Rethinking President Grant

I don’t link much to National Review anymore, but the resurrection of the popular image of Ulysses S. Grant has been a cause of mine since I wrote a bad term paper about it in college.

A pertinent fact: Grant was one of the more popular presidents of his era, winning two lopsided elections and very nearly getting the nomination for a third term in 1880.

When you combine the popular vote with Professor Michael McDonald’s historical approximations of the turnout rate of eligible voters, Grant in 1868 won 42.6 percent of all eligible voters, the highest proportion in U.S. history; his 1872 reelection ranked sixth

Check the whole article out.

“I Don’t Work for the G-d-Damn GOP”

Jonah Goldberg, explaining why he’s not voting Trump.

This is what I’ve been saying to myself for the last month or so. I don’t owe the GOP my vote. They don’t own my franchise, I do. I not only have the right, I have the duty as a citizen not to give my legal assent to something that displeases me. And if Hillary wins, so goddamn be it. But I live in a state that hasn’t given it’s EC votes to a Republican since I was 8 years old. There is no purpose to me holding my nose for the Great Orange Hope.

And it must be pointed out that for all their gleeful trollery, the alt-right crowd has a point. What the hell has the conservative movement conserved? What the hell has the GOP actually accomplished when they’ve been given the keys? I mean, aside from holding firm on the Second Amendment, which is really the one area of successful pushback we’ve had in the last several decades.

I’m tired of the charade of voting these clowns in, so they can find the most strategic way to only hold the left to half of what it wants, for now. I’m tired of them railroading the actual, committed conservatives so they can elect another Bush scion or sellout. Trump is what they deserve for playing that game too long.

Frankly, the GOP can go screw itself with an endive fork.

Read the whole thing.

Trumbo Should Not Be Seen By Anyone

As my wife belongs to SAG, we get SAG screeners. One of them is the new Bryan Cranston movie Trumbo, a biopic of one of the Hollywood Ten. I’ve decided that I’m not watching it. Yes, that’s right, I’m judging a movie before I’ve seen it, phillistine that I am.

Here is why:

  1. How many Blacklist pietas Does Hollywood Need to Make? Joe McCarthy is dead. The blacklist is over. It was over almost as soon as it began. Anyone who was aware of the blacklist while it was happening is old enough to be collecting Social Security. So why does Hollywood need to keep going back to this well? Are they this desparate to testify to their martyr’s righteousness and political relevance?Keep in mind, this schtick whs already become risible, and was so even a decade ago. Back in 2005, Iowahawk responded to the ocean of self-congratulation released by Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck with a satirical stab at how Hollywood was planning to rebound from terrible box office numbers that year with more smug, preachy dreck, such as:

    Silenced Wood: George Clooney stars and directs in this drama about the climate of fear among ventriloquists during radio’s notorious Charlie McCarthy era.
    Fearful Silence: Courageous What’s My Line? contestant (Leonardo DiCaprio) refuses to answer panelist questions in this gameshow drama set against the McCarthy-blacklist era. With William H. Macy as Bennett Cerf and Kevin Spacey as Kitty Carlisle.
    Fearful Deadly Fear: Blacklisted 1950’s screenwriter Damon Runyan (Tim Robbins) writes a secret screenplay about the the McCarthy-era blacklists, in this 1950’s blacklist drama set against the background of the McCarthy era blacklists.
    Silence 1984: Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris interviews the survivors of Hollywood’s notorious Reagan era ‘Year of Fear,’ when only three McCarthy-themed movies were released.

    How many different cuts of the same bloody shirt are they going to wave?

  2. Trumbo was No Martyr for Free Speech. Ron Radosh, co-author (with his wife, Allis) of Red Star over Hollywood, has documented that Dalton Trumbo had no problem silencing others for ideological reasons. He was more than prepared to use his influence to prevent films and books that attacked the Communist Party from being distributed.

    As he explained in 1954 to a fellow blacklisted writer, the Communist party had a “fine tradition . . . that whenever a book or play or film is produced which is harmful to the best interests of the working class, that work and its author should and must be attacked in the sharpest possible terms.”

    Goose. Sauce. Gander. Some assembly required.

  3. Even Trumbo got over the Blacklist. According to Radosh, Trump broke ranks with the Party – and the orthodox narrative of the blacklist —  not long after the blacklist went down. In a 1958 unpublished article, he contradicted much of the established story on why the blacklists happened:

    He concluded that the blacklist took place not only because of the Committee, but because of the antics of the CP itself. In this article, he wrote that “the question of a secret Communist Party lies at the very heart of the Hollywood blacklist,” which is why Americans believed the Communists had something to hide. They lived in the United States, not Stalin’s U.S.S.R., and should have openly proclaimed their views and membership so that the American people could judge them for what they believed. Instead, they formed secret Leninist cells. The CPUSA should have been open and its members all known, he wrote, or the Communists in Hollywood should “not have been members at all.”

    Moreover, Trumbo also wrote that his fellow Red screenwriters failed to get work not because they were blacklisted as Communists, but because they were “mediocrities,” who failed to show “competence, ability [and] craftsmanship.” And as for the informers shown as pitiful reactionaries in the movie, he acknowledged that many of them in fact testified against the Communists because the Party tried to “meddle with the ideological content” of their screenplays, which gave them good reason to oppose the Party.

If the new film covered any of this, it would be a welcome reappraisal of the old tired morality play. Since it doesn’t, it’s selective reading of history can be dismissed as mere propaganda. As P.J. O’Rourke put it, the dog is dead but the tail still wags.

185e5_ORIG-cool_story_bro_4

If Government is Banditry, Anarchy is Impossible

Within Kevin Williamson’s takedown of the mindlessness of bureacracy (And please, read the whole thing), lies this interesting nugget:

Over the years, economic success and administrative demands eventually transform bands of roving bandits into bands of stationary bandits. One popular theory of the state — one that is pretty well-supported by the historical evidence in the European context — is that this is where governments come from: protection rackets that survive for a long enough period of time that they take on a patina of legitimacy. At some point, Romulus-and-Remus stories are invented to explain that the local Mafiosi have not only historical roots but divine sanction.

This is a useful tonic against species of anarcho-libertarians. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. If anarchy is the natural state in man, anarchy fell to government via banditry. If the Roman Republic, for example, began as ancient mafiosi, then even if we were to achieve blessed anarchy again, there wouold be nothing stopping bandits from setting up new proto-states via violence.

But free humans would band together to resist such bandits. Indeed. And if bandits are a common problem (and why would they not be?) then regular banding together against them would lead to regular organization of force, and rules concerning same, and holy schneikes you have law and a state. For all we know, that’s how the Roman Republic really began.

If liberty requires virtue, anarchy requires sainthood.

Charles Manson, Star Wars, and the Joy of Hate

Kevin Williamson opines on how monsters make the ladies swoon.

The phenomenon of young women falling in love with death-row inmates, particularly with serial killers, is not new: Women flocked to Ted Bundy’s trial — his trial for raping, torturing, and murdering young women as a prelude to acts of necrophilia — and he received stacks of love letters and marriage proposals. Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez got the same treatment, and Anders Behring Breivik might as well be the Beatles during their heyday. An investment banker may have a Ferrari, but the serial killer, the terrorist, and the mass murderer are at the top of the food chain. On the subject of Nazis, P. J. O’Rourke famously joked that “no one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.” Like all good jokes, that is fundamentally true — even if the truth behind it horrifies the nice people at National Public Radio, who remain “bumfuzzled” that a rich and powerful woman would allow herself to be beaten bloody by a psychopathic meathead, repeatedly.

That all sounds thoughtful and probably true. Meanwhile, in nerd-world:

I cannot quite express it, but I feel as though there’s a similar dynamic at work. We Warsies (thanks Trekkies) could not stop complaining about Phantom Menace back in the day, any more than we could stop paying money to go see it. It was almost as though we enjoyed the abuse.

Did World War 1 Cause the Collapse of European Values? Or was it the Other Way Around?

A provacative reversal of conventional wisdom, discussed by John O’Sullivan in a long-but-worthwhile article at National Review.

Kimball raises the question of whether cultural, psychological, artistic, and social movements were, not the consequences of the Great War, but instead among its causes. Without going overboard on this — since the upsetting of Europe’s balance of power by Bismarck’s creation of the German Empire in 1871 and then by Kaiser Wilhelm’s bid for world power outside Europe were plainly important non-cultural causes of 1914 — Kimball makes a persuasive case that 1914 emerged in part from the explosion of radical cultural modernism that was symbolized especially by the riots of enthusiasm and rejection that greeted Diaghilev’s 1913 production of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring ballet.

The earliest signs of this cultural revolution appeared in the late 1880s, but they gathered force and speed in the decade leading to the Great War with the Futurist movement in Italy, vitalism in French philosophy, Vorticism in Britain, Freud and Freudianism in Vienna, the emergence of Picasso and James Joyce, the huge enthusiasm that greeted Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes throughout Western Europe, and much else. Though these are very different phenomena — some self-consciously primitivist, others self-consciously complex and obscure — they all share a common sensibility: a rejection of the traditions, restraints, values, and standards that characterized the Victorian age in favor of spontaneity, instinct, and the breaking of barriers. “We want no part of the past,” said Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, whose “Futurist Manifesto” was inspired in 1909 by a night of reckless driving that ended with the car in a ditch and the poet calling ecstatically for the triumph of speed and machinery and the closing of museums.

This rebelliousness did not long confine itself to aesthetics. It soon manifested itself in a more general rejection of restraints and standards in morality, law, politics, business, and other aspects of life that had previously been regarded as distinct from the cultural realm. And though this sensibility and its accompanying movement spread throughout Europe, it found its most receptive audience in the cultural, bureaucratic, and even military classes of the new German Empire, which, since its foundation in 1871, had shown extraordinary progress both in industrial power and in technical innovation.

I like this thesis because War is something that is willed by people. This is true even of World War I, which often gets treated as some kind of odd political weather event. The ecstatic joy that could be found among people when the war broke out speaks to a yearning to destroy and to seek dominion. Certainly the German military that eagerly destroyed Belgian cathedrals had very little conservatism in it. The trouble with treating nothing as sacred, is that nothing becomes sacred.

It also gibes with the thrust of a book I have long admired, The First Total War by David Bell, which argues that the spirit of the French Revolution brought a totalizing spirit to the Napoleonic Wars and subsequent global conflict. The pre-revolutionary abandonment of values led not to justice but tyranny, not brotherhood but blood.


To be fair, it’s entirely possible that the Kaiser simply wasn’t able to fight the war like he wanted…

View at Medium.com

Everything is Rape Culture

Roofies are rape culture, obviously.

Nail polish that detects roofies? Also Rape Culture. Because women shouldn’t have to “prevent rape”. Men should just not rape.

Because rape denies women agency over their own bodies, anything which gives women a means of protecting or ensuring that agency is also part of rape culture. Like, duh.

Also rape culture: women carrying weapons, mace, or rape whistles to protect themselves from assault. I mean, they’re even called “rape whistles.” How Rape-Culture can you get?

Also rape culture: women fighting back from being raped at all. She should not have to do that. Do you get it, male pigs of the Patriarchy? SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO THAT. Better to close her eyes, think of England, and then call the cops.

Except she shouldn’t call the cops, because cops are totally Rape Culture. Cops arrest men for rape, which is too damn late. The rape has already happened. MEN SHOULD JUST NOT RAPE.

Rape is very bad and should not happen. Until all men know not to rape, all men are guilty of rape. That’s completely logical and not at all reminiscent of the reasoning of racists, right?

It is not the job of women to prevent rape. It is the job of men. The job of women is to talk about rape and demand that men do something about it. Women must forego their patriarchally-imbued sense of self-preservation and responsibility for their own lives and depend upon men to make things safe for them.

Because Feminism.