Lord Moore and I go back a ways, more than forty-some-odd years. I clearly remember the first time we met at editor Alexander Chancellor’s office at The Spectator. I was called in and Alexander introduced me to a fresh 25-year-old-looking Charles, who had just been named foreign editor. “He went to our old school,” joked Alexander, knowing full well I was not an old Etonian. “I don’t remember you there,” said I. “I think I was there a bit after you,” answered Charles.
Many years later, and after Charles had kept me on despite my four-month graduate studies at Pentonville, I attended a party at his and Caroline’s house. I remember it as if it were yesterday. My Alexandra, who treasures children almost obsessively, noticed twin potties and pulled me aside and pointed them out. The Moores had twins, a boy and a girl, one of whom, William, now slaves away in the Speccie office. Later in the evening I met Charles’ father and we had quite a conversation. My own father had died on July 14,1989, and the gossip columns were speculating about the millions I had inherited. Moore senior was hardly impressed. “How do you know if you have any real friends?” he asked me. Lightning struck for once and I came back with a good one.
“Mr. Moore, the only money I have is what The Spectator pays me every week, 75 pounds, and I make do providing a wife and two children with that. My poor father was a merchant seaman, God rest his soul.” I then explained that it was Alexander Chancellor and Simon Courtauld who had come up with the idea of me posing as a dissolute millionaire Greek shipowner’s son in order to give High Life verisimilitude.
Well, it worked. In fact I have never seen a noble-looking man’s face beam like a football fan after his team’s extra-time winning goal. Moore senior was delighted and offered me a drink. I correctly had gathered that rich playboys who chased women in nightclubs were not his cup of tea. Many, many years later, at Wafic and Rosemary Said’s house in the country, I told the tale to Charles and Caroline and they too were delighted.
I’ve seen the Moores socially off and on throughout the years, but one evening that stands out was when I went into Annabel’s—when it was owned by Mark Birley and wasn’t the vulgar zoo it is today—and saw the couple sitting with a gent who turned out to be a Cambridge don. I was with a couple of young women, Cosima Somerset and the actress Jodie Foster. The don took a shining to Jodie and discreetly asked me for her telephone number. I gave him mine and left it at that.
For the next three weeks, very late on Friday nights, I would get a telephone call asking to speak to Jodie Foster. I never had the heart to tell the caller the truth, that Jodie preferred her own sex and that he was ringing the wrong person. (I think Foster is now happily married to a woman.)
The reason I bring all this up about Charles is because of the column he wrote two weeks ago in the Telegraph. It was about Danny Kruger’s book Covenant, which deals with Christianity and not the “imagined deal between the individual and the state.” The author yearns for an artificial brotherhood, “an unconditional love that can exist between people who are unrelated by blood.”
Nothing nobler than this, after all, as Christian as Christian gets, but it simply ain’t gonna happen. It is only possible when the right of anyone to do and say absolutely anything they feel like doing or saying is reined in. Charles writes that society has cast off the notion of loving thy neighbor as thyself and has retreated to loving thyself only. Hear, hear!
Looking around me, personal autonomy now overrides constraint, and human rights are now used to attack normal social mores. The family disappeared long ago, especially in America. Christianity is denigrated nonstop by filmmakers, and only last week I watched the TV show Billions and the following drew my attention and angry disgust: The father of the main character catches his daughter-in-law praying and goes nuts, threatening to cut her off unless she stops “this God shit.”
I then read an interview in a New York magazine of the trans person that triggered the anti-light-beer reaction, and the writer spoke of the Catholic Church the way I would of a murdering Mafia. So I ask Danny Kruger: How is it possible to feel unconditional love for a fellow human when there’s a definite conspiracy by the left-wing media and entertainment industry to do away with the Christian faith because it teaches us to love our fellow man?
The dishonesty of our leaders is mind-boggling. Example: Young black crime and incarceration is out of control in America, yet no politician has the guts to point out that black kids without fathers—something like 80 percent—is the cause. Instead it’s slavery, abolished in 1865, that is the cause. Victimology, a disease that’s raging both in America and the U.K., has replaced Christianity, and no politician in either country has the guts to point it out. Even poor Meghan Markle is a victim, and come to think of it, I’m a victim too. 75 pounds a week to bring up a family ain’t much.
Two days before flying to Turkey for a few days, I found a little book published in 1944 titled La Turquie d’Ismet Ineunu (The Turkey of Ismet Inonu). It was published by Fernand Sorlot not long before the end of the Occupation.
Fernand Sorlot was the publisher who had been sued by Hitler in the French courts for having published a complete translation of Mein Kampf without Hitler’s authorization. This was a breach of copyright, and Hitler won the trial. No further copies could be sold, and the stock had to be pulped.
Hitler was worried not so much by the breach of copyright, as by the fact that a full translation revealed how much he hated the French, which it was inopportune for him at the time to reveal. A later, authorized translation was published with the anti-French sentiment removed.
Sorlot, a fascist and fervent patriot, had thought it a matter of national importance that he should alert his countrymen to the menace from across the Rhine. “Every Frenchman must read this book,” Marshal Lyautey, the French soldier and colonial administrator, is quoted on the cover as having said.
But once the Occupation occurred, Sorlot continued to publish, and even went into partnership with a German publisher, whose capital he eagerly accepted. The German publisher gained nothing from the deal, and Sorlot argued that he had regarded it as his patriotic duty in effect to swindle him.
This, however, did not save him from trial as a collaborator after the war. Everything he possessed was confiscated and he was sentenced to 20 years’ national degradation, meaning that he could not vote or live in Paris. He was also forbidden from publishing or writing during that period.
The author of the book on Turkey was Jean Savant, a historian specializing in the Napoleonic era, of whom it was later written that he displayed neither “an unreadable erudition nor a hasty vulgarisation,” but was a true historian.
Certainly, he seemed to know firsthand the Turkey of which he wrote. As for me, I knew little of Inonu, though his name was familiar to me from collecting stamps when I was about 11 years old. Inonu, the second president of the Turkish republic after the death of Ataturk, appeared on my stamps and hence I never forgot his face. He was the first president of Turkey to allow himself to be voted out of office.
Children don’t collect stamps any longer because such stamps will soon be as obsolete as horses and carts, and screens are more interesting to them. This is a great shame, I think, because the collection of stamps necessarily opened their minds to the existence of the world outside their own country, even if it did not lead to profound knowledge. No doubt it is pointless to complain.
I read the book on the flight to Turkey. Three things stood out in it for me.
The first was a long description, as an appendix, of the model farm established by the state outside Ankara in 1925. My father, who was once a believing communist, possessed a lot of Soviet propaganda from the 1940s, with which as a child I became familiar. The account of the model farm in Turkey was exactly parallel to accounts of Soviet kolkhozes (collective farms) that I read when I was young. Nature was an enemy to be overcome, and Man triumphed over it as a wrestler overthrows his opponent. The account finishes as follows:
No educated European can ignore any longer the interest that Ataturk had in the farm. Moreover, the Turks must feel a well-deserved joy in contemplating this work which is truly the fruit of Man’s struggle, even in the most pitiful conditions, against Nature; for this victory that Man wins from this high struggle constitutes a symbol of international labour, in which humanity has its joyful part.
This kind of stuff impressed people at the time.
The other passage in the book that struck me most was Savant’s brief account of Ottoman finances before the abolition of the Caliphate. It might remind you of something closer to home:
The external and internal debts of the Ottoman Empire were the heaviest charge on its finances. In 1860, the regime found itself in the following situation: two hundred and forty million gold francs annual revenue against seven hundred and fourteen million gold francs of debts…. Thus, the revenues of Turkey were never sufficient to cover the expenses of the Ottoman sovereigns. The debts never stopped growing, and the majority of the empire’s revenue went directly abroad through the channel of the public debt.
It is often said that we are living through the modern equivalent of the downfall of the Roman Empire. Perhaps the downfall of the Ottoman Empire would be more apposite, though slightly less flattering to our self-esteem. No analogy is exact, of course, which is why it is an analogy rather than a repetition.
The Ottoman Empire was completely dependent on those who would lend it money. According to the book, the new regime managed to balance Turkey’s budget by 1925, a feat far beyond the capacity of most Western governments.
The last thing that impressed me deeply was the fact that the population of Turkey in 1944 was about 18 million, that of Istanbul about 900,000. Eighty years later, the population of Turkey is 84 million, that is to say nearly five times as large, while that of Istanbul is 15.6 million, more than seventeen times as large.
This massive increase has not been accompanied by an increase in poverty—to the contrary. The life expectancy of Turks has doubled, from less than 40 to more than 78. Istanbul has increased in size without the production of the terrible slums of cities such as Lima, let alone Kinshasa. No doubt many people have suffered horribly and unnecessarily in the process of general improvement, but still this achievement is surely impressive.
Turkey is now on the brink of hyperinflation, which it has known before (a handsome 10,000,000 Turkish lira banknote adorns the walls of my kitchen, along with the $50 trillion Zimbabwean banknote and others of that ilk). But somehow its progress seemed not to have stopped because of economic idiocy. I suppose this is consolation of a kind.
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.
You’d think the one thing Republicans would have learned from the 2016 Trump campaign is that voters wanted something completely different from what the GOP had been offering.
For decades, Republicans had run on tax cuts, more military spending to fund the forever wars, and diversity-lite. But Trump proved that what voters wanted was a wall, mass deportations, and a white guy who wasn’t embarrassed about being white. The GOP was like a man who keeps giving his wife Super Bowl tickets for her birthday, when what she wants is a fur coat.
Unfortunately, Trump himself didn’t learn anything from the 2016 campaign, either. Once he got into office, he gave us Super Bowl tickets: tax cuts, more military spending to fund the forever wars, and diversity-lite.
Back when he was talking about Mexican rapists, anchor babies, Kate Steinle, sanctuary cities and a Muslim ban, Trump was a runaway hit with voters! Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb! were left lying by the side of the road, mumbling about their immigrant relatives.
After six months of impotent rage as they watched Trump’s poll numbers rise, the Republican Establishment finally took its revenge the night of President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address.
The instrument of their revenge was Nikki Haley. Appealing to Republicans’ diversity-lite side, Nikki is fairly bristling with implausible stories of racist America treating her and her family racistly in the 1970s (the darkest days of the Jim Crow South!). But the epilogue is that we have “come a long way.” I, for one, am totally relieved that we have finally redeemed ourselves in Haley’s eyes.
Now, she’s running for president, as the perfect establishment candidate, designed to repel voters from coast to coast. Having Haley in the White House would be like having to watch “Roots” every night. (Note to candidates: “Being in the White House” includes being in the vice president’s office.)
At the 2016 State of the Union, President Obama attacked Trump, warning Americans not to listen to “extremist voices,” or “fear the future” because of the “influx of new immigrants.”
Giving the opposing point of view was Haley — who also attacked Trump. For something completely different, she warned Americans not to listen to “the loudest voice in the room.” She then laid out the official Republican position on immigration. (Fling open the border!)
— Anyone who is “willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions” is “welcome in our country.”
Anyone “willing to work hard”? That is the definition of open borders. “Abide by our laws”? Seven months of Trump sweeping the polls on an anti-immigration message, and the most the GOP Establishment would give us is, “OK, no more felons.”
— We should welcome all immigrants “just like we have for centuries.”
Has Haley read a history book? Calvin Coolidge shut down immigration for half a century.
— We should “fix our broken immigration system.”
Translation from Establishment Speak: “Amnesty.”
— We should be “welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion.”
What precisely are we “vetting” if we’re not allowed to look at race or religion? Other than the fact that they were Chechen or Middle Eastern Muslims, there was no reason to reject the immigrants who killed scores of Americans in San Bernardino, Chattanooga and the Boston Marathon. Oh, yeah, also 3,000 of them on 9/11.
— “The best thing we can do,” Haley concluded, “is turn down the volume.”
Which is exactly what the GOP had been saying to voters for decades: You guys need to shut the hell up.
But Haley wasn’t done performing tasks for the Establishment. In February 2016, she joined Chris Wallace (in both 2016 and 2020), Jake Tapper and 417 other MSM journalists in their quest to have Trump never stop disavowing the KKK.
Instead of getting tired of winning, Trump supporters were getting tired of condemning.
Thus, shortly before the South Carolina primary, brave Nikki gave a speech, saying, “I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK.”
Headlines all over.
In June of that year, after a mass shooting by a disturbed white man at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Haley grandiosely removed the Confederate battle flag from state capitol grounds.
And you know what? Today, black people have as much wealth as other Americans, their SAT scores have risen, and there hasn’t been another mass shooting of black people since then. All thanks to Gov. Haley.
Despite her vow to never stop fighting Trump, he was elected president, whereupon he immediately hired … Nikki Haley.
Even in a completely useless job — ambassador to the United Nations — she managed to screw it up. First, Haley practically invited President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to launch the “worst chemical attack in years” (New York Times) by telling reporters, just weeks earlier, that removing Assad was no longer a U.S. “priority.”
Next, she misstated U.S. policy on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” claiming that Trump was about to issue a new round of sanctions against Russia. (He wasn’t.) With Trump shouting at the TV, the White House said Haley was “confused,” and the State Department asked her to issue a correction.
But Haley got a good I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar moment out of it: “Haley fires back at White House: ‘I don’t get confused'”
There were any number of competent Republicans Trump could have hired instead of Haley, even some who didn’t hate him, didn’t hate his supporters, and didn’t oppose everything he (claimed) he stood for.
Obviously, Trump never meant a word he said on the campaign trail.
Ironically, Republican donors are wild about Nikki. As far as I can tell, they’re her biggest supporters. Turns out, they’re just as stupid as Trump is.
The subject of Isaacson’s last book The Code Breaker, Jennifer Doudna, the coinventor of the CRISPR gene-editing method, served as a reasonable representative of how much women have contributed to the life sciences in recent decades. But Isaacson’s strong suit is unreasonable men, such as Musk, Jobs, and Doudna’s mentor James D. Watson, who wound up dominating The Code Breaker from his supporting role.
Of these three big men, Musk might be the most exhaustingly energetic.
He made his first two fortunes with conventional Internet Bubble software start-ups, the city guide Zip2 and the online financial services firm X.com. (Musk is obsessed with the letter “X.” He also bestowed it upon his rocket ship company, SpaceX, plus his favorite of his nearly countless sons, X Musk; and he has recently renamed his 2022 acquisition Twitter as X.)
I can recall receiving $100 from Musk’s first X in 1999 just for opening an account with them even though I did nothing on X other than transfer my bounty to my real bank account. Silly as it had seemed to me at the time, this “network effect” war between X and Peter Thiel’s PayPal to get bigger than the other paid off when the more profit-focused Thiel eventually persuaded Musk to merge X with PayPal to end their war.
Considering how easy it had been to make money off internet businesses, it was surprising that Musk pivoted next not just to hardware, but to two of the most iconic of 20th-century American heavy industries (but also among the most sclerotic and seemingly least likely to be disrupted). He invested in a boutique automobile firm, Tesla, and started his own rocket company, SpaceX.
He’d been fascinated by rocketry since his unhappy childhood in South Africa, where he had no friends (but he had a brother and three cousins who lived next door who were the genetic equivalent of brothers because their mother was his mother’s identical twin sister).
Like his rival in the rocket business, Jeff Bezos, Musk had grown up reading hard science fiction by Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. (In this century, sci-fi has gotten much more woke and self-pitying. Will it nurture so many high achievers like Musk and Bezos in the future?)
Talking to sci-fi film director James Cameron at a charity dinner in 2002, Musk heard a rationale for why he should indulge in his passion for rockets. Cameron told him that it was too risky for humanity to have all its eggs in a single planetary basket: We needed a survivable colony on Mars in case Lucifer’s Hammer wiped out Earth. (Musk is highly empathetic to humanity as a whole, but less so toward individual humans, such as his direct reports, which he attributes to Asperger’s syndrome.)
But lots of zillionaires have put money into high-end cars and even outer space without making much of a noticeable difference.
Even Jobs had focused on getting elegant and useful products designed, but let Tim Cook handle outsourcing their manufacturing to China. In contrast, Musk followed Henry Ford’s example in focusing on building giant factories to make previously exotic products in America on a mass scale. At a time when U.S. manufacturing seemed dead in the water, Tesla showed that American workers could still compete. Tesla is now up to almost a 4 percent share of the vast auto market in the U.S. and 3 percent in Europe. Its stock market capitalization is $774 billion.
And SpaceX revolutionized the traditionally cost-plus business of rockets by adopting automotive mass production methods to make shooting satellites into orbit much cheaper. The Wall Street Journal reported in July: “Elon Musk’s SpaceX Now Has a ‘De Facto’ Monopoly on Rocket Launches.”
As described by Isaacson after two years of following Musk around, the entrepreneur’s methods remind me of Stalin’s for growing the Soviet steel industry: purge and surge. Periodically, Musk somewhat randomly fires some employees to encourage the others, then leads the gung ho survivors on a Stakhanovite push for greater production for a couple of months. He then vanishes to one of his other enterprises, until he suddenly reappears with some crazy new self-imposed deadline.
One difference (besides not sending wreckers to Siberia, of course) is that Musk has the capitalist price system to direct his fury for streamlining his assembly lines in effective directions. While Stalin succeeded at getting the Soviet economy to smelt more tons of steel, communism was useless at producing complex desirable consumer goods such as Tesla electric cars.
In contrast, Musk obsesses over the cost of each part, relentlessly asking his underlings during surges why they can’t make each item more simple. Musk is convinced that the modern world is a victim of its own success, as rules for how to do each little thing pile up on top of other rules:
“This is how civilizations decline. They quit taking risks. And when they quit taking risks, their arteries harden. Every year there are more referees and fewer doers.” That’s why America could no longer build things like high-speed rail or rockets that go to the moon. “When you’ve had success for too long, you lose the desire to take risks.”
Hence, the 2022 culture clash between Musk and the nearly 8,000 Twitter employees (which he almost immediately reduced to just over 2,000, which caused much-trumpeted but not fatal troubles) was so entertaining. (Perhaps Musk’s favorite movie line is from Gladiator: “Are you not entertained?”) Isaacson writes:
Twitter prided itself on being a friendly place where coddling was considered a virtue. “We were definitely very high-empathy, very caring about inclusion and diversity; everyone needs to feel safe here,” says Leslie Berland, who was chief marketing and people officer until she was fired by Musk. The company had instituted a permanent work-from-home option and allowed a mental “day of rest” each month. One of the commonly used buzzwords at the company was “psychological safety.”… Musk let loose a bitter laugh when he heard the phrase “psychological safety.” It made him recoil. He considered it to be the enemy of urgency, progress, orbital velocity. His preferred buzzword was “hardcore.” Discomfort, he believed, was a good thing. It was a weapon against the scourge of complacency.
When Musk made his $44 billion bid for Twitter in April 2022, I had, after 11.5 years on Twitter, only 40,000 followers. Now, less than 18 months later, I’m at over 100,000.
Presumably, Twitter’s previous management had applied “visibility filtering,” treating me a little like how Stalin handled Mikhail Bulgakov, author of the satire on communism The Master and Margarita: I like you, so I’m not going to shoot you. But I’m not going to let you prosper, either.
Isaacson, the former editor of Time, president of CNN, and now head of the elite Aspen Institute, writes:
During Watergate and Vietnam, journalists generally regarded the CIA, military, and government officials with suspicion, or at least a healthy skepticism…. But beginning in the 1990s and accelerating after 9/11, established journalists felt increasingly comfortable sharing information and cooperating with top people in the government and intelligence communities. That mindset was replicated at social media companies, as shown by all the briefings Twitter and other tech companies received. “These companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus,” [Matt] Taibbi wrote, “although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed.”
Isaacson acidly observes:
I think the second half of his sentence is more true than the first.
The biographer offers several explanations for Musk’s shift from the center to the right in recent years.
He sent one of his many sons to Crossroads, a $50,000-per-year progressive school in Santa Monica, where the boy declared he was a girl and a communist, and that he hated his dad. Hence, the first Twitter account Musk restored after purchasing the social media company was The Babylon Bee, the Christian satire site that had been banned for “misgendering” Admiral “Rachel” Levine by naming the Biden administration official their Man of the Year.
Also, while Musk was impressed by Barack Obama, who placed a big bet on SpaceX, he thinks Joe Biden is a dope. I suspect a lot of the personal bad blood between Biden and Musk stems from Biden being a 1970s labor Democrat—he’s marching on a United Auto Workers picket line this week—who dislikes Tesla for being nonunion.
But the American union system, with the rights it gives unions to impede productivity improvements that haven’t been negotiated in the contract, would be fatal to Musk’s frequent manic drives to boost productivity. The American system seems peculiarly ill-designed compared with, say, the Swedish or German systems, which manage to reconcile worker power with high quality.
An incident that Isaacson doesn’t mention is the 2021 discrimination lawsuit against Tesla in which a jury awarded a black elevator operator who worked at the Fremont plant for 11 months $137 million for being joshed by Hispanic fellow workers.
Tesla managed to get the payout cut to $3 million on appeal in 2023. Musk tweeted:
If we had been allowed to introduce new evidence, the verdict would’ve been zero imo.
Jury did the best they could with the information they had. I respect the decision.
Culturally, the 71-year-old Isaacson, an impressive example of the best type of Establishment baby boomer, occasionally seems nonplussed by the generation gap between himself and the 52-year-old Musk, who remains a computer strategy game addict. (Recent favorite: The Battle of Polytopia.) Why is Musk so good at both games like Civilization and business? “I am wired for war,” Musk says.
There really weren’t as many nerds back in Isaacson’s day. In contrast to Musk, Jobs was an Italian renaissance cardinal commissioning the finest artists.
Isaacson sums up in his last paragraph for his genteel readers offended by Musk’s tweets (or Xs or whatever he calls them these days):
But would a restrained Musk accomplish as much as a Musk unbound? Is being unfiltered and untethered integral to who he is? Could you get the rockets to orbit or the transition to electric vehicles without accepting all aspects of him, hinged and unhinged? Sometimes great innovators are risk-seeking man-children who resist potty training. They can be reckless, cringeworthy, sometimes even toxic. They can also be crazy. Crazy enough to think they can change the world.
The threat to men’s lives had him in a rage. A leader such as that would command fanatic loyalty. He would be difficult to defeat. Against his own will and all previous judgments, Kynes admitted to himself: I like this Duke.
That’s from Frank Herbert’s Dune, and for those of you who don’t know the book, I’ll spend the next 5,000 words explaining it so you can understand the context.
Just kidding. The shorthand is, a dude who’s used to oppressive rulers realizes that his new occupier actually cares.
So, I gotta say…against my own will and all previous judgments, I’m kinda liking Karen Bass, the new L.A. mayor.
Let me qualify that. Bass is a leftist; I disagree with her on most matters of ideology. But in the age of Trump, Lake, Boebert, and MTG on the right and Harris, AOC, and every black officeholder in Chicago, Baltimore, and NYC on the left, I appreciate politicians who aren’t self-destructive imbeciles.
It’s refreshing to see a politico exhibit skill and finesse.
In 2020, Bass—then a congresswoman (representing a Frankensteined district encompassing crappy South L.A. and parts of prosperous Culver City) and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus—played it smart regarding “defund the police.” In the national press, she condemned “defund,” making sure to never be caught even tacitly supporting it. At the same time, she deftly outmaneuvered her pro-defund South L.A. constituents by telling them (I’m paraphrasing here, but you can see her own words in this thread), “Hey, I’m not condemning what you’re trying to do; I’m just saying, right-wingers are distorting the slogan, misinterpreting it to mean that you want to actually defund police, when I know that what you really want to do is keep police but also expand social services for the mentally ill.”
That was adroit. Publicly denounce “defund” in the WaPo, and then use verbal jujitsu on the weak-minded pro-defunders to make them think that what they really want is not what they really want.
Jedi mind-trick stuff. And few BLMs possess the intellect to deflect it.
BLM: “You denounced ‘defund the police’! We oppose you.”
Bass: “You don’t really want to defund the police…you just want to help the homeless. Defund isn’t your slogan but the right wing’s misinterpretation of your actual goals.”
BLM (robotically): “Yes, we don’t really want to defund the police…we just want to help the homeless. Defund isn’t our slogan but the right wing’s misinterpretation of our actual goals.”
She played it perfectly, distancing herself from a millstone most other black Democrats tied to their neck like a noose, while, at the same time, manipulating the defunders into embracing a less extreme position.
While in Congress, Bass championed everything a chair of the Congressional Black Caucus is expected to. Reparations! Affirmative action!
But when she ran for L.A. mayor, it all went out the window. Because she knows this town. Like me, she was born here (we attended the same majority-black high school). Her ex-husband, the father of her children, is Hispanic. And she sees the demographic change plain as I do. L.A.’s remaining blacks were infuriated by her refusal to advocate reparations during her mayoral campaign. In November last year, “Black Twitter” “community organizer” “influencer” “Princess El-Bey” (and David Cole breaks the record for contiguous scare quotes) declared that Bass “represents a gentrified Los Angeles. That needs to be reversed, but most of us have moved away. LA is browner than ever! Compton, Watts, Inglewood undergoing gentrification!”
Yes, most blacks have moved away, and Bass knows that. She knows that L.A. (the city, not the county; in other words, not counting white Beverly Hills, Malibu, South Bay, etc.) is brown, just like 50 percent of the LAPD and LASD. Bass ran a nuanced campaign targeting whites who might be tempted to vote for a Riordan-style Republican (she didn’t have to worry about the other whites; they’d vote for her regardless) and Mexicans. No defund, no reparations, no affirmative action so that Daquan is silver-platter handed a job that Juan actually worked to get.
To be clear, Bass’ November 2022 victory wasn’t all skill; some of it was luck. Her opponent, Dipshit Douchebaggio (Italian-American billionaire developer Rick Caruso, but I’ll never afford that sack of crap the respect of being referred to by name), is a pussy who makes Mitt Romney look like Barry Goldwater. Douchebaggio saw the word “crime” as worse than the “n-word,” so he refused to say it (I go into more detail about that on my Substack).
Douchebaggio did not make crime an issue during the election, meaning that Bass could’ve skirted it entirely. But she didn’t. That was impressive. She advocated for more cops and more policing without having to be backed into a corner by her opponent. Indeed, during the election, Bass was slammed by The Appeal, L.A.’s Soros-Zuckerberg-Google-funded “prison abolitionist” advocacy org, as a “cheerleader for cops” who’s “virtually indistinguishable from Republicans on public safety.”
But that was during the election. Was Bass just putting on a pro-police act? After she won, that’s when her true colors would shine, right? (I’m trying to say “right?” a lot more these days because apparently the current fad for every TV news show interviewee is to end every sentence with a rhetorical “right?”)
Well, after Bass was sworn in, she refunded the police like she was Buford T. Justice chasing the Bandit. She pushed through $3.2 billion for the LAPD, along with an extensive package of raises and bonuses to replenish LAPD ranks (which have been seriously depleted over the past three years). Starting pay for new recruits would increase by 13 percent. Retention pay and health insurance would also increase. Bass stated that her goal is “hiring more police, speeding up recruitment and improving retention rates.”
“My number-one job is to keep Angelenos safe,” Bass told the L.A. Times. And she was able to get her “fund the police” budget passed via a 13-to-1 City Council vote (and yeah, she actually says “fund the police,” a middle finger directly in the eye of BLM).
Cretinous kaiju Melina Abdullah, the deformed face of BLM L.A., has declared holy war on Bass. “We haven’t been able to influence her,” Abdullah whined to Politico in August.
Music to my ears.
Like I said, I’m not writing a love letter to Karen Bass. But I can’t help but think that white weakling Assholio Pussypantsa (I’ll never tire of Caruso nicknames) would’ve caved to Abdullah and BLM. His flagship development, The Grove, was looted and burned by BLM in 2020. Had Imbecilio Succadafagga been elected, BLM could’ve forever used the threat of re-destroying his properties as leverage regarding LAPD defunding. And more than that, I’m 100 percent certain Limpdiccia Skidmarco would’ve spent his entire tenure trying to prove he’s “not racist.” He likely would’ve caved to the City Council’s far-left wing at every opportunity.
Again, against all previous judgments, I think the right person won. Not in terms of “the right person among all persons on earth,” but the right person considering the options.
So what are the larger lessons here?
The first one that comes to mind is that the GOP is lucky as hell that Dems haven’t realized just how unstoppable a “1994 Democrat”—pro-choice, tough on crime, no trannyism—would be today, especially in city and state elections (not counting places where blacks are a majority or near majority, because that demographic is way too far gone). Should Democrats ever realize that going back to that 1994 vibe—supporting abortion rights while also supporting policing and incarceration and going easy on the gay shit while avoiding tranny talk (which of course wasn’t even an issue in ’94)—would be an ultimate stake through the heart of a GOP that’s dying among swing voters thanks to Trumpism on one end and pro-life extremism on the other, GOP losses would be profound, and that’s saying a lot considering how substantial those losses have already been over the past five years.
Luckily for Republicans, and this is why there were still a few GOP bright spots even during the recent losing streak, many Dems blow the pro-choice goodwill, or at least temper it, via fanatical devotion to “progressive prosecution,” decarceration, and misogynist tranny ideology.
Which means that the GOP’s entire plan for victory is, “I hope the other side stays dumb so that my dumbness looks less harmful in comparison.” And that’s shaky ground indeed.
Karen Bass is not my idealized “1994 Democrat.” And at nearly 70 years of age, she’s not someone with long-term ambitions. But God help the GOP if any younger Dems see her success and get any ideas to go even further. “Hmmm…pro-choice but also tough on crime…and maybe cool it with the trannies and favor at least some immigration restrictions.”
A leader such as that would command fanatic loyalty. He would be difficult to defeat.
The real test for Bass will come next year, as DA Gascon, a conscienceless monster responsible for more deaths than every American serial killer combined, comes up for reelection. As several other commentators have noted, Bass can boost LAPD recruitment all she wants, but as long as Gascon is the DA, what’s the sense of arresting people when they’re immediately freed? (A Soros DA makes policing merely a mild inconvenience for criminals.)
How will Bass respond? Will she support Gascon? Will she support one of his rivals? Will she stay neutral?
Bass has never expressed a word of support for Gascon. And in August she very visibly shut the bastard out of her press conference with the LAPD to announce new policies to battle the city’s shoplifting epidemic.
If Bass emerges as a force against Gascon in next year’s election, that might win me over entirely. Considering that Gascon’s beloved Proposition 47 (the shoplifting decriminalization initiative) was pushed by Newt Gingrich and Rand Paul, if Bass helps defeat Gascon, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that she’s not the better option when compared with hypocritical, deceitful GOP slimeballs.
As rightists nationwide continue to run on relitigating the 2020 election, excusing J6, defending Trump against his indictments, bending over backwards to “not be racist” to blacks, praising frauds like Kari Lake, playing footsie with Holocaust-denying Nazis like Nick Fuentes, and promising total abortion bans even in the face of electoral defeat after defeat for pro-lifers, they better hope and pray that Bass is an outlier and not a trend.
That prominent rightists have spent the past few weeks circulating a 100 percent fake viral video about how Beverly Hills is “now a ghost town” (yeah, I’ve gotten your DMs about that, and I’ll address it in greater detail next week) while Bass has spent those same weeks doing real-world good by funding and bolstering the police speaks volumes regarding who can actually earn public trust.
You’re on shaky ground, rightists. A San Andreas Fault.
Lifelong Angelenos know that “the big one” is always just around the corner.
For rightists, it might be even closer than that.
Now that your kids are “safely” back at school and college this September, what are they actually learning? How to eat shit, that’s what.
In 2022, teaching materials endorsed by American teaching union the NEA were leaked online, instructing children how to perform all kinds of queer-tastic sex acts so obscure even Sam Smith hasn’t tried them. One particular fact sheet enlightened children about “RIMMING: Stimulating the anus of another person using the tongue and mouth.”
The document proceeded to teach students how to perform such an act—but why would anyone even need instructions for such a self-explanatory procedure? The best “educators” could come up with was “Use your tongue or mouth to stimulate the bumhole area.” The only good advice on the sheet was the line “If concerned about cleanliness, you might consider a shower before rimming,” although, given declining standards of teenage IQ, perhaps the fact sheet’s authors should have made it clear this step was to be followed by the person receiving, not giving, the procedure.
These poo-munching periods were part of what within a British context are called “PSHE”—“Personal, Social and Health Education,” i.e., teaching kids how to perform a safe DIY abortion in the school toilets with a compass during lunchtime, how to commit suicide in your bedroom without getting any blood on the carpet, etc. Nowadays, however, the subject has become so queer-captured it actually stands for “Pernicious Socio-Homosexual Engineering,” or possibly even “Pedophile Sex Heaven Everyday.”
At least this crap was once quarantined away safely within a specific lesson kids with any sense could always skip—today, such queer content is firmly embedded within each and every subject area, making students’ escape from leering adult groomers now literally impossible, just like on Epstein Island.
The classic example comes with mathematics. Last week we saw how pedagogical indoctrinators were trying to make math racist. Now we shall see how they are also trying to turn it gay. How can you queer math? Joseph Conrad knew. In the great author’s cautionary 1907 novel The Secret Agent, Conrad has a cynical anarchist sponsor express the then-impossible desire to really discombobulate the general public by “throw[ing] a bomb into pure mathematics.” Well, that bomb is now finally here, and it is called Queer Theory.
Many parents innocently imagine Queer Theory to be just a harmless academic expression of the desire for equal rights for all homos to penetrate one another as they please. No! Queer in this context is a verb, not a noun, and doesn’t necessarily refer to actual homosexualists or lesbianists, who are merely its convenient tools. Far-left academic Queer Theorists want to “queer” society in the same way we speak of “queering” a pitch—i.e., by completely ruining it.
It is more truly an all-encompassing war against the normative performed in the name of dismantling capitalism itself, and as obvious representatives of non-normative sexuality, queers can easily be enlisted as its mincing shock troops. So, in (historically) white Western countries, can nonwhites: Analogically, blacks are “queer” too, whether actually homosexual like Young Obama or not.
Recall how, last week, we observed leftist math teachers claiming 2 + 2 may legitimately not equal 4 to a black student: That equates to “queering” math in the name of race. In this new way of considering the sum, perhaps 2 + 2 may generally equal 4, but not necessarily; to some blacks and Hispanics blessed with “other ways of knowing,” it may occasionally equal 3 or 5 instead.
This is analogously similar to transgenderism, where a penis may generally equal “male” but now, somehow, may occasionally equal “female” instead, somehow. The old way of looking at things could be expressed by the following paired equation:
(2 + 2 = 4) = (Penis = Male)
In tomorrow’s woke school textbooks, however, this would be replaced by the following queer alternative where, as per usual in algebra, x = the unknown or forever indeterminate:
(2 + 2 = x) = (Penis = x)
Most woke number-magicians would probably agree that, under the majority of circumstances, 2 + 2 did indeed equal 4, much as for the majority of the time “penis” did indeed equal “male,” but to insist upon this being the case 100 percent of the time (or indeed 101 percent of the time, let us not be percentile-exclusionary here) was simply to “exclude other possibilities” from potential existence in a restrictive and bigoted fashion.
To disagree that 2 + 2 may equal 5 is in fact a new form of homophobia. Says one tenured U.S. math pedagogue: “The ability to consider sexuality irrelevant in the mathematics context is a heteronormatively privileged position.” Oh, for fuxx sake!
When I was young, one popular schoolboy joke was to type “55378008” into a calculator, then turn it upside down, so the LCD display appeared to spell out the word “BOOBLESS.” At the time, I thought this was just amusing coincidence. Today, I now realize it was clear and undeniable evidence that numbers are transphobic as well as racist, and ought to be canceled wholesale immediately.
We now see coming true the warning of the wise English conservative writer GK Chesterton, in his prescient 1926 essay “On Modern Controversy,” that: “We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four…in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green.”
In his 1905 collection Heretics, GKC further spoke of how, for a certain breed of pseudointellectual poseur, “the most dreadful conclusion” one could come to was “the conclusion that the ordinary view is the right one. It is only the last and wildest kind of courage that can stand on a tower before ten thousand people and tell them that twice two is four.”
What Chesterton once called “Heretics” we now call Queer Theorists—and they are increasingly in charge of our entire education system. Look at this old BBC sketch-show clip from parodic numbers-based TV quiz contest Numberwang! whose rules make absolutely no sense: That’s what these AIDS-brained loonies want your kids’ queer math lessons of tomorrow to become.
The lie is now being pushed that LGBTQ “folx” (the “x” in this tedious newspeak spelling is intended to be analogously algebraic in function) have special “other ways of seeing” the world that make them better at math than normal folks (no “x”)—their method of performing sums now becomes as superiorly “queer” as that of fashionably “neurodiverse” Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
According to one queer critic, “A proof of the Riemann Hypothesis [an unsolved mathematical conundrum] is possibly sitting in some transgendered teen’s brain as I write this. What an incredible tragedy if that proof never comes to fruition [due to institutional transphobia].”
Even the Fields Institute, one of the subject’s leading academic centers, now holds an LGBTQ+ Math Day every year, in which queer and nonbinary folx claim spuriously that being bent makes them able to add up properly: “I was pulled into algebraic geometry as a graduate student because I like the double-vision of seeing objects from both algebraic and geometric perspectives, and I’ve long felt that the most exciting mathematics brings this kind of binary-rejecting double-vision to approach problems from new directions.”
This is every bit as stupid as feminist academic Luce Irigaray’s notorious old assertion that math, being controlled by the patriarchy, historically privileged solid mechanics over fluid mechanics, as men had solid erections, whilst women had fluid periods.
Yet still, such delusions are set to be taught in our schools. Head to thequeermathematicsteacher.com to find “A Warm Queer Welcome” (sounds potentially infectious) and discover just how Latinx pedagogue Brandie E. Waid (pronouns: she/her/ella) is busily “re/humanizing mathematics” by encouraging all students to develop their own personal “mathematics identity.”
“Without us, it [math] is nothing,” so children need to “mathematize their realities too,” Waid cites other solipsists as yelping. To this end, she runs an online “‘Camp’ of Mathematical Queeries,” offering gay or gay-ally schoolkids “30 Hours of Queer Mathematical Joy & Community Building.” Homosexual children, it transpires, possess special powers of “inqueery” inaccessible to normies:
Our program taps into LGBTQ+ folx natural propensity to explore alternative routes [like anal passages?] and ask questions that others may not. We believe this is exactly the liberatory approach needed to radically transform how we view what counts as mathematics and what it means to be mathematical.
Meaning what? Meaning emotionally retarded ideologues like Waid (who first developed her anti-theories during an “almost two year recovery from a mild traumatic brain injury”) get to arbitrarily redefine what now counts as being a legitimate math lesson.
“Math” now apparently includes discussions about pupils’ favorite songs (those that were “giving them life”), viewing of drag queen TikTok videos, stern public criticism of textbooks involving old-fashioned terms like “boys” and “girls,” and awakening infant minds to how “mathematics classrooms are some of the most violent spaces” for queer kids, due to their bigoted privileging of “normative ideas such as finding the ‘acceptable’ answer by using the ‘acceptable’ solution method.”
The Bore of Babylon
This culminates in a truly weird geometry lesson plan. Introducing kids to the concept of “queering public space,” a video of organic-looking pastel-colored CGI architecture is played, resembling some gay game-show set, an impression reinforced by the piece’s title, “Boudoir Babylon.”
Split by a vertical line down the middle, just like a ruined anus, it is not quite symmetrical, symmetry being unacceptably heteronormative. Actually, it turns out it is built of a hitherto-unknown class of geometrical solids named “queer-oglyphs” that only homosexuals can actually see. Apparently, “To the cishet eye, it would just look like a very unique design, but to queers, it would look very queer.”
So, there you have it; homosexuals now possess actual superpowers, advanced forms of mathematical and spatial cognition inaccessible to straight folks (again, no “x” here, only the ex-men of male-to-female transgenderism get that). To be normal is now actually to be redefined as being abnormal—indeed, as profoundly mentally disabled—that’s Numberwang!
Here’s another good queer mathx qxstion for Amerixa’s kidx of tomorrxw: “If every teacher-training college pumps out 5,600 professional queer ideologues like Brandie E. Waid per year, with there being 57,200 such classroom roles available across America in total, and 3,400 older, but mentally normal, math instructors retire per annum, how many years until obsessive coxxuckers and clxtlickers fill all such jobs nationwide, none of our kids can add up properly anymore, and Chinese scientists and engineers take over the world without anyone in the White House even noticing?”
Answer: Sorry, it’s already happened.
The Week’s Most Bummer, Mummer, and Farewell to Summer Headlines
The actors’ strike marches on!
The war between streamers and studios on one side and actors on the other has entered a new phase. As union members go broke, SAG decided last week to hold an auction to raise money for the poor suffering black women cast in Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale biopics who are now out of work.
Among the items being auctioned (this is for real—these aren’t gags):
Lena Dunham talks to you via Zoom: $5,100 (no price listed for “Lena Dunham molests your sister”).
Maggie Gyllenhaal talks to you via Zoom for 20 minutes: $910 ($1,200 if you want her to explain why the victims on 9/11 deserved to die).
Natasha Lyonne helps you solve the NY Times crossword puzzle: $3,007, but she’ll cut the price in half if you let her rape your dog (yes, she once actually threatened to rape a dog).
John Lithgow paints a portrait of your dog: $4,050 ($5,050 if it’s being raped by Natasha Lyonne).
Zoom call with Sarah Silverman: $1,825 (for $2,000 she’ll come to your house to find hidden swastikas).
A few items left off the list:
Charlize Theron castrates your children: $4,400.
Will Smith slaps an enemy of your choice: $550.
Robin Williams’ corpse is delivered to your home so you can have the rare opportunity to see him not manic: $10,000.
Same deal with Gilbert Gottfried: $50.
John Landis beheads your relatives: $3,500 (offer only valid in the Muslim world).
Jerry Seinfeld drops by and asks “what’s the deal” about your personal effects: $5,500.
Zoom call with Robert Wagner where he tells you what really happened that night on the boat: $6,700.
Christopher Walken murders you because now you know too much: free add-on to the above item.
BRAND NEW TROUBLE
“First they came for Russell Brand, and I did not speak out, because let’s be honest he was never funny.” —Pastor Martin Kneesläpper
Russell Brand was the Dane Cook of England. There are so few good-looking comics, when you get one with a passable resemblance to an actual human, he becomes instantly popular (in a field in which the beauty scale has Patton Oswalt as the mean and not the ass-end, it’s easy to stand out as handsome).
Brand had quite the heyday churning out unfunny films. And because of his looks, “guys wanted to be him and ladies wanted to be with him.”
And boy, did he indulge the latter. As a self-proclaimed “sex addict,” by his own estimates he “shagged” thousands of women.
That probably seemed fun at the time. But there’s a decent reason to not “shag thousands of women,” and it has nothing to do with herpes, though yes, that’s a concern.
Believe it or not, Brand is now accused of having shagged once or twice without consent.
Well, who could’ve seen that coming?
According to Brand’s foes, he did. The theory floated by British feminists is that Brand purposely dropped comedy from his act (though can you really drop that which you never did?) in favor of becoming a British amalgam of Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and RFK Jr. to give himself a fanatic fan base that would reflexively circle the wagons to protect him once the “nonconsensually shagged” emerged.
Nonsense, screams Brand’s fanatical Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and RFK Jr. fan base! “We’d never reflexively circle the wagons to protect Brand,” they shout as they reflexively circle the wagons to protect Brand. See, it turns out the hidden-hand “thems” came for Brand because he tells the truth about the verminous elites, the puppet masters who control the world.
Well, that’s one theory. Here’s another: That a preening egomaniac addicted to heroin and booze had sex with a thousand women and got #MeToo’d is actually the expected, organic outcome.
If the elites wanted to keep Brand out of politics, they could’ve just made Arthur a commercial success.
Wait, some things are beyond even Klaus Schwab.
TOO FRANK FOR HER OWN GOOD
Russell Brand wasn’t the only person “canceled” last week. A teacher in Beaumont, Texas, was fired after showing her class images from Anne Frank: The Graphic Novel, a cartoon edition of the famous diary, with illustrations of genitalia to accompany the young diarist’s passages about her awakening sexuality.
The fired teacher is now a hero of “free speech” leftists. And maybe she’s also a genius; with so many teachers so determined to show genitalia to students, hiding behind Anne Frank provides perfect cover.
“Sure, it’s a penis, but it’s from Anne Frank’s diary. Fire me and you’re Hitler!”
If Russell Brand did indeed seek cover for his misdeeds by adopting Tucker Carlson/Alex Jones rhetoric, the Beaumont case provides another creative example of pervs seeking immunity and protection.
On the other hand, many critics have credited the Anne Frank graphic novel as a wholly appropriate method for teachers to introduce the author’s work to children. And granted, it’s much better than some of the other comic strip attempts at bringing her diary to life.
The Franks sit around the makeshift kitchen in the hidden annex. Enter Anne’s fat orange tabby.
Garfilte: “What’s for breakfast?”
Papa Frank: “Toast and a shmear of butter.”
Garfilte: “No lasagna? I’m outta here. I HATE Maandagen!”
Then there’s Anne Frank: Peanuts Edition (“Good grief, Charlie Braun”), in which the Frank family is given away by Pig-Pen’s godawful stank.
And this cartoon illustrating Nazi racial science:
Obersturmbannführer: “You’re under arrest for being a Jew!”
Ziggy: “How’d you know?”
Obersturmbannführer: “Dude, you’re literally just a giant nose.”
And this one:
Nuremberg Prosecutor: “You personally oversaw the murder of 80,000 Jews in Minsk. You’re a horrible person.”
Hägar: “Yeah, it’s literally my name, jackass.”
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONEHENGE
Some people haven’t gotten the memo: Blacks built everything. America, the Pyramids, and the other wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Artemis was actually the Temple of Art Evans. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (originally “Hanging Gardens of Babyface”) grew weed. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built for those who died in the fast-food wars. And the Colossus of Rhodes was originally the Colossus of Roads, honoring Michael Brown for walking in the middle of the street and refusing to move for police.
Last week Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone, was canceled real good during the promotional tour for his upcoming book The Masters, a collection of interviews with rock legends. When asked why there were no blacks among his “masters,” Wenner claimed that black artists “just didn’t articulate at that level.”
And the music biz went nuts. Wenner was fired from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and his own magazine distanced itself from him. And Wenner’s publishers? They’re hard at work figuring out a way to present Wenner as an autistic Palestinian.
Odd how people are shocked that a book called The Masters is whites-only.
But as Wenner was being pilloried for not giving blacks their due, over in the U.K., they totally got the memo. The new official line is that blacks built Stonehenge. Sure, there’s no evidence for it; sure, it was built by white Europeans. But at least the “revelation” that it was black-built finally solves the age-old puzzle of what Stonehenge actually did.
Turns out it dindu nuthin’.
Stonehenge’s “black” lineage sheds light on the structure’s design. The thin vertical stones represent cold fries. The smaller, wider horizontal stones are cold hash browns. And the arches in the middle? The golden ones, of course.
The altar at the center is where clerks who’d served cold food were sacrificed. The “burial pits” were not just for bodies, but for weaves lost in battle.
Perhaps the best evidence that Stonehenge was black-built comes from the upright stability of the stones. After all, nothing black ever tips (credit to Takimag reader Sonny Lopez for that one).
When you’re an incumbent congresswoman and you won reelection in your district by just 546 votes, maybe it’s best to be humble.
MAGA firebrand and QAnon true believer Lauren Boebert won reelection by such a small margin in 2022, Peter Dinklage called and asked for his height if it were represented by an electoral margin back.
Okay, that was needlessly convoluted. Let’s just say, she only won because a few hundred of her district’s Daquans got high and slept through election day.
And now, Trump’s No. 1 Moloch-hunter acts cocky, as if she has a mandate.
CORRECTION: She grabbed cocky on a man-date.
Boebert’s night at the theater is the talk of the town. A few days ago, TMZ caught up with her to ask about her “rough week.”
“It’s always hard,” she replied.
Lauren, you were asked about your week, not your date.
To be fair, the QAnon Beelzebimbo isn’t getting the credit she deserves; vaping and talking loudly in an obnoxious manner in a theater and then acting entitled when asked to leave might be the most creative way a Republican has ever tried to win the black vote.
Even Al Sharpton was like, “I think I’m in love.”
Maybe she can win those Daquan votes after all! Next step: visit McDonald’s and order “them good fries” (remember: “wet floor” signs make excellent weapons).
For her part, Boebert has apologized for “loudly singing along” during the show (though not for “polling” her seatmate). As a point of order for MAGAs unaccustomed to theater etiquette, unless the performance you’re viewing consists of a farmer hailing a dog named B-I-N-G-O, don’t “sing along.”
Here’s to Lauren Boebert: a true patron of the arse.
GSTAAD—Writing in the Spectator diary, Lady Antonia Fraser, widow of Harold Pinter, recounts how then vice president Lyndon Johnson stipulated at a Jamaican party that he would dance as long as no words were exchanged. Toward the end of her dance with Lyndon, Antonia noted how well Lady Bird looked, and LBJ simply walked off the dance floor. A later occupant of the White House, Jimmy Carter, was not as discourteous as the Texan but in somewhat similar circumstances left the poor little Greek boy standing alone surrounded by Secret Service heavies.
It took place at a grand New York dinner party given in Carter’s honor by a real estate lady, and I was seated with Norman Mailer, who was busy trying to make whoopee with my ex-sister-in-law Betsy Kaiser. Norman and I had talked about democracy at the start of the dinner and whether someone who had contributed nothing to the betterment of his fellow man deserved to have an equal vote to that of someone who had contributed a hell of a lot. Trying to provoke the novelist, I proposed a 10-to-1 ratio for, say, a scientist who develops a cure for cancer versus a drug dealer. “Why don’t you ask Jimmy what he thinks about this?” said Norman, pointing at Jimmy Carter while trying to get rid of me and concentrate on my ex-sister-in-law. After dinner, and well into my cups, I approached the peanut farmer and posed my question. Jimmy Carter heard me out, smiled, and said, “It’s an interesting ahdea,” while simultaneously giving a slight sign with his eyes. I then found myself being moved without anyone laying a hand on me from where I stood with the ex-president to the next room. I have no idea how they did it, but they did, end of story.
The man who preceded Jimmy Carter by one wrote the most wonderfully encouraging and flattering letter to me while I was doing graduate work at Pentonville and had me to dinner a couple of times at his New Jersey home. Richard Nixon was and remains the most underrated and unappreciated president, a man whom the media and the swamp hated because they knew he knew what they were all about. He ended the war in Vietnam, opened up the Soviet Union and China, and won 49 states in 1972, but the same media lefties who run D.C. today and control the country got him in the end. He was never openly bitter, and I remember his unique insight of the then Soviet Union and how he dealt at times with the Soviet leaders. “Whenever Leonid Brezhnev brought up the Middle East, I’d fake being a bit drunk and warn him not to even think about it. We’ll end up nuking each other over that place…”
With the present war of attrition (because that’s what it is), and with no end in sight, I wish Richard Nixon were around with a solution. Every decent human being except for those profiting from the war knows that an armistice offers the best hope for peace in the Ukraine. Neither side seems likely to deliver a knockout blow on the battlefield, and even less likely is Ukraine’s desire to pursue a comprehensive peace deal. Hence it’s up to the gaga in the White House, although any 12-year-old might be a better choice at this point. Owen Matthews said it all a couple of weeks ago: The U.S. will decide Ukraine’s fate.
However unpopular it may sound, and I’m quoting Foreign Affairs, “It is Zelensky who fears any concession could affect his future electoral prospects.” And although some Republican leaders think that continuous support for Kiev is wasteful and reckless, Zelensky continues to insist Donbas and Crimea are his. The old cliché about truth being the first casualty of war has never been truer, but the Ukrainians are running out of men, whereas the Russkies are not. In fact, the latter have some 700,000 ready to enter the fray.
What is frustrating as hell is the inability, or unwillingness, of Uncle Sam to stop the slaughter. Speaking to a Polish friend who knows that the Poles and Hungarians are my two favorite peoples, I reminded him that Poland had defeated the Soviets back in 1921 and would again if there were ever another incursion. That’s when my anti-Putin friend admitted that NATO did not need to go as far as it did to provoke the Bear, which it certainly did.
The trouble with our side is we never, but never, admit to being wrong. Not that our adversaries do, but then why do we pretend to be the good guys? Again, quoting Foreign Affairs: “Russia may be resolved to outlast the U.S. and NATO.” Which means a lot of very bad people will make a hell of a lot of money, and thousands upon thousands of innocent young men will die in vain. Almost as sad is the fact that few in the West before the war understood the extent to which Russians saw Ukraine as central to their destiny.
The great military expert Taki believes that Russia loses 800 men per day, while Ukraine’s losses are 500 per. Do the math. When my Polish friend asked why I love Russia and now loathe America, I answered that the former was the birthplace of Pushkin, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky, whereas the latter no longer has men like David Crockett at the Alamo, Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, or Charles Lindberg over the Atlantic. They’ve even canceled Hemingway, and they only have sleaze and crime to show for it.
The worst enemy of the West is itself, and the same goes for our democracy. We are so arrogantly certain of our survival and superiority, we in the Western democracies, that we never give a moment’s thought to how we appear to others. We don’t have to do so, we think, because of our inherent superiority and invincible strength. Why should we worry what Africans, for example, think of us?
Civilizations, it has often been said, do not collapse because of external enemies, but from internal decay. There is not a strict opposition between the two processes, however, for decay may make external enmity far more formidable than it might otherwise have been. And internal decay there certainly is.
Our unpreparedness to see ourselves as others see us is all the worse because the Western democracies, which thought themselves the model for the rest of the world to follow after the fall of the Berlin Wall, have lost their allure in much of the world, at the very time when they are losing financial and military power.
Try to imagine yourself an intelligent person in a non-Western country reading the story of Susanna Gibson, a candidate for election to the state legislature of Virginia. This lady, now 45, streamed herself having sex with her husband (a family lawyer, by the way), taking paid requests for further sexual activities. I will not repeat what she is reported to have said while performing: Suffice it to say that it was not refined.
Her excuse for her paid exhibitionism is that she was raising money for good causes; that is to say, the causes that she would vote for if elected. Thus, the end justified the means; and this argument seems to have convinced at least some voters. It is by no means certain that she will lose the election.
What would you, the intelligent person in a non-Western country, think? No doubt your own country is full of degradation and depravity, but nothing so frivolously decadent as this. You would think that a country in which such a thing could happen with impunity is worthy neither of respect nor emulation, and even if you would like to emigrate to it, your desire would be to improve your personal material conditions of life rather than join a society that you could admire for its underlying ethics or principles. As the Chinese would put it, the country in which such things happen has lost the mandate of heaven.
It is not only in the United States that the shamelessness of candidates besmirches the prestige of popular election as the legitimation of government. Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others, but the dishonest antics of candidates can make even the last proposition seem doubtful.
In France, a candidate for the French National Assembly, Juliette de Causans, has admitted that she used a photograph in her campaign that had been retouched—so grossly retouched, in fact, that when an untouched photograph of her was placed beside her campaign photograph, you would not have known that it was of the same person, and indeed could not possibly have been the same person. It turns out that several other candidates of her party, called Europe Ecology Equality, have done the same thing.
This is not quite as bad, perhaps, as what the pornographic candidate for the Virginian legislature did, and indeed I have on occasion allowed a publisher to do something vaguely similar by using an out-of-date photograph of myself in the publication of my work (not that I was ever so good-looking that it affected sales in the slightest). But it would satisfactorily demonstrate to any intelligent non-Western person how deep is the intellectual and moral rot of our democracy.
In the first place, the heavy retouching of the campaign photograph implies that a significant number of people—enough to make the difference between victory and defeat—vote on the basis of a photograph of the candidate. This does not suggest a well-informed electorate that takes its political choices very seriously. The electorate is more like the clientele of a supermarket that shops without a list of what it needs.
But perhaps the candidate who doctored her picture was mistaken; in reality the electorate takes no notice of such things as how the candidate allegedly looks. If this were the case, she (and those who did likewise) would have been insulting toward the very people whose vote she (and the others) solicited. No doubt in an age of publicity, sometimes known as information, a certain degree of superficiality is inevitable; but when politicians can so alter their photographs that they bear very little relation to reality, we are approaching Soviet levels of dishonesty, an era when people disappeared from past photographs as soon as they were disappeared from life. (I always laugh, incidentally, whenever I see Mr. Xi’s jet-black hair.)
When the unfortunate disparity between Ms. Causans’ real appearance and that in her election posters was exposed, she said, “It is my right as a candidate to have a beautiful photo.” Could anything better illustrate the egotism that is now current in the Western world?
Alas, having a beautiful photograph and being beautiful are not at all the same thing. Many beautiful photographs have been taken of ugly or even deformed people, but that is not the same as making the subjects themselves beautiful (though they may have beautiful characters). No one has a right to be considered beautiful, and no one has a right to deceive the public by what amounts to forgery.
Far more brutal things go on in dictatorships, of course. But intelligent non-Westerners, who often take it as a given that their government will be mendacious, corrupt, and tyrannical, but who have been read lessons in good government for years by Western intellectuals, will increasingly realize that Western democracies are giants with feet of clay, that our people and our institutions are rotten through and through. Our political life seems little more than a succession of scandal, corruption, mendaciousness, frivolity, and bitter disputation over nothing, while on every hand real and severe problems and dangers go unaddressed. We are therefore no longer to be looked up to, but rather down upon. Prestige is like the blush of a grape, and when it goes, it goes forever.
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is being pressured by idiots like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert to impeach Biden for his son Hunter’s sleazy foreign dealings — and thus decimate the reelection chances of every other Republican in Congress. But MJT and Boebert will have tremendous fun doing it and get lots of press, and after all, isn’t that the most important thing?
Meanwhile, the not-stupid — but unfocused — conservative Freedom Caucus is threatening to shut down the government unless they get concessions, primarily cuts in government spending.
I have a secret for you, GOP: No one cares about government spending. I’m sure it’s important, and there are probably a hundred Wall Street Journal articles explaining why, but not more than 1% of voters will ever reward you for cutting spending.
Government spending is Republicans’ “climate change.” We’ve gotten frantic warnings that the world will end if we don’t cut spending for the last 50 years — exactly as long as we’ve been warned that the world will end if we don’t cut carbon emissions. Year after year, we do nothing, and yet the world doesn’t come remotely close to ending.
You only have a bare majority in one house of Congress, Republicans: This is no time to be hot-shots for causes that won’t get you a single vote.
But you know what would be hugely popular? Put down the Journal and look around you. There’s not a corner of this country that isn’t sick to death of “migrants” (illegal aliens) streaming into their towns and neighborhoods. And this horror show, now playing nationwide, is 100% Biden’s fault. 100%.
Even the most cosseted, liberal “sanctuary cities” have cried uncle, pleading for Biden to cut off the flow of illegals.
Just by way of example:
In New York (“sanctuary city” since 1989), migrants (illegal aliens) are crawling over every square inch of the place. You can’t walk down Park Avenue or through Central Park without feeling like you’ve stumbled into a Caracas shantytown. The migrants (illegals) are expected to cost the city $4 billion this year alone, and government estimates are notoriously low.
Mayor Eric Adams has said the “migrants” (illegals) are going to “destroy” the city, so for the past year he’s been trying to dump them on other parts of the state. We’re a “sanctuary city”! Let’s ruin the suburbs instead. In response, more than 30 of New York’s 62 counties have passed emergency measures refusing to take them.
That includes Erie County (Buffalo) — 2-1 registered Democrats — where smug executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced in May that it was “morally repugnant” to turn away migrants (illegal aliens). For the cherry on top, he added, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Within weeks of the migrants (illegals) arriving, they’d already committed two heinous sexual assaults, and Mr. “Morally Repugnant” refused to take any more.
The last time New York state voted for a Republican president was in 1984. This is New York today, every day:
— “Protests erupt outside new migrant facility in Queens”
— “NYC migrant crisis: Staten Island demonstrators block bus during protests”
— “NYC migrant shelter tour interrupted by shouting protesters”
— “Hundreds protest migrant relief center located near Nassau County border”
Republicans, are you awake?
In Massachusetts, the progressive, lesbian governor has declared a state of emergency over the “migrants” (illegals), requested an additional quarter-billion dollars from the legislature to deal with them and attacked the White House for “a federal crisis of inaction.”
Yarmouth, Massachusetts, voted 60-40 for Biden. Today, there are daily protests outside the town hall and “heated five-hour” meetings to denounce the migrant influx.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sent a teeming horde of 50 illegals to progressive paradise Martha’s Vineyard, this “sanctuary destination” called in the National Guard to remove them.
The last time Massachusetts voted for a Republican president was in 1984.
Across Chicago, a city virtually dedicated to giving succor to criminals, residents are up in arms over the “migrants” (illegal aliens).
— “Residents protest plan to house 300 migrants at Hyde Park area motel”
— “Edgewater (Chicago) residents protest as city announces plan to shelter migrants at Broadway Armory”
— “Chicago residents protest new migrant shelter in their neighborhood, leading to delay in opening”
As South Shore community activist Natasha Dunn put it, “Our specific frustration lies in the continuous and blatant disregard for the safety and overall quality of life for black residents, as many of these migrants have been dumped in our neighborhoods.”
Just so we’re clear, the GOP is never, ever going to win the black vote — sorry, clueless donors! But black people sure aren’t going to hate you for impeaching Biden over his refusal to stop inundating the country with millions of poverty-stricken, illiterate illegals, cutting into Americans’ government services. (How many black people do you think care about government spending? Or whites, Hispanics or Asians for that matter.)
Generally, voters don’t like government shutdowns. They’re also not wild about a president of their own party being impeached.
If you’re going to do either one, GOP, for God’s sake, at least do it for a cause that’s 80-20 popular.