Monthly Archives: December 2020

Miscellania [addendum]

That sounds so much classier than “random thoughts,” doesn’t it?

Obama Nostalgia. I remember the last time a Literally Hitler was turfed out of office. It was 2009, and President Sort-of-God was all set to lead us into the Age of Aquarius. The seas stopped rising, the planet began to heal, and, of course, race relations were never again a problem. All that aside, the real fun was watching the dawning horror in the Left’s eyes as they realized, as a rapper might’ve put it, that presidentin’ be hard, yo. After eight years of blaming every conceivable thing on Literally Hitler, now they’d have to confront the fact that they were in charge, and their coalition of weirdos-who-hate-each-other — previously unified solely by their mutual hate of Literally Hitler — would begin demanding incompatible things. One wonders how the very sane and totally not hysterical young lady who proclaimed her houseplants to be “a tiny national park that Donald Trump can’t destroy” will fare under the Bidenreich?

The link is to David Thompson’s excellent takedown of the original Salon piece, but if you click on it — the Salon piece — you’ll see that it’s illustrated with a stock photo of a very White person. Your houseplants are now safe from the Bad Orange Man, Sugar Tits, but how do you think you, personally, are going to fare under Komrade Kamala? I remember some very sad young wymyns learning some shoulda-been-obvious lessons the last time we put an Angry Negro (if that isn’t redundant) in the big chair. They learned nothing, of course — if they were capable of perceiving the obvious consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t be Leftists — and I don’t expect you will, either… but it’ll be fun watching you suffer.

Or not, since I’m done with not only the shit show that “America” has become, but also the commentary apparatus which is parasitic on said shit show. I simply fail to see the point anymore. Like our houseplant-diddling Leftist, above, guys like the Ace of Spades crew don’t get it, won’t get it, because — I have concluded, based on all available evidence — they can’t get it. Like Leftists, there are certain obvious conclusions they’re just not able, for whatever reason, to draw. Yes, boys, by all means, vote harder in those runoff elections! Send recall motions against Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, et al! And by golly, be sure to vote EXTRA HARD in those!!! Because the same folks who stole a Presidential election in the most obvious, ham-fisted manner possible — and got away with it — will be sure to play it fair and square in some other election….

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, I’ve found out what it means to me. I never thought it would be possible for me to respect a Leftist, but that’s what’s great about life — you learn stuff. I’ve found that I could, in fact, respect a Leftist if, in the above situation — xzhey is presented with an election result that goes against xzheir preference — xzhey were simply to quote “Bartleby the Scrivener.” Oh, the election says I lost, and should depart from office forthwith? I’d prefer not to. Bonus points if they really own it and yell “I’m Rick James, bitch!!” while having the “victor” arrested for COVID mask violations. You’re the new peerage, guys. Roll with it. Shine on, you crazy diamonds. Start using the Royal Me and making your flunkies perform the full kowtow in your divine presence. Own that shit. I’ll still hate you with the heat of a thousand suns, but at least I’d respect you a little.

Reading List: I linked to David Thompson’s site, above. He’s got a great “year reheated” post up, so if you’re looking for a fun way to while away a few hours, I highly recommend the place.

Plans for the FutureI think a lot more of my posts here going forward will be in this “miscellania / random thoughts” format. As I said above, I’m checking out. It’s “inner immigration” for me, gang. I will still observe, a bit, the passing scene, but only as research for the paradigm being developed at the other site. As for the clown show our modern world has become… fuck it, I’m done. I can’t even laugh at it anymore, so pathetic has it become. There’s simply no point. My only engagement with “America” henceforth will be to carry on like Colin Kaepernick if I ever find myself at a sporting event — damn right I’m going to sit on my hands for the “national anthem,” and y’all should too. Henceforth this should be us, whenever forced to interact with the Bidenreich.

Happy new year, everyone.

[Addendum]: again, so much classier than “update.” In the comments at Thompson’s, a bit about “anti-racist” grading:

And so if you know 2+2=4, one way you can express your knowing is by writing it. Another way you can express your knowing is by discussing it. A third way is by creating a model that shows it. A fourth way is by illustrating it and a fifth way is by performing a play.

Is anyone surprised by this?

In case you’re wondering, yes, the explanation is what you think it is. It’s not just that professors are insanely lazy, and consider “teaching” beneath them. Rather, “anti-racist” grading flows from the same source as every other academic fad: The Alanis Morrisette-level irony that these avowed radical Marxists are all in it for the filthy capitalist lucre.

For, you see, the #1 commandment in ALL “education,” K-thru-PhD, is “Thou Shalt Not Fail Negroes.” If one fails the Negroes, all kinds of serious Federal shit lands on you, the most important of which is: you lose all kinds of funding. Back in the days, eggheads used to dream up ways to maintain the appearance of standards, even rigor, while hewing to the Zeroth Commandment — this is why having a “works cited” page, which (as the Last Psychiatrist put it) should be worth negative points, is now worth 75% of your grade. But since the Negroes can’t even fucking manage that (and to be fair, it’s not just Negroes; it’s the Negro-adjacent, which is pretty much the entirety of “Western” culture at this point), now we have to pretend that you can demonstrate mathematical knowledge by performing a play, or rapping, or what have you.

How long will it be before “metabolizing oxygen” is recognized as a valid “way of knowing”? Well, given how dumb Komrade Kamala is, I’d give it three years, tops.

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Things I Suspect Are Largely Genetic [updated]

Drugs, enjoyment of. There’s a discussion going on at Z Man’s about drug policy. Here’s an area where I’m much closer to the Libertarians. I think having laws you won’t, or can’t, enforce is far worse than having no laws at all, as “crime” is largely a habitus, as the Soash folks say, and nothing encourages disrespect for the law like making a bunch of After School Specials about drugs, but failing to enforce the laws against them.

[I trust no one here is naive enough to buy the old Liberal bullshit line about “disproportionate impact”? Yeah yeah, I’m sure the proportion of “drug charges” is much higher against the “African-American community”… but as anyone who has any experience AT ALL of crime and criminals knows, the vast majority of those “drug charges” are plead downs. As in, the cops have you for assault, mayhem, resisting arrest, etc., but since the courts are overcrowded and no one wants the hassle, the lawyers and judge get together and let you plead down to “possession, with time served.”].

Given all that, I’d criminalize behavior. I don’t care why you’re driving impaired; I only care that you’re impaired. Booze, pot, heroin, lack of sleep, whatever — get caught doing it, and serve time. Back in the olden days, yeah, this would give too much latitude to the cops, but these are the days of universal dash- and body-cams. Clearly this guy was three sheets to the wind on something; does it matter what that something is?

Add to this the fact — and I really do think it’s a fact — that some people are just going to get high. You can tell you’re dealing with one when he refuses to smoke cigarettes because they’re bad for you, but can’t wait to tell you all the health benefits of inhaling an unfiltered burning weed straight from the ditch. Ban booze, re-criminalize pot, enforce the laws against heroin and coke with a catapult… and within a week these guys are going to be telling you about the health benefits of huffing glue, or auto-erotic asphyxiation, or what have you. They’re going to get high, on something, because they enjoy it too much not to. Let’s all just acknowledge it and move on.

Civic nationalism. This is, I suppose, the most obvious manifestation of what you might call “inability to grasp the obvious.” But calling it “inability to grasp the obvious” is very difficult, in most cases, to distinguish from mere wishful thinking — “nah, bro, she’s not cheating on you, it’s just that she has to take another overnight business trip with her boss. Five of those a month is totally normal.” The kind of thing I’m talking about seems confined to race and politics. E.g. here, from Ace of Spades, in re: what “our” objectives should be, politically:

Gridlock. Constant primarying. Cut the connections between private and public industry by minimizing these jackals’ stays in the halls of power. That’s why the two Georgia buffoons need to win. Not because they are paragons of enlightened conservatism; they aren’t. But they will be a brake on the worst excesses of a Democrat party that is gleefully planning to bulldoze whatever successes we have had with President Trump, and extend the progressive police state even more.

See what I mean? These guys are smarter than concussed goldfish. They know the election has been stolen. And yet somehow, someway, they really think that the Georgia Republicans will be permitted to win; or, if permitted to win, to be seated; or, if seated, permitted to go against Globohomo. I’d spell this out in itty bitty words if I thought it would do any good:

THEY. STOLE. THE. PRESIDENCY.

THEY. WILL. DO. WHATEVER. THE. FUCK. THEY. PLEASE.

But it won’t do any good, because that specific weakness is genetic. It’s like “Minnesota nice,” but somehow even more retarded.

UPDATE: and now this. Again via Ace of Spades, we learn that Stacey “Tank” Abrams’s sister, who is an Obama-appointed judge in Georgia, has just ruled that notifying the Post Office you no longer reside in a county, and are thus no longer eligible to vote there, is no reason for you to be stricken off that county’s voter rolls.

Yeah, guys, vote harder!!! It’s so critically fucking important that those “Republicans” win those Senate runoff races, since free and fair elections are the hallmark of democracy,

I’ve always wondered what it would be like, living under a medieval aristocracy. I simply couldn’t imagine tugging my forelock, kneeling, and saying “yes, m’lord!” as the guy did whatever the hell he wanted. But you know what? Having seen “democracy” up close and personal, I’ve come to a cold realization: I’d actually respect a motherfucker who said “I’m the Duke of Earl, goddamn it, and I’m going to do this simply because I feel like it, and who’s going to stop me?”

None of this “will of the people” bullshit, please. Just declare yourselves the new Peers and get it over with.

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Final Sample

I’ll finish out the last bit. By this point, you should be able to tell if this is something you’d be interested in, and find useful. Please let me know in the comments.


Is Captain Picard Bald? One reason “underpants gnome metaphysics” appeals, of course, is that Hegel et al had a point. Classical logic has some huge gaps, as the Classical Greeks — i.e. the guys who developed it in the first place — well knew. Consider the famous “Achilles” paradox of Zeno of Elea (c. 490–430 BC). Achilles and a tortoise are running a race. The tortoise gets a ten foot head start. Can Achilles catch up?

In reality, of course, Achilles blows by the tortoise, but consider it from the “logical” perspective. In order for Achilles to catch the tortoise, he has to cut the distance in half. Now he’s five feet away. But to bridge that gap, he has to cut the remaining distance in half. Which he does, and now he’s 2.5 feet away. To bridge that gap, he has to halve the remaining distance again, and now he’s 1.25 feet away, then 0.625 feet away, then 0.3125 feet away, and so on, out to infinity. According to “logic,” at least, Achilles never catches up.

The “Achilles” paradox, I’m told, is important in the development of the mathematical concept of the limit of a function, but that’s not why we’re interested. The point, for our purposes, is, as philosopher David Stove put it, “The logicians’ net is too coarse-meshed to catch the fish that matter.” If logic can’t even tell us how Achilles can beat a tortoise in a foot race, what good is it?

Consider an equally puzzling Ancient Greek problem, the sorites paradox. How many grains of sand make a heap? Or, since this is the Internet, how many hairs must Jean-Luc Picard, the best captain of the starship Enterprise, lose before he’s considered bald?

It seems silly — given that it involves Star Trek, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be silly — but there are important metaphysical issues behind it. In reality, of course, “heap” and “bald” are what Potter Stewart said pornography is: You’ll know it when you see it. No one is going to fail to dig for the pirate’s treasure because he can’t be sure those 3,239 grains of sand constitute the “heap” of sand it’s buried under, and no one is going to fail to recognize Captain Picard as “the bald captain” because even though he has 3,239 less hairs than Captain Kirk, he’s not completely follicle-impaired. But consider: As the online Encyclopedia Britannica puts it,

One grain of sand does not constitute a heap; if n grains of sand do not constitute a heap, then neither do n + 1 grains of sand; therefore, no matter how many grains of sand are put together, they never constitute a heap.

Or, obviously, the reverse, when it comes to Jean-Luc’s dome — if he’s not “bald” after losing one hair, then he’s not bald after losing n+1 hairs, therefore he’s not bald, even after losing all his hair, right? In fact, if we combine this with the Achilles, we’ll see that he can never lose all his hair… right?

Again, this is silly… but it’s also deadly serious, because just as, out in the real world, Achilles blows past the tortoise in three steps (or whatever), there really are bald people, heaps of sand, etc. In other words, even if the universe is fundamentally logical, there are big, obvious, seemingly insurmountable problems with our ability to express that fundamental logic. This is true even in math, where, I’m told, the basic term of calculus, the integral, effectively has you dividing by zero… which is logically impossible. It works, obviously, but it’s just as obvious that we’re missing something big and important about the relationship of “reality” and “logic.”

Hegel’s “dialectic” is an attempt to address this kind of thing. “Heaps” of sand, “baldness”… these aren’t just definitional problems, because even if you slap an arbitrary definition on them (“one heap” = exactly 3,239 grains of sand”) the underlying issues remain (what’s so special about that 3,239th grain? and what do you call a collection of 3,238 grains? etc.). In Hegel’s terms, these are “contradictions” which must “overcome themselves” (aufheben).

We’re not willing to say that it’s the 3,239th grain of sand, specifically, which makes a collection of sand grains a heap, but we’re all willing to admit that there are grains of sand, and there are heaps of sand, and some amount of grains of sand, somehow, becomes a heap. (There are such things as hairs, and if you lose enough of them, you’re bald, and so forth). However it works out in “logic,” out in the real world, it seems, there’s a point at which quantity becomes quality.

Again, this seems very silly when talking about sand and starship captains, but there are important real world consequences to this stuff. The same personality type that finds “dialectic” so fascinating, for instance, seems also to be addicted to quantity-for-quantity’s-sake. Not all kommissars were as ruthless as Comrade Stalin, who famously said “quantity has a quality all its own” when it comes to throwing Red Army divisions into battle in human wave attacks, but everyone who was anyone in a socialist system seemed to have a porn star’s attitude toward pretty much everything: bigger, longer, wider, deeper, more.

The Soviets used to drive Western intelligence analysts nuts by, for example, insisting on a 500% increase in concrete production in the new Five Year Plan. What were they going to use it for? Tank traps? Nuclear reactors? It didn’t matter. Potential uses were irrelevant. The point was, quite simply, more. This was equally true of National Socialists. There’s a great passage in Robert Harris’s fun alternate-history novel Fatherland where the protagonist hears a tour guide’s speech about the Fuhrer’s grandiose new Berlin, based on the actual models and drawings Hitler and Speer dreamed up during those long nights in the bunker. The victory arch is so many feet wider than the Arc de Triomphe, the new Reichstag uses so many cubic feet of concrete more than the second-biggest building in the world (and is so large that it has its own weather), and so on. There’s no point to this but quantity-for-quantity’s-sake. More… just more.

And that’s just architecture. You can, if you’re so inclined, derive atheism from dialectic, and Marxists did. You can pretty easily find something like The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy for free online, since Moscow flooded the globe with it back in the bad old days, for the edification of fraternal socialist comrades worldwide. Here you’ll discover the Marxist definition of consciousness: “a property of highly organized matter.” Since “matter” is self-organizing — of course it is, comrade, of course it is, it’s science — then a sufficient accumulation of matter in a certain configuration produces, dialectically, human life and everything in it. QED, and so much for your Magic Sky Fairy.

And from “consciousness,” as we’ve seen, flows everything else. How one squares the materialist definition of “consciousness” — “a property of highly organized matter” — with Marx’s thing about “social being” determining consciousness is an exercise I’ll leave to the reader, and do you see what I’m getting at? However you make it work out “logically,” the fact that you can do it at all — the very fact of your attempting it — will teach you something very important about the Marxist personality. Marxist metaphysics is wrong, comically so, but understanding the irresistible attraction Marxist metaphysics has to a certain kind of person is vitally important for understanding this sick sad world in which we find ourselves…

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Sample Chapter cont.

As below, this is an off-the-cuff (that is, zero editing, starts in medias res, etc.) mockup of a sample chapter. What do you think?


M1 Metaphysics. 

Underpants Gnome Epistemology. As we’ve noted, Karl Marx considered himself a philosopher foremost; his economics relies on his metaphysics. As we’ve also noted, in modern times this is the least-noted, least-understood aspect of Marxism, even by — perhaps especially by — people who call themselves Marxists. Put simply, nobody bothers with “dialectical materialism” anymore.

There are several reasons for this. First, and probably foremost when it comes right down to it, this stuff is hard. Kant and Berkeley, who introduced Idealism to the world, are rightly regarded as tough writers. Hegel — Marx’s most immediate influence — is all but incomprehensible. Now, as everyone who’s been to college knows, professional academics have no problem spouting polysyllabic gibberish for fun and profit, but there’s no cash value left in Hegel. His philosophy got stripped for parts long ago, and the same is true of his most notorious disciple, Karl Marx.

Second, the stripping-for-parts process made a kind of “pop Marxism” into common currency, stuff “everybody knows.” For instance, the first thing you learn in any freshman level Humanities class at any college in America is that everything is “just a social construction.” This assertion is a consequence of the dialectical materialist worldview, and at one point the people pushing it could walk you through the arguments for it… but “at one point” means “sometime in the Sixties.” Given that we’re now into the third generation of “Sixties” radicals controlling the educational system, nobody feels the need to do that anymore. The big metaphysical statement “everything is just a social construction” is taken for granted. I doubt that one in one hundred of the people pushing it know that there ever were arguments for it, much less have any idea what they are.

It’s the dialectical materialists’ world; we’re just living in it.

Finally, dialectical materialism, like Hegelian “objective idealism,” begins and ends in contradiction. Indeed, “overcoming contradictions” is the fundamental concept of Hegelian philosophy, the mysterious process covered by the untranslatable word Aufheben (Aufhebung, Aufgehoben). It’s a neat trick, well above my pay grade, and anyway it doesn’t matter for our purposes. The point is, Hegel’s is an “underpants gnome” epistemology:

  1. Identify contradictions
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

The ???? is Aufgehoben.

So why should we bother, if they don’t?

Let us be true Marxists for a moment, comrades. The point of this exercise isn’t the thought, it’s the thinker. One of Marx’s most famous dicta is:

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

In case you were wondering what the argument for “everything is just a social construction” is, well, there you go, but let’s take it out a step.

As eminent Sovietologist Robert V. Daniels remarked in his book The Rise and Fall of Communism in Russia, guys like Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky weren’t revolutionaries because they were Marxists; they were Marxists because they were revolutionaries. That is, they were dedicated opponents of “The System,” as self-styled radicals still say on college campuses and Twitter feeds across the West, and Marxism was the most coherent anti-“System” system on offer in their time and place. They were True Believers, in Eric Hoffer’s sense, and as Hoffer has shown, “ideology” is accidental for True Believers. If Lenin et al had found themselves coming up in Weimer Germany instead of late Tsarist Russia, they could have just as easily become Nazis.*

In other words, Marxist metaphysics is worth studying, not for whatever truth-value it might contain, but because it illustrates a pattern of thought, a personality type. There’s a kind of person for whom underpants gnome epistemology is irresistibly attractive. Understanding (as best we can) that underpants gnome epistemology should give us some insight into that type of person, and since that type of person has succeeded in plunging Western Civ off a cliff…

Is Captain Picard BaldOne reason “underpants gnome epistemology” appeals, of course, is that Hegel et al had a point. Classical logic has some huge gaps, as the Classical Greeks — i.e. the guys who developed it in the first place — well knew. Consider the famous “Achilles” paradox of Zeno and elaborated by Aristotle…

 

*as the Nazis knew full well. They even had a term for Party comrades recruited from their former enemies in the German Communist Party — “beefsteak Nazis,” brown on the outside, red on the inside. Goebbels bragged he could turn a “red” “brown” in two weeks.

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Study Guide [Sample Chapter’

To illustrate the kind of thing I have in mind from the post below, here’s a mockup of something like the intro:


The purpose of this study guide is, briefly, to illustrate how the various pieces of Leftist “ideology,” for lack of a better term, fit together in historical context. Though many, if not most, Leftists don’t know it themselves, Leftism is a coherent body of thought (note that “coherent” does not imply “non-contradictory,” “sane,” etc.). All its parts are derived more or less directly from Marxism, so Marxism will be our touchstone here.

The key is brevity. Entire libraries’ worth of books have been written on feminism, postmodernism, critical race theory, and everything else currently falling under the blanket term “intersectionality.” The brief outline given here is intended, as the title says, as a study guide, nothing more. There’s very little “apparatus,” as academics call it — few direct quotations, no footnotes, a very limited annotated bibliography. It’s a jumping-off point, not the final word.

Marxism has four main components. Since we’ll need to refer to them frequently, we’ll designate them by number.

Metaphysics (M1). Marx considered himself a philosopher above all, and Marxism can be seen as the endpoint of the grand tradition of Hegelian metaphysics. This is the least  understood aspect of Marxism today, but since Marx made some sweeping claims about the nature of Truth and Reality which are still the foundation of identity politics, Marx’s metaphysics are still important.

Economics (M2)This is the easiest part of Marx’s system to understand. It’s also the most comprehensively disproven, hence it’s less well-known than even his metaphysics. Still, the very fact that it’s easily disproven makes it the easiest entry point into his thought, as we’ll see.

Cultural Criticism (M3): Largely a development of Marx’s disciples after the Revolution (see below) failed to come off as prophesied, this is what most people think of today when they hear “Marxism.” Since, however, “cultural marxism” is one of those phrases like “fascism,” that now means little more than “something our political opponents do,” we’ll avoid it. “M3” may be a clunky piece of jargon, but like all jargon, it’s intended for our benefit, since it’s sanitized — we can talk about “cultural marxism” without preconceived notions.

Revolution (M4): Marx’s own avowed goal. Whatever Marx may have intended it to be in theory, in practice Marxian “revolution” is nothing other than nihilism, pure destruction — Soviet dissident Igor Shafarevich openly called socialism (of all kinds, not just Marxist) a suicide cult.

Note that all of these are analytic categories; that is, artificial divisions of a unified worldview. It’s important to keep in mind that all of these fit together, and build on each other in the order given — 1 is the foundation of 2, which becomes 3, and all are in the service of 4. But they are all intermixed, and indeed it’s a common bit of Leftist sophistry to dodge rapidly back and forth between different aspects of the same thing. E.g. a discussion about “social justice” (M3) will often refer to “fairness” (M2), but if the Leftist is caught in a logical or factual error, she will blow smoke about “the truth” being “relative” or “a social construction” (M1), and then shift quickly back to cultural criticism, and so on.

[Tip: You might find it useful to use these categories as shorthand while taking notes on a given piece of Leftist writing – that is, actually noting down “M1,” “M2” and so forth in the margins; it’s easy to flip back through them later].

 

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Bleg: Online Learning Donations [update]

Let’s say a person was thinking about writing a brief… oh, let’s not even call it a book, or a pamphlet… an online course, let’s say, briefly outlining how we got here. Lesson 1 is the basics of Marxism, lesson 2 is how Marxism mutated into feminism, etc.

Let’s suppose it would be short, because simply interested as a “study guide” for interested parties.

Let’s further suppose that this would be free, as such info should be free, but let’s stipulate that the author would gratefully accept small donations – no more than $5, let’s say – let’s call them “gratuities.” Or maybe not, because that has a specific definition in tax law, and do you see where I’m going with this?

Several desiderata, of roughly equal importance:

1. Anonymous transmission. I’m thinking this could easily be achieved via Protonmail – you want it, email me and I’ll send it to you. This would preserve it for when this site is inevitably taken down. But pdf or similar would be nice, but needs to remain anonymous as to the computer it’s computer on etc.

2. Anonymous donations. I’m thinking the old way is best – cash in an envelope to a PO box. The worry there is getting busted for tax fraud.

3. Any other legal shit I haven’t considered. I don’t have the slightest clue how Patreon etc. work. Obviously lots of people make good money that way. I don’t want to make money per se – I’d happily donate all the proceeds to charity if that can be done without the same paper trail issues as above. What’s important is the sense of *ownership.* So-called “dissidents” never get off their asses because they have no stake in this stuff. In fact they’ve got anti-equity, since all their “dissidence” is tied up in mouthing off on blogs. Send some $$, even a buck or two, and now you’ve got a stake (I suspect this is part of the reason Z Man went to a subscription model…

… the other reason being, this shit *does* take time, in his case probably so much that it costs him money from his regular contract gig).

All info and suggestions appreciated, with two caveats: I don’t do fucking podcasts, and I sure as hell don’t do fucking videos. We’re already deep in the New Dark Ages, literacy wise, and I won’t contribute to it. That said, if some hard up badthinker wanted to charge money for reading this stuff into a camera and mic for the benefit of those who like that stuff (for commutes and whatnot), then be my guest, brother.

Thanks.

[UPDATE]: it occurs to me that while this cloak-and-dagger shit can be fun — I *get it*, keyboard commandos, I really do — perhaps I’m over thinking this. “How Marx begat feminism begat intersectional lunacy” isn’t top secret stuff. Not a lot of people know it — not least the intersectional Marxist loonies themselves — but that’s a failure of education that the book, or online learning plan, or whatever, is designed to correct. Why not just write the thing under some bland pseudonym — Goomer J. Ragamuffin, PhD — and “sell” it on Kindle? It’s not even explicitly political, let alone explicitly dissident. The Thought Police aren’t going to bust you for owning an academic treatise on Engels. I’ll just put it here as “recommended reading,” and if you want to send ol’ Goomer — whoever he might be — some shekels for his book, who am I to disagree?

In fact, there might be some real advantage to that system. I mean, Amazon’s algorithm sees your questionable spending habits and is thinking about ratting you off to the Bidenreich, but then hey look, you’ve got some book called “The Origins of Social Justice” in your list. Obviously you’re getting with the program! Get Bezos himself to certify you as a goodthinker. COPROP for the win. What do you think?

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Crises

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Commenting on yesterday’s post, the Kaigat of Wands made a point that brought a lot of recent themes together:

It might be that, thanks to the virus panic, we’re starting to see a dawning realisation across the country that the people supposedly in charge don’t actually have a clue , unless it’s a question of what’s good for them. If so, who knows what interesting things 2021 might bring forth?

We’re seeing the intersection of “information velocity” and “fantasies of competence.” It won’t end well.

Step with me into the Wayback Machine. One of the reasons the “Hundred Years’ War” lasted so long, they’ll tell you first off, was that it was punctuated by long periods of (relative) peace. Another was the inability of medieval militaries to conquer and hold territory — the feudal system really doesn’t work for garrisons. Most important, though, was the fact that the “countries” fighting were no such thing. In medieval parlance, “France” and “England” meant “the person of the monarch, plus his immediate feudal retinue.” Your average peasant might’ve been aware, in some vague theoretical way, that his lord’s lord’s lord owed homage to some guy called “Edward III” or “Jean II,” but unless ol’ Whatzisface was actually marching through with an army, it didn’t matter in the slightest. “France” was as abstract a notion as “Christendom”…

…at least in the early phases of the war. Low information velocity meant that even big changes at the top — the capture of the King at Poitiers, say — didn’t have much impact out in the sticks. By the time you found out about it, you’d been “subjects” of “England” for months, years, decades. Whatever, it didn’t matter, since the whole thing worked like loan sharking in Mob movies. Does it matter if it’s Rocco or Vito who’s collecting the vig this week? Maybe the Godfather got rubbed out, and now all the under-bosses from the Solozzo family report to the new capos of the Corleone family. None of that matters to you. All you know is, the new guy is going to break your legs if you don’t pay, same as the old guy would’ve done.

By the war’s later phases, though, the velocity of information had dramatically increased. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the French have always had a knack for cultural propaganda. Joan of Arc wasn’t worth much, militarily, but it’s one hell of a story, the kind that rallies troops. Nobody cares who the legal King of France is — that is, the guy whose name the lawyers finally hack out of the undergrowth of however-many family trees. The guy who is divinely anointed, though, by a prophet, in person? That’s a big deal. That’s the kind of story that spreads like lightning; the kind of story that makes “France” far more than just the name at the top of the org chart.

Moreover, the new guy — the divinely ordained guy — is competent. You can tell, because he’s winning. Your average feminist scholar knows as much about strategy as she does about heterosexuality, so we can ignore all their claims about Joan’s military genius. There are times when total incompetence is, in fact, a virtue, and this was one of them. Joan’s military strategy didn’t make any sense, because she wasn’t thinking in military terms — which is why it worked. Victory followed victory, until the English got wise… by which point it didn’t matter, because the Dauphin had been crowned as Charles VII and had solidified power behind him. In fact, you don’t have to be Machiavelli to see that Joan’s capture and execution by the English were all to Charles’s benefit — Charles gained a martyr to his cause, but only after Henry VI finally managed to beat a little girl. Information velocity guaranteed that both stories were all over France almost from the minute they happened.

Over in England, meanwhile, it was their turn to have an insane, incompetent king, and we know how that turned out. The point is, you can have a bad king. You can have a mad king. You can even have a bad, mad king and things can still work out ok — see Charles VI, who remained King of France for 42 years of the Hundred Years’ War despite believing he was made of glass — provided your mad, bad king reigns in a period of low information velocity. Not that things were hunky-dory in France from 1380-1422 — you know, Agincourt and all that — but the Charles VII who was anointed by God via Joan of Arc was the mad, bad guy’s direct lineal descendant. Charles VII’s main antagonist, Henry VI, was also a mad, bad king, and his successor, Henry Tudor… well, you know. I don’t think it’s an accident that the printing press was invented in the 1440s and made its first appearance in England in 1476, in the nastiest part of the Wars of the Roses.

Since I’m suffering Christmas insomnia (way overserved on eggnog), let’s really beat this dead horse, shall we? Set the Wayback Machine forward about 400 years. Information velocity in 1850s America is at light speed compared to the 1470s. The American peasantry are thus quickly learning, to their horror, that a system designed to produce weak leadership at the top is just aces at producing weak leadership at the top…. and that’s bad, when it comes to situations where you need a firm hand at the tiller. Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan… these aren’t bad guys. They’re not even bad Presidents, in the context of their times, since they’re doing what the Constitution and the 2nd American Party System have empowered them to do…. which is pretty much nothing.

Both of those things are designed to preserve federalism. Federalism might as well be called “localism,” since it seeks to keep political power at the lowest practical level. Thus slavery, as a political issue, is a local issue, and should be handled as such. The problem, obviously, is that in a rapidly integrating economy, slavery isn’t a political issue. It’s an economic issue, and soon enough a cultural issue, and thus can only be handled at the national level. With no real leadership at the top — by design — the burden falls on whoever is there to take it up… which means, in practice, guys like Stephen Douglas, a.k.a. “unprincipled, scheming shit-weasels.” Or, and in some ways much worse, it falls on principled, scheming shit-weasels, the abolitionists and the “fire-eaters” and the “coral reefers” and all the other fun, self-dramatizing names these bozos gave themselves. (The “principle” in question being “slavery / abolition or death!” or, as it turned out for lots of them, both).

In such a situation, the government as designed simply ceases to function. Nobody’s in charge. Attempting to handle slavery within the federal structure of the 2nd American Party System is like trying to handle our present mess by appealing to the Divine Right of Kings — the few people who even know what you’re talking about would throw up their hands in despair, while most people would just scratch their asses while watching Netflix on their smartphones, same as it ever was. Guys like Stephen Douglas, Laurence M. Keitt, Charles Sumner, etc. were Solon himself compared to our present bunch of 65-IQ yahoos, but the problem is exactly the same – they’re trying to do the wrong thing, the wrong way, because they can’t even process the fact that anything’s wrong in the first place.

The whole thing is a category error, brought about by information velocity and fantasies of competence.

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Random Thoughts [updated]

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! Like all real Americans I’ll be traveling this “holiday season,” holding illegal get-togethers with lots of people, so posting might be sporadic through the New Year… and one of those might be a link to a GoFundMe, to bail me out of COVID-jail. Until then, here’s this:

The Velocity of InformationWall Street types talk about the velocity of money, which is basically a measure of consumer confidence — money circulates faster if people believe the economy is healthy. Therefore I assume that the velocity of the US money supply is now a closely-guarded state secret, since actual revolutions have broken out over far less fiscal fuckery than we’ve been subjected to these last 10 months, but I digress. I mention this only to segue into a new term: the velocity of information.*

Even the big, sudden, sweeping, dramatic changes in history only seem sudden, dramatic, etc. in retrospect. In Roman history, for example, the Dominate looks a lot different from the Principate, but only to the historian. Much of this is due, of course, to the human lifespan — it’s possible, I suppose, for someone born into a still-functioning area under the Principate to have survived the entire Third-Century Crisis and still been around to comment on life under the Dominate…. but it’s not real likely.

Meanwhile, the people who actually lived through the Third Century Crisis, it’s safe to say, didn’t spend much time analyzing the changes in the Empire’s constitutional structure. They were much more concerned with economic collapse, plague, and of course the endless barbarian invasions and civil wars. They had all the information-velocity they could handle in the short term, but the interpretation of long-term trends eluded them, probably permanently. The velocity of that information was very slow.

Such is the pattern in “normal” disruptions, even world-shaking ones. But there are some where the velocity of both kinds of information is near-instantaneous, and I bet that thanks to the magic of the Internet, we can see what they looked like. I’m not in the ivory tower anymore, so I’m not assigning homework, but I encourage y’all, as always, to test my hypothesis. Here’s a list of the best-selling fiction of 1910. No less a comedy duo than Virginia Woolf and Adolf Hitler agreed that the modern world started in 1911, but to be real sure, here’s a bit on what a bestseller looked like in the 1920s. I bet you could find at least some of those on Project Gutenberg or similar.

Take a look. I haven’t done this myself, but I’m willing to lay long money on what you’ll find: Compared to our sick sad world, they both look like they were written on Mars… but the pre-WW1 books seem like they were written in another solar system. 1914-18 was such a massive rupture, it’s almost as if the human species diverged.**

I haven’t fully run this exercise, but I’ve seen it in a more limited way, with just WW1 literature. Robert Graves and Ford Madox Ford both served on the Western Front. Both were very hot Modernists, deep into all the advanced literary fads. Of the two, Ford was by far the most influential — the wiki entry on him contains this sentence, which is all you need to know:

Ezra Pound and other Modernist poets in London in the teens particularly valued Ford’s poetry as exemplifying treatment of modern subjects in contemporary diction.

And yet, for all their dedication to the shitty dog’s breakfast that is Modernism, Ford was unmistakably a Victorian — he was born in 1873, at the Empire’s absolute zenith. Parade’s End — what I could stand to read of it, anyway — sounds like Rudyard Kipling doing an excellent, but not quite perfect, Robert Graves impersonation (Kipling, born 1865, was a mere 8 years older than Ford; Kipling’s son was killed on the Western Front). Graves’s Good-Bye to All That, on the other hand, is Modernist full stop. Graves was born in 1895, with the Empire’s zenith still visible in the rear view mirror, but obviously and inexorably sliding into decadence.

Two men, sharing the same philosophical orientation, AND the same life-defining experience, but oh what a difference a generation makes. Parade’s End may or may not be a great novel (series of novels, actually), but no one considers it great war literature. Robert Graves’s other stuff — I, ClaudiusThe White Goddess; the non-war poetry — might or might not be great literature, but Good-Bye to All That IS, by universal acclimation, a great war story. Those extra twenty years gave Ford more armor with which to weather the impact of information velocity. He came back from the trenches a different man, it goes without saying, but he had a life to go back to. For Graves, the war, in some profound and fundamental way, WAS his life. Ford got over it; Graves never did.

The Dissident Personality. Speaking of literature, the keyboard commandos in Our Thing — which is the COVID-survival-rate percentage of everyone in Our Thing — would do well to read the memoirs of dissidents from totalitarian regimes. There is a rich “camp survivor” literature, of course, but while those are important books, too, one must make an important distinction — all dissidents who survived to write memoirs are, by definition, survivors, but not all survivors are dissidents.

Janusz Bardach, for instance, was a seriously impressive guyand his memoir contains many lessons, but he wasn’t a dissident — he fled his native Poland specifically to enlist in the Red Army. Solzhenitsyn is a bit closer — he was unquestionably a dissident after he got OUT of prison — but his actual “crimes” (committed while a Red Army officer, let us note) weren’t any more “ideological” than anyone else swept up in Stalin’s post-victory hysteria. Again, The Gulag Archipelago is vital reading, but not quite what I’m getting at.

Vladimir Bukovsky is the kind of guy I mean. Read his memoir To Build a Castle, and you’ll see right away that Bukovsky is just congenitally incapable of parroting nonsense. He’s a major-league tough guy, and he knows it, but he didn’t set out to be a tough guy. He arrived at this knowledge the way normal people solve math problems (he was supposed to be a biologist) — only a seriously tough guy could survive what they did to me; I survived it; therefore, I am a tough guy. Crucially, he’s a dissident in the same way — he just can’t make himself chant the required litanies; he can’t process it, though he knows full well what will happen to him if he doesn’t.

That’s the dissident personality, y’all. Maybe you’re one of them. Probably you’re not. Luckily, there’s a way to find out — if you read Bukovsky and wonder, even for a second, why he didn’t just give up, then you’re not. Kinda puts that whole “keyboard commando” thing in a whole new light, don’t it?

UPDATE: Just saw this, over at Ace of Spades.

On Nov. 30, Iowa certified Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks the winner of the district, which extends southeast of Des Moines and is currently held by a Democrat. The margin was six votes.

On Tuesday Democrat Rita Hart submitted a brief asking the House of Representatives to overturn that outcome. Authored by Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias, it says counting 22 mostly absentee ballots would give Ms. Hart a nine-vote lead. The brief asks the House to order another recount and use its constitutional authority to seat Ms. Hart instead.

Yes! Good!! More of this, please. While you’re at it, make sure the Democrats win the Georgia Senate run-offs by sixty gorillion votes each — at least twice the number of registered voters, please, and if it’s not too much trouble, name your fake voters “Amanda Huggenkiss” and “Seymour Butts” and whatnot.

Or, if you’re just not up to faking another one, just unilaterally declare the Democrats the winners. Yeah, I know, technically there’s still a Republican majority in the Senate, but what are they going to do, object? LOL. We all know they’ll use this excellent opportunity to reach across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship.

Own that shit, Leftists. Go for the gusto. I mean, you already stole the Presidency; why stint yourselves now? The worse, the better, as Lenin used to say. Let’s get it on already.


 

 

*I didn’t invent it, but I can’t remember where I saw it first.

**Here’s a list of bestsellers by decade, along with “Critically acclaimed and historically significant” works by year.

 

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How to Teach History

In the comments on Z Man’s “Dr. Stupid” piece, there’s a discussion about the worth, or not, of college degrees. I didn’t step in, but I have some thoughts. Now, you people know me. In general, when it comes to the university system, I’m Edwin Starr:

“College. Ugh! Good God, y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’! (say it again!!)”

and so forth.

But that’s a crack on the university system, not the concept of education as a whole. There’s a point to studying History, if it’s taught as it should be taught… and believe it or not, it really was taught that way, well within living memory. But you need certain things to do it right, and some of those are almost impossible to find, while others are cumbersomely over-supplied. Let’s take a look:

Baseline: Human nature. History being the study of human beings and how they do, you need a baseline grasp of how humans are. It doesn’t matter how smart you are — if you don’t have a good baseline grasp of human nature, History, the discipline, will always elude you.

[This is true of any Humanity, of course. Shelley and Keats have to be in the conversation for “greatest English poet,” right up there with Shakespeare. One or both of them might’ve been more naturally talented than the Bard. But Shakespeare was clearly a man of long, deep experience, whereas the Romantics… weren’t. For every “Ozymandias” or “To a Nightingale,” there’s at least one reminder that these guys died at 29 and 25, respectively. To call “The Masque of Anarchy” sophomoric is an insult to sophomores. “Like lions after slumber, In unvanquishable number.” Ugh. Good God, y’all].

Which is why that “social construction” stuff is so popular. Yeah yeah, it has some real (though really limited) explanatory power, but mostly it’s an excuse for kids who believe themselves clever to avoid contrary evidence. Calling, say, “masculinity” “just a social construction” frees you of the burden of entering the headspace of men who do things as menbecause they’re men. To stick with a theme: Shakespeare could’ve written something like “the Masque of Anarchy” — probably as a wicked bit of characterization in Hamlet: The Wittenberg Years — but Shelley never could’ve written MacBeth’s “sound and fury” soliloquy. Shakespeare had obviously seen violent death; Shelley obviously hadn’t.

Knowledge of human nature is almost nonexistent in the Biz.

Knowledge base. This is both over- and under-supplied in the Biz. If one were inclined to make efforts to remain humble, History is a good place to start, because a) it’s accessible to all, which means b) a lot of your “students” know a LOT more, about a lot more things, than you do. In the comments to the post below, for instance, ganderson asked after the origin of the term “Cat Fancy.” Which is my bad — having only Twenty Readers, I forget that not all of y’all were here from the get-go, back when we had Five readers. One of the reasons we call it “Cat Fancy,” of course, is that there are a LOT of people out there who know ALL the minutiae of that particular regime, and are ever-eager to discuss each one.

The point is this: Even if I were an expert in that particular field (I’m not; as with Sovietology, I’m a gentleman amateur), there are zillions of people who know more of the details than I do. It seems like half the Internet can reel off, from memory, the entire command structure of the 6th Volksgrenadier regiment. Teach a “Modern Europe” class, and you’re guaranteed to have at least one of them among the studentry. Knowledge, in that sense, is over-supplied.

It’s over-supplied in another way, too. There have been tremendous recent advances in the study of, say, the Roman Empire. Computer modeling of seed-distribution patterns and asdzlsjdfjkha… sorry, my head hit they keyboard, I can’t stay awake for this stuff, but I’m sure glad someone can, because it’s important. As I understand it, there have been revolutions even in older fields like numismatics and epigraphy — you can learn a lot from coins and inscriptions, and they’re changing our understanding of some fundamental stuff (see e.g. Roman coins in Japan).

But knowledge is also under-supplied, especially from the teachers’ side. Not just “knowledge of human nature,” above, though of course that’s a biggie. Here’s a far from exhaustive list of what I was NOT taught in graduate school:

  • economics
  • military strategy
  • ecology
  • agriculture
  • logistics
  • Western languages
  • non-Western languages

and so on. Now, some of these you’re supposed to have supplied yourself (e.g. the languages, provided you don’t need them for your specialty, and at one time I could muddle through a few), but nobody checks. Obviously nobody checks when it comes to economics, because everyone in the Biz is a Marxist, and sentence one of page one of any basic economics textbook should read “Marxism is a comprehensive crock of horseshit,” but it works that way for all the others, too. Considering that “farming” and “fighting” are two of the Three F’s that comprise “what almost all humans did, all the time, for all of recorded history,” those are some pretty goddamn big oversights… you know, if actually knowing how humans do is the point.*

Socratic method. Assuming you’ve got your knowledge ducks in a row, you then need a method of getting it into young heads that isn’t straight lecture. Lectures were necessary in the pre-internet days, but now standing up in front of a lecture room, reading off a list of Famous Battles of the Civil War, is counterproductive. That’s what the assigned reading list is for. Instead, you need to pose leading questions, and let students blunder through them – NOT towards a predetermined conclusion, necessarily, but to see where they go with it. Figure out what they’re not getting, show them how to get it…. and let them get it for themselves.

The problem is, the Socratic method isn’t just “asking a bunch of questions.” The idea of elenchus is to get students to question their own presuppositions. You’re teaching them how to think, not what to think. It’s a neat trick, and I’m far from an expert at it — not least because I was never taught how to do it, except by my teachers in undergrad, who did it to me.

Worse, if you had to put two words on Western Civ’s tombstone, ignoratio elenchii would be strong contenders. That’s “irrelevant conclusion” in English, and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that “irrelevant conclusion” basically IS “education,” K-thru-PhD. It’s GIGO, as the computer nerds used to say back in my day — Garbage In, Garbage Out. It’s pretty damn tough, in other words, to have a logical argument with someone who pretends not to believe in logic. By the time you get them in a college classroom, they have twenty years’ experience parroting nonsense… but not the “arguments” for said nonsense, because there aren’t any, and that’s the first thing you have to demonstrate. It’s a tough row to hoe.

Which is why most profs won’t risk it. Because, of course, the other problem with actually arguing with students is the possibility you might lose. The student might be smarter than you — it’s rare, but it happens. They might know something you don’t (which happens all the time; see above). Or they might just refuse to engage. I’ve had a student ask me, to my face, why it is that when I say something it’s a fact, but when xzhey say something it’s an opinion. How do you even respond to that? Seriously — shouting “because it says ‘PhD’ after my name, motherfucker!!” is deeply, viscerally satisfying, but that would teach the kid exactly the wrong lesson, wouldn’t it? All of these are gross insults to egghead amour propre, to be avoided at all costs.

 


*the third F, for the record, is “fucking,” and like the languages, you’re supposed to have acquired a working knowledge of that on your own before you arrive. Alas, that obviously didn’t work out as planned. The 40 Year Old Virgin wasn’t supposed to be a documentary, but it’s pretty much cinéma vérité in your average graduate program. Trust me: The persyn with bespoke pronouns has them because xzhey have absolutely no idea what to do with their naughty bits. When I say that a night on the town with a sailor on shore leave would cure most of these…organisms… of the majority of their problems, I mean it. Getting eggheads blued, screwed, and tattooed wouldn’t save America, but it would be a damn good start.

 

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Stojak

Based on a very cursory google search — which was all I was willing to do, for obvious reasons — that’s Russian for “erection.” Which is what I’m getting these days, Cold War-style.

Obviously I don’t speak Russian, but as an amateur Sovietologist I’m aware of the KGB’s rich lexicon of “information warfare.” Disinformation is, of course, either a loan word or a calque, depending on how you want to look at it — dezinformatsiya. (A loan word comes over directly, like “concerto;” a calque is a literal translation of a foreign term, like “flea market”). And then there’s the maskirovka, a whole class of specifically military deceptions. No nation poured more resources into this stuff than the Soviets. A KGB defector named Golitsyn wrote a study, New Lies for Old, that’s interesting. A general in the Securitate, the Romanian secret police, named Ion Mihail Pacepa wrote another, called Disinformation. Good stuff.*

Looking at the “news” these days is a fraternal socialist experience, comrades. Of course, we must be careful to distinguish between disinformation and propaganda. As we know from Theodore Dalrymple, propaganda is designed to humiliate you. All the “Biden won” stories, obviously, are pure propaganda — we know they’re not true, they know they’re not true, but by shoving them down our throats, they emphasize the almost total power differential between them and us. This is obvious, therefore uninteresting.

The dezinformatsiyathough, that’s fun. You know it’s a lie — is it in the Media? then it’s a lie — but the purpose of the lie is often opaque. For instance, this new variant of COVID supposedly making the rounds in England. You don’t have to wear a tinfoil hat to find the timing of that pretty damn suspicious. After all, we’re all supposed to have our “warp speed” mandatory goop shots here in a month, which means no more masks, no more lockdowns, no more of the fuhrer-iffic fun our Glorious Leaders are jonesing for. We can’t be having that, and so hey, whaddaya know, just in time for Christmas, a new pox…

… or is it? Consider, too, that Congress have finally decided to ram through another COVID “stimulus” bill. This one is even more ridiculous, slipshod, and pork-laden than the last one, so much so that even AOC — AOC!!! — smells a rat. She’s too stupid to breathe without cue cards, so that’s revealing….

The problem with any disinfo op, of course, is that you have to pitch it at not just how smart the enemy actually is, but how smart he thinks he is. The KGB used to use two-stage deceptions all the time. There was a clumsy, obvious ploy that was designed to fail. The counterintelligence people would sniff it out, then congratulate themselves for seeing through those goofy commies and their hilarious misunderstandings of the free world. Meanwhile, the second caper sailed right through, because the counterintel boys stopped looking after busting the first one.

If it’s so boneheadedly slipshod that even Toothy McTits is calling shenanigans, in other words, it’s probably shenanigans…

…or is it? I miss the Cold War, not least because the Russkies were pros. These people today are amateurs, and stupid, too — oh god, how stupid they are. If it looks so utterly fucking slipshod that it has to be an op, maybe it is… or maybe they really ARE that dumb. Or, you know, embrace the awesome power of “and.”

Put both of these things together, then, and I wonder if maybe they’re actually starting to worry out there in the incipient Bidenreich. It sure seems like panic-flailing, doesn’t it? I remember the last time a Republican was turfed out. Gloom-and-doom became sunshine-and-rainbows, everywhere, overnight, the minute the last vote for Obama was counted. They’re not doing that here. Something’s up.

 


*Pacepa’s books are awesome, btw. I haven’t read the one about Lee Harvey Oswald, but Red Horizons is batshit insane in the very best way. Not even fifty pages in, he’s got Yasser Arafat getting railed by his (male) chauffeur in an embassy hotel room they both know is bugged. No idea if any of it is true, but it’s shelved under “nonfiction.” Great stuff.

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