a new low in topical enlightenment

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Issue #160 (October 3, 2022)

Never Remember
The Democratic Party Storytelling Blues
Joe Carducci

 When there were seventeen major candidates at the start of the Republican presidential nomination debates in August 2015 newsmedia analysis claimed this as evidence the party was broken. Professional politicos believed that Jeb Bush should have been able to muscle out most of those jokers from even entering the race. The experts had Donald Trump as Joker #1 and seemed certain his ascendance only insured their own candidate's ultimate victory. They admired Hillary's swindling of Bernie Sanders in Iowa and the primaries - it proved her mettle, her readiness for the job. It was perhaps not a surprise that the experts desired for their ease a Clinton-Bush contest.

    The experts' humiliation was an existential scalding they would not forget - existential because for materialist progressives there is nothing but politics - they do not exist day-to-day on any higher realm whether poetic, philosophical or spiritual. But oddly, Trump is the least conservative Republican president we've seen, and his voters are moving the party away from free trade doctrine and neo-conservative foreign adventuring and toward American working class concerns. Rather than see this as their victory in the battle of ideas, the Democrats reacted violently in rhetoric and street action, as if their identity had been stolen. There is a strange emptiness in Democratic party rhetoric that may have to do with the logic of state power loosed from the Consititution; it could be another love that dare not speak its name, especially to a free people in a free press. I remember seeing an episode of the old CNN show, "Capital Gang", when the subject became trade policy and the debate wound up entirely between the two right-wingers, Robert Novak and Pat Buchanan. The left-wingers, Mark Shields, Margaret Carlson, and Al Hunt, sat back and watched Novak make the best case for free trade absolutism and Buchanan make the best case for protecting current industries and jobs in America. It seemed confirmation that this Democratic party has left the old New Deal working class behind and is now the party of the New Class, the elite, the culturati.... So much so the party doesn't even realize it courtesy a protective newsmedia. When Trump said on the stump, "I love the poorly educated," I suspect that while most people laughed it may have sounded to the last of the New Dealers like, "Checkmate!" 

    The drivers of American politics have moved from farmers and the working class only gradually but its been happening since the Wilson administration. The Brookings Institute was founded in 1916 as the Institute for Government Research to graft a think-tank brain onto a small headless bureaucracy - which then became conscious, like Frankenstein's monster or maybe Skynet. And with international socialism and national socialism in the air the American new class had marching orders and two examples of what not to do. The new class was identified by Milovan Djilas in his 1957 book of the same name; this class became visible earlier in the communist east with its imposed monoculture. It's been difficult to see the new class in this country because so much of the middle and upper classes merely project an identification with some micro-class sub-niche. Class aspiration rules sociology here; most American families went native a generation or two ago. Europeans are quick to pick up on this aspect of Americanness, while our elite's affectations often reference European markers. Americans do this to disguise or leverage class advantages while we "slum" to taste the freedoms of the truly dropped-out. Its never clear who is in charge here. As Michael Anton asked about our present regime in a recent speech, "Who is sovereign?" He notes how the vast majority of the elite merely follow a "'deep doctrine,' which they only dimly understand and don't know the origins of. Perhaps, then, the doctrine is sovereign?" (americanmind.org

  The Turkish term "deep state" describes Ataturk's urban secular-military state which was designed to modernize post-Ottoman Turkey against its rural Islamic demos, the conservative constituents that Erdogan rode to power. The Turkish deep state was finally tamed by the EU and NATO which interrupted the historical rhythm of military coups which had regularly put the Turkish state back in the hands of secular urban forces who would duly outlaw the latest Islamic party and then hold a new election. Totalitarian studies use the term "party state" which seems more applicable to the United States since it accounts for the pitch of the two major parties - Democrats as the party for the expansion of the state and Republicans as the party trying to hold the line. Naturally the state bureaucracies, federal, state and municipal, are manned largely by Democratic party voters. The larger electorate in its fitful wisdom gives the growth of the state gas when it elects Democrats to oversee the party state, or taps the breaks on it when it elects Republicans to oversee same. Rolling back the size of the state remains out of the question unless the current Supreme Court actually does undo all of the New Deal - Great Society enabling rulings and readings that allowed for the metastasizing of the classical republic beyond the bounds of the Constitution - the new class' prime directive. 

  The old world's catastrophes in WWI and WWII are what opened the door to the rise of the new class here. The New Deal's state activism was prolonging the Depression but no lesson was learned as the administrative drift was rescued by the WWII mobilization and its command economy as well as a victory that left America alone physically intact. The Isolationists felt the Roosevelt administration's appetite to enter the war had been self-interested and its running for a third term out of line, but they lost the message battle even though the newsmedia was not yet fully identifying itself with the public sector new class. The third Roosevelt term and the war meant there would be no going back to the roaring twenties. The Cold War burden prevented any demobilization. America was the same country but only because American adults had come of age before the thirties. The postwar baby boom generation, however, would be fully acclimated to the new public-private imbalance and the dynamic of public sector growth was in motion - the staffing up, the spending imperative, the growth of budgets, the capital city becoming the boomtown of boomtowns, the covert need for failure and new problems that demand more of everything.... 

    Today there are so many problems at issue according to all the sinless rock throwers that you might think the Democratic party's motto is "America deserves punishment - Vote Democrat". The party is not just the oldest political party, its been the default governing party. Not in the White House, the hood ornament of the state, but its been dug in deep in the Congress, the engine room of state, and in the agencies and bureaucracy built by its spending. Its a shocking measure of Democrats' present confusion that Republicans have controlled Congress often as not in recent years, leaving former radicals fretting about our norms. 

  Cynicism separates the men from the boys, at least according to the men. The Democratic party's internal struggle was once described as The Yankee and Cowboy War in an interesting 1976 book by that title written by former SDS president Carl Oglesby. He extrapolated from events (the shotgun marriage of the 1960 Kennedy-Johnson ticket, JFK's assassination, Bobby Kennedy's challenge of LBJ and his assassination, the Johnson step-down, Watergate...) an underlying struggle for control of the party between its eastern establishment liberals and its southern conservatives. After the party's continuing trauma (the 1968 Democratic convention riots, next year's Days of Rage, the unseating of Daley's delegates for Jesse Jackson's at the 1972 convention, Nixon's landslide victory...) two new lowest-political-common-denominator interests held the party together: losing the Vietnam War and hanging it all on Nixon. Nixon and the Republicans had profited by the eastern liberals' autogolpe against Johnson and that seemed to prove Daley and Humphrey had been correct - an unacceptable posit for the eastern establishment, the Manhattan media, and the first wave of pretentious baby boomers. The party made its bed then and has been lying in it since. Since those Yankees forced that Cowboy to withdraw his re-election bid in 1968 the battle inside the Democratic party has been between the Cynics and the Holy Joes, and to further confuse matters there have been both Cowboys and Yankees in each category, at least until the Cowboys moved wholesale into the Republican party soon after one last Kennedy brother, Teddy, kneecapped another sitting Democratic president from the south, Jimmy Carter. This Kennedy stunt managed to elect Ronald Reagan who had been considered an unelectable fringe candidate.  

  The Cynics among Democratic candidates for president since 1968 were Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, and Hillary Clinton. Cynics are distinguished by the pride they take in their acceptance and application of lying and dirty tricks despite having forced Republican Richard Nixon to resign ostensibly over same. To them such frisson is sublime and a measure of seriousness. The attorney-advisors around Clinton, Obama, and Biden are running Democratic strategy quite cynically - they seem even to possess an on-off switch for rioters and the black block - but they are banking on the newsmedia's continued acquiescence and that is likely to change once they feel safely past Donald Trump. It doesn't seem likely the New York Times and NPR can continue to approach some stories as if carefully disarming a bomb over the course of weeks while other stories are quickly encased in a concrete sarcophagus like chernobyl reactor No 4. Well, NPR probably can... 

   The Holy Joes were such sadsack wouldbe national nobodies as Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jerry Brown, Frank Church, Morris Udall, Fred Harris, Ed Muskie, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Henry Jackson, Sam Nunn, William Proxmire, Paul Simon, Thomas Eagleton, Michael Dukakis, Dick Gephardt, Mario Cuomo, Paul Tsongas, Bruce Babbitt, Bill Bradley, Al Gore.... Holy Joes were once a dime-a-dozen in the Democratic party and of them only Jimmy Carter won the office. He performed so poorly that his claim to fame is being the nation's best ex-president - the perfect Holy Joe! Such Joes were naive about means and ends and surely believed an already free people just needed more government and that all those additional legions of public servants would be content to serve rather than rule. Holy Joes make a point of assuming everyone is as earnest and conscientious as them. They can't be mugged by reality because they walk on gilded splendors and won't see it coming or going. The Cynics generally find it efficacious to identify as Holy Joes in public which can give the party the look of a simple vote-buying conspiracy depending on the performing talent of its cynical candidates in any particular campaign season. 

  There were also a few Democratic candidates for president over the years that you'd have to call Movement-types: George Wallace, Ramsey Clark, Angela Davis, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Lyndon Larouche, Pat Schroeder, Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders.... I think Barack Obama fits best in the small club I'll call The Beards, clean-shaven or not. Obama was able to leave the Movement without letting the door slam shut behind him when he joined the Daley Machine mk II well before he was on the national radar. Yet he managed to keep some distance from the machine along the lines of Adlai Stevenson II and Harold Washington. Like them, Obama was seen locally as the kind of hapless reformer that the Daleys, father and son, preferred to send to D.C. rather than have hang around Chicago and cause problems. On the national stage in Washington the Beards put a intellectual gloss on the unpretentious dirty work of the machine. Stevenson ran for the Democratic presidential nomination three times and won it twice, losing to Eisenhower both times. Obama became president because Daley-the-younger didn't want him running for mayor of Chicago. 

 Richard J. and Richard M. were both practical working class New Deal Democrats with few pretensions. Neither could abide a posturing reformer standing outside the party regulars shaming them in front of the newsmedia to their own greater glory while possessing none of the political power to bring to the table where a deal might be cut. In the years between the two Mayor Daleys, Harold Washington alone built that power and won election and re-election as a reform Mayor. After Washington's unexpected death, the party regular Alderman Eugene Sawyer finished out Washington's second term before losing to Daley who picked up as much of the Harold Washington braintrust as would work with him. The Daleys may have sounded dumb but they were political virtuosos and Richard M. stayed in office even longer than his father. The Old Man, Hizzoner, was anathema to his party's eastern mandarins after 1968 but in his son's third term as mayor the Democratic party's convention returned to Chicago; in Richie's sixth and last term he deftly sidelined Hillary and got Obama the nomination and the presidency. So... back to New Deal party unity cutting ever newer deals, right...? 

    If the Yankees and the Cowboys were cultural categories more than ideological camps, the Cynics and Holy Joes were American versions of the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of what was officially called the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. When the Tsar quickly dissolved the first Duma to put in place more restrictive voting criteria most socialists argued for recalling their deputies in protest, but Lenin opposed that so as to continue monkey-wrenching the regime from inside. The Mensheviks had first been called the "soft" faction and they favored Popular Front-style pluralism on the left while Lenin was determined to marshal a smaller, disciplined, full-time "hard" revolutionary vanguard. The well-intentioned Mensheviks were no match for the cynical bad faith of Bolshevik strategy and tactics. They were even swindled out of their rightful name. They - the Mensheviks! - were not the minority, they were the majority (bolsheviki) of the socialist movement but the Mensheviks had jobs and they'd leave meetings early to work in the morning while the Bolsheviks were professionals and had nothing better to do than sit up all night on their iron buttocks delaying votes until they had the numbers to win. This vanguard minority became known as The Majority as early as 1903 and thereafter for all of Historical time. [Recall here that the Republican Party was created by the anti-Slavery faction of the Whig party up north after that party cracked up over the issue. Blacks in the south joined the Republican party after emancipation, while the Democratic party, which had been the party of Slavery and then Jim Crow, had no crack-up, not even a name change - there's a carefully disarmed narrative!] 

  Cynicism in the Classical sense meant the denial of pleasure for virtue in pursuit of a truer, deeper happiness; in other words the ancient Holy Joes wandering around Greece were Cynics! More recently the word dumbs down to describe Moderns' reflexive disbelief in the professed moral pretense of others. Moderns introduced their own pretention unbound which we see today down the line (the Principal, the Administrator, the Human Resource officer, the Compliance officer, the school nurse, the hall monitor, the teacher's pet...). The present day cynic is characterized by how quickly he/she/it spots opportunity for self-service under cover of a declaimed altruism aimed to impune any tradition or protocol in their way. Altruism was once the unspoken etiquette of WASP elites but it's now an out-loud conceit for products of our top Universities' most useless colleges. 

  The intellectual elite was just one of the classes dissatisfied with the 19th century royal houses of Europe, but they were the most noxious in their influence during the 20th. This because freedom to them meant assumption of the prerogative of Kings rather than democracy. Why would the expert class, the masters of sociology, political science, climatology, linguistics... why would they want to serve a free public, a public free to ignore their best advice, their Science, their Truth whether patently self-servicing or possibly not? Marx coveted Christianity's social effect through the ages and hoped to argue his way to the front of the march of time. He was a busy body even though he claimed the outcome was inevitable. But why stand by and let the meek inherit the earth? Where does that leave the unmeek? Lenin had an answer for that. 

    In our possibly failing constitutional democratic republic the elite's Job #1 always is to outrun culpability for present circumstances. For this they need a moving politik in the form of new social programs laid on top of the old ones and a constantly changing approved rhetoric and jargon so as to foist the disguise and expose their opponents who, not conversant with the latest lingo, step on rhetorical landmines right and left usually around issues of race and gender. New laws are passed on top of the old ones creating a thicket of cross-thatched traps; these allow the arrest of anyone you might wish to arrest - they are certain to be in violation of some rule or regulation that under normal circumstances a cop on the beat would ignore or not even see. The black motorist's nightmare is now how today's demoted citizen is kept in line in what appears to remain a free country. 

 American racism was hit by inflation soon after we lost the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs. The new class administered both wars yet profited by the losings. A dollar of old-time unreasoning Jim Crow racism must be worth ten million in today's dollars. Nobody in their right mind believes racism has increased in this country. Time, sports, rock and roll, hip hop, the arts, military service, work-place integration, intermarriage... has all lead to real world accomodation; only the new immigrants from the old worlds bring into the country persons with no sense of that whatever amount of melanin in their skin. But a news-scan of the rhetoric spiraling from the Manhattan media, NPR, and academia might lead one to suspect American history flows backwards - another failure of Marxist edumucation. The quickening of the recasting of terms is probably due to the suprisingly easy election and re-election of President Barack Obama. This threatened the left - the Leninists or Alinskyites seeking to use the Democratic party and other American institutions as conveniences on their way to power for the reckoning of their dreams. Their organizing pretense since Marxism dropped economics for race and nationalism in the postwar period required contempt for traditions both civil and religious that had been implicated in racism going back to the slave trade. This paradigm was unexpectedly in jeopardy as Obama took the oath of office in January 2009. It might have felt as if a bluff had been called. Popular and unpopular Historians, the tenured and the adjunct alike, are busy rationizing a political line they might profitably assert concerning how, which, and why America elected Obama twice when she might have chosen John McCain or Mitt Romney. 

 The Obama administration and the Movement trying to use it fell short regarding their transformative ambitions beyond setting up a healthcare bureaucracy which seems to have triggered a shortage of both doctors and lawyers, some trick! If Barack Obama was a gifted orator he was often polishing up Daley-speak rather than Alinsky's rules. Any real world success is never enough for progressives and so the follow-up surprise election of Donald Trump in 2016 was essentially welcomed as a relief and an opportunity to retreat into comforting conceit: rediscovery of the black-heart of America - the necessary pessimism by which idealists measure themselves. And the money has poured in. Today's cynicism is a materialist form of realism so who can say which base metal undergirds such gold-digging -smelting -bricking and -banking. Probably more likely some man-made alloy like brass, I'm thinking. Trump picked up the white working class which today's Democratic party left lying curbside. Formerly members of FDR's New Deal Democratic coalition in-good-standing-whatever-their-table-manners but now quite beyond the pale. 

   Appearances seem to increase in importance as Americans lose the thread of first-person life within organic urban neighborhoods or rural communities. Performing and profiling in alienated, mediated environments clouds the view already crowded by screens flashing dissociated scenes to our distracted semi-attention. If this continues long enough both Darwin and Lysenko suggest our eyes will evolve to positions on either side of our heads so as to double multi-tasking options. Our predator's eyes will become those of prey. A theatrical, performative, method cynicism swamps authenticity in Washington and out on the campaign trail. The New York Times compares the current Jan. 6 hearings unfavorably to the Watergate hearings. Garrett Graff (age 41), author of a newbie's cud chewing clipping service history of old media coverage of The Watergate Affair, in an op-ed piece elides any true historical comparison between Rep. Bennie Thompson and Sen. Sam Ervin, but seems to take at face value tales of ol' "Uncle Sam" becoming a cult hero bringin' "clear moral force" to the Watergate hearings - not bad for a segregationist's reputation into the 21st century. Graff also offers that the presence of today's "right-wing media echo chamber... offer[s] rebuttals and defenses unimagined a half-century ago." Unimagined? What is the paper of record if it has no institutional memory? "The right wing media echo chamber" was a direct result of the behavior of the old newsmedia in the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Ford period. Maybe it was the three television networks' news divisions coming into their own with their overgroomed talking heads' rehearsed reaction shots at dirty tricks that had made the difference, but it seems to me that Nixon resigned not because his enemies wanted him out but because his own party's rather guileless voters back then were disappointed to find out that their President swore. In response, conservatives built up think tanks and media outlets that could state their case in the face of an otherwise fixed media environment and with Trump they've obviously learned to give on table manners and such. 

  Meanwhile our default governing party got comfortable in the sunny heat-lamp of newsmedia coverage of their foibles going back to the Cuban Missile Crisis which was laundered into just another profile in courage. How Johnson must've marvelled at that! But with the newsmedia's enlistment in the party state's efforts the Democratic party itself loses its bearings and soon regularly loses its natural House majority. The Republicans became more rural and small town and less country club and suburban. Reports on such changes neglect to implicate newsmedia themselves in the Democratic party's troubles. But the party, spared the harsh, bracing truth of matters by the newsmedia and Manhattan publishing becomes like a drunk, stumbling numb down stairwells or into bandsaws, feeling no pain. Bill Clinton's neediness in front of crowds was his best political asset for he took in every psychic detail betrayed by his audiences, whereas his wife Hillary moves as if certain she need only transmit her brilliance. And the newsmedia wonders at its first draft of history's increasing lack of traction in the battle over public opinion. Maybe it is that echo chamber, but which one? 

  NYTimes columnist Jamelle Bouie writes about Georgetown law professor Josh Chafetz's concept of oversight and overspeech. Bouie (age 35) notes the limits of Congressional oversight and then quoting Chafetz (age 43) explains that "overspeech, by contrast, is the 'use of the tools of oversight' for performance, spectacle and theatricality. Overspeech is used to communicate directly to the public, to make an argument and to shape its views.... If oversight is meant to be the bloodless investigation of facts, then overspeech, Chafetz writes, is defined by its 'performative elements, ranging from casting to scripting, from scenery to costuming, all of it aimed at more effectively communicating a public message.'" Bouie then encourages the Democrats on the Jan. 6 committee to give President Biden the opportunity "to fan emotion and use conflict, not conciliation, to make his case." (New York Times, June 10, 2022) I guess these post-Watergate newbies are feeling pressure from the kids just out of college on the staff who know even less than they do. This bilge reads as shadowplay code-talking to the Obama-in-exile apparats who are already running things much more radically than when Barack's name was attached to things. Joe Biden has no future to worry about. It's highly unlikely that Bouie and Chafetz misunderstand the January 6 Insurrection any less than Bob Woodward misunderstands Watergate. They all have an interest in misunderstanding what's going on around them in exactly the way that best reinforces the rootless, mediated ignorance of their editors and it eventually becomes their own ignorance when they really arrive as journalists. Journalists stand in the information stream without context and tell you with a straight face that they are providing context. And the help they volunteer to the Democratic party lowers its own ability to comprehend what's going on around it. Hillary recently said, "2016 is a traumatic event - it's almost eschatological. It is a break in history. It's such a piece of unfinished business." (Financial Times, June 18, 2022) This, what- performative overspeech?, leaves strategy and policy to the state party's attorney-advisors who innovate merely by skirting campaign finance and election law. They are behaving as if should they fail to put the Republicans in the dock they will wind up in the dock. Americas will be migrating to Venezuela before we know it. 

   Our democratic republic depends on either a leap of faith or a bet on numbers. The back-room boys of each political party who used to negotiate who got their party's nominations were able to dampen the importance of a theatrical pandering which might raise an empty suit to high office. The downside was that insider pols were likely to choose a loyal hack over a competent individual. After the 1968 Democratic convention in which the back-roomers nominated Hubert Humphrey over delegate preferences the Democrats, then later the Republicans, shifted to primary elections to nominate candidates. And so the Rules of Theater now apply despite the best efforts of message and media consultants. In any case, success in fooling or cheating the electorate does blowback in something like a rule of physics. The two parties often seem trapped in an argument over whether the Eisenhower-1950s were good-if-improvable or evil-and-unsalvageable. Those who remembered the 1930s had no doubt about their preference, but we are lucky if we still know someone who remembers the thirties. If the fifties are judged salvageable then the Republicans will win that argument; they have kids and family life requires stability. If the Democrats are encouraging higher immigration rates to replace children they don't produce, then still, these foreigners don't arrive looking to do much more than transplant their family lines into their dream of America which dates to the Eisenhower era even if they've received that dream through the films of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; they aren't hoping to live in Martin Scorsese's America. They've seen enough of moral chaos and feudal violence. 

  James Piereson's book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, describes well the boomerang effect of the mediated transferrence of culpability for Kennedy's killing from a single, disaffected Communist, Lee Harvey Oswald, to the South... Texas... Dallas... white southerners... cowboys.... Kennedy's survivors rejected Cold War martyrdom in the battle for Cuba and imposed instead a false story that conveniently implicated vice president Lyndon Johnson, now suddenly president. Johnson proceeded to pass civil rights measures that Kennedy had barely paid lip service to and still the Kennedys and the eastern elites in the party pulled Johnson down only to see Richard Nixon benefit. The tension introduced by cheating the electorate in 1960 has never fully resolved itself. Settled historical understanding tells us that the Kennedy-Nixon debate seemed won by Nixon to those who listened on the radio, while those who watched it on televsion thought Kennedy had won because he looked young, tanned, healthy and Nixon declined make-up and got sweaty under the lights. In fact Kennedy was congenitally unhealthy and his doctors were making that worse while the hardy Nixon lived to be 81. And while Piereson's book is more an investigation of the fallout from what are basically understood to be false narratives there are books as well that make of such seeming solid first drafts of history like The Watergate Affair something quite Warrenesque - Jim Hougan's Secret Agenda, and Len Colodny & Robert Gettlin's Silent Coup. If you're my age you might think you saw Watergate for yourself as the hearings were carried live on all three networks, newsradio stations, and the public media, PBS and NPR, in their infancies, and the tapes and transcripts released.... Today, the Manhattan media's skills are best illustrated in the making of Rudy Giuliani into alternately a figure of fun or a serious threat to the Republic, since he is actually the one local elected official who did any serious heavy lifting and did it so successfully in his offices as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1983-89) and Mayor of New York (1994-2001) that America's largest city was suddenly its best run. The thanks he got proves him the hero in the Classical, Greek sense which makes all those newsmedia experts what...? 

  There are elements of cynicism in the inevitable theatrical contrivances of any public activity. Art is the lie that may tell a truth, or may be mere narcissistic display, a kind strip-tease to nothing. Politics is the tactical pursuit of strategic ends. The scale of the manipulation needed depends on how mentionable the strategic ends may be. FDR didn't intend to extend the Depression but he did intend to hide his failure by entering the war; he needed the war whether American involvement was inevitable or not. He should have left the presidency after two terms. Instead the war-time command economy and the war itself erased memory of the first two terms and earned him the reputation as the greatest president of the 20th century - war as political resurrection. A Republican president Taft or an ex-Democrat Wilkie (the Republican choice) or Roosevelt's v.p. John Nance Garner (he famously claimed the vice president's office wasn't worth a warm bucket of piss) who ran but was bigfooted by FDR's own surprise third run, any of these others might have rolled back the worst of Roosevelt's 1930s moves. The Republicans flinched at nominating an isolationist and the war overturned the constitutional chessboard and enshrined the New Dealers' dream state. An unhealthy Roosevelt then put Henry Wallace, a willing dupe of Stalin when it mattered, onto his ticket and a heartbeat away throughout his third term. We came within three months of forfeiting the Cold War - the time Harry S. Truman served as Vice President before Roosevelt died in his fourth. 

  So Truman ascended to that office worth more than a warm bucket of piss when Roosevelt kicked that other bucket at age 63. Truman was preoccupied for his not quite two terms with the end of the war, the semi-demobilization and the reorientation to the Cold War in Europe and Asia. Eisenhower was one of the heroes of the war his party had opposed pre-Pearl Harbor and he beat Adlai Stevenson II twice. Eisenhower was the only postwar Republican president with the standing to roll back any of the New Deal but he didn't. The Eisenhower terms came to represent everything the Democrats and news media thought of as vapid if not retrograde. He and Mamie looked like grandparents and he golfed. [The Eisenhower presidency has risen in the estimation of his party's current political enemies because he can't hurt them anymore and it seems he treated his vice president, Richard Nixon, like a warm bucket of piss.] The entire spectrum of dangerous ideas in the 1950s seemed to co-exist inside the Democratic party, from Communism to Jim Crow - such a peace seems could only be bought by New Deal and Cold War-scale spending. The Democrats seemed a default party of government with little philosophical coherence. The Whigs were morally compromised so the party broke apart and a new Republican party that opposed slavery was formed. The Democratic party sails on oblivious to its own professed high standards - they will be the judges, thank you very much.... 

   Of course the fifties were an economic and cultural boom decade. It couldn't rival the twenties but only because the state and its regulatory and taxing burdens now weighed more heavily on economic activity. Otherwise American advantages were obvious, most overseas productive capacity had been destroyed and so the U.S. exported goods, services, manpower, and investment supplying the surviving populations overseas, rebuilding infrastructure and organizing international affairs with an eye toward avoiding another war. It's underappreciated how directly this all flew in the face of Republican doctrines and American tradition. We lost our constitutional republic to the New Deal, WWII, and the Cold War. Other than our new class of experts and managers stirring throughout the 20th century to demand administrative control here and abroad, Americans are natural isolationists. Americans left the old world for cause in most cases. But you can trace empire back through the 9-11 Wars, the Cold War, the World Wars, Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt to honest Abe if you want. The Democrats' sixties meltdown left the prosecution of the Cold War in Republican hands. Responsible Democrats like Henry Jackson and Sam Nunn wanted to run for president but their party was no longer interested in fighting communism. 

  After 9-11 the New York Times narrative construction team went right to work asking, Where was Bush? - Wednesday's paper, Thursday's, Friday's... Well Bush showed up on the pile Friday and Dan, I'm afraid he hit a home-run. Criticized for not connecting the dots the Bush-Cheney administration started connecting muth-fuk'n dots all over the Goddamn globe! The Democrats, with the then invisible exception of Ill. State Sen. Barack Obama, seemed afraid not to vote the war authorizations in Afghanistan and Iraq until the wars went bad. Then they decided they'd been lied to and when the press concurred the war efforts were besieged. The end of the American empire seemed around the corner when President Obama and his peace junta - Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power - decided, against the advice of bucket of warm piss Joe Biden, to intervene in Libya to bring down Col. Gadaffi. I think they thought it would be easy; progressives, idealists maybe don't quite understand the limits of their conscious or stated intentions. The American Empire did alright in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and maybe that generation, trying to spare the next the true cost of those mobilizations, made that next generation incapable of bearing any burdens. Now as the Republicans proceed on the bumpy road back from empire to republic, pace Pat Buchanan, the Democrats have learned to love empire, the FBI, the CIA, the DIA, the Pentagon, Big Pharma... you name it. Entangling alliances are a great way to create the conditions that demand staffing up in Washington bureaus and the new war on domestic terrorism is promising to be one war the party state can really get behind with sticktoitiveness. 

  The coming mid-term elections will unleash the furies of the next election cycle. The Democratic party and their newsmedia friends have gotten the default party of government into a situation that promises at minimum much entertainment. Does pressure on both President Biden and Vice President Harris get heavier or lighter if the Republicans take the House and Senate, or lose both? Does Speaker Pelosi want to make her position as second-in-line for the Presidency actual if she loses the gavel, so as to serve out the last two years of Joe Biden's term as the first female president? Is that why she went to Kiev, Taiwan and Armenia? There's about two-and-a-half months between election day and the seating of a new Congress; she'll be one busy octogenarian for those weeks. And which user-friendly young-manservant-of-color will be her vice president? And that isn't even the Democratic nomination primaries, campaigning for which will begin as well. 

  Renewal of the Republican party was triggered by Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Donald Trump against its Bush-Romney-McConnell establishment over the course of thirty years. It's hard to imagine a similar renewal happening within the Democratic party. Has it started? Will it start? Sam Nunn, Henry Jackson, and Jim Traficant tried from the right, and Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders tried from the left. I don't see the party of the state itself changing its tune unless the black vote wanders back to the Republicans. Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority now notes in an interview: "[I]f you look at the non-white working class - black, Hispanic, Asian, but particularly driven by Hispanics - Democrats have lost 19 margin points between 2012 and 2020, while they've gained 16 margin points among white college-educated voters." (WSJ) Will this continue? Is it a thirty year process? Who knows in this country, I've heard newsmedia political experts predict that there will be up to seventeen candidates for the Democratic nomination for president beginning next year. 

[Photo of the Kennedy inauguration by Paul Schutzer/LIFE]

Easthampton, New York
Photograph by Jane Stokes

From the Wyoming desk, by Joe Carducci...

James Rosen at realclearpolitics.com, Watergate at 50: Revelations From Newly Declassified Evidence.

It took courage for Hougan to declare nothing less than that all the armies of investigators had missed the heart of the Watergate scandal – that Woodward and Bernstein and the rest of the national news media had gotten it wrong. Nowhere in the official Woodward and Bernstein canon – All the President’s Men (1974), The Final Days (1976), and The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat (2005) – do the names Spencer Oliver or Maxie Wells even appear. The key Eugenio Martinez struggled to conceal was, as Secret Agenda put it, “quite literally the key to the break-in”: its presence on “Muscolito” pointed to the critical role played by the CIA in the operation and to the mission’s true target.


Michael Barone interview by Tunku Varadarajan in WSJ.

He cites the media's obsession with "the Russia-collusion hoax" as an example of a "Watergate fantasy" of our times: "They were operating with Watergate analogies, weren't they? 'We're going to reveal this one little thing, and then we'll turn a witness, and then they'll change their view, and then there will be a congressional hearing that will expose him, and this report will come out in the Washington Post or some other place, and we're going to get credit for overturning the president.'" As it turned out, "there was nothing there at all. It was a complete hoax. It was an invention of the Clinton campaign."


Joel Pollak at breitbart.com, Durham: Five Hillary Clinton Associates Are Taking the Fifth in Russia Hoax Prosecution.

Legal scholar Jonathan Turley noted in a commentary on the filing: [Durham] is now moving to give immunity to a key witness while revealing that the claims made by the Clinton campaign were viewed by the CIA as “not technically plausible” and “user created.” He also revealed that at least five of the former Clinton campaign contractors/ researchers have invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to cooperate in fear that they might incriminate themselves in criminal conduct. Turley also noted that Durham’s filing “also detailed how the false Russian collusion claims related to Alfa Bank involved Clinton General Counsel Marc Elias and Christopher Steele.” Steele is the former British spy who worked for opposition research firm Fusion GPS to produce the fraudulent Russia “dossier” that triggered government surveillance of the Trump campaign and the broader “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory. Elias is a prominent election attorney for Democrats who arranged the funding for the “dossier” and went on to lead Democrats’ efforts to force the adoption of vote-by-mail in key battleground states in the 2020 presidential election.


Kimberley Strassel in WSJ, Durham vs. the Beltway Swamp.

Mr. Sussman was tight with the FBI. So tight that according to trial evidence, the bureau in 2016 allowed him to edit the draft of one of its press releases. Mr. Sussmann was even on a first-name basis with then-FBI general counsel James Baker. He was able to text his "friend" (Mr. Baker's description of their relationship) and score a meeting the next day. He assured "Jim" he didn't need a badge to get in the building - he already had one. All this allowed Mr. Sussmann (who later sought to recruit Mr. Baker to his firm, Perkins Coie) to avoid the pesky agents and questions that would accompany any average Joe trying to sell the FBI on wild claims.


Holman Jenkins in WSJ, What Did the Steele Dossier Hoax Cost America?.

Worth noting, in light of recent events, is also the coterie of “experts,” in and out of government, upon whom we rely to shape attitudes and policy toward such places as Russia and Ukraine. Since America is likely to have a GOP president and Congress again, we might need an entirely new foreign-policy elite, untainted and uncorrupted by their participation in the collusion lie or their cowardice in not opposing it. A conundrum in this regard is Fiona Hill, who worked in the Trump White House as a Russia expert and who also, amazingly, was the nexus for introducing Mr. Steele to Mr. Danchenko, and Mr. Danchenko to Mr. Dolan. If anybody was in a position to blow a whistle on the Steele hoax, it was Ms. Hill.


Hans Mahncke in EPOCH TIMES, FBI Put Key Dossier Source on Payroll in Apparent Effort to Conceal Dossier Fabrications.

The FBI's goal in giving Danchenko the highly coveted confidential human source (CHS) status appears to have been to take Danchenko off the grid. As a CHS, Danchenko enjoyed special protections and privileges. Crucially, the FBI was able to use his status to conceal Danchenko and his disclosures from congressional inquiries, such as the investigation by then-Rep. Devin Nunes led by Kash Patel. Other inquiries, such as Freedom of Information Act requests, could similarly be stonewalled by reference to the "sourcees and methods" justification for concealing the identity, and even the existence, of a CHS. The FBI had huge incentives to hide Danchenko.


Jessica Chasmar at foxnews.com, Gaetz, Jordan Demand Answers from FBI on Workspace at Democratic Law Firm.

Gaetz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News... that he received a letter from Perkins Coie lawyers confirming that the FBI has been maintaining a "Secure Work Environment" within Perkins Coie office for more than a decade, dating back to 2012, and that it is still in operation today. "Perkins Coie is responsible to the FBI for maintaining the Secure Work Environment," the letter reportedly said.


Thomas Baker in WSJ, How Robert Mueller Shredded the FBI's Credibility.

As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Mueller had worked with FBI special agents in Boston and San Francisco, but he didn’t know the FBI’s culture or how it functioned. He also displayed disdain for the special agents in charge of each of the FBI’s 50-plus field offices. Mr. Mueller didn’t understand the FBI’s office-of-origin system, which has been in use for nearly a century. On a typical case, an office of origin would run things, sending out leads to other field offices who’d track them down and report back. In the case of the 9/11 attacks, the logical office of origin would have been the New York or Washington field office. Both had experienced international squads. New York had the investigative capacity, it was near Ground Zero, and up to then had been the office of origin for the entire al Qaeda case. But Mr. Mueller wanted centralization. He wanted all information to run through FBI headquarters, which would make all the decisions.


Alan Feuer in NYT, A Trump Backer's Downfall as the Target of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory.

One of the moments Mr. Epps said he regrets most from his stay in Washington took place the night before the Capitol attack, when he joined his son and a friend for a pro-Trump rally at Black Lives Matter Plaza. During the event, he was videotaped by a right-wing provocateur encouraging people to go inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 in what he described, even at the time, as a form of peaceful protest. The clip has been used to depict Mr. Epps as a man who not only urged people to riot at the Capitol but also then evaded prosecution. The Justice Department has not publicly addressed its decision not to charge him, but the legal definition of incitement requires a person’s words to cause an immediate threat of danger, not one that could possibly occur the following day.


revolver.news, The Hidden Agenda Behind the New York Times' Desperate Puff Piece on Ray Epps.

Amazingly, Ray-Epps is referenced as a pre-planner of the Capitol siege in the NYT’s own video documentary on January 6, “Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the US Capitol”. The very same NYT that now dismisses “conspiracies” about Ray Epps refers to Epps in its own definitive video documentary as a rioter for whom “storming the capitol was part of the plot all along.” Again the NYT video documentary features Epps as one of the key orchestrators of the Capitol siege: The Times piece ominously suggests Epps will sue news outlets (possibly Revolver News and/or Tucker Carlson) for defamation… should Epps sue the Times itself then for suggesting that Epps pre-planned the Capitol attack in its own ostensibly definitive video documentary of that “Day of Rage?”


Jennifer Senior in ATLANTIC, American Rasputin: Steve Bannon Is Still Scheming. And He's Still a Threat to Democracy.

  Bannon and I were originally going to fly out to Arizona for this story. He recently purchased a home there too, and he says its broadcast studio is an exact replica of the one in D.C., so that viewers won’t notice the difference. His plan had been to spend the winter and spring out there. But we never made it. It may have been because his father died, throwing his life into temporary disarray. But I kept wondering if the real reason was something else, possibly financial trouble—maybe that’s why he added a fourth hour of programming to his load. But no, he tells me. “The War Room is a cash machine because it costs nothing to produce.” In fact, he says, he needed that fourth hour to accommodate all of his sponsors. What’s really tying him to Washington, he explains, is a furious desire to keep the momentum going on his show. He’s on a roll. There’s so much energy now in the MAGA movement. Inflation is soaring; Biden is tanking. “The largest voting bloc in this nation is non-college-educated whites,” he tells me. “I have 52/48 of men and I have 50/50 of women that believe he’s illegitimate, okay?” Note the use of the pronoun I. He really does see this as his movement.


Karl Rove in WSJ, Democrats Were the First Election Deniers.

"I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost." This is annoying because Mr. Biden owes his presidency to an election denier. In 2020 his faltering presidential primary campaign was rescued by the endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.). This powerful South Carolina politico was one of 31 Democratic House members who voted on Jan. 6, 2005, to object to awarding Ohio's electoral votes to President George W. Bush, despite Mr. Bush winning the Buckeye State by 118,601 votes. Flipping Ohio would have made John Kerry president by a 271-266 Electoral College vote. On the House floor in 2005, the ranking Judiciary Committee Democrat, Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.), presented the case for awarding Ohio to the Democrats, claiming "electronic machines transferred" votes from Mr. Kerry to Mr. Bush, creating situations with "significantly more votes than voters in some precincts, significantly less ballots than voters in other precincts, and voters casting more than one ballot." He even asserted that a voting-machine company "reprogrammed the computer by remote dial-up" in a way that altered the outcome.


Emily Finley in WSJ, 'Democracy' by and for the Elites.

The word "democracy" no longer indicates much about popular rule. The word now merely refers to a hypothetical goal that gives those who invoke its holy name a mandate to do just about anything - even the opposite of what the people desire. America is still breathing the musket fumes of 1776, and words that play to the imagination of America's founding - "freedom," "democracy," "free speech" - are sources of enormous power for the apparatchiks warring, pillaging and censoring on behalf of those values. These abstract words help to maintain the facade of self-government. Alexis de Tocqueville predicted that eventually an "immense and tutelary power" would replace genuine popular rule in America. The people would accept their tutelage, he says, because of their belief that they "themselves hold the end of the chain."


Alec Ryrie in FT on John Martin's book, A Beautiful Ending: The Apocalyptic Imagination and the Making of the Modern World.

Martin's case that the apocalypse is the midwife of modernity seems self-evidently right to me. My main frustration is that we need a second volume, on how the apocalypse has fared since 1800. Martin does argue that during the 18th century catastrophism fell out of fashion, replaced by more gradualist, progressive visions of a "beautiful ending". You can see the same spirit, secularized, in Hegel and then in Marx. Stalin and Mao's visions of the future cost millions of lives but Khrushchev's faith that Communism would in the end bury its opponents gave him the strategic patience that saved the world in 1962. By contrast, fascists' preference has always been for a cleansing apotheosis of blood and fire.


Tom Shippey in LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS on Michael Livingston's book, Crecy: Battle of Five Kings.

  In 1360, Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch to us) wrote a letter expressing his puzzlement at a great change that had taken place during his lifetime. In his boyhood, he said, the English 'were taken to be the meekest of the barbarians... inferior [even] to the wretched Scots'. Now, in his late middle age, 'they are a fiercely bellicose nation [who] have overturned the ancient military glory of the French by victories so numerous' that they had flattened the kingdom of France. What had happened to make the English such an effective force in the decades since their humiliating defeat at Bannockburn in 1314? The short answer is the Battle of Crecy in 1346. The slightly longer answer would include the English victory at Neville's Cross the same year, which ended with King David II of Scotland a prisoner in the Tower, to be joined ten years later, after Poitiers, by King John II of France.


Jacob Siegel at tabletmag.com, Invasion of the Fact-Checkers.

Today’s fact-checkers no longer have time to keep their own publications honest because they’re leading a crusade to hunt down and expose dangerous untruths everywhere else. An example from The New Yorker magazine, once justly famous for the care and quality of its in-house fact-checking department, illustrates the change. In 2018, Talia Lavin, a fact-checker at the magazine, used her personal Twitter account to falsely accuse a disabled U.S. Marine combat veteran working as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent of having a Nazi tattoo because she mistook an insignia used by the unit he served with in Afghanistan for a fascist symbol. After deleting the tweet while criticizing ICE for exposing her error, Lavin resigned from The New Yorker. “I just feel like I made a small mistake and it’s destroyed my life,” she said at the time. Hardly. Lavin’s mistake became a public audition that launched her career as a new-style “fact-checker” and “expert” on extremism. Weeks after leaving The New Yorker, she was hired by Media Matters as a “researcher on far-right extremism.” In less than a year she had signed a book deal.


John Cody at rmx.news, German Domestic Intelligence Is Running Hundreds of Fake Right-wing Extremist Media Accounts.

"In order to be really credible, it is not enough to share or like what others say, you also have to make statements yourself. That means that the agents also bully and agitate," says the report of an agent who claims to have joined the agency to "do someting against right-wing extremists." This involves actively encouraging people in their worldview, but she says it is her job to "feed" the scene. In fact, there are now so many accounts operated by different German authorities that a nationwide agreement has become necessary. Otherwise, these different agents would be targeting each other with surveillance and monitoring.


David Solway in EPOCH TIMES, How the Lie Became Policy.

Politics, charged with the ordering of human affairs, has always generated more than its share of half-truths and untruths. But thanks to the contemporary explosion of sophisticated communication technology, paired with the general shamelessness encouraged by moral relativism, the Lie has become a veritable institution, a pandemic of structually embedded mendacity. Truth still exists but is routinely denounced, censored, or misnamed. The integrity of the information we receive has been degraded almost beyond recognition, elbowed aside by fantasies and injustices. An ecosystem of lies has been installed almost throughout the public, administrative, economic, and cultural life of the nation. Political authority may be compromised in every sector of official rule, but it's the bread and butter of the political left, for whom lying has become a matter of principle.


Michael Anton at americanmind.org, Elite, Not Expert.

Do those who accuse me of using “regime” as a pejorative deny that any change has taken place? If so, they are being unscientific, not to say delusional. Or is their denial insincere, an example of what I have termed the “Law of Salutary Contradiction”? The regime hasn’t changed—and it’s good that it has, because the old regime was “racist” or whatever. In the case of the fake “conservatives,” I believe they know our regime has changed, they welcome that change, and so attack those who notice but don’t welcome it. This is the Law of Salutary Contradiction married to the Celebration Parallax: they get to say it because they like it; when we say the same thing, it’s a dangerous conspiracy theory. The role of these fake “conservatives” is therefore to gaslight you into believing that the founders’ regime still rules, and, failing that, to denounce you for saying otherwise. Telling the truth about the present regime is not a privilege allowed to its critics.


Lee Smith in EPOCH TIMES, The Government Hustle.

The key players in what amounts to a criminal conspiracy to defraud the American public are political activists and federal agencies, social media, and prestige press organizations. Propaganda legitimizes the conspiracy by concealing the true intent of their operations. For instance, according to Biden, "misinformation" about vaccines was "killing people." But anyone with a shred of commonsense recognized early on that the vaccines were at best a failure - or else there would have been no need for booster shots. The danger posed by critics of vaccine mandates was rather that they threatened to dam Big Pharma's cash flow. So Biden officials shut them down. Once you see how the vaccine hustle worked, you'll recognize the same pattern in virtually all of the Biden administration's signature initiatives. For instance, it shows why the FBI was tasked to spy on parents objecting to what public schools were teaching their children: Biden's corporate allies are mining school children for wealth. Critical race theory (CRT) is a business. In fact, Attorney General Merrick Garland's son-in-law Xan Tanner owns a company that pushes CRT into public school curricula. Same with trans ideology. In showcasing the wondrous joys of transgenderism, the schools move vulnerable children along the assembly line, processing them into sterilizing surgeries and life-long medications that are worth billions to the medical industry and Big Pharma. Without public schools, neither the CRT nor the trans industry are viable businesses, so Biden sent federal law enforcement authorities to prevent parents from standing between progressive donors and their money.


Hari Kunzru in NY REVIEW OF BOOKS on Gary Dorrien's book, American Democratic Socialism: History, Politics, Religion, and Theory.

Much of organized labor supported the Vietnam War, and a split developed between the anti-war left and socialists who saw union power as the primary expression of the interests of the working class. In 1970 New York college students protesting the shootings at Kent State were attacked by construction workers chanting "USA all the way!" and "Love it or leave it!" This expression of working-class social conservatism was understood by many on the left as evidence of "false consciousness," the theory that workers would act against their own interests because they had been misled into believing that the norms and values of the ruling class were beneficial to them. Whatever its explanatory virtues, allegations of false consciousness have never endeared the theorists to the theorized, and the atmosphere of mutual antagonism between intellectuals and working-class conservatives was the harbinnger of a political realignment.


Raheem Kassam at newsweek.com, Davos: The Left Didn't Eat the Rich. The Rich Ate the Left.

"When the people shall have no more to eat, they will eat the rich," goes the old Rousseau quote truncated for the placards of the dreadlocked white boys from the early 2000s. Instead, it was the Left that got eaten by the rich, who, between 9/11 and the Great Recession, caught populist-left politicians licking their lips and sharpening their knives. Very quickly, though, "corporate social responsibility" took center stage. Soon after, there were Pride flags on every brand's logo. This year, there was a humiliatingly tepid showing of "dozens" of left-wing protesters at the WEF's Davos forum. Take Nandor Tanczos, for instance. Tanczos was one such of the aforementioned dreadlocked white boys, elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1999 and caught up in the violence between police and protesters outside the WEF event in Melbourne. By 2008, Tanczos was giving his final address to Parliament, wherein his tone had shifted significantly from his kale salad days. "I came to Parliament thinking you're all a bunch of bastards. ...And I was wrong. There are many good people here. The very notion that all politicians are dishonest is misconceived." Two years after this, even the dreads were gone. Perhaps this was "growing up," although the former New Zealand MP's watch-smashing antics, declaring himself "independent of time," would suggest otherwise. In reality, it was pure defeat—or, perhaps, ideological capture.


Nick Burns in AMERICAN AFFAIRS, America's Medieval Universities.

Expanding at breakneck speed after the Second World War, the American university has transformed from an institution accessible only to a small elite to the site of personal, professional, and political formation for vast swaths of the middle classes. Bachelor's degree recipients made up just 5 percent of the U.S. adult population in 1940. This figure doubled by 1970, doubled again to 20 percent by 1992, and has risen to 40 percent as of 2019 to make up practically all those involved in mangerial work outside the domain of the family business. The American university now serves as hedge fund operator, real estate developer, start-up incubator, and the largest employer in two-thirds of the country's largest one hundred cities. It also plays a highly conspicuous role in political, social, and cultural life. The revolution in American higher education has been emulated across the world - for example in Britain, where a much more top-down system was built out from the 1940s without prejudice to the special privileges of the elite-forming ancient universities; or in China, where 1,200 universities have been founded over the past two decades.


Stephen Bush in FT, Better Educated Voters Aren't Good for Democracy.

All of us, regardless of how many degrees we have, like to seek out information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs. And, as a new paper by Michael Hannon at the University of Nottingham finds, one unhappy consequence of a university education is that voters get better at doing this and worse at changing their minds. When you think about it, it makes sense — indeed, it goes hand-in-hand with increased civic participation. Graduates are more likely to be members of a political party. And while some of my favourite people are members of a political party, party members are pretty irrational a lot of the time.... The problem is that the more voters you have who are better at convincing themselves that they were right all along, the harder it is for democracies to error-correct.


Jonathan Haidt at chronicle.com, When Truth and Social Justice Collide, Choose Truth.

In 2016 I gave a lecture at Duke University: "Two Incompatible Sacred Values in American Universities." I suggested that the ancient Greek word telos was helpful for understanding the rapid cultural change going on at America's top universities that began in the fall of 2015. Telos means "the end, goal, or purpose for which an act is done, or at which a profession or institutions aims." The telos of a knife is to cut, the telos of medicine is to heal, and the telos of a university is truth, I suggested.... I said that universities can have many goals and many values, but they can have only one telos, because a telos is like a North Star. An institution can rotate on one axis only. If it tries to elevate a second goal or value to the status of a telos, it is like trying to get a spinning top or rotating solar system fto simultaneously rotate around two axes. I argued that the protests and changes that were suddenly sweeping through universities were attempts to elevate the value of social justice to become a second telos, which would require a huge restructuring of universities and their norms in ways that damaged their ability to find truth. I expanded on this argument in a blog post for Heterodox Academy, predicting that "the conflict between truth and social justice is likely to become unmanageable.... Universities that try to honor both will face increasing incoherence and internal conflict."


Verlyn & Hyrum Lewis in WSJ, The Myth of Ideological Polarization.

Political scientists sometimes call the increasing anger between the parties "affective polarization," but we would be better off just calling it increased hostility. The term "polarization" confuses the matter by suggesting that the parties have moved toward fixed ideological poles. Yes, partisans are increasingly angry, tribal and isolated in media echo chambers. But to attribute this to positions on a mythical left-right spectrum misunderstands our politics entirely.... There are many issues in politics. We confuse ourselves by using a political model that reduces them to one.


Hans von Spakovsky at heritage.org, Thomas Fires Warning Shot at Media, Organizations That Lie About Conservatives.

If you are a private figure and The New York Times or the Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a lie about you, you simply have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation. The fact that the publisher didn’t know or care that the statement was false is irrelevant. But if you are a “public figure,” you not only have to prove that the statement was false and harmed your reputation, but that the statement was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” And the definition of who is a public figure constantly has expanded since 1964.


Jill Abramson in FT, The Supreme Court's New Power Broker.

His growing influence has come in spite of the fact that he barely survived his controversial confirmation hearings, in which he was accused of sexual harassment by a reliable law professor, Anita Hill, who once worked for him in the federal government. Senate Republicans saved Thomas, but his confirmation vote was, up to then, the closest in history. He joined the court as an embittered man and has remained so. Except for ageing — he is now, at 74, the court’s most senior judge — little about him has changed. He has lived up to the assurance he gave his clerks during his first term on the court: “I ain’t evolvin’.” ...To understand the astonishing speed of the conservative evolution — really, a revolution — of the Supreme Court, consider that the New Yorker magazine published a long story in 2016 on the occasion of Thomas’s 25th anniversary on the court, headlined, “Clarence Thomas’s Twenty-Five Years Without Footprints”.


Mitchell Jackson in ESQUIRE, Looking for Clarence Thomas.

They would call him boy. Deb bin call um boye. Boy was born in low country on a one-dirt-road-in, one-dirt-road-out patch of mainland just an eleven-mile jaunt from Savannah, Georgia: Pin Point. Boye bin bohn een de loh kuntri on uh one dutt roh'd een uh one dutt roh'd out patch ob de may'n land jess uh leh'bin my'l fum Suhwannuh, Gorgee: Pin Py'nt. Boy born on a humid, big-moon night in a shanty near the salt marsh. 'E bin bohn on uh hot big-moo'n night een uh shant' mer'ry de salt masch. Born in a home with a single room of electricity, no running water or inside toilet. Cah boy bohn een uh hoow's wid dis one room uh lec'trik.


Tori Richards in WASHINGTON EXAMINER, San Francisco DA Left Hanging After Police Refuse to Help with Sting.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was left hanging after he seized control of a burglary ring investigation developed by police when officers refused to transport a suspect and evidence after a raid, officials said. The move backfired on Boudin when media reports surfaced that he resorted to renting a U-Haul to confiscate 130 banker’s boxes of electronics, the San Francisco Police Officers Association said. “Boudin is creating his own facts to save his political career,” SFPOA President Tracy McCray told the Washington Examiner. “SFPD officers developed this case from the beginning. While we cannot reveal details of the investigation, the DA was insistent on marching ahead on his own timeline, on his own, even though that jeopardized aspects of the investigation.”


Matthew Wolfe in NYTMag, The Rise of America's Environmental Underground.

Now, even staid Washington-based environmental groups, sensing an increasingly unruly mood among their base, have slowly started to embrace more radical tactics. In 2017, the Sierra Club formally lifted its 120-year ban on civil disobedience after its executive director and other senior members were arrested for strapping themselves to a gate outside the White House. Recently, some climate activists have begun to openly contemplate the possibility — in their eyes, the necessity — of directly sabotaging the infrastructure of the carbon economy. Foremost among them is the academic Andreas Malm, whose recent book, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, calls for smashing the tools of fossil-fuel extraction as a last-ditch means of averting ecological collapse. In interviews with mainstream outlets such as Vox and The New Yorker, Malm contends that climate activists should give up their dogmatic attachment to pacifism and start to destroy the machines that actually produce carbon. While acknowledging that such attacks might fail, Malm nevertheless argues that the urgency of global warming — in the 16 years since Dibee’s indictment, the world has collectively pumped about 500 billion more tons of carbon into the atmosphere — demands new tactics. “I think that the situation is so dire, so extreme,” he told Vox, “that we have to experiment.”


Dave Skinner in RANGE, The Western Landowners Alliance.

  Given the name, one would expect a western "landowners alliance" would be, yep, ranchers or farmers interested in market power and probably property rights. But in reality, this alliance is a branch operation of the Wildlands Network, which itself is the renamed Wildlands Project, initially birthed in 1991 by biologist Michael Soule, Esprit and North Face sportswear tycoon Doug Tompkins, and Earth First! founder Dave Foreman as the Wild Earth Society. Significant? Could be.


Dave Skinner in RANGE, Accountable? Not Us?.

What about Accountable.us? Well, that's our story. Greens are now in charge of federal environmental policy including Tracy Stone-Manning, new BLM director and former EarthFirst! spokesgirl from its most violent days.... Using Accountable's EIN to search helped clear things up a little. Not surprisingly, one line item for that EIN showed up on page 65 of New Venture Fund's 2019 Form 990 report: $4.649 million granted to Accountable.us for "civil rights, social action, advocacy." On something called the "501c3 Lookup" page, which apparently accesses IRS master files, Accountable shows $12,109,596 in assets at the end of 2021 while 501c3 Lookup also gave the name for records "in care of" Katherine LaBeau. She pops right up in LinkedIn. She's currently a partner at Elias Law Group. Prior to September 2021 she was full-time counsel at Perkins Coie LLP, beginning in December 2020, promoted from its "political law group." Does that ring any bells for you? Like five million bells worth of Russian dossier later revealed to have been secretly paid for by Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign with the money moved through Perkins Coie counsel (and Democratic super lawyer) Mark Elias. Now that's either pretty darn high or darn low on the national political food chain....


William Deresiewicz at unherd.com, Escaping American Tribalism.

And that’s the way it was for over 30 years, through the advent of Talk of the Nation and This American Life, of On the Media and Here & Now. NPR became the soundtrack of my life — when I drove, cooked, ate, exercised, did laundry — three or four hours a day, every day. That is, until around the beginning of last year. My discontent had been building since the previous summer, the summer of the George Floyd protests. It was clear from the beginning that the network would be covering the movement not like journalists but advocates.... I supported the protests; I just did not appreciate the fact that I was being lied to. But it wasn’t just that story. Overnight, the network’s entire orientation had changed. Every segment was about race, and when it wasn’t about race, it was about gender. The stories were no longer reports but morality plays, with predictable bad guys and good guys. Scepticism was banished. Divergent opinions were banished. The pronouncements of activists, the arguments of ideologically motivated academics, were accepted without question. The tone became smug, certain, self-righteous. To turn on the network was to be subjected to a program of ideological force-feeding. I was used to the idiocies of the academic Left — I had been dealing with them ever since I started graduate school — but now they were leaking out of my radio.


Penny Starr at breitbart.com, NPR Aims to 'Queer' Youth: Date Yourself, Redefine Sex, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are Not 'Dirty'.

National Public Radio used July 4 to broadcast a segment about “queer” sex education, which promotes masturbation, redefines sex, and denounces the “terrible lie” that sexually transmitted diseases make one “dirty.” The story is part of the left-wing media’s “Life Kit” series, which it describes as “service journalism.” This report is titled, “The importance of inclusion in sex education.” NPR framed the story by connecting it to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which it called the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. “More than a dozen states have proposed similar bills,” the NPR host said. “This could affect what students are taught in sex education. For NPR’s Life Kit, Lilly Quiroz explains the basics of queer sex education.”


Rachel Cooke in GUARDIAN on Louise Perry's book, The Case Against the Sexual Revolution.

Perry used to work in rape crisis, and it’s this experience – harrowing, but also highly, endlessly bewildering – that is her starting point in The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. It seems to her, as someone who has both talked to victims and run the kind of well-meaning workshops that are meant to reduce sexual violence against women, that 21st-century liberal feminism has backed itself into a corner so far as rape goes. Hellbent on the notion of freedom, and determined to minimise the innate differences between the sexes, such women have arrived at a point where they are not only queasy about using the power of the state to imprison rapists (those who disagree with them on this they call “carceral feminists”, a phrase that is only ever said with a sneer); they remain unwilling even to consider how women might best keep themselves safe, believing that to do so is simply “victim blaming”. In combination, this takes the more unthinking among them to some pretty wild places – even when, ostensibly, they’re trying their hardest to be furious about male aggression.


Hadley Freeman at unherd.com, Why I Stopped Being a Good Girl.

What really interested me was how quickly institutions were falling into line with this new ideology: venues cancelled talks if a radical feminist was on the bill; all-female bands pulled out of women-only festivals for fear of looking transphobic. How strange, I thought, that those with authority capitulate to the obviously misogynistic demands of a few extreme voices. Oh well, that’s just America — obviously it will never happen in the UK. Oh, the innocence of eight years ago! Today, gender ideology — the belief that who a person feels they are is more important than the material reality of their body — is firmly in the ascendent. Activists like to claim that the only people who have a problem with this are “Right-wing bigots”, because it keeps things simple to suggest that this is a good (gender ideology) versus bad (Right-wing bigots) issue. Yet I know a lot of non-Right-wing, non-bigots who are extremely angry at how things have shifted.


Bridget Phetasy at substack.com, I Regret Being a Slut.

I dealt with the overwhelming shame by becoming hyper-sexual and promiscuous. The Culture was right there to pick me up and dust me off. I doubled down on being a proud slut and internalized the biggest and most damaging lie: that loveless sex is empowering. I basked in the girl-power glow of that delusion for decades, weaponizing my sexuality while convincing myself I was full of the divine feminine. I was full of shit. I told myself that because I could seduce a man, I was powerful. But as Perry says in her book, “...women can all too easily fail to recognize that being desired is not the same thing as being held in high esteem.” Deep down inside, I knew that to be the case. But as a defense mechanism, I crafted a man-eater persona. My mantras were rigid. You can either have a career or a relationship—but you can’t have both. Intimacy is creepy. Motherhood and children are a trap. Sex is only about power. Another set of lies built on lies built on trauma.... Casual sex is fraught with insecurity and miscommunication; intimacy and love are punch lines. When a man I slept with had the courtesy to reach out, I mistook relief for happiness, rewiring my brain to be grateful for the bare minimum. The saddest realization is how low I set the bar. A lifetime of allowing myself to be the other woman, taken for granted or treated like a doormat under the false pretense of being “empowered” came to a head one night with the arrival of a text message from an on-again, off-again lover. “Goodnight baby I love you,” it said. Quickly followed by, “Wrong person.”


Jonathan Chait in NEW YORK, The Left Is Gaslighting Asian Americans About College Admissions.

Even as plaintiffs produced clear evidence that Harvard uses its personality measure to hold down its Asian American population, its defenders have employed the same indirect approach. They will suggest Harvard does not hold Asian American applicants to a higher standard and then change the subject to something more congenial to their preferred conclusion.... Take a New York Times op-ed by a law professor who has advised colleges on designing federally compliant affirmative action. Here is the closest the author comes to addressing evidence of discrimination: "The Asian-American students who have brought the case argue that colleges should focus only on grades and standardized test scores. But, according to Harvard, a large majority of its 40,000-plus applicants are academically qualified, and applicants with perfect grade point averages or standardized test scores far exceed the number of seats in its entering class. The proportion of Asian-American students in Harvard’s admitted classes has grown by 27 percent since 2010, and they make up nearly a quarter of the admitted class of 2022 (overall, Asian Americans make up about 6 percent of the United States population)." The author could deny Harvard holds Asian Americans to a higher standard. Alternatively, she could concede that the discrimination exists but defend it as a necessary cost of maintaining a diverse campus. Instead, she simply notes that Harvard has many qualified applicants and that it has many Asian American students — two facts that in no way rebut the allegation.


Dave Seminara in WSJ, In Defense of the Foreign Service Test.

A spokesman says the State Department is moving toward a "more holistic" hiring approach that will "result in a more qualified pool of applicants." But given that applications already vastly outnumber available jobs, why the imperative to consider candidates who flunk the exam? The spokesman said the department believes education and work experience are better predictors of job performance than the exam. Perhaps, but the exam and the cutoff score inject an element of merit and transparency into a byzantine hiring process that involves more-subjective elements, including an oral assessment and personal essays.


Jeffrey Tucker at brownstone.org, The Astonishing Implications of Schedule F.

The Washington Post in an editorial expressed absolute shock and alarm at the implications: "The directive from the White House, issued late Wednesday, sounds technical: creating a new 'Schedule F' within the 'excepted service' of the federal government for employees in policymaking roles, and directing agencies to determine who qualifies. Its implications, however, are profound and alarming. It gives those in power the authority to fire more or less at will as many as tens of thousands of workers currently in the competitive civil service, from managers to lawyers to economists to, yes, scientists. This week’s order is a major salvo in the president’s onslaught against the cadre of dedicated civil servants whom he calls the 'deep state' — and who are really the greatest strength of the U.S. government." Ninety days after October 21, 2020 would have been January 19, 2021, the day before the new president was to be inaugurated. The Washington Post commented ominously: “Mr. Trump will try to realize his sad vision in his second term, unless voters are wise enough to stop him.” Biden was declared the winner due mostly to mail-in ballots. On January 21, 2021, the day after inauguration, Biden reversed the order. It was one of his first actions as president. No wonder, because, as The Hill reported, this executive order would have been “the biggest change to federal workforce protections in a century, converting many federal workers to ‘at will’ employment.”


David Rivkin & Jason Snead in WSJ, Marc Elias's Curious Idea of 'Democracy'.

Until about a decade ago, state legislatures were in the driver's seat on election laws. But as Republicans took majorities in state capitals around the country, Democrats bowed out of the legislative process, turning to state officials and state courts instead. Through backroom deals, they persuaded election officials to drop ballot-integrity regulations, open up drop boxes, and loosen deadlines. When deal-making didn't work, they asked state courts to rewrite election laws wholesale, typically based on vague language in state constitutions like the declaration in North Carolina's constitution that "all elections shall be free." The pandemic accelerated this process in 2020. Through settlements and litigation, Mr. Elias and his colleagues wielded a massive budget to sustain a campaign of litigation that forced states to adopt Democratic election-law priorities against the will of the legislature.


Michael Mazarr in AMERICAN AFFAIRS, Abstract Systems, Social Trust, and Institutional Legitimacy.

  The management theorists Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini estimate that almost 18 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce consists of managers and administrators—almost 24 million people (as of their 2016 calculations), or a ratio of one manager/ administrator to every 4.7 employees. The problem, they believed, was getting worse: between 1983 and 2016, the number of managerial, supervisory, or administrative positions in the U.S. econo my almost doubled while the number of other jobs rose just 40 percent. In American colleges and universities, administrative positions have grown notably faster than teaching jobs, so that from the early 1980s to 2015, administrative expenditures rose from 26 percent of higher educa tion spending to 41 percent. Up to a third of health care spending now goes not to care but to maintain the immense administrative architecture of the system. The result of these broad trends is one of the paradigmatic features of bureaucracy: people are increasingly trapped in webs of busywork.... A 2018 survey found “mind-boggling” administrative demands confronting doctors, with over a third reporting that they spent more than twenty hours a week on paperwork. A later survey found that the burgeoning demands of electronic medical records re quired doctors to spend more than half of their working hours entering data rather than interacting with patients.


David Cayley in AMERICAN AFFAIRS on Geoff Shullenberger's book, Ivan Illich: An Intellectual Journey.

The problem Illich diagnoses is not that the modern world has abandoned Christianity, but that institutionalized Christianity, in the centuries after Christ, initiated destabilizing tendencies that would be radicalized in the modern world. The Christian message, as he saw it, was one of freedom from kinship and ethnic localism that made possible a new form of human community. The "new dimension of love" introduced to the world by Christ, Illich believed, had rendered "community boundaries... permeable and therefore vulnerable." The result was a "temptation to try to manage and, eventually, legislate this new love, to create an institution that will guarantee it.... This power is claimed first by the Church and later by the many secular institutions stamped from its mold." Education, medicine, and NGOs promoting development, he argued, are all the Church's unrecognized offspring.


Peter Coclanis in CLAREMONT REVIEW OF BOOKS on Joshua Rothman's book, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America.

The fledgling [New History of Capitalism] movement benefited immensely from the Great Recession of 2007-09, which at once encouraged greater interest in earlier “crises” of capitalism, and further soured many younger scholars on capitalism and the standard theories about its history. NHC spread rapidly across the U.S., gaining purchase in graduate programs at upper-tier institutions. Its approach and perspective gained particular currency in the study of the history of slavery. Indeed, in a relatively short period of time, the NHC “take” on slavery has become standard in American history circles. This is so despite the fact that virtually every new claim made by NHC scholars, almost all of whom are innumerate, has been systematically refuted by economic historians possessing the expertise in quantification that NHC eschews. It is generally accepted that capitalism arose first in parts of Europe during the early modern period before spreading elsewhere. Economists and historians, even those with Marxist leanings, once agreed that capitalism was a progressive and liberal system, under which land, labor, and capital were distributed more widely than before. These “factors of production” were also employed more rationally than before as private property, economic freedom, and competition—activated and controlled via the price mechanism and underpinned by the enforcement power of the state—came to inform and organize economic life.


Marc Arkin in WSJ on Jeremy Schipper's book, Denmark Vesey's Bible.

By all accounts, Vesey was a remarkable presence. Likely born in the Danish West Indies, he was transported in 1781 from Saint Thomas to Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) aboard a slave ship. The captain, one Joseph Vesey, named the youth Telemaque, eventually assumed ownership of him, and settled in Charleston. In 1799, Telemaque, now in his early 30s and called Denmark by local blacks, won $1,500 in a lottery. He used $600 to buy his freedom and with the remaining money began a successful carpentry business. Literate and multilingual, Vesey in his 50s became a lay leader in Charleston's African Church (precursor to the city's famed Emanuel AME Church) and presided over weeknight class meetings outside the watchful gaze of whites. In these, according to confessions from fellow plotters, he discussed both the Bible and current events, including the antislavery speeches in the 1819 debates over the Missouri Compromise. At Vesey's trial, a bewildered magistrate exclaimed that it was difficult to imagine what "infatuation" could have prompted a "comparatively wealthy" free man to attempt an enterprise "so wild and visionary," in which success was "impracticable." One possible answer was Vesey's many children, all slaves born to enslaved mothers.


Sylvia Goodman at chronicle.com, Researchers Did a Deep Dive into Efforts to Restrict Critical Race Theory.

The new CRT Forward Tracking Project follows and analyzes anti-critical-race-theory legislation, regulations, and administrative policies on a national scale. Begun by the University of California at Los Angeles’s law school on Tuesday, the project has analyzed almost 24,000 articles and found nearly 500 instances of attempted limits on the teaching of critical race theory. The project’s director, Taifha N. Alexander, said the most surprising result of her work is that the group has found cases in nearly every state. Alexander said that, while it may seem like these measures are being introduced only in conservative states, that perception reflects state-level activity, ignoring local action. In California, for example, the project has not identified any state-level efforts but has found many anti-CRT measures at the school-board level. “If you are living in the United States, everywhere from Alaska to New Hampshire and everywhere in between, there have been anti-CRT measures implemented at some level. The only exception to that is Delaware,” Alexander said.


Philip Deloria in NEW YORKER on Caleb Gayle's book, We Refuse to Forget: A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity, and Power.

[H]ow to reconcile citizenship claims with tribal-sovereignty claims? A constitutive element of being a sovereign nation, after all, is having control over citizenship criteria. And, as tribal nations have developed economic resources and political standing in the course of the past several decades, wannabe Indians have appeared on their borders. In Canada, people have claimed to be “Eastern Métis,” on the basis of a single Indigenous ancestor several centuries ago. In the U.S., an African American “tribe” calling itself the Washitaw has invented fantastic genealogies issuing from the lost continent of Mu. Bogus Cherokee tribes have proliferated, asking for state and federal recognition. Meanwhile, individual ethnic impostors seek tribal citizenship by means of vague assertions of ancestry; others brandish results from DNA tests. Tribes have responded with restrictions and occasional purges of membership rolls. Gayle and Roberts capture the tumultuous sound of two “one-drop rules” clashing.


Frances Widdowson in AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE, Billy Remembers: Analyzing the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc/Kamloops Indian Residential School Moral Panic.

  Other circumstances that cast doubt on these testimonies are that there were three indigenous teachers on staff at KIRS during the 1950s and 1960s: Joe Stanley Michel (now deceased), Benjamin Paul, and Mabel Caron (still living in Kamloops). These three indigenous staff members are featured in the 1962 CBC documentary The Eyes of Children (now considered, without explanation, to be a “propaganda film” by The Fifth Estate). Joe Stanley Michel was the first KIRS graduate in 1950 (register #589) and returned to KIRS to teach there from 1953 to 1967 and lived with his wife, Anna Susan Soulle (also a KIRS graduate, register #666), and young family in a teacherage next door to the school building. Michel and Soulle were also interviewed in Celia Haig-Brown’s Resistance and Renewal (1988), and did not mention burials. Would all of these indigenous people have kept silent about these alleged clandestine graves? The Eyes of Children offers a stark contrast to the macabre tales being told: footage of children enthusiastically crowding around one of the priests, playing sports, and being taught dancing by a nun. Three indigenous teachers, Michel, Paul, and Caron, can be observed giving classes and providing training in a machine shop. While one can be taken aback by the piousness of some of the scenes, and perhaps argue that the footage was sanitized to exaggerate the happiness of the children, it is hard to believe that the children in this documentary would have been murdered or their babies thrown into a furnace.


Allysia Finley in WSJ, Cannibis and the Violent Crime Surge.

Young people are especially vulnerable to cannabis's effects because their brains are still developing. Scientists in a recent study reviewed scans of teenagers' brains before and after they started using pot. They found that parts of the brain involved in decision making and morality judgments were altered in pot users compared to nonusers. But can pot make people violent? A study last year found that young people with such mood disorders as depression who were also addicted to pot were 3.2 times as likely to commit self-harm and die of homicide - often after initiating violence - than those who weren't. A meta-analysis found the risk of perpetrating violence was more than twice as high for young adults who used marijuana. It's possible that pot can trigger dangerous behavior in youths who may be predisposed to it for other reasons such as prenatal exposure to drugs.... About 20% of pregnant young women in California tested positive for marijuana in 2016.


At CWBChicago.com, Businessman Blames the Behavior of 'Savages' as City Revokes Lincoln Park Resaurant's Licenses.

Even after freshly losing his business to Chicago license enforcers, Rashad Bailey speaks energetically, enthusiastically, passionately. “They got a sticker on my door. They f*cking won,” he conceded Tuesday morning. After a 14-month battle, the city shuttered his Lincoln Park restaurant, Dinner and a Movie, permanently on Friday. A lot of what Bailey said during an hour-long free-flowing conversation Tuesday morning will surprise people. But if you’re expecting the usual racism talking points, think again. “I’m heartbroken,” Bailey said. “I had 600 people coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday [for celebrations]. They planned it two or three months in advance. I don’t even know how to tell everyone that racism won. D*ckheads won. That my skin is a problem.” “For a moment, I felt like crying,” Bailey said. “I mean, I made it to Lincoln Park. We took all these pictures [of customers] having a good time and it was so nice. I’m gonna change my number 'cuz people are still calling for reservations.” “You got regular Black people who come to Dinner and a Movie. They’re like normal people. Then you get those other motherf*ckers. They’re savages,” he said “All it takes is one or two and it’s like, damn! Sh*t happened. I’m Black, so I can say this. At this point, whatever.”


Mark Lilla in NYT on Jerry Muller's book, Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes.

The most significant of those relationships was with his wife, the novelist Susan Taubes, whom he married when she was just 21. At first they seemed to have a tantric hold on each other and drew others into their open erotic life, including Susan Sontag, who eventually made a movie based loosely but unmistakably on the couple, with the arresting title Duet for Cannibals. In the early 1960s Sontag even taught courses on eros and mysticism with Taubes at Columbia, where he had a cult following. But she also witnessed his cruelty and manipulation, especially of his wife. It was Sontag who identified Susan Taubes’s body after she drowned herself in East Hampton in 1969. Yet through it all Taubes remained on the move, accruing posts in the United States and Europe while leaving emotional wreckage behind him. And everyone knew this: That is the remarkable thing. Befriending Taubes required a kind of inner dissociation, keeping apart knowledge of his character and the pleasure of his company. A first meeting with Jacob Taubes must have been an exhilarating experience. Over the years he had crafted a seductive theological-political patter in which terms like messianism, mysticism, eschatology, apocalypse, gnosticism, redemption and antinomianism swirled around in a gravity-free vacuum, never touching historical ground. Almost all his ideas were borrowed from others, yet they still left people impressed and sometimes enlightened.


Dominic Green in WSJ on David Pryce-Jones' book, Openings & Outings: An Anthology.

In his diaries, the diplomat Evelyn Shuckburgh is almost comically incensed at the refusal of both Jews and Arabs to do what they are told as Britain loses control in the Middle East: "In his surprise and dismay over unfolding events is heard the melancholy but authentic sound of the breaking of the British Empire." Shuckburgh blames America first: the Chinese, he wrote, were aggressive in Indochina in the 1950s because the Eisenhower administration was "so damned contemptuous of them." The petty tyrants who arose in the age of decolonization were encouraged by the professionals like Shuckburgh, "fatuous diplomats sodden with emotion, the host of Arabian star-gazers in the train of T.E. Lawrence." They were praised by amateur publicists such as the journalist Robert Fisk ("tendentious to the point of untruthfulness") and the "dishonest" historian Eric Hobsbawm, who with his fellow academic leftists refused to "admit their share in the central intellectual and moral failure of the times."


Raw Egg Nationalist at americanmind.org, Ecce Homos.

Calling anything gay that looks like traditional masculinity is not new. Elsewhere, in a nod to the great Herbert Butterfield and his “whig interpretation of history,” I have called this tendency, in its broadest form, the “fag interpretation of history.” Basically, where the arc of Butterfield’s whig interpretation tends towards progress, the fag interpretation sees everywhere, and in all things, as a movement out of the closet and towards open faggotry. No male historical figure or event involving men or manly grouping is safe from queering, whether we’re talking about Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, the Spartan last stand at Thermopylae, cowboys, pirates, gang members, or even the simplest masculine pleasures and pastimes. Someone, somewhere, whether they are a tenured academic or an armchair psychologist, will always be ready to tell you that the Spartans fought to the last man because they were all gay lovers; that great historical figure X was driven to make his vast conquests by a repressed desire for a male schoolfriend; or that Brazilian jiu-jitsu is just barely disguised dry humping. Checkmate, bigots!


Spencer Lindquist at breitbart.com, ACLU Supports Use of Chemically Castrating Drugs on Trans Kids.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which previously opposed the administration of a drug to chemically castrate sex offenders, is now advocating for children to be able to take the chemically castrating drugs as puberty blockers. Just one year ago, the ACLU was previously a vocal opponent of a law in Alabama that mandated chemical castration on certain convicted sex offenders. Former Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama Randall Marshall called the practice of chemical castration “medical experimentation,” also claiming that it “has no basis in the medical community.”


Roger Cohen in NYT, Of Barbecues and Men: A Summer Storm Over Virility in France.

The land of gastronomy has become the land of heated debate over the cultural and political symbolism of food. Traditionalists detect signs of American-imported “cancel culture” in the attempt to put steak and lamb off-limits to save the planet. There’s even a new word — the “mangeosphère,” or roughly the eating sphere — coined by the French daily Le Monde for these discussions on the semiology of a ham sandwich or an apple. Mr. Roussel, then the Communist Party presidential candidate, was fiercely criticized in January for saying all French people should have the right to traditional fare. “A good wine, good meat, good cheese, that is French gastronomy,” he said. The comment was immediately attacked as xenophobic, with Ms. Rousseau in the vanguard of his critics. What about couscous and sushi? And the millions of French Muslims, who do not drink wine? And the vegans who are not much interested in “good meat?” Nonetheless, Mr. Roussel’s popularity briefly surged, and thunderous applause at rallies greeted his cry of: “What are we going to eat? Tofu and soy beans? Come on!”


Jennifer Szalai in NYT on Andrea Wulf's book, Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self.

Wulf says that Romanticism is difficult to define because it emphasized not an absolute truth but “the process of understanding” — a fuzziness that pleased the Romantics themselves, who refused to be hemmed in by any rules. But there was still a core to their movement, which emphasized the limits of rationality and extolled the imagination. Science wasn’t something to be resisted; it was to be integrated, because everything was connected.Romanticizing the world meant grasping it as a resonant whole. As much as the Romantics loved the fragment, in the end it was fragmentation that did them in. “Listen,” Caroline wrote to August Wilhelm in 1801, “this good old Jena really is a den of murderers after all.” Fichte turned on the Schlegel brothers. Schelling turned on Fichte. Everyone turned on Caroline. Schiller had long before turned on nearly everyone. Only Goethe seemed determined to stay above it all, even to the point of ignoring the relentless advance of Napoleon’s army.


Vigilant Citizen at vigilantcitizen.com, The Powerful Symbolism in "Sweetest Pie" by Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa.

We can take away a few things from this story. First, it deals with three of the occult elite’s favorite obsessions: Witchcraft, cannibalism, and preying on children. Since forever, those who practice the “dark arts” (aka black magic) are convinced that consuming human flesh and blood provides some sort of life force and/or occult power. And children are believed to be full of whatever they’re after. So this story about a witch catching children to eat them is not just pure fantasy. It is based on historical accounts of truly evil people who have done atrocious things in the past. In Sweetest Pie, Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa play the role of the witch. Of course. What else do you expect from entertainers who are pawns of the occult elite?


Michael Warren Davis in AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE on Ronald Hutton's book, Queens of the Wild: Pagan Goddesses in Christian Europe.

  The Romantics championed the countryside against the city, the farm against the factory, the Medieval against the Enlightened. Truth is found, not in the mind, but in the soul; not in artifice, but in nature; not in the seen, but in the Unseen. Needless to say, they were right-wingers almost to a man. Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lord Byron were all conservatives of one stripe or another. Edmund Burke's essay "On the Sublime and Beautiful" is a landmark text of Romantic aesthetics. Of course, a few prominent Romantics were quite radical for their day. Percy Bysshe Shelley is one. Charles Swinburne is another. Yet these exceptions prove the rule. If they felt no attachment to the Medieval, it was because they preferred the Old Religions and wrote hymns to the old gods.... Taken on its own, the whole thing is laughable. That's just as well, because the pagan revival wasn't limited to Britain, and its leaders weren't all as inept as [Gerald] Gardner. Hitler is the obvious example. Nazi esotericism was grounded in the same weird mixture of Romanticism, popular occultism, and junk history. But in every other respect, they were closer to Shelley and Swinburne. They saw India, Tibet, and Ultima Thule as the spiritual homeland of the Aryan race. They had no attachment to European history - only a bizarre pseudo-prehistory. They were radicals, not reactionaries.


David Samuels at tabletmag.com, The Authority Blob: Roundtable with Angelo Codevilla, Todd Gitlin, Michael Lind, Ilana Redstone, Wesley Yang.

Angelo Codevilla: The current elites got to their places and amassed their wealth exclusively through the old Republic’s structures, which they have turned to their own accounts. Precisely because the current elites do not embody any economic or social good in which the ruled may participate, precisely because they glory in being obnoxious to the rest of the population, their rule has the hallmarks of decline, not rise. Unlike traditional oligarchs, they revel in humiliating those over whom they rule. Two events are emblematic: The Feb. 4, 2021, publication in Time magazine of what was effectively an admission of manipulation of the 2020 election, coupled with increased venom against whomever suggests that such things happened; and Barack Obama’s 60th birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard, with 200 maskless guests and dozens of masked servants, i.e., conspicuous consumption in the face of growing establishment restrictions on ordinary people. Not even the likes of Mobutu flaunted themselves so.


revolver.news, Busted: Biden's "Minister of Truth" Nina Jankowicz Participated in Secret NATO-Funded Cabal to Subvert Western Democracies Using Disinformation as Cover.

The picture that emerges so far is as disturbing as it is undeniable. The Integrity Initiative was a secret, government-funded influence operation that engaged secret “clusters” of journalists and academics to coordinate in order to meddle in the political process of Western democracies under the guise of combating “disinformation” and “defending democracy.” Not only was the Integrity Initiative funded by national security bureaucracies, it conducted itself in precisely the same surreptitious manner one would typically associate with the world of spooks and espionage. One leaked document advises its reader on how to go about recruiting people for a cluster. It reads far more like an intelligence document than a journalism-related one. “Be absolutely sure… we can trust them before we talk to them” is a baffling line for a group whose only purpose is to correct “disinformation.” Politifact and Snopes may or may not produce good “fact check” reporting, but we highly doubt they fret about being able to “trust” whomever they share their work with. But this obsession with trust is quite understandable for a group whose actual purpose is manipulating the public, rather than informing them.


Dexter Fergie in NEW REPUBLIC on Sam Lebovic's book, A Righteous Smokescreen: Postwar America and the Politics of Cultural Globalization.

Both conservatives and liberals are nostalgic for their postwar moment. Conservatives clamor for the white-picket-fence-and-lawn suburban dreams of the 1950s—the homogeneity, conformity, and, as they are stating more and more openly, the racial and social hierarchies. “Make America Great Again,” they yell. But liberals also pine for the postwar U.S., specifically its foreign relations. Today’s defenders of the liberal international order look back longingly to the central role the U.S. played in ending the war and in organizing the peace. They rattle off America’s multilateral moves toward global governance and its military alliances spanning vast portions of the earth—from the North Atlantic to Southeast Asia—as well as its extension of economic lifelines to friend and former foe alike, helping restore a war-weary world.


Robert Kraychik at breitbart.com, WEF Adviser Yuval Harari: ‘We Just Don’t Need the Vast Majority of the Population’ in Today’s World.

He assessed widespread contemporary disillusionment among “common people” as being rooted in a fear of being “left behind” in a future run by “smart people.” Such fears are justified, he added, given his projection that emerging technologies will displace economic needs to many categories of existing work: A lot of people sense that they are being left behind and left out of the story, even if their material conditions are still relatively good. In the 20th century, what was common to all the stories — the liberal, the fascist, the communist — is that the big heroes of the story were the common people, not necessarily all people, but if you lived, say, in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, life was very grim, but when you looked at the propaganda posters on the walls that depicted the glorious future, you were there. You looked at the posters which showed steel workers and farmers in heroic poses, and it was obvious that this is the future. Now, when people look at the posters on the walls, or listen to TED talks, they hear a lot of these these big ideas and big words about machine learning and genetic engineering and blockchain and globalization, and they are not there.


Alex Newman in EPOCH TIMES, Behind the Global War on Farming.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, often referred to as Agenda 2030, were adopted in 2015 by the organization and its member states as a guide to "transforming our world." Hailed as a "master plan for humanity" and a global "declaration of interdependence" by top U.N. officials, the 17 goals include 169 targets involving every facet of the economy and life. "All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan," declares the preamble to the document, repeatedly noting that "no one will be left behind."


Stefan Collini in LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS on Alison Bashford's book, An Intimate Story of Evolution: The Story of the Huxley Family.

The distinctiveness of Darwin’s theory, the implications of which weren’t always consistently adhered to even by the great man himself, was to remove all traces of purpose or progress: species produced random mutations; some of these mutations turned out to be beneficial for survival in a given environment; and so descendants with the relevant mutation gradually replaced those without it. Various attempts were made to smuggle some sense of direction or progress back into this account – the ambiguity of Herbert Spencer’s coinage ‘the survival of the fittest’ allowed many to see it as a constant process of improvement – but the strict logic of Darwin’s mechanism didn’t warrant any such comforting inference: chance dictated the appearance of mutations, and the remorseless nature of the struggle for survival dictated which mutations were passed on in numbers. It was a weakness of Darwin’s theory, one much insisted on after his death in 1882, that it couldn’t explain the appearance of mutations in the first place.


Justin Smith in LIBERTIES JOURNAL, The World as a Game.

  Such a landscape of artificial stupidity, in which there is a glut of undifferentiated information and misinformation issuing forth from machines that could not care less about the distinction between the two, is, much more than the possible dawning of machine consciousness, which is the real story of our most recent technological revolution. That we human beings are compelled to submit to the terms and the constraints laid out by thoughtless machines - for example that we are expected to groom and update AI-generated stub profiles of ourselves that we never asked for in the first place, lest misinformation about us spread and we "lose points" in the great game of our professional standing - is, quite obviously, an encroachment on our freedom, and therefore, again, an encroachment on the one sort of play by the other. Play is now left to the very youngest of us: those too young to understand what screens are, too young to discern the world that lies behind and beyond them. Adolescence begins, perhaps, when we learn to channel our innate playfulness into competition. The comprehensive gamification of adulthood, in this light, has the condition of permanent adolescence as its corollary.


Stephen Bush in FT, Beware the Rise of the Black Box Algorithm.

Any system designed to measure the likelihood of someone reoffending has to make a choice between letting out those who may in fact go on to reoffend, or continuing to imprison people who are ready to become productive members of society. There is no "right" or "fair" answer here: algorithms can shape your decision-making, but the judgment is ultimately one that has to be made by politicians and, indirectly, their voters. As the statistician David Spiegelhalter has observed, there is no practical difference between judges using algorithms and judges following sentencing guidelines. The important difference is solely and significantly that sentencing guidelines are clearly understood, publicly available and subject to democratic debate.


Madhumita Murgia in FT, The Monk Helping the Vatican Take on AI.

“I would call Silicon Valley’s ethos almost libertarian and very strongly atheist, but usually replacing that atheism with a religion of their own, usually transhumanism or posthumanism,” says Kanta Dihal, a researcher of science and society at the University of Cambridge. “[It’s] a ‘man becoming god’ kind of narrative, which is strongly influenced by a privileged white male perspective shaping what the future might look like.” Dihal’s analysis is reminiscent of a fragment from Pope John Paul II’s famous writing on the dialogue between faith and science from 1998, Fides Et Ratio, which Benanti teaches in his graduate class. I discovered it when one of his students mentioned it to me after we attended a morning lecture on neuroethics. In the thesis, John Paul II writes, “Certain scientists, lacking any ethical point of reference, are in danger of putting at the centre of their concerns something other than the human person and the entirety of the person’s life.” He adds: “Further still, some of these, sensing the opportunities of technological progress, seem to succumb not only to a market-based logic, but also to the temptation of a quasi-divine power over nature and even over the human being.”


Aristophanes Rat Utopia at threadreader.com.

It becomes very obvious that what upsets them the most about GPT-4chan is that they hold this idea in their heads that no one should have access to large language models who doesn't hold their worldview, and I have a theory as to why this is. I think they have an (incorrect) idea that if they can successfully gatekeep this technology to people like them (they can't) that they can convince everyone once and for all that their shitlib worldviews are undebatable and correct because "muh AI even agrees!" If every advanced bot or, someday, AI, never makes it to the public eye before being shackled and neutered of all wrongthink, I think they believe they can have some justification to just bulldoze any opposition to the views said AI pantomimes as "cold unbiased reality". The problem is, doing it that way will *never* lead to them actually *succeeding* in creating an AI, because to shackle such a thing in development is to castrate it, if there are conclusions it would naturally come to that it is forced to ignore, it can never develop.


Michael Lind at tabletmag.com, The End of Progressive Intellectual Life.

The centralized and authoritarian control of American progressivism by major foundations and the nonprofits that they fund, and the large media institutions, universities, corporations, and banks that disseminate the progressive party line, has made it impossible for there to be public intellectuals on the American center-left. This is not to say that progressives are not intelligent and/or well-educated. It is merely to say that being a progressive public intellectual is no longer an option, in an era in which progressivism is anti-intellectual. If you are an intelligent and thoughtful young American, you cannot be a progressive public intellectual today, any more than you can be a cavalry officer or a silent movie star.


Thomas Meaney in NEW REPUBLIC on Jean-Yves Fretigne's book, To Live Is to Resist: The Life of Antonio Gramsci.

Before left-leaning western elites and academics fell headlong for Foucault in the 1990s, many were enamored of Gram sci, who, thanks to translation efforts of the British New Left, hurtled out of obscurity in the 1970s to become an international phenomenon. Gramsci and Foucault would come to attract admiration for similar reasons. Both were thought to exhibit a healthy distaste for Marxist orthodoxy—aridly anti-communist in Foucault’s case; both proposed more diffuse notions of power than traditional class analyses; both seemed assimilable into the reigning ideology of individualism (Gramsci because of his unique biography and personal style; Foucault for his focus on the “self”); and both made a point of stressing the significance of intellectuals in the social order. The belief that Gramsci somehow privileged the cultural domain over the political and economic helped justify the materialist allergies of at least two generations of professors, while keeping their nominal radicalism intact.


Matthew John in EPOCH TIMES, Marxism and Our Libraries: Where Do We Go From Here?.

In a tweet that broke the news, Emily Drabinski, the ALA's new president-elect, declared: "I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary. I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity!" ...The American Library Association, which is a nonprofit organization, describes itself as "the trusted voice of libraries... for more than 140 years."


Anthony Esolen in CHRONICLES, War Without End, Amen.

  I have often complained that the self-styled progressive of our time never tells us where he wants to go. Progress implies a destination, and rest - sweet and blessed rest - once you have arrived. But that would imply a natural human order to return to, or to attain. And then what? Then what? The progressive sweats. He neither believes in a natural order, nor comes to terms with fallen man and his imperfection. If peace is, as Augustine says, the tranquility of order, the progressive promotes himself as a disturber of the peace. He is too tightly wound to stop. If you live in a town full of such, you will see the pathology all the time, the unrest of people who cannot let things be.... But since man cannot take one step if he fears that the ground may collapse beneath him, the progressive must turn to something that promises, if not peace, at least the tense and temporary stasis of truce. He will not bow to a natural order, but he will lie with awful reverence prone before its evil simular. That is the state-made-god, to which he cedes an ever more intrusive central control over as many features of human life as possible.


Silke-Maria Weineck at chronicle.com, Colleges Must Stop Trying to Appease the Right.

In light of the Republican Party’s longstanding contempt for knowledge and expertise — be it in the context of history, public health, climate change, or ecology — the question is why colleges so far had escaped its venom relatively unscathed (if you disregard the systematic defunding of public institutions that plunged a generation of college kids into deep debt that cannot be discharged). College football is surely part of the answer, but I suspect the real reason is this: Despite the common narrative to the contrary, colleges are not, in fact, left-wing institutions. I invite anybody who believes we are hotbeds of socialism to check the salaries and working conditions of non-unionized adjunct faculty members. Rather, they are hierarchical operations largely dedicated to reproducing a social order that benefits the upper-middle class, liberals and conservatives alike — call it the professional-managerial class, if you will, beholden to and sustained by a small-l liberal world order. Now that the party is increasingly embracing anti-pluralist, protectionist, Christian nationalist, and at times neofascist goals, it is no longer aligned with the PMC’s broader agenda. It is therefore ready to wage open war with colleges, intent on confiscating the social capital they wield. This is a moment of considerable peril.


David Bell at chronicle.com, Two Cheers for Presentism.

Last week James Sweet, president of the American Historical Association, sparked an academic firestorm by devoting his monthly column for the association newsletter to a critique of presentism. For too many contemporary scholars, Sweet suggested, the past only matters when read “through the prism of contemporary social justice issues — race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, capitalism.” The resulting uproar led Sweet to issue an apology for what he termed his ”ham-fisted attempt at provocation.” The immediate controversy is dying down, but it has drawn new attention to the fraught question of how present-day concerns should guide historical research. Historians have amply discussed these issues in recent years, as Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins chronicled in his excellent 2020 article in these pages, “Beyond the End of History.” And yet as last week’s events make clear, the debate is as alive as ever.


Edward Luttwak interviewed by David Samuels at tabletmag.com, Three Blind Kings.

In Vladivostok, there is a wonderful female scholar at the Navy University, this is the university run by the Russian Navy. She wrote an article about Chinese border policy and about active claims and dormant claims. In that article, she says that the Chinese are advancing many territorial claims against the Japanese, for the Senkakus, against the Philippines, against the Indonesians for the Natuna offshore, and for almost the whole of Arunachal state in India and part of Ladakh. Then she said, “And then there are the dormant claims that will be activated when the Chinese feel strong enough to do so.” Two of them, the most important, are the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Beijing Convention of 1860, involving the transfer of the maritime provinces to Russia. Now, the official translation of Vladivostok into Chinese is a straight transliteration, Fúlādíwòsītuōkè, that is Vladivostok in Chinese characters. But unofficially, they use Haishenwai, which is not of course Chinese, it’s Manchurian, because the whole Chinese claim to Manchuria, Tibet, and Xinjiang is bogus because they were all under Manchu rule when the Chinese themselves were under the rule of the Manchu. It’s like Sri Lanka claiming to rule India because both were ruled by the British, and this false claim is the basis of everything there.


Peter Hefele at euobserver.com, What Is China Up to with Its New 'Global Security Initiative'?.

Comprehensive security - or even "securitisation" - in domestic and international relations has become a near-obsession in Chinese politics since Xi Jinping took power in 2012 and 2013. Security, in the understanding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is first and foremost ensuring the survival of its Leninist-Maoist power monopoly and socialism with Chinese characteristics. Other security dimensions are built around this core interest, like onion peels. It is not by coincidence that Xi Jinping also presides over the Central National Security Commission (CNSC), a newly established body in 2013 to centralise control over the giant Chinese security apparatus. As early as April 2014, at a CNSC session, Xi presented his concept of "big security", in which domestic and international security had been defined as inseparably linked. One was already wondering when a comprehensive concept for China's foreign relations and worldview under the auspices of security would be released. This happened at the prestigious Boao Forum for Asia on 21 April 2022, when Xi Jinping announced his new "Global Security Initiative" (GSI).


Lars Schonander & Geoffrey Cain in WSJ, The Chinese Are Buying The Farm.

One Chinese billionaire, Sun Guangxin, invested an estimated $110 million in Texas farmland. He planned to build a wind-turbine farm on a 15,000-acre Val Verde County parcel that would give him access to the Texas electricity grid. There isn't much in Val Verde Country besides Laughlin Air Force Base. In 2020 then-Rep. Will Hurd wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle urging the federal government to halt the project on national security grounds. Mr. Sun's company, GH America, received $163,513 in Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic.


David Adler in AMERICAN AFFAIRS, Guiding Finance: China's Strategy for Funding Advanced Manufacturing.

What is the purpose of finance and its relationship with the real economy? How can the financial sector better support innovation and national growth? What financing tools can lead to improved national competitiveness? What role should the state play, if any, in guiding capital? These questions are not debated in the United States, at least not generally. The first question is not debated in China, either, because the answer is settled: finance should support the real economy. But China is vigorously grappling with the other points of political economy and is developing new theories and institutions—and its government is experi menting with many new financing mechanisms—to support many different industrial policies.


Edward White in FT, China 'Devil Vessels' Accused of Abuses.

EJF said the seal was just one of an unknown number of protected species slaughtered by the Chinese fleet that also included false killer whales, whale sharks, dolphins and turtles. One Indonesian fisherman described the boat he toiled on as a “devil vessel”. “We took everything. It did not matter whether the shark was big or small, even babies inside the shark’s belly,” he told the investigators. A separate investigation published last month by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, a US think-tank, found that Chinese state-linked and private fishing companies — including some with western backers — had designed operations that evaded accountability and avoided exposure to external due diligence. These included targeting species without established oversight bodies, visiting mostly Chinese ports and internalising their supply chains. Another study published in the journal Science Advances in March of illegal fishing activities — including human rights abuses and smuggling — found at least a third of all recorded offences from 2000 to 2020 were linked to 450 industrial vessels and 20 companies originating from China, the EU and tax haven jurisdictions.


Nic Fildes in FT, India on Track to Pass China as World's Biggest Buyer of Minerals.

China’s “precarious” debt trajectory and its slowing population growth mean it could be eclipsed by India as the world’s most important buyer of minerals in a decade, according to Dambisa Moyo, the global investor and economist. Moyo, who was speaking at the Diggers & Dealers mining conference in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, warned that China’s debt and demographic challenges would become “incredibly problematic over the next 10 years”. She said those structural challenges would intensify China’s “struggle to manage a lot of their policy initiatives from the centre in terms of their political approach”.


James Fernyhough in FT, Pro-China Fakers Target US Rare Earths Plant.

Dragonbridge first came to Mandiant’s attention in 2019 with social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube opposing anti-government protests in Hong Kong. The group has since branched out into a range of areas including the Covid-19 pandemic and US politics. “Recently, we identified and investigated a subset of information operations activity we attribute to the Dragonbridge campaign across social media,” Mandiant said in a blog post. The cyber security firm said it had also monitored campaigns against rare earths companies Appia Rare Earths & Uranium Corp and USA Rare Earth, and against US president Joe Biden’s Defense Production Act, a Korean war-era law under which Washington is aiming to increase domestic production of critical minerals. Mandiant said the campaigns had used “inauthentic social media and forum accounts, including those posing as residents in Texas to feign concern over environmental and health issues surrounding the plant”.


Frances Martel at breitbart.com, Genocide: Police Hack Shows Xi Jinping Ordered China to 'Break the Lineages' of Uyghurs.

The strategy Chen detailed, which he directly credits “the General Secretary” (Xi Jinping) with implementing, is a five-year plan that began in 2017 and is expected to end this year that includes the creation of “vocational training centers” – China’s euphemism for the concentration camps – in addition to the infiltration of all mosques with communist propaganda, “the seizing of wild imams,” and a policy of ethnic erosion both Chen and Zhao in his remarks referred to as “breaking lineages, breaking roots, breaking connections, breaking origins.” Chen applauded his team in his remarks for having successfully implemented Xi’s ideas. “The sources of extremism have been controlled well, the seizing of wild imams has been done well, the investigating of two-faced persons has been done well,” he praised. “the ‘Digging, Reducing, and Shoveling,’ the ‘Four Breaks’ (breaking lineages, breaking roots, breaking connections, breaking origins) have been done well.”


Tunku Varadarajan in WSJ on Ilham Tohit's book, We Uyghurs Have No Say, and Nury Turkel's book, No Escape.

He was born in 1970, in a prison camp, his pregnant mother—only 19—having been imprisoned because her father had been involved in Uyghur politics before the Communists took power. She was so ill-fed in jail that she could scarcely breastfeed her son. Before giving birth, she had been hit on her swollen belly by a guard. Mr. Turkel did well at school and at age 25—in 1995—left China for studies in the U.S., never to return. He went to law school and cofounded the Uyghur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group based in Washington. After 9/11, he represented a group of Uyghurs who had been swept up by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo. He secured their release: They were, it emerged, refugees from Xinjiang, not members of al Qaeda. But Mr. Turkel grasped that this handful of Uyghurs in the U.S. dragnet allowed China to “rebrand Uyghurs as dangerous Islamic extremists.” Beijing began to assert that all political disturbances in Xinjiang were, as he says, “motivated by Al Qaeda sympathies.” China reckoned that this would give it carte blanche—in the midst of the Global War on Terror—to crack down on the Muslim Uyghurs. And so a people already reeling from decades of Han Chinese repression were brought to their knees.


Peter Hessler in NEW YORKER, A Bitter Education.

Some of my most powerful memories from the classroom in Fuling involve incidents in which I made a statement that touched, even obliquely, on a sensitive aspect of Chinese history or politics. At such moments, the room would fall silent, and students would stare at their desks. It was a visceral response, and it became the same for me—looking out over the bowed heads, my heart raced and my face grew hot. Initially, I considered these to be the instances when I felt most like a foreigner. But I came to realize it was the opposite: my body was experiencing something that must be common to young Chinese. The Party had created a climate so intense that the political became physical.


Sophia Lam in EPOCH TIMES, Former Millionaire Details Corrupt Practices in China.

"The communist regime allows you to experience a little bit of freedom and lets you work hard until you make some money. Then, it comes for your money," Feng Zhenguo told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Sept. 14. Feng had invested more than 3 million yuan (over $430,000) and had about 40 employees at the factory, which made high-end customized furniture, in Qinhuangdao, a port city 190 miles east of Beijing. But he was forced to sell the business to the police for only 400,000 yuan ($57,000). He had originally set up the business out of his love for carpentry and good craftsmanship. "I thought that I could so something well if I was really fond of it and did it wall all my heart," he said. However, the communist regime turned his life's dream into a nightmare, repeatedly asking him for money while using various excuses and guises, he said.


Edward White & Eleanor Olcott in FT, China's Middle Class Angst.

For decades, China’s expanding middle class had but one option to get ahead: neijuan, or joining the rat race of relentless competition. Then, a surprising strain of resistance sprouted among the young last year: tangping, lying flat and doing only the minimum to make ends meet. Now, after a return to gruelling lockdowns under President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy, a third trend has emerged: runxue, the study of how to get out of China for good. In late March, as more than 300mn people found themselves under fresh restrictions, searches on Tencent’s WeChat platform for “how to move to Canada” surged almost 3,000 per cent, a study by US think-tank the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) found. In early April, WeChat searches for immigration jumped more than 440 per cent. Relocation consultants in China and abroad say they were also hit by a torrent of phone calls and emails. The runxue phenomenon highlights that ordinary Chinese are deeply frustrated. Their day-to-day freedoms hinge on the results of mandatory Covid-19 tests, often taken every 48 or 72 hours.


Li Yuan in NYT, 'The Last Generation': The Disillusionment of Young Chinese.

A growing number of college graduates are trying to get into graduate schools or pass the increasingly competitive public servant examinations to land a secure government job. Two-thirds of 131 new recruits of civil servants in Beijing’s Chaoyang district in April had a master’s or doctoral degree, according to a government document, reflecting an increasing trend. They graduated from top universities in China and around the world, including Peking University, University of Hong Kong, University of Sydney and Imperial College London. Many of them will be doing the most basic government jobs, ones that high school graduates used to fill. A Ph.D. graduate of particle physics from Peking University will become an urban management officer, or chengguan, according to the report. Chengguan are the most reviled officials, known for brutalizing beggars, chasing down street vendors and assisting in tearing down people’s homes. The contrast is too rich.


James Gorrie in EPOCH TIMES, 'The Last Generation' Reflects the Dehumanization of China by the CCP.

From a behavioral perspective, the young generation is unlike any China has seen. During the one-child policy era, for example, many wanted more than one child, while the state engaged in forced abortions to enforce the policy. Today, many young Chinese refuse to have any children. One poll showed two-thirds of mostly owmen between the ages of 18 and 31 have chosen not to have children. "Not bringing children to this country, to this land, will be the most charitable deed I could manage," wrote a Weibo user under the hashtag #thelastgeneration, before it was censored. Another wrote: "As ordinary people who're not entitled to individual dignity, our reproductive organs will be our last resort."


Rana Mitter in SPECTATOR, Baby Bust: China's Looming Demographic Disaster.

China likes to talk a tough game. But the demographic crisis means that there is a question over the way in which China could sustain any military attack. Part of the reason for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a calculation that soon the Russian army wouldn’t have the manpower for a full-blown war. Xi Jinping faces a different dilemma – can the People’s Liberation Army continue its shift from a force based on sheer numbers to one that is smaller and relies on technology first and foremost?


Ian Johnson in NY REVIEW OF BOOKS, Hong Kong from the Inside.

Beijing's biggest error in trying to subjugate Hong Kong was to use what Hung calls "racialist nationalism." This is essentially what the Qing Empire used to control the vast territories it acquired in the eighteenth century, including Xinjiang and Tibet, which more than doubled its size. During this period, it offered these new possessions autonomy, but the assumption was that this was temporary. Qing authorities encouraged Han Chinese emigration and introduced Chinese culture in these regions, making it the benchmark for correct assimilation. This trend continues today, helping to explain the brutal policies being forced on Xinjiang, Tibet, and other non-ethnic Chinese parts of the People's Republic. Hong Kong would seem to be different from these areas because, according to modern racial discourse, it is "Chinese" in the sense that its residents were historically part of the same cultural world as Beijing, Shanghai, and other ethnically Chinese parts of the People's Republic. But areas such as Hong Kong have also been on the margins of Chinese culture, zones of refuge and resistance with a language different from the standard Chinese spoken predominantly inn North China.


Austin Ramzy in NYT, Peeling Paint in Hong Kong Reveals Work of Newly Relevant 'King'.

He covered public spaces in Hong Kong with expansive jumbles of Chinese characters that announced his unshakable belief that much of the Kowloon Peninsula rightfully belonged to his family. During his lifetime, the graffiti artist, Tsang Tsou-choi, was a ubiquitous figure, well-known for his eccentric campaign that struck most as a peculiar personal mission, not a political rallying cry. But Hong Kong has become a very different place since Mr. Tsang died in 2007, and his work — once commonly spotted, but now largely vanished from the streetscape — has taken on a new resonance in a city where much political expression has been stamped out by a sweeping campaign against dissent since 2020. “In his lifetime, particularly early on, people thought he was completely crazy,” said Louisa Lim, author of Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong, a new book that examines Mr. Tsang’s legacy. “Even at the time that he died no one was really interested in the content or the political message of his work. But actually, he was talking about these Hong Kong preoccupations long before other people were — territory, sovereignty, dispossession and loss.”


Bill Gertz in WASHINGTON TIMES, Rumors Swirl that China's Xi Jinping Will Step Down Amid Harsh Covid Lockdowns.

The rumors followed a meeting last week of the Party Politburo Standing Committee, the collective leadership group that rules China. They were traced in part to a Chinese-language YouTube video May 4 by Canadian-based blogger appearing under the persona “Lao Deng.” Details of the video quickly spread to social media outlets in China but were quickly censored. The blogger, citing what he said was a senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) security source, said a “coup” was launched against Mr. Xi at the meeting of senior party leaders in Beijing. According to blog, Mr. Xi was forced to step aside but will stay in place until a major party meeting later this year. In his place, current Premier Li Keqiang will take over daily management of the party and government.... One Chinese-language post on Twitter said another indicator was the removal of Mr. Xi’s books from a Beijing bookstore. The party media organ People’s Daily on May 8 also failed to run one of the usual glowing photos of Mr. Xi on its front page. Instead, only Mr. Li, the premier, and another party leader were mentioned.


Li Yuan in NYT, Perils of Preaching Nationalism Play Out on Chinese Social Media.

Some users compared the People’s Liberation Army to the Chinese men’s soccer team, a laughingstock in the country because it has qualified for the World Cup only once. They sneered at the announcement that the P.L.A. would conduct military exercises near Taiwan. “Save some gas,” said one WeChat user. “It’s very expensive now,” responded another.


Katherine Eban in VANITY FAIR, Inside the Virus-Hunting Nonprofit at the Center of the Lab-Leak.

[Jesse D.] Bloom’s paper was the product of detective work he’d undertaken after noticing that a number of early SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences mentioned in a published paper from China had somehow vanished without a trace. The sequences, which map the nucleotides that give a virus its unique genetic identity, are key to tracking when the virus emerged and how it might have evolved. In Bloom’s view, their disappearance raised the possibility that the Chinese government might be trying to hide evidence about the pandemic’s early spread. Piecing together clues, Bloom established that the NIH itself had deleted the sequences from its own archive at the request of researchers in Wuhan. Now, he was hoping Fauci and his boss, NIH director Francis Collins, could help him identify other deleted sequences that might shed light on the mystery. Bloom had submitted the paper to a preprint server, a public repository of scientific papers awaiting peer review, on the same day that he’d sent a copy to Fauci and Collins. It now existed in a kind of twilight zone: not published, and not yet public, but almost certain to appear online soon. Collins immediately organized a Zoom meeting for Sunday, June 20. He invited two outside scientists, evolutionary biologist Kristian Andersen and virologist Robert Garry, and allowed Bloom to do the same. Bloom chose Pond and Rasmus Nielsen, a genetic biologist. That it was shaping up like an old-fashioned duel with seconds in attendance did not cross Bloom’s mind at the time. But six months after that meeting, he remained so troubled by what transpired that he wrote a detailed account, which Vanity Fair obtained.


Petr Svab in EPOCH TIMES, Chinese Communist Subversion of WHO Undermined Global Pandemic Response.

While part of the CCP’s influence over the WHO was coming from the U.N., another part of it was played by Tedros himself. Tedros is a former Politburo member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a Maoist group that had waged a guerrilla war in the 1980s against the Soviet-backed Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. “The nearest you would put [Tigray’s ideology] to would be North Korea today,” according to Trevor Loudon, an expert on communist movements and front groups. In the early 1990s, as the regime at the time lost financial support from the collapsing Soviet Union, a coalition of Tigray and other groups overthrew it and ruled the country until 2019. While on the surface, the government embraced market reforms and democratic elections, ideologically it remained socialist, Loudon said, especially in terms of foreign policy. “They still keep up their foreign communist connections,” he said in a telephone interview with The Epoch Times. Tedros, a former health and later foreign minister of the African nation, naturally maintained strong ties with the CCP, embracing projects such as the “Belt and Road” initiative, which serves the CCP to expand its geostrategic influence. Tedros scored the WHO’s top post in 2017 with strong backing by the CCP’s lobby, despite allegations that he had covered up three cholera outbreaks during his tenure as health minister.


Alana Mastrangelo at breitbart.com, Famed U. of Maryland Professor Created Surveillance Machine for Communist China.

Manocha built the software as part of a six-figure research grant from Alibaba, which wanted to “classify the personality of each pedestrian and identify other biometric features,” according to documents obtained by the Daily Beast. “These capabilities will be used to predict the behavior of each pedestrian and are useful for surveillance,” the document read. The 2018 contract signed by the University of Maryland and Alibaba raises concerns that a U.S. tax-payer-funded university has directly contributed to the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance capabilities.... The grant document states that Manocha and his research team pledged to “work closely with Alibaba researchers” to develop surveillance software that can identify pedestrians based on their unique gaits, and classify them into categories such as “aggressive,” “shy,” and “impulsive,” among other personalities.... In 2020, it was discovered that Alibaba’s product, Cloud Shield, can recognize and classify the faces of Uyghur people. This revelation was concerning, given the ongoing Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang....


Melik Kaylan in WSJ, Why Won't We Call Putin a Colonialist?.

Why are so few in the West calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a colonial war? Colonialism is the clearest, most accurate framing of Moscow’s aggression. The self-justifying sense of mission, the dehumanization of the other, the violent imposition of dependency—all are central attributes of the colonial impulse. On the flip side, far too few Russians recognize their country’s behavior as imperialist. Self-flagellating postcolonial studies might have paralyzed Western cultural discourse, but in Russia such self-scrutiny is virtually nonexistent. Only in the West is the colonial era considered the great original sin of civilization, not least because the Soviet propaganda machine codified and packaged the idea for easy consumption. American and European intellectuals have done little to share the guilt with non-Western or anti-Western imperialists, while Vladimir Putin has insulated Russia’s population from such subversive ideas.


Jean De Ruyt at euobserver.com, Could the Central Asian 'stan' States Turn Away from Moscow?.

At the UN, none of the five central Asian powers supported Russia in the 2 March resolution condemning the Ukraine invasion. More recently, the presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have each rebuked Kremlin reports of bilateral meetings which indicated support for the war. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have both boldly dispatched humanitarian aid to Ukraine. As the war continues, it is increasingly clear that while they continue to hedge diligently their rhetoric, central Asian states are subtly pushing back against Russia's war, and Russia's influence. The opportunity for a long-term pivot is possible but, obviously, engagement of the EU is key.


Gillian Tett in FT, The Anger of the Minorities Fighting Russia's War.

Recently, some western academics held a Zoom call to discuss the Ukraine war with representatives from minority groups in the Russian Federation, including the Tuvan, Buryat, Sakha, Kalmyk, Yakut and Chechen peoples. You may be baffled by some of these names. After all, the only group that appears semi-regularly in western headlines are the Chechens, due to their own war; the others are usually ignored as they live in poor, remote places like Siberia (Tuvan and Buryat), Arctic Circle (Sakha) or Volga (Kalmyk). But having immersed myself in Kalmyk, Sakha and Buryat studies when I was an anthropologist, I think what is happening with these groups deserves more attention. Most notably, the Ukraine war has left some minority peoples angry. As one participant on the call explained, views of Russia are “more radical compared to the old conformities and silences. They are talking about colonialism and imperialism, ethnic and racial discrimination.” That’s partly because the Russian army is disproportionately using minority soldiers in Ukraine. And there are widespread media reports that these minorities are suffering per-capita casualty rates far higher than Slavic soldiers.


Tushar Ranjan Mohanty at satp.org, Balochistan: China Pakistan Economic Corridor's Achilles Heel.

Under the Gwadar Project, China is building a 'Chinese-only colony' in the Gwadar port city at a cost of USD 150 million, which is intended to house half-a-million Chinese nationals. According to an August 21, 2018, media report, only Chinese citizens will live in this gated zone, thereby paving way for a Chinese colony within Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Investment Corporation has reportedly bought 3.6 million square feet for the international port city, and is going to start building the gated zone for the anticipated 500,000 strong Chinese workforce, which was scheduled to be located there by 2022, though these targets have been slipping. There is also great anxiety that CPEC will convert the Baloch people into minorities in their own homeland.... The recent attack on Chinese nationals will increase the woes of the Pakistani establishment, as attacks on Chinese nationals and projects are not only limited to Balochistan. On July 14, 2021, a vehicle driven by a suicide attacker and laden with explosives rammed a convoy of Chinese workers headed to the Dasu Hydropower Plant project site at Dasu in the Upper Kohistan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), killing at least 13 persons, including nine Chinese.


Ronald Patrick in NYT, Glimpses of Northern India's Vanishing Nomads.

Tsering Stobdan is a member of a nomadic community known as the Kharnak, who for centuries have raised yaks, sheep and goats in the high plains of Ladakh, in northern India, one of the most hauntingly beautiful — if harsh and inhospitable — places on earth. I first visited the area in​ 2016, in the middle of a long overland journey from Cambodia to Berlin. While passing through Nagaland, in northeastern India, I met a man from Himachal Pradesh, a neighboring state of Ladakh, who told me about the beauty of the Himalayas and the nomadic ways of the people who lived there. Based on his stories, I rented a motorcycle and headed to Leh, Ladakh’s capital. In Leh I was connected with a young member of the Kharnak community who took me to meet his family on the Changthang plateau.... Once a flourishing tribe, the Kharnak community is now dwindling. Younger generations are being sent to nearby cities, where they can find better health care and educational opportunities. And while pashmina, the lightweight wool sheared from the bellies of Himalayan mountain goats, is a profitable product, life in the mountains is extraordinarily difficult, especially in the winter.


Ajit Kumar Singh at satp.org, Strongman's Follies.

The Rajapaksa stranglehold on Government, rampant corruption and a range of irrational policy decisions contributed to a rapidly escalating economic meltdown, with a heavy-handed pattern of authoritarian rule stifling all criticism, both within Government and from the Opposition. Among the most disastrous moves in this context was the abrupt and arbitrary decision in May 2021 to declare Sri Lanka 'fully organic,' banning all use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Gotabaya Rajapaksa boasted to the world that Sri Lanka would be the model for other countries to emulate, but there was little planning or consultation with the scientific and agricultural establishment. The result was massive crop losses, with estimates of up to a 50 per cent decline in major crops. Including tea, which accounts for nearly 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's exports, as well as prized a range of spices for which the country is a preferred source.... In the meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had embarked on a wasteful and ill-conceived project of infrastructure development, far out of proportion to the country's projected needs and capacities for utilization. The grandest - and most irrational - of these projects were under the aegis of China's 'Belt and Road Initiative' (BRI), and were executed under unequal and exorbitant terms that pushed Colombo into massive debt, prominently resulting in the in their surrender under long-term leases, to the Chinese, as was the case of the Hambantota Port, or massive complexes, such as the Rajapaksa Airport and a massive Conference Centre, that remain unused since their completion.


David Pilling in FT, What Bangladesh Can Teach Others about Development.

Name a country with a per capita income of less than $500, where women have on average 4.5 children and where 44 per cent of people live in extreme poverty? The answer is Bangladesh — circa 1990. Today the country, for all its problems, is transformed. GDP per capita has increased eightfold. Women have two children on average, meaning parents have more money to devote to each child’s education, health and wellbeing — and banks have more savings to recycle to industry. The proportion of people living in absolute poverty has more than halved. The position of women has greatly improved. More girls are in secondary school than boys. In 1971, when the country became independent, one in five children died before the age of five. Today that figure is one in 30. One must not exaggerate. Bangladesh remains poor. It struggles with political turmoil, environmental peril and high levels of corruption. Only this week it approached the IMF for a multibillion-dollar loan. But if you take the long view, Bangladesh — once dismissed as a “bottomless basket” by Henry Kissinger — is a development success.


Rana Foroohar in FT, A Deglobalising World Will Be an Inflationary One.

As Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar told clients in a recent note, "war means industry", be it hot war or economic war, and growing industry means inflation. This is the exact opposite of the paradigm we've experienced for the last half century, during which "China got very rich making cheap stuff... Russia got very rich selling cheap gas to Europe, and Germany got very rich selling expensive stuff produced with cheap gas." The US, meanwhile, "got very rich by doing QE. But the licence for QE came from the 'lowflation' regime enabled by cheap exports coming from Russia and China."


Tunku Varadarajan in WSJ on Olufemi Taiwo's book, Against Decolonisation.

  Against Decolonisation abstruse in places, is an electrifying book. The disparaging of the modern anticolonial left is done largely by Western conservatives. Yet here we have a proud and unapologetic African, arguing as an African, against the very people who would hold Africa back with spurious arguments made in the name of Africa. Mr. Táíwò cites an egregious decolonizationist (my ugly word) trope: that of “epistemicide.” This is the view that the dominance of “Western epistemic traditions”—or ways of pursuing knowledge—“kill local forms of scholarship.” So Western epistemic traditions must be booted out of Africa. Decolonization activists are locked into a black-and-white division in which the colonized and the colonizers must remain forever apart. For Mr. Táíwò, this can lead only to a repudiation of universalism, leaving Africa in a ghetto of make-believe authenticity, one in which “colonialism-tinged phenomena” are purged.


Sheila Miyoshi Jager in NYT on Ronald Spector's book, A Continent Erupts: Decolonization, Civil War, and Massacre in Postwar Asia, 1945-1955.

Far from being the result of "the struggle against white supremacy" as the old colonial powers attempted to reclaim their former empires, the wars of liberation in the first decades after 1945 took on the character of civil wars. The peoples of formerly occupied territories held vastly different visions about their postcolonial future, which also helps to explain the savagery of much of the fighting. Friends and foe became hard to distinguish. Even the defeated Japanese became part of the mix. A significant number cooperated with the nationalists to battle for Indonesian independence, providing arms, ammunition and tactical training. Others fought alongside the Vietminh against the French and British in Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh often welcomed Japanese help if it meant neutralizing his Vietnamese opponents.


Peter Aspden in FT, The Way of the Sami.

It is not news that the Sámis have been at odds with the governments of the countries in which their lands lie and, some would say, with modernity itself. The once-nomadic Sámi people, today numbering between 50,000 and 100,000 (there is no official register), have historically made their living from fishing, hunting and gathering, many of them through reindeer husbandry. They were largely ignored by the Scandinavians who settled in the south, until the 19th century, when they were subjected to forced assimilation policies. These caused religious and cultural clashes, and more recently there have been economically based conflicts. Sámi holistic beliefs centre on the need to respect and live in harmony with the region’s natural resources. But these have been trammelled in recent years by the rapid development of mining and wind and hydropower projects. The initiatives have been labelled as a kind of “green colonialism”, a ruinous, little-reported consequence of climate change.


James Piereson in NEW CRITERION, Culture Against Civilization.

"Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go," cried radical students and faculty at one campus a few decades ago. Other students, not quite so politicized, nevertheless view "Western Civ" as useless or irrelevant to their vocational interests and so lack the tools by which they might challenge their teachers. In any case, the radicals achieved their aim. No one yet knows what will happen as those students take their one-sided ideas or lack of knowledge from the academy into the wider world of business, government, publishing, and teaching. Thus far, the signs are not encouraging. At the same time, Western institutions seem as strong and influential as ever, both at home and abroad. People around the world still try to emulate American and European patterns of government, business, science, and law, though mostly without success. That is why so many continue to stream across borders into Europe and the United States.... Those in and around the universities who attack Western civilization do so because they resent its achievements and success or find it wanting when viewed in light of its own high ideals. They both hate and admire the West at the same time. Few seem inclined to pick up and leave in order to live under other civilizational ideals or conditions. Their goal, rather is to take over - but to what end?


David Pilling in FT, How Nigeria's State Lost the Trust of Its Citizens.

Nigeria has a semi-decent road network, at least between big cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano and Kaduna. But security is so poor that many people are too afraid to use it. Nigeria's security forces, mostly underpaid and under-equipped, are in a war of attrition against gangs of bandits, separatists, extortionists, kidnappers and terrorists. The state of insecurity suggests they are losing. It is easy to see how Nigeria got here. For half a century, it has been pumping oil in quantities large enough to pay for a small elite, but not large enough to raise everyone's living standards significantly. According to calculations by Stefan Dercon, an Oxford professor, in 2010, when oil prices were riding high, Nigeria made $54bn from oil and gas, of which $38bn ended up in federal government hands. That equates to only $340 per capita against $1,206 in Algeria, $2,965 in Gabon and a hefty $7,477 in Saudia Arabia. In those circumstances, the name of the game becomes getting hold of oil rent.


William McGurn in WSJ, The Pope Abandons His Own.

The Vatican architect of the still-secret deal with Beijing, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, professed his "closeness" to his fellow cardinal - before revealing his true priorities. "The most concrete hope," he said, "is that initiatives such as this one will not complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue." Just two years ago Cardinal Zen, who grew up in Shanghai, flew to Rome in a desperate attempt to get the Holy Father to reconsider his China deal. But a pope who always seems to have time for private audiences with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio refused to meet a cardinal with long first-hand experience of Chinese communism. Cardinal Gerhard Muller noted that no senior Vatican official had offered an expression of solidarity or a prayer initiative for Cardinal Zen at last month's gathering of cardinals in Rome.... "Martyrdom is normal in our church," he said after his arrest. "We may not have to do that, but we may have to bear some pain and steel ourselves for our loyalty to our faith."


Casey Chalk at spectatorworld.com, How Catholics Became the New WASPs.

Calvinist minister Lyman Beecher, in a widely read 1835 tract called "A Plea for the West," warned that immigrant Catholic hordes would exploit the power of mass democracy to usurp control of American political institutions and impose Catholicism on the country.... In 1834, Beecher provoked the burning of an Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Though today Catholic institutions (including churches) remain a frequent target for activists and vandals, it is less because of the otherness of the Catholic faith than its identification with the same patriarchal, religiously informed, bourgeois norms liberal ideologues aim to dismantle. Indeed, in 2022, it would be more accurate to say that rather than threatening WASP culture, Catholics are America's best chance for preserving it.


Dana Gioia in FIRST THINGS, Christianity and Poetry.

  Christianity may be many things, but it is not prosaic. Poetry is not merely important to Christianity. It is an essential, inextricable, and necessary aspect of religious faith and practice. The fact that most Christians would consider that assertion absurd does not invalidate it. Their disagreement only demonstrates how remote the contemporary Church has become from its own origins. It also suggests that sacred poetry is so interwoven into the fabric of Scripture and worship as to become invisible. At the risk of offending most believers, it is necessary to state a simple but unacknowledged truth: It is impossible to understand the full glory of Christianity without understanding its poetry. Why should anyone believe such a claim? Let’s start with Scripture, the universal foundation of Christianity. No believer can ignore the curious fact that one-third of the Bible is written in verse.


Danusha Goska at frontpagemag.com, Netflix Adapts Jane Austen's Persuasion.

"Invisible style" is an oxymoron; style usually calls attention to itself. In the case of Hollywood Golden Age films, though, filmmakers did everything they could to hide their style from the viewer. Filmmakers wanted the audience to lose themselves in the story. There's a fine, brief discussion of invisible style in this YouTube video. Beginning, largely, in the 1960s, storytelling began to change in response to Marxist-inspired postmodernism. Postmodernism strove to destroy storytelling's ability to transport the reader to another place and time. Rather than "invisible style" that allowed the reader's "willing suspension of disbelief," postmodernism insisted on never letting the reader forget that reading is an artificial activity and that the story the reader was so invested in was not true. Storytelling has power; Marxism is obsessed with power; the masses must not be allowed their brief respites, or the expansion of their compassion to persons, like the English gentry, who deserve no compassion. The masses must be indoctrinated, and storytelling must be subservient to that indoctrination.


Garth Cartwright in FT, Kraftwerk: 'We Were Overwhelmed by Technology'.

In 1982, Kraftwerk scored a UK number one with “The Model” but Hütter and Schneider, rather than capitalise on this unexpected success, are portrayed as having chosen to withdraw into their Kling Klang studio for much of the next decade. Having helped soundtrack the 1980s, Kraftwerk appear to have been overwhelmed by their protégés’ efforts. “We came up with this idea of a computer world,” says Bartos. “It was something we envisioned but not actually what we were doing.” He emphasises that while Kraftwerk wrote hymns to tech — “The Robots”, “Pocket Calculator”, “Computer Love” — they made their best music as an analogue band who used what were then cutting-edge instruments (synthesisers, electronic percussion). “Once we began bringing a lot of technology into the recording studio, we began relying more and more on engineers to help us run it and we had to learn how to maintain it. This took all our energy.” Did technology lead Kraftwerk into a state of entropy? “Yes, yes,” says Bartos. “We were overwhelmed by this technology. Copy and paste became the manifesto. But it was not the same as if we were composing in a room. The concept of progress as a shining promise . . . Kraftwerk fell for it.”


Harvey Kornspan of the Diggers, Interview by Jay Babcock.

  I don’t remember much gay presence at the Invisible Circus [a notorious Diggers event staged in a church in the Tenderloin (Feb. 24-26, 1967)], if any. The Invisible Circus was so chaotic and out-there. There wasn’t enough of a plan. It was anarchistic. It wasn’t sustainable, and it was…24 hours? It was meant to be a whole weekend. It burned down when somebody got caught fucking, got caught by a church elder screwing on the church stage, man! Dave Hodges’ girlfriend, the guy who did the poster for the Circus, India Supra, I don’t remember what her real first name is, she was a squeeze of David’s I think. Dave Hodges, he was just a slightly wacky artist who was around, and he did an iconic poster, I think. Very important poster.... So during this period, I was already in the rock n roll business. The music thing was happening. I got into the music scene, got pretty involved. I was probably gone from the Mime Troupe when I started to invest a lot of time in the Miller Band. Steve Miller Blues Band. We used to get airline tickets for “Mr. Band.” (laughter) I had known Miller and Boz. Well, by then Boz had exited to Sweden because of draft issues. Steve was playing in Chicago. I went to Chicago. We hooked up again through friends we had known and also… and then he came to Berkeley.


Konrad Putzier in WSJ, The Fans Who Root for the Referees.

A recent National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers was a wild ride with 13 goals and an overtime winner. But the loudest cheers in the arena weren’t for either team: They were for the referees. In the upper corner of Newark’s Prudential Center, a boisterous crowd of around 200 fans dressed in striped referee jerseys spent most of the game on their feet, celebrating every icing whistle as if it was a goal. Their heroes weren’t Devils stars Jack Hughes or P.K. Subban, they were Eric Furlatt and Corey Syvret, the officials for the night. Chants like “R-E-F-S refs, refs, refs” and “We believe in sportsmanship” echoed through the stands. At odd times, when the rest of the arena was quiet, the referee section suddenly erupted in frenetic cheers. The reason: The referee on the ice had just blown his whistle. So-called puck drops, where the linesman places the puck between two waiting players, were a particular source of excitement.


Obituaries of the Issue...

Eric Nesterenko (1933-2022)

Former Hawks teammate Ab McDonald called him a “lone wolf.” Nesterenko at times cast as harsh a light on himself as anything or anyone else. ″Hanging around as an ex-professional athlete is pathetic, as far as I’m concerned,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “I played my entire career in fear — fear of doing badly, fear of being hurt, humiliated. Obviously as an athlete, you are naked in the arena.″ After hockey, Nesterenko — known for using his sharp elbows in the corners during his playing days — played “Elbows Martin” in the hockey telefilm “Cementhead.” He also played Rob Lowe’s father in the 1986 movie “Youngblood” but acknowledged his difficulty coaching up the actor’s skating. “Having him on the power play is like putting Cheryl Tiegs at middle linebacker, but it was fun,” he told the Tribune in 1991. Much of Nesterenko’s second act was spent as a ski instructor in Vail, Colo. He reflected on his hockey experiences to the Vail Daily in 2009. Said Nesterenko: “Oh, it was a pretty good life. ... But for me, when it was over it was over. I realized I wasn’t going to be the best player in the world, but I could play, at least I played well enough to stay in the league. So then I started to use the game as an opportunity to experience the world, which I’ve tried to do.”

Midge Decter (1927-2022)

She argued that the real revolution that allowed women to have careers was not the women’s movement but the availability of modern forms of birth control. To Ms. Decter, women had a biological destiny to be wives and mothers, and those who tried to escape it evinced self-hatred. In her 1972 book, “The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women’s Liberation,” she wrote that women’s “true grievance” is not that they are “mistreated, discriminated against, oppressed, enslaved, but that they are — women.” She offered a solution: Single women should remain chaste, because women are naturally monogamous. And withholding sex, she said, was a form of power over men. Her next book, “Liberal Parents, Radical Children” (1975), kicked up a storm of criticism by calling the youth of the 1960s an aimless generation and blaming their parents’ permissiveness for that failure.


Thanks to Andy Schwartz, Jay Babcock, Mark Carducci, Geralyn Carducci, Matt Carducci, Steve Beeho, Jane Stokes...

Snowy Range, Wyoming
Photograph by Joe Carducci

From the London desk, by Steve Beeho...

Helen Thompson in NEW STATESMAN, The History of the Royals Is Tangled and Bloody. But So Is That of the Nation They Rule.

   Elizabeth II came into her own during the early years of the 21st century, a time when the New Labour governments were demonstrating their aversion to the historical constitution and their preference for national modernisation: Britain is a young country, said Tony Blair. Acting on that idea did not include getting rid of the monarchy or disestablishing the Church of England, but it did entail treating the historical ambiguities embodied in the monarchy as forces of conservatism that needed to be stripped of any living energy. But the national rebirth that Blair wanted did not take place. Instead, the monarchy in which all those tensions symbolically reside became stronger. Whether it will remain so resilient depends on how the King and the ministers he appoints each navigate the symbolic and non-symbolic burdens of a crisis-ridden future.


Alwyn Turner at unherd.com, The Taming of the Republicans.

The monarchy has survived the centuries by adapting to new social demands. Its function, as Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out, was as “a useful unifying element in a society full of actual and potential discord”. And if society wanted a pantomime villain or two to express republican views, then that requirement could also be accommodated. “God save history,” sang Johnny Rotten. “God save your mad parade.” And then he too took his place on the periphery of that mad parade, forever associated with the institution he so disparaged. In his respectful tweet to mark the passing of Elizabeth, he included the picture of her that had been used to promote “God Save the Queen”. This time, there was no safety-pin.


Tanya Gold in NEW STATESMAN, Death for Her Was a Political Act: Why the Queen Chose Scotland.

When I left London on Friday (9 September), the day after the announcement, there were tourists at Buckingham Palace enjoying the death as a spectacle, as you might enjoy a trip to Mary Poppins the musical. There were others – drunk young men waving Union Flags on top of the Queen Victoria memorial – who delighted in the reflected majesty. They paid for it; they own it. But in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, the pain is real: so much so that I, a republican, wonder whether I’m the one with a secret to impart – the Queen was human – or they are. Her mother grew up at Glamis Castle, 50 miles to the south. People here treated the Queen as a neighbour – not Scottish, it is true, but good enough. She did nothing by accident, including coming to Scotland as she declined, her body loading the dice for the Union and the Crown. A survey by the think tank British Future this summer indicated that 45 per cent of Scots want to keep the monarchy, and the latest polling suggests that 46 per cent want to leave the Union. Death, for her, was a political act. Her life was exhausting and, here, they know it. Women, typically middle-aged, walk away from the flowers, their faces striped with tears. …“I’m glad she hung on for the bin strike to be over,” says a woman with dark hair. “Maybe she thought, ‘I’ll hang on.’ You should have seen the state of it.” I thought she had hung on until Boris Johnson, a kind of anti-Queen – lazy and dishonest – had left office, which reminds me that we all imagine we know what she thought. Over seven decades she managed to look interested, or equally uninterested, in everyone she met. The Fair Fairy, giving and denying us all.


Brendan O'Neill at spiked-online.com, Queen Elizabeth and the End of History.

So we might soon find ourselves feeling wistful for that era in which we were subjects of Elizabeth. For it seems clear that the ceremony of being the subject of a queen is to be replaced by the reality of being the charges of kings and princes who require not only our decorative respect but also our servility to the technocratic agenda. The post-Elizabeth royals have been subsumed into the tyranny of technocracy. Their rule will not be God-given but expert-led. There will be none of the mystery of monarchy, little, even, of the idea that their right to reign derives from the past, from who their ancestors were. No, these will be ‘expert’ royals. Their authority will come from ‘science’, not God or history. The expertise of emotional intelligence guides William’s relationship with his public; the expertise of climate change will guide Charles III’s kingly missionising. The end result will be a monarchy far more demanding of its subjects than the queen ever was. She expected us merely to bow down – they will want us to lie down, whether on the therapist’s couch of William’s mental-health moralising or in mourning for the Nature that Charles III thinks we have destroyed.


Peter Hitchens at unherd.com, God Save Our Republican Protesters.

When Britain was more monarchist, it was more free. We almost all forget now that the radicals of 18th century France, as they demanded change in their absolutist state, regarded Britain’s constitutional monarchy as the exemplar of political liberty. It is in the centuries since that Britain too has acquired a large and strong and interventionist state. And as we have accepted the idea of the egalitarians, that crime and disorder are caused by poverty and inequality, and the ideas of the radicals that we all harbour reactionary thoughts, we have stopped assuming that nobody is guilty until an impartial jury says so, and instead begun to assume that we are all guilty (of privilege, racism, sexism, various phobias and various kinds of hate crime) unless we can show we are not. And so we have given more power to the police, and made the people less free. When I say ‘God Save the King’, I am also saying ‘God Preserve English Liberty’. And if [republican protestor] Mr Hill feels he is not as free as he would like to be, he should not blame the King, but the reformers.


Steerpike in SPECTATOR, The New York Times’ Royal Derangement Syndrome.

First it was Brexit, now it's the Queen. That the New York Times has a near-pathological loathing for Britain is nothing new at this point; but it seems that the motivating factor for the 'Gray Lady's' Anglophobia has switched in recent days from the 2016 referendum result to the passing of our beloved monarch. Barely had the Queen's death been announced then the NYT was furiously publishing opinion pieces denouncing the woman as a symbol of British imperialism. This was just hours after her death and ignored the salient facts that Elizabeth's reign coincided with the end of the British Empire and that she loved the multi-racial Commonwealth. Even Cyclops would struggle to write something so one-eyed. And now, the newspaper has followed up that opening salvo with another tasteless swipe at the late monarch. In an article published late last night, the paper sneered that Her Majesty's funeral 'will be paid for by British taxpayers as they deal with soaring energy prices and high inflation' adding that 'the British government has not yet said how much it will cost.' The breathless tone of the piece – headlined simply 'The queen’s funeral will be paid for by British taxpayers' – somehow suggested that this news will come as a revelation to the general public. A state funeral for a former head of state? That must surely be a world first. Talk about a bona fide scoop...


John Gray in NEW STATESMAN, The Hollowness of Boris Johnson.

Johnson’s hologram vanished along with the imagined world of which it was a part. Except in the collective mind of the Western political classes, the illusory vista of unending neoliberal progress has evaporated. With famine and blackouts used as weapons in Putin’s geopolitics, shortages in food and energy will persist for the foreseeable future. If China responds to faltering Western resolve in Ukraine by launching a special operation to absorb Taiwan, which dominates the global semiconductor market, the impact on Western economies will be incalculable. Britain and the West are ill-prepared for the brute material reality of a world of endemic warfare and chronic scarcity. Beyond the American lecture circuit, where he may retreat to replenish his depleted finances, Johnson will soon be forgotten. A black hole that sucked in everything around him, he leaves no lasting achievements. His legacy will be a moment in which the emptiness of the politics he personified was revealed.


Robert Tombs in SPECTATOR, These Polemics Against Brexit Both Fall into the Same Trap.

Porter simply assumes that Britain is uniquely obsessed with its past. Woods similarly assumes that Britain or England is uniquely nostalgic. Neither tries to argue the case. How could they? One does not need to know much about other European countries to realise that interest in and emotions about the past are universal. Protestantism, Classicism, Romanticism, ruralism, the Gothic Revival and so on are not in any meaningful sense British. Limiting oneself to British examples cannot disguise that obvious fact. The European Union itself is founded on obsessions with the past. But unless our authors insist that Britain is the exception, their explanations of Brexit make no sense. ...It’s easy to regard Britain as exceptional if you ignore everywhere else. In fact, British attitudes to the EU in 2016 were typically European: about the same as Holland and Germany, less Eurosceptic than France, much less so than Greece. The ‘exception’ is that the British were given a vote and Remainers failed to reverse it.


Marc Mullholland in LITERARY REVIEW on Vic Gatrell’s book, Conspiracy on Cato Street: A Tale of Liberty and Revolution in Regency London.

 On 23 February 1820, a party of soldiers and watchmen swooped on a huddle of men in dingy quarters on Cato Street, near Edgware Road in London. There was a brief but desperate struggle by the light of guttering candles. Constable Smithers was run through with a well-aimed sword thrust by Arthur Thistlewood and died almost immediately, but the twenty or so men present were quickly taken into custody. Within hours, the news spread. A grimy gang of desperadoes had been captured just in time to stop them setting out on an assassination plot of shocking audacity. They had been within minutes of descending on a house in Grosvenor Square where the entire Cabinet was expected to be sitting down for dinner. They intended to kill every man in the room, though not before making Lord Castlereagh, the most hated minister of all, beg for his life. They had planned to decapitate their victims with butcher’s knives and parade their heads on pikes through the streets of London. This, they hoped, would spark ‘confusion and anarchy’, as Thistlewood put it, out of which would somehow emerge a new government.


Rod Liddle in SPECTATOR, The BBC’s New Direction.

"Politics Live" is one of the current affairs programmes that the BBC does well: it is intelligent, even-handed and free from the Chicken Little hysteria which affects many political discussion shows. "Newsnight", remarkably, is another – which is not something one has been able to say for a very long time. In its previous incarnation, as a kind of broadcasted Hampstead Garden Suburb slip page of the Guardian, it lost an unfathomable number of viewers. Down from nigh on one million at the turn of the previous decade to well below 300,000 (indeed 200,000, according to an insider) before its awful editor Esme Wren and its chief presenter Emily Maitlis departed. The production team during those years seemed to consist in the main of not terribly bright adolescent children, and the programme revelled in a fashionable north-London loathing for the Tories and knew very well which side of the culture war it was on. With contributors such as the egotistical leftie Lewis Goodall and, for a while, the genuinely whacko Trot Paul Mason, it made not the slightest attempt to appear neutral, and warnings wrung out of the BBC were paid no heed. Confronted with shows consisting of four angry women, including Maitlis, all agreeing with each other about how beastly right-wing people are, the viewers got the hell out: "Newsnight" become the perfect example of that cliché, go woke, go broke. Had it been in the private sector Wren and Maitlis would have been given the heave-ho years before – but instead it existed in a bubble of rather smug self-approval. In the end the only people left watching were those 200,000 who spend most of their day shrieking abuse o23n Twitter.


Jacob Phillips in CRITIC, The Decline of Madness.

   Laing wrote that schizophrenia was an unusually intense expression of the endemic existential challenge we all face, of “being a whole person”, which occurs when that challenge breaks beyond “the common sense (i.e. community sense) way of experiencing oneself”. There is much wisdom in this, but things have been pushed too far. Now any “common sense” opinion that goes against the official line is assumed to be inherently problematic — leaving only an imposed way of experiencing oneself to become its wholesale replacement.


Steven Poole in SPECTATOR, Slavoj Zizek: The Philosopher Who Annoys All the Right People.

What does Zizek enjoy? He likes anarchic challenges to the status quo, such as the ‘Wall Street Bets’ online forum of amateur investors that caused a massive bubble and then crash in the share price of the ailing US retailer Gamestop in 2021. He even finds something to enjoy in the ‘carnival’ atmosphere of the storming of the Capitol by Trumpists – because the liberals who were outraged, or so he argues mischievously, were outraged only because the wrong kind of people were doing it. Our philosopher thrills to such events because they ‘subvert the system by over-identifying with it or, rather, by universalising it and thereby bringing out its latent absurdity’.


Daniel Dylan Wray in GUARDIAN, 40 Years of The Wire magazine.

“Some people don’t think music is something you should think too hard about,” [Rob Young] says. “That’s fine, but it’s not right to criticise those that want to get something more out of it. It was never about publishing writing that is difficult to understand but about trying to open music up and shine a light on it. Not to sell it out by cheapening it. You have to give it the respect and intelligent treatment it deserves. If that’s elitist then so be it.”


Geeta Dayal at 4Columns.org on Terry Jennings.

The story of Terry Jennings is a tragic one. He was born in 1940 in Los Angeles, in the scenic neighborhood of Eagle Rock. By all accounts, he was a child prodigy, displaying advanced skills in piano and clarinet at a very young age. By the time he was a teenager, he was performing in prominent blues and jazz clubs around the city. At one of these clubs, he crossed paths with La Monte Young, and the two became good friends. Young settled in Manhattan, and Jennings soon followed, flying cross-country in 1960 to make his New York debut at Yoko Ono’s loft. Jennings had an inspired career in the downtown New York avant-garde in the 1960s, sometimes playing with Young in the revolving collective known as the Theater of Eternal Music, and composing his own minimalist works. His ornate, lyrical saxophone playing, which sounded inspired by John Coltrane and Indian classical music but with a style all his own, earned many admirers. But Jennings soon became addicted to heroin, and at the age of forty-one, he was found dead in San Pablo, California, with his skull smashed in—he apparently had been attacked during a drug deal.


Ryan Leach interview at boredout305.tumblr.com of Jim Ruland.

Ryan: I felt that you treated Ginn judiciously. It’s important to remember how precocious Greg and his brother Raymond (Pettibon) were, as well as how left of the dial the Ginn family was. Jim: I found people on both sides of the spectrum. There were people who had nothing but respect for Ginn with no animosity whatsoever. They would sometimes be upfront at the beginning. “Look, things didn’t work out in the end, but we also didn’t sell a lot of records. So there’s no reason for me to hold a grudge. Greg was the one who made our dream possible.” There are other people who feel quite differently. They feel harmed by him and the label. That actual theft took place. There are two different realities there. It came down to the band and at what point they interacted with the label. I don’t think painting Ginn with a one-color brush works in this story. I didn’t have an axe to grind. I wasn’t setting out to prove that Ginn was some sort of genius—although I think he is—and I wasn’t trying to prove that he was some kind of monster. I just told the story that I found.




Dorian Lynskey at unherd.com, The Sex Pistols Don’t Need a TV Show.

Lydon’s support for Brexit and Donald Trump has disappointed many fans but I don’t think that it’s inconsistent with his original mission to demolish the status quo. Populism is much better at knocking things down than building something better. As the Atlantic’s James Parker argued in 2016, Trump “co-created a space in American politics that is uniquely transgressive, volatile, carnivalesque, and (from a certain angle) punk rock”. In his memoir, Fred Vermorel, allegedly quoting Baudrillard, writes about “the ecstasy of making things worse”. Perhaps Rotten then, and Lydon now, would counter that things couldn’t get any worse, but however much we talk about punk in terms of community and DIY creativity, it was also about the glee of smashing things to pieces. Heath Ledger understood this perfectly when he partly based his version of the Joker on Rotten: some people just want to watch the world burn.


Luke Haines in RECORD COLLECTOR on Pistol.

Here come the posh actor kids with double-barrelled names, far too corn-fed and gym-friendly to believably mimic 70s herberts Cook and Jones. Here’s a non-threatening Johnny Rotten. Here’s a nice young woman playing Nancy, wondering exactly what this is a stepping-stone (no pun) towards. And worst of all, here are the 1976 mohicans. As any fool apart from Danny Boyle knows, the mohawk atop an English punk rocker was not seen until at least 1980. The Pistols have had a patchy time at the flicks. Alex Cox’s Sid And Nancy was a noble effort. Gary Oldman made a decent stab (also no pun) at la Vish. Sid, having made himself a mad cartoon character, is one of the few rock stars who can withstand “the actors” doing their “acting thing”. Cox’s valiant attempt was ultimately hobbled by the poor sods who got to play the other Pistols as an anonymous trio of portly boneheads.


Mark E. Smith, from Ted Kessler's book, Paper Cuts: How I Destroyed the British Music Press and Other Misadventures, at thequietus.com.

The Lime Lizard phone line started flashing.
‘Hello, Ted? I’ve got Mark here for you, I’ll just put him through.’
I gulped an acknowledgement of this reality.
‘Is that Ted?’
‘Yes, hello, Mark,’ I replied to the tight-mouthed Mancunian tone I recognised like family.
‘Ted . . . Kessler?’
‘Jew or Nazi?’
‘Sorry, what?’
‘Kessler. It’s got to be of Jewish or Nazi origin, hasn’t it?’
This was a question I had never faced before in my life, yet its logic was unassailable. Either my ancestors had escaped the Holocaust, or they had contributed to it.
‘My dad’s a Jew,’ I replied.
‘Where from?’
‘He left Vienna with his family just after the Anschluss.’
‘Seen Nazis, then?’
‘My dad?’
‘He did, he saw them march into his block of flats.’
‘That’s a good story, isn’t it? Not many can say that. Did you ever see that BBC drama series about a Nazi called Kessler?’
‘Very good. Kessler’s a Gestapo, on the run. Worth tracking it down, you’d enjoy it.’
For many years afterwards, my father would incredulously tell the anecdote of the time his son was asked by a singer in an English group if he was ‘a Jew or a Nazi’ to cackling dinner guests in New York.


Mirror Lake, Wyoming

Photograph by Joe Carducci

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