I’ve been cynically amused over the past couple of weeks at how efficiently the Laptoperati and Twitter-fixated media Powers That Be have swung to “Russia Bad-Ukraine Brave & Noble!!! Eleventy!!” since the Russian invasion-attempted-occupation-re-occupation of the place began in a big way nearly two weeks ago. How can it now be World War III already, when we still have our Covid-19 decorations still up? Watching practically every media outlet swing into action in being all sympathies for Ukraine and all-hate on Russia is … astonishing. All the parties who would have been lighting candles, holding vigils for peace, and lecturing us about how war is not good for children and other living things, and no blood for oil have changed tune without missing a beat, hardly. Suddenly Vladimir Putin is the enemy of all that is good and decent, and everyone is rushing to declare sympathy with and support of the Ukraine, declare anything Russian to be double-plus-ungood, and throwing Russian cats out of cat shows, Anna Netrebko out of the Met, and vodka with a Russian-origin brand-name down the drain. Celebrity fools with pretensions to adequacy issue hysterical demands that Russia be thrown out of NATO, or that NATO enforce a no-fly zone over the Ukraine – never mind that Russia wasn’t a member of that organization and instituting a no-fly zone would almost instantly involve the United States. The turn-around is purely astonishing to behold; a hashtag/social media war on steroids.

It reminds me of the last time there was a grand virtue-signaling rush on social media – Kony 2012, anyone? Bring back the Chibok girls. It also reminds me of a minor running jest in Angela Thirkell’s early wartime Barsetshire novels. A pair of elderly spinsters keep renaming their pet dog after the leader or national hero of whatever nation that Hitler had just lately overrun as a pathetically useless gesture of support for plucky little (insert name of country here) which likely left the poor little dog terribly confused, as there were quite a few countries or regions invaded by the Nazis in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But that was just light fiction.
About the last time the American public went in this heavily for round of ostentatious wartime virtue-signaling, it involved re-christening sauerkraut as Liberty cabbage, throwing stones at dachshunds, and a lot of German-Americans legally changing their surnames to something less identifiably Teutonic. It also contributed to wishing Prohibition on us, which might suggest that ostentatious virtue-signaling is not a wise choice when it comes to suggesting national policy.

Was the signal sent out officially, by some version of Journolist, or is it just a matter of all the birds in a media flock pivoting and turning independently in response to hints that the Biden administration may be in deep doo-doo? My daughter just yesterday saw gas at almost $4.00 – and last week, it jumped ten cents in a single day. In San Antonio. These costs cannot continue without resentment and protest. Neither can the cost of basic groceries, or their erratic delivery to the store shelves. I can’t think that whoever is pulling the strings in the Biden administration deliberately fomented a war with Russia as a means of distracting Americans from the various disasters building; inflation in the costs of practically every commodity on the market, catastrophic crime rates in red-run cities and farming and transportation woes. We may safely assume, though. that the Biden administration powers-that-be are taking full advantage of, and even encouraging the Ukraine-Russian war to that end. Discuss as you wish.

27. February 2022 · Comments Off on A Bodyguard of Lies · Categories: European Disunion, Media Matters Not, Military, The Bear, War, World

It’s screamingly obvious to anyone save perhaps the most gullible in a present-day university history program, that attempting to research the events and conduct of a war – and figuring out what is happening while the war is still ongoing is an impossibility. Were the defenders of Snake Island all killed in a Russian barrage … or are they alive, and prisoners of war? Is the Russian advance going as clockwork towards their goals … or are they being turned back? Have Ukrainian fighter aircraft shot down a Russian transport aircraft? Successfully ambushed a Russian column on an unspecified mission here or there in the conflict zone? Who is coming out ahead, dead or alive, on the ground or in the struggle for the eyeballs and sympathies of the outside world, watching with unswerving attention? What are we being told, and what is there to gain from us believing it?
The grim truth is – really, we can’t really believe much of what we see or hear about the war in the Ukraine at present. No armchair generals at this group blog, merely a collection of somewhat well-informed amateur (<em>and perhaps a sprinkling of professional</em>) analysists trying to make sense of what we can see, dimly through the fog. Truth is a nugget of pure gold somewhere in that fog and dirt; finding it may be more a matter of pure luck. <!–more–>

As Winston Churchill so cogently observed – the truth is protected with a bodyguard of lies. What’s in the headlines of the established media outlets certainly can’t be taken for that truth, and perhaps it never did, as the established media themselves are certainly not immune to being manipulated by clever and convincing operatives with an agenda. Social media like Twitter are not be all that credible, either, being as much given to repeating disinformation produced by a calculated campaign as the established news media. The best that we might have to go on is brief communications from people whom we have previously known and trusted, who – for reasons of profession and family – might be on the scene or adjacent. Anecdote is not date – but at this moment, it’s all that we have. The search for that golden truth nugget may be easier once all the dust is settled, the memoirs written and the official archives declassified … but then those historians on the search will have their own firmly held, hotly-defended theories, which will be good for a different kind of wrangling, when the fog of battle has cleared and the dust has settled. Discuss as you feel fit and qualified to observe.

20. February 2022 · Comments Off on The Odessa Steps · Categories: Fun and Games, Media Matters Not, Politics

The early Soviet propaganda movie, The Battleship Potemkin culminates in a prolonged and shocking sequence of local citizens – men, women and children – gunned down by remorseless Czarist soldiers on Odessa’s famed harbor-to-town staircase. The sequence remains a shocker. (And is still studied in film schools, apparently, for being ground-breaking effective and technologically ahead of the time.) Historically, there was never such a massacre on the Steps, but the sequence served as a kind of cinematic shorthand for State brutality aimed at essentially harmless, unarmed, unthreatening civilians in a public place; civilians who were seen to be defying the authority of the State. And so the armed minions of the State acted – because even the mildest defiance of Authority on the part of ordinary workers and their families is a stab at the heart of those Authorities. They cannot brook defiance, and so out come the armed police, just as they have this week in the streets of Ottawa with regard to the truckers protesting vaccine mandates. All the forces of the law, with the cheerful approval of the Canadian established media, the intellectual and ruling class – it’s really rather breathtaking; this concentrated venom and enthusiasm for breaking heads and bones all aimed at the workers participating in a civil and well-organized street protest. (It would seem that as far as the RCMP are concerned, Dudley Do-Right and Constable Benton Fraser both have left the building – so much for Canadian ‘polite.’)
What will happen now that the ordinary working stiffs of Canada have been so casually abused by their native ruling class; threatened with having bank accounts frozen, their means of earning a living confiscated, themselves arrested, while their pets and children given over to the tender care of animal shelters and the child “protection” authorities? How far will this protest go now, bouncing down the Odessa Steps like a runaway baby carriage? It could be that Canadians, with the ethos of being polite, courteous, and truthful, may be truly shocked, shocked to the point of open rebellion over being consistently lied about and bullied by their ruling elite. In America, our own flyover country residents are perfectly accustomed to being abused as stupid, red-necked rubes by our own elite class. It’s what we have come to expect of NPR, the political ruling class, the New York/Hollywood cultural axis and the inside-the-Beltway-Washington DC denizens; what we have come to expect of them anyway. It may be a new and shocking development to ordinary, working-class Canadians, this contempt for the working class, though. Comment as you wish.

07. February 2022 · Comments Off on Visions of A Time and Place on the Big and Small Screens · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Local, Media Matters Not

I am tempted to start watching the series 1883 – and likely will, as soon as it appears in one of our regular streaming services, but I am wondering, just reading about it – how far into the episodes I can get before walking away.

I mean, we barely lasted one episode into Texas Rising; a hideous and heartbreaking waste of time and video, being shot mostly in the wild mountains of Durango, Mexico, which bore no resemblance at all to the topography of Texas.* And no, the chapel of the Alamo does not have a crypt. They did get two things right, although the rest of the series was a cringe-fest, according to viewers who had stomachs stronger than mine. Texas did fight a war for independence from the Centralist dictatorship of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and there was a battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, and another at San Jacinto, barely six months later. Otherwise, Texas Rising was heartbreaking for Texas history fans, because it could have been a totally enthralling account of the war for independence and the fight for independent statehood – elements and incidents which were so dramatic and improbable that hardly anything needed to be made up out of whole cloth.

That series and countless others fell into a common fault of movies and television series when ‘doing’ a Western – that is, a story set on the American frontier in the 19th century – wherever that frontier happened to be in any given decade from the 1820s on to the end of that century. The common failing is to run it all together in one murky blur, as if technologies large and small remained constant, as did fashions, the political and geographical landscape, relations with various Indian tribes. As I wrote in this essay, several years ago, “there were very specific and distinct places, as different as they could be and still be on the same continent. 1880’s Tombstone is as different from Gold Rush-era Sacramento, which is different again from Abilene in the cattle-boom years, nothing like Salt Lake City when the Mormons first settled there – and which is different again from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s small-town De Smet in the Dakota Territory – or any other place that I could name, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mississippi-Missouri.”

Setting the series to start in 1883 is curious enough – it’s just rather late in the history of the frontier to generate a long-trail wagon-train journey, and from Texas to Montana, too. The western market in beef cattle was about to go bust by the middle of that decade, and the northern ranges ravaged by two especially harsh winters in a row. The various Indian wars along the frontier were done and dusted, all but the last uprising of the Lakota Sioux, inspired by the Ghost Dance movement. The transcontinental railroad had been completed long since. By the mid-1880s just about every major city in the United States and Canada was connected by a network of shining steel rails, obliviating the necessity of a long and dangerous journey by wagon-train across all-but-empty lands in most of the trans-Mississippi west. A cast interview that I did read mentioned that the producers and directors were going all out for authenticity. Well, we’ll see, eventually. I recollect reading an article in Smithsonian, of all places – which lauded all the ways in which the producers of The Patriot were going all out in historical fidelity, but once I watched that movie, I realized that the authenticity was all in small details, such as props, costumes and weaponry … just not the whopping big plot elements, personalities and key incidents. I’m afraid that I will find the series 1888 to be another helping of the same old stuff.

*Wierdly enough – the movie The Highwaymen got the topography exactly right. Yes – the wide lonely vistas, the two-lane paved roads with the line of spindly power poles along-side and the bare fields of new corn or cotton, or whatever spreading out on either side, the tiny roadside gas stations … were exactly right. The small towns, and transient camps, the little tourist cabin enclaves … also exactly right, as to time and place. I have pictures of my own, taken on various road trips which can affirm this.  I don’t know how much that the production company for The Highwaymen spent to do location shooting – can’t have been more than Texas Rising – but one big production got it right, and the other fell spectacularly flat when it came to the ‘look’ of places.

03. February 2022 · Comments Off on Wagging the Dog · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not

I actually do recollect seeing the movie of that name and a mildly amusing venture it was, into speculative political fiction; a whole war generated out of thin air by an unholy cabal of scheming bureaucrats, a conniving segment of the entertainment industry and a tame media, eager to be spoon-fed an appealing story if it would goose ratings by a point or so … and all in the cause of burying a political scandal involving a US president by setting up a war, with a hero and a theme song and cheering crowds and all. The movie was based on a book by Larry Beinart – weirdly enough, I also have a copy of it on my shelves. The book is much, much darker than the movie, but the premise is just as improbable; the national news media and the Industrial Entertainment complex going all in to generate and publicize a war with the aim of re-electing a Republican president at the bidding of and through dark money provided by a Republican eminence grise? Talk about the suspension of belief necessary to find that concept credible; not even with a bucket truck and one of those enormous construction cranes used for high-rise projects …<!–more–>

I thought at the time that both novel and movie were a diverting trifle, but really – was the national news media really that transparently credulous? I was an innocent in those days. Not so much the innocent after seeing the Tea Party protests and rallies being viciously calumniated solo and chorus by the entertainment and mainstream media. My cynicism dial was turned up to eleven, following that experience. Yes, they are that transparently credulous and incurious regarding any apparent contradictions between what they are spoon-feed and what is going on before the lying eyes of the rest of us. Now they are doing the same kind of group character assassination on those who refused to get a vaccination or a booster vaccination for the Chinese Commie Crud, or who object to anti-white racism taught to our children in the public schools, or who do rather like earning a living at a small business without being looted and burned into bankruptcy.

Now in this lamentable century, where anything goes in the established media, even if it seems ludicrous at first or second glance in comparison to reality. We are seeing a concerted effort on the part of our national establishment media to vanish the rising cost of practically everything at the grocery store; who are we supposed to believe, the establishment news media and the Brandon administration or the evidence of our lying eyes? We’ve had two years of the Chinese Commie Crud, with masks, lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations, and requirements for vaxx passports – so what if the dreaded Covid plague didn’t quite become the 1918 Influenza epidemic, or the medieval Black Death, either. It still provided an opportunity for bureaucrats and elected officials of an authoritarian bent to let their inner dictator out for a romp, and for the establishment media to do their best to scare the snot out of everyone. It’s becoming plain that the Commie Crud wasn’t a tenth as deadly as it was all made out to be, early on. A lot of us besides Canadian long-haul truck drivers are as tired of it as we can be, and likewise tired of being called racists and fascists for saying so. Can the news media go on wagging the Commie Crud or the inflationary dog for much longer? What other media tails are trying to wag the reality dog? Discuss as you wish.

Well, I see from the linked story, that the educational geniuses in Fairfax County have trodden heavily on their essential nether parts, yet again, in their demented crusade to shove critical race theory, or whatever it is called this week to disguise the whole rotten concept, down the throats of hapless students of all colors on the Pantone scale. This time around, they tried to foist off the concept of military dependents being somehow uniquely privileged. More »

13. January 2022 · Comments Off on The Way We Watch Now · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Media Matters Not

The Hollywood-based entertainment industry appears to have written off most of America in Flyoverlandia (according to this post) as hopelessly unwoke, racist and dumber than dirt, in their untiring efforts to embody the soul of Woke in their various offerings. Apparently, they believe in an audience just waiting uncritically out here; An audience intellectually gape-mouthed like baby birds just waiting to swallow uncritically whatever gets dropped into them. In pursuit of that goal, according to the same article, they have made their own professional hellscape, what with the growing fear that one wrong word, tweet or visual will make them the unemployable target of their peers, in the grand scramble for achieving ultimate wokery by scapegoating each other. Couldn’t happen to a nicer lot of vicious, vacuous, jerks, hypocrites, and pedophiles … even as the audience for movies released in theaters drops through the floor, and the most-watched continuing streaming video drama is one which has done so practically unnoticed by the mainstream news and entertainment media. More »

27. October 2021 · Comments Off on Civility · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not, sarcasm

In the aftermath of large crowds chanting “Lets Go, Brandon” or the ruder, cruder variant, certain prog media figures are reacting by ostentatiously clutching their pearls and demanding civility. In response to such demands, many of us who have paid attention over the years are pointing out that the civility ship has long sailed … in fact, circumnavigated the world, crashed into the homeport dock, burned to the waterline, and sank in a gusher of steam. More »

05. January 2021 · Comments Off on The Twilight Zone · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, History, Iran, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant

Well, it appears that the mullahcracy in Iran is still steamed over the death of their military mastermind Quassam Soleimani, the chief of so-called Quds Force – sort of the Iranian SS, I have always thought. On the one-year anniversary of that momentous drone-zap (a consummation quite overdue in my opinion) the president of Iran directly threatened the life of President Trump. Talk is cheap, and Iranian threats of dire revenge are the equivalent of those teeny and nearly worthless Spanish 1-peseta coins, which were struck from aluminum in the early 1990s, about the size of a child’s fingernail and looked like nothing so much as doll money. But still … the militant Muslims of Iran are certainly dedicated and determined sufficiently to have racked up any number of lesser-known and less-protected hits, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was something more than just tough talk for the benefit of their domestic audience and fans of Islamic mayhem in other countries.

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04. December 2020 · Comments Off on Net Novostey v “Pravde” i net pravdy v “Isvestihakh · Categories: General Nonsense, Media Matters Not

The bitter Soviet-era joke about the honesty and reliability of their major news organs translates as “There is no news in Pravda and no truth in Izvestia” – Pravda (Truth) being the official newspaper of the Russian Communist Party, and Izvestia (The News) was the official government newspaper. Teasing out actual tidbits of accurate and relevant information from those two sources may have been the most popular indoor sport for decades among Russians, after chess, depressing novels and drinking heavily. Pravda and Izvestia told the citizens of Soviet Russia only what the top-tier authorities wanted ordinary people to know about – anything contrary to the interests of party and government was deliberately omitted. Any embarrassing civic disasters with a high casualty count, sexual peccadillos on the part of the Party elite, and serial killers on the prowl – news coverage of that kind of event or development was firmly squelched, as things like that just didn’t happen in the perfect Soviet worker paradise.

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21. October 2020 · Comments Off on The October Surprise · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not, Politics

So the concept of an “October Surprise” in an election year is so hoary a notion that pundits have evolved that name for it; a planned last-minute revelation before an election (usually of the presidential-variety) of something so scandalous and disreputable that it upends the expected campaign win of the candidate the ‘Surprise” is aimed at. The Rathergate – Texas Air National Guard memo, which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes unleashed on George W. Bush just before the 2004 election is the example which springs first to mind, and never mind that it was launched in September. It was still a desperate partisan attempt to upturn an election.

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08. October 2020 · Comments Off on Signs and Portents · Categories: Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Fun and Games, Media Matters Not

In noting a pair of interesting and sort-of-related developments this last week, I am wondering if they are an indication of just how deeply angry ordinary Americans of a deplorably conservative bent are with the panjandrums who provide our entertainment, of the pro-sports and movie varieties. The first is the fact that ratings for the NBA finals are cratering, and other pro sports aren’t very far behind. The Commie Crud probably is discouraging physical attendance at games, for sure, and ostentatious displays of partisanship for Black Lives Matter on the part of players have definitely ruined any pleasure in watching games for viewers who just want to forget about politics and protest for a while. It’s also a very bad look for well-compensated and privileged Black players – a good few of whom are not precisely paragons of gentlemanly and law-abiding behavior themselves – to go on national television openly expressing solidarity with an assortment of Black thugs, addicts and criminals who have had fatal encounters with various police forces in the last couple of years.

Black lives may indeed matter, but it certainly doesn’t look as if the lives of Black business owners, Black police officers and random innocent Black citizens caught in exchanges of lead disagreement between Black gangsters matter don’t seem to matter very much at all to the most outspoken BLM supporters in various sports. We suspect that the lives of White citizens are valued even less, although one might think that the money paid by White fans for season tickets, sports memorabilia and product endorsements might earn at least a little apolitical courtesy. It would appear not … and sportsball fans of all colors are abandoning the stadiums, fanship and broadcast games with alacrity. It might be that professional players of some sports might have to have a second job to support themselves in the off-season, unless the Chinese fans and endorsement dollars keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

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30. September 2020 · Comments Off on Paint it Black · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Geekery, Media Matters Not, Rant, World

Well, if this isn’t a good reason for a grad student passionately interested in English literature – meaning the study of classic literature written in English (starting with Beowulf and running all the way to Tom Stoppard) to avoid the U of Chicago and embrace a program of self-education then I don’t know what is. It’s akin to being invited to a grand, lavish multi-course banquet and then only allowed a single tiny plate of hors d oeuvres. Which you must consume, and praise lavishly, and not even consider looking over at the main course. Or for another comparison – be fascinated by American pop music all through the 20th century, and then only be permitted to specialize in Motown. Because … reasons. Anyone fascinated by Chaucer or Tin Pan Alley is just plain out of luck, because of systemic racism, and overwhelming whiteness of the culture and the stain of slavery, et cetera, which is usually the reason given. Frankly, I think it’s just momentarily fashionable to paint everything Black.

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Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”

The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience.

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This last weekend, I had a tiny and depressing demonstration about the facile nature of local news – the news making machinery behind the popular song as the pop song used to go. I did local news-gathering myself as an in-house broadcast professional, doing a daily radio news program for Armed Forces Radio, Seoul Korea edition. I know how the pudding is made; have the basic framework for the story, go out and talk to people for the bits that fill in the story already mentally mapped out in your mind – and go and do it again the next day, and the day following. Daily news is sausage; stuff that casing with whatever the story requires, a judicious combination of meat or filler.

There was a house fire last Sunday afternoon in our neighborhood – the first I knew of it (since I was working the final edit of Luna City #9) was when the Daughter Unit flung open the door, saying that a nearby house was on fire, that the dogs from the house were running loose on the street, and could I bring some doggie treats and help everyone catch them?

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As if it wasn’t enough for the joyless, bitter scolds among the wokerati to have an absolute tizzy over the head of Goya Foods being civil and respectful of the office of the President of the US, another provider of excellent and relatively inexpensive foodstuffs is in their cross-hairs. Unlike the president of Goya Foods who basically told them to pound sand – and is now enjoying the economic benefits of having defied the wokerati – the management of Trader Joe’s is beating a sniveling and apologetic retreat, and promising to redo their policy of labeling their various ethnic food items with a suitably ethnic variation on ‘Trader Something-or-Other’. This was a bit of light-hearted bit of humor on their part, playing with naming stereotypes, but good lord, the grim and determined wokerati cannot abide any humor at all and so the whole concept must go. The Daughter Unit tells me, and this link conforms, that the whole thing started as a petition by high school students, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I suspect the responsible students are the earnest and censorious sorts, desperately trying to out-woke each other.

Frankly, the whole ‘Trader Joe’s’ South Sea Island – Tropical Paradise motif always struck me as a last gasp of the 1950s ‘Tiki Culture’ and about the only one which didn’t involve a bar decorated with fishing nets and dried starfish, and fru-fru drinks with little umbrellas in them. Trader Joe’s various products are high quality, reasonably priced, and the social-consciousness is laid on with a light hand, in pleasant contrast with the mountain of ostentatious correctitude and high prices offered at Whole Foods. There is a reason the latter is derisively known as “Whole Paycheck.” I can only think it’s only a matter of time before the social justice warriors go after Trader Joe’s for that bit of cultural appropriation as well.

At least the providers of groceries are not having as rotten a year due to the Chinese Commie Crud as Hollywood is. Theaters shut down, premieres cancelled, top-flight releases like Greyhound, with Tom Hanks and based on C.S. Foresters’ war novel The Good Shepherd diverted to release on streaming video, the fall-out from “Me Too” and Harvey Weinstein’s wholesale-level practice of the casting couch, the apparent urge among our producers of entertainment to whore after foreign audiences, and now looking to curry favor with the hot new trend of ‘anyone but white heterosexuals in front of the camera and behind it as well as behind it in any capacity’ … well, Establishment Hollywood has earned the foul reputation they richly deserve. Those of us in flyover country are watching old movies on DVD (from our own libraries, let it be known) or on streaming video, watching foreign films or series – practically anything other than grim parables and lectures by the wokerati.

Comment as you wish: what are you going to watch, now? The Daughter Unit and I are watching episodes of Are You Being Served? Which has the side benefit of being gloriously politically incorrect, and not featuring any masks or six-foot apart social distancing. (The Daughter Unit and I temped for a few months at an upscale department store over the holiday season some years ago. We consider ‘Served’ as nearly a documentary on retail sales at a certain level.)

26. June 2020 · Comments Off on Civic Insurrection · Categories: Ain't That America?, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant, sarcasm, World

Dispiriting it is, most mornings, to start up my computer and begin reviewing the news: if it isn’t the return/revival of the Chinese Commie Crud, it’s the interesting spectacle of (mostly) blue cities – ones run for decades by the Democrat party, the party of slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism. Amazing that those cities are the ones most plagued by an unsavory coalition of nihilists co-sponsored by the Marxist-inspired Black Lives Matter and the straight-up communists of Antifa. (As amazing as the number of individuals corporations, large and small, who have been bamboozled into expressing support for the former group. As this commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place remarked:

The large corporations are kind of caught in two grips of a vice. The first is that they’ve been hiring mostly college graduates, and most of the college graduates are from “progressive” or “liberal” institutions that have been soaked in this hatred of the West since the late ’60s at the earliest. It could be entirely possible that they could have gone entirely through a four year degree without having been exposed or having to seriously debate the other side of the arguments. The second grip in the vice is the power of the media-and especially social media-these days. It is very easy for the wokescolds to create a hue and cry that can ruin a company. And, an amazing number of these companies are in…careful shape. So, anything that risks the company has to be avoided)

Getting back to matters racial/social I find it purely amazing that after decades of official and ostentatious promoting of social justice, affirmative action and representation for the less-fortunate minorities, the less-fortunate minorities are even worse off then they were half a century ago.
(Thank you, for the crowbar required to remove my tongue from my cheek.)

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21. May 2020 · Comments Off on Consent of the Governed · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, Health and Wellness, Media Matters Not

“…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
“The consent of the governed” – and what a concept, hey? And outlined in our very own Declaration of Independence. That the government has authority only as far as those it governs permits, allows or tolerates; a notion which seems to have escaped the more stubbornly authoritarian among us, such as the governors of certain states: among them Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom, of California, the Unspeakable Kate Brown of Oregon, Gretchen Witmer, the Grand Karenator of Michigan, J.B. “Jabba the Hutt” Pritzker of Illinois, Ralph Northam, the Baby-Killer of Virginia and the weaselly and nipple-pierced autocrat of New York, Andrew “Missed It By That Much!” Cuomo. All the above-listed, and a good few others of lesser notoriety and office went on an authoritarian kick: “Close all the things!” seemed to be their rallying cry, after first ignoring the first warning signs of the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka the Chinese Commie Crud, and then losing their damned minds when the National Establishment Media lost theirs.

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I had been half-expecting that San Antonio would cancel or delay the yearly Fiesta; this was made official Friday morning: put off the celebrations until November. Fiesta San Antonio was originally focused on Sam Houston’s victory at San Jacinto – which took place in April of 1836. (Lot of other events being cancelled as well.) Since Wednesday, I had been getting emails from various companies who I do business with, at least enough business for them to have my email: Costco, Sam’s, Petco, Frost Bank, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Texas author’s group (who have put off the Wimberly book event from June until November)the senior center in Bulverde who hosts a fall craft fair, Lowe’s and Home Depot – I think. All had pretty much the same message: “Aware of the Covid-19 thing, taking every precaution – deep-cleaning, sanitizing, encouraging sick employees to stay home, those who can to work remotely, concern but doing what we can, customers encouraged to wash hands, self-quarantine if feeling ill …” I wonder now if there wasn’t a degree of coordination going on, or if all the corporate public relations departments simultaneously came to the same conclusion. Reasoning? I rather thought the city and the Fiesta Commission would have to do something of the sort, after reading of Disneyland closing, and the LDS temporarily suspending meetings at every level.

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04. February 2020 · Comments Off on Books That I Cannot Wait To Not Read · Categories: Fun and Games, Literary Good Stuff, Media Matters Not

Amanda at Mad Genius Club posted last week with some musings on the current publishing scene – er, that is what I took to calling the Literary Industrial Complex, back when I first went indy around 2008 – Indy Publishing that is. When people ask me who my publisher is, I look at them loftily, and reply, “I own the publishing company!” Which I do – a nice little small enterprise that I came into as junior partner, and which the original founder sold to me when she regretfully concluded that she could no longer carry on. We do other authors’ books, as well as my own; regional and small-press stuff, nothing which would ever excite the interest of the Literary Industrial Complex or the minions thereof. No point to it at this late date; as one of the other indy authors I associated with at the time often repeated – “If readers love-love-love the book, they don’t really care who published it.”

I’m basically sitting off to the side, watching the various Literary Industrial Complex shenanigans with the detached interest of someone driving past a really complicated multi-vehicle accident on the interstate; one of those which features smashed vehicles off on the shoulder or the median, in grotesque positions, attended by lots of law enforcement, fire engines, ambulances and wreckers. Nothing much to do with you, you think – but that you do drive a motor vehicle on those streets, and such a smash-up is a possibility, even if statistically only a remote one. Books, authors, audience, readers – those of us in the indy author community do have that much in common with those who have caught the brass ring of the Literary Industrial Complex. The blessings of publicity which that happy situation can bestow upon the poor scribbler of fiction are enviable indeed: nothing like a generous advance, lashings of pre-release publicity, an Oprah pick, long lines at well-publicized and organized signing events … the stuff of which indy authors can only dream or perhaps nightmare about.

For myself, I wouldn’t mind a Cat-5 Hurricane storm level of condemnatory Twitter interest. It would do marvels for sales of our books and raise our visibility and I would care nothing because I barely use my Twitter account, as 9 out of 10 Twitteratti appear to be raving loons. My spoilsport daughter forbids this, pointing out that there are vicious and violently inclined raving loons out there; don’t want trouble, don’t start trouble.

The current no-holds-barred bruhaha concerns American Dirt by one Janine Cummins; a breathless and much heralded novel about Mexican mother and son escaping from cartel violence in Mexico by joining a migrant convoy and entering illegally into the United States. The author has garnered a boatload of criticism for this; not so much for justifying confounding immigration law by holding a literary pity party for the victims of cartel violence in Mexico, but for doing so while not being of Mexican heritage. Apparently, this constitutes a thoughtcrime of cultural appropriation. Well … apparently, trying to imagine the life and concerns of someone completely different from you, culturally, racially and every other way, is now an indictable offense against wokery. I suspect that Ms Cummins’ bigger crime in the eyes of writers of indisputably Hispanic background was that she got all the generous goodies of a huge advance, heaps of publicity, the Oprah pick, maybe even Hollywood movie interest – over and above those goodies to which they felt they had a better right.

Nothing much to me, of course; I’m just not that interested in reading American Dirt or even anything much on the anticipatory Literary-Industrial Complex horizon. I looked at this linked story; the most hotly anticipated new releases of early 2020 and was left underwhelmed, first by the covers … seriously, is there a fashion now for artfully-minimalist covers? A couple of primary colors, primitive shapes and blah typefaces? This is the best, the very best that the Literary-Industrial Complex has to offer, as regards to cover art to what is supposed to be, after all, the first and best chance to make a good impression on a potential reader/buyer? Dolly Parton once remarked in another context, “You have to pay a lot of money to look this cheap.”

Casey Stengal also asked plaintively, “Can’t anyone here play this game?” once upon the day. Fortunately, we indy-inclined authors can, when it comes to scribbling entertaining yarns to allure the casual reader. Which is good for us – especially considering the looks of our Literary-Industrial Complex-sponsored competition of late. Discuss as you wish – and consider checking out the weekly Sunday morning Ace of Spades HQ book discussion thread; talk of books, reading recommendations and a weekly picture of ghastly pants.

The credibility of the mainstream press establishment is shimmering into nothingness, like the last bit of winter snow after a week of warm spring days; just as our respect and trust for such federal bureaucracies and establishments like the FBI are similarly evaporating. While acknowledging and accepting that such establishments are operated by mere mortals, with all the weaknesses and moral failings that ordinary human beings are heir to, and grudgingly accepting the understanding that the establishment news media trends strongly to the left in political sympathies … look, we can accept all that and a certain degree of human bias, but what’s getting hard to swallow of late is the sheer, mind-numbing, flaming incompetence of them all. Which might be a blessing after all, for terrifying competence on the part of our current Ruling Class and their minions would make protesting or opposing them that much more difficult. Instead, as Kirk so memorably put it last week in a comment on Chicagoboyz,

“What we have is, instead, an aristocracy of dunces, men and women who tell the rest of us how smart they are, and then screw up the entirety of civilization based on fantasies they’ve come up with. The rest of us need to start recognizing that the emperor not only isn’t wearing any clothes, he’s drunk off his ass and waving his wing-wang in our faces. The people who’ve flim-flammed their way into power are all dangerously inept and terminally deluded. If you doubt me, open your eyes and look around yourself: Is there anything, anything at all that these soi-disant “elites” have gotten right in the last century? Anything at all?”

The combination of ineptitude and delusions of superiority looks to be shattering American institutions and establishments like gaping fissures opening across the landscape in a 1970s earthquake disaster movie; the establishment mainstream media, establishment publishing, city and state governance, the major producers of our entertainment, law enforcement … you name it, and some notable in that establishment is telling us how superior they are to us deplorables … as they pedal in mid-air over a chasm, rather like Wylie Coyote, Super-Genius, just before he drops like an anvil to the bottom of the gorge below. Viewing figures for the Grammy awards broadcast is down, CNN is a laughingstock, a much-anticipated novel dripping with social-justice – which got the nod from Oprah is now going down the vortex of cancel-culture, and the FBI took a break from trying to reverse the results of the 2016 election and arrested San Francisco’s director or public works. The last-named gentleman apparently took a break from doing something innovative regarding the poop-filled streets of that place, to engineering sweetheart deals for such entities as lavished generous bribes and perks upon him, to such a degree that the FBI was brought to take notice of it all. Social justice wokery turns college campuses into overpriced bear-pits; and we pay more and more for public education and get less and less out of the whole project, while the national news media pursues jiggery-pokery, fakery-wokery hoax news. Really, as the Diplomad suggested here – you could make a drinking game out of listing all the ways in which our Ruling Class attempts to perpetuate news hoaxes on us, by means of panicking us into becoming good little biddable serfs.

What may save us all is that in the main, and at street-level in communities which still function (which is most of them, with certain bi-coastal, urban and prog-managed exceptions) we are still a high-trust society. The majority of us can still trust our neighbors, coworkers, and our local elected officials; and that may be the saving of us all. Discuss as you wish.

10. January 2020 · Comments Off on When Doom Comes a’ Calling · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun With Islam, History, Iran, Iraq, Media Matters Not, Military

(I started this post last weekend – but real life and a new book project intervened. Consider this a footnote to Trent T.’s post, here.)

Well, it certainly came a’calling for Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani last week, Middle Eastern time. Nothing left but bits of scrap metal and meat, and a bruised hand with a large ring on it. Kind of fitting for the guy who perfected the fine art of IEDs, and brought so much business to the developers of artificial limbs for those survivors of that deadly art. As the satirist Tom Leher noted, so many decades ago, and in a slightly different context,

“Some have harsh words for this man of renown, But some think our attitude Should be one of gratitude, Like the widows and cripples in old London town Who owe their large pensions to Werner von Braun.”

So it seems that the late General Soleimani will not be missed … not missed much by an assortment of parties in Iran, the Middle East, Israel, and US State Department employees across the world, some of whom posted their congratulations in the first blog reports that I saw first thing. The Daughter Unit reports that most of the veteran social media participants were absolutely fizzing with glee, as were apparently Iranian anti-mullacracy exile communities across the world. Considering that the late General S. had a hand in nearly four decades of Islamic violence (violence which racked up casualties in the thousands, and which did include American troops), across the Middle East and was about to take a hand in fomenting some more in Iraq last week, he will definitely not be missed.

The remote pilot of the drone which dropped our final farewell gift upon him didn’t miss, either, although to read the Twitter caterwauling laments of Hollywood idiots like Rose McWhatserface is nearly enough to make one upchuck. The trauma of being sexually molested by a creep like Harvey Weinstein obviously blotted from what remains of her tiny mind the reality of things like … umm, Iran’s forty-year jihad against the US, beginning with overrunning our embassy in Teheran and keeping staff, employees and casual American visitors to said embassy captive for more than a year? In the old days, an attack on a foreign embassy counted as declaring war. It fries me no end that the Teheran embassy thing happened so long ago that I was in my first Air Force enlistment, and my daughter was born a couple of months later. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for anything like an appropriate response.

And Jimmy Carter was such a clueless, limp-dcked, Saudi-loving, anti-Semitic wimp that he couldn’t even countenance the appropriate response, which should rightfully have been along the lines of – “Release our people and vacate our embassy (and clean up the mess as you go) or various essential real estate of yours will become slightly radioactive glass. Counting down… three … two…” THAT response would have spared us all – especially in the Middle East – decades of trouble, but morons like failed novelist Ben Rhodes certainly wouldn’t grasp that point, being twenty something, or perhaps older now, and still dealing with equally educated idiots. And as for ostensibly American news media painting, certain celebs and politicians painting the late General in romantic shades of “able soldier, handsome charismatic leader, an inspiration to his troops, austere poet, snappy dresser and all-around-good-fellow…” People, do you have any comprehension of how that makes you appear to the rest of us? It’s as of you are lamenting and condemning the death of Reinhold Heydrich, who was also cultured, handsome, a charismatic leader, et cetera, et cetera – and every but as much a murderous a*hole as Qasem Soleimani. Is this truly what you wish to embrace, and to appear to the rest of us as a sympathizer of? Discuss as you wish, and add any insights.

05. November 2019 · Comments Off on Crusade · Categories: History, Literary Good Stuff, Media Matters Not

A bit of a loaded word, isn’t it? But a label that American anti-slavery activists would have felt entirely comfortable with, in the first half of the 19th century. Such was the knowledge that taking up the cross of a cause could be hazardous, indeed – but the fight was for the right, and the eventual prize was worth it and more; the promise that every man (and by implication, every woman as well) had a right to be free. Not a slave, as comfortable as that situation might be to individuals – but to be free, answering only to ones’ conscience, as was expressed in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, never mind that one might have varying degrees of success in that pursuit – one had the right to decide how to go about it, in whatever method and manner than one chose. One had the right to not be property, as if an ox or a horse.
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Age and guile, so the saying goes, beats out youth and speed by a long chalk. (As does possession of generous insurance policies.) Age and experience also build up an overflowing reservoir of cynicism about a lot of things; protestations of enduring love, promises by politicians campaigning for election, and belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, among a long, long list of other things.

So it is with heartfelt convictions when it comes to media and academic protestations of “OMG, The Earth Is Gonna End and We Are All Gonna Die!” Sorry, if you’ve been around long enough (as I have been, long enough to collect Social Security while it still exists) you have been to this rodeo before. And to a good many performances, usually championed by the national media with their hair on fire; Existential doom – how many are there, shall I count the ways? The biggie when I was myself in grade school and for a goodly few decades thereafter was Immanent Nuclear War and Annihilation. Nuclear Winter afflicting any of us fortunate enough to survive that! Then there was the catastrophe of Global Cooling – the New Ice Age descending on us all! (insert extraneous exclamation points here.) We were all gonna freeze! More »

04. September 2019 · Comments Off on The Way Things Were and Are · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, History, Media Matters Not, Rant

Separately, the Daughter Unit and I watched a series on Netflix (don’t hate on us, there’s still some good stuff there, and I don’t want to bail out until we’ve milked it dry) about the last Czars of Russia – specifically the series which mixed fairly serious commentary about the Russian Revolution with interestingly high-end reenactments of events in the life of the last czar and his family. (Seriously, though – I doubt very much that Nicky and Alix made mad hot whoopee on a fur coat underneath his official czarsorial desk, while the household staff made a heroic effort to ignore the amatory noises coming from behind closed doors. Just my .02. She was a Victorian, for Ghod’s sake. Really; Queen V.’s granddaughter. Who privately thought that Dear Alix wasn’t in the least up to the challenge of being Czarina of all the Russians; Alix may have waxed poetically amatory about her affection and trust in Father Grigory Rasputin, but to do the nasty on the floor, in daylight? Even with your wedded husband? Just nope. Nope.)
I will accept that the orgiastic interludes involving Rasputin were likely and wholly believable. And that Nicky and Alix loved each other, that their four daughters and son with medical issues all loved each other with a passionate devotion that lasts through this world and the next. The last shattering sequences in the Ipatiav House rings true. That was the way it was, and that was how it ended. (I reviewed a book on this, here.)
I was meditating on all of this – with a consideration towards royalty; the old-fashioned kind, and the new-mint variety. More »

So it is generally considered not nice to take satisfaction in someone elses’ misery, but when it comes to certain Proggie Established Media outlets, I will cheerfully make an exception. As if it isn’t enough that Washington Post news offices appear to be afflicted with a plague of cockroaches, now it appears that the NY Times – self-revealed last week as a purveyor of vicious propaganda on a level unequaled since the glory days of Der Stürmer – has a bed-bug problem. Pity the poor working-class exterminators who must venture into the offices; as a commenter noted here at Powerline – how on earth will they tell the difference between the vermin and the regular staff, as well as the Dem Party politicians that the Establishment Media fawns upon with such tiresome regularity? More »

19. August 2019 · Comments Off on Retconned America – The 1619 Project · Categories: Ain't That America?, History, Media Matters Not

It appears that this week, the New York Times, the so-called paper of record, upon whom the self-directed spotlight of smug superiority ever shines – has now taken that final, irrevocable step from the business of reporting news and current events, matters cultural and artistic to becoming a purveyor of progressive propaganda. Of course, as characters in British procedural mysteries often say, ‘they have form’ when it comes to progressive propaganda; all the way from Walter Duranty’s reporting on famine in the Soviet Union through the drumbeat of ‘worst war-crime evah!’ in coverage when it came to Abu Ghraib, and the current bête noir – or rather ‘bête orange’ man bad. It seems that it has now become necessary for the Times to make the issue of chattel slavery of black Africans the centerpiece, the foundation stone, the sum and total of American history. Everything – absolutely everything in American history and culture now must be filtered through the pitiless lens of slavery.
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