The Proud Boys, as reported in the London Sunday Times. Old Socialist comments, and asks a question.

Headline: Meet the Proud Boys — Trump’s unofficial militia spoiling for a fight

Sub-headline: Sporting Fred Perry shirts and heavily armed, the American far-right group the president refused to condemn is on patrol at his rallies

‘ I initially thought McInnes’s list of Proud Boy “degrees” of membership must be another one of his jokes. Initiates must swear allegiance to the fraternity, get beaten up until they can recite the name of five cereal brands, adhere to a “no wanks” pledge (so young men stop watching porn and meet actual women, Aaron explained) and get a Proud Boy tattoo.
It made them sound like a bunch of incels (involuntary celibates). Could this be for real, I asked Aaron, who, like Mike, is 33 and single. Yes, the rules were rules. He took my question about the ban on masturbation well — “It does wonders for your determination, energy levels and productivity” — but denied they were incels. “That’s just a cheap lowball insult,” he said.
Nor were they misogynists, he insisted. “We do venerate housewives, though we respect women who work. We want to put women back on their pedestal. They have a cherished role in western civilisation.”
In fact, he was off to see his girlfriend in Seattle this weekend, a black foreign exchange student from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I’m not a racist, 100%,” he added.
Aaron went on to remind me that there was a further “degree” for members — “getting into a physical altercation with Antifa”. He fulfilled that pledge in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in August when there was a violent clash with the far left. He sent me a video link. “It was wild,” he said. As he slugged it out with Antifa, he got hit in the face with a street sign.
If there is election chaos after November 3, as Trump has predicted, Aaron will be back on the streets with his Ruger AR-566 — all in the name of “self-defence”. If they are going to play at being Trump’s vigilantes, it will be a terrible joke on the American electorate.

Sexual Puritanism & Violent Reactionary Politics, if the Freudians still enjoyed cultural/psychological currency they would … If only Eric Ericson and his clique!
Add to the ‘Proud Boys’ the ‘Bugaloo Boys’ and ‘The Oath Keepers‘ that represent an American political nihilism, that dwarfs ‘Antifa’ and ‘BLM’ that leads inexorably to the question: will America’s Second Civil War begin on November 4, 2020?

Old Socialist

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Andy Divine depends on the ignorance of his readers, Episode MCCVII: On Concentration Camps & more pressing Evils. Old Socialist comments

I’ll bypass the first two installments of the Mr. Divine’s encyclical of June 21, 2019:

The Next Step for Gay Pride

The Trump Code

I’ll just read this next segment of moral shaming with which Andy confronts his readers:

The Totalitarian Nightmare the World Is Ignoring

I don’t want a new Cold War with China. But it is, in my view, an evil regime, and we should have no illusions about that. Twitter has been having a great time this past week parsing whether detention camps for illegal immigrants in the United States should be called “concentration camps.” In China, this debate might seem somewhat beside the point. Over a million Muslims who have crossed no border and committed no crimes are being taken from their homes en masse and subjected to brainwashing in vast camps and compounds from which there is no escape. Watch this excellent new BBC piece on these “thought transformation camps” — and feel the fear everywhere. The BBC was given access to a show camp, which is creepy enough. We can only imagine what goes on in the hidden ones.

Somehow Andy has become an expert on ‘concentration camps’: now Andy isn’t very adroit about his attack on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her very welcome plain speaking on the concentration camps used by ICE to hold the Mestizo Hordes ,that are invading the land of Anglo-Protestant virtue, as articulated by that American political hysteric Samuel P. Huntington: in his Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. The separation of children/infants from their parents , not to speak of caging these human beings, is an action used by Trump and his minions: ‘Give me your tired,your poor ,your huddled masses…’! An utter betrayal of ‘American Values’ ?

Andy likes to engage in the time honored tradition of One-up-man-ship pioneered by Stephen Potter. Virtue signalling is the current term of abuse, but Potter’s old stand-by fully describes Andy’s dull-witted practice . His argument:  You’ve averted your eyes from the ‘Evil Chinese Regime‘  for too long -its Human Rights abuses! In sum, the Concentration Camps used by ICE are by comparison to the Chinese Regime’s forms of oppression/re-education are evil, while the human rights abuses practiced by ICE are subject to a kind of pseudo- apologetic! In sum,  the crimes of ICE are minimized in comparison to the Chinese.


On the left, we worry about Islamophobia, or we expend our energies protesting the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s occupation. On the right, we talk of religious freedom too often as if it only applies to Christians or Jews.

Yet, here is a man and writer whose moral/political enthusiasms for ‘The Bell Curve’ and the War in Iraq are facts that Andy can’t overcome. At least with his readers whose memories reach back to Andy’s reprehensible political past.  Andy achieves his ends by means of hectoring moralizing, in service to Andy’s pathological egotism, wedded to his political nihilism.

Old Socialist


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Andy Divine on the scourge of ‘Post-Modernism’, episode MDXXXVII.Political Observer comments

I missed Andy Divine’s October 16, 2020 ‘political diagnosis’ about what ails ‘us’: ‘Post-Modernism’ in all its iterations. If only Andy had read Detlev Claussen’s ‘One Last Genius’? Incuriosity is the intellectual armor of the ideologue.

Yet the transgenerational political/economic/civic addiction to Neo-Libearalsm that he championed – his misdirection equals a self-apologetic for his always toxic politics. In which he quotes the disappeared political hysteric Bari Weiss.

A question I’ve wrestled with this past year or so is a pretty basic one: if critical race/gender/queer theory is unfalsifiable postmodern claptrap, as I have long contended, how has it conquered so many institutions so swiftly?

It’s been a staggering achievement, when you come to think of it. Critical theory was once an esoteric academic pursuit. Now it has become the core, underlying philosophy of the majority of American cultural institutions, universities, media, corporations, liberal churches, NGOs, philanthropies, and, of course, mainstream journalism. This summer felt like a psychic break from old-school liberalism, a moment when a big part of the American elite just decided to junk the principles that have long defined American democratic life, and embrace what Bari Weiss calls “a mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality.”

It’s everywhere. Across the country, schools and colleges are dumping SATs so they can engineer racial equity, and abolish the idea of merit. The Smithsonian backed the idea that working hard, showing up on time and perfecting a task are functions of “whiteness”. In California, there’s a ballot initiative to legalize government discrimination on the basis of race; and a new mandate that company boards add members from under-represented communities. Corporations who haven’t publicly committed themselves to the full woke project are being hounded by their employees into doing so, meaning hiring and firing on the basis of race, or forcing employees into re-education sessions, guided by DiAngelo and Kendi. The NBA, for Pete’s sake, is now a festival of wokeness, even as viewership collapses. CRT propaganda like the NYT’s 1619 Project can be exposed as untrue and unethical, but the paper can both debunk it in its own pages and still hail it as a triumph. And the pièce de resistance: 21 percent of liberal students in the Ivy League favor some level of violence to stop campus speech they disapprove of.

(Patience, only 1,242 words to go)

Andy’s search for political heretics defines his self-appointed role as pundit and political/moral visionary. Andy is the natural ally/inheritor of the legacies of Allen Bloom, Roger Kimball and Dinesh D’Souza. Not forgetting the newest inheritors of Anti-Student mendacious politicking, Jonathan Haight and Greg Lukianoff.

Andy’s continuing quest for someone/something to blame for Trump and Trumpism, and the rise of a re-invigorated ‘Left’ is utterly transparent. This is about his inability to face his own political complicity in the rise of Trump, and its immediate precursor The Tea Party. Post-Modernism and its Marxist component are the perfect target, in a country steeped in the post-war tradition of Nixon/McCarthy/Mundt/McCarren!

Political Observer

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Amy Coney Barrett, in the pages of The Financial Times: ‘Mystery and or Enigma’? American Skeptic comments

Amy Coney Barrett is neither ‘mystery’ nor ‘enigma’ ! The reader need only look to ‘Politico’, the American Political Gossip Sheet for a telling report on who Amy Coney Barrett is.

Headline: ‘She’s been groomed for this moment’: Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court preparation began early

Sub-headline: From her first year as a Notre Dame law student, conservatives marked her as a future leader in the mold of the Federalist Society.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been seated on the Supreme Court for only a year, in 1994, when a group of professors at the University of Notre Dame first recognized the potential of a first-year law student and began paving the way for her career as a conservative jurist: collaborating on scholarship, helping her land a Supreme Court clerkship and later recruiting her to the law school’s faculty.
The group was part of a growing legal movement opposed to the secularization of American society generally and to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in particular. The 1973 abortion-rights decision not only struck many conservatives as an affront their religious values, but to the principle of judicial restraint. To wage what would be a decades-long fight to reverse the activist decisions of the court from 1950s to the 1970s, they needed young legal minds like Barrett’s.

The plan worked better than they could have hoped. Now a judge on the Seventh Circuit, Barrett is the leading contender for President Donald Trump’s nomination to replace Ginsburg on the court. Her ascension would be a coup for Catholic culture warriors 25 years in the making and a high point in the right’s decades-long project of reshaping the judiciary.

“She was kind of the Manchurian candidate,” said one former colleague at Notre Dame Law School. “She’s been groomed for this moment all the way along.”

The Neo-Confederates, ‘Originalists’/’Textualists’ made a tactical mistake with Robert Bork, who looked like he stepped out of pages of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, not to speak of his part in Watergate:’

Robert H. Bork, a Yale Law School professor of public law, was appointed solicitor general by President Nixon in 1973 and became acting attorney general that October during the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre.” Nixon, worried by Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox’s demands for the tapes of his Oval Office conversations, ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson resigned rather than carry out the order, as did Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. Nixon then turned to Bork, the number three official in the Justice Department, who carried out his wishes and fired Cox. Bork would defend his actions as within the scope of presidential authority. Nine months later, the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to turn over the tapes.

Bork went on to become a conservative hero. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 1987, Reagan nominated him for the Supreme Court. After contentious hearings, Senate Democrats, still bothered by his role in the Saturday Night massacre and wary of his conservative philosophy, rejected his nomination. Bork resigned his judgeship in 1988 and joined the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, where he became a leading voice for neo-conservatism. In 2003, he left AEI for the Hudson Institute. He is currently a professor at the Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Barrett’s self-presentation is about the creation of an ‘Image‘, that resonates with the viewer: a quiet, reasoned self-confidence, assumed by the viewer, and constantly repeated by her political allies, in the hearing room. Jurisprudential excellence is her metier, this is about a well practiced, adroit Public Relations campaign. Barrett is an accomplished political/civic actor, she has stage presence.

Amy Coney Barrett seems an adroit practitioner, of a highly truncated rhetoric of ‘Originalism’/’Textualism’ . She is poised , confident, charming and thought to be a judge of the first rank. Who will not let her religious beliefs intrude into her judicial decision making. Thomas B. Griffith assure his readers of this.

Headline: Amy Coney Barrett’s Religion Won’t Dictate Her Rulings

Sub-headline: A person of faith can be an impartial judge.

Let me start with my own experience as a person of faith who served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for 15 years. During those years, I gave dozens of talks at law schools, colleges and universities. The biographical introduction that typically preceded my remarks unavoidably announced my religious commitments. Before becoming a judge, I had been the general counsel of a prominent religious university, published on religious themes, and even taught courses in scriptural studies and theology.

American Skeptic

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Niall Ferguson’s on Internet Oligarchs and ‘Joe Biden & Son’. Old Socialist comments

That the hallowed ‘Free Market’ created Monsters is a surprise to Mr. Ferguson? He uses ‘We’ as his distopian descriptor , while ‘The Yawning Heights’ is more apt. As usual he rambles and furnishes a maladroit, or wan apologetic? for the business partnership of ‘Joe Baden & Son’ that ends here:

‘I am even open to the theory that the whole story is bunk, the emails fake, and the laptop and its hard-drive an infowars gift from Russia, with love.’

Mr. Ferguson in New Cold Warrior drag, framed by hysterical Anti-Russian political cliche. Its way past time to deem the Internet a Public Utility and place these ‘providers‘ under strict State Control, in the name of Free Speech via The Bill of Rights and The Constitution. Oh, the screeching and gnashing of teeth! of the Free Marketeers, who are, at this point in political time, resemble, in every way, the callabos of these Internet Oligarchs.

With ‘Reform Republican’, Josh Hawley, leading the way for prompt Senate Hearings. This, a plan of self-rescue, in light of the inability of the ‘Political Class’ to pass another economic aid bill, in the face of a ever approaching political/economic collapse? With Election day mere weeks away, what better way to demonstrate a simulacrum of political resolve?

Old Socialist

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The quandary on the Left, as presented by Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky

Chris Hedges:

Noam Chomsky:


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I am unable to post this on Twitter!!!


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Micklethwait & Wooldridge opine on a Conservatism in need of reform. Old Socialist comments

Micklethwait & Wooldridge (M&W) begin their essay with Ambrogio Lorenzetti fresco of 1339, ‘The Allegory of Good and Bad Government’. What can two Oxford grads offer but the most highfalutin historical reference, yet obscure enough to evoke a kind of awe, in the thought of the reader? In sum, it is an allegory on ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Government. In their telling, political scientist Samuel Lubell enters their melodrama, and he postulates that there are two Parties , the party of ‘the sun of the sun’ which creates the light and heat, and a “party of the moon,” which ‘shines in the reflected radiance of the heat thus generated’.

In this paragraph M&W apply their borrowed frame to British/American political history:

Ever since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the right has been the “party of the sun” in the United States and Britain. Now it is in danger of becoming the party of the moon unless it radically overhauls both its personnel and its ideas. Certainly, it has ended up on the bad-government side of Lorenzetti’s fresco.

M&W present to the reader with this characterization of ‘Left’ governance since 1979:

Since 1979, the left has managed to install only four people in the White House or Downing Street — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on one side of the Atlantic, and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on the other (and the latter never won an election). The right has established a clear advantage in two things — practical competence and intellectual dynamism.

This parade of ‘Leftists’: ‘Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on one side of the Atlantic, and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown‘. What significance might the reader attach to M&W’s proclamation of Conservatism’s ‘practical competence and intellectual dynamism’ ? E.g. The Depression of 2008? What do all these ‘Left’ politicians have in common? Both The New Democrats, Clinton and Obama, and New Labour Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are Neo-Liberal just like Reagan and Thatcher.

In an American political context the reader need only look at Obama’s praise, not of FDR, but of Reagan.

“I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.

“He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people just tapped into — he tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

A further long quote from M&W is revelatory:

The first is a traditional advantage of conservatism. Both Republicans and the Tories have based their electoral appeal on the idea that they will do a better job of looking after your money and protecting your country than the other guys. Vote for the left if you want to build castles in the air. But if you’re more interested in preserving the value of your house and keeping criminals off the streets, then vote for the right.

Not content with just the above M&W continue their unstinting praise for ‘Conservatism’ in all its attachments to demonstrably failed policies- in an American context look at the Neo-Liberal Clinton’s and Welfare Reform, Crime Bill, and the catastrophic repeal of Glass-Stegall! M&W praise ‘Conservatism’ yet its attachment to intellectuals like Milton Freedman and James Q. Wilson are part of an alliance of Conservatives, with the equally toxic Neo-Liberalism: that demands a strong state to protect the hallowed Free Market. This utterly antithetical to Reagan’s battle cry of ‘government is the problem’! Or Mrs. Thatcher passing out ‘Road to Serfdom’ as if it were a party favor. Not to forget the most politically exploitable ‘Leftists’, and their attachment to a corrosive Anti-Capitalism!

However, the right has also been more dynamic, generating the intellectual light that the moon can do no more than reflect. Since 1979, modern conservatism has produced nearly all the important ideas that have changed the political universe, from privatization to welfare reform to “broken windows” crime policy. These ideas may sound obvious today, but they were widely regarded as “crazy” when they were first floated in the work of maverick intellectuals, such as Milton Friedman in economics and James Q. Wilson in social policy. Indeed, those ideas became so mainstream that they changed the left, too. Clinton and Blair, the two most successful left-leaning politicians of the past 40 years, were often accused of being conservatives. Clinton balanced the budget and reformed welfare. Blair gave his party a new name, New Labour, and abandoned the dream, laid out in Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution, of nationalizing the means of production.

The real problem with ‘Conservatism’ is that in America, its titular head is a TV Game Show Host, Donald Trump , whose political precursor was the Tea Party, that devoured itself in a permanent revolution, and found Trump’s ‘Brand’ very easy to embrace with a kind of fervor. With the rank and file and office holders eventually acceding to his power. And in Britain Boris Johnson, a political Know Nothing, yet he managed to accomplish Brexit, yet still maintains his status as political buffoon.

Old Socialist

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Janan Ganesh, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge: on the Politics of The Political Present. Old Socialist Comments

How irresistible is the apercu of Mr. Ganesh: ‘…the shrewdness of his Democratic challenger Joe Biden…’ Mr. Biden is a Neo-Liberal dinosaur, being advised by, among others, his political contemporary Chris Dodd.
America is, was, and will always be the ‘Republic’ founded upon land stealing, and genocide against indigenous peoples, not to speak of the eventual war with Mexico, in this nations fulfillment of its ‘Manifest Destiny’!

One wave of American Immigrants, became settled and turned ‘Nativists’ who rejected the next generation of arrivals, from Southern and Eastern Europe, Italians, Slavs and Jews fleeing programs. See Irving Howe’s ‘World of Our Fathers: The Journey of the East European Jews to America and the Life They Found and Made‘, the novel by Betty Smith ‘A Tree Grown in Brooklyn’ and the movie directed by Elia Kazan. These two books examples of our celebrated heritage of what can be best expressed by a riff on America’s Queer Poet Walt Whitman’s ‘we contain multitudes’. Except for the indigenous peoples and others relegated to the margins!

The Immigrant made America! What Mr. Ganesh elides from his political meditation, on Trump is the very persistence of the ‘Nativism’ of ‘The Proud Boys‘, ‘The Bugaloo Bois’ and ‘The Oath Keepers’! The Political/Economic psychosis of Neo-Liberalism produced the discontent that birthed these overt expressions of a toxic Nativism – some how with the defeat of Trump by the shrewd Joe Biden, at the least magical thinking. These men express a more deep seated discontent, of a class of American’s who suffered from the misbegotten Neo-Liberalism, extolled with un-puzzling relish in this newspaper.

For those readers with an appetite for a more pungent exercise in ‘Centrist Apologetics’ , in sum Conservatism, look to ‘Right Nation’ authors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, two of the most notorious political re-write men in ‘Conservative Journalism’, at Bloomberg Opinion. These two practitioners of conservatives necromancy need to be quoted at length:

Headline: The Crisis of Conservatism

Sub-headline: The right has been the natural party of government in America and Britain for four decades. Now it needs to reinvent itself.

However, the right has also been more dynamic, generating the intellectual light that the moon can do no more than reflect. Since 1979, modern conservatism has produced nearly all the important ideas that have changed the political universe, from privatization to welfare reform to “broken windows” crime policy. These ideas may sound obvious today, but they were widely regarded as “crazy” when they were first floated in the work of maverick intellectuals, such as Milton Friedman in economics and James Q. Wilson in social policy. Indeed, those ideas became so mainstream that they changed the left, too. Clinton and Blair, the two most successful left-leaning politicians of the past 40 years, were often accused of being conservatives. Clinton balanced the budget and reformed welfare. Blair gave his party a new name, New Labour, and abandoned the dream, laid out in Clause 4 of the Labour Party constitution, of nationalizing the means of production.

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge put Mr. Ganesh’s essay into proper perspective, about the how of the practice of political apologetics can be practiced. Their ‘Right Nation’ was an exercise in ‘History Made To Measure’, that George F. Will praises on the cover of the paperback, I found on the remainder table. What is compelling to me, is that where ever I start to read in this book, I have a feeling that I have read it before, its like a rhetorical ghost. I subscribed and read The Economist from the mid-1990 until around 2015. I always read Bagehot, the nom de plume of Adrian Wooldridge regularly. And Right Nation reads more like a collection of essay. strung together under a title.

Old Socialist

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Thomas B. Griffith on Amy Coney Barret. ‘A person of faith’ evaluates a fellow traveler! American Atheist comments

Mr. Griffith is member of two exclusive ‘clubs’: a ‘Lawyer/Judge’ and ‘a person of faith‘. So let us consider the source. And the self-congratulation that is the very sine qua non of this ‘club-ship’! Paul Halliday in his ‘Habeas Corpus ,From England to Empire’ states in his introduction that Legal History is steeped in ‘legal narcissism’ . In sum its part of the baggage!
Amy Coney Barrett is not just a Catholic, but a member of a sect, that believes that women are subject to male tutelage, as a natural state of their inferior position, as less that the male, its called Patriarchy. She will fit very comfortably with the other Neo-Confederate/Originalist clique, on The Supreme Court. She and they are acolytes of power, religious and capitalist.
Not to forget that American Jurisprudence began not with Marshall but with Cotton Mather and his use of ‘spectral evidence‘ in The Salem Witch Trials. Or that American Philosophy began with Johnathan Edwards! His notorious sermon ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ marked ‘The Great Awakening’. The Political, the Religious and the Jurisprudential comprise an American Trinity, that dwarfs Constitutionalism

American Atheist


Posted October 13, 2020 8:10 AM PDT:

Amy Coney Barrett’s comments on how Judge Scalia influenced her judicial philosophy/practice:

Some critical perspective on Scalia’s ‘Originalism/Textualism’:

The Scalia Myth

Laurence H. Tribe

The Scalia Myth


Justice for Scalia

Robert Post

Add to these critical comments about Scalia, garnished with the usual bowing and scraping, my 2018 comment on Amy Coney Barrett:

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Some thoughts on the ‘rehabilitation’ of Leon Wieseltier. American Writer comments

I recently subscribed to Graydon Carter’s new publication ‘Air Mail‘. I have to admit, I only became aware of its existence by accident. Just looking through the past issues I found Ash Carter’s revelatory essay/ interview with Wieseltier and its other protagonists of August 15, 2020 :

Headline: Taking—and Making—Liberties

Sub-headline: Three years after #MeToo allegations sank his Laurene Powell Jobs–funded magazine, Leon Wieseltier wants back in

“I went away,” he told me. “And I reflected. I tended to my son as best I could, because that was my primary consideration. Some friends stood by me.” He paused. “It was sort of an interesting experience. I’d been made a pariah, and I’ve read about pariahs all my life, so I guess I’m the wiser for it.” When I pressed for more details about this period, Wieseltier said, more than once, “This is not my redemption story.” He became more animated on the subject of his new quarterly, which until now has been a closely guarded secret. Its name, at once proudly patriotic and vaguely seditious, is Liberties. It has an editorial staff of two: Wieseltier and his managing editor, a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Pennsylvania named Celeste Marcus.

Although I have selected a quotation, it seems that contrition for past misdeeds seems to be an alien concept, that represents a pattern throughout the interview. It isn’t exactly denial, but a muted form of arrogance. Which reminded me of this 1999 New York Times interview by Sam Tanenhaus.


Headline: Wayward Intellectual Finds God


The literary/political melodrama that was the lot of 1999’s Leon Wieseltier is refracted though the opinions of his friends, and an admiring interviewer. What is left untouched is the unstinting admiration, that veers into near idolatry for Henry Adams. Was this mere affectation for the eyes of a newspaperman?

Ernest Samuels biography of Adams was published in 1989, and its one volume abridgement, of those three volumes in 1995. That abridgement by Samuels’ biography, at 462 pages, that records Adam’s history of Anti-Semitism, in its erratic expressions, didn’t seem to intrude into Wieseltier’s awareness. As a literary critic and expert on American life, letters and politics, how could such a telling component of Adams’ character have escaped Wieseltier’s attention, the very sine qua non of the critic?

Political Observer

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Two views of The Trump Melodrama : Ross Douthat & Janan Ganesh offer … Political Observer comments

Ross Douthat presents Trump as resembling ‘the flawed, arrogant, appetitive figures from the Hebrew Bible‘ I have taken the liberty of posting only this part of Douthat’s political apologetic. Note that Trump, through his nomination of  Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, gives hope to Douthat, of the final end to Roe v. Wade, it is just a matter of time! Barrett, like Douthat, are the American versions of Ultramontanism, in sum, the deeply anti-democratic expression of Papal Infallibility. Link to a short review of How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion. by August Bernhard Hasler.

Headline: The Tragedy of Donald Trump

Sub-headline: n the drama of 2020, the president’s own coronavirus infection is one more seemingly pre-scripted twist.

Our president does not, to put it mildly, resemble the tragic heroes familiar from Aeschylus or Shakespeare. But he has a little more in common with some of the flawed, arrogant, appetitive figures from the Hebrew Bible — figures who are given opportunities to do something important in spite of their flaws, who are placed at crucial turning points in history notwithstanding their weaknesses and sins and who have the capacity to achieve things that amaze the wise and powerful.

In Trump’s arc in 2020, it’s possible to see a more tragic version of this kind of biblical narrative, in which Providence grants a flawed old sinner a unique chance at heroism, even greatness — and he chooses badly, and lets it pass him by.

The president’s coronavirus diagnosis bends that tragic arc a little further. The idea that an illness and speedy recovery might help him win re-election on a wave of sympathy seems — well, let’s just call it unlikely. Rather, his illness just seems to emphasize that we’re inside the falling action of the play, the working out of choices and themes that were established months ago.

You can’t pray to a writer’s room, but you can pray to God. And so we should pray for the president’s swift recovery, that all those infected around him recover soon as well, and that the falling action of 2020’s drama would spare as many lives as possible.

But to pray is also — inherently — to behave as though life isn’t just one accident after another, as though narrative lines in history actually exist, as though our choices are woven into patterns and not just left to unspool randomly. And the president’s affliction, in this sense, is woven intimately into the larger story of 2020 and his administration’s rendezvous with pestilence — a story whose might-have-beens could have redeemed his vices, but whose realities have sealed his presidency’s transformation from a dark farce into a tragedy.


Janan Ganesh:

Headline: Donald Trump’s faults are more libertarian than authoritarian

Sub-headline: As the past week shows, the US president is not a conventional autocrat

Mr. Ganesh’s cast of characters in this essay: Eva Perón, Nicolae Ceausescu, Mussolini, ‘the 1930s far-right.’ Joe Biden, Mexico,  Obamacare, ‘Congress’s free-market Republicans’, Hobbes’ Leviathan , Nationalist International , Vladimir Putin , Viktor Orban,  Jair Bolsonaro.

Janan Ganesh assures the reader that Trump is not so much an ‘Authoritarian’ as a ‘Libertarian’ . The cast of characters, that Ganesh cobbles together, in his necessary ransacking of philosophical/political history encourages a necessary readerly vertigo: a lesson learned from the Neo-Conservative acolytes of Leo Struss? Then come this puzzling bit of, what to name it? anti-intellectualism:

It feels wrong to complain about excessive education, but the second world war and the years leading up to it are almost too well taught. That period has become the lens through which we see all contemporary events.

This non-sequitur, an oblique refence to Neville Chamberlain? followed by his final paragraph:

“Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state,” said Mussolini, in his epistrophic definition of fascism. It is hard to draft a sentence that Mr Trump and his Republican supporters are less likely to utter.

The desperation of political writers, employed by Corporate Media, who fancy themselves ‘Pundits’, to find usable rhetorical framing for their commentaries, while rigorously observing the strictures of bourgeoise political respectability, is a challenge that leads to a journalism that is practiced at Newspapers like The New York Times and The Financial Times.

Political Observer

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