provide a better description of the characteristics of the “leadership” that ran the Soviet Union.

This political critique is by far the best part of the book. Other than that, Doomed City doesn’t have much to recommend it. It has a certain dreamy quality, which, however, is largely the result of poor, or at least deliberately hazy, writing (done in part in the vain hope of disguising the political critique, or at least rendering it nonspecific).

Almost all of the descriptive passages are vaguely written, using generalities rather than concrete physical description. The geography of the City, even its size, is all but indecipherable (as is the geography of the lands Voronin explores in the final section of the book). And there are too many nearly nonsensical stream-of-consciousness passages (from inside Voronin’s head), some lasting for pages. (At many points, I found myself asking, “When will this passage end?”)

As well, the secondary characters aren’t very well drawn, there are numerous loose ends, there’s almost nothing in the way of a conventional plot, and the authors offer nothing even approaching a solution to the dismal situation they critique so effectively.

That critique is summed up in a line by Izya Katzman, the most prominent and arguably the best drawn secondary character, in the latter part of the book:

“Any elite that controls the lives and fates of other people is odious.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Recommended only for diehard Strugatsky fans and those with an interest in critiques of Leninism and the former Soviet Union.

(For those new to the Strugatskys, rather than starting with Doomed City, I’d recommend Hard to be a God and Roadside Picnic.)

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (pdf sample here). He’s currently working on the sequel and an unrelated sci-fi novel in his copious free time.

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover

 

 


While watching Stephen Colbert last night, I witnessed a first: Bernie Sanders left speechless. It happened after Colbert asked Bernie to say something good about Donald Trump. Bernie sat there looking about as uncomfortable and perplexed as a trout gasping on the bank of a stream.

I’m sure that Bernie thought of a number of good replies later, and quite possibly slapped himself on the forehead going, “Doh! Why didn’t I say that?”

The French have an expression for this sort of thing: l’esprit d’escalier, which means thinking of a withering reply after the fact. More literally, thinking of a perfect reply while descending the stairs.

It’s an all too common human experience.

When Colbert asked Bernie the question, I couldn’t think of a reply, either.

But I did think of two this afternoon:

“He didn’t say that all of the Nazis were ‘fine people.'”

and

“He’s probably not guilty of treason.”

* * *

If you can think of another apt reply to Colbert’s question to Bernie, please leave a comment.


Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, will be released in a few days, so it’s time to remind people of why she would have been a lousy president — not as bad as Trump (a lobotomized Chihuahua could hardly be worse) — but lousy nonetheless.

The excerpts I’ve read have been notable for Clinton’s attempt to blame Bernie Sanders for her loss. Let’s be clear about one thing: Clinton lost because she was a wooden, status-quo, visionless candidate, who openly ridiculed Sanders’ calls for change, and whose only apparent reason for wanting to be president was personal ambition. She was a candidate who inspired no one beyond her identity-politics worshipers. (Her campaign slogan, “I’m with her,” exemplified this. What a call to arms.)

Seth Myers called her out on some of her b.s. tonight, but he didn’t go far enough: 1) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to give three $5,000-a-minute speeches to Goldman Sachs; 2) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to vote for G.W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq; 3) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to oppose single-payer healthcare (favored by about 60% of the American public); 4) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her campaign and Super PAC to rely on big-money and corporate donors rather than small donors; 5) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to take advantage of her allies’ at the DNC rigging of the primary system; 6) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her (as secretary of state) to engineer the disastrous intervention in Libya; 7) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her, during a debate, to brag about her friendship with war criminal and mass murderer Henry Kissinger. (Yes, a minor point, but one that’s particularly revealing.)

The list goes on; these are just some of the highlights.

To reiterate what I’ve written elsewhere, we’re in some ways fortunate that Trump won. If Clinton had won, we’d have had four years of gridlock, the corporate Democrats would have retained an iron grip on the Democratic Party, the Republicans would have blamed her for everything that went wrong while being held responsible for nothing, and they’d almost certainly have retained control of both houses of Congress in 2018 and won the presidency in 2020. And with a more competent, less overtly loathsome theofascist than Trump, who is stirring up massive popular resistance.

So, here’s a blast from the past from 2013. Enjoy!, if that’s the right word.

Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President

by Chaz Bufe, See Sharp Press publisher

There are plenty of reasons that no one should ever be president, but for now let’s focus on why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be president.

She should never be president because of one single vote, the vote that authorized the illegal war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. No one in their right mind would accuse  Hillary Clinton of being stupid. It’s beyond dispute that she’s one of the sharpest political operatives in recent decades. So, it’s almost certain that she knew exactly what she was doing when she cast that vote. It’s almost certain that she knew it was wrong, that the “evidence” supporting the invasion had been cooked, and that the invasion would result in disaster–in untold death and misery. But she cast the vote anyway.

This is no small thing.

When the chickenhawks in the Bush Administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.) began ginning up the case for invading Iraq, it was obvious from the start that they were doing exactly that–manufacturing evidence and support for an unnecessary, illegal war. The very concept that former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda was mind boggling, absurd on the surface. Al Qaeda was and is a virulently fundamentalist religious organization. Saddam Hussein, for all his many and terrible sins, was a secularist. Al Qaeda considered Saddam a very bad Muslim.

Then there was the problem that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, the head of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was a Saudi, his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was an Egyptian, and that Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. From all this, Bush and company concluded–more accurately, attempted to sell the idea–that Al Qaeda’s secularist enemy, Saddam Hussein, was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and, to make matters worse, had weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s).

And most Americans bought it. Not all of us, but most of us. How did Bush and company pull off this incredible con job? They grossly manipulated intelligence, ignored evidence that pointed away from their predetermined conclusions, relied on weak and even demonstrably false evidence supporting those conclusions, smeared those who pointed out false evidence (Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame), and even set up their own intelligence operation in the Pentagon to produce the “evidence” they wanted.

Even so, they’d never have gotten away with it if the press had done its job. With very few exceptions (notably some reporters at Knight-Ridder), the press rolled over and served as the propaganda arm of the Bush Administration. It did essentially no investigation of Bush et al.’s claims, let alone expose their falsity. Rather, the press served as Bush’s megaphone. In the run-up to the war, the networks (notably CNN) hired dozens of former high-ranking military officers as “expert” commentators, and fired anti-war reporters and pundits (among them, Phil Donohue, who had the top-rated show on MSNBC). So, not only were the TV news operations not doing their job of investigating and reporting, they were actively supporting the launch of an illegal war. A study of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS in January and February 2003 by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) found that only 17% of guests on those networks’ news programs were opposed to or skeptical of invasion, while 83% favored it.

As well, a New York Times “reporter,” Judith Miller (now, appropriately, employed by Fox “News”), served as the Bush Administration’s stenographer. She reported as fact what they told her about supposed Iraqi WMD’s, and the Times ran Miller’s reports as front-page “news.” In one particularly egregious example, Miller’s September 13, 2002 article in the Times, “White House Lists Iraq Steps To Build Banned Weapons,” repeated White House-supplied disinformation about the “threat” of Iraqi WMD’s — and the next day Dick Cheney cited Miller’s article as “evidence” of the WMD “threat,” using the Times, the national “paper of record,” to lend credibility to his and Bush’s self-manufactured “evidence.” Of course, Miller and the Times didn’t call Cheney on his dishonesty.

Almost all of this (sans some details of the media manipulation) was obvious at the time–at least to those who were paying attention. And rest assured, Hilary Clinton was paying attention. Yet she cast a vote in favor of death and destruction on an industrial scale. Approximately 4,500 American troops died needlessly in that war, with tens of thousands more wounded, many of them maimed for life. Iraqi casualties were far higher. All of the widely cited estimates of the number of deaths caused by the war exceed 100,000, with some being much higher. The Lancet estimate, for instance, is 601,000. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi wounded and the estimated 1.5 to 4 million Iraqis who lost their homes and became refugees as a direct result of the war.

Hillary Clinton couldn’t have known how destructive the Iraq War would be. No one could have known that. But she had to have known that it would cause death and destruction, and that it was unjustified, simply wrong. At the time, public opinion was heavily in favor of invading Iraq, with most polls showing support by roughly a 2-to-1 margin. So, Hillary Clinton made a cold political calculation and voted in favor of the war. She certainly wasn’t stupid enough to believe Dick Cheney’s b.s. that U.S. troops would be “greeted as liberators,” but she bet that public opinion would remain in favor of the war and that voting for it would be to her political advantage. Never mind the unnecessary death and destruction.

That alone is enough to forever disqualify her from being president.


RACISM, n. A sign of idiocy indicating that an individual believes that other racial groups can be even worse than his own.

* * *

–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary


“When fascism comes, it will not be in the form of an anti-American movement. . . . Nor will it come in the form of a crusade against war. It will appear rather in the luminous robes of flaming patriotism . . .”

John T. Flynn

–John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching


A year ago Donald Trump famously said that he could murder someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his base wouldn’t care.

He was right.

More recently he’s repeatedly done the equivalent of strangling a dog and sodomizing the corpse on live TV, and most of his base still won’t care, will stick with him. Making excuses about why it was “necessary.”

What will it take to peel them off?

Maybe 10% of them still won’t admit that they screwed up royally, and that billionaire, criminal Trump is going to fuck them economically. They’ll probably fall away eventually as Trump’s utterly hypocritical economic promises turn to dust.

That leaves another 25% hard core theoNazis, vicious goose-stepping blockheads beyond the reach of rational discussion.

What do we do about them?

  • Defeat them at the ballot box
  • Ridicule them mercilessly
  • Defeat the corporate Democrats so that there’s something approaching a real alternative on the ballot
  • Continue to use the most effective political approach, nonviolent direct action
  • Be prepared to outgun Trump’s theofascists if they engage in outright treason and it comes down to violence

If that does happen, or threatens to happen, I’ll have some very specific recommendations about what type of arms to buy and what to stockpile.

Look for recommendations on what types of guns to buy with the next post.