Friday, September 27, 2013

Cheap shots, hot shots, screen shots

I'm not even going to try to explain what I was doing on the above web page except to say that it was a totally legitimate part of my job, for which I get sort of paid, unlike these Blogspot effusions, to find out something about one of the Xu Xiaoping award winners  (I was actually trying to find out where a particular essay had been published, not whether it got a prize).  But I loved the somehow Russian pathos of that banner ad.

Mark Halperin below the fold, and much, much more!

Supernonpartisan love-feaster Mark Halperin in 2011, just after he got suspended from his job at MSNBC for calling President Obama a "dick" on live TV.
We are all Aaron Alexis

Yes, Mark. Because guns don't kill people, negativity kills people. If we weren't so partisan those 12 victims would still be alive. Also, both sides do it: those who keep demanding more effective gun control and funding for mental illness treatment, and those who prefer to complain about how bad mentally ill people are. If we take the centrist approach of doing nothing on the one hand and not complaining on the other, at least until midnight, that will definitely make it all better.

Wall Street trees bear a strange fruit/Snark on the leaves and critical analysis at the root

AIG CEO Robert Benosche on the company's bonuses after the great disaster, via Ezra Klein:
The uproar over bonuses "was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitchforks and their hangman nooses, and all that — sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong."
Crude mockery of an insurance executive accused of destroying the American economy. There's talk about making bankers take literacy tests before they're allowed to vote, too. Oh, wait, I must be thinking about somebody else. Image via Cynical Times.
Rectroactionary watch: New York City mayoral race

Republican candidate Joe Lhota, quoted in Newsday:
"His policies haven't indicated any change whatsoever," Lhota, 58, said after a Manhattan forum. "Anybody who loves the Sandinistas as much as he does, anybody who wants to support the Sandinistas, who are a pro-Marxist -- it speaks for itself."
It would not be strictly speaking correct in our normal universe to say that Bill DeBlasio "wants to support the Sandinistas", since he hasn't had anything to do with them since about 1990, according to the Times article "exposing" his past in startlingly Nixonian language ("a vision of the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government"). That would be about 23 years. Nor has the Sandinista front seemed especially more Marxist than anybody else in the years since its 2006 return to power, during which its signature policy has been pretty much on the lines of "teach a man to fish", maybe a little Marxist in the sense that the Roman Catholic church is Marxist, but not exactly Stalin:
"Zero Hunger" with its budget of US$150 million plans to deliver a US$2,000 bond or voucher to 75,000 rural families between 2007 and 2012. The voucher will consist of the delivery of a pregnant cow and a pregnant sow, five chickens and a rooster, seeds, fruit-bearing plants and plants for reforestation.[70] The project's short-term objective is to have each rural family capable of producing enough milk, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables and cereals to cover its basic needs while its medium range objective is to establish local markets and export certain products.
The families that benefit from the project will be required to pay back 20 percent of the amount that they receive in order to create a rural fund that will guarantee the continuity of the program. NGOs and representatives from each community will be in charge of managing the project.
But if you think in retroactionary terms of reverse time, following Bill and the Nicaraguans back to the time when the British Labour Party was an openly pro-Marxist organization (i.e., before 1994), then I guess yes, no doubt. As soon as we get past the election of Bill Clinton and into the 1980s, DeBlasio will be there, helping those Nicaraguans with their basis groups and nuevas canciones, after which he will be ready for college, then high school, and eventually getting born.
Or for $1895 you can get a week in Revolutionary Nicaragua,  absorbing the terror of the all-day meeting.
And speaking of Red-baiting in the Times

There's a weird meme running around the right wing according to which Communists ran the New York Times in the 1950s, and demonstrated it in their coverage of Stalin's death in March 1953:
It seems to be traceable to the Times itself, and an op-ed for the 50th anniversary of Stalin's death by Serge Schmemann:
it is worth remembering that ''Uncle Joe'' was not always the same demon in our eyes that he is today. The New York Times of March 6, 1953, in which Stalin's death got a banner headline, made no mention of the purges or the gulag. But it did declare that his death ''brought to an end the career of one of the great figures of modern times -- a man whose name stands second to none as the organizer and builder of the great state structure the world knows as the Soviet Union.'' (March 10, 2003)
Thus, as sloppily plagiarized in Murray Friedman's The Neoconservative Revolution (2005):

(Some comical Bad Writing there: it's fun trying to imagine how the Times could have put the purges and gulags in a "banner headline" on the dictator's passing—Purger Perishes?)

It's actually quite difficult to find the text Schmemann was quoting there. The total access to the archives that the Times promises me as a subscriber does not seem to be quite total, unless it's just a function of their website being possibly the worst-designed website in the history of distinguished online newspapers—maybe they really are Communists. But then again the link offered by my friend Doug, from materials the newspaper offers free for student use, is not actually so very uncritically admiring:
Stalin took and kept the power in his country through a mixture of character, guile and good luck. He outlasted his country's intellectuals, if indeed, he did not contrive to have them shot, and he wore down the theoreticians and dreamers. He could exercise great charm when he wanted to. President Harry Truman once said in an unguarded moment: "I like old Joe. Joe is a decent fellow, but he is a prisoner of the Politburo." 
But the Stalin that the world knew best was hard, mysterious, aloof and rude. He had a large element of the Oriental in him; he was once called "Ghengis Khan with a telephone" and he spent much of his life nurturing the conspiracies that brought him to power and kept him there.
"I don't always read books, but when I do, I prefer to have written them myself." —the most interesting dictator in the world.
And the reason Schmemann claims the coverage makes no mention of purges or prison camps (the word gulag was unknown in English, I think, until translations of Solzhenitsyn introduced it quite a few years later) is that he looked only at the initial story, filed by Harrison Salisbury from Moscow, found not in the Times archive but at a mystery site and strangely dated "March 7, 1954":
This correspondent circled the Kremlin several times during the evening and early morning. The great red flag flew as usual over the Supreme Soviet Presidium building behind Lenin’s Tomb. Lights blazed late as they always do in many Kremlin office buildings. Sentry guards paced their posts at the Great Kremlin Gate. The city was quiet and sleeping, and in Red Square all was serene. The guards stood their duty at Lenin's Tomb, but otherwise the great central square was deserted, as it always is in the hours just before daylight.
Obviously the reason Salisbury did not mention the purges in his article was not that he was in love with Stalin but that he was living in a real police state (as opposed to the one in which Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota are living) and trying to do the best job he could without being expelled from the country.

And if Schmemann, or Murray Friedman, or my friend Doug, had looked just a tiny bit harder, they would have found that the massive Times coverage of Stalin's death had a full article on the Great Helmsman's personality cult and another on the Great Terror pulling, as they say, no punches:
In the series of purge trials that began in 1935 and ended in 1937, most of the leaders who had been Lenin's principal lieutenants for decades--the organizers, propagandists, high officials, diplomats and apostles of the revolution--were accused of treason, of collaboration with Nazi Germany and Japan in plans against Soviet Russia, of conspiring to restore capitalism in Russia. The Kirov assassination was pictured as having had a relation to these alleged crimes. From the indictments in the trials and the "confessions" of the accused it appeared that the Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky, who was tried and condemned in absentia as the chief culprit, was carried out and the Soviet regime established with the aid of traitors guilty of the blackest crimes....
The purges described here were accompanied by a nation-wide shake-up of the party and governmental machine, involving the imprisonment of thousands of army officers and the removal or exile of hundreds of thousands of Government officials and party members. 
(The focus on government and Party workers—the failure to acknowledge the nonpolitical victims of the Terror—is how it was understood before the real research began.) So no, Doug, you're just wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment