Saturday, August 31, 2013

Attack of the Well-Meaning Morons

How stupid is America?

That's the real question we should be asking concerning Syria. Not whether Assad gassed people - he probably did and it killed way fewer Syrians than guns have the past two years. But just how stupid will an American response be?

It's been pretty stupid so far, but only stateside. A hollow gesture from House Republicans and a few Democrats, making a show of demanding to be in on the war planning without actually canceling their vacation plans. And a good number of them cheered on the much costlier Iraq invasion, after they voted to give the President first strike powers in 2001.

So typical American politics - lots of noise about "principle" without even getting off the couch.

But that's not where the stupid ends. Oh no - we've got the New York Times op-ed exploding with saber rattling! International law professor and damned idiot Ian Hurd actually wrote in the paper of record "Bomb Syria even if it is illegal!" A long whinge on the morality of bombing the shit out of people who kill in an arbitrarily unacceptable way. Hurd isn't the only one pitching this ludicrous course of action but he does it so badly you really have to wonder how hard it is to become a law professor these days...

And then there's the American people, the bedrock stupid. While there's no real enthusiasm for attacking Syria, it ain't because of some newfound collective conscience. Mid-East war is a bummer now, thanks to Bush, and "Thou shalt not impose a bummer on the American people!" is the only moral precept followed in this country. That's why rather than opposition or even honest indifference, all the polls show Americans want Obama to get the Just War stamp from Congress first. Because legalistic dithering matters more to you morons than cold imperial strategy.

The thing is, even if Assad was deploying weaponized ebola, attacking Syria would be the worst kind of stupid. It would antagonize Russia and Iran, wouldn't do a thing to stop the Syrian civil war, and would make the US allies of Sunni jihadis whose biggest ambition after killing all the Alawites is killing all the Americans. Dennis Kucinich, the last honest human being to serve in Congress, put it best - "What are we now, al Qaeda's air force?"

So it's just stupid all around. The only thing dragging Obama into it is all the rhetoric about "red lines" and bourgeois guilt over brown people dying somewhere. Every idiot trying to look compassionate is hand-wringing over the "ordinary" Syrians caught in the middle, despite that not being the case at all. This is a threeway blood feud and anyone who wanted no part of it has long ago been stood up in front of a pockmarked wall in Damascus or Aleppo.

You can see  Obama doesn't want any part of that mess, but he made the mistake of trying to lead a very stupid nation. One that will hound and despise any elected leader who does not reinforce our cherished cultural delusion that we can save the downtrodden by bombing the shit out of 'em.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Useful Idiots of Oligarchy

It's telling that those who make the most noise about liberty in this day and age are so utterly clueless about the subject...

Case in point - Edward Snowden. Yes, it was very brave of him to reveal the total information orgy the NSA was engaging in. Yes, it was a principled stand against a creeping surveillance culture that cares more about control than security. No, it does not make him a good person or even necessarily a very clever one.

That's the conclusion I've finally come to on the whole Snowden thing - he's a fucking moron. Idealistic yes but absolutely clueless as to the ugly workings of the world. Surprising, considering he used to work for a three letter agency...

Because being a spook, or at least one of their support techs, should have clued him in that Russia might not be the best place to seek asylum if personal freedom is high on your list of priorities. Putin is one of the last dictators to do it with style but he's still a dictator and Russians face a level of oppression and invasive surveillance that Americans can't - and won't - imagine.

Yeah, all you shmucks know Pussy Riot. How about Roman Dobrokhotov? The late Anna Politkovskaya? The gloriously mad Edward Limonov?  These people have dealt with real oppression, real imprisonment, real violence - murder, in the case of Politivskaya - all for daring to say that life under Putin is kinda unpleasant.

Then Edward Snowden pops up in their country, praising their blood enemy's commitment to human rights. What a sooka! Look, either Snowden is shamelessly grabbing at an alliance with a rival superpower to protect his own hide or he's adopted the Greenwald Consensus that America is in the grips of super-fascism. And I don't really think it's the former, since he went and exposed himself in that interview with Ol' Koch-Sucking Camel Face.

And none of you smug, bourgeois loafers will call him on it because this sort of dumb - libertarian dumb - is the new normal. The only thing that differentiates it from the old neocon dumb - where we just assumed the entire Middle East wanted to be converted into white-collar suburbs - is the false piety. When it used to show up at all, it was all this guff about spreading the twin goods of democracy and capitalism. Now it's some nebulous concept of "freedom" that no one's too clear on but is heartily promoted by corporate bagmen and GOP dirty tricksters.

Like Bruce Fein, lawyer to Papa Snowden and a Reaganite turned libertarian. He even did a tour with Greenwald, some College Libertarian Hoedown, funded by everyone's favorite pair of vampires. I remember college libertarians - they are, without fail, comfortable white guys primarily concerned with weed, video games, and not having to do anything for anyone. Ever. They oppose welfare and war for the exact same reason - they don't want to be called upon to make any personal sacrifice for whatever reason. Thanks to Fein, Greenwald, and the Paul clan, these degenerate lackwits have been able to dress up their pathological self-absorption in fancy freedom talk.

Which brings us back to Edward Snowden. Whatever credibility he had from exposing the US surveillance superstate is safely shot, now that he's sold out to the Kremlin. Who are paying him to set up a brand new PRISM for the Putin regime. All he managed was to encourage anti-government sentiment in America, where such sentiments only ever serve the interest of Wall Street, Oil companies, and all the other oligarchs who really run things. Snowden, Greenwald, those Ron Paul potheads - all of 'em, just tools of the modern robber barons looking to keep Obama from raising their taxes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I don't like teenagers. Not even when I was a teenager. They're all self-righteous blowhards who can't hold their liquor or screw properly. The only humane treatment would be to administer some series of intelligence or aptitude tests and promptly euthanize all the failures.

And that's why I think Bully is just so darn neat. Sure, the acting is a joke, the directing is absent, and the editing is stroke inducing, but it portrays kids as the vile shitheels they are. It's a nice antidote to sugary pap like Juno - which I refuse to see on the grounds that it does not end with an abortion.

"Wooo! We have no redeeming qualities!"

Bully is the story of this screwy, kinda gay kid named Bobby who beats on his moron best friend, watches gay porn, and has ugly sex with some girl. She later claims rape because she was just cranky that he wanted to watch the gay porn while they did it, leading up to a really horrible pun about penis envy and encouraging a less discerning viewers to assume false rape claims are something common. Because movies don't lie...

This is all slapped together within the first thirty minutes to show just how terrible a bully this Bobby is. Except he's only bullying a bunch of deadbeat white kids who spend their whole lives high as balls. Whatever message the film may have been going for about how bullying screws kids up - a very necessary message, one that school administrators and parents still need to understand - all these kids were utterly screwed to start with, making Bobby just another muddler in the grand asshole parade. And to top it off, Bobby is the shown to be the only one of these clowns to have enough brains to take a shot at college and a future!

Like I said, it's a mess...

Unfortunately for Bobby, Moron's dopey "I'm so in love! And pregnant!" girlfriend decides they should kill him. And she's just stupid enough to see it through. Not to worry though, as she's just stupid enough to bring along half a dozen people including this one goon she insists is a mafia hitman despite living with his parents and scoring weed from his own little brother. Naturally the murder is a huge fucking mess, people running around screaming and only Moron, his clumsy hands guided by some dull-witted sense of injustice, manages to deliver the real killing blows.

"Me have element surprise on you!"

So the only interesting character is dead. Not to worry, because they crank up the stupid for the remaining twenty minutes with the little hooligans running off to tell all their buddies about how they, like, totally murdered this guy and stuff! Preggers Girl again proves to be the mental vacuum of the film as she brags about her bloody deed to a friend in that giggly, sweaty way so common to people who would sooner sniff glue then spend one minute straight. Then she asks if her friend will help her move the body because she's a goddamn idiot.

Naturally they all get caught, and naturally they all wind up in jail for the better part of their lives. The Opey-looking "mafia" guy tries to blow tough rhetoric out his ass, probably because it's so obvious it's about to get stuffed. The girlfriend eventually lays her egg, but no word on whether the kid is adopted or left in the prison daycare. They say Moron gets the chair, we can only be so lucky.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Go Egypt Go!

Egypt has got to be the most fun subject in Middle East war news since ever. From the charge of the Camel Brigade to the military crackdown on their own local Wahhabbis - without the approval of Washington! - Egypt is proving to be the true meth lab of democracy for that whole region.

I went to some DC yuppie party in Feb '11 and they'd hung a big Egyptian flag in the window. For "solidarity" if you can believe it. The limousine liberals were oh so happy Mubarak got ousted and I couldn't stop worrying about my best friend's mom, a rich lady in Sharm and a natural target for revolutionaries. She's fine, in case you're wondering. Point is, those DC yuppies were bananas for the first stage of the ongoing Egyptian Revolution but they'd rather not talk about its current state.

Well I would! I remember this photo from when it started -

"Hey, Hosni! Take this job and shove it!"

See, when the army's against the dictator like that, it means he's going down. And really, is there anything more cheering than seeing the soldiers joining in the protest? That ain't just solidarity, that means the people fighting the system finally have some firepower on their side. Wish that would happen in this country for once, damned gun-phobic liberals...

 And it's really been the army running Egypt since, thank Christ. In all the hand-wringing over Morsi's ouster, Western folks are forgetting what a reactionary dildo he was being. Or maybe they just weren't paying attention since "Yay! Democracy!"

I sure was paying attention. I remember when Egypt's own Jon Stewart got hauled to court for daring to make light of His Holiness Mullah Morsi. Not to mention the ramped up pogroms against Copts that went on while the Muslim Brotherhood ran the show.

And really, I have to ask - didn't you idiots catch on that "Muslim Brotherhood" might not lead to a cozy Jeffersonian Democracy? I know I've said a free election won by theocratic wackjobs is as legitimate as an election won by the urbane Levantine intellectuals those DC yuppies like to pretend exist, but I never argued that made it good.

I'm not really arguing for the good of this either. But I like watching it. And as the rest of the Middle East goes through its own Thirty Years War with the whole Sunni VS Shia blood feud, it's nice to see a militaristic nationalism taking place at the fringe. One that the western powers are right now too impotent to strangle in its crib.

God, imagine if this grew into something like a real modern, secular republic? And then imagine it steamrolling across the rest of that medieval mess, like France did to all of Europe in the 19th century. Those French citizen-soldiers, chanting "Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité! Ou la mort!" did way more to spread democratic thought throughout the continent than all of Jefferson's scribblings.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Theory of the Leeching Class

"The thief or swindler who has gained great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of the law..." ~ Thorstein Veblen.

You're not allowed to criticize capitalism in polite company these days, despite its abysmal record. Of course, by "capitalism" we really mean business. And as Thorstein Veblen so eloquently put it, business is a parasite.

For proof, look no further than your own bank. Thanks to a court decision in favor of retailers, banks don't get to pick up a third of all plastic card transactions anymore - which should be cause to celebrate. These shadow charges have been the real inflation squeezing your resources, as it necessitated everyone from Sachs to 7-11 to mark up prices just to maintain their own balances.

So this decision would be a good thing... Except banks will now screw you more directly. Higher overdraft fees, higher minimum balances, more and more hidden charges that spring up on you right when you think you've got enough for bills. Because the logic of American business, as demonstrated time and again, is "Fuck the consumer!"

"With a rake!"

It's anti-consumer bullshit on a level also seen in the more and more degenerate console gaming industry - gauge customers at every opportunity and then punish them for the vagaries of the market. The only way it's not economic suicide is because there's no real competition. Every bank is doing it, all the time.

It's really the market loving libertards who should be up in arms about this. They're not, of course. They have much more pressing concerns, like jacking off to Atlas Shrugged or sputtering at irrelevant bloggers. Because they've not only internalized the Veblen critique of business, they're thick enough to think it's a good thing -

"However important the independent owner of property may be for the economic order of a free society, his importance is perhaps even greater in the fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs." ~ Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich Hayek repeated verbatim exactly what Veblen sneered at in his Theory of the Leisure Class - that the whole point of the elite is to accumulate expensive things, reinforcing that they are expensive (regardless of actual utility) and making the elite look worthy of their station. Except he presented it as the desirable state of things, being a reactionary opposed to full exercise of positive freedom by the common workers.

"Filthy peasants..."

And libertarians, dupes that they are,  accept this as a moral imperative - "Of course the banks can screw us, they're rich!" The wealthy have the right, by virtue of all their shiny knickknacks, to set a moral standard regardless of how patently immoral it is. It's a disgustingly servile mentality, a rationalization of loserdom. And it's coming from the people loudly campaigning for freedom of the individual.

How can you support a "free market" if it makes you a slave?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Kids Are All Wrong

I was gonna review Europa Report except I hit a snag. Two snags. First, there's not much to be said beyond "It rocks! Go see it!" Second, I had to sit through the same trailer twice for something called The Lifeguard and that proved much more inspiring. Like ipecac.

From what I gathered from this double dose of awful, Kristen Bell is some neurotic 30-year-old - "I'm 29!" she insists in a joke that's unfunny before it happens - overwhelmed by the vagaries of modern life. So she flees the big city to move back in with her parents and be a lifeguard, initiating many picturesque adventures reminiscent of middle-aged yuppies experiencing a mid-life crisis and getting an ass tattoo.

Which would explain her posture...

It would be bad enough if this film stopped at such self-absorbed twaddle, but The Lifeguard is much more insidious. It takes the "boomerang kids" criticism of Millennials and runs with it, all the way to the conclusion that kids these days just don't want to behave like responsible adults. This is not interpretation, this is the explicit message as summed up by Bell's exasperated mom - "Grow up!"

No mention is made of the wretched economic realities Millenials face. Nothing about how the job market locks out younger workers and is general shit. Nope, seems 20 and 30 somethings just want to drink at party at the ol' swimmin' hole. It had me so twisted up with rage I was ready to jump back and throttle the two hipster fucks who'd chortled twice at that 29 joke.

And this shit is a Sundance pick! How does that even happen!? Let's be clear, not a single conservative or libertarian even knows what Sundance is, let alone would actually watch a film celebrated by that sideshow. They only watch superhero flicks and porn, meaning it's the nominal liberals who are celebrating this drek. It makes the case, better than a million Jacobin articles, that all the self-styled liberals and progressives in this country are just middle-class wine pedants, substituting a profession of tolerance for darkies and queers for anything resembling coherent economic philosophy.

And don't even get me started on the fucking puppets!

Though this brings me to one thing worth expanding on, regarding Europa Report. Despite the terrible fate of the crew in the cold emptyness of space, the film has an undeniable subtext of the glory of discovery. Prometheus had the same thing going on, this vibe that despite the face-raping xenomonsters it's still all worth it. Maybe we should take the advice, get to exploring the cosmos in earnest rather than whinging and blaming the broken economy on people who weren't even old enough to drive when the Reagen and Bush greed-heads started gambling the national wealth into oblivion?