Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I ran into this fine piece via James Wolcott today:

As for Pauline Kael, well I read every review she wrote in the New Yorker, and rushed to most of the theaters where the movies she'd reviewed were playing, this being back in the day when most people I knew then did that--there was at that time no video tape not to mention no CDs or DVDs or BluRays or home computers or cell phones. All we had was Vietnam, the movies, Jesse Helms, and the atom bomb.

So when Kael told me about how great "The Wild Bunch" was, I had to go check it out. And it was better than she said, a western that was about Vietnam, the movies, Jesse Helms, and the atom bomb. (And as it turned out, it formed the template for most of the movies Tony Scott made, which he admitted in an interview when he said he never could think up endings.)

The misquote? That's the text for the great problem we have in the body politic. Which is amnesia. Someone said on MSNBC this week that the worst thing about a Romney victory will be that it will teach both parties that wholesale lying is an effective strategy for victory. But of course one of the things the subliminal right wing fascist 24/7 radio machine teaches the millions of folks who unthinkingly use it as their background entertainment as they work is this very lesson. Everything is couched in the parentheses of winning/losing.

This fallacy, indeed, is why we now have these absurd "debates" as a cultural pivot point, as solid and everlasting as the next Olympics, the World Series (starts tonight!), Xmas and New Years Day. We're putting a person behind the controls of the most devastating war machine ever created, which includes on that big control panel full of lights and dials and buttons and joy sticks implements capable of literally destroying countries or even the whole world, and we're making this incredible decision on the basis of a reality show which showcases nothing about the candidates which is particularly relevant to the position one of them will be given (or re-given) in a couple of weeks.

The more rational question is: given the stakes, why in the world would one ever vote for the challenger, unless the current occupant of the seat had already made such a mess of his decisions that another four years was obviously not a good plan. And this way of looking at it has nothing to do with the "debates," but everything to do with looking at events.

Ahhh, but this involves memory. And so we circle back to the big problem. Given that Mr. Obama has done a reasonable job, from day one, all the opponents can do is mischaracterize the history we've all lived through. Indeed, Mr. Romney has presumed that we can't even remember what he said last month, last week, yesterday, or even a paragraph or so back. But MSNBC is wrong about politicians needing the outcome of this election to reinforce the strategy Mr. Romney is employing. That strategy was already proven by Herr Goebbels, and analysed by George Orwell. In the real world it took the deus ex machina of Joe Stalin and George Patton to prove Goebbels wrong. If the Nazis had just been content to keep the hell they built within their own borders, they'd probably still be running things in the Reich.

Or maybe some nihilist heroes, some Viking Wild Bunch, would ride into Berlin and turn the whole apple cart over. That might have happened by now. (I base this analysis of "The Bunch" on Borgnine's line: "No Mr. Pike, we ain't at all like them. We don't hang nobody.")

Consider that this is happening, today, in the fascist regime of Assad in Syria:

[photo (c) Rick Findler for The Politics Blog, Esquire]

Meanwhile in the real world, Mitt Romney continues to endorse, and stands by his endorsement, of Richard Mourdock, candidate for Senate, Republican, Indiana. Mr. Mourdock, well, let me just steer you to Juan Cole, who knows of which he speaks:

The Wild Bunch warn't so good on the wimmen subject matters. There was a joke about Warren Oates and his two Hondo whores in tandem, which was a word he didn't know. And just before the apocalypse that ends the movie, Bishop Pike does shoot a women who shoots him first. That's about it for the wimmens. Just sayin'. Aristophanes was writing over 2,000 years ago.


Further update on the amnesia problem. (Mr. Obama's sorta humorous Ann Richards impression, viz, "Romnesia," somewhat muddies the waters of what is actually a much more serious problem for the United States Democracy of America.) Possibly readers here will actually remember how the Bengazi story went down, in real time. I do. If you don't, or if the ceaseless Fox and fascist counterspin big lie tactic aimed at creating some kind of equivalence between Iran/1979 and Libya/2012 in the "mind" of the typical voter has been making you wonder if you actually remember correctly the events of five and six weeks ago (how long ago they seem now, can it be the Yankees were still in the pennant race, that A-Rod got a hit now and then...), just read this and be reassured:

After which, take a deep breath. Your keys are on the dresser. And, after this election, you might want to even go back and take a look at the actual factual details of Tehran, 1979. It's really odd that the Republican lie machine wants to bring Tehran, '79, up, since it gives the lie to another piece of their alternative history of America, which Mr. Romney asserted in the last debate with great vehemence. Remember when he said that America never instituted tyranny, or supported it? Well in Iran we supported the overthrow of an elected leader, and then supported a royal despot for nearly 30 years. This was why in 1979 Iranian revolutionaries overran the American Embassy in Tehran and held over 50 Americans hostage until the very day Mr. Reagan was sworn into office. It would have been a blow for our collective mental health had Mr. Obama corrected Mr. Romney on this vapid point of rose-glasses faux history, but of course a Final Debate wouldn't be the proper place for truth to crop up.

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