Friday, July 20, 2018

On the New Disney and the New McCarthyism

Most Disney fans will acknowledge that the old Disney was conservative and conformist and supportive of censorship, but they insist the new Disney is "progressive", a vague term that's used by the New Democrats and their heirs. There's some support for that notion in Disney to allow employees to grow beards: "They want to stay tradition-based, and they also want to be current," Koenig said. "They don't want it to become a museum of what entertainment used to be like."

Perhaps the strongest argument that the new Disney is "progressive" is its support for GLBTQ rights. However, its been decades since anyone could seriously argue that GLBTQ rights are a primarily leftish concern. That changed at least as early as 1977 with the founding of the Log Cabin Republicans. Since then, the right has done as much or more for gay rights than the left—Barry Goldwater supported having GLBTQ people serving openly in the military, and the Log Cabin Republicans ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell when Obama would not.

When people talk about the old McCarthyism, they focus on anti-communism and forget that was only one aspect of a broader agenda. McCarthyites were obsessed with middle-class values, niceness and conformity and patriotism. Censorship was their favorite tool. Though the Motion Picture Production Code already existed, it was deemed inadequate by people like Disney, who cofounded the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals in 1944. When the Red Scare bloomed, so did the moral panic: The Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters was created in 1951, followed by the Comics Code Authority in 1954.

Then the '60s and '70s shook everything up. We leftist boomers thought, as young people always do, that our changes would last. But the seeds of neoliberalism were planted in the late 1970s, and as it grew, so did a new McCarthyism, now spearheaded by Democrats like Tipper Gore who showed there was no contradiction in "progressive" values by supporting GLBTQ rights while working with the Parents Music Resource Center to censor popular entertainment.

Today, Disney is exactly what it has always been: a big business that seeks profit while promoting the contemporary form of conformity. When they became aware that James Gunn had indulged in black humor when he was younger, he had to go, no matter how strongly he repudiated his past. Black humor just isn't nice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Why talking politics is useless and necessary, so I'll do less but won't stop

Mark Twain wrote one of my favorite explanations of people's beliefs, "Corn-pone Opinions". It probably influenced my realization that few people are swayed by reason—most of us only change our beliefs when our circumstances change and our old beliefs no longer comfort us. I say this from experience as well as observation. I didn't become a socialist until I fell into hard times, and, forced to look harder at the world around me, saw that the best form of capitalism is no different than the best form of feudalism: the poor still pay for the privileges of the rich.

So I don't expect to change anyone's mind when I talk about politics. What I hope to do is what social workers, cultists, and pimps do when they go to bus stations and look for runaways: I want to offer my solution to someone who desperately needs one. When capitalism is failing people, I want to help them find democratic socialism instead of fascism, cultism, or identitarianism.

Politics are becoming less civil every day as the contradictions of capitalism increase. It's wearing me down, so I'll try to engage less online. But I'll always remember there are people who need to know there are better ways to shape the world than many people insist, so I'll keep offering a vision of a world community that shares its wealth with everyone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Russiagate looks like nothing but an attempt to deflect criticism of the DNC

For the first forty-five years of my life, I treated polls the way most people do: I cited them when they supported me and ignored them when they didn't. That changed in 2000 when the polls said Gore won in Florida and should've been President. I realized two things:

1. Almost no one lies to pollsters. Voters believe they're making the right choices and don't hesitate to say so.

2. The people who pay for polls want accurate data. If they weren't getting it, they'd stop paying pollsters.

The first problem with the Russiagate narrative is the polls and the election results were consistent. Anyone who was paying attention to sites like RealClearPolitics knew Hillary Clinton could beat Trump in the popular vote by about 2%, while Sanders could beat him more decisively.

The second problem is the polls said the main concerns of the voters were economic. Russiagate is all about whether leaking memos that exposed Podesta's and Wasserman Schultz's attempts to boost Trump and sabotage Sanders had a significant effect on the election.

There are reasons beyond the polls to question the Russiagate narrative. Ask "Who profits?", and the answer is the DNC. Focusing on Russia keeps people from asking why the DNC worked so hard to run a historically unpopular candidate.

As usual, the Democrats continue to support the actual institution that has shafted them repeatedly, the Electoral College. Nor do they offer any significant opposition to Republican efforts to make it harder for poor people to vote, perhaps because the Democratic establishment continues to put its emphasis on wealthy donors.

Yes, the Russians probably tried to influence the election. But the evidence that they succeeded is elusive. Occam's Razor says Trump is President because the DNC failed to realize that almost any other candidate, including an old Jewish socialist no one had heard of, would do better against him.