Friday, April 25, 2008

A Goddamn Loss

Here is an interesting signpost of how America is changing. Up to the '70s, one heard "goddamn" in polite conversation. It might have been considered salty, but it was something adults said regularly, kind of like saying "hell." You can find the expletive in Ayn Rand's novels.

I remember being surprised in the early '80s the first time a religious man asked me not to say "goddamn." I could hardly believe this person took the idea of God so seriously as to object to a meaningless swear word. Hell, I was an atheist saying the curse. It's not like I meant "Let a supernatural creature come forth and consign thee to the everlasting bonfire!"

Today the word has become less common. I think it has joined the four-letter words as a dirty word one should not say. I take this as another indicator that religion is taken more seriously today.

Lawrence Auster objects to the use of this word in the title of a book by William F. Buckley. 30 years ago, Auster would have been dismissed as a puritanical freak. Today I fear he is the future of conservatism.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Election Thoughts

What do we conclude from Hillary Clinton's 10-point win in Pennsylvania?

I don't think it matters which one wins, Obama or Clinton -- they're both Dead Democrats Walking. Neither can beat McCain. Clinton carries more baggage than a Greyhound bus. Obama, if he won the nomination, would be the furthest left-wing candidate for a major party in history.

More is coming out about Obama's terrorist friends, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. They remain anti-American to this day; four decades of experience have failed to dent their radical premises. Dohrn is the only prominent voice who expressed approval of the Charles Manson murders. These are the people Obama chooses to hang around.

The more I watch Obama, the less I think of his intelligence. This is not something the MSM talk about at all. I suspect his vapidity and lack of substance come from a slow mind. The way he got rattled and incoherent in his last debate is more evidence. The guy is not sharp.

Obama makes Clinton look experienced, competent and of sound judgment. So Obama has accomplished something remarkable in his life after all.

I base my thoughts about Obama's hopelessness on what we have seen in Presidential elections since 1972. One big X factor could prove me wrong: have the American voters changed significantly? Is there a new "paradigm"? We keep hearing about these new voters, the Millennial Generation, who are always reported as the most altruist-statist-collectivist (and therefore, I would add, stupid) generation in history. These young Americans, we are told, are not afraid of the government, unlike those cynical older generations.

I wonder if liberal reporters are not projecting their premises on the Millennials. They see young people, who are typically idealistic, and think, "If they're idealistic, then they must be liberals, because right-wingers are selfish and immoral."

Leftists have always hoped to change human nature and form people who act as selfless cogs in the state machine. In the USSR they strove to create homo sovieticus. In the Millennials, they hope they have found the novo homo americanus.

But. But... maybe they have succeeded in creating voters so lacking in independence and pride that they will go along with the mob at the orders of a dictator. Young people are voting for Obama over Clinton, for whatever that's worth.

Of course, this election is complicated by the Republicans electing a big government candidate, John McCain. It's still too early to decide -- I intend to wait at least until Labor Day -- however, at the moment I think the candidate who would accomplish the least amount of damage to American freedom would be Hillary Clinton. It would not be for lack of trying on her part, but that she is so widely hated that she would have little support for any big sweeping changes. And the Republicans in Congress would be energized to fight her every step of the way.

UPDATE: Jackie and Dunlap discuss the Pennsylvania primary. Too funny to miss.

Monday, April 21, 2008

America's Most Disgraceful Ex-President

Does it get worse than this?

"When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people."

-- Jimmy Carter, explaining the benefits of meeting with Hamas terrorists in Syria

All the people struggling to survive in dictatorships have been betrayed by this buffoon of a peanut farmer.

What a long, steep decline it is from Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter!

Around the World Wide Web 59

1. Boortz juxtaposes two quotes, one from the great economist of liberty, Frederic Bastiat and one from Michelle Obama. It's too good to pass up:

"The war against illegal plunder has been fought since the beginning of the world. But how is... legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay ... If such a law is not abolished immediately it will spread, multiply and develop into a system." - Frederic Bastiat

"The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more." - Michelle Obama

Therein lies the great political conflict of the last few centuries, the fight between laissez-faire capitalism and statism.

2. An engineer explains cats.

3. A cop on dope.

4. Obama and McCain voted (correctly, IMO) to prohibit confiscating guns during a disaster. Hillary Clinton was one of 16 nay votes, meaning she thinks the state should be able to confiscate guns in a disaster.

5. What is this fish?

6. Hamlet 2. Also, the 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches of All Time.

Bonus Link: Watch out for Wikipedia: zealots control the content on controversial issues such as climate change.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Want to Stick That Where?

Today I got a colonoscopy. It's a preventive procedure recommended to people over 50. A gastroenterologist inserts a tube with a camera on the end into the rectum and searches the large intestines for polyps that might become cancerous and any other problem.

To prepare for the procedure you can't eat for a day. You have to take laxatives at certain times to clear out the intestines. The normal dose of Fleet posphosoda is one teaspoon; for colonoscopy prep, you drink two full bottles of the stuff. And yes, it does the job.

The procedure took a little over two hours, including registration, getting an IV inserted, hooking up to a heart monitor and getting an oxygen tube in my nose -- and then lying on a bed waiting. I was told I would get a mild sedative, but I never lost consciousness. During the procedure I watched the whole thing on television. Those were some damn fine looking intestines. Hell, if intestinal fortitude (so to speak) is any measure, I should last another 50 years.

Afterward, the doctor told me to do it again in 10 years. I guess I can wait that long.

The clinic insists you bring a driver, because the so-called sedative is supposed to render one unable to drive. What a crock. I could have driven. But their overcautious rules made me get my Mother to drive and waste her time there. Shouldn't the health care industry worry about health care and leave how adults get to the clinic to their own judgment? Must they act like nannies? Is this the result of our infantilized society or is it some twisted effect of malpractice suits?

We stopped at Coco's for lunch on the drive back, where I attacked a Tuscan ribeye steak with vigor. It got ugly there for a few minutes.

Do I recommend the procedure? Well, I'm no fan of the contemporary trend of celebrities nagging people to do this, that and the other thing. I assume the reader can run his own life. Speaking for myself, I'm glad I did it. The hassle is minimal and it's nice to know nothing is wrong down there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Recent Conversation

I had this conversation with a fellow actor the other day:

ACTOR: I tried out for this play by Ann Rand.

ME: Ayn.

ACTOR: Ayn. I forgot the title.

ME: Night of January 16th.

ACTOR: Yeah, that's it. I decided not to do it. It's got her philosophy in it.

ME: I know all about it. I'm an Objectivist. I subscribe to her philosophy.

ACTOR: Oh. (Pause.) Yeah, well, it seemed like kind of an old-fashioned play, so I decided not to do it.

I never thought there was much philosophy in the play myself, but it bothered this fellow -- until he learned he was talking to someone from whom he would get neither agreement nor sympathy. Then he switched his objection to the play being old-fashioned, which it is (and that's a good thing).

I think a great deal of the antipathy to Rand comes from people who lack the virtue of independence and go along with our cultural leaders because they don't have the spine to do otherwise. Once Objectivism begins to spread, I suspect there will come a moment when the "go along to get along" types become sympathetic as they see that others have paved the way and made it safe. It will be a watershed moment. Right now altruists on the left and right can still scare the weak into line with a sneer and a contemptuous laugh.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just Wondering...

"The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers."

Erich Fromm, Man for Himself

Are you certain about that, Erich?

(About Last Night)

Around the World Wide Web 58

1. Boortz makes a remarkable assertion:

Much of this mortgage crisis came along when the loony left started demanding that mortgage lenders do more to bring minorities and people with marginal credit into the wonderful world of home ownership. As a result of threats from leftists in government the subprime mortgage business was born. Now we see the results.

Is this true? Are subprime loans a PC welfare scheme that would not exist in a laissez-faire capitalist economy?

It makes me wonder how many hidden economic distortions there are because of our mixed economy. How radically would life be different if we had a separation of state and economy?

2. Mike Huckabee has begun running for President -- in the 2012 election. And if you don't think he's a serious candidate, remember this recent news about Paul Weyrich, Mr. Conservative:

The room—which had been taken over by argument and side-conversations—became suddenly quiet. Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong.”

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

Indeed, Huckabee is the conservatives' guy. He might bring socialism to America, but by golly, he believes in God!

3. The Return of Big Government.

The return of Big Government? The smart-aleck response here would be something like "Really? I didn't know it ever left."

I confess, that was my first reaction to that headline.

Here's a little straight talk: Whether you pull the lever (or fill in the oval or touch the screen) for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or even John McCain in November, you're probably still going to end up in 2009 with a push for Big Government of the sort not seen in a generation. More taxes. More regulation. More spending. "It's going to be like watching That '70s Show," says Daniel Clifton, political analyst at Strategas Research Partners, which provides research to institutional investors.

Great. Our taxes will go up to pay for the second mortgages of Washington bureaucrats who stand around the water cooler all day doing Jim Carrey impressions.

4. At first I thought this SKYY Vodka response to the Absolut ad was a parody because of this:

“Don’t get me started on the Gadsden Purchase,” continues Karraker. “I think the folks in Tucson and Yuma would be rubbed the wrong way if they hear this landmark deal was somehow nullified as suggested by Absolut, a Swedish-owned brand.”

Nobody seriously says "Don't get me started on the Gadsden Purchase." Looks like Karraker is trying to be funny and cash in on Absolut's controversy at the same time.

5. Funny cartoon.

6. Just one more reason why Obama would be a disastrous president:

If elected President, Senator Barack Obama plans to delay Project Constellation for at least five years, putting the saved money into a new $18-billion-a-year education program that would, in essence, nationalize early-education for children under five years old to prepare them for the rigors of kindergarten and beyond.

Nationalized early education?

That erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.

H.L. Mencken

Continued adherence to a policy of compulsory education is utterly incompatible with efforts to establish lasting peace.

Ludwig Von Mises, Liberalism, p. 114

The boy must be transformed into the man; in this school he must not only learn to obey, but must thereby acquire a basis for commanding later. He must learn to be silent not only when he is justly blamed, but must also learn, when necessary, to bear injustice in silence.

Adolf Hitler

Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Joseph Stalin

It is the State which educates its citizens in civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity.

Benito Mussolini, from "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism," 1932.

He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.

Adolf Hitler

What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.

Adolf Hitler

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Barack Obama Will Require You to Work

This speech by Michelle Obama is chilling.

I know that Michelle is not Barack. Neither are Barack's radical preacher, his terrorist friends and his communist father. Barack himself prefers to speak in vapid generalities that make young Democrats swoon and send a tingle up Chris Matthews's leg. Still, this is his wife, and marrying her says something about Obama's judgment.

Her statement of altruism is forthright:

We have lost the understanding that in a democracy we have a mutual obligation to one another. That we cannot measure our greatness in this society by the strongest and richest of us. But we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done.

All done at the direction of the state, of course. Which Michelle goes on to admit:

...Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your division. That you come out of your isolation. That you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual; uninvolved, uninformed.

Do you see how this follows logically from Michelle Obama's altruist premise? If we all must sacrifice to the least among us, then we need a leader to direct our sacrifice. It would be irresponsible and immoral for a President to do otherwise. You will not be allowed to remain in your comfort zones.

No one gets a free ride in a fascist state. No one is allowed to opt out, to live for his own sake; that would be selfish. We have a mutual obligation to one another.

Your life belongs to the state.

Barack Obama will require you to work. Arbeit macht frei.

UPDATE: Revision.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Around the World Wide Web 57

1. Greg Ransom drops a bombshell about Barack Obama. After closely reading the Senator's autobiography, Ransom noticed some mysteries. Among them: Obama claims he was driven by his father's ideals -- but the content of those ideals is never revealed. Ransom did some research and found that Obama's father was an anti-American communist who advocated confiscating property and nationalizing foreign businesses, among other things.

Of course, any Republican who asks Obama about all this will be attacked by the left for "Swiftboating," "McCarthyism" and so on. But facts are facts. Obama grew up admiring his father's ideals, which were uncompromising, hard-line communism and which Obama avoided in his autobiography. What does Obama think of his father's ideal today?

2. What American knucklehead said this?

We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world.

And this?

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

And what ignorant socialist railed about...

...capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.

Those statements all came from Martin Luther King, Jr. Jeff Cohen complains that King's anti-militarism is "silenced" today, but I think he should be relieved Americans don't know more about King. It's hard to worship an anti-American leftist as a saint.

3.  Comrade McCain wants to use state power to control how much money filthy capitalists can earn.

"If there's ways we can motivate shareholders and boards of directors to punish these people we should do it," the Arizona Republican said. "If there's ways we can prevent this from happening again, we should exercise those options."

Oh, excuse me -- he didn't say "control," he said "motivate." Yes, the power of the state's guns is an excellent motivator.

4. Liberals lay the "chickenhawk" line on the wrong guy.

(HT: AmSpecBlog)

5. The New Liberal Taboo.

6. Faith and Reason.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Weep For the Bloggers?

Ace of Spades links to an article about the stress of blogging that made me laugh:

SAN FRANCISCO — They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.

A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.

Yes, let us pity these hapless souls who work at home, get creative satisfaction in their job, reach thousands of readers every day, make their own hours, can blog naked and smelly if they want and need not worry about bosses looking over their shoulder. Cue the violin.

I will admit that I'm glad I'm not a professional blogger. I'm happy being an amateur blogger, because if this became my job, then it would be, well, a job. Then I would have a responsibility to produce. I could not ignore this blog for days at a time as I occasionally do.

I won't even put a tip jar on this blog. It's not that there is anything wrong with blegging (ghastly neologism, that). Asking for contributions is perfectly moral. But it changes everything. With money received from readers comes an implicit trade agreement: for money received the blogger will continue to produce content. I don't want any obligations to anyone. I'm sitting here tapping away on my keyboard because I enjoy it. If it ever becomes a job, I'll shut it down. I already have a job, thank you.

Of course, it's easy for me to dismiss professional blogging because this blog is peanuts and it always will be. I started this blog on November 19, 2005 with no readers. As I write sitemeter says I average 93 visits a day, and I am grateful for every last one of them. I communicate to readers not just in America and Canada, but in faraway places such Germany, India and Brazil. I could not have reached those 93 readers a day before the internet; considering that I get to do this for free, the whole deal is sweet to me!

I could never be a big-time blogger. If you write about politics, you should be a pure partisan like Right Wing News or Daily Kos to get the kind of numbers you need to go pro. As an Objectivist and a radical for capitalism I don't fit either party. Also my focus is too diffuse for this blog to prosper. I write about whatever grabs my interest. Most readers want a narrow focus; they go to, say, a Lakers blog to read about the Lakers. Fortunately, there are at least 93 people in the world who have active minds and enjoy reading about a variety of topics.

UPDATE: I should clarify that I'm not saying there is anything wrong with making money. Money does not make an activity "impure." My point is not Platonic. In fact, there is other writing I do, such as playwriting, that is more important to me than blogging -- and I do aspire to get paid for it. This blog, however, is a form of recreation. Take it for what it is.

Blacklisted By History

History is written by the victors, and there can be no doubt that the left has dominated American culture since the Progressive Era. Exhibit A is what we know, or think we know, about Senator Joseph McCarthy. The left created a myth that has become history.

I've ordered Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joseph McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies by M. Stanton Evans, but have not yet read it. The book looks to have an astonishing store of facts that no one else has cared to examine. Evans has been working on this story in one way or another for over half a century.

The revelations in this book review alone are breathtaking:

In short order, 20 million people a day would be watching the Army-McCarthy hearings on live television. In those hearings -- in which no proof was offered that Cohn had threatened investigative action against the Army to get favors for Schine -- McCarthy would suffer a blow from which he would never really recover. It was delivered by the sanctimonious Army special counsel Joseph Welch, who baited McCarthy into blurting out that one of Welch's law firm associates, Fred Fisher, had been a member of the National Lawyers Guild, a Communist front.
In a scene that has been played and replayed countless times in the ensuing five-plus decades, Welch delivered an Oscar-worthy performance:

"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never fully grasped your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to Harvard Law School and came with my firm and is starting what looks like a brilliant career with us.... Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad... I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you.

"Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you left no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

His eyes reportedly filling with tears, Welch wound up:

"Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have been within six feet of me, and could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have brought it out. If there is a God in Heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good, it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it with you further."

There was only one problem: Welch himself had "outed" Fisher six weeks earlier. As the New York Times reported in a story about the Army filing formal allegations against Cohn and McCarthy:

"The Army charges were signed by its special counsel, Joseph N. Welch. Mr. Welch today [April 15] confirmed news reports that he had relieved from duty his second assistant, Frederick G. Fisher Jr. of his own Boston law office, because of admitted previous membership in the National Lawyers Guild, which has been listed by Herbert Brownell Jr., the Attorney General, as a Communist front organization."

To this day you will not hear it reported that this big dramatic moment that slew the McCarthy dragon was a calculated, bald-faced lie. The irresponsibility of the establishment media in perpetuating this lie boggles the mind.

It's a story about "group think," about the left's remarkable ability to conform ideologically, to stay obediently within "political correctness" and to shun any independent thought. It reminds us how dangerous is public education (government schooling). Americans spend their youth learning to conform; they are NOT taught to think independently, but instead they are "socialized" by progressive education. This ideological conformity is critical to the left.

It's a story about the left's cynical "the end justifies the means" premise. Words are mere weapons to the communists, to be used as necessary to defeat their enemies. As we have seen from the history of communism in practice, those who can flout the truth can commit any atrocity, no matter how big.

Most important, the Joseph McCarthy story is about how communists manipulated the Democrat Party and the media into spreading outright lies about the man. It's a story of smears and character assassination, something that continues on the left to this day (see Borking). We think of the Democrat Party as especially bad today, but it has long been a party full of radical leftists, communist sympathizers and useful idiots.

I look forward to reading the book.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Don't Drink Absolut


Question: can a foreign vodka be sold to Americans using an ad that insults America? For this ad is a multiculturalist slap at America. The idea that American land should be returned to Mexico is a fantasy of MEChA, a leftist organization of "Chicanos."

Don't give me the "Hey, lighten up -- it's a joke" line. It might be a joke (though not a terribly funny one), but it is a dishonest joke that uses humor to smuggle in a bad idea. The use of humor is not an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card.

Born Again Redneck urges a boycott of Pernod, the company that owns Absolut. I'm with him, although I don't drink much anyway.

Battle of the Sexes

Is there anything as silly as hating the opposite sex? You know, men who think all women are lying whores or women who think all men are lying womanizers. Surely you've heard people of both sexes make similar claims about the other sex.

It's an unthinking form of collectivism to make such a sweeping generalization -- and one easily refuted by thinking up examples of honest men or women. But still, there are sad souls who go through life burdened by the premise that the other sex is the enemy. It's a cynical idea that can only lead to unhappiness and failure.

The idea comes when people get hurt by a lover -- and who has not felt the pangs of unrequited love, or worse, betrayal? The pain can be devastating. I've known men who are otherwise rational and sane sent temporarily out of their mind by a cheating wife. We're talking about intense passion here, the stuff of drama.

In this time of great suffering people often make the big mistake: they generalize from their loved one to the entire sex. They don't think, "X lied to me," they think, "All women are lying bitches like X." It does not occur to them that a sample of one is hardly enough to leap to conclusions about all men or women.

The phenomenon is complicated by feminism. Consistent feminists hold men as the enemy. Feminism, like many New Leftist ideologies, is a form of egalitarianism. Throughout history men have had power and privilege; women have been stuck with child raising and fixing dinner. It's not fair and the greater freedom women have been afforded by the end of feudalism and the rise of capitalism is all to the good.

You can see feminist assumptions in movies, TV and literature, though not often explicitly. The implicit message of feminist stories is that men are bad. Men are the enemy. Men are a necessary evil with which women must cope. There is no "masculinist" school of art that stereotypes women as the enemy; such stories would be unegalitarian, therefore they are unthinkable by the New Left.

I've been surprised to observe that women who support Hillary Clinton make a wholly feminist argument. They don't talk about the policy differences between Clinton and Obama -- it would take a subtle mind to find them. The women I have talked to have focused exclusively on the "sexual politics" aspect. They talk about how "the old boy network" decided Obama was their man. One Democrat woman complained to me about Obama's condescending body language around women.

"Women Push Back in Support of Clinton" shows the typical thinking of Clinton's female supporters:

Debra Starks has heard the calls for Hillary Rodham Clinton to quit the presidential race, and she's not happy about it.

The 53-year old Wal-Mart clerk, so bedecked with Clinton campaign buttons most days that friends call her "Button Lady," thinks sexism is playing a role in efforts to push the New York senator from the race. Starks wants Clinton to push back.


"Women have always been asked to step aside if it was somehow for the greater good. In this case, Clinton, and a lot of her female supporters, clearly feel that she would make the better president and that it would not be for the greater good for her to step aside," Wilson said.

It's hard for feminists to get beyond sex. One might want Clinton to step down because of her high negatives or her "baggage" of scandals past. Clinton's strange memory, which shows her to be either a liar or out of touch with reality, is reason enough not to support her. I won't even mention Clinton's statism, as Democrats would admire that. With Democrat women, the only thing that matters is that Clinton is a woman and her opponent is a man. (Is it any wonder that liberals often seem unintelligent to us non-liberals? Their ideological premises that reduce everything to biological collectivism make liberals stupid.)

Republicans should not enjoy the spectacle of the Democrat Party being torn apart by multicultural tribalism, not when biological collectivism is held as an ideal and indoctrinated to our children in government schools. Tribalism threatens to tear apart Western Civilization. The Obama-Clinton clash between race and sex is a canary in the coal mine.

Individualism is the antidote to all forms of collectivism. Every individual man and woman chooses his character. No one's character is determined by his sexual identity. Those who get burned in the pursuit of love must make the extra effort to think rationally and well. Hasty generalizations about men and women infect a mind with crude collectivism.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Grand Hotel

James Wolcott, a leftist with a stinging style, makes some acute observations about the movie Grand Hotel:

Watching Grand Hotel on TCM, it occurred to me, not for the first time, that the world was never more beautiful than it was in classic Hollywood black and white. Certainly women never were. Black and white gave their eyes and skin a glisten, their hair a backlit aurora, that now seems to belong to some now-gone mechanical age of the gods. Grand Hotel seems all ink and ivory, with little intermittent gray. The image of Garbo's ballerina, crumpled on the floor, her tutu a luminous tissue paper white, intercut with John Barrymore's profile as he tenderly spies on her, his presence shielded in shadow--it makes you wish the movie could dispense with the Old World weariness of the dialogue and just keep on contemplating itself. (Dinner at Eight, so much more fun.) In Joan Crawford's scenes with Wallace Beery, you can see each eyebrow, mouth corner, pupil, and shapely ankle individually doing its dramatic bit to create a composite portrait of a secretary to a tycoon type leveraging her assets while maintaining a cool deposit of pride and reserve.

I have long thought the first hour of Grand Hotel is the pinnacle of romantic movie acting. Garbo and Barrymore are more than human; they are gods. They are so beautiful and noble that the soul soars when watching them. If the world can produce such people, then anything is possible.

All this glamour and heroism is disastrously contradicted and undermined by Grand Hotel's theme: money is the root of all evil. (The movie is a product of Hollywood's "red decade," the 1930's.) The plot deteriorates into sordid naturalism in the last half of the movie, with Wallace Beery's character -- a communist's caricature of a capitalist -- brutally beating someone to death with a telephone.

As always with evil, the theme of the movie is a parasite on that which it condemns. Hollywood built the best sets money could buy, hired the best actors money could buy and filmed a story about glamorous rich people, all to get an audience and make a profit -- and then the Hollywood Reds told that audience that money and capitalism were bad. The hypocrisy of the commies would be laughable if communism in practice were not an unspeakable enormity.

Let us be grateful to the Reds for providing a place for the gods to dance before us. Nothing else matters. The anti-capitalist theme seems dated today -- perhaps a indication that the West is already better due to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Watch Grand Hotel for those gloriously romantic scenes with Barrymore and Garbo, despite the malevolence and tragedy of the plot and theme. (And enjoy a hot young Joan Crawford before she became that creature with the eyebrows in her later career.)

The old saying, "They don't make 'em like that anymore," is true about '30s movies. The growth of naturalism in our culture has destroyed Hollywood's ability to make a movie like Grand Hotel. Today's filmmakers would not know where to begin. We watch such a movie and marvel, as travelers in the Dark Ages looking at Roman ruins must have done. "How did they do it," those wanderers in the Dark Ages must have asked. "How did they achieve such greatness?"

Peter Keating Republicans

In his latest TIA Daily email, Robert Tracinski observes that McCain promises more multilateralism in foreign policy. (I'll provide a link if the column shows up on Real Clear Politics.) Tracinski writes,

But what is especially galling to me is that John McCain knows better. On national defense, I believe he is a sincere patriot who loves America and values what our military has accomplished in the cause of freedom. So why all this talk about America having to show that it is a "good citizen" and having to "shoulder our responsibilities"? Isn't serving as the world's strongest and most resolute bulwark against tyranny and terror, bringing down two evil empires and working on preventing a third—shouldn't that be enough to earn the world's gratitude? What other, greater "responsibilities" could anyone reasonably demand of us?

Why would McCain talk about being a "good citizen," the kind of nonsense one would expect from leftists who want to bind America's foreign policy so that we do nothing in our self-interest?

I will offer a guess. John McCain, as long as I have been watching him, has shown a remarkable talent for saying what the establishment liberal media want to hear. This has made him the media's favorite Republican. It has made him a "maverick" among Republicans. It has earned him hours of criticism from conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh.

I can understand McCain's pandering to the media up to a point. We live in an age in which the MSM shape our culture by selecting what to focus their attention on and ignoring other news. Thus, a Republican can say the word "macaca" and the media go into their feeding frenzy, blowing it ridiculously out of proportion to its importance and focusing all their cameras and column inches on that utterance -- until a politician ends up destroyed. Avoiding this selective focus is of life and death importance to a politician's career. The temptation must be great for every Republican to issue the standing order to his subconscious: let me say what the MSM want me to say.

Of course, this is a disastrous policy. If your statements are molded, Peter Keating-like, to what other people want to hear, then you will become what they want you to be. If those people are the MSM, then you will become more liberal.