Friday, 25 September 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. And now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I will be posting full paragraphs or pages of interesting excerpts from those letters every Saturday.

Today, a complete letter from 2004, from Dave Sim to me from 22 June 2004. This starts an interesting exchange between Dave Sim, Douglas A. Jeffery, and myself, which will be reprinted over the next several weeks. As a side note, following this exchange, I would like to begin implementing part B of Dave’s plan for what I’ve been doing: Anyone else interested in sharing their experience/s and/or correspondence with Dave, please contact me at 'seilerjeff [at] hotmail [dot] com', and I will consider posting your content.

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your note of June 14. And thanks as well for putting my name in for an Imprimis subscription. [Ed: Imprimis is the political commentary pamphlet published and circulated by Hillsdale College in Michigan.] What a gratifying breath of fresh air was the speech by Maurice P. McTigue in the April number, particularly in the middle of a federal election campaign here in the Land of the Pink and the Home of the Quavering. I'm enclosing my letter to Douglas A. Jeffery, the Hillsdale College Vice President for External Affairs. This will be the acid test as to whether they get all huffy and indignant about my not believing in gender interchangeability. Just have to wait and see.

Also, thanks for the print-out of the text of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's eulogy for President Reagan. I would be willing to bet that it was Mrs. Reagan's idea. I suspect she was dropped like a hot potato by most of the people she would've considered friends -- which just wouldn't have been in Mr. Mulroney's nature -- when the President fell victim to Alzheimer's. And I think that Mr. Mulroney's staying in touch on a regular basis, justifiably, brought him up to a higher level in her eyes and probably motivated her to give him the signal honour for which any number of Republicans she hadn't heard from in ten years would've traded their eyeteeth. Mr. Mulroney is something of a mixed bag, a labour negotiator by background, which is to say a horse trader of the LBJ school. It can be a valuable quality in government -- we wouldn't have gotten the Free Trade deal without him--but it can also verge on the ridiculous. He was the architect of the failed Meech Lake Accord which was supposed to bring Quebec into the constitutional fold and which largely foundered because it ended up looking like the most overstuffed and half-baked omnibus pork-barrel bill in North American history--as if the American Constitution was rewritten by getting all 50 senators to write down a wish list of demands. Yeah, picture that. He's also a complete and total feminist as can be seen by his references to men and women ("wise men and women") as if they were interchangeable commodities on the world stage. He really thought that passing the reins of government to Kim Campbell would obviate the disasters of his second term and bring about a Canadian golden age. In Canada they are (hopefully were) called Red Tories--socialists who are conservatives, for the most part, in name only who believe that Conservatives can only get elected by imitating Liberals and socialist as closely as possible. The fact that the party was called the Progressive Conservatives for decades is a good clue to how bad the situation had gotten. But there is no question that Brian Mulroney was a good and loyal friend to the United States of America which, unfortunately, makes him very much the exception that proves the rule and, fortunately, guarantees him a place in history.

My views on President Reagan changed a number of times over the years. I was frankly terrified when he choked himself up in his first inaugural address at the line where he said that he was going to conduct his Presidency "as if everything depends on me". On the one hand, very much in the tradition of Truman's "the buck stops here". But "Give 'em hell" Harry wasn't choking back a sob when he said it. It could have been self-exaltation, the same sort of problem that I see when fathers get choked up talking about their wives or their children which could be the first cousin to dementia in the Oval Office and a recipe for disaster. Of course, I was an atheist at the time, so I had no understanding of what it is to have a clear sense that God has given you an opportunity and you’re sort of equal parts grateful and anxious. Grateful for the opportunity and anxious not to screw it up. Not having any notion of anything larger than self, I couldn't, at the time, recognize a response to something larger (or, rather, Something Larger).

There was an expose in... the Atlantic was it?... by, of and about David Stockman, Reagan's budget director in '81, '82? Around there. I went out and bought a copy because I was interested in the notion of slashing big government. I could never understand why it had to be so big and why it had to be involved in so many things. In retrospect I think the article was the result of Stockman trying to raise his own profile in the Administration and his decision-making position by getting himself some mainstream coverage -- Donald Regan would try the same thing a few years later. He thought he was losing the debate on actual budget cutting to those who just wanted to make budget-cutting noises. Ultimately, it cost him his job, but in that debate I was somewhere between Stockman and the President -- which, at the time, I didn’t realize put me way out to pasture as far as liberalism was concerned. Cutting big government just seemed like a good idea for the Democrats, as well, and I couldn’t understand why they were fighting against it so hard. Surely they didn’t believe that it could just be allowed to continue to grow exponentially? And, of couse, I was 100% in favour of firing all the air traffic controllers and decertifying their union. I’m still way, way over on the right when it comes to labour unions. Of course, I was also hanging around with people like Frank Miller and Alan Moore who were way over on the left. A lot of my allegiance to the left, in retrospect, was my preference for fornication above everything with marijuana and pornography fighting to be a close second and my sense that Republicans and Conservatives wanted to take them away from me. I really think that vice is the leading motivator in leading people to the left. You don't accomplish anything, but your odds of picking up a nice piece of ass at a liberal fundraiser are exponentially higher.

An interesting side note. I had discussed the article with my dad and he had mentioned it to his new CEO at Budd Canada -- a Canadian division of Budd Automotive -- who happened to be Hugh Sloan, one of the senior figures in the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal who had lost his job as a result. Mr. Sloan expressed interest in borrowing the magazine, so I gave it to my dad to give to him and, not surprisingly, that was the last I saw of it.

Yes, even as late as the ‘92 Tour, I was still drawing cartoons for alternative newspapers which featured Cerebus as a candidate for President reading newspapers with headlines like "Republicans: New Hope for a Cure". At the same time, in a radio interview in St. Louis in March of that year, I was asked who I favoured for President and I said "Bill Clinton if he divorces Hilary". Over the next number of years, I came to realize that that was the break point with me as far as liberalism was concerned. Liberalism had been subsumed within feminism. If you wanted Bill, you had to accept Hilary as a co-equal. That was the deal-breaker for me and the ensuing eight years only showed me how true that is. If you can't accept women as a co-equivalent gender, then you have no place on the left -- and, actually, only a marginal place on the right. But it is one of the unspoken differences. No liberal or Democrat would dare to disagree with his wife, publicly, about anything. No conservative or Republican would dare to disagree with her husband, publicly, about anything.

Of course, in order to maintain the peace and harmony on the left, which only results from kowtowing to your wife, you have to decouple yourself from reality. At the all-candidates meeting for Kitchener Center -- as safe a Liberal riding as you could hope to find in Canada most days -- when the Independent candidate, a native Indian street kid with the IQ of a snail said that people should vote for him or not vote at all, a good two-thirds of the room applauded. Me and couple of other guys older than I am exchanged "Can you believe this shit?" glances. I heard several women enthusing about him afterwards. Of course, the ballot's still secret, so there's always hope that if Liberal men are only going to have five seconds out of every three or four years alone with truth in the course of their married life, we can only hope that they choose to renew nodding acquaintanceship with it while they're marking the x in the voting booth.

Thanks again for putting my name in for a subscription.



Anthony Kuchar said...

It's ironic what Dave says about Frank Miller here, as he's pretty right-wing nowadays and has been pretty much since 9/11. He fully supported the US action in Afghanistan and Iraq and has an almost palpable distaste for people who participated in the "Occupy Movement" a few years ago, calling them a bunch of "Louts and Rapists"

Personally I disagree with Dave's opinion that a passion for vice leads people to the Left. Sure, it probably does for some people. But at the same time you could make a counter argument that people only move to the Right because they have a puritanical need to stamp out happiness when they see it "for the greater good".

This letter is from 2004 and I would be curious to se if Dave feels the same way now as he did then. I would be really curious about his thoughts on Stephen Harper and this election in Canada we have coming up.

Robbie Foggo said...

After this week's news in the UK about PM David Cameron's alleged activities as a student and the historic tales of GW Bush before he sobered up, vice is certainly not limited to the left.