On Robert Evans. Myra Breckenridge shares her thoughts.

I once saw the flawlessly groomed Mr. Evans, on a side street in Beverly Hills: in the early 1970’s , black cashmere turtleneck sweater, black slacks and black Gucci loafers. And his signature over sized sunglasses. A bit of a shock to see him on foot and seemingly alone. He looked like a figurine, that belonged in a glass case, for display in a collection dolls, such was his aura preciousness, if that is the right word.
Don’t waste you time reading Brooks Barnes’ pallid’ obituary.
Read the ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture‘ to get acquainted with Mr. Evans as refracted through many re-writes . Arrogance and charm in equal measure, and almost, but not quite, endearing. A Hollywood huckster! Mr. Evans did the talking book that created conversations , or is the word ‘buzz’ more descriptive, but not quite contemporaneous?


Myra Breckenridge

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Niall Ferguson inveighs against ‘Overeducated Rebels’ and their ‘acephalous — leaderless — networks’ in the good grey Times. Old Socialist comments

From his  eyrie at The Hoover Institution, where 1929 went to live, Niall Ferguson shares not his thoughts, but throws a rhetorical temper tantrum, about those ‘overeducated rebels’ that  seem to be shaking up the whole world, in this political moment. The ‘gilets jaunes’ are in their 50th Week of Anti-Macron demonstrations across France,unreported in Corporate Newspapers like the Times, and The Financial Times, and a host of others. The centers of rebellion:

Hong Kong,  Barcelona, Beirut , Quito, Santiago, Cairo, London,

Ferguson offer his life experience as a teacher twenty years ago at Oxford

When I taught history at Oxford 20 years ago, one of my favourite articles about the 1848 revolutions was “The Problem of an Excess of Educated Men in Western Europe, 1800-1850” by Lenore O’Boyle. O’Boyle’s argument was that European cities had been swept by revolution in 1848 because “too many men were educated for a small number of important and prestigious jobs, so that some men had to be content either with underemployment or with positions they considered below their capacities”.

Ferguson offers Norman  Stone’s comments on  the sixties in his book The Atlantic and Its Enemies.

Something similar happened in the 1960s, as the late lamented historian Norman Stone described in his magnificently mordant book The Atlantic and Its Enemies. “In all countries, new universities . . . were crammed with students; taught by men and women appointed all of a sudden in great numbers, without regard for quality. The expansion with relatively new subjects, such as economics, sociology and psychology, meant that there were young men and women aplenty who imagined that they had the answer to everything. It was a terrible cocktail.”

Ferguson produces World Bank statistics of tertiary education, as instructive of a discontent born of resentment about unfulfilled ambitions, as argued by Lenore O’Boyle. While Stone argues that education was unconcerned with the quality of the teaches and students? In the Conservative world view resentment and envy are key players in politics. Ferguson ends his screed with these two paragraphs:

These, then, are the baby sharks: the excess of educated young people currently taking to the streets in cities around the world. It does not help that so many professors fill their students’ heads with incoherent notions of “social justice”. But I suspect the real issue is the mismatch between the unparalleled glut of graduates and the demand for them.

At some point it will sink in that creating economic mayhem is the opposite of creating jobs. Until then, expect more traffic chaos. At least you now know what to sing when the baby sharks surround you.

The Elites, educated in universities steeped in bought and paid for exclusivity,  think of themselves as the ultimate arbiters of what education is, and how it is to be defined.We have heard these voices before: Allen Bloom, Roger Kimball, Dinesh D’Souza are just three of those voices, whose themes are not an exact fit, but share commonalities based on demonstrable class bias. Ferguson and his afore mentioned allies look upon the contemporary iteration of ‘education’ as the enemy of their collective class privilege.

Old Socialist








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Andy Divine on Brexit & Trump/Boris. Political Cynic comments

Like so many others, I waited, almost impatiently, for Andy Divine’s latest encyclical! Brexit by way of Trump/Boris is placed under his critical gaze, with the help of David Frum’s intervention. Proving that ‘Conservatism’ has reached, not just a point of collapse, but that its ideologists seek solace in nihilistic self-congratulation. Just read Andy’s evocative first paragraph:

So much has happened in the time since I last wrote in this space. And yet so very little. Things are proceeding very, very quickly in these fetid times. And yet, beneath the surface, they are also going very, very slowly.


A faint echo of: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…?  In Andy’s first  paragraph antitheses take the rhetorical lead. ( Trump/Boris)! As the lead player in his essays, Andy’s self-conception as political prophet determines all else.

That is a match with Frum’s latest political evolution as  Wise Republican Elder. In the watershed of the Tea Party, that inaugurated the Age of Trump, Frum represents a Neo-Conservatism whose mendacity has been outdone by a Game Show Host! As usual with Andy’s proclamations, my patience is easily exhausted.

Political Cynic

P.S. Andy puts his political cards on the table, in this paragraph:

Look: I supported Remain in the Brexit referendum. I even remember as a kid wearing a “Britain in Europe” button to school during the original 1975 referendum campaign. I backed the liberal, pro-E.U. Toryism of David Cameron and George Osborne, and didn’t support a referendum on E.U. membership. I think Britain’s departure from the E.U. will lead to a tangible if manageable loss of future economic growth, hurt industry, stress-test the U.K. as a single entity, and hit the financial sector. I don’t want the U.K. to crash out of the E.U. without a deal, and would do what I could, if I were in Parliament, to prevent it. I can see the arguments for the Remain cause, as they have operated until now. Many Remainers are my friends and in my family. If a referendum were to be held for the first time tomorrow, I’d still vote to Remain.



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janan.ganesh@ft.com on the danger of public cynicism. Old Socialist comments

Headline:Public cynicism is destroying American politics

Sub-headline: Rather than defend Trump, his supporters argue Democrats are corrupt too

Mr. Ganesh , like his idolized Tom Wolfe,  is in thrall  to the vicissitudes of Pop Culture. Its no surprise that he uses a minuscule quote from Hollywood kitchmeister Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ , as the opening to his hectoring essay on the menace of ‘public cynicism’. Ganesh calls Spielberg’s cinematic meditation on Lincoln an ‘inert biopic’ in the casual snobbery of the cineaste? Or is it just an example of a boulevardier’s coffee house wit?

Mr. Ganesh never ask the most pressing questions of the ‘why’ of the  question of ‘public cynicism’. The most glaring contemporary example of cynicism is that the New Democrats, who claim the moral/political high ground, as defenders against the predations of Trump, are knee deep in their own corruption.Which Ganesh tries to render null, but fails to engage in any semblance of an holistic approach.

Mr. Ganesh ignorance of American political history is always dependable: You are forced to reach for the Iraq war as the only explanation for this mistrust. No! Begin with the secret CIA testing of LSD on unsuspecting Americans, the assassination of Kennedy, and Arlen Spector’s preposterous  ‘single bullet theory’ presented as ‘political fact’ , the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, The Church Committee’s finding that there was more that one assassin in Dallas,  the founding of the FISA Court, that rehabilitates The Bill of Attainder, Lettre de cachet and invents The National Security Letter. Add to this the FBI Crime Lab scandal and the Clinton/Brennan/Clapper alliance that gave birth to the Mueller Report, and the death of the lie of Russian Interference, as a cover for Clinton’s loss in 2016. Given the accumulated evidence, of not just misdeeds, but lies, cover up of National Security State’s crimes against its citizens. And its democratic institutions renders the use of Prof.  Hofstadter’s  ‘paranoid style’ not just anachronistic, but contrary to the empirical evidence.

The Spoils System is alive and well! The reader need only look at Hunter Biden, Paul Pelosi Jr and Chris Heinz involvement in Ukrainian business ventures. As proof that this ‘public cynicism’ is the product of the machinations, not to speak of utter dishonesty, displayed by the claimants to the ‘moral/political high ground’ 

Old Socialist







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edward.luce@ft.com on ‘Spoilers’. Old Socialist comments

The utter desperation of Mr. Luce , as apologist for an utterly exhausted bourgeois American politics, presents ‘Spoiler candidacies‘ as a clear and present danger .  I recall reading a Joe Conason column in the New York Observer in 2000, that called Nader a ‘spoiler’ or at least alluded to it.  It escapes Mr. Luce’s attention that Gabbard is an active candidate in the Democratic Party, a ‘race’ that predates any of the primaries-consider Luce’s hectoring essay a preemptive strike against a political phantom?

The ‘Political Apostates’ need to be identified and publicly shamed. We’ve been reading this dreck since Ross Perot. Should the reader look to Theodore Roosevelt, Socialist Eugene Debs ran 1904, 1908, 1912 and 1920, or more contemporaneously George Wallace, Benjamin Spock and Ralph Nader, it is an inescapable American Tradition: that expresses popular discontent with both Parties. Not a comfortable concept for Mr. Luce to even contemplate. The only possible consideration worth entertaining is Luce’s positing of Left political nihilism:

As the Green party candidate in 2000, Ralph Nader took more votes in Florida than the infamously contested gap between Al Gore and George W Bush. But for Mr Nader, the Iraq war may never have happened. In 2016, the Green party’s Jill Stein took more votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania than Mrs Clinton’s margin of defeat. But for Ms Stein, Mr Trump might still be trying to make a comeback in reality TV. A Gabbard candidacy could accomplish the same for Mr Trump next year. Little wonder that conservative influencers, such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, have been welcoming the Hawaiian congresswoman on to their show.

Mr. Luce then dons the musty, threadbare cloak of the Inquisitor, in a near hysterical defense of American Exceptionalism,  by way of his collection of villains: Gabbard, Jeremy Corbyn, Bashar al-Assad, Muammer Gaddafi, Marxists, Susan Sarandon. With this cast of characters this essay realizes all of the dramatic weight of the Telenovela.

Old Socialist




Thank you for your comment.  On your first point: here is a list of members of Congress who voted against the Iraq War or changed their minds:


Here are the yes votes on the War from the Senate:


Yes: 29 Democrats, 48 Republicans

No:  1 Republican, 21 Democrats, 1 Independent

The House vote on the war:


From the above NYT link:

The 296-133 roll call Thursday by which the House voted for a resolution to authorize President Bush to use military force in Iraq.

A “yes” vote is a vote to approve the resolution.

Voting yes were 81 Democrats and 215 Republicans.

Voting no were 126 Democrats, six Republicans and one independent.

The votes for are not surprising, as majority of New Democrats were supportive of the war. Recall that Feinstein(D) delayed the vote for one day? Bush and his Neo-Cons whipped up war fever, with lies, and the UN testimony of Colin Powell!  A large majority of politicians and pundits cowered from the charge of lack of patriotism. Now the New Democrats are just as bellicose as the Republicans, they were ‘re-educated’ by their defeat at the hands of a noxious Game Show Host.

On your second point:

There is a very real, fundamental issue / danger of a third-party candidate resulting in Trump’s re-election. This should be utterly obvious. Somehow dismissing this as “…the utter desperation of Mr. Luce , as apologist for an utterly exhausted bourgeois American politics..” is pure demagoguery.

As I wrote in my comment, Third Party candidates are an American political tradition, that escapes the notice of those defending the American Political Center: that can be defined as the toxic alliance between the New Democrats and the Neo-Conservatives. That claim the moral/political high ground ,represented by Obama and Clinton, with the aid of fellow travelers, like R2P Neo-Colonialist Samantha Powers, various well funded Think Tanks and a ‘Liberal Press’: New York Times, Washington Post , not to forget America’s favorite political gossip sheet Politico.

As to the charge of ‘pure demagoguery’ : as I write polemic, an honored literary tradition, at least since the Greeks, let me attempt a pastiche of aphorism: ‘One man’s  demagoguery is another man’s polemic’ . Not likely to end up in Bartlett’s !








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gideon.rachman@ft.com on Facebook, the brilliance of Zuckerberg & some other vexing questions. American Writer comments

Recall Mr. Zuckerberg’s triumphant ‘Listening Tour’ ?

Headline: Mark Zuckerberg says extent of opioid crisis was biggest surprise of US tour

Sub-headline: Speaking about his 30-state tour that sparked rumors of a presidential run, the Facebook CEO added: ‘We have a responsibility to remain optimistic’


During which the line of ass-kissers was long, when he lectured that the ‘Opioid Crisis’and ‘a responsibility to remain optimistic’ were his primary concerns. This in the wake of the election of Trump, in 2016, clearly demonstrates that Zuckerberg was politically out of touch and out of his league. Not to speak of his subsequent appointment of ‘Lean In’ corporate hack Sheryl Sandberg to CEO of Facebook. Here is Sandberg celebrated in the pages of Forbes in 2013:

Headline: 10 Things Sheryl Sandberg Gets Exactly Right In ‘Lean In’


The headline writers/editors have gotten carried away and misrepresent Mr. Rachman’s essay, by the way of the  headline and sub-headline

Headline:Facebook is the world’s most powerful adolescent

Sub-headline: And like many teenagers, it needs to be set some rules

Mr. Rachman’s accusation:

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was once reluctant to acknowledge the company’s political power — initially rejecting the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced the 2016 election as “crazy”. This attitude may have been naive or disingenuous, but it was certainly not sustainable.

The Guardian published this in November 2016:

Headline: Facebook’s failure: did fake news and polarized politics get Trump elected?

Sub-headline: The company is being accused of abdicating its responsibility to clamp down on fake news stories and counter the echo chamber that defined this election


All The Free Marketer’s suddenly lose their cherished faith in that ‘Market’ as the ultimate test of viability? Should the reader take the object lesson from the New York Times’ publication of the pro-war propaganda, confected by Judy Miller and Scooter Libby, as an object lesson in reliance of the standards of journalism as practiced by Corporate Media?

Or this proclamation of Zuckerberg’s ‘brilliance’ or just call him a undergrad looking for and ‘rating’ ‘hot women’!:

At 35 years old, Mr Zuckerberg has proved himself to be a brilliant engineer and businessman.

The self-proclaimed ‘Internet Geniuses‘ need to be reminded, in the starkest terms, that they owe their very existence to the U.S. Government. And its invention of the internet! That they used and use to conduct their ‘Revolution in Communication’ . And that they must compelled to follow one of the foundational freedoms of Free Speech guaranteed in the US Constitution. The corporate control of the internet has zero legitimacy, it is a Public Utility, not the playground of the aforementioned Geniuses, and their Corporatist ambitions. An Internet Bill of Rights is radical idea whose time is long overdue!

American Writer






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Bret Stephens as hectoring Public Moralist, episode DCCVII. Philosophical Apprentice comments

That Mr. Stephens thinks that his opinion matters on the vexing question of a Nobel Prize being awarded to Handke: he ignores the fact that the two most famous/infamous philosophers of the 20th Century, Sartre, a Nobel Prize winner, & Heidegger ( The Black Notebooks, a record of his idée fixe of the Jewish World Conspiracy) are still read, studied, and written about.
Mr. Stephens is an American provincial, but also a committed ideologue, that is, he is the natural inheritor of an etiolated Straussian philosophical mendacity. Strauss re-wrote the philosophical tradition, not as an act of explication, but an act of ideological vandalism! Mr. Stephens is another member of the New York Times’ staff of ersatz public moralists, whose hectoring signals what is acceptable, as defined by the measure of the only thing that matters, the cultivation of  bourgeois political respectability.

Philosophical Apprentice





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