Not a scandal.

Robby Soave, over at Reason, defended Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against those on the right who mock her for her telling of whoppers about her past, about her pose as a poor person, and for her recently unearthed dance video, which I have no interest in seeing. Since AO-C is a pulchritudinous woman, I am certain I would have no great objection to her alleged Terpsichorean antics.

There. I got out my inner Bill Buckley, so I can move on.

Anyway, the meat of Soave’s defense and remonstrance (or is that mere warning?) is this:

Conservatives who obsessively comment on Ocasio-Cortez’s wardrobe and dance video are feeding into the narrative that the right is anti-women and does’t treat them seriously. Bafflingly, they are also attacking her strengths. Being a young person with a sense of style is a good thing! Occasionally unwinding, dancing, and livestreaming dinner while taking questions from constituents: also good.

Robby Soave, “Criticize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Socialist Policies, Not Her Extremely Likable Dance Video” (January 3, 2019)

Just as Aristotle reminded us that one swallow does not make a spring, I insist that calling attention to the young pol’s pretentions to poverty and Woman of the People status is not an obsession. Not yet.

And just calling attention to a dance video? It is fun to note the quirks of one’s opponents,

Of course, criticizing her for her mad policy preferences is best.

But it is not as if progressives do not actually obsess about Trump’s looks and his manner of speech. And it is not as if they did not relentlessly attack Sarah Palin for her looks and her cultural goofs more than they did her substantive errors.

Sure, anyone not a leftist criticizing a leftist woman on non-policy grounds is going to “feed a narrative” of misogyny. But that is just a marker for the besetting sin of the left, who regard negative comments against any particular woman as being a sign of the dread attitude of being “anti-women.” There is not much we can do about that.

Donald Trump, though, was brilliant in his response to Megyn Kelley’s famous and rather sexist challenge of his alleged anti-woman attitudes. Did he say nasty things about a few women? Sure. He also said many nasty things about men. But no one ever accused him of misandry. Just misogyny.

Mr Trump — one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides. In particular, when it comes to women. You call women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs’ and ‘disgusting animals.’

So Trump’s reponse was spot on: “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” He particularized. Megyn Kelley collectivized. As is so common in the media, as well as, generally, on the left.

The cultural left.

Which is why any criticism of a famous left-of-center woman will be added to the evidence for misogyny. Because leftists will take even the most iffy opportunities as license to make the misogyny charge.

It is a similar case with feminism. Were I to say that “I hate feminism,” such a statement routinely would go through at least three transformations: (1) “I hate feminists”; (2) “I hate all feminists”; (3) “I hate all women.” Truth is, of course, feminism is not feminists is not all feminists is not all women.

But ideologues of a collectivist bent proclaim the opposite.

Miss AO-C is quite obviously “Trumpian” in one important way: she has a few peculiarities in the looks department, she is astoundingly ignorant, she says goofy things, and she is not on the side of the angels. And, in our rather superficial age, I reserve the right to make fun of her for any and all reasons. Which narratives that might feed? I do not care much. Progressives cannot be reached. I make my pitch to convince others.

Still, caving in to doing politics like the left does politics is, I suppose, not any great advance.

twv


Advertisements

Most men and women have known for a long time that there is something wrong with feminism. Something is just “not right” about it. That is why most people do not call themselves “feminists.”

But what is that something?

In recent times, the secret truth of feminism has become clearer than ever before. We have known that feminists’ demand for equality was brummagem at best, subterfuge more likely. Were feminism truly about equality between the sexes, then in those areas where women have it easier, somehow better, feminists would demand attention to (and redress for) men.

You know, for equality’s sake.

But that almost never happens. The hint is in the name: if feminism were about equality, many of us have been saying for decades, it would not be named by just one of the two sexes. Indeed, the mere naming throws in a prejudice, corrupting true sexual egalitarians into the mere promoters of one sex. The female sex.

On many issues, it has become quite clear that “the deal” presented by society is largely in favor of women in general over men in general. Most women get treated better — have even more rights, as Men’s Rights advocates will regale you with at length — at the expense of most men.

Feminists do not see it that way, of course. They are incredulous. They have trained themselves to be. It is a matter of narrowness of vision. What feminists do that they have trouble seeing is their own narrow focus on high-status men, and how they carelessly impute to all men the high status of those at society’s top. And it is from this skewed perspective that they then take the next step to demand equality with those men of high status, forgetting the homeless men on the street, the men in dangerous jobs, the high suicide rate, etc.

As I have stated many times before — and is extremely common in anti-feminist circles — feminism is not an egalitarian movement devoted to equality, it is a status envy movement.

And if you have any doubt, just look at the scorn feminists regularly heap on low- and mid-status men. Their pejoratives are astounding: “neck-beards,” “losers,” and worse. A man who works to provide for his family is said to possess “privilege,” when anyone with a lick of sense can see only the dubious privilege of serving a woman and her children. Which, as is now often noted by anyone who is not a feminist, a woman can take away from said man at whim. Even in cases where the children are his, too.

And men of low status? Their contempt is palpable in almost every instance.

This parallels the feminine mating strategy of hypergamy. Women tend to scorn men who make less than they do. Or who have less education than they do. Instead, for mates, they want the best that can be obtained, high-status providers.

Men, of course, tend to seek to mate with women in a parallel way, but on different standards. Definitely not wealth, power or traditional social standing. When a man seeks or obtains a high-status woman on the wealth criterion, or the power criterion, or the social standing criterion, he is looked upon by nearly everyone with suspicion at least, often with disdain. Most especially including by feminists. Men’s hypergamy is on one traditional track, where the standard is youth and beauty. Otherwise he is expected to be egalitarian. Women may be hypergamous on any count, but is expected to be regarding wealth and power.

It is actually worse than that. Traditional masculine preference for youth and beauty over other criteria is often tut-tutted. And among feminists, is commonly seen as a sign of masculine superficiality and worse, as a sign of “patriarchy.”

When feminists focus only on their fantasied equality with high-status men, ruling out “the losers” and criminals and even the plodding normies, they are merely translating standard hypergamous instincts to the society-wide playing field. And usually they expect to marshal the State on their side, as the instrument of social advance and wealth and security acquisition.

Just as war is politics carried on by other means, feminism is feminine hypergamy carried on by other means. Feminism is hypergamy collectivized. This is feminism’s secret truth.

And the State is the instrument of the social revolution feminists demand.

Feminism in this form is quite statist, and therefore dangerous. Even evil.

twv

You realize that Trump’s Wall is symbolic, right?

Arguing about its efficacy seems pointless to me. You either like the symbolism, or no.

And making much of opposing it? Seems like symbolic inaction, to me.

Is it really worth spending so much thought over, when so much else is on the line?

In 2018, President Trump ended the long Cold War in Korea. By the end of the year the regimes in the North and the South began plans on a transportation system between the two countries. Sure, North Korea has to make reasonable people nervous. But if continuing isolation and antagonism make you less nervous. . . .

Then, at the end of the year, the president announced immediate plans to pull out of a war that Congress had never authorized. Though Democrats had complained, the year before, about Trump’s unauthorized bombing in Syria, they let out a hue and cry against the pull-out.

When ultra-leftists Mia Farrow and Noam Chomsky then insisted upon American imperial boots on the ground in the mid-East, we witnessed Trump Derangement Syndrome rise to a new level of comedy.

Sure, the Democrats look increasingly like lunatics. But what about Republicans?

Despite majorities in both houses of Congress, elected GOP pols increased deficit spending and couldn’t be bothered to work a deal to fulfil the president’s promised border wall. What do they look like? Feckless. At best.

In the big story of the year, they didn’t look so bad. In the battle to send Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they stood by a candidate they said was a good “conservative.” And the Democrats sure looked worse, having abandoned all sense of decency over rules of evidence in pushing an unsubstantiated (and apparently unsubstantiatable) sexual misconduct allegation against the man. 

But how did they look when Kavanaugh sided with the alleged minority on the court to not review a case regarding states de-authorizing Planned Parenthood subsidies? Could they have Soutered us again?

The take-away for the year is the same as all years: we cannot trust politicians of either major party.

twv

No trek on snek.

When we elect our representatives, we’re not sending our best. We’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing to Washington their problems with them. They’re bringing bad ideas. They’re bringing corruption. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

twv

Is complete revolution possible in modern day democracies, where the passion of a person matters none as they are limited to one vote, and a militaristic overthrow is unimaginable?

…………………………………………………………………..as answered on Quora

Revolution is always a longshot. For game theoretic reasons, leadership in revolution is almost always severely punished by the State, so such extreme endeavors that require leaders also require them to risk their lives, which in turn requires tremendous self-sacrifice. Spontaneous mass uprisings (which can be nearly leaderless) are super-unlikely because the first to step up in revolt are also likely to be treated as leaders. And people — especially contemporary serviles — are basically a cowardly lot, so it is only the most desperate who would do so.

Further, the incentive of the desperate to revolt depends on gaining the sympathy of the masses. The most pathetic populations in the U.S. right now are pissing away most of their pitiable cachet, so we would need to find a new group of desperate people. Illegal immigrants, inner-city blacks, trans-folk, and young collegians have burnt almost all their bridges, so any revolt they might attempt would be put down by the State with the enthusiastic backing of the masses.

But note: we do not live in democracies. Democracy is merely the pietistic term for the kludge mess of republican-plutocratic-imperial churning states.

The utility of holding democracy more as a piety than as a reality lies in getting distracted, easy-to-fool marks, I mean, citizens, to misidentify the State as “theirs.” This helps maintain the authority of its leaders and functionaries. Making revolution less likely.

Modern states do, of course, have democratic elements. But the inherently least effectively democratic parts, the national governments, steal the limelight, further distracting citizens from taking control of the potentially most effectively democratic parts, the state and local governments. This allows those institutions to shore themselves up as de facto anti-democracies. City governments are typically interest-group dominated one-party states. The citizens do not realize this, of course, because they are completely fooled or uninterested. So if they revolted, they would do much more harm than good. A military dictatorship would undoubtedly set up a better government than anything today’s citizen-fools could possibly concoct.

But passions of individuals do matter. Passions and a plausible narrative with rationale makes them leaders. And leaders matter. Rank-and-file voters, on the other hand, matter only in the mass.

Militaristic overthrow is the most likely form of revolution in contemporary states. But since military men seem the most pietistic elements in our societies — the patriotic piety being the urge that nudges them to defend the State — they are likely to take charge only in the case of deep financial panic and social chaos, and after legal governments have proven worse than useless: disutile.

So, give it a few years and the next crisis, then we will see.

712ACAE8-55AA-4566-A0F7-44CCA5EF70A9

What question would you ask Satan that he has never been asked before?

As Answered on Quora

“So, how tired are you of that old memetic trap, ‘the biggest trick the Devil ever pulled was to convince the world he did not exist’?”

Of course, that would probably be the best I could come up with on short notice.

If I spent time in his waiting room, though, I would surely formulate something much better.

“Your greatest invention is without question the State. Ubiquitous, useful for no small good but even less doubtfully for much greater and horrific ill. It is all demons and ideologues can talk about. But, I have to wonder: after all these millennia, do you still laugh when people call it God’s ordained instrumentality, as they did when kings were worshipped as gods, or the servant of The People, as they do even unto this day? I mean, I find it hilarious. Do you find it at least worth a chuckle?”

Satan polishes an antler and his slender mouth grows wider and wider.

I cannot determine if it is an evil grin or the knowing smile of a serpentine sage.

twv

E825E5B2-BDD1-4EE2-B1A3-A4BC3C7041B7

Why are so many libertarians for the Space Force? Isn’t this expanding government?

Other Quorans having taken on the main question, I go in a different direction . . .

. . . there are reasons why libertarians might find this funny. The move by Trump could be what Scott Adams said it is: a negotiating chip with destiny, gaining historical brownie points while not really having to do much for those points. Brilliant politics. Trump is a hoot.

Or it could be a step in negotiating with the Deep State.

[Trigger warning: readers weak in the Subtlety Department might find the rest of this too odd to contemplate.]

We out here in Everyday America have few facts to guide us regarding what the deepest, most secret parts of the military-industrial complex know that we do not. We do not know what was in the dossier that a pair of the Deep State’s agents gave Trump, which informed him of how limited is his power within segments of his Executive Branch. This feint with a Space Force could be an offering of peace to an out-of-control sector of the government that cannot account for $21 trillion in Pentagon (and HUD!) spending.

How could this be relevant? If the biggest secret is a known high probability of major, near-extinction level environmental catastrophe (caused by solar activity, vulcanism, comet hit or bolide, or some combination of these, perhaps made predictable by ecidence of a long history of a cyclical nature) or something even more bizarre, the “Space Force” notion may be a way to signal acceptance of the done deal that is the Deep State — for as anyone with a lick of sense knows, the Deep State is deeply unconstitutional, and arguably treasonous. (But more on the relevance problem below.)

They may want to come in from the cold of ultra-secrecy. They may wish to go partly public. And Trump could be gambling. Perhaps for his life. How so? Well, to play against the shallower end of the Deep State that is resolutely against him, as this insane Russia brouhaha seems to show.

Sometimes I wonder whether Trump won the presidency not because of the flaccid and ridiculous Russian propaganda efforts, but because the deepest and most secretive elements in our government couldn’t trust the most corrupt presidential candidate in American history, Hillary Clinton. The idiots in charge of the FBI and those in the NSA and CIA who are tasked with keeping the Great Distraction (of our incoherent foreign policy) going — yes, they naturally went all the way for the corrupt insider. But the Deepest State may not have been that stupid.

So perhaps they threw in their lot with the longshot, whom they thought they might more reliably play ball with. And with moves like the Space Force, Trump is sending them a big Puff of Smoke as Signal. “I will play along with you if you keep me alive and from being removed from office.” The Space Force works by showing that POTUS knows about a catastrophe problem, and that, say, sending up an orbital Ark could become official policy without the need for super-secrecy. After all, towards zero hour, secrecy could get in the way of the actual mission.

He may even be signalling that he wants on board.

Or likely not.


 


 

A few hours after I wrote the above, the following video came up in my YouTube queue:

To Sail the Century Sea (Time Stream, #2)To Sail the Century Sea by G.C. Edmondson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book serves as a sequel to The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream, but is, alas, nowhere near as good. Both books move about in history — in the “time stream” — but the first one seems less scattershot. This second novel needed another draft. The action got confusing in Byzantium. The goings-on there — with the Council of Nicea, of all things —were not described well. There is cleverness towards the very end, but it seemed rushed, ill thought-out. Some elements were not properly prepared.

I cannot recommend the book. The first one, however, made a satisfying back-to-the-past pairing with Poul Anderson’s The Dancer from Atlantis, which I read just a few weeks before.

View all my reviews


The Night FaceThe Night Face by Poul Anderson

This is the third Poul Anderson novella that I have read. The author is learned and clever, and the story is not bad. A good ending, if a bit too abrupt. My caveats are two:

1. It would have worked better had it been fleshed out as a full novel, with more attention to character and the passage of moments, of scenes. As it is, it seemed a bit rushed at the end. The longer story, Dancer from Atlantis that I read a month or so ago, was better in this regard, though it seemed a bit rushed, too, towards the end.

2. I have in hand (as I finished the work under discussion) a paperback of The Worlds of Jack Vance, and, dipping in to a slightly shorter story than this Poul Anderson effort, the novelette “The Brains of Earth” — which can only be judged third-tier Vance — I immediately note the contrast: Vance is the far better writer. His style is so much more individual, and so much more sure, more masterly. Unfair comparison, really, but the plot of The Night Face is something that Vance could have thought of. But would have made better.

View all my reviews


On page 78 Poul Anderson uses the word “geas” but in the plural: “geases.” When I come across the word I immediately assume the author has read and is a fan of James Branch Cabell and The Figures of Earth, which in a few days will go into the public domain. Can there be another explanation?


Ranson's FollyRanson’s Folly by Richard Harding Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Of the stories in this volume, the last one is the best. It is called “In the Fog,” and it was first published in 1901 in a handsome single volume illustrated by two artists, both quite good, though rather dissimilar. I just finished reading this story. It is a mystery told in three tales in a gentlemen’s club, and in that frame story itself. It looks like it served as the inspiration for a 1911 silent film (under a different title) by the Edison Company. How it could possibly be told without spoken dialogue I do not know. I need to see it. But, be that as it may, I highly recommend this story as a prose work, suggesting, in addition, that you may wish to buy a copy of the first edition, which is a fine specimen of the book printer’s art.

“In the Fog” is a novella, really, a little under 100 pages. The first story in this collection, “Ranson’s Folly,” is also a mystery, but set in the Old West. It was filmed twice as a silent film. It is a few pages longer than “In the Fog.”

The somewhat shorter story “The Bar Sinister,” is a tale narrated by a dog. It is fun, if not great. It was filmed in 1955 as “It’s a Dog’s Life.” Again, I have not seen it.

There are two other stories in the book, both shorter. I skipped over “A Derelict,” but may some day go back to it. And the final story, about a love letter, is excellent. Really quite good.

Richard Harding Davis was not a great writer, but he was an able storyteller. This old book is worth checking out, if for no other reason than wholesome entertainment along with a dose of the culture of a century ago. It was a very different time.

View all my reviews


Review of Townsend of Lichfield on LibraryThing:

The final volume of the Storisende edition of James Branch Cabell’s The Biography of the Life of Manuel is as peculiar and as brilliant a conclusion as one could hope for, or fear. This “Dizain des Adieux,” as the subtitle puts it, is sort of a glorious catch-all for the author’s literary obsessions up till the late 1920s. It contains

* ruminations upon his career (the 30-odd pages of “Townsend of Lichfield”) and his books and stories (the last several sections);
* poetry (“Sonnets from Antan”);
* two book-length fantasy novellas, ([The Way of Ecben] and [The White Robe]); and
* an excellent short story (“Concerning David Jogram”).

For my part, as I thumb on my iPad to contribute this short bookchat review, I confess to having read the stories and rumination in this book out of order, tackling the second item, the werewolf story, The White Robe, last.

This final reading was a long time coming. I own the first printing of the story, and have owned it, also, in its last incarnation to hit printing press during the author’s life, in The Witch-Woman: A Trilogy About Her. It is a droll story, and perhaps provides deep insight into Cabell’s own gallantry. And yes, it is about gallantry, just as [The Way of Ecben] and [The Music From Behind the Moon: An Epitome], were about the chivalric and poetic attitudes towards life, respectively.

Which is not to say that Cabell did not himself sport chivalry as well as poetry — of course he would, for this trinity attitudes is what binds his 18-volume Biography together, and he undoubtedly gave his creature Manuel (see Figures of Earth) all three traits, just as he found them in himself.

So, can I recommend this book over The Witch-Woman?

No.

Sure, my judgment of Townsend of Lichfield is positive; I greatly enjoyed the book. Indeed, I go further: it is excellent; but I cannot recommend it.

Why the seeming contradiction?

The book reeks of Cabell’s trademark self-indulgence. So, only those immune to this alleged defect, or enchanted by it against counsel of both criticism and common sense, need bother reading it. While for those of us who catch the whiff of the charm here, the enchantment, and might even hazard that it does not get much better, not one of us admirers of Cabell’s art is so besotted that we cannot see the narrow confines of its appeal and of our ranks.

American Statesmen

Why does libertarianism, a radical form of classical liberalism [that] is ideologically more similar to liberalism than to conservatism, receives [sic] a lot of criticism from liberals rather than from conservatives?

As Answered on Quora

 

Political parties and ideologies must not simply be distinguished one from another by a list of demands and normative principles. Indeed, there are cultural and institutional forms — along with strong bedrock folkways relating, even, to sexual selection — that loom large in politics. But even ignoring that, consider these three factors, these elements of any ideology:

  1. Vision of the world as it is, a Weltanschauung — which may include fact and error, theories of varying coherence, such as about the modes of social causation, etc.;
  2. Vision of the world as it could and should be, a fantasy — which may or may not actually be possible to achieve;
  3. Preferred sets of procedures to achieve the latter in the context of the former in our objective world, in other words, compromises.

Thomas Sowell, in his late-80s book A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, dealt with some of this, in a broad way. He distinguished between two different Weltanschauungen, what he called the “constrained vision” of human nature versus the “unconstrained.” I think there is something to what he said (I reviewed the book in Liberty, v. 1, n. 1), but my main concern is with the nature of compromise. There is more than one type.

There is the compromise you consciously make, and there is the kind forced upon you, because not all things are possible. Not only do politicos lie to others about the compromises they readily undertake, they often lie to themselves, especially about the compromises they must make, willy-nilly. That latter kind they often fard up with lipstick, as if on the pig of existence.

So any ideology contains a vision of the world as it has been and is, but also a vision of how it could be. And ideologues are rarely objective philosophers. Not only are they often wrong, but they are often commited to their errors and to their fantasies, regardless of outcome, in no small part because fantasy is preferable to reality.

That is why we create fantasy.

In modern America, broadly speaking, conservatives idealize the classical liberal principles of the our federal union’s founders. So, for many thinking conservatives, libertarianism is a key element of their fantasy life.

They betray those fantasies all the time, of course, in no small part because they fudge the degree to which American life has been transformed by the warfare/welfare/regulatory state of the progressives. To understand conservatism, one must understand better than conservatives themselves how embroiled in the actuality of progressivism they are, and then the compromises they always make with their fantasy of liberty. One interesting thing to witness in libertarian conservatives like the terrific Andrew Klavan and Ben Shapiro, of the Daily Wire, is how they cannot bring themselves to make the kind of criticism they readily apply against the domestic aspects of our Leviathan State also against foreign policy. They are too invested in the messianic myth of America, for that. And in protecting Israel. It is fascinating to watch.

Progressives, on the other hand, no longer hold much love for the American founding principles and constitutional system. Their fantasy is almost wholly of the socialist State, of Leviathan as Messiah . . . in all domestic matters. And their compromises are now byzantine in complexity. For instance, they like to pretend that they are constantly fighting a guerilla intellectual battle against Big Money, not realizing that the plutocrats not only coöpted them long ago, but that they are serving as their useful idiots.

But even the plutocrats are stumbling in the dark, juggling fantasy and reality with compromises and prevarications.

At present, the left is less open to liberal ideas in general (not to mention libertarian principles in particular) than is the right, because the left, in addition to its collectivist fantasy, is in the conservative position, vis-à-vis institutions, of trying to hold on to its pet major institutions of socialized pensions and subsidies for the poor and for women with children. And to protect us from soft drinks, verbal disagreement etc. Though the total state of pure communism has been widely rejected (except among the deluded young and some of the collegiate class), the administrative state is here, and leftists are hysterical regarding its fragility (quite aghast that anyone, libertarian, conservative, whathaveyou, opposes it even in part), and, at the same time, they wish to expand it. And since the administrative state, the ulta-Leviathan State, is not a liberal conception but a mercantislist-progressive one, this means that “liberal” does not really fit with the left any longer.

This divorce between fact and fancy presents a huge stressor on both conservatives and progressives. It helps explain the fundamental fact of ideology today, namely that progressives misunderstand conservatism and that conservatives misunderstand themselves. Because the administrative state is what has been bequeathed to us — as if new wine poured into the old, somewhat brittle wineskin of our liberal Constitution — the legal and intellectual compromises necessary to maintain this, especially in our pieties, has made nearly everyone crazy, especially on the left.

To conclude — once upon a time “the left” sported a “liberal” element. No more. Which explains why liberalism and even libertarianism finds more favor on “the right”: because of the fantasy.

Fantasy is a powerful social force.

Always consider, in politics, the explanatory power of the Thomas Theorem.

twv