Friday, November 30, 2012
Not sure how I missed this series by Noah Millman at The American Conservative:
- Es Muss Sein
- The American Consurfative
- Wu Wei and Prudence
- Eisenhower: The American Kutuzov?
- Kutuzovs of the Left and the Right.
Robert Zimmerman on the War Between the States
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Radmilla Cody Sings "The Dawn Song"
Above, "of the Tła’a’schi’i’ (Red Bottom People) clan and... born [of] the Naahiłii (African-Americans)," is Radmilla Cody, the "Navajo model, award-winning singer, and anti-domestic violence activist who was the 46th Miss Navajo from 1997 to 1998," who spoke at our school today. I took my Saudi students to see her as a class assignment. What a lovely human being! She had a rough life, to be sure, both on the rez (where she was born) and in the city, but a great maternal grandmother, who spoke no English, to guide her. (I, too, had a great maternal grandmother to guide me.)
The audience steered her into the boring and diversionary area of identity politics, and her boilerplate condemnations Columbus Day (can understand that) and Thanksgiving (can't really understand that) were thankfully brief low-points in her hour-and-a-half talk. (Cf. her singing The Star-Spangled Banner (Navajo Lyrics) (National Anthem).) I'm no left-liberal, so am tolerant enough to handle diversity of opinion. And when she did talk to me, perhaps the only DWEM left in the room at the time, she offered her hand with such radiant warmth and genuine human interest that I knew she was the real deal and no empty ideologue. It was a pleasure to be in the presence of a person with true grace and dignity. She closed with the above song.
Quick Review of the Spirit Family Reunion Concert
As you know, the missus and I went to see Spirit Family Reunion just the other night at Water House Music Hall here in town. I stumbled upon the band just this past Saturday, but now count myself as a fan, especially since they're almost local. The introduced themselves, almost apologetically as being from "downstate, Brooklyn, in New York City." Midway through the show the washboard player for some reason started listing off names of companies from our town; there were huge cheers from the smallish crowd when he mentioned Genesee Beer, which made me proud.
Their music speaks for itself, as evidenced in the videos posted on these pages over the last couple of days, with its "deep, subtle spiritual lyrics heavily influenced by traditional mountain string band music, with drums, an occasional accordion and lots of soul." No accordion the night we saw them, but I, who normally don't see the need for drums, liked the deep banging on the bass drums and toms. I was reminded a bit of the Butthole Surfers, another band with two drummers and primitive percussion, when I saw them in '87. Indeed, the Spirit Family had the raw intensity and DIY spirit of '80s Punk. Sure, there are more accomplished musicians out there, but that's not what this is about. These guys were a blast! The missus started laughing out loud at one point. (A Korean, she had never seen anything like this before.) She said, "They're like a bunch of crazy people!" ("Crazy" has more negative connotations in Korean than it does in English.) They were; and we loved it.
Their a capella rendition of Man Of Peace by Bob Dylan, about which they were a bit hesitant (it was the first night of their tour), did not work out so well, but it got me thinking. Mr. Zimmerman's observation that "sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace" had me pondering the band's self-professed "open door gospel" approach, i.e. uplifting vaguely spiritual music not "burdened" by Christianity, almost bringing to mind the "The Holy Church of Christ Without Christ" from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. What if Hazel Motes had a band?
But I put these theological musings aside to enjoy the the rest of the show. Opening had been the Wilco-like Clinton's Ditch, "a five-piece Progressive Americana act from Rochester, NY" whose "name pays homage to the Erie Canal, which passed through their home town and helped to spur the growth of the Mid-West," and whose "deep, churning sound that may be best described as Outlaw-Western Roots-Rock." Not exactly my cup of tea, but these guys could play their instruments and it is always enjoyable to watch polished musicianship. Still, I preferred the rawness of the headliners. I bet they make it reasonably big in the future.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Spirit Family Reunion Perform "When My Name Is Spoken," "Green Green Rocky Road," "I Want To Be Relieved," "The Night Replaced The Day," "Alright Prayer," and "Leave Your Troubles At The Gate"
Monday, November 26, 2012
Spirit Family Reunion Perform "I Am Following the Sound"
Three From the Right
Bruce Bartlett writes that "in the wake of the Republican election debacle, it’s essential that conservatives undertake a clear-eyed assessment of who on their side was right and who was wrong" — Revenge of the Reality-Based Community. "Those who were wrong should be purged and ignored; those who were right, especially those who inflicted maximum discomfort on movement conservatives in being right, ought to get credit for it and become regular reading for them once again."
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Spirit Family Reunion Perform "Alright Prayer," "100 Greenback Dollar Bills" and "On That Day"
More of "the ready-to-break Brooklyn band" Spirit Family Reunion, whom No Depression's Ernie Hill says "concentrates on deep, subtle spiritual lyrics heavily influenced by traditional mountain string band music, with drums, an occasional accordion and lots of soul. Not preachy at all," Mr. Hill continues, "just tastefully rousing and raucous. Without copying, their music reminds me of a blend of the Felice Bros, Old Crow Medicine Show, and even John Prine." My Old Kentucky Blog is quoted as hailing their music as having "the fervor of a tent revival with the wallop of a bare-knuckle brawler."
Commenters seem to taken by the "little lady banjo pi[c]ker," calling her an "instant favorite." The missus and I'll see this "best Banjo pickin['] girl" and the rest of the band for ourselves this Tuesday.
For the Beauty of the Mass
The homily was pretty humbling, as homilies should be, starting off with For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada (2012) but focusing on the hagiography of Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ (1891–1927), and ending on the coda of Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings (1927), shown after the martyr's death in Mexican movie theaters. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
A nice contrast to all this Polack pre-conciliar papistry was that after the Sacrifice of the Mass we sang the lovely "For the Beauty of the Earth," a hymn perfect for Thanksgiving but which I've associated with good ole New England Transcendentalism after that lovely little scene in Little Women (1994) of the girls singing the hymn running around in a circle holding hands, even though it was written by good Tractarian Folliott Sandford Pierpoint.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Spirit Family Reunion Perform "Leave Your Troubles At The Gate," "Green Rocky Road," and "I'll Find A Way"
Say what you will (or won't) about what this "new old-timey" band's "members call 'open-door gospel' — gospel music that's not tied to any particular religious denomination" — this "unsigned band living in Brooklyn" sure "makes music filled with joy" with its "fiddle, banjo, guitar and washboard, all gathered around a single microphone in an old-style tradition."
UPDATE: I stumbled across this band just this evening, and after posting this, decided to check Spirit Family Reunion's website to find, much to my delight, that they'll be in town in three days' time at the Water Street Music Hall, where I took the missus to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops a few months back.
Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away
Young-ha Kim’s Black Flower
- they had been “sold” to the Mexican owners of large haciendas in Yucatán, under contract to work for four years abiding conditions that were akin to indentured servants, if not slaves. Moreover, none of them knew any Spanish. There were no other Koreans living in Mexico and no diplomatic relations between the two countries. Thus, virtually everything could go wrong—as it did—beginning with the voyage itself.
Friday, November 23, 2012
William Byrd's Ye Sacred Muses, Performed by Robin Blaze and Concordia
Today is the CDXXVIIth anniversary of the death of Thomas Tallis, whom it eulogizes:
- Ye sacred Muses, race of Jove,
whom Music's lore delighteth,
Come down from crystal heav'ns above
to earth where sorrow dwelleth,
In mourning weeds, with tears in eyes:
Tallis is dead, and Music dies.
Question of the Day
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Arvo Pärt's Cecilia, Vergine Romana Performed by the Choir and Orchestra of the National Academy of St. Cecilia, Directed by Neeme Järvi
Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929)
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Johannes Ockeghem's Deo Gratias Sung by The Hilliard Ensemble
- Why did Kennedy die? He died because he was turning towards peace. That can be established. It's in all kinds of documents, and I've cited hundreds of them, and there are tens of thousands behind the hundreds I've cited. He turned toward peace, so that's the reason why he's assassinated. What if he had not turned toward peace? Of course, he wouldn't have been assassinated because that's the critical issue right there. If he had not turned toward peace, if he had not, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, turned toward his enemy, Nikita Khrushchev, and said, I need your help, and had Khrushchev, for that matter, had not turned toward his enemy and said, yes, now we need to let Kennedy know that we want to help him – he said that to Gromyko, who was standing beside him, his foreign minister. Had that not happened, you and I wouldn't be talking about this right now, nor would anyone else be doing much talking. We'd be in a nuclear wasteland.
The Welfare/Warfare President
The New Anna Karenina
Steve Sailer says it "may be the first of the numerous Anna Karenina adaptations whose sympathies lie firmly with her cuckolded husband, the unsexy bureaucrat Karenin" — Anna Karenina: Sympathy for the Cuckold. Mr Sailer concludes:
- Today it’s universally assumed that an unfaithful wife should get custody of the children. Yet Wright and Stoppard don’t seem terribly interested in pointing fingers at 19th-century Russians for their lack of enlightenment about family law.
When Anna laments that she can’t possess both her lover and her son because “The laws are made by husbands and fathers,” it’s hard not to respond, “As well they should be.” Wright’s film depicts the staggering amount of wealth piled up in Imperial Russia by aristocratic families—much of it spent by women on fashion. But all of this acquiring and saving depended on an orderly system of inheritance where men knew that their heirs really are theirs.
"There is no Garbo, there is no Dietrich, there is only Louise Brooks!"
Thus spake the Frog Henri Langlois about Louise Brooks, whom I did not know had lived, died, and is buried right here in Rochester, New York (in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery no less!) until reading Bill Kauffman's delightful Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town's Fight to Survive, in a chapter about Rochesterian writer Henry W Clune, taken from this article — Henry and Louise in the Lair de Clune. This exceprt explains how she came to live among us:
- Louise Brooks staggered into Rochester because she had nowhere else to go. She was a Kansas chorine who made a slew of silent movies, most famously the German G. W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929), in which she played Lulu, the guileless hedonist, irresistible to men (among others) until, lucklessly, she picks up Jack the Ripper. (Talk about Mr. Goodbar!)
Louise was an erratic, arrogant, dissipated beauty. She refused to sleep with the moguls (though she conferred her favors on almost everyone else) and ridiculed Hollywood while taking its money. The industry was run, she later wrote, by "coarse exploiter[s] who propositioned every actress and policed every set. To love books was a big laugh. There was no theater, no opera, no concerts—just those goddamned movies." A has-been at age 33, Louise fled the glitz.
She ended up back in Wichita, teaching dance, until a scandal involving the better part of a high-school football team made it best for her to move on. She drifted downward until 1956, when she settled in Rochester at the invitation of the curator of the Eastman Museum of Photography, whose archives she mined to write a series of razor-sharp essays later combined in Lulu of Hollywood.
"Traditionalism Has Never Meant Conformism"
- It’s a tradition, after all, that by convention begins with an Irishman serving in the English Parliament, a man who was of the Church of England but had a Catholic mother and sister. After Burke, the 19th-century apostle of “One Nation” conservatism was an Anglican and a Jew, Benjamin Disraeli; while a century later and an ocean away, Barry Goldwater would joke that the first Jewish major-party nominee for president had to be Episcopalian.
Today, in a historical reversal, the populist right demands conformism along the lines once laid down by progressive nationalists such as Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. The rough edges of human difference must be rubbed down. This is what conservatives from Burke to Russell Kirk would not allow.
The Wisdom of the Ancients
The Voynich Manuscript
The National Post's Scott Van Wynsberghe on a "manuscript... handwritten in a tidy, curvy format that cannot be read by anyone" with an "an origin point in the early 1400s," and on "the growing suspicion that the text does not involve any encryption" and "may not even involve any actual language" — Deciphering the mysterious Voynich Manuscript.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Rodrigo y Gabriela Perform "Hanuman" and "Buster Voodoo"
Setting Loose the Juice
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Leoš Janáček's "Glagolitic Mass" Performed by Christine Brewer, Louise Winter, David Kuebler, Nikolai Putilin, The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus & The BBC Singers, Directed by Sir Andrew Davis
The Kinks' "Coming Dancing" Music Video
The State of Israel's War on Gaza
Friday, November 16, 2012
Vladimir Vavilov's Ave Maria Sung by Hayley Westenra & Tomotaka Okamoto
Above, an aria attributed to Giulio Caccini (1551-1618), but actually written by Vladimir Vavilov (1925-1973). How the hoax that this was a late Renaissance or early Baroque composition gained adherents among knowledgeable people is hard to understand.
Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson vs. the Tyranny of the Majority
Randall Fuller reviews "a cautionary tale about the perils of being a writer in a nation defined and driven by the twin engines of democracy and market capitalism" about two literary giants who "had the great misfortune of writing just as antebellum America was creating a mass audience for its authors" — The Image of a Writer. An exceprt:
- As Kearns reveals in Writing for the Street, Writing in the Garret, Melville felt this particular conundrum with acuity. In a famous letter to Hawthorne, written several months after his refusal to Duyckinck, he complained, “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches. . . . Though I wrote the Gospels in this century, I should die in the gutter.” Melville was by no means alone in his alienation from the market and from mass opinion. Dickinson, too, struggled to imagine her authority as a writer, addressing the tyranny of democratic public opinion in one of her most trenchant poetic observations.
- Much Madness is divinest Sense—
To a discerning Eye—
Much Sense—the starkest Madness—
’Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail—
Assent—and you are sane—
Demur—you’re straightway dangerous—
And handled with a Chain—
According to Kearns, both Melville and Dickinson developed authorial strategies that allowed them to turn their backs on antebellum America’s burgeoning mass audience and to imagine themselves as romantic artists governed solely by inspiration. Instead of courting the crowd, they became “garret” writers whose artistic prestige was bound up in the fact that they were not writing for “the street.” So dissimilar in so many ways, both authors nevertheless were linked by a mutual desire “to operate outside of the capitalist and mimetic markets (especially opposing advertising).” Suspicious of the tastes of a mass audience as well as the techniques by which publishing houses transformed authors into marketable commodities for that audience, “they desired to publish in ways that preserved their total control and ownership of their work.” By refusing to sell out, Kearns argues, they were able to write works governed by their own autonomous aesthetic criteria, works that ignored popular trends, that aspired to art for art’s sake. To accomplish this, however, they had to content themselves with small, private audiences capable of determining their respective works’ design and intentions.
"Here comes everybody," said James Joyce of the Catholic Church in Finnegans Wake.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Frank Fairfield Performs "Call Me A Dog When I'm Gone," "Cumberland Gap," "Rye Whiskey," "The Winding Spring" & "Nine Pound Hammer"
Servant of God Dorothy Day, Pray for Us
Today was "a remarkable moment for the reputation of Day, one of the most famous figures in 20th-century Catholicism," who "lived a bohemian life in New York City in the 1920s while working as a leftwing journalist" and "endured a failed marriage, a suicide attempt, and had an abortion when suddenly, after the birth of her daughter, she converted to Catholicism" — Saint Dorothy Day? Controversial, Yes, But Bishops Push For Canonization.
"As we struggle at this opportune moment to try to show how we are losing our freedoms in the name of individual rights," profoundly noted Francis Eugene Cardinal George, O.M.I., "Dorothy Day is a good woman to have on our side."
[A five-year-old article of mine on her — Anarcho-Catholicism: Dorothy Day's Day Has Come.]
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Le Vent du Nord & Harry Manx Perform "Écris-moi," "Bouteille Agréable," & "Don't Forget to Miss Me,"
Le Petit Poutine
Pictured above, a local truck that serves "the Canadian staple of hand-cut fries, savory gravy, and cheese curds, plus a scattering of thyme," which won the Best of Rochester 2012 Food Truck award, in a story about the growing industry — Wheels that deep fry, keep on turning.
I have not eaten from this truck but would love to. Poutine is new to me, only introduced to me a few weeks ago by my boss at the Tap and Mallet, another Best of Rochester 2012 winner. I foolishly did not even try the delicacy in neighboring Quebec on our family vacation there this summer, unfortunately, having listened to English Canadians foolishly disparage the dish. Now we have yet another reason to go back!
Fayum mummy portraits, pictured above, are "2000-year old Roman Egyptian paintings... that families paid professionals to make to (presumably) remember lost loved ones [and] only survived due to the dry climate" mentioned by Steve Sailer in his recent post — Kitsch down through the ages. Mr. Sailer continues:
- And they are just heartbreaking. If you are thumbing through a history of art of the ancient world textbook, these Fayum paintings often come last, after a long series of Egyptian-Babylonian-Greek-Roman art works intended to express aristocratic conceptions of the potential of human beauty, Ozymandias-like works intended to impose obedience, nouveau riche interior decoration, commercial pottery, and a lot of other stuff that is aesthetically impressive but doesn't make all that much of an immediate emotional impression on us. And then, at last, these cheap Fayum portraits are like a dagger to the heart, reminding us that the ancients were human beings like us who suffered emotional agonies when their ten year old children died.
But, keep in mind that these Fayum portraits were semi-mass produced, using standard techniques. They probably aren't terribly realistic pictures of the deceased, being more like reproductions from various pre-existing templates of say, a pre-adolescent boy. I fear that if I were an educated, aristocratic resident of Alexandria and had seen them all my life, I'd roll my eyes and disparage them as kitschy.
Lincoln vs. The Conspirator
Steve Sailer reviews the former — Lincoln: A Tall Man in a Small Film. There is no way this hagiography of a tyrant could hold a candle to the latter, a spectacular film I saw a few weeks back that a fellow Copperhead said "sits lonely in the almost empty sleeve of movies about spectacular violations of the Bill of Rights" — Bill Kauffman Reviews "The Conspirator".
The American Conservative's Birthday
The Petraeus Affair Exposed
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
The Civil Wars Perform "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Constitutionalism vs. Hegelianism
- The constitutional regime is a complex mechanistic order predicated upon the division of sovereignty, and suspicion concerning human nature. Actually, suspicion isn’t quite the right word. Most writers were rather convinced that human beings, especially those interested in power, couldn’t be trusted and would constantly work toward aggrandizement. Convinced of the imperfectability of human beings, but also of the character forming properties of associative life, the originating principles of American political life sought to preserve, for better or for worse, the kaleidoscopic variety of American life.
Conservatives prefer voluntary variation to enforced collectivization, even if such variation can be off-putting or rife with problems. Collectivization destroys the liberty, sense of cooperation, governmental responsiveness, and immediate dependency we associate with local governance. Conservatives accept the fact the Constitution creates awkward clumsiness in politics, seeking balance among competing groups, interests, and places as perhaps the best that can be hoped for.
By the end of the 19th century and a catastrophic war, American thinkers and statesmen turned to the organicism of German (and Rousseauian) social theory. Herbert Croly’s hero in The Promise of American Life was … Bismarck. America could stick with the past or join the emerging progressivism of modern state-based politics which gathered the Rube Goldberg-like contraptions of American federalism and melted them down into an undifferentiated unity. The New Nationalism that resulted insisted on the absorption of local life and the transformation of human nature through systems of coercive education and genetic selection. Local associative life threatened the organic unity which was the non plus ultra of political life and, really, life in general.
To accomplish this required the destruction of the complex machinery which inhibited the movement toward monumental oneness. Central to the destruction was the devaluing of representative and federalist government to be replaced by nationalism as embodied in a charismatic leader. Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt sought to replace the cumbersome and awkward system of checks and balances with an organic system unified into the charisma of one man and having replaced politics with administration. Efficiency, uniformity, and bigness rather than liberty, variation, and modesty became the greatest goods of political life. So presidential politics and management became ways of bypassing constitutional restraints, and the Court became a central player in reshaping the Constitution to meet the demands of the new nationalism. Constitutional amendments turned the Constitution against itself.
The CCXVIIIth Anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty of Canadaigua
I was in attaendance with my family this past Sunday on the event described in this article — 218th Anniversary of Canandaigua Treaty.
"That treaty entails a recognition of the sovereignty of the people of the Six Nations, of our individual nations," said event coordinator Peter Jemison. "And, it recognizes that these territories were ours originally and that the only way these territories could be taken from us was by our consent and when and if we decide to do that, but we are dedicated to existing here as long as the earth is green and as long as the sun rises."
Monday, November 12, 2012
Benjamin Britten's War Requiem Performed by the NDR-Sinfonieorchester, Directed by John Eliot Gardiner
Derek Jarman's War Requiem (1989)
"A film with no spoken dialogue, just follows the music and lyrics of Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem, which include WWI soldier poet Wilfred Owen's poems reflecting the war's horrors, reads the blurb about War Requiem (1989). "It shows the story of an Englishman soldier (Wilfred Owen) and a nurse (his bride) during World War I. It also includes actual footage of contemporary wars (WWII, Vietnam, Angola, etc.)"
- o who would have an interest in getting rid of Petraeus? Here’s where the Cantor connection comes in. The tip by an anonymous “FBI employee” that wound up in Cantor’s office two weeks ago came through Rep. David Reichert, Republican of Washington state, who has a friend who knows the whistleblower. Cantor then spoke to the whistleblower directly, who put him in touch with FBI Director Mueller.
Cantor is a great friend of Israel, and Petraeus — not so much. The General was attacked, as you’ll recall, by partisans of the Lobby, including Abe Foxman, when he delivered testimony before Congress citing Israel as a strategic liability in the Middle East. As the executor of the new Obamaite policy of sidling up to Islamists, not only in Libya but also in Syria and Egypt, Petraeus was no doubt seen by the Israelis as an enemy to be neutralized.
Broadwell’s affiliation with the Jebsen Center, and the Center’s connection to the neoconservative network, sets the scene: a young, attractive woman with impeccable national security credentials throws herself at Petraeus, and he takes the bait. Whether she’s been recruited by a foreign intelligence agency at this point or not is irrelevant: he’s already put himself in a vulnerable position, and there are any number of actors on the international stage more than willing to press their advantage.
English as the Global Language
The blurb tells us the author "is an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto currently working on a book-length study of the invention of French as a national language in early modern France." Surely the parallels between the nationalist Jacobins of his research and the globalist Neoconservatives decried in his article were not lost on the author.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Who Lost Asian-America?
"Biblical Principles and Support the Nation of Israel"
Ms. Quinn says of that full page advocacy ad that appeared two days before the election, "Of all the sad things that have happened during this year’s seemingly endless, divisive and vitriolic campaign, this ad was the saddest." I thought so too when I read it.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
W.A. Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat Major, Performed by Grace Park, Wenting Kang, and The New England Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, Directed by Donald Palma
The Honorable Ron Paul's Victory
Writing from the "hard left," CounterPunch's C. G. Estabrook ponders whether "after the Romney fiasco, a hollowed-out Republican party – opposed from several directions by groups like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street – will be reconstituted somewhat as it was in 1896 and 1968, and as the Democrats were after 1932" — An Anti-War / Anti-Wall Street Republican Party? He concludes:
- If so, there’s an obvious understudy waiting in the wings – the Ron Paul movement, already smarting at what they see as their illegitimate exclusion by the official Republican party, sealed at the convention in Tampa.
Is it possible that Barack Obama, master of the child-killing drones and the austerity-producing Grand Bargain, in his triumph will be accosted by a new Republican party, anti-interventionist and anti-Wall Street (or “isolationist” and “libertarian,” if you prefer) – Ron Paul’s characteristic positions? Remember that it was only a short while ago that Republicans and Democrats alike smiled haughtily at Rep. Paul’s demand to “Audit the Fed!” But by last July, as the Huffington Post reported, “In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to audit the Federal Reserve…”
- When Ron Paul leaves office in January, he will have been more successful than many of the legislators who spent decades maligning him. Paul’s ideas have gradually gone from marginal to mainstream, and his record shows how much even a single determined man of principle can do to change a movement. In foreign policy especially, the Texas congressman leaves behind a new generation of leaders, both libertarian and conservative, who challenge the disastrous bipartisan consensus.
Todos Somos Independentistas
"Steven Hunter's book American Gunfight about the two brave Puerto Rican terrorists who nearly assassinated Harry Truman in 1950 in the name of Puerto Rican nationalism, converted me to the cause of Puerto Rican independence," writes Mr. Sailer. "Sure, they were murderous terrorists, but they were men."
What sold me on the cause, in addition to my professor's rants, was Bill Kauffman's excellent Bye Bye, Miss American Empire: Neighborhood Patriots, Backcountry Rebels, and their Underdog Crusades to Redraw America's Political Map, about which I wrote a few words here — More of Bill Kauffman's (& Robert Frost's) "Insubordinate Americans". One of the most enlightening chapters dealt with "culturally conservative Catholics like Pedro Albizu Campos and the founding of the Puerto Rican Independence Party."
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
W.A. Mozart's Requiem, Performed by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge and the Aurora Orchestra, Directed by Stephen Cleobury
- Nil desperandum, however. The tempo of history is accelerating. The overall equation has too many variables for the would-be controllers of our destiny to be certain that the job is done. They will be swept away swiftly once the usurial hocus-pocus collapses, which it will.
My native country has survived half a millennium of Ottoman misrule, half a century of communism and two decades of Western sadism. My adopted country—which I love with a passion—will raise again from her current decrepitude, too. Because there are a hundred million real Americans who are determined not to go gentle into that good night. Because there is God.
Black Conservatives Opine
President Obama's Unblackness
- Over the years, Obama’s treatment of his pioneering female bank executive grandmother, who paid for the bulk of his posh education, has been noteworthy in its nastiness. In his celebrated 2008 Philadelphia speech, for instance, he compared her to Rev. Jeremiah Wright over her supposed racism for wanting a ride to work because she feared being mugged by a black drifter who had been hassling her at the bus stop. This hurt the strapping youth’s feelings. Over a decade later in his memoir, he described the emotional impact on himself of his grandmother’s worries about her safety as a “fist in my stomach.”
In 2011, Obama took the opportunity of his one meeting with biographer David Maraniss to call attention to his grandmother’s “alcoholism” (see p. 287 of Barack Obama: The Story.) Thanks, Mr. President, glad you pointed that out for us so we can remember her that way. Classy.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Band of Horses and K'naan Perform "Keep On Rockin' In The Free World"
Seems appropriate for the day, and to accompany Steve Sailer's "diagnosis of the self-confident singer" — Neil Young. One of the best rock concerts I ever saw was Mr. Young's tour with Social Distortion and Sonic Youth.
- One of the odder aspects of present-day politics is the assumption that if you are antiwar you are on the left, and if you are conservative you are “pro-war.” Like labelling conservative states red and liberal states blue, this is an inversion of historical practice.
The opposition to America’s entry into both World Wars was largely led by conservatives. Senator Robert A. Taft, the standard-bearer of postwar conservatism, opposed war unless the United States itself was attacked. Even Bismarck, after he had fought and won the three wars he needed to unify Germany, was staunchly antiwar. He once described preventive war, like the one America is being pressured to wage on Iran, as “committing suicide for fear of being killed.”
Conservatives’ detestation of war has no “touchy-feely” origins. It springs from conservatism’s roots, its most fundamental beliefs and objectives. Conservatism seeks above all social and cultural continuity, and nothing endangers that more than war.
And the Winner Is...
I Voted For Another Loser
Just as I did last time, for "Old Right Nader." In addition to the Libertarian Party standard-bearer and U.S. Senate candidate Chris Edes, I also voted for local major party candidates co-endorsed by the Independence Party of New York, the Conservative Party of New York State, and even the Working Families Party, some of whom may turn out to be winners.
Monday, November 5, 2012
The New Jersey Plan
Guatemala, Tajikistan, the Marshall Islands, and Luxembourg
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Messe des Morts à 4 Voix, Performed by Collegium Vocale de Gent & Ricercar Consort, Directed by Philippe Pierlot
John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush, Barack Obama
- If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties - narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. - one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.
Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson's attacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.
And then there are the two War on Terror presidents. George Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.
His successor, Barack Obama, went further by claiming the power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to assassinate them (about which the New York Times said: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing"). He has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, dusting off Wilson's Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped his actions with at least as much secrecy, if not more so, than any president in US history.
Ultimately, it is close to impossible to rank these abuses strictly as a qualitative matter, in terms of the powers seized. How does one say that interning citizens in concentration camps (Roosevelt) is better or worse than imprisoning people for dissent (Adams and Wilson), putting people in cages with no charges (Lincoln, Bush, Obama), or claiming the power to execute citizens in total secrecy and without any checks of any kind (Obama)? If anything, one could reasonably argue that the power of due-process-free executions is the most menacing since it's the only act that is permanent and irreversible.
Harvard University vs. Immanuel Velikovsky
- When Velikovsky’s bizarre story about planetary hi-jinks was so energetically puffed up in 1950, the American scientific establishment was presented with a choice, a choice endemically faced by orthodoxy confronted by intellectual challenges from alien sources: do you ignore the heterodox? Do you invite it to sit down with you and have a calm and rational debate? Do you crush it? There were scientific voices counselling Olympian disdain but they were in general overruled. Still, pretending to take no notice of Velikovsky might have been the plan had Worlds in Collision not been published by Macmillan, a leading producer of scientific textbooks, and packaged not as an offering to, say, comparative mythology or as popular entertainment, but as a contribution to science. Elite scientists, notably at Harvard, reckoned that they might be able to control what Macmillan published when it was represented as science. A letter-writing campaign was organised to get Macmillan to withdraw from its agreement to publish the book; credible threats were made to boycott Macmillan textbooks; hostile reviews were arranged; questions were raised about whether the book had been peer-reviewed (it had); and, when Worlds in Collision was published anyway, further (successful) pressure was exerted to make Macmillan wash its hands of the thing and shift copyright to another publisher. The editor who had handled the book was let go, and a scientist who provided a blurb and planned a New York planetarium show based on Velikovsky’s theories – admittedly not the sharpest knife in the scientific drawer – was forced out of his museum position and never had a scientific job again.
From an uncharitable point of view, this looked like a conspiracy, a conspiracy contrived by dark forces bent on the suppression of free thought and different perspectives – and the Velikovskians took just that view. An establishment conspiracy centred on Harvard had sought to control scientific thought; the conspirators had closed minds and wanted to close others’ minds; they refused to engage with Velikovsky’s ideas at the level of evidence, to show exactly where he was wrong. When Velikovsky made specific predictions of what further observation and experiment would show, his enemies declined to undertake those observations and experiments. This was the way the Commies behaved, Velikovsky’s allies suggested. Analogies were drawn from the history of science seen as the history of martyrs to dogma. Velikovsky figured himself as Galileo and his opponents as Galileo’s critics, who wouldn’t even look through the telescope to see the moons of Jupiter with their own eyes. ‘Perhaps in the entire history of science,’ Velikovsky said, ‘there was not a case of a similar violent reaction on the part of the scientific world towards a published work.’ Newsweek wrote about the spectacle of scientific ‘Professors as Suppressors’ and the Saturday Evening Post made sport of the establishment reaction as ‘one of the signal events of this year’s “silly season”’. Some scientists who were utterly convinced that Velikovsky’s views were loopy had qualms about how the scientific community had treated him. Einstein, in whose Princeton house Velikovsky was a frequent visitor, was one of them. Interviewed just before his death by the Harvard historian of science I.B. Cohen, Einstein said that Worlds in Collision ‘really isn’t a bad book. The only trouble with it is, it is crazy.’ Yet he thought, as Cohen put it, that ‘bringing pressure to bear on a publisher to suppress a book was an evil thing to do.’
The Velikovsky affair made clear that there were radically differing conceptions of the political and intellectual constitution of a legitimate scientific community, of what it was to make and evaluate scientific knowledge. One appealing notion was that science is and ought to be a democracy, willing to consider all factual and theoretical claims, regardless of who makes them and of how they stand with respect to canons of existing belief. Challenges to orthodoxy ought to be welcomed: after all, hadn’t science been born historically through such challenges and hadn’t it progressed by means of the continual creative destruction of dogma? This, of course, was Velikovsky’s view, and it was not an easy matter for scientists in the liberal West to deny the legitimacy of that picture of scientific life. (Wasn’t this the lesson that ought to be learned from the experience of science in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia?) Yet living according to such ideals was impossible – nothing could be accomplished if every apparently crazy idea were to be given careful consideration – and in 1962 Thomas Kuhn’s immensely influential Structure of Scientific Revolutions commended a general picture of science in which ‘dogma’ (daringly given that name) had an essential role in science and in which ‘normal science’ rightly proceeded not through its permeability to all sorts of ideas but through a socially enforced ‘narrowing of perception’. Scientists judged new ideas to be beyond the pale not because they didn’t conform to abstract ideas about scientific values or formal notions of scientific method, but because such claims, given what scientists securely knew about the world, were implausible. Planets just didn’t behave the way Velikovsky said they did; his celestial mechanics required electromagnetic forces which just didn’t exist; the tails of comets were just not the sorts of body that could dump oil and manna on Middle Eastern deserts. A Harvard astronomer blandly noted that ‘if Dr Velikovsky is right, the rest of us are crazy.’
Was science meant to aim at the greatest possible explanatory scope, trawling as many disciplines as necessary in search of unified understanding? What in orthodoxy could rival Velikovsky’s integrative vision? Authentic science made specific predictions of what further observation and experiment would show. Velikovsky did too. Was science ideally open to all claimants, subjecting itself to all factual criticisms and entertaining the possibility of radically new theoretical interpretations? Who behaved more scientifically – Velikovsky or the Harvard ‘suppressors’?
The American Religion
- The Mormon God is anything but an absolute, transcendent Other. He is flesh and blood as well as eternal spirit, and his creative powers are not what Christians might have thought. He did not make something from nothing. Matter pre-exists God: what is traditionally called creation was actually the organization of matter.... Much of this theology resonates with commonsense American sensibilities—the priority of matter, the organizer God, the celebration of doing over being, the faith in progress, the prospect of perpetual personal growth.
Best Milkshakes in the World
Friday, November 2, 2012
Gustav Mahler's Symphony N° 5 Performed by the World Orchestra for Peace, Directed by Maestro Valery Gergiev
Dinesh D’Souza Debunked
"Have you ever actually read the Kuran? Do you know how are the Suras arranged?" asked Mr. Trifković in a quoted 2007 interview, who found that "this key feature of the Kuran was unknown to the man who claims to have spent four years studying it."
Romney and Roe?
[Jeremy Beer does the same — The Conservative Vote: A Symposium.]
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Black Flag Performs "White Minority" & "Depression"
Contemporary local music not listened to by a man whose "musical tastes in college in L.A., however, ran toward whatever universally popular pop had won a Grammy Award five or ten years before," Steve Sailer informs us — The young Obama's lame taste in music. [I'm nine years younger than the president, but was listening to this stuff just two years later, thanks to my kid sister.]
Expect to hear more from this pioneer in Obama Studies in the days to come; he writes, "I've got to burn through my unused Obama material in case he loses and then nobody ever wants to hear of him again."
Thomas Jefferson vs. Abraham Lincoln on Christianity
- Thomas Jefferson had a capacious, active, and questing mind, wrote prolifically, and lived through a more than usual number of years of more than usually full history. To understand his religious beliefs requires careful and extensive inquiry. Jefferson never scoffed at Christianity. He never denied its divine inspiration or its importance or that man is made in the image of God. He did want to remove the miracles from the Scriptures because he thought it made them less believable rather than more so. He did believe, quite reasonably, that, historically, religious dogma had sometimes assumed the guise of superstition that had stifled intelligence and that religious establishments had suppressed freedom more than was justified. His statement about the desirable wall of separation between church and state, though later hyped by haters of Christianity, was merely a standard American and Protestant position and emphatically did not advocate the banishment of faith from public life. When all is said and done, Jefferson’s belief, though not meeting strict definitions of Christianity (which disagree among themselves), differed little from that of many another Anglican gentleman then or later. Curiously, the same people who calumniate Jefferson have sanctified the village atheist Abe Lincoln, who once wrote a treatise ridiculing Christianity and who, according to his closest associates, was never a believer. The political context explains much about Jefferson’s thinking. He thought that Calvinism was responsible for the peculiarly malicious and domineering nature of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which had introduced a distorting element into the American polity. Calvinism, he wrote, was the mother of atheism because it presented God as unchristian, unloving, and unlovable.