The Cultural Marxists are dressed as vampires this Halloween, baring their fangs and sucking the fun out of everything again. In their inimitably dictatorial and humor-free manner, they are sternly lecturing us as to which sort of costumes are “appropriate,” “acceptable,” and “cool,” and which ones are not.

Fear not—so long as you don’t don anything that could conceivably offend a nonwhite, a non-male, or a non-hetero, all is permitted. There’s nothing offensive if you dress as a war victim with half your face blown off, a leering pedophile pope in diapers, or a mutilated corpse with fake bloody intestines hanging out of your belly—but you will be reprimanded, harassed, and eternally ostracized from polite society if you dare to wear a poncho and sombrero if you aren’t Mexican.

A black college student in Ohio—who fancies herself constantly oppressed, demeaned, and suffocated from all sides by “white privilege” rather than, say, very privileged not to be living in Africa—has infected the cyberworld with yet another Guilt Virus by spearheading a poster campaign where pouting nonwhites hold pictures of “racist” Halloween costumes underneath the slogan, “WE’RE A CULTURE, NOT A COSTUME…THIS IS NOT WHO I AM, AND THIS IS NOT OKAY.” Funded by Ohio University and distributed by an organization called STARS—“Students Teaching Against Racism in Society”—the series of five posters depicts a mopey Asian girl holding a picture of a geisha costume, a disconsolate Muslim (or maybe Arab) with a photo of a dynamite-strapped camel jockey, a morose black female presenting an image of someone in blackface dressed as a “gangsta,” a weepy Mestizo clutching a printout of a person riding a stuffed-animal burro, and what I’m assuming is supposed to be a grievously offended “Native American” disapprovingly clasping hard-copy evidence of two palefaces dressed in warpaint and Injun headdress.

“The keening outrage is all so predictable, I fear my head might explode from yawning so hard.”

In every instance, I’d rather hang out with the tasteless douches in the “racist” getups than the sourpussed killjoys who are play-acting as if they’ve been stabbed in the heart.

On her blog, 24-year-old STARS president Sarah Williams approvingly quotes someone who paints “White people” with as broad a brush as Tom Sawyer was given to paint that fence:

White privilege isn’t like a knapsack…it is like a toy box. And White people will scream and cry and throw a tantrum if you so much as threaten to take away one of their toys. Racist and otherwise offensive Halloween costumes are one of the many toys that White people are used to playing with.

Williams, a political-science major who describes herself as an “Obama intern,” is following in the bold, noble, inane tradition of predecessors such as a watchdog organization that monitors “racist” costumes and a Washington City Paper scribe who in 2009 offered a helpful guide about “How to Inform a Friend Their Halloween Costume Is Racist.”

Such scowling crusaders are the spiritual brethren and sistren of Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron, who this year successfully screeched, clawed, and hollered to have a hanging dreadlocked effigy removed from public sight because it was “racist…reprehensible…horrific” and “not funny.” Similar faux outrages about Halloween noose imagery occurred this year in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Last year an Illinois man faced chest-beating censorious caterwauling after featuring a “hanging man” display on his lawn with a mask that was “grey with brown and red tones.” Without incident, he had displayed the same lynched mannequin for “several years,” only with a lighter-hued mask that he replaced after it melted in summer storage.

Big business is sending a missive and urgently hoping that Americans respond. Addressed to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, Occupiers, and any other political recipient imaginable, the message is simple: Citizens do not need a post office.

This epistle has been repeatedly dispatched for years. We must reduce delivery from six days to five. We must close designated offices. We must deter impending bankruptcy.

Despite such looming financial disaster, we are also informed that the post office is the government’s only “self-sufficient” government agency. Perhaps this is the problem. Of all extant services, the post office is one of the few which government ought to be funding.

Government long ago abrogated legitimate public enterprise to fund an endless variety of personal concerns. However much one complains (and many do), the post office serves the vast majority of citizens. All you need is an address. If you don’t have one, your local branch will rent one for a nominal fee. Everyone is represented if they want to be.

It’s not so with several other programs. Quite a few government services benefit only statistically infinitesimal groups. Rather than cancel postage for all, why not curtail any of the following for some?

“Of all extant services, the post office is one of the few which government ought to be funding.”

Crack-baby care. If one wants to hold them, fine. If one needs rock them, charming. If one seeks them to suckle at your teat, cheers. Yet I see nothing but an exceedingly poor social investment. Disagree? Prove me wrong. Find funding elsewhere.

Methamphetamine addicts. Actually, any addicts. I don’t care what one puts in their bodies, but neither do I care whether they recover. I don’t know them, so why should I? Moreover, why must I pay their treatment costs? They can have my sympathy, but not my money. Detox on your own.

Monuments to September 11. We already have one—it’s called Ground Zero. Official remembrances at the actual attack locations are legitimate. Constructing monuments in every other village, hamlet, borough, town, and city in America is a waste. If you want to commune on that terrible day, so be it. But if you live in Des Moines, purchase a ticket eastward.

Welfare. All of it. (Dickensian workhouses optional.) During the Depression an older acquaintance of mine with five children lost his job. How did he survive? He got three more part-time jobs. No one is starving or can starve in America if they do not wish to do so. Look at the waistline of your nearest illegal Mexican for proof.

An elementary-school principal in Somerville, Massachusetts is out to abolish Halloween, among other innocuous celebrations, because it is “insensitive” to witches or something. The school will, however, continue to teach six-year-olds how to put condoms on bananas. Extra credit if you can do it with your mouth.

Somerville is a short drive from Salem. Yes, that Salem, infamous for witch trials whose guiding principle (according to legend) was this: If you drowneth when we tie a rock to thee then you are clean; float and we burneth thee alive as a witch.

The leftist mind is a curious and perverse thing. The same mindset that wants to teach children about fellatio before they can spell it wants that child to still be a tax write-off for his parents at 26.

Is Peter Pan a liberal? The BOY WHO NEVER GREW UP is so in vogue in America right now that anorexic, smelly man-boys are not only getting laid, they’re getting it precisely because of their loser trappings.

One can see how the concept of the harem developed—it was to keep guys like this from procreating. Just make sure that his dumb and desperate repository isn’t your daughter. If so, it’s probably your fault. Quick, somebody get the matches!

“The leftist mind is a curious and perverse thing.”

Now that the progressive tax structure has pushed both parents into the work force, kids increasingly look outside of their parents for authority figures. Like, for instance, the joyless principal who takes away the one day a year many kids anticipate the most. Word is she’s got a petition floating around about canceling Christmas and has authorized a hit on the Easter Bunny.

This principal didn’t want to stop with Halloween. She would like to see a world where we don’t celebrate Christopher Columbus because, well, some Indians got a little sick when he visited. History’s messy, biatch; that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. But liberals played hooky during history class, which is why so many of them embrace socialism.

This trend of dismissing historical figures because they are not perfect has to stop. By this distorted logic we should ignore the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence because he liked black women. And Winston Churchill? Suffered from male pattern baldness. Dismissed. But we can still celebrate Hitler—he had good posture and liked vegetables.

The seven billion huddled residents of this shimmering, twinkling, spinning orb undoubtedly performed millions of kind acts and noble deeds over the past week. The hungry were fed, the naked were clothed, and numberless innocently squeaking kittens were rescued from trees.

But unless the benefactor is a politician or an entertainer, such uplifting tales of selfless largesse rarely make headlines. People would rather read about what’s rotten. Left unattended and undisciplined, most souls fly straight toward the gutter. The media industry’s motto is “If it bleeds, it leads”—and if it doesn’t, nobody reads.

The following ten stories all made the news over the past week. As if stabbing the life from our lungs with an icepick, they all punctured holes through our faith in humanity.

Police in North Platte, NE, arrested a quartet of inexcusably corpulent young adults after a neighbor complained to authorities of squalid conditions at their trailer home. Upon investigating, a police lieutenant said he found “trash, dirty clothing, food, and animal feces and urine” throughout the rickety abode. He also found two boys, 3 and 5, sleeping on a ratty mattress inside “a 30-by-42-inch wire dog kennel” that had been wired shut to prevent their escape. The boys’ mother,  Ashly Clark, tried explaining it was the only way to keep her sallow young pups from crawling out the trailer window at night. At least the boys showed the good judgment to repeatedly attempt escaping their domicile.

“The hungry were fed, the naked were clothed, and numberless innocently squeaking kittens were rescued from trees.”

At 4 AM last Sunday morning when police in Zimbabwe chanced upon 28-year-old Sunday Moyo “performing a sex act on a donkey” he’d tied by the neck to a tree in his yard, he claimed that what appeared to the naked eye to have been born a donkey was, verily, a human prostitute he’d hired for $20 at a club the night before. At some point during their wanton marathon of uninhibited consortium, the woman willfully transmogrified into a domestic ass—or at least that’s how Mr. Moyo recalls it. On Monday, Sunday told a judge, “I only came to know that I was being intimate with a donkey when I got arrested.” He also says he suspects he made the same transformation himself. “I think I am also a donkey. I do not know what happened when I left the bar, but I am seriously in love with (the) donkey,” he told the judge. Moyo’s alibi was not accepted at face value, and the court ordered a psychiatric examination for him.

Early Sunday morning after purchasing a pair of extra-large chalupas from a Taco Bell in Albany, GA, a man described in a police report as having “a voice tone that made [the restaurant’s female manager] believe that he was of the Caucasian descent” phoned to complain that his chalupas had contained an unforgivably meager measure of meat. After the manager explained that the restaurant was closing and they would therefore be unable to make restitution, the irate patron reportedly told her, “You must be one of them niggers up there. That’s all right, I’ll just come and redecorate the place.” His redecoration consisted of lobbing a “melting plastic bottle with a liquid substance” redolent of gasoline at the drive-thru window, causing a small fire. The meat-hungry firebomber’s identity is still unknown.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied former Sooner State judge Donald Thompson his retirement benefits due to his 2006 felony conviction for repeatedly using a penis pump on his naughty bits while hearing testimony in open court. Thompson will continue receiving a pension for his 1974-80 tour of duty as a state legislator, during which, to our knowledge, he never once got caught using a penis pump.

Americans have finally reached the tipping point—or maybe the toking point—when it comes to legalizing marijuana: A recent Gallup revealed the country is now leaning 50% pro-pot. What I found most shocking about the survey was how badly the pro-legalization movement had been doing for the past half-century. Wasn’t everyone a hippie in the 1970s? Nope. Until 2001, less than a third of Americans favored legalization. The love of weed has skyrocketed since Obama was elected. My personal theory is it’s because Obama was elected. This government is so totally incompetent, even geriatrics are inhaling deeply and being all, “You know what? Let’s get the government out of ALL of our business. Gays can get married, dogs can fart, and people can smoke pot.”

Watching Boardwalk Empire on HBO and seeing the carnage being wreaked in Mexico doesn’t hurt the cause, either. Of course pot should be legal. It’s way less damaging than alcohol and the thought of some old dude rotting in jail because he bought his son a grow lamp is enough to give you a bad trip. Pot makes infomercials hilarious. It makes horror movies petrifying, and it turns making love to your wife into an adult film.

But it’s important to remember: Pot is evil.

“Pot doesn’t make you do bad things. It doesn’t make you do anything. In fact, it makes you not do anything.”

If there’s one thing that all men need, it’s to be hungry from 18 to 25. I’m not talking about the munchies. I’m talking about suffering. Whether you’re a billionaire’s son or a kid from the projects, you need to be deprived during your formative years. A young adult must be forced to discover his talents. He needs to try a hundred different things, and the stakes have to be high. Then, when he finally gets something going in his late 20s/early 30s, he can look back on his early years and realize how lucky he is to have found his vocation.

I planted trees in Northern Canada in my early 20s and it was so horrible, I still have nightmares about scarification. When I started my first business in 1994 I would sit there in the midst of bankruptcy and lawsuits and think, “Oh well, at least I don’t have bugs crawling up my ass.”

My best friends in college didn’t share this experience. They chose pot over hard work, and their lives are fucked. At 40 they have no idea what they’re doing with their lives and are slowly realizing that their legacy on Earth will be a clay pot they made twenty years ago and a cool drawing of a skeleton riding his skateboard into a vagina.

Here in California, Halloween is a season as much as a single holiday, beginning roughly in late August when the first magazines featuring holiday crafts appear, swiftly followed by drugstore and supermarket decorations. Yuletide trappings start to appear side-by-side with the Halloween things in a few places as early as mid-September, giving these establishments an eerie Nightmare Before Christmas look.

Halloween would serve California better as a national day than the Fourth of July. Certainly our spirit is more one of make-believe than independence.

But Halloween’s European roots morphed into something uniquely American before finally morphing into something uniquely Californian. New England’s beautiful foliage lays out a colorful backdrop for such chilling events as Salem’s Haunted Happenings and the annual pilgrimage to Lovecraft’s Grave in Providence. A mysterious cognac-toaster visits Poe’s Grave in Baltimore every Halloween night, and for many years little could rival the fearfulness of Detroit’s Devil’s Night. Spending on all aspects of Halloween, from costumes to candy, is up in 2011, with more money spent on adult costumes than children’s.

But Californians celebrate with a special gusto. Several major amusement destinations here transform into something unearthly for the occasion: Knott’s Berry Farm, the Queen Mary, Disneyland, and Universal Studios come immediately to mind. Universal was the birthplace of the modern incarnations of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy, all of whom have taken their places in the costume pantheon alongside the more traditional witches, ghosts, demons, and fairies.

“Halloween would serve California better as a national day than the Fourth of July. Certainly our spirit is more one of make-believe than independence.”

Ever fond of dressing up in various guises, California’s homosexual community is an important component of the state’s Halloween culture. The holiday is erected into an almost sacred drama in areas with large gay populations—West Hollywood, for example, although San Francisco’s storied “Halloween in the Castro” was ultimately torpedoed due to a 2006 shooting incident.

From South of the Border has wafted north more than a touch of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, most notably at Los Angeles’s historic Plaza and in San Francisco. Contrary, however, to the writings and other inaccuracies of the Indigenista school, such Mexican and Latin American customs owe much more to Catholic practices of All Souls’ Day than to the Aztecs—as any native of New Orleans, Quebec, France, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, or the rest of the Catholic world where indigenous Mesoamericans never trod can tell you. No taint of Catholicism affects East Asia’s religious customs, however, and although these festivals generally fall in late summer or early autumn, the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival and the Japanese Obon are widely observed here. In areas with large numbers of these folk, there is a certain carry-over into the local Halloween observances.

My executive editor at a Florida magazine, Hardy Burt, informed me at lunch one day, “God is a girl!” This was after his first vodka martini. I can’t imagine what we were discussing. He may have been right. It would be nice to think so. He appeared to be dead serious. He was much older and wiser than me and had been a public-relations genius in New York before a scandal forced him to leave town.

I have stumbled upon something extraordinarily profound, and it reminds me of what Hardy said years ago.

I tend not to get through The New York Times and London’s Financial Times on a daily basis. So they pile up. After a month or so I need to stay put in my room and set aside an entire Sunday to look them over, cut out articles, and think about the news as it was first presented, comparing it to what eventually happened. Some events are reported in passing, never to appear on the radar screen a second time. Certain phenomena I would have never heard about at all.

In this way, last weekend I discovered an article dated September 30th in the Financial Times about teenage shopping sprees and “haul videos.” What in the world is this? I asked myself. The article focuses upon two young, attractive American sisters named Elle and Blair Fowler, also known to their many fans in the viral world of YouTube videos as AllThatGlitters21 and Juicystar07.

“All these efforts spent upon politics and ideology in my salad days now seem like a horrible waste of time.”

What did the sisters do to merit an article in the Financial Times? They go shopping and report about what they buy over YouTube. It’s not complicated. The girls are enthusiastic and wide-eyed. They are not selling anything, or at least they weren’t when they started in 2008. They merely talk about themselves and the products they buy to keep themselves happy and beautiful. I mean, that’s it. By way of introduction, here’s an interview with the two sisters. And a sample of an Elle beauty video. Here’s another, a long one discussing books!

Retail therapy should not be underestimated. It is real and significant, a necessity. It could be argued that the entire US economy is now based upon it, which is to say, upon the consumer.

But Elle and Blair represent more than that. For me they are proof positive of an unspoiled, youthful world free of intellectualism, where there is no place for regrets, second thoughts, or big ideas. Everything just is, as it should be, and it is all good. There is no conflict in which to become embroiled, and you don’t need to solve a problem. The possibilities are endless.

Shopping is simply a manifestation of this fact, not an end in itself. It is the nearest and most convenient reality to be enjoyed by anyone, oblivious or not to our modern age’s glaring defects. In sum, Elle and Blair are not mere airheads, although that would likely be your first impression.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS—To the best state in the Union for the annual John Randolph Club meeting of true conservatives, hip, hip. No posturing peacocks spouting gibberish learned at university diversity courses here, but witty, juicy, intelligent criticisms of today’s cultural sewer and the part liberals and Christendom’s enemies play in destroying our society. “I disagree with everything you have been saying and doing, you atheists, liberals, diversity freaks and multiculturalists, and I will fight to the death against your right to say it and do it” was the common thread which united us few, us happy few, us drunken few by the time the three-day conference was over.

The even better news: Miss Teresa Mull, a blonde 22-year-old Texan beauty, approached me with her two brothers after I finished moderating the last debate and challenged me to take her to a nightclub. The bad news: Her two brothers are tall, young, very good-looking, and one of them does MMA, which means mixed martial arts, which means no-holds-barred fighting to the finish. So I took all three, along with Captain Chris Myers and Major Mike of the United States Marines, and made a night of it. Yes, I plan to see Miss Teresa again when she comes to New York, and why not? I’m only 53 years older than she is. So what? And another thing. The days and sleepless nights I spent pining for the Speccie’s deputy editor are over and done with. Finished. Gone. Kaput.

“I find nothing more depressing than seeing people absorbed by a gadget while totally ignoring their surroundings.”

The conference’s theme was Christendom and her enemies, and I was the opening speaker on Friday evening, fresh off the airplane and full of venom as never before. I spoke in graphic detail about certain atheists and their imminent divine punishment while some in the audience visibly flinched. That is what is so good about the spoken word. Once it’s out there, only the police can do something about it, but Texan cops had other things to worry about, especially in south Dallas, where our black cousins are killing each other in record numbers over drugs. But the thought police are everywhere, especially in Merrie Olde England, where had I said what I said in Texas I’d most likely be back in Pentonville by now. Such are the joys of freedom under political correctness. Until the Brits smarten up and tell the diversity Nazis where to get off, I’ll take Texas.

Not everything is hunky-dory in the Home of the Brave, especially when traveling. Never have I heard such inane comments as when my Noo Yawk neighbors on the flight down began a spirited conversation over…movies. Americans, and Brits alas, no longer travel with a book, but with a black contraption they hold in their hand and press once in a while. When these two extremely stupid women were not exulting over some tongue-tied TV moron with lots of “Oh my Gods,” they were pressing their little black boxes and—if that is possible—looking even stupider while silent. People nowadays have this vacuous, opaque look in their faces, their brains fried from too much BlackBerry and TV. Facebook, which Zuckerberg stole from the twins, must be the world’s most insidious invention. Telling someone far away what a hamburger feels like when chewed is putrid thinking at its worst. Apparently there are people who live their lives online or through Twitter and never have any face-to-face contact.

Macbeth knew what would be coming to him once his domestic enemies had the upper hand. He decided to go down fighting.

I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.

The Roman dictator Sejanus was not given that opportunity. Sejanus had taken power in Rome when Tiberius, the official emperor, decided that playing with his tiddlers in Capri was more fun than ruling. Sejanus overreached, Tiberius sent a letter to the Senate, and Ben Jonson tells the rest:

Sentence by the senate,
To lose his head; which was no sooner off,
But that and the unfortunate trunk were seized
By the rude multitude; who not content
With what the forward justice of the state
Officiously had done, with violent rage
Have rent it limb from limb.…
These mounting at his head, these at his face,
These digging out his eyes, those with his brains
Sprinkling themselves, their houses and their friends;
Others are met, have ravish’d thence an arm,
And deal small pieces of the flesh for favours;
These with a thigh, this hath cut off his hands,
And this his feet; these fingers and these toes;
That hath his liver, he his heart.…

Muammar Gaddafi was not dealt with quite as sternly as that, though we have learned that among other indignities, he was sodomized with either a stick or a knife following his capture last Thursday. (I can hear a thousand comedians in the lower kind of British clubs saying, “I’ll be buggered if I’ll let them make me president of Libya!”)

“To openly gloat and cackle at the news of our soothed chieftain being abused at both ends, then dispatched by a ululating mob of savages, is coarse and ignoble beyond my understanding.”

On a straightforward individual calculus of harm done versus harm received, Gaddafi got off lightly. The number of people who have died screaming in pain on his explicit instructions has at least four digits and very likely five. That’s busy work in a nation of six and a half million, even when spread over forty-two years. A beating, a humiliation, a baiting with the rabble’s curse, and an uninvited stick up the poop chute are nothing by comparison.

I have been shocked by the reaction from some of my conservative friends. They are exultant. Gaddafi, they are telling me, was a very bad man. That is true. The world, they are telling me, is well rid of him. That may be true, if what follows Gaddafi is an improvement, but this is still uncertain. How, they are asking me, could I have wished for the continued rule of a man with so much blood on his hands?

That last one’s easy: If Gaddafi showed decent respect for US national interests, I couldn’t care less if he took his morning shower in the blood of virgins he had slaughtered for the purpose. Foreign-policy-wise, I am out at the far realist end of the moralist-realist spectrum—a Disraeli among Gladstones.

Among this season’s intelligent movies about smart people doing complex jobs, the Wall Street film Margin Call ranks ahead of Contagion and The Ides of March and behind only Moneyball.

Unlike Moneyball, which is so engagingly written that it had my wife asking me insightful questions the next day about on-base percentage, Margin Call doesn’t attempt to teach you how quants think. While the dialogue is stuffed with references to the “VaR” of the unnamed financial firm’s “MBS,” acronyms go unexplained. Indeed, the word “subprime” is never mentioned. (Neither is the ominous phrase “Margin Call.” Perhaps the title was chosen because it rhymes with “Moneyball.”) 

One subtle message is that the most lucrative jobs in today’s economy are open only to those few individuals comfortable—intellectually, emotionally, and morally—working at stratospheric levels of abstraction. As happened during the mortgage bubble, these elites lose contact with what’s happening at ground level.

“A running joke in Margin Call is that each higher-up understands the statistics less than his underling.”

Movie reviewers love topicality, but the modern film industry is too cumbersome to deliver it. Thus, Margin Call is not about Occupy Wall Street. On the contrary, writer-director J. C. Chandor, an upper-crust kid, is exceedingly sympathetic to banksters. He drew upon his father’s decades at Merrill Lynch to craft a stagy but effective screenplay that attracted numerous famous names to his low-budget movie. 

And although reviewers insist the film must be about Lehman Brothers’ epochal bankruptcy 37 months ago, Chandor warns, “This is not a Lehman Brothers situation.” It’s more of a Goldman Sachs question: Are you in business to help your clients prosper (the old Goldman model) or to pillage your “counterparties” (the new Goldman)? 

The generic nature of the disaster that plays out over the story’s 24 hours means that the script could easily be adapted to the stage and then dusted off during future financial crises.