The 15th annual White Privilege Conference ended on Saturday in Madison, WI. As is usually the case with the locales for such public displays of white ethnomasochism, Madison’s quotient of blacks is roughly half the national average. In contrast, presumably ignorant and “prejudiced” white Southerners”€”the kind of people most despised by bourgeois-yet-Marxist whites who believe in fairy tales such as “white privilege””€”have for centuries lived in the blackest part of the nation. It is typically whites with the least amount of experience living alongside blacks that tend to idolize colored folks beyond all reason.

I had initially planned to attend the event as a sort of performance art“€”dressed head-to-toe in white with an entourage of Madison’s white bikers dropping me off and picking me up from each day’s festivities”€”but alas, my white privilege was not so extensive that I was able to afford the financial and temporal sacrifices my attendance would have required.

According to conference founder Eddie Moore, Jr., “white supremacy, white privilege, racism and other forms of oppression are designed for your destruction”€”designed to kill you.” If that’s the case, privileged whites are doing a piss-poor job, seeing as how the 400,000 or so Africans who were transported to the New World in slave ships have”€”through the noxious evils of white privilege, white technology, and living amid a predominantly white culture”€”blossomed into around 40 million modern American blacks. That’s an increase of 100-1 and truly the most inept genocide in world history.

“€œAssuming they have brains, how do they keep them from exploding?”€

I could be wrong, but at least judging from pictures taken at the event, most of the attendees, local hosts, and T-shirt models appeared to be white, although I”€™d bet they”€™d say “€œwhiteness”€ is a social construct all while accepting guilt (and perhaps private S&M whippings) for the idea that they benefit from “€œwhite privilege”€ even though whiteness is nothing more than an idea. Assuming they have brains, how do they keep them from exploding? I bet they”€™d crawl out of their skin if they could. They make my skin crawl.

A Wisconsin reporter estimates that the conference at minimum cost taxpayers $20,000 to further indoctrinate already brainwashed educators that white taxpayers are beastly, innately exploitive fanged vampires who deserve extinction.

Workshops during the four-day extravaganza included “€œWhite American Islamophobia,”€ “€œWhite Privilege and the Color of Wealth,”€ “€œDeath of the Strong Black Sista,”€ “€œHow Do We Talk About Privilege, For Real?”€ “€œAgainst the Tea Party Movement,”€ “€œWhite Women’s Guide to Teaching Black Boys,”€ and “€œBeyond Kumbaya: Promoting Privilege Discussions on College Campuses.”€ Film screenings included such cinematic thought-turds as The N!GGA Word, What Makes Me White, and The New Black.

Apparently the only way to dismantle white privilege and usher in this long-promised and long-delayed era of post-racial harmony is to be absolutely fucking obsessed with race.

Phenotypically white professor Joe Feagin, past president of the American Sociology Association and author of Living With Racism and White Racism as well as roughly ten million other books about how white people are racist meanies, came dressed in his trademark sexy bolo tie. He purportedly claimed that all white people are either racists or “recovering racists” and allegedly uttered things such as “€œThe white racial frame is more than cognitive. It’s hostile, vicious, emotional, and visual,”€ “€œWhites live the white racial frame like goldfish in a bowl of water,”€ and “€œThe heart of the white racial frame is white virtue/superiority. This is (unsurprisingly) the hardest thing for white people to see.”€

Feagin allegedly closed his speech with words from Martin Luther King and a photo of black American runners famously giving the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. How urban and edgy of him!

What’s easy for me to see”€”and unlike Joe Feagin, I don”€™t wear glasses, rose-colored or otherwise”€”is that Joe Feagin is a white man suffering the late stages of Passover Syndrome.

The Week’s Most Fallacious, Vexatious, and Ostentatious Headlines

Who would have thought that you could take people of widely divergent racial and religious backgrounds, cram them together”€”often against their will“€”and that instead of rainbows and harp-playing and communal bubble baths, you’d wind up with an ever escalating level of cultural dissonance and finger-pointing insanity? Allow us to pause for a moment and shake our damn head”€”our collective damn head, that is.

This past week bore witness to fat Latinas upbraiding Saturday Night Live for not embracing fat Latinas, black rapper Nick Cannon donning whiteface, and loud calls for comedian Stephen Colbert’s white head after his handlers Tweeted something deemed insensitive to hypersensitive Asians.

Saturday Night Live was far better in the 1970s, when it had one token black guy who handled the Hispanic stereotypes. Recently the serially unfunny show capitulated to activists’ demands that they hire an unfunny black woman“€”which they did, and to up the ante (or the Aunt Jemima), they also hired a pair of unfunny black female writers.

Earlier this month the show faced a foul blast of bean-scented scorn when it featured an unfunny sketch depicting a stereotyped Venezuelan woman. Perhaps sensing a once-in-a-lifetime chance at fame, a pair of unfunny would-be Hispanic comediennes launched a Twitter campaign called #StillNoLatinas, publicly attempting to brownmail SNL producer Lorne Michaels into hiring yet more unfunny people of color. The Latin Post, noting that SNL has recently “made a strive [sic] toward diversity,” also wrote that one of the two careerist Latinas “struggled to find a Latina role model and instead settled on Chris Farley,” which is the only truly funny line in the entire debacle.

“€œAllow us to pause for a moment and shake our damn head”€”our collective damn head, that is.”€

Nick Cannon, black rapper and host of America’s Got [sic] Talent, is promoting his new album White People Party Music by donning whiteface, affecting a dudebro vocal inflection, and depicting a character he calls “Connor Smallnut.” There was a mild backlash, which CNN’s mildly black Don Lemon pooh-poohed due to, you know, slavery ‘n’ stuff. This is America, where people should be treated equally, and we personally find nothing reprehensible about Cannon’s whiteface routine so long as a high-profile white musician is allowed to don blackface and play a character called “Tyrone Tinybrain.”

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, who has made a career depicting a fictional right-wing news pundit that he calls an “idiot” and “willfully ignorant,” has learned the hard way that one can’t even make fun of so-called “racists” without being deemed a racist yourself. During an episode of The Colbert Report that satirized the owner of the Washington Redskins’ clumsy outreach efforts toward Injuns, Colbert uttered the following line, which his handlers subsequently Tweeted:

I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.

Eyes rolled in the egg-roll community, and yet another Twitter campaign, this one called #CancelColbert, was launched. Tireless social-justice Tweeters called the joke “disgusting,” demanded that Colbert apologize, and claimed without a shred of supporting evidence that “these ‘jokes’ once justified exclusionary acts, internment camps, atom bombs, napalm, and the murder of Vincent Chin.”

Professional apologists, deniers, and excuse-makers are flippin’ the frick out over a recently released U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights report on “School Discipline” in America’s fine public educational establishments. Among the report’s revelations:

Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students….Black children represent 18% of preschool enrollment, but 48% of preschool children receiving more than one out-of-school suspension….

The report engendered loud, belching calls to end “discrimination” against black children. What didn’t garner nearly as much publicity is the report’s finding that boys “represent 79% of preschool children suspended once and 82% of preschool children suspended multiple times,” because (ahem) it is assumed that boys are more prone to misbehaving. Also left unmentioned in the tidal-wave-sized ripples of indignation that followed in the report’s wake are obviously irrelevant topics such as black youths’ homicide rates and black illegitimacy rates.

Yet the outrage and cries of racism proceed unabated. In The Huffington Post, “author and political analyst” Earl Ofari Hutchinson asked, “What’s Next, Arrest in the Womb?” Well, yes”€”if a black fetus commits murder while still in the womb, it should be arrested and tried before an impartial jury of fetuses.

Nothing is important or unimportant, but thinking makes it so. Nevertheless, other people’s priorities infuriate us: We think them fools for worrying over trifles, while they disregard entirely what we think is of the greatest significance.

No one’s emotions are stirred, however, in precise proportion to the importance we ascribe to the matters that stir those emotions. I may think the Crimean crisis is a turning point in world history, but I am much more concerned by a tax demand or an argument with my wife. I do not think I am unusual in this; on the contrary, it is perfectly normal, and this in theory should make intellectuals in particular more tolerant of the interests others express, though it seldom does. Besides, a world in which everyone was moved in precise proportion to a rational scale (if such a scale could ever be laid down) would be intolerably boring. 

There is a further point: Man is irremediably a symbol-manipulating animal. What may seem at first trivial is often symbolic of something much more important: Disagreement over something trivial may really be disagreement about fundamental philosophical problems. And at least for intellectuals, there is no greater fun to be had than disagreement over the fundamentals of philosophy. Such disagreements stave off boredom and also the fear of personal insignificance that bests us all whenever we look at the starry heavens above.

“€œSelf-expression is not an unequivocally good thing.”€

So let us not sneer, then, about the worldwide, or at least Europe-wide, furor over the death of Marius, the two-year-old giraffe in Copenhagen Zoo. Marius was deemed by the zoo’s scientific staff to be surplus to its requirements and to those of all zoos throughout Europe. He was therefore shot, autopsied, and thrown to the zoo’s lions (four of whom, it so happened, were soon to follow him). The death of a single Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata born in captivity sparked more commentary and emotion than the million human tragedies that must have occurred the same day. Often, it seems, we love animals more than ourselves, and with good reason (by “€œourselves”€ I mean other human beings, not ourself). The subsequent polemics were about more than the fate of poor little Marius.

The combination of the appealingly gentle nature and face of the giraffe, and the completely unemotional, deadpan, and almost mechanical pronouncements of the zoo’s scientific director, Bengt Holst, was perfectly calculated to fan the passions of many polemicists, especially those in professional need of something to say. Marius was a test case for many antinomies: thought versus feeling, fact versus value, Man’s dominion versus Man’s guardianship of nature, sense versus sensibility, unvarnished truth versus tact, appearance versus reality, science versus religion, expedience versus deontology, rationality versus instinct, prose versus poetry, and no doubt many others. If Marius had been not a giraffe but some unattractive beast such as a star-nosed mole or an aye-aye (both exceptionally ugly), let alone a crocodile, boa constrictor, or Komodo dragon that had just eaten a child, there would have been no outcry. Nature mystics, who believe in biodiversity as a good in itself, are generally not worried by the prospect of the elimination of the Guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis or the much more widespread but equally repellent Ascaris lumbricoides (there is, as far as I know, no Society for the Preservation of the Intestinal Roundworm of African Children, though there is a Save the Guinea Worm Foundation with a hilarious website that I heartily recommend). 

It is when you look at the commentary on reports of the case of Marius that you realize self-expression is not an unequivocally good thing. I am unsure whether the ease nowadays of expressing oneself in public, thanks to the Internet, has called forth an immense quantity of bile or whether the bile preexisted the Internet and was only awaiting the Internet to be publicly expressed, but I suspect that bile rises to meet the space which will accommodate it. Certainly the blogosphere gives the impression that the world is filled with bitter, angry, resentful people who spit venom at the slightest pretext and think that abuse is an argument”€”indeed, the only argument.

How I came to stop worrying and not mind the Bomb “”€ Land of the knout “”€ That’s so homosexual “”€ California in the Crimea “”€ Pomp and circumstance “”€ An unwanted listener “”€ This might almost be true “”€ Update to the Michelin Guide for Nigeria “”€ Robo-journalism

In 1974, a daredevil walked across a tightrope that connected the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. It was called “the artistic crime of the century.” The DA considered trespassing charges but dropped them in the face of the city’s enthusiasm for their new hero. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey awarded him with a lifetime pass to the South Tower’s observation deck.

Last week, the NYPD demanded that the BASE jumpers who leapt off the Freedom Tower last September turn themselves in to authorities. After they surrendered on Monday, the NY Post said that the jumpers”€™ “only regret was getting caught.” My only regret is that we didn’t hold a parade for these guys. Have you seen the video? It takes balls to even watch. They are standing there almost 2,000 feet off the ground breathing heavily and saying things such as “Hell, yeah,” “Thanks, bro,” and finally, “You got this, man” before leaping into the black abyss. The highest bungee jumps in the world are barely half that height, and I doubt anyone reading this would have the courage to try any of them. These guys did it with no help from anyone, and they landed on the West Side Highway without inconveniencing a soul. But instead of giving them lifetime passes, the new Port Authority joined “the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act.” Our life expectancy may have increased by ten years in the past half century, but our balls are 80% smaller.

“€œAmerica was founded on mutts from all over the world who were sick of being told what to do. Now we live in a culture where rules rule.”€

This is a post-9/11 world and we should be concerned about access to the top of our new WTC, but that’s not the BASE jumpers’ fault. That’s our fault. By exploiting a hole in our armor, they did us a favor, a super badass favor. And it wasn’t just a hole in the gate at the top of the tower. They exposed a hole in the modern American way. The Freedom Tower itself is a giant testament to what pussies we’ve become. Why didn’t we just rebuild both towers from scratch on September 12, 2001? “Would you want your son to work in that tower?” replied one fireman at my gym to whom I proposed this scenario. Maybe not, but I don’t care if they became grain silos as long the towers that were there on September 10th remain there forever and NYC doesn’t retain a permanent black eye. I hate that extremist Islam can point to that stupid skyscraper as a trophy for the most effective attack on the Western world ever. It’s embarrassing.  

The World Trade Center was built back at a time when New York had the biggest balls in the world. It was a bastion of freedom where men with big ideas expeditiously carried them to fruition. New York always had balls. As Mark Steyn points out, the Empire State Building was built as a “€œfuck you”€ to the Chrysler Building, and each was built in less than two years during the Great Depression. They started building the Freedom Tower in 2006, and it isn”€™t completely done yet. Back in the 1960s, any car on the street could be considered a taxi. Today, a permit will run you a million bucks. You can try to start your own company as Uber did, but Uber’s getting sued“€”again. You used to be able to smoke in NY bars. Now you can’t even smoke in parks. We’ve gone from Marlon Brando saying “I coulda been a contender” to a bloated Philip Seymour Hoffman indulging himself to death in one of his many luxury homes.

I immigrated to this country from Canada because I was sick of being bogged down with rules. America was founded on mutts from all over the world who were sick of being told what to do. Now we live in a culture where rules rule. If a nine-year-old girl wants to shave her head in solidarity with a friend who has cancer, she gets suspended. People propose that the word “bossy” gets banned, and having exotic pets is verboten. NYC has gone from a city that doesn’t call 911 to a city that calls it at the merest disturbance.

I like the fact that crime is down and we live in a much safer society than even twenty years ago, but that doesn”€™t mean New York City, America, and the West in general need to abandon the toughness that made them what they are. We need BASE jumpers and rule breakers. They personify the entrepreneurs that keep us all going. Pussies may be what gave birth to us, but we cease to exist without balls.


Harris, W. C. Slouching Towards Gaytheism: Christianity and Queer Survival in America. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014. 277pp.

W. C. Harris is a radical gay activist and Professor of Queer Studies and Early American Literature. He says that homosexuals are still cruelly oppressed in America, even though some of them may end up with very comfortable jobs as university professors, writing expensive ($80 for this slim volume) subsidized books about their niche personal philosophies.

He is particularly angry with the Christian right for oppressing him, but also with more liberal Christians, who may bend over backwards to accommodate him but still, in the end, adhere to this thing called Christianity, which he feels is innately homophobic. Any opposition to homosexuality is always homophobia in Professor Harris’s delightfully simple, black-and-white worldview. Opposition to such innovations as gay marriage, for instance, cannot be based on rational moral disapproval, or a traditionalist, amused sense of its inherent absurdity, but only on hysterical hatred.

So he would like to abolish Christianity altogether”€”the religion that brought you universal love, forgiveness, the first almshouses, the first hospitals, the Sistine Chapel, and the abolition of the slave trade”€”and replace it with that he wittily calls “€œGaytheism,”€ i.e., homosexual atheism.

“€œGay men have decided to claim equality by showing that they can at least breed viruses.”€

Unlike beastly old Christianity, this new religion will meet our spiritual needs with “€œnew forms of community that do not harass and malign gay and lesbian Americans or impede collective social progress.”€ One of the rituals of this exciting new religion, he explains, might be “€œbarebacking”€: that is, unprotected anal sex. (Stay with me here”€”this is challenging stuff, from the very cutting edge of intellectual life in the USA today!)

He leans extensively on the writings of “€œqueer psychoanalytic theorist”€ Tim Dean to explain how, through barebacking

…sharing viruses has come to be seen as a mechanism of alliance, a way of forming consanguinity with strangers and friends….Barebackers see themselves as not just passing on a virus but as transmitting a cultural legacy….Through HIV, gay men have discovered they can “€œbreed”€ without women.

Having won the equal right to marriage, it was only to be expected that gay men should then want an equal right to produce offspring. But since Mother Nature has decreed this impossible”€”what is she, some kind of horrible right-wing Christian or something?”€”gay men have decided to claim equality by showing that they can at least breed viruses.

On barebacking websites, the slogan runs, “€œBreed, get seed and get on your knees to feed.”€

“€œBreeding the virus in another man’s body develops new kinships,”€ explains Harris (rather than, say, new burdens on health services), and they become one more couple in the “€œbug brotherhood.”€ The one who does the infecting is called the daddy, the recipient the son, and such incestuous overtones are also very exciting, argues Professor Harris, for they too are transgressive, subversive, and liberating.

Meanwhile, gay and/or liberal Christians still struggle to accommodate these challenging new ideas. They claim that it is the condemnation of homosexuality rather than homosexuality itself that is the sin, and they “€œattribute homophobic readings of biblical passages to human prejudice.”€ However, they still try to push the idea of monogamous gay relationships while condemning gay promiscuity, and they evidently feel a little uncomfortable about things such as barebacking. Insufficiently radical, they merely offer, as the author puts it in his inimitable prose style, soothing “€œdeclarations of tolerance and paeans to flux.”€ Paeans to flux? No, I don”€™t know what he means, either. Eulogies to liquefaction? Hymns of praise to dysentery? Anything is possible, especially in a culture whose university professors are now so self-obsessed, ignorant, and borderline literate.

GSTAAD—Except for the hovering of helicopters overhead carrying great slabs of rock or timber, the constant whirring of cranes and cement mixers, and the roar of trucks, the building site that Gstaad becomes the moment the last billionaire departs for places closer to sea level takes on a dreamlike visual vignette of an alpine village. So faint is my memory of the village I first came to love back in the 1950s, I sometimes close my eyes and try to envision it, but it’s a losing game. In fact it’s a Blanche Dubois-like delusion of past grandeur, of the lights and laughter and the loves of teenage days. Let’s face it: Only suckers look back, so I must be the greatest sucker of them all. I simply cannot accept that even here, in peaceful Switzerland, the developers have triumphed. Build big and build expensive is their motto, and there are people out there who will pay anything to be part of—what? If I knew, I’d tell you.

Gstaad was a small farming community until the 1920s, when some rich sporting types began tying boards on their boots and sliding down the surrounding mountains. The season was short, the chalets belonged to locals, and the sporting elite lived in hotels and inns. The Palace was THE place to be seen and to stay. A lot of Americans discovered the place during the war once they had bailed out from their crippled bombers, having steered them over neutral Switzerland. After the war, in typical can-do Yankee fashion, they built chalets that were a bit less Spartan than the local ones and enjoyed a healthy and fun life that got you four Swiss francs to a single dollar, the Palace at the time offering rooms that were as low as three dollars per night.

“Woodrow Wilson was a phony, but a small phony compared to Tony Blair.”

So far, so good. Yours truly arrived in 1956 with a thousand dollars that was supposed to last me for three months and suddenly found myself a rich man. I moved into the Palace for the next thirty years. The dollar sank and with it went many American friends of mine who sold their chalets and moved back to whence they came full of good memories. They were replaced rather quickly with types that would rather sell their sisters into prostitution than fly a bomber over Germany during the war. Children are known to retreat into a fantasy world especially if they’re unhappy, but I had a happy childhood and a very lucky life yet find myself repeatedly retreating into the fantasy world I once inhabited…things such as the moonlight parties at the Eagle club, the drunken dancing until dawn at the Palace, and the riotous drenching of stiff types at the Olden. The latter place closed earlier than usual because the owner, one Bernie Ecclestone, loves money more than I love Jessica Raine. He makes less profit during the off-season; hence the closure. (Anyway, the once wonderful Olden has now jerked up its prices so much that only camel drivers turned oil tycoons can still afford it.)

And speaking of those Americans who twice came over to win the wars for their British cousins, I read a wonderful book reviewed by Andrew Bacevich, an American colonel and intellectual whose son was killed in Iraq in that totally useless war. The book is about Robert La Follette, probably the best US senator ever, a patriot who opposed Woodrow Wilson’s sending American farm boys to die in the Somme because he knew why Wilson wanted entry: Wall Street had loaned billions to the Allies and was worried they wouldn’t see their money back if Germany won. Money power was yet again at work. The young died for it while the bankers made their fortune. It was a war for trade routes and commercial advantages and for Big Business becoming Bigger Business. The biggest lie of all was Wilson’s “fight for democracy.” Democracy is not carried upon the point of a bayonet, said La Follette, but by furnishing the most perfect example of a government of liberty and equal opportunity.

Woodrow Wilson was a phony, but a small phony compared to Tony Blair. This might make me sound suspect because I am about to defend the Barclay brothers who own the Spectator. So be it. But here’s an ex-British prime minister who lied and got Britain involved in the worst foreign policy disaster ever by an idiot American president, one who has never apologized for the dead and maimed but has become extremely rich by sucking up to fat Qatari crooks and who takes their side against two British subjects who have made their money in Britain and employ thousands of British workers. I am talking about the Claridge’s takeover, one for which an Irish front man for Qatar has suddenly come up with over 600 million pounds after meeting Blair via that other horror-cum-conman Mathew Freud. Here’s Blair helping a totalitarian state with lots of blood on its hands take over a London landmark against two British businessmen who pay their taxes and obey the laws of the land. Surely something must be done. How about a total boycott of the place if the Irish front man for the towels wins? Or how about the useless Tories doing something about protecting British interests? Both Tony Blair and Matthew Freud can be had for money, but Blair is also a traitor and should be held accountable. Cameron and Osborne, do something, for Christ’s sake!

In his column the other day, Pat Buchanan quoted the last lines of Robert Southey’s poem ‘The Battle of Blenheim”:

“€œBut what good came of it at last?”€
Quoth little Peterkin.
“€œWhy that I cannot tell,”€ said he,
“€œBut “€™t was a famous victory!”€

That sent me off looking for the poem, and I knew where to look. No, not the Internet. The Internet’s a fine thing in many ways, to be sure, but poetry belongs in books.

The actual book Southey’s poem belongs in is Michael Turner’s 1967 Parlour Poetry: A Hundred and One Improving Gems, an enduring classic of its own small kind. Friends in England gave me a copy in”€”I see from the inscription”€”1989, and it’s been with me ever since.

Turner’s idea was to gather together poems that late-Victorian children would have committed to memory and recited at family gatherings or school concerts: “€œPoems”€”€”I”€™m quoting from his preface”€””€œof the highest moral rectitude…with plain, easy rhythms, uncomplicated heroics, and unabashed pathos.”€

He says that the tradition of family reciting in the actual parlor”€”the living room”€”of middle-class homes died out with the coming of radio in the 1920s, but recitation lingered on in the educational system. It certainly did: I learned to recite some of these poems”€”Byron’s “€œSennacherib,”€ Browning’s “€œHow They Brought the Good News“€”€”in my own 1950s school days.

“€œWe live in an age of no poetry”€”the first such age in all of human history.”€

Fragments of others survived back then in the speech of older people, usually uttered facetiously. Coming into my room and finding it a mess, my mother would say, “€œIt’s like the wreck of the Hesperus in here!” Or if I whined about having lost something, she would tell me cheerfully: “Not lost, but gone before.” (I didn’t see that in print until getting Turner’s book.)

Longfellow’s not an anomaly in a British verse anthology, by the way. Victorian Britain was very hospitable to American poetry. Visiting London in 1868, Longfellow copped an audience with Queen Victoria herself, a huge fan. Turner reflects all this with poems from Whittier, Poe, and Bryant, as well as lesser American lights such as Samuel Woodworth and James Whitcomb Riley, “€œthe Hoosier Homer.”€

And in his footnote to Sir Henry Newbolt’s “€œVitaï Lampada“€ (“€œPlay up! play up! and play the game!”€) Turner pays a tribute to the US equivalent, Grantland Rice’s “€œAlumnus Football“€:

For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks”€”not that you won or lost”€”
But HOW you played the Game.

Turner’s footnotes are little gems in themselves, garnished with the lightest kind of dry wit.

The biographical note on Southey, for example, concludes with this sentence: “€œAt his death which followed shortly after [his second marriage], he left the considerable sum of £12,000, a figure that no Victorian biographer fails to note with approval.”€

The footnote on Sir Francis Doyle, who wrote “The Private of the Buffs,” includes this sentence without further comment: “He went to Eton and Oxford, where, the Dictionary of National Biography reports, ‘his intercourse with Gladstone became very intimate”€™.”€

And so on.

Some of the other poems here survived in mid-20th-century English schoolyards as parody:

The boy stood on the burning deck,
Picking his nose like mad;
Rolling snot into little balls
And flicking them at his Dad.


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Snore, and you sleep alone…

Lewis Carroll, a master of parody, spoofed some of these gems in the Alice books. The “Philadelphia bard” David Bates wrote:

Speak gently!—It is better far
To rule by love, than fear…

This became Carrollized to:

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes….

Now, about this Crimea thing: What I figure is, the top part of the Feddle Gummint got dropped on its head when it was little, and the rest is just asleep, or might as well be. We look to be ruled by a bus station of dumb-ass rich brats in a constant state of martial priapism. I can”€™t understand it. Out of three hundred million Americans, and lots of them went to school and can pretty much read, we get a slick minor pol out of Chicago for president and Pickle-Boy Kerry for Secretary of State, God knows why. Before that, we had Hillary, former First Housewife. Even God couldn”€™t explain that. And they throw their weight around just like they had some.

Now Obama’s threatening Russia about the Crimea. He may know where it is. I admit the possibility. We live in a strange world, and unexpected things can happen. What I can”€™t see is why he thinks the Ukraine is Washington’s business. Last I heard, the Crimea was hung off into the Black Sea by the Isthmus of Perekop like a hornet’s nest from a peach tree.

Why do we care about it? I guess if it gets to be part of Russia, Arkansas is next to go.

“€œGod save us from little men with big egos and no judgment.”€

Maybe it moved, though. Continental drift is a reality. It could be anywhere by now, maybe in the Gulf of Mexico. And even if it ain’t, I guess we need a war with Russia over a place that’s none of our business. I mean, I don”€™t see how we can get along without one.

Now, about being dropped on their heads: Pickle Boy has said of the Crimea, “€œYou don”€™t just, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”€ I reckon he hasn’t heard of Iraq, either. The world is full of countries, and it’s hard to keep track of which ones you’ve wrecked.

I have a strategy. If we want to do those Russian rascals in and bring “€™em lower than dirt, we ought to arrange to have the American public elect their government. You know, on some kind of contract. Then they”€™d be ruled, like us, by a nursery full of pansies, milquetoasts, ethno-picks, growly featherweights, diesel dykes, and sorry rich kids who never got into a schoolyard fight. Russia would never recover.

We won”€™t, either.

One thing you learn in the schoolyard is never call a tougher kid’s bluff. It might not be a bluff. Uh-oh. This Putin guy, I hear they call him Vlad the Hammer: I bet there’s a reason. And Pickle Boy looks to me like a bug on an anvil. It’s Little Lord Fauntleroy calling out Mike Tyson deep in the “€™hood. Where Mommy can”€™t help.

I see that Genghis Obama has sent a destroyer, the closest he can come I guess to a Golden Horde, to the Black Sea, grrr, woof. It’s going to conduct military exercises”€”push-ups, maybe. Now, that’s going to frighten Vlad. I guess a sense of humor is a good thing in a president. Maybe he can amuse Putin to death. I mean, by all the gods and little catfish, what does he think a tiny irritating boat like that is going to do”€”torpedo the Crimea? It doesn”€™t float, Barack. It’s stuck to the bottom. You can”€™t sink it.

To put it simply enough that even the hair-salon Napoleons in the Yankee Capital might be able to understand, but most likely won”€™t, don”€™t make threats that the other guy knows you can”€™t follow through on. This idea is called “€œbrains,”€ or sometimes “€œself-preservation.”€ Them days is gone when Washington could send the bathtub toys pretty much anywhere in the world and everybody would fall on his face and say, “€œYassuh, bwana, yassuh.”€ Any third-grader in a country school in Georgia can see how things stand: Pickle Boy and the Jellyfish can: (1) start a shooting war with Russia; or (2) back down and get laughed at by the whole world. Ain”€™t any other choices that I can see. God save us from little men with big egos and no judgment.

Now, I read a lot of history. It’s because I don”€™t have to spend all my time getting elected and posing for cameras and lying. A patch of history I”€™ve always liked is World War I. It teaches you how to get into a big war that doesn’t turn out like you think, which is what usually happens in wars.

William Goldman’s fantasy tale The Princess Bride made famous the saying “never get involved in a land war in Asia” (it was purportedly advice General Douglas MacArthur gave to President John F. Kennedy regarding Vietnam). But historically the costs of a land war in Europe have been even more horrifying, which is why it’s important to comprehend the various psychological processes that have been driving us toward World War G.

One force is the general tendency of triumphalist powers to press onward until they’ve backed their rivals into a corner. It’s hard for winners to declare victory and go home. It’s more fun to keep the game going, even if the conceivable gains are rapidly diminishing.

In domestic politics, for instance, the National Rifle Administration followed up its heroic 1990s triumphs defending basic Second Amendment rights with a series of extravagant legislative initiatives in part intended to provoke a liberal backlash to keep the NRA relevant.

Similarly, the gay-rights movement, fearing the boredom of victory, has extended its demands for domestic privilege to ever-tinier minorities such as individuals who demand public approval for having their genitals mutilated (World War T). Internationally, homosexual activists such as Masha Gessen, the US government’s former head of propaganda in Russia, and Jamie Kirchick have gone looking to pick a fight with Russia (World War G).

“€œIt’s hard for winners to declare victory and go home.”€

Thus we’ve seen emerge a bizarre alliance of homosexual radicals, banksters, media figures, and old Cold Warriors united by the impulse to bait the ominous Russian bear. For example, the Obama Administration’s ambassador to Russia from 2011 to 2014, Michael A. McFaul, wrote in The New York Times over the weekend in “Confronting Putin’s Russia”:

This new era crept up on us, because we did not fully win the Cold War.

Actually, in 1989-1991 we did win the Cold War, as fully as I, at least, could ever have dreamed: East Berlin, Prague, Warsaw…but Donetsk?

But America’s remarkable triumph in the Cold War wasn’t, apparently, good enough.

Among the more vivid examples of pushing too hard in foreign affairs are the events of 1950, a year in which experienced men who had been tested in the great trials of the 1940s made almost uniformly catastrophic strategic choices. Almost every major decision maker in the Korean conflict had emerged from the previous decade a winner. Yet despite their successful track records”€”or perhaps because of them”€”most pressed their luck too far on that divided peninsula, refusing to settle for half a loaf. The result was a drawn-out war that killed more than a million people over three years”€”without moving the border at all.

The Korean War is largely forgotten today (it had something to do with M*A*S*H, right?), but it was terrifying at the time. It was preceded by a long series of mutual border provocations between communist North Korea, ruled by the sinister Kim Il-sung, and American-backed South Korea, run by the aged and autocratic Syngman Rhee.

Stalin, who was feeling his oats because in 1949 he had acquired both an atomic bomb and a giant ally in Red China, gave Kim Il-sung backing to invade the South. North Korea’s surprise attack on June 25, 1950 routed the corrupt South Korean army.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson had not include South Korea in his public list of countries America would defend, but in the crisis it was decided that South Korea was too important as Japan’s buffer state to allow it to be inundated by communism. In July, American troops began arriving from Japan but were driven back to a small Pusan Perimeter in the southeast of the peninsula.

On September 15, General MacArthur struck behind enemy lines with a masterful amphibious landing at Inchon. He retook South Korea’s capital of Seoul ten days later. The North Korean army was eviscerated. The road to the Yalu River, the border with China in the north, appeared open.

Red China’s number-two man Zhou Enlai repeatedly warned that the continued existence of a North Korean buffer state was a Chinese national necessity for which the huge People’s Liberation Army would fight. But President Harry Truman and Defense Secretary George C. Marshall secretly gave MacArthur permission to cross the border into North Korea. On October 1, 1950 MacArthur set off to conquer North Korea. A week later, the US-controlled UN called for “a unified, independent and democratic government” for all Korea.

In response, on October 19, 1950 hundreds of thousands of battle-hardened Chinese troops began crossing the Yalu. Their original plan was to fight only South Korean forces, but they soon stumbled into American troops. The lightly armed but tactically expert PLA forces drove the Americans, such as my friend sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle, then a teenaged artillery officer, into a nightmarish retreat.

Mao Zedong, elated by his victories over the Americans, gave the order for China to conquer South Korea as well.