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Monday, November 10, 2014

A Quandary

    Last week, NOFX lead singer Fat Mike kicks a fan in the face when he comes on stage.  Estase doesn't know which he likes better, that the lead singer of a Marxist punk rock band kicked someone in the face, or that a fan of a Marxist punk rock band got kicked in the face.
       Update:  Muslims celebrated the festival of Ied this winter by murdering those who insult Mohammed.  Which introduces a new quandary:  Will the atheistic American Left apologize for the next abortion clinic bombing?  After all, religious zealots are always apostles of peace when they come from Yemen.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Federalist #43

       The fourth class comprises the following miscellaneous powers: 1)  A power "to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing, for a limited time, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."
       The utility of this power will scarcely be questioned.  The copyright of authors has been solemnly adjudged in Great Britain to be a right of common law.  The right to useful inventions seems with equal reason to belong to the inventors.  The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals.  The States cannot separately make effectual provision for either of the cases, and most of them have anticipated the decision of this point by laws passed at the instance of Congress.
       2)"To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States;  and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislatures of the States in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings."
       The indispensible necessity of complete authority at the seat of governments carries its own evidence with it.  It is a power exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the world, by virtue of its general supremacy.  Without it not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity, but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government for protection in the exercise of their duty might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy.  This consideration has the more weight as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the stationary residence of the government would be both too great a public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as still further to abridge its necessary independence.  The extent of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature.  And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it;  as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it;  as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession;  as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them;  as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own sufferages, will of course be allowed them;  and as the authority of the legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession will be derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.
       The necessity of a like authority over forts, magazines, etc., established by the general government, is not less evident.  The public money expended on such places, and the public property deposited in them, require that they should be exempt from the authority of the particular State.  Nor would it be proper for the places on which the security of the entire Union may depend to be in any degree dependent on a particular member of it.  All objections and scruples are here also obviated by requiring the concurrence of the States concerned in every such establishment.
       3)  "To declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted."
       As treason may be committed against the United States, the authority of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it.  But as new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author.
       4)"To admit new States into the Union;  but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State;  nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress."
       In the Articles of Confederation, no provision is found on this important subject.  Canada was to be admitted of right, on her joining in the measures of the United States;  and the other colonies, by which were evidently meant the other British colonies, at the discretion of nine States.  The eventual establishment of new States seems to have been overlooked by the compilers of that instrument.  We have seen the inconvenience of this omission, and the assumption of power into which Congress have been led by it.  With great propriety, therefore, has the new system supplied the defect.  The general precaution that no new States shall be formed without the concurrence of the federal authority and that of the States concerned is consonant to the principles which ought to govern such transactions.  The particular precaution against the erection of new States, by the partition of a State without its consent, quiets the jealousy of the larger States;  as that of the smaller is quieted by a like precaution against a junction of States without their consent.
        5)  "To dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States, with a proviso that nothing in the Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State."
        This is a power of very great importance, and required by considerations similar to those which show the propriety of the former.  The proviso annexed is proper in itself, and was probably rendered absolutely necessary by jealousies and questions concerning the Western territory sufficiently known to the public.
       6)  "To guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government;  to protect each of them against invasion;  and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence."
       In a confederacy founded on republican principles, and composed of republican members, the superintending government ought clearly to possess authority to defend the system against aristocratic or monarchical innovations.  The more intimate the nature of such a union may be, the greater interest have the members in the political institutions of each other;  and the greater right to insist that the forms of government under which the compact was entered into should be substantially maintained.  But a right implies a remedy;  and where else could the remedy be deposited than where it is deposited by the Constitution?  Governments of dissimilar principles and forms have been found less adapted to a federal coalition of any sort than those of a kindred nature.  "As the confederate republic of Germany," says Montesquieu, "consists of free cities and petty states, subject to different princes, experience shows us that it is more imperfect than that of Holland and Switzerland."  "Greece was undone," he adds, "as soon as the king of Macedon obtained a seat among the Amphictyons."  In the latter case, no doubt, the disproportionate force, as well as the monarchical form of the new confederate, had its share of influence on the events.  It may possibly be asked what need there could be of such a precaution, and whether it may not become a pretext for alterations in the State government, without the concurrence of the States themselves.  These questions admit of ready answers.  If the interposition of the general government should not be needed, the provision for such an event will be a harmless superfluity only in the Constitution.  But who can say what experiments may be produced by the caprice of particular States, by the ambition of enterprising leaders, or by the intrigues and influence of foreign powers?  To the second question it may be answered that if the general government should interpose by virtue of this constitutional authority, it will be, of course, bound to pursue the authority.  But the authority extends no further than to a guaranty of a republican form of government, which supposes a pre-existing government of the form which is to be guaranteed.  As long, therefore, as the existing republican forms are continued by the States, they are guaranteed by the federal Constitution.  Whenever the States may choose to substitute other republican forms, they have a right to do so and to claim the federal guaranty for the latter.  The only restrictions imposed on them is that they shall not exchange republican for anti-republican Constitutions;  a restriction which, it is presumed, will hardly be considered a grievance.
       A protection against invasion is due from every society to the parts composing it.  The latitude of the expression here used seems to secure each State not only against foreign hostility, but against ambitious or vindictive enterprizes of its more powerful neighbors.  The history both of ancient and modern confederacies proves that the weaker members of the Union ought not to be insensible to the policty of this article.
        Protection against domestic violence is added with equal propriety.  It has been remarked that even among the Swiss cantons, which, properly speaking, are not under one government, provision is made for this object;  and the history of that league informs us that mutual aid is frequently claimed and afforded;  and as well by the most democratic as the other cantons.  A recent and well-known event among ourselves has warned us to be prepared for emergencies of a like nature.
       At first view, it might seem not to square with the republican theory to suppose either that a majority have not the right, or that a minority will have the force, to subvert a government;  and  consequently that the federal interposition can never be required but when it would be improper.  But theoretic reasoning, in this as in most  other cases, must be qualified by the lessons of practice.  Why may not illicit combinations, for purposes of violence, be formed as well by a majority of a State, especially a small State, as by a majority of a county, or a district of the same State;  and if the authority of the State ought, in the latter case, to protect the local magistracy, ought not the federal authority, in the former, to support the State authority?  Besides, there are certain parts of the State constitutions which are so interwoven with the federal Constitution that a violent blow cannot be given to the one without communicating the wound to the other.  Insurrection in a State will rarely induce a federal interposition, unless the number concerned in them bear some proportion to the friends of government.  It will be much better that the violence in such cases should be repressed by the superintending power, than that the majority should be left to maintain their cause by a bloody and obstinate contest.  The existance of a right to interpose will generally prevent the necessity of exerting it.
       Is it true that force and right are necessarily on the same side in republican governments?  May not the minor party possess such a superiority of pecuniary resources, of military talents and experience, or of secret succors from foreign powers, as will render it superior also in an appeal to the sword?  May not a more compact and advantageous position turn the scale on the same side against a superior number so situated as to be less capable of a prompt and collected exertion of its strength?  Nothing can be more chimerical than to imagine that in a trial of actual force victory may be calculated by the rules which prevail in a census of the inhabitants, or which determine the event of an election!  May it not happen, in fine, that the minority of citizens may become a majority of persons, by the accession of alien residents, of a casual concourse of adventurers, or of those whom the constitution of the State has not admitted to the rights of suffrage?  I take no notice of an unhappy species of population abounding in some of the States, who, during the calm of regular government, are sunk below the level of men;  but who, in the tempestuous scenes of civil violence, may emerge into the human character and give a superiority of strength to any party with which they may associate themselves.
       In cases where it may be doubtful on which side justice lies, what better umpires could be desired by two violent factions, flying to arms and tearing a State to pieces, than the representatives of confederate States, not heated by the local flame?  To the impartiality of judges, they would unite the affection of friends.  Happy would it be if such a remedy for its infirmities could be enjoyed by all free governments;  if a project equally effectual could be established for the universal peace of mankind!
        Should it be asked what is to be the redress for an insurrection pervading all the States, and comprising a superiority of the entire force, though not a constitutional right?  the answer must be that such a case, as it would be without the compass of human remedies, so it is fortunately not within the compass of human probability;  and that it is a sufficient recommendation of the federal Constitution that it diminishes the risk of a calamity for which no possible constitution can provide a cure.
       Among the advantages of a confederate republic enumerated by Montesquieu, an important one is "that should a popular insurrection happen in one of the States, the others are able to quell it.  Should abuses creep into one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound."
       7)"To consider all debts contracted and engagements entered into before the adoption of this Constitution as being no less valid against the United States under this Constitution than under the Confederation."
        This can only be considered as a declaratory proposition;  and may have been inserted, among other reasons, for the satisfaction of the foreign creditors of the United States, who cannot be strangers to the pretended doctrine that a change in the political form of civil society has the magical effect of dissolving its moral obligations.
       Among the lesser criticisms which have been exercised on the Constitution, it has been remarked that the validity of engagements ought to have been asserted in favor of the United States, as well as against them;  and in the spirit which usually characterizes little critics, the omission has been transformed and magnified into a plot against the national rights.  The authors of this discovery may be told what few others need to be informed of, that as engagements are in their nature reciprocal, an assertion of their validity on one side necessarily involves a validity on the other side;  and that as the article is merely declaratory, the establishment of the principle in one case is sufficient for every case.  They may be further told that every constitution must limit its precautions to dangers that are not altogether imaginary;  and that no real danger can exist that the government would dare, with or even without this constitutional declaration before it, to remit the debts justly due to the public on the pretext here condemned.
       8)  "To provide for amendments to be ratified by three fourths of the States under two exceptions only."
       That useful alterations will be suggested by experience could not but be forseen.  It was requisite, therefore, that a mode for introducing them should be provided.  The mode preferred by the convention seems to be stamped with every mark of propriety.  It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable;  and that extreme difficulty, which might perpetuate its discovered faults.  It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.  The exception in favor of the equality of sufferage in the Senate was probably meant as a palladium to the residuary sovereignty of the States, implied and secured by that principle of representation in one branch of the legislature;  and was probably insisted on by the States particularly attached to that equality.  The other exception must have been admitted on the same considerations which produced the privilege defended by it.
       9)"The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States, ratifying the same."
       This article speaks for itself.  The express authority of the people alone could give due validity to the Constitution.  To have required the unanimous ratification of the thirteen States would have subjected the essential interests of the whole to the caprice or corruption of a single member.  It would have marked a want of foresight in the convention, which our own experience would have rendered inexcusable.
        Two questions of a very delicate nature present themselves on this occasion:  1)On what principle the Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a compact among the States, can be superseded without the unanimous consent of the parties to it?  2)What relation is to subsist between the nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining few who do not become parties to it?
       The first question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case;  to the great principle of self-preservation;  to the transcendent law of nature and of nature's God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.  Perhaps, also, an answer may be found without searching beyond the principles of the compact itself.  It has been heretofore noted among the defects of the Confederation that in many of the States it had received no higher sanction than a mere legislative ratification.  The principle of reciprocity seems to require that its obligation on the other States should be reduced to the same standard.  A compact between independent sovereigns, founded on ordinary acts of legislative authority, can pretend to no higher validity than a league or treaty between the parties.  It is an established doctrine on the subject of treaties that all the articles are mutually conditions of each other;  that a breach of any one article is a breach of the whole treaty;  and that a breach, committed by either of the parties, absolves the others, and authorizes them, if they please, to pronounce the compact violated and void.  Should it unhappily be necessary to appeal to; these delicate truths for a justification for dispensing with the consent of particular States to a dissolution of the federal pact, will not the complaining parties find it a difficult task to answer the multiplied and important infractions with which they may be confronted?  The time has been when it was incumbent on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits.  The scene is now changed, and with it the part which the same motives dictate.
       The second question is not less delicate;  and the flattering prospect of its being merely hypothetical forbids an over-curious discussion of it.  It is one of those cases which must be left to provide for itself.  In general, it may be observed that although no political relation can subsist between the assenting and dissenting States, yet the moral relations will remain uncancelled.  The claims of justice, both on one side and on the other, will be in force, and must be fulfilled;  the rights of humanity must in all cases be duly and mutually respected;  whilst considerations of a common interest, and, above all, the remembrance of the endearing scenes which are past, and the anticipation of a speedy triumph over the obstacles to reunion, will, it is hoped, not urge in vain moderation on one side, and prudence on the other.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Pro-Life Whig Manifesto

       The Republican Party, as represented as such characters such as Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner, seems to be becoming transmogrified into a group of amoral Ayn Randians.  Unwilling to address any social issue as being the road to ruin, the only thing the Randians care about is "smaller government."  Not honest government, not parlimentary democracy, not a civil society, just "smaller" government.  The only thing this new brand of libertarian Republicans care about is money.  This is mine.  Don't touch it.  Get a job.
         One sign that the Randians are taking over is the obsession with disability (SSI) recipients.  While there has been a swelling of SSI recipients in the last few years, it has become an article of faith with the Randians that nobody legitimately receives disability.  Even if you are a quadraplegic, you are a leach on society if you recieve SSI.  To use Paul Ryan's unlovely phrase, such people are takers who steal from makers.  This Manichean duality of people who are unworthy and people who are worthy is a staple of talk radio, which is really odd, because when George W. Bush was president, recieving SSI was not the mark of a parasite.  Maybe this is one reason why talk radio is dying, the recreational activity of choice for people who think they are excellent human beings because they make a lot of money.
           Don't get me wrong.  I'm not endorsing the nihilistic left.  I'm just pointing out how nihilistic the Randians are.  Pro-aborts who think everyone who recieves social benefits are scum have as little moral compass as modern liberals.  Unfortunately, the Primrose League, or establishment Republicans, are just this sort of person.
           It would be Estase's position that being pro-life goes hand in hand with a realization that some persons will need social benefits.  When a family has the integrity and honor to bring a child with Down's Syndrome into the world, this human person should not anticipate a life of homelessness and squalor.  A Down's patient is a valuable person, not just a taker.  Does the Republican party want a T-4 program to eliminate everyone who might not make a lot of money?  Is the highest value of Republicanism stinginess?  The Irishman these people need to keep in mind is Edmund Burke, not Ronald Reagan.  The talk radio community pretends to exemplify conservative thought, but they actually are ignoring one of Burke's most important principles:  stinginess has longer-range costs that are not forseeable in the present.  Another Burkean principle ignored by the Randians is that for men to love their country, their country should be lovely.  A lovely country does not kill its weak and poor.  A lovely country does not call the poor "takers."

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Spanish Civil War and the Illinois Governor's Race

       Sweet child in time/You'll see the light/Lines drawn between/Good and bad
       The Spanish Civil War was a battle between two evil ideologies--Soviet Communism as represented by the Republicans, and Fascism, as represented by the Nationalists under Franco.  The Republicans were nun-raping, priest-murdering savages.  The Nationalists were Jew-murdering thugs.  Neither side were worth a damn, and if Estase had been alive, he would have hoped each side would kill off the other.  It reminds me of what Reagan said of the Iran-Iraq war:  "It's a real shame both sides can't lose this war."

       Fast forward to 2012.  Real conservatives Bill Brady and Kurt Dillard are trounched by upstart Rahm Emmanuel confidant and Disturbin' Dick Durbin supporter Bruce Rauner.  (See my previous post, "Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner.")  Not only is Rauner pro-abortion, he promises to remake the Illinois GOP in his own image.  The Illinois GOP was always heavy in Primrose Leaguers, but Rauner intends to make values voters unwelcome in Illinois Republican politics.  So, while voting for Pat Quinn means voting for more financial ruin for the state, voting for Bruce Rauner means pro-lifers will have no place in state GOP politics.  So, in other words, it is the Spanish Civil War all over again.  It is one set of evil men against another set of evil men.  Enjoy, Illinoisans.

You better close your eyes, bow your head/Wait for the ricochet

Saturday, September 06, 2014

John Dewey and the Cult of Superficiality

         Estase has read his share of philosophy.  John Dewey is a particular bĂȘte noire of his, for the simple reason that Dewey proposed solutions that have no depth of thinking to them.  Following John Stuart Mill, the idea that rule by experts was desirable was the theory of Dewey.  Unlike Mill, Dewey had little idea of how complex this might actually be.  Mill was at least man enough to realize that there would be a debate on who the experts were.  Dewey seemed to think that being progressive was evidence that one was entitled to be an "expert."  Dewey provides no insight on how to balance popular government with rule by experts.  Dewey provides no insight on how to balance religious or minority rights with rule by experts.  Dewey's acolytes in the Roosevelt administration had zero respect for kosher butchering, as can be seen in the Schechter poultry case.  The only value was economic manipulation--religious freedom did not register, nor did the right to do business as one chose.
          Rule by experts is a concept that will not die, no matter how ridiculous it may be when applied to reality.

Well the Line Forms, On the Right, Babe

   "Less known to our intelligentsia is an aphorism in Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, a book well known to {Bertholt} Brecht, entitled "On the Pale Criminal," which tells the story of a neurotic murderer, eerily resembling Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, who does not know, cannot know, that he committed murder out of a motive as legitimate as any other and useful in many important situations, but delegitimized in our pacific times:  he lusted after "the joy of the knife."  This scenario for "Mack the Knife" is the beginning of the supra-moral attitude of expectancy, waiting to see what the volcano of the id will spew forth, which appealed to Weimar and its American admirers.  Everything is all right as long as it is not fascism!  With Armstrong taking Lenya's place, as Mai Britt took Dietrich's, it is all mass-marketed and the message becomes less dangerous, although no less corrupt.  All awareness of foreignness disappears.  It is thought to be folk culture, all-American, part of the American century, just as "stay loose" (as opposed to uptight) is supposed to have been an insight of rock music and not a translation of Heidegger's Gelassenheit.  The historical sense and the distance on our times, the only advantages of Weimar nostalgia, are gone, and American self-satisfaction--the sense that the scene is ours, that we have nothing important to learn about life from the past--is served.
       This image can be seen in our intellectual history, if only one substitutes Mary McCarthy for Louis Armstrong and Hannah Arendt for Lotte Lenya, or David Riesman for Armstrong and Erich Fromm for Lenya, and so on through the honor roll of American intellectuals.  Our stars are singing a song they do not understand, translated from a German original and having a huge popular success with unknown but wide-ranging consequences, as something of the original message touches something in American souls.  But behind it all, the master lyricists are Nietzsche and Heidegger."  The Closing of the American Mind by Allen Bloom, pgs. 151-52.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Bloom on New Left

       "But the activists had no special quarrel with the classic texts, and they were even a bit infected by their Frankfurt School masters' habit of parading their intimacy with high culture.  Radicals had at an earlier stage of egalitarianism already dealt with the monarchic, aristocratic and antidemocratic character of most literary classics by no longer paying attention to their manifest political content.  Literary criticism concentrated on the private, the intimate, the feelings, thoughts and relations of individuals, while reducing to the status of a literary convention of the past the fact that the heroes of many classic works were soldiers and statesmen engaged in ruling and faced with political problems(p65).
       Herbert Marcuse appealed to university students in the sixties with a combination of Marx and Freud.  In Eros and Civilization and One Dimensional Man he promised that the overcoming of capitalism and its false consciousness will result in a society where the greatest satisfactions are sexual, of a sort that the bourgeois moralist Freud called polymorphous and infantile.  Rock music touches the same chord in the young.  Free sexual expression, anarchism, mining of the irrational unconscious and giving it free rein are what they have in common.  The high intellectual life I shall describe in Part Two and the low rock world are partners in the same entertainment enterprise.  They must both be interpreted as parts of the cultural fabric of late capitalism.  Their success comes from the bourgeois' need to feel that he is not bourgeois, to have undangerous experiments with the unlimited.  He is willing to pay dearly for them.  The Left is better interpreted by Nietzsche than by Marx.  The critical theory of late capitalism is at once late capitalism's subtlest and crudest expression.  Anti-bourgeois ire is the opiate of the Last Man(p.78).
       Woody Allen's comedy is nothing but a set of variations on the theme of the man who does not have a real "self" or "identity," and feels superior to the inauthentically self-satisfied people because he is conscious of his situation and at the same time inferior to them because they are "adjusted."  This borrowed psychology turns into a textbook in Zelig, which is the story of an "other-directed" man, as opposed to an "inner-directed" man, terms popularized in the 1950s by David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd, borrowed by him from his analyst, Erich Fromm, who himself absorbed them (e.g. innige Mensch) from a really serious thinker, Nietzsche's heir, Martin Heidegger.  I was astounded to see how doctrinaire Woody Allen is, and how normal his way of looking at things--which has immediate roots in the most profound German philosophy--has become in the American entertainment market.  One of the links between Germany and the United States, the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, actually plays a cameo role in Zelig(p. 144-45).
        Get rid of capitalist alienation and Puritan repression, and all will be well as each man chooses for himself.  But Woody Allen really has nothing to tell us about inner-directedness.  Nor does Riesman nor, going further back, does Fromm.  One has to get to Heidegger to learn something of all the grim facts of what inner-directedness might really mean.  Allen is never nearly as funny as Kafka, who really took the problem seriously, without the propagandistic reassurance that Left progressivism would solve it.  Zelig has a flirtation with Hitler--whose appeal, it almost goes without saying, is to "other-directed persons,"  or to use an equivalent expression popularized by another German psychoanalyst, Theodore Adorno, to "authoritarian personalities"--but is rescued by his psychiatricus ex machine.  (Flirtation with Stalin never needs explanation in this intellectual universe.)  Woody Allen helps to make us feel comfortable with nihilism, to Americanize it.  I'm O.K., thou art O.K. too, if we agree to be a bit haunted together(p. 146).
       Herbert Marcuse's accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsche label has been replaced by a Made In America label;  and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family(p. 147).
       I shall not comment on the Nazi period of the now de-Nazified Heidegger, other than to remark that the ever more open recognition that he was the most interesting thinker of our century, formerly chastely displaced in admiration for his various proxies, gives evidence that we are playing with fire.  His interest in new gods led him, as it did Nietzsche, in his teaching to honor immoderation over moderation and to ridicule morality.  Both helped to constitute that ambiguous Weimar atmosphere in which liberals looked like simpletons and anything was possible for people who sang of the joy of the knife {ed.--Mack the Knife} in cabarets(p. 154).
       Vulgar Marxism is, of course, Marxism.  Nonvulgar Marxism is Nietzsche, Weber, Freud, Heidegger, as well as the host of later Leftists who drank at their trough--such as Lukacs, Kojeve, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre--and hoped to enroll them in the class struggle(p. 220).
       This is what we find in Marcuse and many others, who simply do not talk about the difficulty posed by the contradiction between Marx's fundamental principles and those of Freud.  Two powerful systems are served up in a single package.  Freud is the really meaty part of the concoction.  Marx provides a generalized assurance that capitalism is indeed at fault and that the problems can be solved by more equality and more freedom, that the liberated people will possess all the virtues(p. 223).
       Weber at least provided some examples, even though his definition may have been problematic.  One wonders whether Weber's contention that the value giver is an aristocrat of the spirit is less plausible than that of those who say that just anyone is, if he has the right therapist, or if a socialist society is constructed for him.  This egalitarian transformation of Weber permitted anyone who is not to the left to be diagnosed as mentally ill.  Left critics of psychoanalysis called it a tool of bourgeois conformism;  one wonders, however, whether the critics are not manipulators of psychological therapy in the service of Left conformism.  Adorno's meretricious fabrication of the authoritarian and democratic personality types has exactly the same sources as the inner-directed-other-directed typology, and the same sinister implications(p. 225).
       Marcuse began in Germany in the twenties by being something of a serious Hegel scholar.  He ended up here writing trashy-culture criticism with a heavy sex interest  in One Dimensional Man and other well-known books.  In the Soviet Union, instead of the philosopher-king they got the ideological tyrant;  in the United States the culture critic became the voice of Woodstock (p. 226).
       The New Left in America was a Nietzschanized-Heideggerianized Left.  The unthinking hatred of "bourgeois society"  was exactly the same in both places.  A distinguished professor of political science proved this when he read to his radical students some speeches about what was to be done.  They were enthusiastic until he informed them that the speeches were by Mussolini.  Heidegger himself, late in his life, made overtures to the New Left.  The most sinister formula in his Rectoral Address of 1933 was, with only the slightest of alterations, the slogan of the American professors who collaborated with the student movements of the sixties:  "The time for decision is past.  The decision has already been made by the youngest part of the German nation (p. 314-15). "

All from The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Francis Fukuyama and Zombie Movies

      The events of the last week are making me remember the famous t-shirt slogan of the 80s:  Choose Life.
        Right now Christians are being purged from Iraq by ISIS, a bloodthirsty terrorist group.  Nigerian Catholics have been burned alive by their Muslim neighbors.  An unarmed young African-American in Ferguson, MO is shot for no apparent reason.  To top it off, comedian Robin Williams hangs himself.
          I have started to wonder if one of the reasons for the popularity of zombie movies is that, in a perverse way, the total breakdown of society isn't unthinkable any more.  One reason we got into this situation with Iraq was that the Bush administration's bible was Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man .  It was the Condaleeza Rice view of things that all human beings desired to live in western democracies.  One only needs to look at what happened to Iran after the Shah to see that, no, not all human beings wish to live in western democracies.  Indeed, the first thing that some people will do with their votes will be to install religious extremists as their government.  The Bushies made this mistake in its most extreme form when they encouraged the creation of the Palestinian Authority under the mistaken belief that Palestinians would create a moderate, democratic government.  When they actually installed Hamas as the ruling party, Israel was now faced with the necessity of treating people who will not accept their existance as the Palestinian government.
               The zombie movie resounds with people because it refutes the neoconservative idea that people have an intrinsic love of democracy and order.  Humans everywhere do not love freedom, at least the western idea of freedom as being liberal democracy.  This relentless crusade for making the world democratic has only put the most barbaric and retrograde elements in positions of strength in Iraq and Gaza/West Bank.  Indeed, how other than the existance of revived corpses could there be more chaos in the world right now?
          The movement in the world, and especially the middle east, is towards governments that utilize mass murder as a tool for uniformity.  In that sense, the Yugoslav civil wars in the 1940s and 1990s are the template for groups such as ISIS.  Why persuade people to support a government when you can just kill off your opposition?  Why worry about drawing national borders to account for ethnic groups when you can just destroy minority ethnicities?
            Choose Life isn't just a t-shirt slogan anymore.  It is the most basic and anachronistic aspiration for today's blood-soaked world. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Aims of Government

       The following is from Cato's Letters, #63:
       While the people have common-sense left, they will easily see whether they are justly governed, and well or ill used;  whether they are protected or plundered:  They will know that no man ought to be the director of the affairs of all, without their consent;  that no consent can give him unlimited power over their bodies and minds;  and that the laws of nature can never be entirely abrogated by positive laws;  but that, on the contrary, the entering into society, and becoming subject to government, is only the parting with natural liberty, in some instances, to be protected in the enjoyment of it in others.

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Nineteen

       "By the fall of 1920 the Kemalist army was acting on its committment to destroy Armenia, now a precarious, isolated country of genocide refugees ravaged by disease and famine.  Once again Armenia found itself in a situation beyond its control.  In the summer of 1920, the Soviets were pressing Armenia to join the Soviet Union, and war actually broke out between Armenia and the Soviet Union in July.  From the other side of the world--so it seemed--the West was urging Armenia not to join the Soviets, which in the end would cost Armenia even more territory.
       In this tense period a draft of a treaty between Soviet Russia and Kemalist Turkey remained unratified in Ankara because the Soviets now asked that some of Turkish Armenia be awarded to the present Armenian Republic.  The Soviets also asked that the peoples of Turkish Armenia (the term used by the Soviets) and Batum, eastern Thrace, and the regions inhabited jointly by Turks and Arabs should be given the right to decide their own fate.  Refugees living in Soviet Russia, and those who had been made homeless by war and massacre, were to be allowed to return to their homes and participate in a referendum.
       The Turkish response to the Soviet requests is revealing.  Kiazim Karabekir's answer is an early and quintessential statement of Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide.  He retorted:' In Turkey there has been neither an Armenia nor territory inhabited by Armenians. . . . Those [Armenians] living in Turkey committed murder and massacres, and have escaped to Iran, America, Europe, and some of them to Armenia.  How is it possible to call back these murderers and give them the right to vote?'  When Soviet foreign commissar Grigori Chicherin put the same proposal to the Turkish delegation in Moscow, he was told the same thing:  'No Armenian provinces have ever existed in Turkey.'  In this way, the Kemalists were continuing the work of the Young Turks in their effort to erase Armenia in fact and idea from the map it had inhabited."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs.325-28.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Impending Doom of Nation-States (As We Know Them)

      The following is a guest commentary by Tom Usher.

       Those lamps were the lamps of independence.  In Europe, independence meant conflict, just like it did here in the states.  We succumbed to central control first and then it was forced on Europe by America as a result of the war.
      I think that America was designed originally as it was because the founders looked at European history and realized that independent states would always be at war.  They designed a system that was supposed to allow for a common governmental framework in which these conflicts could be defused without the loss of independence.
       It took less than one hundred years to find out that peace among independent states is not possible and that a little control with only the power of man as its basis won't maintain it.  Peace, or at least the fiction of it, can only be maintained through force of a more eternal kind.
        And that's the real story of history.  Who has the power to enforce peace and whether or not they do it with justice or terror.  After the fall of Rome Europe became a place where subsidiarity was the rule.  City states and small kingdoms all competed for power.  Because there were many different actors and power was diffused a chaotic system kept any one group from holding too much power for too long.
       During the Middle Ages the system the American founders wanted actually existed, though to read modern historians one would never know it.  The Catholic Church became the great arbiter, a clearing house for grievances large and small which kept most of Europe independent and from each other's throat.  Most rulers had an allegiance to the Church and the Pope which gave the Church the power to step in when needed and decide the issue at hand before war broke out.
       A perfect system?  No.  But a better one than the one that came into place after WW I.  The American system of top down central control, developed after the Civil War, came into its own during the Roosevelt and Wilson administrations, and at the same time as the rise of the other centrally controlled system, Communism.  And Europe became the testing and battle ground for global central government. 
       In the Middle Ages, Europe stayed relatively peaceful (at least for Europe) due to the fear of God.  The limits imposed by the Church were shattered by the Reformation and the Age of Reason, culminating in the French Revolution and finally the force of government enforced through the fear of man and his arms after WW I.  Nations no longer feared God.  {Estase's note:  "God is dead"--Nietsche's statement was more sociology than philosophy.  Old Friedrich was only describing what had long been the case}  They looked to themselves for authority and the guys with the biggest guns had the most.  So, with the governors off, with nothing apart from national force as the benchmark of truth, we entered into a century of global conflict, a tug of war on a global scale;  an unnatural state of never-ending warfare on a global and all-consuming scale.
       That is the legacy of WW I and all that led to it.  A war that has never been decided, a peace that can only be maintained through massive force, which requires an expenditure of resources that cannot be maintained over time on a global scale never before attempted.  Entropy writ large.
       We're out of energy to apply to the false system of peace that was put in place at Versailles.  The system is collapsing and a new one will rise in its place.  We're about to see why, on the biggest human scale ever, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not just a suggestion--it's a law.
       Personally, I think that we'll use the last of our rapidly dwindling energy reserves fighting to damn near global exhaustion this time and then we'll see the injection of God into history.  The power to rebuild had to come from the outside to keep the human system going or it will completely collapse and disappear.  God uses nature and He pretty much follows the laws he designed.  So buckle up.  Those that make it to the other side of this will have stories that will need to be passed down through the generations as a warning to those that come after.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Eighteen

         "By the fall of 1919, as the Kemalists were taking on the Greeks, Damad Ferid's government fell, and the Kemalists accrued more influence in government in Constantinople and throughout the country.  In the coming years there were three Greco-Turkish battles, and in September 1922 the Turks would burn Smyrna to the ground after killing tens of thousands of Greeks and Armenians and expelling the Greeks and remaining Armenians from the city and the region.
        As Kemalist nationalism found its footing and assumed unofficial political leadership, the nationalist stance against Armenia became increasingly virulent.  Procrastination by the Entente in Paris gave the Turks the time they needed to invade Armenia.  But before that happened, politics at the peace conference and in the United States made Armenia's situation tenser and even more complex.  In April 1920 the Allies asked President Wilson to draw a boundary line for the western part of Armenia;  but in May the United States rejected a proposed American mandate for Armenia.
        And on August 10, 1920, the Allies brought Damad Ferid Pasha and his government to the conference table with a treaty they had been preparing for months.  Like the Greek occupation of Smyrna, the Treaty of Sevres came as an affront to the Turks and especially to the Kemalists.  Because the Ottoman Empire had been a multicultural empire comprising numerous ethnic groups, many of which were living on their historic lands, the Treaty of Sevres in some ways was aimed at decolonizing the empire.
        Section VI, articles 88-93, of the treaty dealt exclusively with Armenia:  1)Turkey was to recognize Armenia as a free and independent state;  2) the president of the United States would determine the boundary between Armenia and Turkey, a boundary that would pass through the provinces of Erzurum, Trebizond, Van, and Bitlis;  3)the boundary was to include an outlet for Armenia on the Black Sea;  4)Turkey must renounce any claim to the ceded land;  5)although Armenia had been crippled by massacre and deportation, the European powers were asking Armenia to assume financial obligations for the former Turkish territory that was awarded to it;  6)Armenia would agree to protect the interests of minorities in its new state.  The treaty was at least a fair settlement for Armenia, but by the time it was signed, the politics in Turkey and the military advances against Armenia had made it almost obsolete.  Now the Kemalists were determined to revoke the Treaty of Sevres with its awards of territory not only to Armenia, but to Kurdistan and Greece.
        The 'National Pact' the Kemalists had drawn up in 1919 demanded all of Turkish Armenia, including areas that had been in Russia (Kars and Ardahan) that were now part of the Armenian Republic.  The Armenians desperately clung to the promises of the Europeans at Versailles and in the Treaty of Sevres, but the tide was turning.  The Kemalists were solidifying Turkey, and no foreign power was willing to accept a mandate for Armenia, even though the Europeans were agreeing to ask the League of Nations to consider the idea.  In the West the commitment to Armenia, in the wake of postwar fatigue, was dying fast."   The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs. 324-325. 

Brave for Liberty

       The following is from Cato's Letters #62:
       They who are used like beasts, will be apt to degenerate into beasts.  But those, on the contrary, who, by the freedom of their government and education, are comparing one man with another, that all men are naturally alike;  and that their governors, as they have the same face, constitution, and shape with themselves, and are subject to the same sickness, accidents, and death, with the meanest of their people;  so they possess the same passions and faculties of the mind which their subjects possess, and not better.  They therefore scorn to degrade and prostrate themselves, to adore those of their own species, however covered with titles, and disguised by power:  They consider them as their own creatures;  and, as far as they surround themselves, the work of their own hands, and only the chief servants of the state, who have no more power to do evil than one of themselves, and are void of every privilege and superiority, but to serve them and the state.  They know it to be a contradiction in religion and reason, for any man to have a right to do evil;  that not to resist any man's wickedness, is to encourage it;  and that they have the least reason to bear evil and oppression from their governors, who of all men are the most obliged to do them good.  They therefore detest slavery, and despise or pity slaves;  and, adoring liberty alone, as they who see its beauty and feel its advantages always will, it is no wonder that they are brave for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

King's Bench

       It's been a while since Estase has blogged about King's Bench (AKA, the American Supreme Court).  One ingredient of the imperial presidency created by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and strengthened by presidents as varied as FDR and George W. Bush, is that the court of King's Bench no longer decides on what the black-letter constitution says, but engages in dishonest though creative misreadings of this original document.  Furthermore, the Supreme Court has become an extension of the executive branch.  Justices are picked due to their predictable ability to tow the party line of whoever appointed them.  (One must concede, however, that Democratic presidents are much more adept at this than their Republican counterparts.  Anthony Kennedy votes far more like a liberal than would seem appropriate for a Republican appointee.  Even Sandra Day O'Connor had her embarassing Lemon case, which was also a lemon in another sense.)   Long ago cast to the winds was the Political Questions Doctrine as established in Luther v. Borden .  Today's Kings Bench is replete with such characters as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and "wise Latina" Sonya Sotamayor, who never saw a case of First Amendment religious freedom they thought deserved respect.  It is hard to imagine any of the more conservative members standing up to the executive, never mind the peril, in the same sense that James I and Francis Bacon clashed with Edward Coke.   It reminds one of W.B. Yeats' The Second Coming ,where the better people lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.   In a world where liberals think presidents are elected kings (see movies such as The American President and With Honors), Supreme Court justices are just another way to obviate the power of House and Senate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The People's (Republic?) Pope

       In the 90s epic Braveheart, Edward I (played by Patrick McGoohan) opines, "The problem with Scotland is that is a nation of Scots."  In other words, Edward I chooses to deal with a people who won't knuckle under to him by replacing them with English colonists, extermination, and prima noctae, an antique custom allowing the local noble to rape newlywed women.  In much the same way, contemporary politicians choose to replace their populations with more pliable ones.  In about 40 years, the United Kingdom, with its capital city of Londinistan, will cease to be a nation of English, Welsh, and Scots.  It will instead be a colony of Pakistan.  (Relish the irony.  Britain colonized India, and now the reverse is happening!)  Our own politicians prefer the Hispanic to replace us with.
       Senator Ted Cruz gave a speech today where he called upon Vatican City to welcome unlimited numbers of poor Africans.  The Vatican, Mr. Cruz opined, has nothing separating her from the poor of Africa but the Mediterannean.  She has artwork valued at millions of Dollars.  Surely St. Peter's Basilica could accomodate thousands of poor people?  Why should Pope Francis turn a cold shoulder to these people?  Jesus was impoverished.  We are admonished to welcome the stranger and embrace the poor.  If Vatican City itself cannot accomodate the poor of Africa, perhaps the Italian government, which has always been a model of efficiency and solvency, could take in these people?  Perhaps some of them might carry exotic diseases like Ebola that they could share with the people of Italy?

        What, you say that what Italy and the Vatican do are none of America's business?  Why, Pope Francis seems to think that what the United States does is his?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

PayDay Bar Goes Testicles

       Earlier this year, Norelco's ad executives showed us they had watched "The Silence of the Lambs" too many times when they had a man in a trimmer commercial remark, "I'd f*ck me," recalling the oh-so-disturbing sequence in which the transvestite serial killer dances in drag to "Girls on Film" and similarly remarks "I'd do me so hard."  Autoerotica, anyone? 
        The great Michael Savage once opined that all ad executives now are gay men, and one is inclined to believe it when one considers the current crop of ads (See my previous blogpost from January 2012 "Harpo Marx Doritos Commercial.")  The oddest, and argueably most perverted offering of late, is a commercial for PayDay candybars.  Using the bizarre slogan "Expose Yourself to PayDay," the add shows a PayDay bar mostly out of its wrapper, with a matrix blur over the middle of the candy bar, as though genitals exist on the product.  Where does one even begin?  First taboo:  most people consider indecent exposure laudable behavior, and of course all Americans love to think about a candy bar having its perverse, public nudity moment.  Second taboo:  if a PayDay bar has genitals, must that mean that snacking is a sexual act? 
       Estase doesn't want to go all Moral Majority here, but there is a definite and worrying trend here.  It used to be bad enough to imply that buying the right car would get you laid, but now we are advanced to such an advanced level of depravity that ad executives cannot sell a sub sandwich, Doritos, hair clippers, or candy bars without some kind of a sexual reference.  What is next?  I hope a wave of decency overtakes Madison Avenue, and there isn't need for a third post on the subject.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Martyrs Were Suckers

      Being a martyr is an extremely unwelcome thing today.  Estase remembers a discussion in a history seminar about resisting Hitler.  One student said something along the lines of "But they had to participate in the Holocaust.  They would have been killed if they didn't."  Estase responded that the worst the Nazis could have done to a resistor is kill them.  "But they couldn't do that!," was the response.  Several students seemed to believe that there was a broad category of things you could be "forced" to do.  Estase responded that the only things a person had to do were be born and die.  He also said that it would be far better morally to be killed for refusing to cooperate with genocide instead of going along with genocide and then being executed for it.  In one case you would die with a clean conscience, and the other you would die with a guilty conscience.  By this line of reasoning, the early Christian martyrs did the wrong thing by dying rather than worshipping Roman idols.
       Estase does not have a Twitter account, and the reason why is that it facilitates superficial snippets and these snippets all too often are sarcastic and abusive.  One person on Twitter, going under the name of KeKe Dat Bitch, unfavorably compared Martin Luther King to Nikki Minaj.  This girl said that MLK was a criminal (owing to his incarceration), and Nikki has her own clothing line! (Oooh!)  When a rap star who made millions for negligible work is regarded as better than someone who risked his life repeatedly seeking equitable treatment for black people, there is something very rotten in Denmark.  It is yet another sign that martyrdom is an unpopular vocation today.
       Others on Twitter include Catholic Bishop John Wester, who tweeted that it would be wonderful if people first thought of Catholics as "joyful."  Bishop Wester is on record for saying that the problem with Obamacare was that it didn't include illegal aliens.  It is people like John Wester in the Catholic Church that are most averse to martyrdom.  Why, Saint Stephen made a colossal mistake!  The reason he was stoned was no doubt that he failed to exude enough joy!  The Catholic Health Association in Scranton supported Obamacare even as they knew it would drive them out of business.  If this is martyrdom, and not a conscious decision that Catholics shouldn't run hospitals, this is for the reader to decide.  One may follow KeKe, and say that becoming rap stars with a clothing line is far preferable to being a nun in today's world.  Or, like Bishop Wester, they might conclude that the only job of a nun is to be "joyful."  At any rate, don't make a fuss.  Do like the University of Notre Dame, and have Obama come tell your graduates that Catholicism isn't a satisfactory system of belief for young people.  The martyrs, after all, were suckers.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Partisanship and Limiting Power

      The following is from Cato's Letters #57:
       The honour of a party is to adhere to one another, right or wrong;  and though their chief be a knave and a traitor, their honour is engaged to be honest to him in all his rogueries and treason.  And this is a war of honour against honesty.
       The honour and bona fide of some princes have been of that odd and unprincely contexture, that they were never once restrained by the same, from decieving, plaguing, invading, robbing, and usurping upon their neighbours, and doing things which would have entitled a plain subject to the gibbet.  Their honour seems to have been deeply concerned to have no honour:  And though their faith was engaged to protect their subjects;  yet their honour, on the other side, was engaged to pillage and enslave them.  And here grew the royal war of honour against faith and equity!

These excerpts are from Cato's Letters #60:

       The experience of every age convinces us, that we must not judge of men by what they ought to do, but by what they will do;  and all history affords but few instances of men trusted with great power without abusin it, when with security they could.  The servants of society, that is to say, its magistrates, did almost universally serve it by seizing it, selling it, or plundering it;  especially when they were left by the society unlimited as to their duty and wages.  In that case these faithful stewards generally took all;  and, being servants, made slaves of their masters. .  .  .The only secret therefore in forming a free government, is to make the interests of the governors and of the governed the same, as far as human policy can contrive.  Liberty cannot be preserved any other way.  Men have long found, from the weakness and depravity of themselves and one another, that most men will act for interest against duty, as often as they dare.  So that to engage them to their duty, interest must be linked to the observance of it, and danger to the breach of it.  Personal advantages and security, must be the rewards of duty and obedience;  and disgrace, torture, and death, the punishment of treachery and corruption.

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Seventeen

       "Ravished Armenia was based on the survivor account of an Armenian girl, Arshalois (meaning 'morning light') Mardigian, who in the United States had changed her name to Aurora Mardiganian.  Aurora had arrived at Ellis Island in November 1917, a sixteen-year- old with one surviving brother, for whom she was searching in the United States.  In New York City she was taken in by an Armenian family who placed ads in the papers to help her search.  The advertisements caught the eye of several journalists at the New York Sun and the New York Tribune, who interviewed Aurora and published her story.
       When Harvey Gates, a twenty-four-year-old screenwriter who would become known for If I Had a Million(1932), The Werewolf of London(1935), and The Courageous Dr. Christian(1939)--read about Aurora, he was both deeply moved and saw a unique opportunity.  He and his wife, Eleanor, persuaded Nora Waln, Aurora's guardian, that the girl should abandon her plans to work in a dress factory and pursue a career in the movies.  They soon became Aurora's legal guardians and transcribed her story, which was published as Ravished Armenia in the United States in 1918 (and as Auction of Souls in England in 1919).  The book came with a preface and testimony by H.L. Gates, the president of Robert College in Constantinople, and Nora Waln, who verified the truth of Aurora's story.  While the book sold well, its more sensational venue would be the big screen.
       Ravished Armenia was an epic story and a first in film history, bringing genocide to the screen.  Aurora's story begins in April 1915 in the city of Tchmesh-Gedzak (Chemeshgadzak), a town just north of the twin cities of Harput and Mezre in what Leslie Davis had recently called 'the slaughterhouse province' of Harput.  From her comfortable, affluent home (her father was a banker), Aurora is arrested and then abducted by Turkish gendarmes and thrust into a ghoulish world of massacre and violence.  As she describes the death marches across Anatolia, Ravished Armenia depicts the story of what Ambassador Morgenthau had already called 'the murder of a nation.'
       Col. William N. Selig, a pioneering producer from the 1890's, bought the film rights to Aurora's story, and Oscar Apfel, who had recently directed The Squaw Man with Cecil B. DeMille, was signed on as director.  Irving Cummings and Anna Q. Nilsson, well-known movie actors of their day, were signed to leading roles.  Just as President Wilson was heading to Paris for the Peace Conference, Gates was bringing Aurora Mardignian to Los Angeles to act in her own story at $15 a week.  'They said $15 was a lot of money,' and 'I was naive,' Aurora said, looking back at her life.  At the Selig studios in Santa Monica, Ravished Armenia was made in less than a month, with death march scenes filmed on the beach near Santa Monica and Mt. Baldy standing in for Mt. Ararat.
       Aurora barely spoke English and knew nothing about the world of cinema.  On the set, when she saw actors in red fezzes, she fell into terror.  'I thought they were going to give me to the Turks to finish my life,' she said, breaking down in the middle of the scene.  It took Eleanor Gates's consoling and explanations to assure Aurora that the actors were not Turks but Americans playing their roles, and that they would not harm her.  Today we would call Aurora's response post-traumatic shock.
       Having experienced the deaths of her mother, father, brother, and sisters at the hands of the Turks, she was left alone to endure and witness torture, mass rapes, the crucifixion of women, the sale of women into slavery and harems, and the notorious 'game of swords' in which girls and women were thrown by the chetes and gendarmes from horses and impaled on swords that were set blade-up in the ground.  As film critic Anthony Slide put it, no matter how hard both the book and the film tried to portray the violence Aurora experienced and witnessed, they were both 'relatively sanitized versions of what [she] actually suffered and witnessed.'
       When Aurora saw Apfel's version of the Armenian women being crucified on large, well-constructed crosses with their long hair covering their nude bodies, she told the director, 'The Turks didn't make their crosses like that.  The Turks made little pointed crosses.  They took the clothes off the girls.  They made them bend down.  And after raping them, they made them sit on the pointed wood, through the vagina.  That's the way they killed--the Turks.  Americans have made it a more civilized way.  They can't show such terrible things.'  Aurora then told Apfel and the others how her pregnant aunt, who was trying to protect her two-year-old son, was killed.  'The Turks, they took a knife and cut open her abdomen.  They said, this is how we are going to end all you people.  They pulled out a fetus from her.  Put it on a stone.  They took the end of the gun that they had, which was heavy, and started to pound and pound and pound her baby.'"  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs. 313-315.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Fifth Column: Why Common Core Sucks

The Fifth Column: Why Common Core Sucks

Public Thievery

     The following is from Cato's Letters #22:

     That no man who is not a thief, will be an advocate for a thief;  that rogues are best protected by their fellows;  and that the strongest motive which any man can have for saving another from the gallows, is the fear of the same punishment for the same crimes:  And though these, and a thousand other such unwarrantable imputations, ought not, and have not made the least impression upon one conscious of his own virtue;  yet it is every man's duty, as well as interest, to remove the most distant causes of suspicion from himself, when he can do it consistent with his publick duty;  and therefore we are equally sure of this great man's endeavours too for bringing over Mr. {Robert} Knight.

       And the following is from #29 of the same:

     Let us hang up publick rogues, as well as punish private blasphemers.  The observance of religion, and the neglect of justice, are contradictions.  Let any man ask himself, whether a nation is more hurt by a few giddy, unthinking, young wretches, talking madly in their drink;  or by open, deliberate, and publick depredations committed by a junto of veteran knaves, who add to the injury, and their own guilt, by a shew of gravity, and a canting pretence to religion?  The late directors all pretended to be good Christians.  I would ask one question more;  namely, whether it had not been better for England, that the late directors, and their masters, had spent their nights and their days in the Hell Fire Club, than in contriving and executing execrable schemes to ruin England?  Pray, which of the two is your greater enemy, he who robs you of all that you have, but neither curses nor swears at you;  or he who only curses you or himself, and takes nothing from you?

Flake the Flake

       It is no surprise when Congressional Democrats praise a anarchist-feminist rock band who desecrated an Orthodox church.  But Arizona Republican Jeff Flake joined in praising the group Pussy Riot!
       One must ask if Congressman Flake supports the desecration of American churches?  Is it the highest flowering of Western culture to make lesbian rock music in a church?
Will Republicans move to victory in the 2016 election cycle by tapping into the angry feminist vote?  The Primrose League strikes again!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Crap Is King

       Dude, it was two years ago!
        Like, it was so about "The Innocence of the Muslims!"
        I mean, people are so over Benghazi!
        Like, what are you totally partisan?
        Obama is an amazing leader!!

       Not only is our intelligence being completely insulted, but our language is being dragged into the gutter by half-literates.  No wonder Common Core is so important to the left.  Students need to have all taste for good writing destroyed, so that Bertholt Brecht is preferred over Shakespeare or Goethe. 

Update: The week of May 12th, Harvard University is scheduled to hold a Satanic Black Mass. This is what "the best and brightest" of the Ivy League are up to.  Anyone need any more evidence that colleges are becoming repositories of insanity?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Genderflecting to Hillary

       I introduced a piece of terminology last year that now applies to Hillary Clinton.  I said that people genderflected to Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she happens to be a grandmother.  Now, the guy who married into the Clinton family (not because he was a social climber, but because he fell in love with a woman who looks like Bill Clinton) seems to have impregnated Chelsea.  Now, all of the people who use the maternity of a daughter as proof of their own matronliness encourage us to genderflect to Hellery Clinton.  Never mind the fact that Hellery was co-President to the man who, prior to Oh Blah Blah, was the most pro-abortion president in American history.  Never mind that she got Ambassador Chris Stephens killed by gun-running to Syria.  We are all to admire Hellery Clinton as an exemplary human being despite all this.  Sure, she was not the kind of woman to "stay home and bake cookies," and she wasn't the type of woman who would "stand by her man" a la Tammy Wynette.  All must genderflect to the angry harridan from Rose Law Firm.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Court Whigs

       The following are from Nos. 20 &21 of Cato's Letters .

       Liberty, being deserted by her old friends, fell of course into the hands of her enemies;  and so liberty was turned upon liberty:  By these means the discontents went on.  They had now got new tools to work with, just forged, arose and appeared upon the publick stage, who had never seen or felt the misfortunes which their fathers groaned under, nor believed more of them than what they had learned from their tutors:  So that all things seemed prepared for a new revolution;  when we were surprized by a voice from heaven, which promised us another deliverance.

The selection from #21 is spoken in the persona of John Ketch, royal hangman of note.

       I know that knaves of state require a great deal of form and ceremony before they are committed to my care;  so that I am not much surprized, that I have not yet laid my hands upon certain exalted criminals.  I hope, however, that, when they come, a good number will come at once.  But there is a parcel of notorious and sorry sinners, called brokers:  Fellows of so little consequence, that few of them have reputation enough to stand candidates for my place, were the same vacant (which God forbid!), and yet rogues so swollen with guilt, that poor Derwentwater and Kenmure (my two last customers) were babes and petty larceners to them.  Now these are the hang-rogues with whom I would be keeping my hand in use.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Sixteen

       "As the evidence became overwhelming, Ambassador Morgenthau--in his quintessentially direct way--repeatedly confronted Talaat Pasha about his government's treatment of the Armenians.  'Why are you so interested in the Armenians?'  Talaat angrily asked Morgenthau.  'You are a Jew;  these people are Christians. . . .Why can't you let us do with these Christians as we please?'  Indignant, Morgenthau answered,
                    'You don't seem to realize that I am not here as a Jew
                     but as American Ambassador.  My country contains
                      something more than 97,000,000 Christians and
                      something less than 3,000,000 Jews.  So, at least
                      in my ambassadorial capacity, I am 97 per cent
                       Christian.  But after all, that is not the point.  I
                       do not appeal to you in the name of any race or any
                       religion, but merely as a human being. . . .The way
                       you are treating the Armenians . . . .puts you in the
                       class of backward, reactionary peoples.'
       'We treat the Americans all right,' Talaat answered.  'I don't see why you should complain.'
       'But Americans are outraged by your persecution of the Armenians.'
       'It is no use for you to argue,' Talaat answered on another occasion;  'we have already disposed of three quarters of the Armenians;  there are none at all left in Bitlis, Van, and Erzerum.  The hatred between the Turks and the Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish with them.  If we don't, they will plan their revenge.'  Morgenthau then tried to persuade Talaat by reminding him of the economic consequences of wiping out the Armenian population.  'These people are your business men.  They control many of your industries.  They are very large tax-payers.' 
       'We care nothing about the commercial loss,' replied Talaat.  'We have figured all that out and we know that it will not exceed five million pounds.'
       'You are making a terrible mistake,' Morgenthau answered, and repeated the statement three times.
        'Yes, we may make mistakes,' he replied, 'but'--and he firmly closed his lips and shook his head--'we never regret.'  Not long after, Talaat boasted to the ambassador, 'I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years!'"  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs. 274-275.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

At Enmity with Truth

       The following is from Cato's Letters #15.

     "Freedom of speech is the great bulwark of liberty;  they prosper and die together:  And it is the terror of traitors and oppressors, and a barrier against them.  It produces excellent writers, and encourages men of fine genius.  Tacitus tells us, that the Roman commonwealth bred great and numerous authors, who writ with equal boldness and eloquence:  But when it was enslaved, those great wits were no more.  Postquam bellatum apud Actium;  atque omnem potestatem ad unum conferri pacis interfuit, magna illa ingenia cessere. Tyranny had usurped the place of equality, which is the soul of liberty, and destroyed publick courage.  The minds of men, terrified by unjust power, degenerated into all the vileness and methods of servitude:  Abject sycophancy and blind submission grew the only means of preferment, and indeed of safety;  men durst not open their mouths, but to flatter.
       Pliny the Younger observes, that this dread of tyranny had such effect, that the Senate, the great Roman Senate, became at last stupid and dumb:  Mutam ac sedentariam assentiendi necessitatem.  Hence, says he, our spirit and genius are stupified, broken, and sunk for ever.  And in one of his epistles, speaking of the works of his uncle, he makes an apology for eight of them, as not written with the same vigour which was to be found in the rest;  for that these eight were written in the reign of Nero, when the spirit of writing was cramped by fear;  Dubii sermonis octo scripset sub Nerone--cum omne studiorum genus paulo liberius & erectius periculosum servitus fecisset.
       All ministers, therefore, who were oppressors, or intended to be oppressors, have been loud in their complaints against freedom of speech, and the licence of the press;  and always restrained, or endeavoured to restrain, both.  In consequence of this, they have brow-beaten writers, punished them violently, and against law, and burnt their works.  By all which they shewed how much truth alarmed them, and how much they were at enmity with truth."

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Waxman-Geschwind and the Mad Genius

       Estase was reading An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver W. Sacks, which is about neurological problems.  Chapter Five of the book deals with Waxman-Geschwind syndrome.  Also known as temporal lobe epilepsy, Waxman-Geshwind syndrome causes obsessional thinking about matters of morality, and gives its sufferers a sense that they are on a mission.  Co-discoverer Norman Geschwind believed that Crime and Punishment author Dostoevsky had the condition.  Author Eve LaPlante suspects author Walker Percy has it.  Whether Estase also suffers this is anyone's guess.
         The next thought is whether being obsessed with morality is a bad thing.  Is Waxman-Geschwind syndrome normal, and everyone else is abnormal?  Were the Old Testament prophets Waxman-Geschwind sufferers?  Lastly, is it a problem when artists have a condition that inspires their greatest work?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pity for a Dime

An artificial season covered by suffering
Losing all my reason because there's nothing left to blame
Shadows paint the sidewalk, a living picture in a frame
See the sea of people, all their faces look the same
So I sat down for a while in a state of self-denial forcing a smile

Refrain:  Sell my pity for a dime, just for a dime
               Praying thought to be the easy way
               Signs I'm losing my faith
                Praying thought to be the easy way
                Signs I'm losing my faith
                In a state of self-denial, isn't it wild
                Sell my pity for a dime, just for a dime

So I sat down for a while in a state of self denial forcing a smile isn't it wild?
Sellin' my pity for a dime, just for a dime
Sellin' my pity for a dime and a Dollar will take my soul
                                                            Written by Scott Stapp
                                                             Performed by Creed