Stoned: 28 years of Oliver

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By Scott Ross

I am in the process of re-evaluating the work of Oliver Stone, so herewith some brief thoughts about a few of his representative pictures, 1988 – 2016.

Born on the 4th of July

Born on the Fourth of July (1988) I missed this one when it was new, owing partly to my perpetual aversion to its star, but had I seen it in 1988 I suspect I would have appreciated it more. I had attempted, a few years before, to get through Ron Kovic’s memoir, but was defeated by its grim and seemingly unremitting horror. Now that I have read it, Stone’s adaptation (written with Kovic) almost seems to affirm some of the criticisms leveled at his work as sensationalist and excessive. In the main I do not agree with the opprobrium with which Stone is so frequently assaulted, but Born on the Fourth of July all too obviously embodies those faults others — admittedly, and largely, his political opponents — invariably see in him. Kovic’s book is so vivid, incendiary and felt, it scarcely required embellishments like the wholly fictitious Kara Sedgwick character, or Tom Cruise’s romantic run-through-the-rain-to-the-prom. It most especially did not need the sequence in which he and Willem Dafoe (in, again, a role for whom there is no antecedent in Kovic’s life) roll around on the Mexican sand and argue over whose claims of baby-killing are the most true.

Even such incidents as Kovic’s shattering his leg and nearly losing it are turned, by Stone, into vulgar, overstated show-pieces (he was merely exercising his useless limbs at home, not parading around in a demented attempt to prove he could walk) and when, at the climax, Kovic is beaten by cops at the 1972 Republican convention in Miami, Stone cheats fact by turning it into Kovic’s heroic last-stand when the reality — he was brutally assaulted by para-military creeps who, when they finally realized he was, as he’d been telling them, a wounded vet, behaved with shame-faced obsequiousness — was so much more inherently and honestly dramatic. Wouldn’t that make a better sequence than presenting Kovic as storming (or anyway, wheeling) back into the convention hall to “take” it, a cinematic fantasy that manifestly did not occur? That sort of phony uplift is contemptible, and beneath a man of Stone’s gifts. I will grant that the picture brings up a subject Americans do not like to address, and which Kovic’s book repeatedly rubs our noses in: The sudden emasculation of the sexually incapacitated. That such lifelong impotence is routinely visited on one so young is one of the great, unspoken tragedies of war. Cruise is, as usual, insufferably over-dramatic, an amateur actor who only knows how to perform when the scene calls for overt, hectoring anger. One of the few unadulterated pleasures of the picture is the performance of Raymond J. Barry as Kovic’s gentle, shattered father, unable to cope with the wreck his country has made of his child. There’s dignity in that, and quiet honesty. It’s something Born on the Fourth of July could use more of.


The Doors - Kilmer


The Doors
(1992) Stone’s examination of Jim Morrison, co-written with J. Randal Johnson, has been harshly criticized, not least by members of The Doors, for distorting him and for emphasizing his pretension and his self-destructive behavior. But when a rock star, and a young man of 27, dies suddenly I submit that we may at least wonder whether drugs and alcohol may have played a role. On the other hand, the Morrison depicted in The Doors is so repellent and narcissistic it’s difficult to know how he could have possessed the charisma, and the creativity, to become a cultural icon. This is not to say that Val Kilmer is charmless in the role — indeed, he is exceptionally compelling — merely that the obnoxious qualities Morrison displays here are so prominent they cancel out his attributes.

The movie holds fascination despite these cavils. No one’s pictures look the way Stone’s do, or are put together remotely as he assembles them. The Doors has an appropriately trippy quality, and not only in the drug sequences. Stone emphasizes Morrison’s death obsessions literally, to the point of having both the spirit of an elderly Native shaman (Floyd Red Crow Westerman) and Richard Rutowski as Death stalking Kilmer at periodic points, such as when Rutowski dances more than suggestively behind Morrison during an orgiastic concert appearance; Stone said he wanted to convey the image of Death “fucking him in the ass,” which is curious considering how the picture shies away from any suggestion of Morrison’s alleged bisexuality — a claim his bandmates also, of course, vociferously deny.

But then, as everyone surely knows by now, rock music, unlike every other performing category on earth, is comprised wholly and entirely of heterosexuals.



Any Given Sunday 10542_5
Any Given Sunday
 (1999) I’ve always thought televised football was at once stupid, loud, overlong and boring. Amazingly, it took the considerable and combined talents of John Logan and Oliver Stone to deliver an equally stupid, loud, overlong and boring movie about the game. There are two central stories, involving, primarily, a Miami franchise head coach (Al Pacino) and his struggle to hold onto his job and, secondarily, concentrating on a rising young star quarterback (Jamie Foxx) who first becomes an arrogant show-off and then must learn to be a humble team-player by the play-out. There are also sub-plots involving an aging team captain (Dennis Quaid) nursing a potentially debilitating injury and the team’s embattled owner and general manager (Cameron Diaz), and the characters include a duplicitous team physician (James Woods), a veteran linebacker with a cortisone addiction (Lawrence Taylor) and an egomaniacal sports reporter (the odious John C. McGinley, doing his usual overbaked caricature). Shall I go on? If all you want is two and a half hours of scabrous people and their petty problems and rivalries, or have always hoped to see a detached human eyeball in bloody close-up, Any Given Sunday is for you.


Wall Street - Sheen

Wall Street (1987) Although supposedly made in tribute to his stockbroker father, Stone’s movie is really a disgusted response to the bald, grasping greed of the Reagan era. And while Michael Douglas is perhaps my least favorite actor of his generation, I must admit he has a feel — come by naturally, one presumes — for embodying sleaziness. I am if anything less enamored still of Charlie Sheen, Martin’s less gifted son, but even he is in good form here, as Bud Fox, an ambitious young trader who willingly allows himself to become corrupt. (Is it coincidental that he shares the first name of Jack Lemmon’s equally climbing would-be junior executive in The Apartment?) Martin Sheen himself provides splendid contrast as Bud’s honest dad, Hal Holbrook has some nice moments as a seasoned broker, James Karen is solid as Bud’s predictably mercurial boss, and Terence Stamp does well by an icy corporate raider. Only Darryl Hanna proves a true embarrassment; in her big break-up scene with the younger Sheen, she’s appalling. Whatever his limitations as an actor, he’s trying to do honor to the moment, but she gives him nothing to play against. Stone, who wrote the screenplay with Stanley Weiser, has a fine feeling for the trappings and appurtenances of the time and place, although when the picture ends you may find yourself shrugging with indifference at the whole thing.


Alexander - Bagoas
Alexander: The Ultimate Cut (2004/2013) I missed Stone’s epic study of Alexander the Great when it was released in 2004, but I certainly remember the rank homophobia that attended it, from audiences, critics and entertainment reporters. The sexuality of Alexander the Great has been a matter of controversy for centuries, but one would like to have believed that by the beginning of the 21st, some reasonableness on the subject might obtain. Instead the movie was derided, with schoolboy snickers, as Alexander the Gay. Even if one ignores his intense relationship with Hephaistion, or chooses to assume that he was chaste with his young eunuch courtier Bagoas, that Alexander married late, and left no heir, is surely indicative of something.

My own readings on Alexander have been limited to Mary Renault’s glorious fictions, particularly her splendid The Persian Boy, told from the perspective of Bagoas. Stone and his co-scenarists, Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis, based their screenplay largely on the historian Robin Lane Fox’s book on Alexander, but Renault was an inspiration as well, largely I would assume via Fire from Heaven, her novel of his formative years. (A third, Funeral Games, describes the events immediately following his death, likely by murder.) The scenarists frame their narrative around the reminiscences of the aged Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), and limn the forces that shaped Alexander, from early childhood to the end. Of necessity, Stone and his co-authors omit much, including the burning of Persepolis, the particulars of which are still uncertain. And, rather surprisingly for Stone, there is no voice in the picture, however small, critical of Alexander for his voracious need of conquest. Rather, the filmmaker is besotted with the warrior king’s creative attempts to unify the vanquished and respect their cultures. That is not to say that this is not in itself admirable — and unusual, in any age. Merely that, whatever his virtues, Alexander was an insatiable imperialist, taking by force land that did not belong to him and, however benignly, enslaving the people who lived on it.

That said, the picture is superbly mounted, with the sort of breathtaking sweep only a master could achieve, and a cast of fascinating characters, chief among them of course Colin Farrell’s at once fierce yet essentially gentle Alexander. In his dyed-blond beauty, he is, appropriately both to the subject and to Stone’s conception, a deeply romantic figure. (There is, indeed, a rather gratuitous, if admittedly attractive, shot of him, naked and filmed from behind as he rises from a bed, that fully reveals not merely Farrell’s shapely backside but his genitalia and which would not be out of place in a pornographic video.) Val Kilmer is a likewise full-bodied Philip, lusty to a fault — his rape of an underling leads directly to his assassination — and, despite his crudeness and bluster, an essential guide to his son. Christopher Plummer has a nice scene as Aristotle; Jared Leto is a fine Hephaistion, wearing his love for Alexander both lightly and with palpable hurt at no longer sharing his erstwhile adolescent lover’s bed; and Francisco Bosch makes a lovely Bagoas, although obviously older than his historical precedent. The movie’s finest performance, however, is that of Angela Jolie as Alexander’s mother Olympias. Passionate and scheming, and as ruthless as her husband, Jolie’s Olympias makes abundantly clear why Alexander kept her at arm’s length. Rosario Dawson makes a memorable Roxane, animalistic and raging with jealousy. When naked on her wedding night, however, her bared breasts are revealed as pendulous and unappealing, although I am well aware than many heterosexual men consider them “hot.” That sex-scene contrasts strikingly with the one, later, between Alexander and Bagoas; where with Roxane he is aggressive, indeed even brutal, matching her bestial nature, with Bagoas he is tender and loving. One suspects that, while making love to another young man is natural, he must stir himself artificially to have sexual relations a woman… and that he understands his bride all too well.

Stone’s theatrical edit ran 175 minutes; a subsequent “Director’s Cut” for DVD was 167; the home video labeled “The Final Unrated Cut” ran 214; and Stone’s 2013 “Ultimate Cut” 206. In this edition the filmmaker took out much of what he had placed in the third version, feeling he had added in too much. At any length, this is a picture that isn’t going to satisfy many: The Leonard Maltin movie guide describes it as the first of Stone’s movies that can be called “boring.” Taste is a personal matter, of course — de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that jazz — but the sort of mind that could find Stone’s lavish, violent, engrossing examination of Alexander and his world “boring” is not one with which I would care to spend much time.


W Josh Brolin gwb080901_560

W (2008) Stone was, ludicrously, slanged in 2008 for not making George W. Bush more of a caricature, and for sympathizing with his central character. That succumbing to the former is the sign of a hack or a satirist (all too often the same thing) and that embrace of the latter is the primary job of a dramatist does not seem to have occurred to the partisans among Stone’s critics. To take on the first accusation: How much more may an artist caricaturize a man who is already a walking self-parody? Stone’s Bush, as written by the scenarist Stanley Weiser and enacted by the redoubtable Josh Brolin is, it seems to me, George W. to the life: Belligerent, untutored, ill-informed, appallingly ignorant — narcissistic in the proscribed macho manner of the Texas playboy who has seldom, if ever, heard the word “no” and been forced to comply with it.

To address the second allegation: Although Bush as a man is not as complex as the 37th President of the United States, nor as essentially and tragically bifurcated, this indictment was also leveled at Stone in 1995 when Nixon premiered, and was no more legitimate then. Again, only a parodist or a creative hack reduces his subject to abject villainy. Was Shakespeare traduced for locating the humanity in both Caesar and Brutus? Do we not in part respond to Citizen Kane precisely because Orson Welles offered him in more than a single dimension? And while is not as ultimately plangent, or as moving, as Nixon, it is certainly nothing to whinge or sneer at. It encapsulates and anatomizes its subject in sharp and often very amusing vignettes that hint strongly at the central emptiness within its eponymous subject. Is that, somehow, the same as bestowing laurels on him?

The only area in which I think Stone errs is in his and Weisner’s conception of George H.W., and in their casting of James Cromwell, who neither looks nor sounds like the elder Bush. If any member of the dynasty depicted here deserves vilification, surely it is Bush Senior, that unrepentant liar, conscienceless CIA operative (who claimed, like Nixon, not to remember where he was on the day Kennedy was murdered) and un-indicted war criminal. Ellen Burstyn comes off much better as Barbara Bush, but then, the woman herself scarcely seemed to deserve the unholy brood she gave birth to. Richard Dreyfuss makes an appropriately serpentine Dick Cheney, alternately sneering and bullying. (Although he and Stone apparently differed on the characterization.) The always splendid Scott Glenn gives a good account of Donald Rumsfeld, Toby Jones provides a correspondingly fine embodiment of the Pecksniffian Karl Rove, and Stacey Keach is fascinatingly ambiguous in a role that was conceived as a composite of several of Bush’s spiritual advisors… whose collective failure with their charge is all too obvious and instructive.


Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps with Stone

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) Interestingly, this sequel to the 1987 Wall Street is richer and more entertaining than its predecessor, at least until the wholly unnecessary — and utterly unbelievable — climax. The last-minute deus ex machina conversion of the merrily amoral Gordon Gekko rends the fabric of his character: Although he’s appalling, his actions have a unity that renders him whole; turning him into a penitent fairy godfather smacks either of studio interference, or a last-minute cowardice on someone’s part. Because we’re unsure of him through most of the picture, Michael Douglas becomes mesmerizing. And when, near the end, he reveals himself as wholly unchanged, the effect is both delicious and sick-making. It makes that sudden reversal a betrayal of the character, and of our apprehension of him. Shia LaBeouf is a more benign version of the Charlie Sheen character in the first movie (Sheen himself makes a cameo), although I think overall he’s a rather limited actor. Josh Brolin has a good role as LeBeouf’s nemesis, Carey Mulligan is permitted a wide range of emotional response as Gekko’s estranged daughter, Susan Sarandon has a few juicy scenes as LeBeouf’s mother, and Eli Wallach is as usual a deft delight as a high-rolling old financier. Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff wrote the mostly (until that unfortunate climax) intelligent screenplay, Rodrigo Prieto provides some lovely cinematography, and Stone directs not as if he’s taken on an obligation but as though the subject is fresher with him now than it was 23 years earlier, proving that Thomas Wolfe’s famous dictum concerning staging a return is not a universal truth.


Snowden

Snowden (2016) One of the least seen of Stone’s important pictures, Snowden sits on the shelf with the writer-director’s explorations of American governmental power (JFK, Nixon, W.) and, like Nixon, is both intelligently written and surprisingly moving. Perhaps audiences in 2016 already thought they knew the Snowden story; if they were consuming the Western corporate media’s coverage of his announcement, they didn’t, and don’t. Stone and his co-scenarist, Kieran Fitzgerald, depict Edward Snowden as an exceptionally bright young man of conventional conservative bent, “patriotic” in the way of so many American youths who have incorporated the deliberate inculcation of their public schools, a passive press and all-too active governmental indoctrination into their view of the world. His gradual awakening to the means by which — and the lengths to which — his employers are able, and willing, to go to infiltrate every aspect of his fellow Americans’ lives, and his determination to expose both, form the core of the narrative. (The screenplay was based in part on The Snowden Files by Luke Harding. That Harding has since allowed the Clinton machine’s absurd claims of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election to unhinge him completely should, one supposes, not mitigate his former good work.)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb as the eponymous anti-hero, and however much one might deplore the reactive manner of Snowden’s thinking, Gordon-Levitt’s performance conveys the young man’s basic decency and kindness as well as his slow awakening in wholly explicable terms. It was the role many of us who have admired this gifted young actor since his sitcom years were waiting for, and it’s a genuine pity that so few have seen it, and that he received no major award nominations for it. Shailene Woodley is equally fine as Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills, as are the superb Melissa Leo as the documentarian Laura Poitras and Zachary Quinto as the irreplaceable (and un-repressible) Glenn Greenwald. Nicolas Cage plays a character suggested by the estimable former National Security analyst — and fellow whistle-blower — Bill Binney, and Snowden himself appears briefly at the end of the picture. Craig Armstrong’s musical score is a strong asset, as is Anthony Dod Mantle’s rich cinematography and the kinetic editing by Alex Marquez and Lee Percy.

The ultimate willingness of one so young to leave behind his life, love and family in the furtherance of an ideal becomes quietly devastating, and for this, Stone is to be commended. Yet it is a measure of the contempt in which Oliver Stone is held by the government stenographers who now comprise the ranks of corporate journalism that a movie as vital and important as Snowden received far less press than a lumbering exercise like Any Given Sunday. And it is equally illustrative of where the American movie audience is now that Sunday was a hit domestically, Snowden a flop.


untold history - showtime
Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States (2012) A staggeringly effective multipart examination of the dark underbelly of our history no American public school educator will touch: This one-time Republic’s century-plus evolution into the world’s most avaricious, and murderously dangerous, empire. Reactionaries, conservatives, liberals and their corporatist ilk will, if they sample it, no doubt sputter with impotent fury. And even for those of us who’ve been paying attention these last few decades, the revelations on display here will astonish and enrage. Yet even after 12 exhaustively documented hours* (and which feel more like two) neither Stone nor his co-authors Peter Kuznick and Matt Graham succumbs entirely to despair, and their Untold History is, finally, an impassioned call to arms that refuses to admit the defeat of essential values… provided we want them badly enough to fight for their reinstatement. “The record of the American Empire is not a pretty one,” they write. “But it is one that must be faced honestly and forthrightly if the United States is ever to undertake the fundamental structural reforms that will allow it to play a leading role in advancing rather than retarding the progress of humanity.” The Untold History is a vital step in facing that record. Now: Is there the popular will to make the changes we need?


jfk - donald sutherland
JFK: The Director’s Cut (1991/1997) Love it or despair of it, Stone’s incendiary examination of the Kennedy assassination was one of the most important movies of its time, its popularity leading directly to the establishment of the Assassination Records Review Board. That the Board has not, as directed by law, made public “all existing assassination-related documents,” that CIA has not permitted the release of the most incriminating information, and that we are still awaiting some confirmation of the essential facts, is hardly Stone’s fault. To expect more would, one suspects, be tantamount to believing in Santa Claus, or in the non-existence of an American Empire.

Based primarily on On the Trail of the Assassins, Jim Garrison’s memoir of prosecuting what is to date (and a half-century ago) the single case brought against any of the conspirators and on Jim Marrs’ Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy, Stone and Zachary Sklar fashioned a fiercely cinematic examination of the assassination and its largely transparent official cover-up that so enraged the Establishment it was attacked while it was being shotTime magazine even published a critique on an early script, making blatantly false claims about its content. That more than slightly hysterical response only intensified when the picture opened big; its success must have truly unnerved CIA and its plants in the American press. Pat Dowell, the film critic for The Washingtonian, found a mere 34-word capsule review killed for being, however brief, positive, and even The Advocate piled on; I am ashamed to admit their screaming headline (“JFK: Pinko Fags Offed the Prez!”) kept me from the theatres in 1991… and from Stone’s work generally, for years.

Well, it was my loss. And I should have realized, once nearly every mainstream media outlet in America inveigled against the movie, that Stone was touching a very raw nerve. He and Sklar were criticized even by dedicated assassination researchers like Mark Lane, who did not seem to understand that a feature is not a documentary. And while it is true that they conflated some characters, made composites of several participants (the racist male prostitute played by Kevin Bacon, for example, is based on a number of real figures)†, speculated — as all assassination journalists, given no official confirmation, must — and (horrors!) invented dialogue, that is what filmmakers do. One can reasonably nit-pick over a scene such as the one in which the terrified David Ferrie (Joe Pesci) says more than one imagines he would to Garrison’s team, but to dismiss the picture entirely because a dramatist dramatized is to admit you know nothing about movies, and understand less. But Stone’s critics make up their own rules where he is concerned… that is, when they don’t ignore his pictures entirely.

There are scenes in JFK that are among his finest work: The long sequence with “X” (Donald Sutherland), the former operative based on L. Fletcher Prouty and John Newman, is, in its melding of dialogue and music (by John Williams) and its gripping juxtaposition of images, the work of an absolute master. One can reasonably quarrel with Kevin Costner as Garrison, an imposition, one assumes, by Warner Bros. as box-office insurance. It’s a role rather beyond not merely his limited abilities but his physiognomy and vocal timbre; Garrison sounded more like Gregory Peck than anyone else and was of comparable and imposing physical stature. Costner isn’t bad by any means, merely conventional. He gets exceptional support, moreover, from the large cast, which includes Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw, Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, Sissy Spacek as Liz Garrison, Edward Asner as Guy Banister, Brian Doyle-Murray as Jack Ruby, John Candy as Dean Andrews, Jr. and Jack Lemmon as Jack Martin. Michael Rooker, Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight and Jay O. Sanders play members of Garrison’s legal team, John Larroquette shows up as a lightly disguised version of Johnny Carson, and Garrison himself appears, briefly, as Earl Warren. Robert Richardson was the cinematographer, and the kinetic editing was the work of Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia. JFK is most effectively enjoyed in its 206-minute “Director’s Cut.” Appropriately, the most disturbing moments in the picture stem from Stone’s use of the Zapruder footage which, however altered by the CIA, is still horrific after 55 years. As Richard Belzer is fond of reminding people, whatever one’s feelings about John F. Kennedy, or how and why and by whom he was killed, a man died that day in Dallas — horribly.


nixon richard-helms
Nixon (1995) Criminally ignored on its release — when not slammed outright, by the same chorus of professional neoliberals and CIA plants who reflexively ganged up to “discredit” JFK in 1991 — this Oliver Stone picture, written by Stone with Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, is less a conventional “biopic” than an epic meditation on post-war American political realities, using as its anchor that most Shakespearean of Presidents. (Much of the idiot criticism the movie engendered centered on Stone’s audacious depiction of Richard M. Nixon as a multi-faceted human being… the first obligation of the dramatist.) It’s a film that looks better with each viewing, particularly in Strone’s home-video “Director’s Cut,” which among other things restored what to me seems its most absolutely essential sequence, between Anthony Hopkins’ RMN and a silkily foreboding Sam Waterston as the CIA Director Richard Helms — the single segment of the picture that most directly addresses Stone’s central thesis: That the President, whoever he (or in future, she) might be, is a temporary employee of a National Security State so overweening, and so powerful, it is a beast with its own sinister momentum, over which the Commander in Chief has no recourse, control, defense, or power. I initially sensed in its excision from the 1995 theatrical release the fine Italian hand of the Walt Disney Company; Elaine May once observed that “They” always know what your movie is about — the very reason you wanted to make it — because it’s what they make you cut first. I have since heard Stone admit that he cut the Helms sequence from Nixon on his own volition and not, as I assumed, due to studio interference. I respectfully submit that he was wrong; that single scene is what Stone’s Nixon is really all about.


* Ten, if you don’t watch Stone’s two Prologues detailing the last years of the 19th century and the earlier years of the 20th — and you should; they provide the necessary context to what follows. There is also on the Blu-Ray set a splendid, long colloquy between Stone and Tariq Ali that is not to be missed.

†One of them, Perry Russo — who was not a hustler — was Garrison’s star witness. Interestingly, Russo appears nowhere in JFK.

Text copyright 2019 by Scott Ross

See also:
https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/the-impossibility-of-reason-platoon-1986/

Delirus liberalis, or: How They Learned to Stop Thinking and Love the State

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By Scott Ross

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” — CIA Director William Casey to Ronald Reagan, February 1981

The late Mr. Casey may rest in peace. His dream has, at long last, become reality. And if the entire American public is not fooled all of the time, yet there is a substratum which, as Jacques Abbadie (not Abraham Lincoln) noted, can always be counted upon to be deceived. They adhere to no particular party or system of belief, but for the moment let us examine their allegedly “left” polity, otherwise known as the American liberal, who is in no way left and, in the things that matter most, is in most ways wrong. And for any conservative who might be snickering at that statement, may I say that I am not addressing your all too similar follies because you habitually make them so large, and so obvious; liberals get away with the same and worse because they’re more hidden, and better protected.

The state of American liberal delirium is circumscribed at the present time, as it has been for the past three years, largely by its unifying causus belli: A hatred of and for the current President of the United States so overmastering that not even similar loathings for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and his dark spawn can compare. Indeed, those particular lords of the flies are now looked upon with giddy nostalgia by the (seemingly) permanently deranged liberal class, as witness the recent fawning over the fag-bashing George W. Bush by Celebrity Lesbians Ellen DeGeneris and Rosie “Queen of Nice” O’Donnell, both of whom in their unhinged hatred for Donald Trump conveniently overlook that previous President’s desire for a Constitutional amendment permanently enshrining into law the inability of same-sex couples in America to marry. “If only we had him in the White House again!” goes the cry of Delirus liberalis. So he can cobble up and get enacted something even worse than the USA-PATRIOT Act, presumably.

bush-degeneres-2-2000

So Fun Time for narcissist sociopaths.

Just as all too many panicked Americans in 2001 willingly and against the advice of Dr. Franklin surrendered what few tatters of America’s once-valued demi-democracy still existed for a promise of “security” for the sinisterly-named “Homeland” — when outside one of Dick Chaney’s fever dreams did Americans ever refer to the United States as their “homeland”? — so too now do many of them on the (again, supposed) “left” sing the praises of the very people who insisted we give those liberties up, in the name of something they call National Security but which increasing numbers of my fellow countrymen and women are belatedly realizing is a well-entrenched (since 1947) and all too permanent National Security State. As such, it does not care who the President is, or from which party he (or, eventually, she) hails; it knows it is the enduring actual government, each succeeding President a temporary employee only. As someone once said of the 35th occupant of the Oval Office, Jack Kennedy was the last man who thought he was actually President… right up to the moment someone’s bullet — Lucien Sarti’s, possibly — blew his brains out the back of his head.

The question Delirus liberalis never asks him-or-herself, of course, is how the hated Trump got into office to begin with. As with their putative leader, the equally deranged, Chardonnay-besotted, Hillary Clinton, they know there is blame to be apportioned: To Jill Stein, or Bernie Sanders, or Julian Assange, or Susan Sarandon, or Jimmy Dore, or Vladimir Putin, or those twelve (or was it 16?) rather pathetic Russian ‘bots trolling for social media cash after the election. The new target for opprobrium changes monthly, sometimes weekly; only Clinton herself is, like a Pope, entirely without blame. Or should I say, “the Clintons themselves”? For Delirus liberalis, the infallibility of one embraces that of the other, as it does of any Democrat, however reactionary, pathologically prevaricating, demonstrably bigoted or terminally corrupt. Thus, it was not disgust with a quarter-century of the neoliberal policies embraced first by the Clintons, then successively by Gore, Kerry, Pelosi, Schumer, Biden and Obama that led many to consider, on the left, Sanders and, on the right, Trump; rather, it was some flaw within those voters themselves (the sexists.) There was at least one 2016 candidate whom polls consistently showed would most likely have beaten Trump in the general election, but as Jimmy Dore often notes, “Democrats would rather lose to a Republican than win with a progressive.” Or, as say, Democrats could fuck up a wet-dream.

Thus, too, when a Democrat — Schumer — is interviewed on national television by the increasingly demented Rachel Maddow (nice to see so many of my Lesbian sisters shilling at $30,000-a day for the war machine and the shadow government) and says of Trump’s problems with the permanent deep-state, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” and says this, moreover, not in disgust or anger but smugly and with favor… and scores of liberal Democrats nod their heads and mutter the new millennial equivalent of, “Yes, Lord!”… we are being given a message, and not a subliminal one: “We approve.” It does not upset, or anger, or disgust them, that the (un)natural order of things in America now is that if any President attempts actually to govern the nation as he sees fit he will be met with instant opposition by CIA and NSA, not to mention their dirty little brother, the FBI. Yet I will state without fear of contradiction that this seeming complacency is wholly partisan; if a Republican Senator had made the same observation Schumer did of a Democrat president, Delirus liberalis would be screaming its coiffured little head off. But then, as is widely if not universally known…

Bad stuff is only bad when Republicans do it

Do you think for a moment that, if the President of the United States is not permitted to act as he sees fit, any of the rest of us will be?


The complete derangement of Delirus liberalis, however, the frighteningly debilitating sickness that has so completely eaten away their cognitive abilities, demands the worst, as long as Trump is perceived as its victim. Thus: A CIA-based operation, willingly (and I daresay more than eagerly) entered into by the Hillary-dominated DNC, which began during the 2016 elections, and with the active collusion of the Obama Justice Department, MI-5 and the Ukraine — a breakaway Russian “republic” set up by American intelligence fiat and governed by corrupt neo-Nazis — arrayed against the putative Republican candidate for President transforms, more or less instantaneously following the November election, from a plot against Trump, centered in Ukraine, to a campaign against Clinton, emanating from Moscow. But then, Madame C. knew her apples; the first law of Machiavellian politics being to deflect from your own peccadilloes (one’s Foundation benefiting from the uranium deal with Russia you orchestrated as Secretary of State) and to then tar your opponent with them (Putin was helping Trump!) It helps, of course, to have the entire shadow government’s numerous intelligence networks (CIA, FBI, NSA, Justice) to create the fantasy and the corporate press, which owes its very octopus-like existence to an Act cunningly devised by your husband in 1996, to promote it.

Cruise meets with Ukrianian president via Eliot

Ukraine president and all-around good guy Volodymyr Zelensky meets Impeachment Emissary Tom Cruise. (Does Cruise know Zelensky is a neo-Nazi? Does Volody know Tommy is a… whatever the hell it is he is?)

But where, the fiction having grown, as they say in the Show Business, legs, do you go from there? To a succession of shady investigations and specious hearings conducted by a cast of vaguely sentient ghouls left over from the Reagan and Bush era. And here is where the true worth, and cost, of Delirus liberalis is accounted, as a phalanx of former hippies and assorted agitators now embrace the Establishment as embodied by salivating would-be mass-killers (“We came… we saw… he died! Hahahahahahahaha!“) whose sole virtue, to the alleged liberal “feminist,” whose actual viewpoint as expressed in 2016 is in fact the very essence of sexism, is that she comes equipped with a vagina; and Law ‘n’ Order in the form of the various former and current CIA and FBI directors and general prevaricators who almost giddily lied us into a war whose age will soon permit it legal access to alcohol: John Brennan, Michael Hayden, James Comey, Robert Mueller… The very embodiment of the forces that wiretapped law-abiding Americans seeking only legal redress of grievance and the exercise of their rights to free speech; infiltrated peaceful protest groups and encouraged rioting and other forms of violence; broke the heads of said groups; murdered in their turn JFK, MLK, RFK, Fred Hampton and, in all likelihood, Malcolm X; overthrew elected governments across the globe and engineered the murders of their leaders; killed untold millions of men, women and children throughout the Middle East (and made refugees of millions more); who have in short exhibited for over a century a snarling hatred of, and intolerance for, all forms of democracy. Behold! These… these… are the heroes of the new liberal “Resistance.”

Or, to put it in terms Delirus liberalis can understand: It is as if someone re-wrote the climax of Return of the Jedi so that in the end Luke Skywalker decided to go ahead and team up with Darth Vader because he hated the Emperor too.

There have been times over the past three or four years when reading, listening to, or just hearing accounts of deranged Baby Boomers and other alleged liberals cheering FBI/CIA liars and psychopaths as heroes, gnashing their teeth at the President’s stated intention of pulling U.S. troops out of manufactured Hell-holes like Syria, all but demanding America go on promoting and engaging in the continuance of war and mass killings abroad, and praying for an economic collapse that can be blamed on Trump has made me feel as if I have changed places with Alice. They want suffering. They want killings. The more of you (not them) who suffer, the happier it will make them.

A Stanton collapse

That isn’t a statement of political ideology; it’s sadism on a world scale.

Well, as I’ve also often said: Scratch a liberal, find a fascist.

In the universe of the Boomer, ca. 2019, whatever opposes Donald Trump is an absolute good. He could issue a Universal Declaration of Love tomorrow, and they would demand a corresponding document upholding the right to hatred; he rules them more completely than if he really was the dictator they believe him to be. And he knows it. However idiotic they think him, he is a past master at manipulation: One early-A.M. Tweet and they’re set for the day, or the week; they can then be counted upon instantly to gibber and screech like a pack of howler monkeys in a rain forest, led by Her Royal Derangement, the mad cow known as Rachel. Their obsession with Trump is so perfect, so total, that he knows he can distract them anytime, anyplace, with just a few jumbled sentences. A single, bloated Trump Tweet and “The Resistance” will, as it has for the last three years, continue to ignore his overseeing the largest upward redistribution of wealth in American history, his presiding over record Defense Department budgets (which the Democrats cravenly and greedily voted for) and arms-sales abroad, his tacit permitting of economic warfare waged, and coups attempted, against sovereign nations and legitimately elected officials; they will instead gnash their collective teeth over some triviality, or playground insult, which they will return in kind. Trump is the charmless Harold Hill of American politics, and they are all — all — his willing chumps.

Larson E. Whipsnade would be proud.

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man poster

In which the voluble Mr. Dukenfield portrayed the carny con-man Larsen E. Whipsnade: “Never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.”

Somehow, in a 21 September piece on Salon.com, David Masciotra managed to get this past the DNC- (if not indeed CIA-) sponsored shills who run the website for which he writes: “In a nonfiction adaptation of American Horror Story, Bill Maher, nominally a member of the liberal ‘Resistance,’ [emphasis mine] led his audience and guests in applauding and paying tribute to the FBI and CIA. To her credit, panelist (and rival talk-show host) Krystal Ball remained stoic, refusing to bring her hands together or smile. But even she allowed the moment to pass without noting the obvious: The CIA and the FBI are two of the most anti-democratic and violent forces in the history of our country.”

With Masciotra’s description of Maher as his show’s “admittedly clever host, who can often amuse, enlighten and nauseate in the same string of sentences,” I would strongly demur. I can’t recall having laughed at anything Maher has ever said, only at something said of and to him (by Martin Short, as Jiminy Glick.) Much less has he ever enlightened me. But he has certainly caused me nausea, often. And I should hope by now that the many neoliberal pronouncements by the “comedian” in question would convince anyone of even modest intelligence of — his atheism notwithstanding — Maher’s deep and abiding conservatism. More to the point, however, is that Maher learned something from having his network show canceled after a perfectly reasonable remark by him concerning September 11, 2001 was called “treasonous” by people who have no more notion of what the word means than they possess any real love for free speech. (Except, of course, their own…) He learned to stroke his audience’s prejudices. He learned to milk it for easy applause. He learned how to seem controversial while promoting the Establishment’s points of view on any given issue. He has learned, as Quentin Crisp used to say of Existentialists, to swim with the tide, but faster.

The “Make Love, Not War” crowd of 1969 has become, with rather predictable alacrity, a group un-fazed in the main by the indecency of America’s seemingly perpetual need to shed blood abroad. Peace is a movement for which they toil not, neither do they spin. That was, like, so yesterday, man. In the span of my lifetime my nation, which values peace above all virtues and conditions, has involved itself in no fewer than 37 overt wars (as opposed to Christ only knows how many covert), nearly a third of them just since the beginning of the new century. For older Boomers, the figure is still higher. Yet where, amidst the incessant babble of the chattering classes, is the voice opposing war? Alas, the Medea Benjamins and Brian Beckers of America are few, and we have become a culture in which all and sundry — very much including old 1960s anti-Vietnam War Boomers — must now reflexively whine, “Thank you for your service” to any vet we come across or risk the sort of freezing contempt that met me when I refused to stand for the National Anthem — at a goddamn college glee club concert — in 1990.

While the “Resistance” carries placards supporting the likes of the un-indicted serial criminals James Clapper and James Comey — imagine  American liberals in 1973 so deranged by their hatred of Nixon that they began marching in support of H.R. Haldeman — the Trump Administration meanwhile quietly continues giving obscene amounts of our treasure to arms manufacturers to support the seven wars Barack Obama managed to carve out of the two he inherited and to bomb civilians in Syria and elsewhere at the behest of Our Friends, the Saudis. That the “Resistance” says nothing about. (Indeed, the Democrats have voted for all of Trump’s obscene military expenditures.) Why? One can only posit two related explanations: 1) That their loathing for Donald J. Trump swamps all other interests, passions or human concerns; or 2) that they secretly approve of protracted war and mass-killing.

I am not fully persuaded that both are not equally true.

Senile Aggitation Boomers

Thanks to Eliot M. Camarena for this.

Certainly ABC News approves of endless conflict. Having repeatedly aired footage the network claimed was of civilians being slaughtered in Syria because Donald Trump ordered a troop withdrawal but which was subsequently proven to be of a gun demonstration in Kentucky, are there demands from the “Resistance” that such naked  and appalling manipulation of the airways be investigated? That the news executives and reporters who perpetrated this arrant hoax be removed from their jobs, charged, and tried or at the very least black-balled from their industry? Assertions that such craven and partisan assaults on the very notion of a free press are more damaging to American journalism, and to America itself, than anything Trump did by withdrawing combat troops? Outside of progressive YouTube channels such as Ben Swann’s and media outlets like that scourge of Delirus liberalis, RT America, not a peep.  Or a Tweet.


The latest hobbyhorse for Delirus liberalis is the whistle-blower… but only so long as the whistle being blown is on Trump. While a (so far) anonymous CIA hack is celebrated by liberals, his protection from the big bad President their gravest concern, a genuinely heroic whistle-blower, one who has both served her time and been pardoned, sits in a Virginia prison cell being fined $1,000 a day, not for any crime she has committed but for refusing to testify against a publisher, one with whom she had no direct involvement. Even if the charges on which she is being held were not so flagrantly anti-democratic,  indeed fascistic… even were she in better physical health than she currently is… Chelsea Manning would be worthy of our veneration and our support, yet the “liberal” media is, and liberals in general are, when not actively pillorying her, utterly silent.

Ah, but… Manning, you see, assisted WikiLeaks and, by extension, Julian Assange, the most hated figure in the rogue’s gallery of Delirus liberalis, despised in a way even the bile engendered by Vladimir Putin cannot match, for in the eyes of liberal Democrats, Assange’s revelations about their uncrowned queen cost her the election. It did not occur to them, of course, to be outraged that she was proved so base, corrupt, heartless and cruel; that she had two faces, only one of which she was going to show to the likes of them; that she controlled the DNC, and thus the 2016 Democratic Party elections; that it was she and her husband, her daughter and their phony foundation that gained most from the sale to Russia of Uranium One. No, they were, and are, engaged in a collective conniption, a massive, volcanic overflow of pique, because Assange exposed her.

And what of Julian Assange himself, speaking of whistle-blowers? Where the cheers of support for his exposing deliberate murder of civilians by the American armed forces? Where the cries of outrage at his patently illegal arrest and incarceration, in solitary confinement, in one of the worst prisons in Britain, or at his almost certain extradition, trial and imprisonment in America? Or the howls of anguish for young Seth Rich, who may or may not have been Assange’s DNC connection and who was, whatever the case, murdered for no other discernible reason? What of a true American hero, Edward Snowden, forced to leave his home and country because he cared more about Americans, and privacy, and democracy, than he did about the pleasurable trappings of his employment? For these whistle-blowers, and others, who have acted out of a love of truth and liberty, a commitment beyond themselves, no word spoken except to condemn, no passion offered but vilest opprobrium. For CIA agents who rush to tell, not their superiors, as John Kiriakou did when he adhered to Agency rules (and ended up in jail anyway) but the corporate media, anguished cries of, “We must protect the whistle-blower!”

Unlike Manning, Snowden, Rich, Kiriakou or Bill Binney, however, Assange is a journalist — or at the very least, a publisher. And unlike ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and MS-NBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post, not a single one of Assange’s claims has later been proven to be false.

Naturally, Delirus liberalis cannot suffer him to live.

wikileaks-julian-assange-cover-2010

What a difference a decade makes. Note Zakaria’s headline. Who in the corporate media believes this now, or will say so?

Finally, while I am on the subject of journalism, or what passes for it, this, concerning Senator Richard Blumenthal‘s terrifying new bill proposing to define who may call him-or-herself a journalist: “Blumenthal cited a fake video depicting President Trump carrying out a violent attack on members of the news media as he again called on Congress to make it a federal crime for anyone to attack or threaten a member of the news media doing their job.” Nowhere in this shoddily-written piece by Forbes is there any illumination for its readers of what is in Blumenthal’s bill. Yet liberals are now cheering the Democrat Senator’s proto-fascist proposal, which would permit the government to decide who qualifies as a journalist, and who does not. Who, in other words, deserves the protection of the First fucking Amendment to the goddamned Constitution.

For those who require a refresher course, the Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

As my friend Eliot M. Camarena rightly notes in his most recent blog essay: “The First Amendment is all the protection journalists need AND NEOFASCISTS LIKE SENATOR BLUMENTHAL KNOW THIS or he would not promulgate a law giving government the UNCONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY to decide who the First Amendment applies to […] Hey, you infantile, certifiable twits who satisfy your Cosplay egos by branding yourself ‘The Resistance’: Face the fact that you refuse to accept that a corrupt, obese, alcoholic, belligerent, old lady who long ago earned the sobriquet ‘Congenital Liar’, lost the 2016 election. This rage, and your continuous tantrum, blinds you to EVERYTHING else. Now you want to further gut the Bill of Rights because you don’t like the way Trump mocks journalists. Well done, you sap-heads! You have now truly become what Stalin called USEFUL IDIOTS – doing the work of the very fascists you so loudly CLAIM TO OPPOSE.”

Meanwhile, ABC News — a hive of the very sorts of journalists from whom the United States government need have no fear whatever — tells you civilians are being slaughtered in Syria, and has the film to prove it.

Somewhere in the ether, William Casey is smiling.

Text copyright 2019 by Scott Ross

Related
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https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/why-i-am-not-a-liberal/
https://scottross79.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/keep-gloating/