Sunday, January 9, 2011

Michael Moore is the Lamest of All Jedi and Sarah Palin is nothing more than a Sith Lackey

A gaggle of lame Jedi, including the lamest of them all, Michael Moore.
You cannot live in America without having lots of friends on the far Right of the political spectrum. For those of you wringing your hands in Europe about the rise of the Right, you have no idea what Right Wing actually means. Anti-immigration fear-mongering is kid stuff - little more than distracting hand waving. Europe hardly ever gets past that hand waving. Here in the US, we get to see what is behind the waving hand. For us the the Right means no social safety net beyond the world's highest rate of incarceration

One of my closest friends in New York is a long time member of the NRA. Every year I accompany him to a fundraiser held out on the watery edge of Queens. Its fun. I won a shot gun the first year 5 went. I'll admit that I'm no closer now to understanding my friend's desire to have guns be a totally unrestricted commodity as when I met him, but I no longer dismiss gun rights advocates as extremists. And I have grown to enjoy looking at my friend's collection of pre-WWII firearms. I now listen more carefully, and with a bit more sympathy to those defending their right to bear arms. But over the years I have also grown to resent Michael Moore. I dearly wish he wasn't such a duche bag. In his film Bowling for Columbine Moore starts out by building a strong and remarkably original theory explaining American gun violence. He begins by introducing himself as a life long card carrying member of the NRA, and pointing out that there are plenty of other countries (like Canada) that have higher rates of gun ownership per-capita, but somehow have proportionally far lower rates of gun related killings than the US. 
Moore perfectly lampoons the crypto-racism of those who explain away the violent difference between the US and other gun totting nation by pointing out that countries like Canada are more "homogeneous" (less black people) than the US. Moore very convincingly argues his own theory,  that it is the lack of a decent social safety net in the US that the reason for our high rate of gun deaths. Unfortunately Moore is a douche bag and is unable to resisted the urge to confront Charleston Heston in his home and bringing three young victims of the Colombine shootings to a  Walmart store in order to return the bullets that had been surgically removed from their bodies. I'm not a gun guy and I found Moore's grandstanding, not only distracted from the the main point of the film, it transformed Bowling for Columbine from a film I could have shown my gun loving friend and used as a point of discussion between us, into film my friend has never watched it, and I am unwilling to recommend to even other Lefties. Moore was content to preach to the choir when he could have adress everyone in the room. This was a tragedy, an important opportunity lost. I want my Republican friend's to understand that I don't want to take away their guns, and my Left wing friends to understand that gun death in America is a symtom of a deeper fault that divides this country. 
Jar Jar Binks and the Sith lackey Sarah Palin tipping her hand.

In the wake of the attack in Tucson, Sarah Palin will be pressed to apologize for her careless use of gun targets as part of a political fundraising campaign. But unlike Moore, who has his own very interesting and original ideas (even if he rhetorically shoots himself in the foot by the ways he presents them) Palin is no fountainhead, she isn't even a minor tributary, she is, at best, a murky intellectual backwater. At worst, Palin is a channel for the septic ideas of others. She and her cohorts at Fox News peddle malignancy, give credence to paranoid conspiracies and irresponsibly use violent imagery and speech. But they are not the source. They are merely carrying water for truly powerful players like their owner Rupert Murdoch as well as the brothers David and Charles Koch who were the main financial backers of Fox's astroturf Tea Party. 
Sarah is just a schil trying to make a buck. She has no agenda greater than the crowds of Tea Partiers she is paid to excite. The real shame belongs to Rupert, David and Chuck who have cynically used lame-brained stories of "death panels" and the "death tax" to whip up fear and anger. They have done so in order to further their own financial interests. It is their irresponsibility that is at the heart of this weekend's tragedy. Why these would-be oligarchs want regressive a tax system supporting little more than an industrial prison complex is totally beyond me. Do they want to be served by sick waitresses who can't afford to take a day off to get over a flu? Do they want to be greeted by a flight attendent with rotten breath because he can't afford dental care? Do they want house keepers mourning imprisoned sons and nephews? 
I love my Republican friends, but when they call Obama a radical, or justify the streams of vicious bullshit Murdoch pours into America's ear everyday I am left to wonder what kind of America they want to live in. Will the private schools they send their children to be imune from gun sprees? Will their gated communities be imune to floods and epidemics? We all want an America that is free. I for one would like to live in a country where it is not just free to speak irresponsibly, but it is also free to get care for your mentally ill son before he hurts someone. A few years ago I helped a friend and his family negotiate the mental health system here in New York. I got a very small taste of how easy it is to get lost in that system, how simple it is to send someone to jail, how difficult it is for a family to know what to do in the absence of good advise, and how impossibly hard it is to get adequate care, even with the benefit of health insurance. I was told by a social worker that the best thing for my friend was criminal prosecution and to expect a period of homelessness. That is how the system is working right now. What is happening when it fails? People got shot and people go to jail - lots of them. 
In the wake of the Tucson shootings David Koch should be held up for special scorn. 


  1. Why do you call those people your friends? Is America so dominated by the far right that you have no choice?

  2. I have friends on the RIght, because I live in a cosmopolitan place. They are the parents of my friends. Because my friends love them, I love them and they love me. They have married people I love, so I have toasted their marriages and celebrated the birth of their children. They fabricate my art, work as registrars at museums I show in and work with people I know, so we see sit together at dinner parties and laugh and argue and share stories. These are the bonds of affection that passions strain.
    I am furious at those who call President Obama a tyrant, equate health care with "death panels," and that pretend "reload" and "take aim" are an innocent metaphor for "get out the vote." They fear-mongers, playing on base fears in order to separate us into enemy camps, to break those bonds of affection. I am not afraid of my Right wing friends, and I hope they are not afraid of me or what I stand for.
    I imagine that the people who are most afraid are those have isolated themselves into ideological enclaves - placing political litmus tests on friendship. America at its healthiest is cosmopolitan and affectionate.