The French are up in arms, as always; the Brits have raised eyebrows; and the Americans are nonplussed, as they thought Napoleon was a brandy. The brouhaha has to do with the latest movie about the Emperor of the French, one I am told contains great battle scenes but also saturnine mumbles from Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon. When I was young, the Corsican-born great was my hero. Did you, by the way, know that Napo ranks third behind our Lord Jesus and a certain Adolf Hitler in the number of books written about him? I have read many of them, including Ludwig’s definitive biography, but dictators nowadays are very out of fashion, especially dictators who kept mistresses (22) and waged wars (nonstop).
There is nothing new to write or say about Napoleon that hasn’t already been said or written, so I will stick to the movie, which I haven’t seen. Ridley Scott is a great director and knows the period well. He made a wonderful film called The Duellists starring my friend Harvey Keitel—a former United States Marine, and also a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn playing a Napoleonic officer and managing to pull it off. There have been around 1,000 short and long films about Napo, my least favorite being Sergei Bondarchuk’s Waterloo, starring Rod Steiger. Shot in the Ukraine, the spectacle was great—he managed to get 15,000 extras and 2,000 cavalrymen—but the central character was straight out of the Actor’s Studio in New York: a Jewish neurotic contemplating his fate according to Lee Strasberg. It was, in other words, bullshit.
What audiences don’t always realize—and why should they?—is that they’re there to be entertained, not to be educated in the finer points of warfare; in a real battle of the period no one could see anything farther than three feet away or so. The reason was cannon smoke, and wars back then, and still today, are fought by cannon fire. Marshal Ney lost three horses under him during the daylong Waterloo fight, and no one knows whether by friendly or hostile fire. Ney, a hero, survived the battle only to be executed later on by fat Louis the XVIII.
But I’m getting away from the movies and Napoleon. Fans of the Corsican are still crossing themselves in thankful reverence that Stanley Kubrick never managed to film their hero. Kubrick had secured 30,000 extras, and Jack Nicholson was going to star. I’ve often wondered how Nicholson would have sounded as the French Emperor. In some ways I’m glad Kubrick never made the film. Watching old Easy Rider Jack half stoned with a joint in his mouth riding his white stallion Marengo would have been disconcerting for some of us less-than-hardy folk.
In the case of Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon, many Frogs I’m sure would prefer more of a highbrow thespian, but look at the case of Marlon Brando as the Corsican in Désirée, a flick from the early ’50s. Brando was good, if too American, but the conflation of military greatness and acting works only in theory. The movie was a bust, unlike the battle scenes in War and Peace, the seven-hour Soviet-made classic that also went down Swanee. People forget that Napoleon had one major battle while in Russia, Borodino, a tie, and spent the rest of his time chasing after Kutusov and losing close to half a million men to the snow.
Never mind, and thank God for the movies. Otherwise, in real life, Napoleon and Wellington between them managed a shocking 41 percent mortality rate of their troops. Film shields us from the real horrors of battle: open entrails being eaten by birds, scavengers ransacking the dead and wounded, teeth being extracted from the fallen, the desperate cries of the wounded and the dying, the horrible smells. Even worse are the carcasses of horses, the terrible suffering of innocent wounded animals. Pass the popcorn.
Michael Mailer, the filmmaker who has seen the movie and loved the battle scenes, did not notice Josephine’s black teeth because they are pearly white in the movie. In real life la “grande horizontale” had eaten much too much sugar back in her native Martinique, but Napo didn’t seem to mind. All I know is I’m dying to see the film, and to hell with the French critics who find it insulting.
Let’s face it. Napoleon was the greatest of his period, conquering most of Europe and establishing the Napoleonic code that still rules the French today—where a man could divorce his wife at will, but she could only divorce him if he brought his mistress home to live with him. (The law has since been changed.) Napo was a child of the revolution that overthrew the complacent ruling elite. Voltaire and his ilk of philosophers stirred anti-monarchist and anti-clerical outrage that burst open in 1789. He played along, growing ever more reactionary with his victories until he crowned himself emperor. It was mostly downhill after that, his death in exile at St. Helena the final humiliation.
So thank God for the movies that show mostly the good times. The Corsican is a natural for movie stardom, good-looking—in real life 5 foot 4—the greatest strategist of his time, a womanizer, and the most beguiling subject of greatness and fall of the past 300 years.
I’ve just finished reading the hilariously terrible book What’s Left Unsaid by Melissa DeRosa, secretary to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (New York) that is so unself-aware, so arrogant, so embarrassing that I have to review it.
I only read it in the first place because I wanted to interview Cuomo on my Substack, figuring that after his defenestration, he’d be a fun interview. But I’m willing to sacrifice that possibility just to wallow in the awfulness of this book. (Plus, recent press reports say he’s thinking of running for mayor of New York, so it’s topical.)
Most dumbfounding, DeRosa brags about Cuomo bullying everyone into implementing his tyrannical COVID policies — all of which, as we now know, accomplished absolutely nothing (other than causing half a million New Yorkers to flee the state, making 2020-2021 New York’s largest single-year population loss in history).
— First, Cuomo bulldozed the legislature into giving him emergency powers to “institute mass quarantines, order businesses to close, suspend laws and issue sweeping directives.”
His COVID diktats did squat to slow the spread of COVID, but they did destroy businesses, annihilate cultural institutions, kill budding careers, stunt children’s educational development and delay urgent medical care, among other things. (What’s the word for that, again? It begins with an “A” … describes a strongman …)
— Next, Cuomo closed all public colleges in the state and browbeat private universities into doing the same.
In the first year of the pandemic, there were a grand total 648 deaths among 15-to-24-year-olds in the entire country — and we don’t know what other health problems those kids had. Cuomo ruined hundreds of thousands of young lives for no reason.
— Then, he badgered Mayor Bill de Blasio into shutting down public schools in New York City
— over the objections of the (wildly left-wing) mayor and the teachers union. As DeRosa puts it, both “were adamantly opposed to closing schools in the city, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
One week after the governor had demanded that de Blasio close the schools, DeRosa writes, “the governor was done waiting.” He peremptorily called into a local TV station and simply announced that the city’s public schools were closed.
This was the single worst decision made during COVID, as even The New York Times has admitted. The little tykes were at essentially zero risk from COVID. But shutting down schools did irreparable harm to their cognitive and psychological development.
— Next, Cuomo bullied President Trump into sending the military to convert the Javits Center and the USS Comfort into field hospitals for New York City.
“‘This will get Trump’s attention,'” Cuomo predicted of his op-ed. “The piece ran [in the Times] the next day under the headline: ‘ANDREW CUOMO TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: MOBILIZE THE MILITARY TO HELP FIGHT CORONAVIRUS.'”
A kazillion dollars later, it turned out these temporary hospitals were completely unnecessary. They were shuttered after about a month, at which time the Javits Center had a grand total of 72 patients for its 2,500 beds.
— Finally, Cuomo demanded that upstate hospitals send all their ventilators to New York City, leaving upstate residents high and dry. He even forced recalcitrant private hospitals to relinquish their ventilators by calling the CEOs and threatening: “I will personally pull your operating license.”
Everyone now knows that ventilators were wildly overused and killed a lot of patients because COVID confused the oxygen readings, meaning the mechanical breathing tubes were unnecessary.
It could be argued that some of these policies were not known to be utterly catastrophic when Cuomo imposed them. But 1) That’s why it’s not a good idea to give one man the authority to “institute mass quarantines, order businesses to close, suspend laws and issue sweeping directives”; and 2) Now that we do know, why would you write a book reminding everyone that it was your boss who forced these policies on the public? It’s like bragging that he was the guy who made doctors give Thalidomide to pregnant women.
DeRosa seems quite pleased with herself for her own contribution to New York’s ludicrous COVID rules. She was the one, for example, who pushed for a quarantine on travelers from states like Texas, Florida and Arizona.
To his credit, Cuomo initially rejected the idea, saying, “Isn’t that exactly what we opposed back in March when Rhode Island threatened to quarantine New Yorkers?” To his discredit, he then acceded to Madam Ceausescu.
DeRosa was also the one whose bright idea it was to wreck New Yorkers’ 2020 Christmas holidays by insisting on a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants. She says she’d have preferred to “unilaterally close all bars, restaurants and other State Liquor Authority-licensed establishments” but was worried that “there would be no public buy-in.” (You think?)
To really nail down the nuking of everyone’s holidays, she also “advocated that we limit indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences to no more than 10 people.”
Again, at first, Cuomo objected, on the grounds that the idea was insane, but quickly deferred to his drunk-with-power assistant.
Amazingly, DeRosa still doesn’t understand the virus she dedicated a year of her life to suppressing. In humble-brag fashion, she recounts her conversation with a senior health official early in the pandemic:
Health official: “‘[A]ccording to top medical professionals at the CDC and WHO, by all accounts, this virus acts like, well, the flu,’ he said.
“‘The flu?’ I asked, honestly confused.
“‘Yes, the flu; that’s what the federal government is saying.’
“‘Okay, accepting that premise, can I ask you a stupid question?’ I went on. [This is always the tip-off that sheer brilliance is coming.]
“‘Isn’t the major difference between this and the flu that the flu has a vaccine?'”
Although the “health official” agreed (naturally), that was a stupid question. A vaccine is not the main difference at all. The difference is: Our immune systems were familiar with the flu but had never encountered anything like COVID before.
The 1918 flu virus is still in circulation, and yet 50 million people don’t die of it every year because our immune systems recognize it. Now that we’ve all been exposed to COVID, it is just like the flu. (Also, FYI, only about half of adults in America get the flu shot anyway, and its effectiveness, year to year, is a crapshoot.)
Finally, it’s nice that DeRosa’s COVID lockdown was a blast, but kind of annoying to have her tell us about it. While poor families were jammed like sardines into tiny living quarters for a year, DeRosa spent her lockdown living like a queen.
She moved into the “Princess Beatrix suite” at the governor’s mansion, which, she says, had “a large bedroom and a separate sitting room with its own fireplace. There was an en suite bathroom, multiple closets to hang my perpetually wrinkled clothing in and an antique vanity.”
While gyms were closed throughout the state, she worked out in the mansion’s gym every day. While pools were closed and gatherings of more than 10 people banned, she regularly worked, dined and hung out by the mansion’s pool.
Once a week, DeRosa helicoptered with the governor to New York City. Whizzing through the city in the governor’s car one day, she describes the deserted streets of the once-bustling metropolis as “haunting and yet somehow beautiful.”
I’m sure little Pedro, who spent his lockdown in a one-bedroom apartment with his abusive father, drunk mother and seven siblings, appreciates these poetic reflections on the empty city created by you, Melissa. It makes you sound like a really swell person.
The Last Duel, a 2021 film by Sir Ridley Scott with Matt Damon as a mulleted French aristocrat chud battling honorably (if stupidly) a suave Adam Driver in 1386, turned out to be better than expected: not a classic, but quite decent, especially for a director in his mid-80s. (Sir Ridley turns 86 this week.) So hopes grew high when Scott announced he was making Napoleon with 2019 Best Actor Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix (for Joker).
Granted, lots of ambitious directors have contemplated making a Bonaparte biopic, just as Scott’s revival of the sword & sandal genre in 2000 with Gladiator set off a race to make an Alexander the Great movie among Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson, Baz Luhrmann, and Oliver Stone, with Stone winning (to his detriment when his Alexander proved a dud).
Most famously, Stanley Kubrick contemplated making a Napoleon movie to follow up 2001. But the project proved too daunting for even Kubrick, so he eventually applied his research into the 18th century to Barry Lyndon instead.
By the way, Steven Spielberg has been promising for a decade to turn Kubrick’s unmade Napoleon screenplay into a TV series. Famous movie directors just seem to identify with conquering emperors, whether Alexander or Napoleon.
But Scott is in some ways the anti-Kubrick. Sure, Scott’s best movies match up impressively against Kubrick’s: Gladiator vs. Spartacus, Alien vs. The Shining, Blade Runner vs. 2001, Black Hawk Down vs. Full Metal Jacket, and Thelma and Louise vs. Lolita.
But Scott has churned out 29 movies over the past 46 years (with Gladiator 2 slated to be the 30th next Thanksgiving), while the exhaustive Kubrick made only thirteen over a career of similar length. Unlike Kubrick, Scott frequently misfires with forgettable flicks like Prometheus, Robin Hood, 1492, and G.I. Jane.
And now his Napoleon falls closer to the bottom of his filmography than the top. It’s not terrible (it’s something of a victim of the unreasonable expectations generated by The Last Duel), but don’t drag somebody else to see it who isn’t a history buff or is a film connoisseur.
It’s a weird little epic movie, basically a domestic comedy about the stereotypically French marital troubles of Monsieur and Madame Bonaparte. Elderly Nappy is utterly devoted to his pretty young Josephine, but her eye wanders. He’d forgive her indiscretions, but, having recently crowned himself Emperor of the French, her failure to furnish him with an heir has dynastic implications, with the fate of Europe hanging in the balance.
Visually, the movie appears inspired more by British political caricaturist James Gillray than by French propaganda genius Jacques-Louis David. In 1802, Gillray devised the trademarks of the belligerent bully he called “Little Boney.” Throughout Napoleon, which covers Bonaparte’s career from his first victory in 1793 to his death on St. Helena in 1821, Little Boney wears, through the infinite cycles of fashion going on around him, almost exactly the same preposterous outfit, exactly the way a political caricature would. When he first meets Josephine, she asks him with a laugh, “What’s this…costume you’re wearing?” Indignantly, he replies, “It’s my uniform.”
(Later politicians went out of their way to indulge cartoonists. When caricaturists first seized upon Winston Churchill’s tall Homburg hat to help identify him to readers, he then had his milliner make his Homburgs even more cartoonish in scale so he’d be featured in more cartoons.)
The anti-French point of view throughout Napoleon is traditionally English. Instead of Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, imagine Benny Hill’s Napoleon, with the Emperor as a silly, pompous, indignant Frenchman cuckolded by his glamorous wife. Actually, that sounds funnier than it is: I laughed a couple of dozen times, but many in the audience didn’t seem to find it amusing at all.
Napoleon might have worked as an English satire on the voluble Latin temperament if they had cast as Napoleon somebody who’s physically capable of speaking faster. The most talked-about man of his age, it was universally agreed that the distinguishing aspect of Napoleon’s personality was his velocity of thought. He could appreciate a battlefield, a diplomatic initiative, a taxation system, or a new legal code faster than anyone else (during the brief peacetimes, he might have been France’s greatest-ever civil servant).
But even though Joaquin Phoenix looks vaguely like Bonaparte, he has some sort of upper lip birth defect (he denies it’s a harelip) that appears to impede his articulation. Hence, while he’s wonderful at depicting deeply defective individuals, such as Commodus in Gladiator, the PTSD victim vet in The Master, and the operatically damaged title character in Joker, he has utterly the wrong affect for Napoleon, the most charismatic hero in Continental European history.
And Phoenix’s diction is extremely American in a film in which most French characters speak with BBC accents. I would guess the high concept was for Phoenix to play the Corsican adventurer as if he were Marlon Brando mumbling as Don Corleone to get across the very British idea of Bonaparte as a gangster. But Phoenix instead sounds distractingly like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation: depressed, self-pitying, sullen, and petulant, with a little Buster Keaton stoneface thrown in during the excruciating early going.
And the 49-year-old Phoenix is not particularly well preserved for a movie star: He looks at least a decade older than Tom Cruise. That’s a problem because Bonaparte was 24 at Toulon in the movie’s first battle and 46 at Waterloo in its last.
I wonder if the underlitness of the movie is a way to get around British film industry diversity quotas that require more blacks be wedged into period pieces. Napoleon puts Josephine’s mulatta servant Lucille in countless shots of parties as if she were a guest rather than a serving maid to lend a Bridgerton aspect to the proceedings, and includes novelist Alexandre Dumas’ half-aristocrat and half-black father, a French general, prominently in the Egyptian sequence. There also appear to be quite a few black extras implausibly sprinkled into the bravura Austerlitz segment, but it’s hard to tell since everything is so murkily lit. Maybe that’s Sir Ridley’s compromise with the recent diversity demands: In my extreme old age, I’ll kowtow to the BAFTA quota-meisters, but I’ll turn down the lights so my humiliation is less evident.
At least the Empress Josephine, who was born in the Caribbean, is not portrayed as being at all black, so we dodged that bullet.
Napoleon is reasonably historically accurate for a movie. (Recall that Gladiator, which everybody looks back on fondly, ends with the Roman Republic being restored, which, to the best of my recollection, didn’t actually happen.) There has been much persnickety criticism of a post-Waterloo scene in which the Duke of Wellington informs his prisoner of his grim second place of exile, a rock in the South Atlantic. Granted, in real life the two generals never got closer than a mile apart at Waterloo, but it’s one of the movie’s better bits.
And there has been abundant scoffing at how at the Battle of the Pyramids during Bonaparte’s extraordinary 1798 Egyptian foray, the French cannons blast the summit of the Great Pyramid for unexplained reasons. My guess is that in the longer version than this two-hour-and-38-minute theatrical version, which will be released on the Apple+ streaming service next year, this memorable if bizarre notion will be justified by the Mamelukes stationing spotters on top of Cheops’ vast pile. In a hectic movie lacking thematic continuity, one of the more interesting through-lines is the recurrent attention paid to the clever ways European armies during the Napoleonic Wars used optical signals to communicate on the battlefield. The Mamelukes didn’t have the opportunity to do that—Napoleon chose the romantic name the Battle of the Pyramids even though the pyramids were off on the horizon nine miles away—but it would have been cool if they had. And that’s good enough for Sir Ridley.
A bigger problem than historical accuracy is the movie’s lack of an opinion on the world-historical events it strenuously depicts.
Scott seems to bring only two opinions: a distaste for the French and a distaste for war. The title card at the end tallies up the death toll from the Napoleonic Wars at 3 million.
On the other hand, was Napoleon’s role in all this tumult truly egregious? Or did he simply play the game of thrones by the rules of his time better than anybody else did?
Because none of the land combatants had major technological advantages, it has been calculated with some degree of confidence that, on average, Napoleon’s command on the battlefield was equivalent to possessing a 30 percent bigger army: an extraordinary margin. It would have been admirable if Bonaparte had foregone this tactical advantage to devote himself to peace, but the current European aversion to aggression only became a consensus after the Great War a century later.
Ideologically, Bonaparte was less a Man of Reason than a reasonable man. France had been the most successful state of medieval Europe, so by 1789 it was encrusted with a convoluted patchwork of obsolete feudal rules, customs, bargains, and whatnot, helping to set off the famous Revolution in 1789. Bonaparte rolled back some excesses of the Revolution but carried on with the constructive reforms, such as his sponsoring the Code Napoleon, a vast improvement in the clarity of laws that currently influences the legal codes of 120 countries.
Ultimately, my objection to Bonaparte comes down to the opportunity cost of his predilection for war over peace: He would have made an extraordinary peacetime ruler, but he was so talented at war that he didn’t work hard enough for peace.
Quick quiz: Who was Jerry Parr?
Don’t Google it, that’s cheating! Without looking it up, do you know who he was?
Odds are, you don’t.
Jerry Parr was the Secret Service agent in charge of protecting Ronald Reagan on the day he was shot in 1981. When the gunfire began, Parr pushed Reagan into the presidential limo and ordered it to speed away. Inside the car, Reagan complained of chest pains. Parr checked him for bullet wounds; he found none. Both men agreed that Reagan had likely bruised a rib when he was shoved.
Parr, the man in charge, had two choices:
No. 1: Proceed to the White House to have Reagan’s personal doctor attend to him.
No. 2: Take Reagan to a public hospital.
No. 1 was the smart choice. Taking the president to a busy D.C. hospital with zero advance security preparations and no knowledge if the shooter acted alone or if there were other assassins lurking about seemed foolhardy. Taking Reagan to a safe, secure environment where he could be seen by his own physician appeared the prudent decision.
But Parr was uneasy. What if it was more than just a bruised rib? Parr noticed blood on Reagan’s lips, which the president claimed came from him biting his lip during the scuffle.
But for Parr, that was enough. He ordered the limo to go straight to George Washington University Hospital. It was as risky a move as anyone in that position could’ve made, and yet…it saved Reagan’s life. Reagan had been shot; the bullet was inside him, killing him slowly. Would-be assassin John Hinckley’s gun was cheap and the ammo small; the bullet had entered unnoticed.
It was only in the ER that doctors saw the tiny hole. And because he was already in a place prepped for surgery, Reagan lived.
And that’s why you don’t know Jerry Parr’s name. He had two choices, and he chose correctly.
If Parr had chosen incorrectly, you’d damn well know his name, as surely as you know Jack Ruby. Fantasists like Alex Jones (and his ideological brethren from the 1980s) would’ve filled your heads with bullshit about “Who was Jerry Parr working for? Why did he decide against going to the hospital? Was he an agent of the Russians? The Bush/CIA crime family? The JEWS???”
It’s easy to accept Parr’s good choice as organic; a bad choice would’ve been attributed to conspiratorial malevolence.
Dozens of bullets have been fired at presidents over the centuries. Most either missed, or the wounds were nonfatal (even Garfield and McKinley had survivable injuries; they were felled by poor medical treatment). Two different hippie chicks tried to pepper Ford with bullets, and the big stiff dummy didn’t get hit once. No conspiracy theories about that. But JFK suffers a head shot, and well of course that’s a conspiracy, because only trained CIA assassins can do head shots.
Yep—only trained CIA assassins. Or middle-aged Korean housewives. Soon Ja Du was the L.A. grocer who was violently slugged by black teen Latasha Harlins in a dispute over orange juice in 1991. As Harlins tried to flee the store, Du—beaten, dazed, shaking, and with zero firearms experience—reached for her husband’s handgun, kept under the counter. The gun had been fitted with a hair trigger, and the moment Du picked it up it went off, scoring a direct, fatal head shot on a running target.
I guess she was CIA.
When five-foot-tall leftist immigrant Giuseppe Zangara took a shot at president-elect FDR in February 1933, he missed the president’s head by mere inches, killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak instead (he was riding alongside FDR in the motorcade). Again, no conspiracy theories, because he missed the president. On the other hand, Oswald didn’t miss, so therefore there must be a conspiracy.
To be clear, there hadn’t been a clean head shot on a president since Lincoln, even though there had been dozens of attempts. It can be argued that it was just the odds that another direct hit would eventually be scored by someone. But the conspiratorial mind can’t accept that a commoner could get that lucky, not when the president was “great” (as in, consequential). FDR was consequential, so of course the unimportant loser missed (had he not, the course of 20th-century history would’ve been altered, and no ordinary man can alter history). JFK was consequential, and since the shooter hit a bull’s-eye, the shooter must therefore have been consequential as well.
Great men are not taken down by minor men. The course of history is not altered by the insignificant. This is the gospel of the “hidden hand” theorist. Or, these days, most rightists. Everything that happens is because of an all-powerful “them.” There are no accidents, no coincidences, no small people inadvertently influencing big things. From Alex Jones to Ron Unz to Trump and his MAGA army, there’s a unified worldview: Everything that happens is because of a mighty “they”—the Deep State puppet-masters, the Rothschilds, maybe Moloch himself.
But what if that’s not true? Have any of you with your vaunted “open mind” ever opened it wide enough to think that maybe you’re not always right? What if sometimes the smallest and most inconsequential things can alter history?
Take Derek Chauvin. Last week SCOTUS refused to hear his appeal (then he got shanked). Now, I’m no expert on the George Floyd details, but it seems that there’s a convincing case to be made that Floyd died from his own narcotics consumption. So let’s assume that’s true. Let’s assume Fentanyl Floyd didn’t snuff it from a knee to the neck.
If that’s the case, then American history was altered by the way Chauvin positioned himself on the ground that day. Had he squatted any other way, in any other position, perhaps with a slightly less hostile expression on his face (because, to be fair, his positioning, coupled with Floyd’s anguished cries, looked bad, divorced of context), think of what would’ve been avoided. The Floyd video led to billions of dollars in damage nationwide; entire city blocks burned down, untold numbers of Americans lost their income, dozens of murders due to the riots, and thousands of murders as the result of Soros DAs elected in the post-Floyd political hysteria.
Billions lost, thousands dead, the political landscape altered, perhaps even the 2020 presidential election influenced. All because of the way a complete nobody squatted. One inconsequential man, knowing he was being filmed, sitting a certain way with a certain expression on his face, altered history.
If you want to argue that Floyd wasn’t killed by the knee—that the knee wasn’t exerting any significant pressure on the neck—then, by logical extension, you must accept that an insignificant positioning of a knee changed history.
Moloch and all his satanic power can’t compare to the hellfire caused by one bad photo op of a nonentity.
That should humble you. It won’t, but it should. The reason people get lost in “hidden hand” fantasies is that it absolves them of responsibility. If small people can’t influence events, then your personal choices don’t matter.
And here’s why that gives me a sinking feeling in the pit of my alcohol-soaked stomach. Robert Keith Packer, the J6 MAGA thug who went to the riot wearing the “Camp Auschwitz staff” sweatshirt, must’ve gotten dressed that morning with no thought given toward how his clothes might influence events (and no, Packer wasn’t Antifa trying to frame innocent MAGAs. His own family confirmed at trial that he’s a Trumper).
The kind of imbecile who travels to D.C. to defend his beloved president while sporting an SS deaths-head T-shirt and Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt is the kind of imbecile who has no concept of how his actions might have consequences, likely because his cobweb-filled cranium had been stuffed with “hidden hand” nonsense that absolves “the little guy” of accountability.
That’s the pathetic thing about the J6ers. They stormed the Capitol under the impression that they were fighting a “they.” But it turned out that they were the “they.” That’s why there’s so much outrage on the MAGA right regarding the J6 prosecutions; the trials and convictions suggest that these little men were consequential.
That’s blasphemy to “hidden handers.” But it’s true. And J6 continues to haunt U.S. politics and lose elections for Republicans.
So back to that sinking feeling of mine. Next year, L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon is up for reelection. Gascon, like his mentor and backer Soros, is a mass murderer, a monster, as good a candidate for Hell as ever lived. Hundreds of innocent Angelenos are dead because he refuses to prosecute and imprison rapists and murderers. And next year, the county will have the opportunity to be rid of him.
To be clear, Gascon winning or losing is the literal difference between innocent people living or dying. It’s an existential choice in the truest use of the term: Moms, dads, daughters, sons, will cease to exist if he’s reelected.
But I know the Westside MAGAs, and I know them all too well. They’re nuts. And I know that these nuts are going to come to anti-Gascon rallies wearing wacky shirts and holding wacky signs. “Ironic swastika” shirts and signs. “Hey, I’m not saying I’m a Nazi, I’m saying Gascon and Soros are! Sieg heil! Sieg heil! Wait, I’m doing that to the TV cameras ironically! I’m sieg heiling to mock Gascon and Soros, and I’m certain my intent won’t be misrepresented by the media and misunderstood by voters. Oh, I’m such a clever little imp!”
Gascon will not be able to run on his record. His “record” is nothing but skyrocketing murders, rapes, and robberies. He will only be able to run on exploiting embarrassing shit his opponents do.
What I’m trying to convey is that history can be changed by the way a complete nobody squatted, or by the shirt a backwoods loser wore, or by that ironic swastika shirt you plan to wear at rallies for any of the existentially important political contests to be held next year.
Yeah, I know—Jones and Trump tell you that you’re at the mercy of puppet masters. But consider for a moment, utilizing that great, great open mind you claim to have when someone tells you the Holocaust may not have happened, that Jones and Trump could be wrong. Maybe you can be consequential. Maybe little people can change history. Not by doing “great” things, not via grand achievements, but because of the tiniest choices they make.
Maybe history is driven not by Moloch and Baron Rothschild pulling levers, but by minor things like how an ordinary man places his knee, or the T-shirt you may, or may not, wear to a rally.
Be Jerry Parr. Understand that sometimes it’s the ones who don’t stand out who do the most good.
Indeed, sometimes the very reason they don’t stand out is because they made the right choice.
Consider that as you decide how you’re going to comport yourself during next year’s exceedingly pivotal elections.
Sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick had an interesting theory about the Roman Empire—that it never actually ended. According to him, Rome’s Imperium merely shifted shape repeatedly down the centuries, its geopolitical center being found alternately in pre-Islamic Byzantium, Victorian London, 1930s Berlin, or today’s Washington, where the Emperors’ wicked ways continued to operate never-endingly under continual cloaked disguise.
I have recently concluded similarly about the old Ottoman Empire of Turkey, which ostensibly vanished into civilizational dust in the immediate post-1918 aftermath of the Sultanate’s final defeat in WWI. Dick developed his personal conspiracy theory as a result of a series of drug-induced encounters with a pink beam of light being beamed into his skull from a sentient, extraterrestrial satellite-machine floating somewhere up in outer space, named VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System). For my own part, I forsook dropping any LSD and talking to spacecraft, and settled instead for reading a fascinating new book, Enemy of the Disaster: Selected Political Writings, by a pathologically honest Frenchman named Renaud Camus.
Camus is most famous today for coining the term “Great Replacement,” used to describe the way the native white populations of the West are being increasingly substituted by hordes of unassimilable black Africans and brown Muslims from abroad, at the behest of…well, who knows? Some say George Soros; some say the Elders of Zion; others blame the dreaded World Economic Forum. For Camus himself, the true guilty party is a rather more unexpected individual: Adolf Hitler.
Renaud the Fox
Camus is often dismissed nowadays as a “conspiracy theorist,” a label that has long degenerated into a mere propaganda term. Laughably, critics try to pretend the phenomenon of the Great Replacement isn’t even occurring, despite clear demographic data to the contrary. As Camus has repeatedly said, his idea is not a conspiracy, it is an observation…an observation you would have to be willfully blind not to see.
The author of 100-plus books, the unashamedly homosexual Renaud was once best known for using his pink pen to compose his 1979 semiautobiographical novel Tricks, which featured explicit descriptions of his adventures with strange fellow Gauls in public toilets: “I put saliva in my ass, kneeled on both sides of him, and brought his penis, which was not of a very considerable size, inside me without much difficulty,” reads one typical passage about his passage.
For Camus, the West itself is being civilizationally bum-fucked itself into suffering a kind of “genocide by substitution,” but, unlike the AIDS-brained morons of Queers for Palestine, Camus is wise enough to realize that, if and when Islam takes over, his queer kind will be amongst the very first to be stoned to death by the imams of the coming Euro-Caliphate. The traditional white populations of Europe can have no common culture with their alien invaders, Camus perceives, as culture is essentially an inheritance of a race’s collective dead: and our dead are emphatically not their dead.
I recall once seeing an undercover news report about an illegal madrassa operating somewhere in the U.K., where, as the teacher was male and all the students female, the class had to be taught by the adult from the room next door, with his mouth poking comically through a small hole cut into the wall by the caretaker. When you end up with a situation where children are effectively being taught by a glory hole, you do have to question the possibility of viable inter-faith, inter-race dialogue truly taking place anywhere across our newly shared continent. Camus—no stranger to the traditional Western use of such orifices himself—would surely agree.
Camus’ epiphany about Le Grand Remplacement was born in the mid-1990s when, touring medieval villages on the French coast, he noticed they were no longer full of real Frenchmen like him, Asterix, and Charles de Gaulle, but strange Islamic substitutes, misleadingly mislabeled as legitimate and viable “Frenchmen” by utopian wishful thinkers. “In the space of a single generation, the population had completely changed,” he bemoaned. As so many of these foreign imports were unemployable, this meant “Europe is the first continent to pay for its own colonization” via its own benefits system (or jihad seeker’s allowance, as U.K.-based radical Anjem Choudary once called it).
A fatal error had been made: People had been confused with peoples. Individual foreign people, of goodwill and assimilable bent, could always be absorbed into a much larger native population of many millions. Collective foreign peoples, however, were completely different: “Peoples who remain peoples cannot join other peoples. They can only conquer them, submerge them, replace them.”
Camus noticed the Algerians et al. now squatting alongside him by the banlieue-load referred to white folk like him contemptuously as “the French,” clear proof they did not think of themselves as his fellow countrymen, no matter what their lying passports said, but as an ever-growing colonial occupying force. The innumerable petty criminals amongst France’s Muslim youth were not simply hooligans, but an actual army, “the military wing of the conquest,” whether such janissaries consciously knew they were continuing the age-old work of the Ottoman Empire or not.
By driving real Frenchmen out of their crime-ridden slums with their constant muggings, drug deals, burglaries, car torchings, bombings, and bum rapes, they only added to “the never-ending expansion of areas already subjugated by the neo-colonizers.” The infamous phenomenon of “white flight” was really a truth-veiling Newspeak synonym for “retreat from conquest.” When Suleiman the Magnificent marched up to the Gates of Vienna with his intended army of Islamic conquest in 1529, it turns out his tactics were all wrong: Instead of trying to barge his way in with trebuchets and battering rams, he should have just knocked politely on the door and claimed asylum.
The Empire Strikes Back
Technically, notes Camus, most Western empires did not actually colonize their subject peoples at all—they merely subjugated them temporarily, militarily speaking. True colonies were an ancient Greek invention, when men from Athens and Corinth went out to create replicas of their old Aegean cities in Asia Minor, settling these new city-state regions permanently and making them their own.
The British Empire did this too with America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but these permanent white colonies were atypical: Once Britain, France, and Holland withdrew from India, Indochina, and Africa, they took most of their temporary white governing class back with them. In today’s West, it is different. Unlike the British in India, the Africans and Arabs now pouring westward are here to stay. Forever.
Camus cites a speech (allegedly) given to the U.N. in 1974 Algerian President Houari Boumediene, to the effect that: “One day, millions of men will leave the southern hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends; they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it by populating it with their sons. It is our wives’ wombs that will give us victory.”
So why don’t the neo-Ottomans’ intended future subject-peoples in the West rise up and resist, in imitation of their more warlike ancestors like Ferdinand and Isabella? Because of the massively counterproductive actions of one of their warlike ancestors in particular: Adolf Hitler.
Imagine There’s No Countries…
One of Camus’ best essays is his 2007 piece “The Second Career of Adolf Hitler,” the career in question ironically being that of massive race-traitor. Under the long shadow of Adolf’s Holocaust, the white West’s entire “system of ontological protection” was dismantled as morally unacceptable: Terms like “homeland, inheritance, tradition, ancestors, roots, heritage, or us” became newly verboten.
But, whilst Hitler took these concepts too far, in milder form they were necessary for any race’s long-term survival. Dr. Mengele’s greatest victim was Europe herself: Hoping to remove the diseased Nazi organs, the ruinously overzealous postwar anti-racists who captured all our institutions cut out the healthy ones, too, leaving the West blind, deaf, brain-dead, and vegetative.
By sparking an initial Great Deculturation, in which schoolkids were systematically miseducated to ignore or despise their own history and culture, keeping the citizenry hooked on throwaway pop music, movies, and reality TV trash instead, utopian anti-racists thought they would all end up becoming fungible UHM: Undifferentiated Human Matter. Then, when millions of black and brown future UHM units were shipped in from abroad, they too would benefit, facing no racism and helping destroy Europe’s traditional heritage ever further, so a second Hitler could never arise.
The only problem was, these foreign UHM units did not become terribly deracinated and deculturated by exposure to reality TV, superhero flicks, and hip-hop at all. “It is all well and good to say…there are no more countries. If your compatriots are the only ones who believe you…you have merely condemned them body and soul to slavery” at the hands of those who do still believe in such alleged outmoded “falsities,” warns Camus.
In the name of “never again” regarding the Holocaust, under the influence of Europe’s sinister new presiding ghost, “Inverted Hitler,” conditions were being laid for a new one to potentially take place; many Muslim schoolkids in Europe simply refuse to learn about it, and brainwashed UHM teachers, citing misplaced concerns about “Islamophobia,” meekly acquiesce like the dhimmis they are.
Therefore, says Camus, our “anti-racist society, born of the Holocaust, will soon no longer be able to teach the Holocaust (for reasons of anti-racism).” The grim irony is that some of those leftist Jew-topians who most pushed for the West to be flooded with immigrants were deeply misguided Jewish organizations like America’s own ADL, who would increasingly appear only to have helped sign their own eventual death warrants.
Springtime for Hitler
A further irony is that certain alienated whites, glancing around at the gigantic Lebanon-style shit heap the West is rapidly becoming, now seek someone more comprehensible to blame than long-term impersonal sociopolitical forces like those Camus most spied at work, and end up blaming…the Jews (by which I mean the Jews collectively, rather than merely certain specific reprehensible Jewish individuals or organizations like Soros or the ADL, who do indeed bear some guilt here). Only recently, Elon Musk got into trouble for agreeing with this tweet:
Jewish commun[i]ties have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that [they] support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.
The White House quickly condemned Musk for supposedly endorsing the “conspiracy theory” of the Great Replacement, whilst various big media firms like Disney and Warner Bros. promptly pulled ads from Musk’s site. Guess what that will look like to the far-left, far-right, and assorted Islamist and black nationalist nutters who increasingly now populate Europe and America alike? That’s right, it will look like Jews secretly control our governments and media. Hmm. I wonder what some such people may one day try to do about this problem…?
It appears that, by helping cunningly replace the SS with the undercover soldiers of the neo-Ottomans from beyond the grave, Adolf Hitler has actually won his war of annihilation against the Jews in the end after all, then. That man really was a military genius, wasn’t he?
Steven Tucker’s new book Hitler’s & Stalin’s Misuse of Science: When Science Fiction Was Turned Into Science Fact by the Nazis and the Soviets is out now in hardback (Pen & Sword/Frontline Books). Buy it here (U.S.), here (U.K.), or here (direct from publisher).
The question was a valid one: “How could you, a conservative and a gentleman, be for them?” The man is an acquaintance of long standing, also a gent, so I bothered to explain: “Because I’ve been there and have seen what’s going on up close.”
Needless to say, it was the Middle East we were talking about, and my sympathy for the Palestinians, as opposed to tiny Israel surrounded by hostile Arab nations. I was based in Amman back in 1969 and during “Black September” one year later, when King Hussein destroyed the PLO effort to take over his country. I had visited the Palestinian refugee camps for those evicted by Israeli settlers during the founding of Israel in 1948. I then covered the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and have visited many more such camps in Lebanon since then. All I can say is once you’ve seen the misery of life in those camps, it takes a heart of stone to ignore them.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s David Schulman, a Hebrew professor at an Israeli university, writing in The New York Review of Books: “It is a regime of state terror whose raison d’être is the theft of Palestinian land and, whenever possible, the expulsion of its Palestinian owners. I have seen this system in operation over the course of the past twenty odd years.”
Mind you, pro-Israelis might immediately think, “There goes yet another self-loathing Jew.” I don’t know Schulman, but I’ve met a lot of Israelis who not only agree with him, but are adamant that Israel under Netanyahu has become an occupying power bent on capturing the whole West Bank. One thing is for sure, and I will get to the Hamas outrage and the Israeli reaction later on: To Palestinians living under the occupation over the past several years, state violence against them has escalated dramatically.
It is hard for me to describe what I’ve seen with my own eyes when Jewish religious fanatics—or settlers, as they’re called—mostly young men and women imbued with a burning, racist hate for Palestinians, come face-to-face with them. The Israeli army and the police, supposedly neutral, invariably side with the settlers, and thus one more Arab village empties out with religious fanatics moving in. The plan is a simple one and openly espoused by government officials: If life becomes unbearable, the Palestinians will leave and go to Jordan or Saudi Arabia, or anywhere, and the whole West Bank will be Jewish.
Well, it is a pipe dream because there are 8 million Palestinians not exactly wanted by other Arab countries. Netanyahu’s plan was to turn the West Bank into another Gaza, but then came Oct. 7 and we know the rest. Or do we? There is a longtime pattern in that disputed land: Palestinian suicide bombers propelled Netanyahu into the Prime Minister’s office, and it has been he and his hardliners who have fueled extremist Palestinian groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The horror attacks of Oct. 7 have now been followed by the Gaza massacres of innocents, with more children reported killed in Gaza in the last three weeks than in all global conflicts together in the last year. This is according to Save the Children, not any Palestinian charity.
Let’s show our hand, as they say in Las Vegas. Israel has practiced unrelenting violence as an occupying power over many years. The Palestinian resistance often outdoes the Israelis, and then the deadly pattern starts all over again. Do I mean that the Oct. 7 attacks were justified? A question like that is too outrageous to even contemplate an answer; suffice it to say that Hamas knew very well that in its counterattack Israel would lose the PR battle.
The irony strikes me whenever I visit the Holy Land because of the moral inversion of our times: that of Israel’s occupation of Palestine being seen as deserved in view of the German genocide of Jews. Now the Middle East conflict has been turned into a woke-vs.-antiwoke battleground at American universities. Something not exactly to my liking because my Palestinian sympathies are in cahoots with those who wish to do away with Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee and other great Americans, not to mention a man named Shakespeare.
Simplistic ideological categories blind many of the students except in this case, with Israel seen as a regional superpower, which is undeniable, and the Palestinians as a deracinated people oppressed by colonizers, which is also true.
Had I never visited and lived among the oppressed as well as the oppressors, I certainly would be on the side of the Israelis. Just look at what they’ve done with their land and look at what the Palestinians have accomplished: zero. And yet, I have lived there and have seen what is going on with my own eyes and cannot ignore what I’ve seen and lived. I wrote this more than forty years ago and it still goes: A Palestinian mother cries as bitterly as an Israeli mother does after losing a child, so something must be done.
The Week’s Quirkiest, Jerkiest, and Leftover-Turkiest Headlines
GOING COLD TURKEY
Another Thanksgiving come and gone. And, as every year, a cavalcade of op-eds about how the holiday is “genocidal.”
Although, when you think about it, while Native Americans are generally portrayed as the victims in American history, that first Thanksgiving really worked to their advantage.
William Bradford: “Let us trade favors on this blessed day!”
Massasoit: “Indeed! Here’s my gift: See that stupid-looking bird? Eat it.”
Bradford: “My turn: Here’s a stick where you pull the trigger and your enemy’s head explodes.”
Massasoit: “Uh, seems like we’re getting the better part of the deal, dude. I mean, eventually you’d have figured out to eat the bird. But we’d never be able to invent that murder-stick.”
Bradford: “May the peace of today last a century! Let’s toast with this chalice of alcohol. Oh, and I have a small cold.”
Massasoit: “I’m sure your germs and liquor won’t be a problem for us. Cheers!”
This year’s “racist Thanksgiving” story involves the classic Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoon, currently celebrating its semicentennial. Woke Ass-a-soits are furious that in the dinner scene, when the kids eat jelly beans instead of turkey, the black character—Franklin—is seated away from everyone else.
No mystery there: The jelly beans were cold. You do not want to be near a black youth if you’re serving cold food. Franklin was seated separately for everyone’s safety.
The greater outrage is, where was Pig-Pen? Blatant anti-homeless bigotry! The kid living in his own filth, to the extent that a literal cloud of stank envelopes him, was excluded from the dinner altogether.
Of course, Pig-Pen and Franklin got the last laugh. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s hometown of Minneapolis is now pretty much all Franklins and Pig-Pens. Linus traded his blanket for fentanyl, Lucy was murdered after pulling the football prank on Franklin’s cousin D’Quando, and Snoopy’s doghouse was destroyed in the fiery but peaceful riots of 2020.
And Woodstock? Let’s just say Franklin finally got his hot meal…a four-piece meal—wings and thighs.
Finger-lickin’ good grief.
What a week in the world of music!
First, Sean “Diddy” Combs was accused of unwanted diddling by his longtime girlfriend Cassie Ventura in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse (forced intercourse) and aural abuse (forced exposure to his music).
A week ago, Ventura’s attorney bragged that his client had rejected a “10-figure offer” from Combs to not go public with the suit. “My client is not for sale,” he declared. But on the first day of hearings, Combs offered her “10-figure plus fitty-cent,” and she grabbed it.
Another blow against the patriarchy.
According to the suit’s details, Diddy “forced Ventura to sleep with male sex workers while he watched.” Highly appropriate that this would be the behavior of a man who can only sample the work of more capable men while grunting, “Aw yeah.”
Meanwhile, Kanye West “dropped” his first tune since declaring his love of Hitler. The song, titled “Vultures” and featuring collaborators Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, and Bump J, features the lyric “How’m I antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch.”
And that’s why you hire Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Durk, and Bump J—to get quality product like that.
Finally, in a story that’s rocked the rock world, Hall and Oates are suing each other. It has something to do with Hall having publicly disparaged Oates as a useless appendage who never contributed to the duo’s catchy but forgettable tunes.
At the moment the lawsuit’s in limbo because nobody can figure out which one’s Hall and which one’s Oates.
On the first day of trial, the presiding judge grilled the lawyers, “Okay, which is the tall blond guy and which is the Baba-Booey-lookin’ midget?” and neither the attorneys nor the litigants could answer.
DNA results are expected by Christmas. The winner of the suit will gain control of the duo’s fortune, described as being worth “2-figure plus fitty-cent.”
RHYME AND UNREASON
Remember when TikTok was repulsive because it was nothing but Zoomer bimbos flipping the bird with their tongue out?
Talk about the good old days.
These days, as TikTokers recite Osama bin Laden talking points, the site’s reached a level of repugnance that’s attracted the ire of the most important people on earth.
Like Amy Schumer, whose job description is basically, “Tell ten jokes a year, make one movie per decade, earn a billion dollars, and spend it eating ribs and ice cream until no couch can fit you.”
Last week, Schumer joined Sacha Baron Cohen (the performance artist otherwise known as “Tom Green except this time you wish the testicle cancer had killed him”) in a conference call to TikTok’s CCP executives, demanding, “Oy, enough with the anti-Semitism already!”
Also on board for the call was hunchbacked bridge-troll Debra Messing, who single-handedly disproves the notion that there are no Jewish farmers: Messing’s fed herself by milking the same role for three decades.
The kvetchers were reassured by TikTok execs Fuk-Yoo Ju and Chu Poo Hi-Mee that absolutely nothing will be done about the problem.
Meanwhile, a human even more worthless than Messing (impossible as that seems), Anne Boyer—“poetry editor” for The New York Times Magazine—resigned from the publication last week because it’s not sufficiently pro-Hamas for her Jew-hating tastes. Emily Whatadickinson’s resignation letter stated that she hopes her departure “leaves a hole the size of poetry.”
Fine. As long as it doesn’t leave a hole the size of Schumer. That would be catastrophic.
Boyer’s final verses?
A Palestinian thug named Ahmer,
Built suicide bomb underwear.
On his way to kill Jews,
He broke wind on the fuse,
And his chestnuts were roasted mid-air.
A spinster poet named Anne was a fool,
Spouting Hamas PR like a tool.
Resignation verses she shared,
Turns out nobody cared,
But at least her ten cats think she’s cool.
VIRGIN (BRAIN) ISLANDS
In a year filled with stories of airplanes befouled by aisle defecation, last week saw a sharper-than-normal increase in such incidents.
What could be responsible for the epidemic of passengers not knowing how to utilize toilets?
It was the 2023 Caricom convention in Ghana! Caricom might sound like a cell-phone company that buys and renames beloved sports stadiums, but in fact it’s an organization called “Caribbean Community” comprising black delegates from the Caribbean Islands. And last week they converged on Ghana—soiling planes and using their headphones to strangle anyone who looked Dominican—for the first-ever Conference on Caribbean Reparations, to demand moar welfare from white nations for the crime of having transported their ancestors from a disease-ridden land of war and famine to paradisiacal islands of pristine water and bounty.
Damn those whites!
Sadly, many of the delegates who survived the trip to Ghana died of Ebola during the cab ride from Tsetse International Airport. And those who made it to their suite at the Malarriott contracted dengue by nightfall.
Still, the conference was a rousing success. According to The Guardian, although none of the Western leaders who addressed the event via Zoom committed to reparations, one world leader—Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte—offered a formal apology for the slave trade.
Sadly, Rutte’s statement, “Oop oop ook ook oot boom moop eep eep,” broadcast on loudspeaker throughout the conference hut, caused a stampede, with local baboons mistaking it for a mating cry.
Survivors of the conference had a pleasant ganja-infused flight home. And by the time they landed, they’d completely forgotten why they went in the first place.
Just how certain were industry experts that the female-led “superheroes of color and diversity” film The Marvels would flop?
For the first time in history, industry sites issued trigger warnings before reporting box office tallies.
Hollywood columnist Luis Fernando sounded the alarm:
Next week’s online chatter about this particular opening weekend might be potentially ugly. I’ll post about The Marvels and it’s [sic] situation at the Box Office. If you think that it will be too overwhelming for you, out of fairness I’d suggest you unfollow me so you don’t get any updates that could make you feel angry or sad. I just wouldn’t want anyone to feel triggered. As a fan myself, I know it won’t be an easy couple of days for many people.
Yes, for woke millennials, The Marvels is their Vietnam. Except instead of an actual war it’s the fact that a movie in which LGBT Pakistani-Muslim-African girlfriends fight CGI wingnuts was about to tank worse than Elisa Lam.
And Fernando’s prediction proved true. The Marvels had the worst opening of any Marvel film, ever—“a new low for the MCU.” The movie cost $300 million and raked in $47 mil. Turns out nobody wanted to sit through two hours of an Oberlin struggle session.
Even costar Zawe Ashton, granddaughter of a former president of Uganda, couldn’t save the film. She spent the entire opening weekend eating the flesh of her enemies and building a shrine with their bones, but to no avail. It’s unlikely anything could’ve saved a movie starring chicks who look like they should be tearing down posters of Israeli hostages.
Could The Marvels finally be the thing that sickens Americans of endless superhero tripe in which billionaire actors cavort in pajamas against green screens? Hopefully, this movie is the Thanos of Marvel and DC films and destroys a universe. Maybe it becomes the medicine that at long last makes Americans vomit at the thought of these films.
And thus would be born a new superheroine.
Forget Catwoman; meet Ipecacwoman.
Let’s face it. Anyone who works in, or just visits, the Wall Street area of Manhattan can’t deny the aura of power and money isn’t what it was 20, 30 or 50 years ago.
The vibrancy, the financial dominance, the gusto seems to have gone missing — so have many of the Gordon Gekko high rollers. Today, Wall Street is less crowded. It’s sleepier. There aren’t exactly tumbleweeds blowing down Broad Street past the New York Stock Exchange, but it’s not the bustling place where the financial titans and the world’s money changers hang out anymore.
To borrow a line from Austin Powers: Wall Street has lost its mojo.
Yes, Wall Street is still the financial capital of the world, but for how much longer? Right now, Wall Street has the look of a falling stock.
In years past, there was a worry that London or Tokyo or even Beijing would knock Manhattan off its exalted pedestal as the financial center of the universe.
Fortunately, that never happened. But now the latest threat is clear and present. And it’s coming from … South Florida!
You don’t have to believe me. Listen to billionaire Ken Griffin, who moved the headquarters of his multibillion-dollar hedge fund Citadel from Chicago to Miami last year. Last week, he made a highly publicized prediction that Florida could become the world’s new financial mecca. Why? Because “Miami represents the future of America.” Then he adds Florida “has a political environment that encourages growth.” What a concept.
Griffin has followed in the footsteps of Wall Street icons including Carl Icahn and Paul Singer, both of whom have moved their financial operations from Wall Street to South Florida.
These may seem to be just a few high-profile cases of billionaires saying adios to Wall Street, but they aren’t isolated examples. The exodus of people and money out of New York has gone from a trickle to a stampede in recent years. Since 2012, more than 2 million more New Yorkers have left the state than residents who entered. Coincidentally, the number of people who have come to call Florida home has increased by almost exactly that amount. One of those people was one of the world’s richest men, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who left Seattle and his $150 billion fortune and relocated to Miami. New York wasn’t on his short list.
These Americans on the move have taken their money and businesses with them. IRS tax return data tells us that some $50 billion have matriculated out of New York in 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, Florida has gained that much net income. The skylines in Miami and even Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale are showing more towering high rises every week. South Floridians are referring to Miami as Wall Street South.
It isn’t just Florida’s bright sunshine and the balmy weather that’s shrinking Wall Street’s footprint. Much bigger factors are the taxes and the anti-capitalism ethic of the bluest of blue states — New York. It’s always been astonishing to me that the city that wants to retain its financial market supremacy has some of the most punitive taxes on financial capital. New York shares with California the highest tax rates on capital gains, dividends and business income. Those taxes can reach more than 13% (on top of federal taxes) for residents of Manhattan. But in Florida, the state taxes are zero. Nada.
New York’s tax strategy makes as much sense as Iowa imposing high taxes on corn production or the Idaho legislature driving its potato farmers out of business.
Even former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hardly a champion of limited government, warned not long ago that he no longer supported “tax the rich” because “the rich leave.” Nobody listened.
Are New York’s progressive politicians trying to chase away Wall Street and its billionaires? If they are, then the strategy is succeeding.
New York’s loss is increasingly Florida’s gain.
The following sentence ought to be enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine, at least if it accurately reflects a reality:
US attorneys plan to extract a multi-billion-dollar payment from crypto exchange Binance in exchange for discontinuing their criminal investigation of it.
In other words, U.S. attorneys are acting like mafiosi running a protection racket. Justice, so-called, is here not even like a game of poker, in which the players at least start out from an equal position, though some, of course, may be better, more experienced players than others. It is blackmail, for even the innocent have reason to fear the legal and rhetorical resources of Leviathan, which will not likely be denied whatever it wants or decrees.
This does not automatically translate into great sympathy for the victims of the shakedown. I confess to a visceral distaste when I see pictures of the founder of Binance, Changpeng Zhao. My distaste is for a reason that some people might find strange: Though he is a billionaire (perhaps soon to be an ex-billionaire), he dresses with studied casualness to make himself appear as if were just any slobbish student. There is here hypocritically combined a ravening appetite for wealth and a desire to appear egalitarian. But we know that if it came to a choice between wealth and equality which he would choose.
Does this casualness of dress bespeak a guilty conscience about great wealth, or a desire to divert possible criticism of it? One of the justifications of great wealth is that it promotes the civilized arts of life, but the modern moguls seem to have little inclination, or perhaps ability, to do so. Their taste is often abominable, and they make the late King Farouk look like Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Although I know one or two people who have made a considerable sum of money from it, I have never really understood cryptocurrency and have not dared to dip my toes into its turbulent waters. I have always suspected that if it was not actually fraudulent in itself, it would promote fraud, and in my ignorance of its workings, I would be one of the defrauded.
Cryptocurrency is no doubt a response to the fraud that makes the world’s financial system go round. Curiously enough, it is the mutual assured rottenness of all currencies that keeps the system afloat (if one can go round and keep afloat at the same time). The American dollar is rotten to the core, but so are all the other currencies with which it “competes”; and if by chance a sound currency were to emerge, it would soon have to be debauched by whoever emitted it, if the market mechanism did not do so automatically, for the effects of a very valuable currency are not altogether favorable to the economy that uses it. The only time I was in Afghanistan, I was told that the Afghan currency, the Afghani, was the strongest in the region and much sought after. This was because there was practically no economic activity in the country other than subsistence, and the supply of Afghanis remained constant, though whether this was a cause or effect of the strength of the currency, or a dialectical relationship, I cannot say.
But why are all currencies rotten, albeit that the mutuality of their rottenness gives to the system whatever fragile stability it may have? Why must all governments emit more currency than growth in economic activity necessitates or justifies?
We are all Peronists now. Juan Domingo Perón was in a sense a harbinger or herald of the modern world. He was a typical demagogue, in that his first victim, in the sense of believing what he said, was probably himself. He was not very intelligent, but his wife was beautiful, and that counted for a lot.
Argentina was a rich and developed country, but it was not a paradise. Nowhere is; the only true paradise, said Marcel Proust, is the paradise lost. Despite its wealth, there was poverty in Argentina, and it was this that Perón set about reducing, thereby increasing it.
A mixture of social reform, corporatism, and economic nationalism soon created a spiral, mainly downward, from which Argentina did not emerge for eighty years. Whether the newly elected president-designate, Sr. Milei, will succeed in breaking the cycle remains to be seen: I think it at least as likely that he will provoke civil conflict or even civil war as that he will succeed.
The problem with downward spirals is that they create a population fearful of change. Where people believe in an economy as a zero-sum game, or as a cake of fixed size whose slices can only be enlarged at the expense of other slices, they become desperate to preserve their slice, no matter how small it is because of the very policies that have made it so. Thus, they want the continuation of the policy that guarantees them a slice, even if that slice is ever smaller and cannot expand. The fact that Peronists can still exist after eighty years is one of the wonders of the political world but is explicable by the mechanism cited above. Hilaire Belloc, in his Cautionary Tale for children titled Jim (who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion, summarized the psychology very succinctly. Having been informed of Jim’s death by lion in the zoo:
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James’s miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.
This mechanism is far from inoperative in democracies more stable than Argentina’s. It is one of the reasons, perhaps the strongest, why countries find it so difficult to alter course, even though it is clearly leading to disaster. Another great political thinker and fine flower of the political class, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and president of the European Commission, who at least was not without wit, once put it succinctly: We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get elected afterward.
Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book is Ramses: A Memoir, published by New English Review.
“Vengeance is mine,” is the Lord’s saying, but also the title of a best-selling Mickey Spillane trashy novel of the ’50s. The slaughter that’s taking place in the Middle East as I write this is all about vengeance, but then most wars are about revenge. In May 1946, in Tokyo, the American victors decided to put on trial the Japanese losers, with 28 defendants sitting before judges chosen from nations on the winning side. I was 9 years old at the time, but I remember very clearly my great-uncle, the Chief Justice of the Greek Supreme Court at the time, saying that the wrong people were in the dock. Two atomic bombs dropped on old men, women, and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention the close to 100,000 dead in the firebombing of Tokyo prior to that, had outraged a great man who did not believe in killing innocents. When my father pointed out that the Japanese had started it, my uncle’s retort made sense: The Japanese were forced to fight by Roosevelt’s embargo, and chose to attack a military base and military personnel.
It was hard to argue with him then, and 75 years later even harder. The Tokyo trial lasted almost three times as long as the Nuremberg one did. (There was no trial for the firebombing of Dresden by the Allies; instead it was called a great victory. Dresden consisted of libraries and churches, old men, women, and children.) Ex-Premier Tojo wiped the floor with chief prosecutor Joseph Keenan, and curried favor with one of the judges, Radhabinod Pal, an Indian jurist. Tojo went proudly to his death, as did most of the defendants, including the totally innocent Prince Konoye, the emperor’s cousin.
Since World War II, many people in the West as well as in the East believe that all the fancy talk about law and justice is American bullshit. Putin correctly balks at the so-called rules-based order. Where does it come from? he asks. Who has ever seen these rules? The Chinese and Russians are on thin ice given the invasion of Ukraine, which China tacitly supports, yet good old Uncle Sam has used force more than 100 times since 1990, frequently without U.N. authority. The good uncle is crying wolf over Ukraine but failed to wail over Afghanistan, Iraq, not to mention overthrowing governments in South America since time immemorial.
But I’m supposed to be writing about revenge, not Uncle Sam, who seems to me a very vengeful person. To many observers, the war in Gaza was and is unthinkable in its scale and ferocity, first by Hamas, then by Israel. One thousand two hundred Israeli victims—a number I think will greatly diminish over time—as compared with close to 12,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,000 children. I’d call that a pretty good revenge, one that is in fact a war crime if there ever were one.
The Israeli-Palestinian problem measures in decades—seven decades, to be exact—and is one of destruction and nonstop revenge by both sides. Israel started it by wiping out entire Palestinian villages while establishing the state. Palestinians have endured a subjugation ever since, one that has defined their daily lives.
Once upon a time America called it manifest destiny, and that’s what Israel has done these past 75 years. They also built a high-tech economy as well as a democracy, the only democracy in that part of the world. And have given their Palestinian citizens more rights than most Arab countries give their own subjects. And yet! Like most people, Palestinians want to be free to choose who leads them, and until now they’ve been led by corrupt and self-serving leaders who have lined their pockets while in cahoots with Israeli occupiers. Hamas provoked the bear by murdering innocents indiscriminately and with unheard-of cruelty. Israel is responding by killing ten Palestinians for every Israeli victim, including women and children. In fact, Israeli forces have killed half of 1 percent of Gaza’s population. Is this vengeance or what, as they used to say in the Casbah.
Two-thirds of the Gaza population is made up of refugees; in other words, people who lost nearby lands and homes to Israeli force of arms and had to move to Gaza. The cleansing of Arabs in the West Bank continues as I write, with Israeli extremists now in government supporting religious settlers who evict Palestinians daily.
Smoldering Gaza is now a graveyard of women, children, and mostly innocents, as Hamas fighters know how to defend themselves and blend in with the populace. Gaza has also fractured certain alliances back here in the Bagel, between the Democratic Party and American Jews. The latter have always voted for the former but are now faced with polls that demand a cease-fire. Three-quarters of Democrats polled want a cease-fire, but American Jews call that anti-Semitism. I call it crying wolf once too often. American Jews have often been accused of dual loyalty, but now is not the time to test their loyalty to the U.S. government. Advocates for the freedom and safety of Palestinians are not anti-Semites but rational human beings who believe Biden and the Democratic Party are sanctioning atrocities.
I started this diatribe by writing about revenge. First the Palestinians avenged themselves against the Israelis, and the latter responded in kind and then some. Israel’s great protector and benefactor, Uncle Sam, then failed to keep Israel’s response within limits, and lost the youth vote the world over. So what is the good uncle supposed to do now? Declare that only people over 40 can vote? Not a bad idea, come to think of it.