Movie Notes: F 11/9

I finally watched Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9, and it’s actually quite good. It’s clear now why the movie wasn’t very successful. It is nowhere near, in the degree of the requisite Trump obsession, to what one is expected to demonstrate. And Moore doesn’t adopt the narrative about 63 million of racists-sexists-neonazis who elected Trump either. I guess, Moore just can’t be the kind of person who shits on “the stupid proles with their unrefined culinary tastes.” And I like him for it.

Instead, Moore argues that the fault lies with the Republican and Democrat politicians who are all hypocrites and liars. People got fed up with them and either didn’t vote at all or cast a protest vote for Trump whom they liked for knocking down the nasty characters like Jeb.

Even worse than Jeb, however, the movie portrays Obama. The guy is the true evildoer in the film because Trump, at least, never pretended to be what he isn’t.

Much of the film doesn’t mention Trump at all. There is a half-hearted nod to the theory that Trump is “just like Hitler” in the last 20 minutes but at the heart of the movie lies Moore’s favorite topic of the oppressions experienced by working people and their attempts to organize politically. Not organize against Trump. But organize against any lackey of capital, be it Trump, Obama, or anybody else.

I actually agree completely with Moore in his analysis of why Trump won. I don’t agree with his proposed solutions, which he sees as AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and the Parkland kids. I believe that the situation we are living through is such that well-intentioned, bumbling blank slates of human beings can make things infinitely worse.

I very strongly believe that what we need most of all right now is to identify the problem. The problem in question is that capitalism has entered into a completely new stage of development, which has very new consequences. And we need new solutions to these new developments.

But the people who will figure this out can’t be well-meaning wide-eyed innocents who have no idea that there are any differences between the capitalism of today and that of the Henry Ford era. Childishness might look endearing in its contrast to Trump’s cynicism but you don’t let toddlers perform surgery on patients, no matter how cute they look.

Still, the movie is not bad. The opening sequence is made with great artistry. The music track, the editing – it’s all beyond reproach.

I probably would have hated this movie two years ago but there’s been such an incessant pounding of racists-sexists-Russiancollusions-pissingprostitites that Moore actually sounds very refreshing with his refusal to do the kind of crap that the Rachel Maddows of the world have been visiting on us for two years.

I’m Too PC

I just finished reviewing an article whose author accuses me of… being too much in thrall to political correctness. I feel very misunderstood. The author is clearly Hispanic because he seems very unaware of what the real SJW pro-PC types are like if he mistakes me for one.

(I recommended the article for publication because the research is great, the ideas are fresh, and the writing is superb. It’s the first one I recommended for publication in a year.)

Latin Americanists

Are there any Latin Americanists here? Where do you like to publish? Which is a good place with a quick turnaround that accepts articles in English? The topic is Central America.

I’m so excited to be one of you, even if it’s for a short time. (I mean, I don’t know how long it’s going to last. I tend to be fickle.)

Justin Trudeau Is Corrupt

I thought Trudeau was nothing but a cheap poseur but he’s actually corrupt. He’s being accused by the Attorney General of consistently and aggressively pressuring her to stop prosecuting a large company in Quebec for bribery and other crimes in Lybia.

What a stupid, useless bastard.

A Weird Way to Be a Spy

“The United States reiterates its unwavering position: Crimea is Ukraine and must be returned to Ukraine’s control,” Pompeo said, denouncing “the worsening repression by Russia’s occupation regime in Crimea.”

This is from yesterday. Yeah, Trump is totally a Russian spy who’s giving Putin everything he wants. That makes great sense. Let’s keep looking for more evidence.

Language Observation

I haven’t published anything in Spanish for at least 4 years. But it’s still a lot easier for me to write in Spanish. I sat down yesterday at nine am and wrote 800 words in a little over 3 hours. In English, it would take 4 days of work to do that. And it would still need a bunch of editing.

The reason is that long, wordy, bombastic sentences are normal to me. They transmit how I think because they are very similar to what’s considered a good writing style in Russian. As a writer, I feel more at home in Spanish even though my vocabulary is a lot more limited than in English. Even when I speak my own language, I use very long sentences with several subordinate clauses.

The Limit

Did you, folks, see the disgraceful performance of Rep. Rashida Tlaib at the Cohen hearing yesterday? I can’t imagine who voted for this piece of objectionable ridiculousness but that short statement she made insulting a black person and calling her a prop and then trying to weasel out of the situation was the absolute limit.

Cohen Testimony

So… no Russian collusion, no subornation of perjury, no requests to lie to Congress, no trip to Prague, no love child even but Trump is vain and he said mean things. And there’s “something odd about back and forth praise with Putin.”

Wow, huge revelations. Totally worth waiting two years for this earth-shattering twist.

Smart Book Marketing

Smart authors who start a series (and in some genres, like mystery of legal thrillers, it’s all about the series) drop the first book in the new series on Amazon for free. It can be part of Amazon Firsts, for instance.

This gets them instant exposure to readers they’d never get otherwise because nobody wants to waste $10 on a book by an unknown writer that might turn out to be bad. But for free people don’t mind giving it a try. Plus, the free books get at least a couple thousand reviews, which attracts more readers. And after that, the authors’ fate is in their own hands because if the first novel is good, people will buy the rest of the series.

This gives writers incredible freedom that they never had before. If readers don’t come back for the second book in the series, it’s not because the critics didn’t notice it, the publishers didn’t promote it, or you have rotten luck. It’s because you can’t get readers to stay interested.

This week I discovered Mike Omer’s Zoe Bentley series this way. I would have never bought the book but since I got it for free, why not try it? The book turned out to be great. Serial killers! FBI profilers! A cute agent called Tatum! Who takes care of his elderly grandpa! What’s not to love? So now I pre-ordered the second book in the series.

Literary agents, publishing marketing, book tours – it’s all dead now. And that’s great.

California Destroys History

I finally found something important on FB that I want to make public:

The California State University system (which has over 400,000 undergrads on 23 campuses) and CA community college system (which has between 1-2 million students on over 110 campuses, about 25% of all cc students in the US) are moving toward eliminating their US History and World History course requirements. If the reforms pass, it’s unlikely that the vast majority of CA college students will ever study any pre-20th century history in college.

Here is an excerpt from letter of protest written by CSU professors:

Last summer, a surprise Executive Order by CSU Chancellor, Timothy White, gutted the teaching of World History and Western Civilization for tens of thousands of CSU students. At a campus like San Diego State University, near the US-Mexico border, the order means that students will no longer be required, or even encouraged, to study the history of any place outside the US.
This week, the CSU rolled out a similar plan for American History. Working behind closed doors and skirting open meeting laws for nearly two years, a CSU “task
force on general education” has prepared a plan to eviscerate the state’s requirement in
“American Institutions,” which has been the backbone of US history and civic education in California for almost 60 years. In short strokes, the proposal cuts the requirement for civic education by half and severs what’s left from the study of history. Imagine a course on Environmental Regulation as the substitute for U.S. History and Government. If the proposal is implemented, no CSU students will be required to study the history of any nation, including their
own.

Because nations are irrelevant. History is irrelevant. All that matters is the all-engulfing now.

This is not a bug, this is a sine qua non of rolling over for global capital. Nations don’t exist without a widely shared knowledge of their history (says not me but every scholar of nationalism). A feeling of shared pride in the nation’s history is another factor without which a nation doesn’t exist. An imagined community that is a nation is held together by the glue of this pride and a shared sense of historical continuity. Again, I’m not the one who’s saying this. There is a bibliography from here to the moon on this.

What we are seeing in California is a calculated move to erode the foundations of the national identity. The only winner in this game is global capital.

We need to know what’s happening and understand reasons for it. This is a consolidated ideological campaign that has a clear purpose. This sad development will not be covered anything like ridiculous details about payments to prostitutes but we need to stay inform. Please share this information with anybody you can think of.