Monthly Archives: May 2019

Impeach Trump but Remember Robert Mueller’s Shady History Too

Apparently he helped cover up the Bush family’s ties to Saddam

“As soon as the BNL case broke, Bush moved to throttle the investigation. He appointed lawyers from both Cardoen and Matrix to top Justice Department posts – where they supervised the officials investigating their old companies. The overall probe was directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. ”

For the most part, I think “Russiagate” is a squabble between two right wing factions of the ruling class that doesn’t really concern me.

Nevertheless, I do think Trump is the inevitable outcome of Congress’s failure to impeach Reagan over Iran Contra, and we have to start holding the President accountable for his crimes somewhere/sometime. Now’s as good a time as any.

It is ironic, however, that Mueller himself began his career covering up for the Bush family in the 1980s.

Cold War (2018)

cold war

Cold War is an exquisitely filmed, critically acclaimed film by Paweł Pawlikowski about a late Stalinist era bandleader played by Tomasz Kot and his muse, a singer played by Joanna Kulig. While it lost the “Best Foreign Language” film Oscar to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, it did manage to pull in close to 20 million dollars at the box office. In other words, while it didn’t play at the suburban multiplex, a lot of people in the English-speaking world saw it. So, is it worth 90 minutes of your time?

First of all, as mentioned above, the cinematography is beautiful. Each frame could be a painting. All through Cold War, I was constantly reminded of the German romantic era painter Caspar David Friedrich and, probably more significantly, of Wim Wenders’s great film Wings of Desire, easily the best film ever made about the Cold War and the division of Europe into East and West. Yet, unlike Wings of Desire, which managed to convey an enormous amount of romantic desire into a rather odd story about a fallen angel in Berlin and his love of a French circus performer, Cold War leaves me, well, cold.

The first 20 minutes of Cold War start off promising. It’s the late 1940s in the Polish countryside. We’re introduced to Dwa serduszka,  a folk song about unrequited love. We first hear it performed by two working-class men playing accordions — the camera focuses on their dirty, rough hands so we know they’re working class. There’s not a lot of feeling. Both men are long past the days where unrequited love would have meant anything to them, but there is a certain authenticity. Poland has just survived a genocidal occupation by the German Army, which killed over a third of the population, and yet Polish folk culture has survived intact. We meet Wiktor Warski and Irena Bielecka, two theater directors whose relationship with the Polish Communist Party is left vague, who have been given funding to open up a music school in a dilapidated estate, battered, but left standing after the war. We also meet Lech Kaczmarek, a Stalinist functionary sent by the government to watch over them.

What Wiktor Warski and Irena Bielecka are doing in the Polish countryside is actually quite similar to the old New Deal Federal Theater Project, and you could probably do worse than to think of Warski as a Polish version of Orson Welles or Alan Lomax, a man from the educated elite given money by the government to preserve the country’s rich folk traditions and transform them into mass, popular entertainment. What makes the early parts of Cold War work is its vision of the genuinely Polish version of socialism that might have been. Kaczmarek, who’s actually a complex, sympathetic character in spite of his ultimately destructive role, gives a speech to Warski’s incoming students about how they’re the descendants of the Polish working class taking over one of the estates of their former masters and using it to make something beautiful. Warski  finds his star performer, muse and lover in Zuzanna “Zula” Lichoń, and eventually they transform the simple Polish folk song we heard in the film’s opening into a transcendently luminous performance in Warsaw. Even Kaczmarek seems genuinely touched.

The Polish Communist Party, of course, doesn’t know a good, actually socialist, thing when they see it. They demand that Warski and Bielecka stop making art about unrequited love and the survival of Polish folk music, and add in a few things about agricultural policy, “world peace,” and the greatness of Comrade Stalin. Bielecka wants to fight for her original artistic vision. Kaczmarek unsurprisingly is more than willing to please the party leadership. Warski is strangely inert. While he obviously disapproves of the government’s plans to transform the thing he so lovingly nurtured for years into crude, Communist propaganda, he never says a word in support of Bielecka’s half-hearted rebellion. She disappears from the film altogether. He, at first, gets along by going along, and then defects to the West, ending up as a successful, if emotionally unfulfilled musician in Paris.

After Warski’s escape to the west, Cold War shifts from the difficulties of making art under a Stalinist government to the romantic relationship between Warski and Zuzanna Lichoń. Here’s where the film loses most of its steam. Joanna Kulig’s performance as Zuzanna has received most of the film’s critical acclaim, but I think the film’s narrative lets her performance down. I understand what Pawlikowski is trying to do. Zuzanna, who was supposed to defect to France along with Warski but who, at the last moment, lost her nerve, doesn’t love him as much as her loves her. He’s stupidly devoted to her. She can take him or leave him. As the film progresses, we begin to realize that Warski is becoming the peasant boy in Dwa serduszka, a man destroyed by unrequited love.

The problem I think is that Pawlikowski, who received funding from French and British producers, is trying to market Cold War in both Poland and the West. Zuzanna is fairly sympathetic as a “feminist” character, but in the end it’s not her story. It’s not a French, British or American story about a strong woman who breaks free of men and goes onto a successful music career in the west. It wants to be that, of course, but it also wants to be an Eastern European story about a doomed romantic love than can exist neither in Stalinist Poland nor in the capitalist west. By trying to be both it achieves neither. Tomasz Kot, who’s certainly a good-looking actor, as well as tall enough to be a minor Game of Thrones villain, simply doesn’t have the charisma to make Zuzana’s ultimate rejection of her cynical decision to marry Kaczmarek and give up artistic ideals she never really had in the first place believable. The ending seems empty, forced, and unnecessarily perverse.

Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like

Why is Chelsea Manning still in jail for resisting a grand jury subpoena anyway? They’ve already indicted Julian Assange.

The Most Revolutionary Act

Chelsea Manning (photo courtesy

Throughout history, human civilization has been cursed by tyranny. Time and again, power is concentrated in institutions that rule by coercion and force. Humans have suffered through totalitarianism, dictatorships, and fascism repeatedly. Untold suffering and death have occurred.

But such times have always been marked by resistance. Courageous individuals and movements have fought back with a variety of tactics from open revolt to furtive sabotage. The rate of success in overthrowing particular tyrannical institutions has been mixed (though none of them ever last forever anyway of course) but that is not the only way to weigh the value of freedom fighters. Is it not worthy, in and of itself, to strive on behalf of life?

Here in the USA, we are living through a time of increasing tyranny. Certainly, the entire experiment has been tyrannical from the start, given the genocide and slavery that…

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The Espionage Act


I wonder why this German ape has so much lust for white (presumably French or Belgian) women when there are actually plenty of white women in Germany.

It’s important to put the Espionage Act (which is being used to prosecute Julian Assange) in its historical Context. Back in 1917, Wall Street had loaned billions of dollars to the French and English ruling class to prosecute their war against the German ruling class. Was there any moral difference between them? Maybe. German was an authoritarian state and (France at least) was an emerging democratic republic. There was of course that little Belgian genocide in Congo, the British Empire, and the vicious antisemitism, as well as France’s alliance with Czarist Russia, that probably negated any moral superiority the Triple Entente had over the Germans and Austrians.

In any event, in 1917 there were plenty of German and Irish American (still I think the two largest white ethnic groups in the United States) who weren’t exactly thrilled about going to war against the German Empire in favor of the British. So Wall Street had a problem. If the Germans won (which they were likely to do without American intervention), Anglo American bankers would lose hundreds of billions of dollars. So the Wilson Administration had to take decisive (and decisively authoritarian) action against any possible dissent. One particularly blunt tool in Wilson’s toolbox was the “Espionage Act,” which not only effectively outlawed all dissent, but effectively branded it as “Pro German.

There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue …

I urge you to enact such laws at the earliest possible moment and feel that in doing so I am urging you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out. They are not many, but they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once. They have formed plots to destroy property, they have entered into conspiracies against the neutrality of the Government, they have sought to pry into every confidential transaction of the Government in order to serve interests alien to our own. It is possible to deal with these things very effectually. I need not suggest the terms in which they may be dealt with.

And by “citizens” of course Wilson means “Germans” and to a lesser extent the Irish.

Most of the hysteria regarding Julian Assange is based on the fact that he’s accused of being a Russian spy. Is he? Who knows. But even if he is, I’m still glad he released proof of how the Clintons rigged the 2016 primaries against Sanders. In the end, Assange’s crime isn’t that he conspired against Democracy but that he conspired *for* democracy.

As for the Russians, their crime seems to be the same thing George Carlin says the Germans were guilty of (the last white people the USA bombed). They were honing in on “our” territory. Interestingly enough, Russiagate, which was cooked up by the Clintons and the Democratic Party, and which has some of its biggest supporters among liberals and feminists, weakens Carlin’s “bigger dick theory of foreign policy.” It seems like these days women are as belligerent as men.

From the war on terror to russiagate

Surely I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that John Walker Lindh was released from prison the same day as Julian Assange was charged under the espionage act.

NPR assures me the FBI is watching Lindh. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since 9/11. Lindh of course wasn’t a terrorist, just an idiot who joined the wrong cause at the wrong time.

Ever once in awhile I think about Steve Earle’s great song about Lindh.

What to say about Assange. Clearly he’s a right winger of some sort. But does the American ruling class have the right to extradite him to the United States and lock him up in solitary confinement for life (which, let’s face it, is what’s going to happen) under the Espionage Act? Well, the Espionage Act was first used in 1917 by Woodrow Wilson to smash the anti-war movement. Back then the evil Russians were the evil Germans and our dissidents (like Eugene Debs) seemed of an altogether higher quality. Some things never change. Some things do. Clearly Assange is going to jail for life, not because he stole information, but because he stole information the American ruling class considers its personal property, not the property of the American people.

When it comes to Game of Thrones, I’m on the Side of the Feminists

Happy endings aren’t always bad. Cynical, contrived unhappy endings aren’t always good. In fact, when it comes to popular culture, they can be downright reactionary.

So game of thrones sets up a narrative where a teenage girl becomes the female Luke Skywalker and saves the world from the dead. The handsome prince Jon Snow is ready to “bend the knee” to the dragon queen and live out the rest of the his life as a stay at home dad. Even Sir Jorah, Lord of the Friendzone gets to die for the woman he loves.


And then what happens, the writers pull the rug out from under their loyal fans and trash a character they let an immensely talented actress (and it’s not easy to strike just the right note of glamour and silliness Emilia Clarke does riding around on CGI dragons) spend most of her 20s developing.

Do you think classic Hollywood (which was actually progressive) would have built a plot twist into the Adventures of Robin Hood that turned Errol Flynn into a rapist and murderer? I suppose it’s a lesson. David Benioff, the shows lead writer, is the son of a former CEO of Goldman Sachs. He’s a member of the corporate aristocracy. Don’t depend on these people for your entertainment. Make it yourself. The corporate elite is never, ever going to let you have a happy ending.

On the Issue of Sanders and the Contras

So the New York Times does a hit piece on Bernie Sanders for opposing Reagan’s policies in Central America.

Lest anybody forget, Reagan colluded with the Iranians (sold them arms when they were under sanctions) in return for money to support a terrorist war against Nicaragua, which went to the world court and got a judgement against the United States government.

In addition to selling weapons to the Iranians to fund his terrorist war in Nicaragua, Reagan also looked the other way when the CIA dumped crack in South Central LA to secure yet another source of funding.

It’s really not much different from the way Al Qaeda trafficked in blood diamonds to fund their own terrorist campaigns against the United States. Reagan deserved to be impeached in 1987 when Iran Contra broke, just like Bush deserved to be impeached over lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But, surprise, surprise, the collaborationist Democrats let him off the hook.

It’s really difficult to believe, at this point, that anybody can possibly take the NY Times seriously. Bernie, who’s honestly not that great on foreign policy, was absolutely right to be rude to the rich cunt cosplaying as Joe McCarthy. History is not going to look kindly on the American working class for not guillotining these corporate propagandists 35 years ago.