Robert Crumb and the Powers That Be

crumb-suiI tend to read weird, avant-garde post on the Internet so my readers don’t have to. And admittedly, weirdness gets me going. Maybe it’s because I suffer from the malady hyper-boredom that I seek out the strange and bizarre to remind myself that there’s more to life than that dictated by the alarm clock.


I was reading a post on artist Robert Crumb’s website called “Crumb On Others” where he gives his opinions on famous people. Naturally, fans of Crumb and his alternative comics want to know what he thinks about everyone from Marilyn Monroe to J.D. Salinger to Mao. What caught my attention was his take on Jimmy Carter that, of course, veered into other presidents like our Dear Leader, Barack Obama. His take on the Big O provides many lessons (all emphasis, mine):

I think Obama is basically a fairly decent guy also, but he just can’t come up against the powers that be and Carter couldn’t either. Carter really tried, he talked about limits to growth and pulling back and making ecological concerns stronger, you know, and all that stuff. But nobody wanted to hear that in the ’70s except for a tiny minority of people. Carter was relatively decent for that office, relatively decent. You know if you think about the Republican presidents and the Democratic presidents, we had Kennedy, then we had Johnson, who was questionable — I don’t know about Johnson –; then you had Nixon the Republican who was just awful. And then Nixon resigned from his office. And then you had Carter — well, before him we had Gerald Ford, who was probably not that bad of a guy but not very effective. And then we had Carter. And Carter really tried to do the right thing when he was president, but he couldn’t do much. And then you had fucking Reagan. Ugh. I think Reagan was really bad for the United States, really bad. And then you had Bush the First, who was not very good either. And then you had Clinton who had his points. Hilary and Bill, they tried, but he was too much of an operator, too much of a player. And then you had Bush the Second, ugh. Another horrible regime, probably one of the worst administrations ever, that brought America down in the eyes of the world so drastically. They fucked up everything so badly. They really set America back. And now you’ve got Obama, who just can’t do that much. It’s too far gone. I don’t know about Obama. But I think when he got in there he wasn’t a total sell-out like Bush was. Bush was a complete sell-out to the powers that be.

Most amusing. No matter who is president, there’s always this group, the “powers that be,” and that’s true to some extent, but Crumb wants to veer into them being some sort of Illuminati while more realistically the “powers that be” contain people from all across the spectrum, not just on the right. Still, these Democrats, they “try so hard,” and are “decent” fellows, but their hands are tied, while the Republicans “sell-out” to the powers that be. I’m certainly not going to defend the Republicans in toto, especially when you see what the likes of Haley Barbour has done to Mississippi, but Crumb’s take on politics is a great amalgam on the uninformed voter that clings to long outdated cliches about the left and right wings. People actually believe that Obama wants to change things for the better but he’s powerless to do so. Both conclusions are wrong if you have eyes. Same with the Clintons, Carter, LBJ, et al. It was and has always been about power. The only presidents you can really say weren’t about power are Ford and Reagan. Ford was a loyal back-bencher, while Reagan, it can be argued, was the most radical of Presidents since FDR, but for very different reasons. Reagan knew where we were headed toward an authoritarian government and he did what he could to stop it. But, as Crumb likes to say, they can only do so much.

Alas, it comes down to the old cliches revolving around that one sacrosanct group known as “the poor.” Today, we might hedge our bets and call them the “disenfranchised” since it’s becoming harder and harder to call people with cars, televisions and iPhones “poor.” Nevertheless, thanks to help from the media, Hollywood and pop culture in general, the Democrat Party has a monopoly on caring for the “poor” while at the same time making sure the poor can never rise above their standing. And any that do, well…they are the true “sell-outs.”

It’s the same in the Middle East, believe it or not. Why do some many “liberals” support the terrorists of Hamas and the Palestinians over the democratic, civil-society of Israel? It’s simple. The Palestinians are poor (no quotes for that one) and thusly according to the liberal/progressive religion, that makes them morally superior to anyone else, especially the economically thriving state of Israel. Certainly, there are other aspects to it, like that old chestnut antisemitism, but moral superiority is the tip of the spear.

It’s maddening, but it’s the reality of the situation. If Ted Cruz or Scott Walker, to name two, want to create another Reagan Revolution, they have to break through this wall of ignorance with the general public that wants to feel good about themselves. Remember, people voted for the first black president in 2008 not for him, but for themselves. They wanted to feel good, feel morally superior that they voted for a black man…the rest of it was inconsequential in their minds, but far from inconsequential for the rest of us.

They Are Sheep

We seem to be living in a world where the bad guys are flaunting their badness.

It’s obvious that Obama is using the border crisis to blackmail Republicans into immigration reform that could create a permanent majority for the Democrat Party. Yet, we convince ourselves is about humanitarianism.

It’s obvious that Hamas wants to destroy Israel and is willing to use children as weapons. Yet, we convince ourselves that Israel is like Nazi Germany and the Palestinians are victims.

It’s obvious that the U.N. is an anti-Semitic, anti-American organization with the latest example being the discovery of Hamas weapons at one of the UN schools. When discovered, they gave the weapons back to Hamas. Yet, we convince ourselves that the UN is the last best hope for world peace.


My Dinner With Groucho

groucho_marx_by_sixelaotama-d4ndhbnI find the research into written correspondence a fascinating field. Whether it’s letters by the founding fathers, famous writers or even, in this case, the greatest comedic character of all time. The New Yorker has a great writeup about the study of letters written between poet T.S. Eliot and comic legend Groucho Marx. You have to delve deep until you tap into their respective fears and desires to truly understand what is being said between the two.

A taste:

Though Eliot was considered the reigning poet of the English-speaking world, and Groucho his counterpart in the world of comedy—celebrated by the likes of Antonin Artaud—each man seemed to provoke in the other a desire to conceal an essential liability. Eliot seems to have wanted Groucho to consider him a warm, ordinary guy and not the type of stiff, repressed person who disdained from a great height “free-thinking Jews.” He can’t quite bring it off—his acquired British self-deprecation stumbles into an American boorishness. On the eve of Groucho’s visit to London, Eliot wrote, “The picture of you in the newspapers saying that … you have come to London to see me has greatly enhanced my credit in the neighbourhood, and particularly with the greengrocer across the street. Obviously I am now someone of importance.”

Tories Take Page From Establishment GOP’s Book

In America, the Republicans have to worry about that pesky Tea Party, while in the UK, the Tories (and everyone else, it seems) has to worry about that pesky UKIP. Both the Tea Party (which is a movement, not a party) and UKIP (which is both) are on the rise due to under-representation of a large block of voters in both countries. But much like the superior Star Wars movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” the establishment powers are doing just that.

Many political news stories in America this year have been about a Tea Party on the ropes. What has happened? Well, it’s pretty simple. The establishment GOP, even though they have a majority in the House thanks to the Tea Party, are pissed off that some of their long-time members are getting bumped off, i.e. Richard Lugar, Bob Bennett, et al and decided to enact revenge in the only way they know how…spending more money. The MSM feigned shock that the Tea Party candidates had a rough go of it this year when it was as simple as the fact that they got outspent and vilified in the press by Republicans. Again…simple, easy.

Across the pond, UKIP just had their watershed moment in the recent by-elections and took from every party: Tories, Labour, Liberal-Democrats. Needless to say, the Tories are pissed and have upped their game:

With just two days to go until the by-election in Newark, the Nottinghamshire town has faced a deluge of politicians across every party.

It is the Conservatives who have gone all out, however – nervous of the damage a win for Ukip would do, the party has reportedly ordered every single one of its MPs to visit the constituency at least three times before Thursday’s ballot.

On David Cameron’s fourth trip he spoke to a group of workers, and told them: “A dog is for life not just for Christmas, it’s a bit the same with your Member of Parliament.”

All the canvassing has prompted something of a local backlash, with one quick-witted businessman setting up an offer of 50p per “single egg for throwing” – encouraging market-goers to “pick a politician”.

But all the activity seems to have paid off, with a poll from Lord Ashcroft suggesting the Tories now have a significant lead among prospective voters.

Interestingly, the Tories haven’t taken the tack of becoming more like UKIP to win back voters but instead have considered a deal with the devil:

An unholy alliance between the Conservative and Labour parties is emerging, with party members in Thurrock, Essex, deliberating on how best to keep Nigel Farage’s new UKIP councillors out of decision-making processes.
Last year, Conservative Party activists slammed UKIP for considering a coalition to keep the Tories out of power in Norfolk, but the Conservatives seem to have adopted these very same tactics as animosity between the two parties shows no sign of relenting.

The Thurrock Gazette reports that in the Essex town where UKIP picked up five seats (three Conservative, two Labour), the Tories and Labour are now in talks over a “grand coalition” which seeks to lock UKIP’s six councillors out of the decision-making process.

It had been noted when the results came in last week that UKIP may now hold ‘kingmaker’ status in the council. But representatives of the 23 Labour and 18 Conservatives members “had anticipated a Ukip surge and were discussing the prospect of teaming up ahead of last week’s vote, which left both Thurrock’s main parties a lot lighter.”

One source told the local paper: “I’d lay my money on a grand coalition between Labour and the Conservatives. Talks have already taken place and more are planned.”

This scheme didn’t pan out, but it shows you just how far the establishment types are willing to go to protect their turf. Imagine, the Democrats and Republicans in America forming an alliance to keep the Tea Party down. Well, we don’t have to imagine it. It happens every day.

Turning to Mississippi, we have an establishment Republican incumbent being challenged by a Tea Party candidate and all hands are on deck to maintain the staus quo, even if it means delaying retirement:

The Abramoff connection is another reminder for Mississippi voters that Cochran’s real address isn’t his cabin in Oxford or his phantom apartment at Webber’s crib. It’s on K Street.

In fact, in a Washington Post interview over the weekend, Cochran said he had intended to leave the Senate after this current term, but he changed his mind:

Cochran said he is running because others encouraged him to seek another term. “I thought it was time for me to retire,” he said. “I thought I’d served long enough. …But people were saying, what are we going to do without you?”


Crush the establishment.

Beyond Impeachable

In 1998, America saw President Bill Clinton impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury and obstruction. While Clinton was spared by the cowards in the U.S. Senate, we never thought we’d see something like that again. Certainly, no Congress would want to go through another impeachment trial after the media thrashing, but even still, it was a dark time for the country and one hoped it would never reoccur.

Who would have thought that 16 years later we would look back on Bill Clinton’s crimes as being almost quaint. Barack Obama has taken lawlessness to a whole new level culminating in his illegal (though it’s debatable) deal to free an American “hostage” soldier in exchange for 5 dangerous Taliban criminals. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says this goes beyond statues and veers straight into dereliction of duty.

As I demonstrate in Faithless Execution, high crimes and misdemeanors are not primarily statutory offenses. They are the political wrongs of high public officials—the president, in particular—in whom great public trust is reposed. When the commander-in-chief replenishes the enemy at a time when (a) the enemy is still attacking our forces and (b) the commander-in-chief has hamstrung our forces with unconscionable combat rules-of-engagement that compromise their ability to defend themselves, that is a profound dereliction of duty.

That’s what we ought to be outraged about. The chitter-chatter about a 30-day notice requirement is a sideshow. Yes, the president has once again violated a statute. And as I said in yesterday’s column, he undoubtedly did so in order to get the swap done before public and congressional protest could mount. But in the greater scheme of things, that’s a footnote to the real travesty.


The Long-Hoped-For Bullet

An exceedingly excellent article in the New Yorker (surprising, given the lessons contained within) on the trial of Khmer Rouge killer Kaing Guek Eav a.k.a. “Duch” as seen through the eyes of journalist Thierry Cruvellier. The setup to the interview of Cruvellier has this interesting nugget:

Duch wasn’t one of the masterminds, but he was their zealous servant, and he was entrusted with the command of S-21, the prison where Khmer Rouge cadres were sent to be purged. The purges were constant. While ordinary Cambodian civilians were killed on an industrial scale and without ceremony, it was Duch’s mission to insure that everyone held at S-21 was broken down until they confessed to counter-revolutionary crimes—working for the C.I.A., say, or for the K.G.B., or for both, even though most prisoners had never heard of either agency before Duch’s torturers went to work—and then he had them slaughtered.

Duch didn’t expect to survive the revolution: he had sent most of his own mentors to their deaths, and, by the logic of S-21, his time, too, would come to confess and be condemned.

Thankfully, America is not Cambodia and no one is being put to death for their beliefs, but the mentality behind the likes of Duch is alive and well in the West where on a daily basis, celebrities, athletes, politicians and other members of the glitterati are forced to apologize for their beliefs and made, one way or another, to abandoned those beliefs for that of the Ayatollahs of Pop Culture. No, no one is killed in the literal sense, but nevertheless, America is home to a bloodsport of ruining lives that are lived out in the grand arena of fame and fortune. Many point out the folly of going along with such authoritarian actions for, ultimately, no one will be safe from the politically correct gulag. Duch always suspected the tables would be turned on him one day, and yet, it all made sense to him.

Where does this mentality come from? Another interesting snippet where Cruvellier is asked about left-wing vs. right-wing tribunals:

“There is a historical lineage between the far left and the human-rights movement. In the nineteen-sixties, after Stalin’s terror was widely acknowledged; in the seventies, after Solzhenitsyn’s denunciation of the Gulag; and then, finally, in the eighties, after the horrors of Pol Pot were fully revealed, many Western intellectuals moved from the discredited and disgraced Marxism-Leninism to the ideals of universal human rights. As opposed to the boredom of prosaic reforms, advocating for human rights is, in its own way, another grandiose and poetic enterprise where we, as a people, fight against exploiters. As the French philosopher Raymond Aron astutely noted, human rights, as a political philosophy, is based on a notion of purity. It’s not about taking responsibility for a decision “in unpredicted circumstances, based on incomplete knowledge”—that’s politics, said Aron. Instead, human rights function as a refuge for utopia.

“What was interesting to observe at the Khmer Rouge tribunal was that former Western Maoists or fellow-travellers were not transformed, when they became disillusioned with Communism, into skeptical minds. They now presented themselves as human-rights defenders. The appeal of “pure” ideologies seemed irresistible to them. Revolutionaries get indignant about police abuse or ruthless capitalism, and then forgive, in the name of the revolution, every injustice they had otherwise denounced. Interestingly, the moral indignation of human-rights activists can suddenly be silenced when institutions that they helped create and that were supposed to exemplify their ideals—such as international war-crimes tribunals—start violating the very principles they have claimed to stand for. They say that criticism would serve the “enemies” of justice. They begin to accept that the end justifies the means. Double standards widely apply. The drive that often made them efficient when they worked in a hostile environment now, when they are empowered, transforms into an intransigence that can make them very insensitive to realities that don’t fit their ideological paradigm. International tribunals can be a harsh reminder that injustice and unfairness are not incompatible with humanist intentions.”

Ruminate on that.

The Death of Journalism in One Tweet

We now have definitive proof that the White House coordinated a big lie about the cause of the attacks on Benghazi in order to protect itself and coverup its own incompetence. The MSM’s response is very simple: “I disagree.”

Bottom line: we can have Tea Party rallies all we want. We can go to the polls in great numbers, but as long as the MSM exist in its current form, there is little hope for the country going forward. Something has to be done about ABCCBSNBCPBSNPRNYT et al or we’re just spinning our wheels. I wish I had a solution other than “just don’t watch/read” but that’s never going to fly with most of the public which is a slave to tradition and reputation and somehow thinks CBS, for example, is still the network that Murrow built. Journalism died with the likes of David Brinkley and I’m not sure how to get it back short of something drastic.