Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Brick Wall

       At the end of the horror classic Village of the Damned, George Sanders' character has to avoid thinking about his intention to blow up the alien children by thinking of a brick wall.  The children can read minds;  any hint of a thought of his intentions will thwart the entire mission.
      Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner, having alienated most Republicans through sanctuary state policies and publicly funding abortion, is in his death throes.  Yesterday Estase received three glossy pieces of junk mail aimed at stopping the candidacy of primary challenger Jeanne Ives.  Rauner ridiculously tries to claim that Ives is associated with Democratic oberfuehrer Conal Cochran, and that she wants to increase taxes.  This is, I guess, a contrast to Rauner's fiscal conservatism shown by publicly funding abortion when the state is already in arrears.

       It won't be necessary to control our thoughts to the extent that we cannot avoid concentrating on a brick wall.  Illinoisans need only remember how Sci-Fi Bruce Rauner betrayed them over and over again, mixing attempts at financial reform with the worst kind of liberal social engineering.  Even if a Democrat is elected next fall, at least that's a monster that comes under its own colors, and doesn't pretend to be something he isn't.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Right-Wing Philistines

       American conservatism at one time held a set of beliefs that included things like anti-Communism, belief in limited government, und so weiter.  These principles were reflected by an intellectual class who made reference to them in their writings.  There were different strains of conservative thought, but common themes united the Barry Goldwaters, Russell Kirks, and William F. Buckleys.
       The past decade has seen a dramatic deevolution in the complexity of conservative thought.  Talk radio, which at one time seemed like a means for bypassing the liberal messages of network news, has encouraged a pettiness that doesn't become any movement.  Conservative thought has become obsessed with the economic.  Right-wing philistines only concern themselves over the economic life of man.  Cutting taxes has gone from being a treatment for symptoms of liberalism to being the entire Republican message!  Limited government and the more philosophical aspects of the message have gone the way of the passenger pigeon. 
       A few years ago, the TEA party movement started this process, in an Ayn Rand reaction to budget-busting Obama policies.  The TEA party was agnostic on social issues, hence one never saw people in colonial garb protesting gay marriage or abortion.  Their simplistic tirades about taxes ended up becoming the dominant strain on talk radio.  It never occurred to the right-wing philistines that Obama was hardly the first president to go to absurd lengths in growing the size and cost of government.  When a New York liberal decided to try to get the Republican Party's nomination, the memories of the right-wing philistines didn't encompass the decades of sex and scandal that he brought with him.  Absurdly, many people who were strongly religious started to compare him to King David, or say that he was God's anointed, meant to bring America back to her roots.  Those of us who were skeptics were decried as liberals.
       The result is a Republican Party that is morally bankrupt.  Having abandoned her principles to a horde of talk-radio dittoheads, she created an Obama-style continuing resolution (weren't we supposed to be done with such things?) that even funded the worshippers of Moloch over at Planned Parenthood!  The obvious question is whether voting Republican has any discernible effect over what kind of government we get.  We may get a tax cut, but the schema of government remains the same.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Deep State, Deep Doo-Doo

       Many of O.B.'s supporters are fond of the term "deep state."  Their conspiratorial leanings incline them to believe that government employees exist primarily to frustrate the goals of the Trump Administration.  Somehow, previous Republican administrations never suffered from career government employees, but this one does.
       Naivete about how government functions seems to be a big problem with the alt-right, "populists," and other assorted Trump acolytes.  Non-military government employees are usually Ivy League graduates.  As a function of their origin, they obviously lean left.  They are career employees, as opposed to the political appointees every administration gets to install.  O.B.'s intention to radically cut the number of State Department employees no doubt incenses people who earned advanced degrees in International Relations with an eye to public service.  It also seems ill-advised in a world where diplomacy beats bloody slug-fests every time.  Even Ronald Reagan realized that the State Department served a vital function in preventing armed hostilities!   So if there's a war with the deep state, it's one that Trump started.
       Just as how O.B.'s supporters enjoy saying nasty things about Republican legislative leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, they enjoy fantasies about saboteurs in Federal office buildings, plotting against the valiant patriots in the West Wing.  This manichean view of politics suits the uninformed and those who enjoy talk radio careers.  The latter are largely responsible for the simplistic views of most Trump supporters.  One might well say that Republican voters are less informed after 25 years of Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.  Their impossible standards of right-wing purity would be impossible to meet in a legislature, where compromise is a necessary tool of government.  This is why right wing crackpots say idiotic things like "Paul Ryan is a liberal."  Paul Ryan is a person who has to cobble together governing majorities on every issue.  This means that in order to govern, even subhuman bottom feeders like Bela Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have to have some of their desires met.  It's called democracy--look into it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Prelude to Carnage

       "A drama as lush and gruesome as {Oscar} Wilde trying hard could make it, Salome was a pursuit of sensation for its own sake, an effort to produce what Baudelaire called 'the phosphorescence of putrescence.'  The original play, written in French in 1891, went into rehearsal in London a year later with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role, but performance was banned by the Lord Chamberlain on the ground that its presentation of St. John the Baptist was sacrilege.  Upon publication (with copies for the author's friends bound in 'Tyrian purple and tired silver'), the play was denounced by The Times as 'an arrangement in blood and ferocity, morbid, bizarre, repulsive and very offensive.'  In 1894 an English translation by Lord Alfred Douglas appeared, illustrated with luscious evil by the truest decadent of them all, Aubrey Beardsley.  Three of his drawings, considered indecent by the publishers, had to be withdrawn.  In 1896, when Wilde was in Reading Gaol, Salome was produced in Paris by the actor-manager Lugne-Poe at his Theatre de l'Oeuvre, with himself as Herod but without Bernhardt.  The quintessence of decadence was overripe and it was not a success.  In Germany, however, Salome matched a craving for the horrendous and found its place.  First produced in Breslau in 1901, its real success came in 1902 with a production by Max Reinhardt at his Kleines Theatre in Berlin, where {Richard} Strauss saw it.
       More a poem than a play, Wilde's Salome was an exercise in purple, an orgy in words, which succeeded on paper but embarrassed on the stage.  It offered the spectacle of Salome pouring out her hot erotic pleas to the eyes, the hair, the limbs, the body and the love of Iokanaan, of King Herod avid for his stepdaughter, of her voluptuous dance to excite his lust and win her ghastly desire, of the black Executioner's huge arm rising from the pit holding the bearded bloody head of the Prophet who had scorned her, of her necrophilic raptures addressed to the head on the platter and her final conquest of its dead lips, of Herod's climactic order of horror and remorse, 'Kill that woman!' and of her death crushed beneath the shields of his soldiers.  Performed in flesh and blood it delighted the Berlin audience.  Wilde's moonlit fantasia, in Germany, came into its own and enjoyed a phenomenal run of two hundred performances.
       The undercurrent of morbidity in Germany, which Rolland had already noticed, grew more apparent in the first decade of the new century.  It increased in proportion as Germany's wealth and strength and arrogance increased, as if the pressure of so much industrial success and military power were creating an inner reaction in the form of a need to negate, to expose the worms and passions writhing within that masterful, prosperous, well-behaved, orderly people.  It was as if Bismarck had perforce produced Krafft-Ebing.  Indeed, Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis which appeared in 1886 provided a well of lurid resource on which the German drama, then the most vigorous form of natural literature, could draw.
       Tragedy was the staple of the German theatre.  Social comedies with happy endings were not a German genre.  German fun was confined to buffoonery, either painful or coarse.  Their tragedies were not so much curative, like Ibsen's, nor compassionate, like Chekov's, but obsessively focused on mankind's cruelty to man, on his bent toward self-destruction and on death.  Death by murder, suicide or some more esoteric form resolved nearly all German drama of the nineties and early 1900s.  In {Gerhart} Hauptmann's Hannele the child heroine dies of neglect and abuse in an almshouse, in his Sunken Bell Heinrich's wife drowns herself in a lake and he drinks a poisoned goblet, in Rose Bernd the title character, seduced and deserted, strangles her newborn child, in Henschel the title character hangs himself after betraying his dead wife by marrying a tart who lets his child die of neglect, in Michael Kramer a sensitive son is driven to suicide by an overbearing father, a popular theme in Germany rich in such fathers.  In {Herrmann} Sudermann's Magda only the father's fatal stroke prevents his shooting himself and his daughter, who needless to say is illegitimately pregnant, the invariable fate of the German heroine.  An endless succession of them were driven in the grip of the circumstance to hysteria, insanity, crime, prison, infanticide and suicide.  In Sudermann's Sodoms Ende, which varies the pattern if not the end, a dissolute young artist, corrupted by the wife of a banker, drives his foster sister to suicide and dies himself of a hemorrhage.  In {Frank} Wedekind's Frühlings Erwachen (Spring's Awakening), first effort of a playwright who was to exceed all the rest, the discovery of sex by adolescents conflicting with the prurience of adults produces total catastrophe:  the fourteen-year-old heroine, being with child, dies, apparently of a mismanaged abortion;  the boy is expelled from school and sent to a reformatory by his parents;  his friend, unable to bear life, commits suicide and reappears in a graveyard with his head under his arm in a closing scene of opaque symbolism.  In the course of the action a third boy, in a scene of explcit auto-eroticism, addresses a passionate love declaration to the picture of a naked Venus which he then drops down the toilet.  First produced in 1891, the play was a sensational success and in book form went into twenty-six editions.
       Born in the same year as Strauss, Wedekind was a writer of satanic talent who had been an actor, journalist, circus publicity agent, singer of grisly ballads for Überbrettl and while on the staff of Simplicissimus served a term in prison for lese majeste.  'I have the imagination of disaster--and see life as ferocious and sinister' exactly described him, though it was Henry James who said it of himself.  Frühlings Erwachen, if taken as a plea for sex education, at least had a social message and a quality of pity, but thereafter Wedekind saw nothing but the ferocious and the sinister.  In the same years in which Freud was carefully arriving at his discovery of the subconscious, Wedekind saw an awful vision of it and stripped off every covering to show it as purely malignant.  From 1895 on, his plays plunged into a debauch of the vicious and perverse which seemed to have no argument but that humanity was vile.  Erdgeist (Earth Spirit) and its sequel, Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box), take place in a world of pimps, crooks, harlots, blackmailers, murderers and hangmen surrounding the heroine Lulu, who represents sensuality incarnate both heterosexual and lesbian.  Her adventures proceed through brothels and dives, seduction, abortion, sadism, necrophilia and nymphomania in what a contemporary critic called 'a torrent of sex foaming over jagged rocks of insanity and crime.'  It was sex, not creative in its primal function, but destructive, producing not life but death.  Lulu's first husband dies of a stroke, her second, bedeviled by her perfidy, cuts his own throat, her third on discovering her infidelity committed with his son is killed by her.  After prison, degradation and prostitution, she ends, logically, slashed to death by a Jack the Ripper in a final lethal explosion of that erotic power which {George Bernard} Shaw, a very different playwright, was celebrating at the same time as the Life Force.
       Strauss's antennae picked up whatever was in the air and he fixed unerringly on Salome--as the subject of an opera, not a tone poem.  Using more instruments than ever, he composed a score of tremendous difficulty and exaggerated dissonance with the orchestra at times divided against itself, playing in two violently antagonistic keys as if to express the horror of the subject by horrifying the ear.  Instruments were twisted to new demands, cellos made to reach the realm of violins, trombones to cavort like flutes, kettledrums given figures of unprecedented complexity.  The musical fabric was dazzling.  Strauss could write for the voice with no less virtuosity than for orchestra and the singers' parts seemed to grow more eloquent as the drama deepened in depravity.  Salome's final song to the severed head thrilled listeners with a sinister beauty that did justice to Wilde's words:
Ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me, Iokanaan!  If thou hadst seen me thou hadst loved me.  I am athrist for thy beauty;  I am hungry for thy body and neither the floods not the great waters can quench my passion. . . .Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Iokanaan, I have kissed thy mouth.
       When Berlin and Vienna refused performance, like London, on the ground of sacrilege, Strauss's great admirer, Ernst von Schuch, conductor of the Dresden Royal Opera, presented it there on December 9, 1905.  The production, in a single act lasting an hour and forty minutes without interruption, spared the audience's sensibilities nothing.  Iokanaan's head, made up in realistic pallor of death with appropriate gore, was held in full view;  Salome's seven veils were ritually discarded one by one while Herod leered.  Death under the soldiers' shields supplied a punishing catharsis.  The audience responded with unbounded enthusiasm extending to thirty-eight curtain calls for cast and composer.  In subsequent performances in other German cities Salome went on to huge success and, for Strauss, large financial reward not adversely affected by bans and censorship troubles.  In Vienna owing to the objections of the Archbishop the ban held, but in Berlin over the strenuous objections of the Kaiserin a compromise was reached of the kind applied by the Church to the Song of Solomon.  Performance was allowed on condition that the star of Bethlehem should appear in the sky as Salome died, presumably indicating the posthumous triumph of the Baptist over unnatural passion.
       Outside Germany where taste was more prudish, Salome became 'the storm center of the musical world.'  In New York a tense audience at the Metropolitan Opera on January 22, 1907, awaited the rise of the curtain with 'foreboding,' soon amply fulfilled.  The music, when critics could tear their attention from portrayal of 'a psychopathic condition literally unspeakable in its horror and abnormality.' was acknowledged marvelous but perverted to means that 'sicken the mind and wreck the nerves.'  The opera's theme, not humanly representative as the material of music should be, was considered variously 'monstrous,' 'pestilential,' 'intolerable and abhorrent,' 'mpehetic, poisonous, sinister and obsessing in the extreme.'  Its 'erotic pathology' was unfit for 'conversation between self-respecting men,' and the Dance alone 'ought to make it impossible for an Occidental woman to look at it.'  Rising in 'righteous fury' the press agreed that popularity in Germany settled nothing for America and the Metropolitan bowing to the storm withdrew the production.
       The Eulenburg affair concerned homosexuals in the immediate circle of the Kaiser, but it was less their habits than the layers disclosed of malice, intrigue and private vendetta which shed a lurid glow on Germany.  Three years earlier Fritz Krupp, head of the firm, on being accused by the Socialist paper Vorwärts of homosexual acts with waiters and valets, committed suicide.  This time the central figure was Prince Philipp Eulenburg, former Ambassabor to Vienna from 1894 to 1902, a suave and cultivated aristocrat who was the Kaiser's oldest and closest friend, sang songs to him beautifully at the piano, and gave him intelligent advice.  As the only courtier to exercise of the whole a beneficent influence on the sovereign, he was naturally the object of the jealousy of Bülow and Holstein, who suspected the Kaiser of intention to make him Chancellor.  Initiator of the scandal was Maximilian Harden, the feared and fearless editor of the weekly Die Zukunft, of which it was said that everything rotten and everything good in Germany appeared in its pages.  Cause and motive had to do with Germany's diplomatic defeat at the Algeciras Conference which set off waves of recrimination among ministers, culminating in the removal of the spidery Holstein.  He blamed Eulenburg, although in fact his removal had been secretly engineered by Bülow.  Rabid for revenge, Holstein, who for year had kept secret police files on the private habits of his associates, now joined forces with Harden to ruin Eulenburg, whose influence on the Kaiser, Harden believed, was pacific and therefore malign.  With Holstein's files at his disposal, Harden opened a campaign of innuendo naming three elderly Counts, all A.D.C.s of the Kaiser, as homosexuals and graduallly closing in on the friendship of Eulenburg with Count Kuno Moltke, nicknamed Tutu, 'the most delicate of generals,'  commander of a cavalry brigade and City Commandant of Berlin.  The Kaiser ditched his friends instantly and forced Moltke to sue Harden for libel, which was just what Harden wanted to ruin Eulenburg.  Through four trials lasting over a period of two years, from October, 1907, to July, 1909, evidence of perversion, blackmail, and personal venom was spread before a bewildered public.  Witnesses including thieves, pimps and morons told of 'disgusting orgies' in the Garde du Corps regiment and testified to abnomal acts of Eulenburg and Moltke twenty years in the past.  A celebrated specialist in pathological conditions discoursed on medical details, Moltke's divorced and vindictive wife was called to testify, charges of insubordination and perjury were added, Chancellor Bülow was himself accused of perversion by a half-crazed crusader for the legal rights of homosexuals and forced to sue, the verdict of the first trial in favor of Harden was reversed by a second trial and re-reversed in a third at which Eulenburg, now ill, disgraced and under arrest, was brought to court in a hospital bed.  The public felt uneasily that justice was being tampered with, readers of Die Zukunft were given an impression of perversion everywhere and the prestige of Kaiser and court sank.  At the same time in Vienna the Emperor's brother, Archduke Ludwig-Viktor, known as Luzi-Wuzi, became involved in a scandal with a massuer. "  The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman Pgs. 319-20;321-22;323-24;324-25;329-30.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Killing Edmund Burke a Second Time

    The constellation of factors that are at play with Orange Blatherskite are making him a caricature.  The first is the current standards of political correctness, which are so impossible to not violate that even liberals end up getting accused of racism, sexism, and homophobia (the liberal holy trinity).  Second, O.B. takes pride in flouting even the most basic standards of adult behavior, let alone the rarified pseudomorality of political correctness.  Insults are O.B.'s love language.  Third, O.B. has the maturity of a twelve-year-old girl combined with the aggression of Rambo.  It's no wonder Tex Killerson is on his way out of Foggy Bottom;  imagine the frustration he felt trying to calm down North Korea, and seeing his boss engage in Twitter escalation with the regime.  
        Any things on fronts like abortion or deregulation that O.B. has done the right thing on seem overshadowed by the pettiness and lack of policy sophistication he displays.  O.B.'s favorite subject is the problem of illegal immigration.  At the same time O.B. wants to build a wall to stop illegal immigration, he attacks NAFTA on the basis that it is too favorable to Mexico!  The man who calls himself a genius doesn't seem to appreciate that any economic growth in Mexico will in and of itself reduce illegal immigration.  A poorer Mexico is one which will continue to have an exodus from it.  This "Jacksonian Nationalism" is tribalistic, short-sighted, and makes it easy for liberals to call O.B. racist.  These things don't seem to matter to O.B., and the fact that Fox News seems to consider O.B. the gold standard in conservatism means that millions of Americans are being led to believe that conservatism is race politics for white people.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Codependence Is. . . .

   Codependence is seeing a potted tree in someone else's yard, and feeling the urge to volunteer to plant it for them.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Lepidus on Gary Bauer

    Gary Bauer is a fraud and a con man.  There, I just gave you my conclusion.  Now I will provide my reasoning.  Donald Trump has demonstrated that he stands for nothing, and will say anything to gain the support of his cult followers.  He has no record as a conservative;  on the contrary, his record consists of years of supporting liberal, pro-abortion democrats like Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton.  The esteemed, wise social conservative guru Gary Bauer showed his infinite wisdom by declaring that Trump winning the nomination of the Republican party would be acceptable if "social conservatives received ironclad promises" from the reality TV star on gay marriage and abortion.  Ironclad promises?  What the deuce does that mean?  Barack Obama gave ironclad promises to not fund abortion with Obamacare.  Newsflash:  Obamacare funds abortion.  Barack Obama gave an ironclad promise to respect religious beliefs concerning abortion.  Newsflash:  The Little Sisters of the Poor still have to pay for contraceptives for their employees.
       The point I'm trying to make is this:  Rather than electing a liberal who promises not to act like a liberal, wouldn't it be infinitely preferable to elect a conservative?  And Gary Bauer--here's some free advice.  Don't prostitute yourself to a con man like The Donald and still expect people to trust your worthless advice.  You sound like someone suggesting we negotiate with the Daesh.  If anybody still sends you money, they are the same type of person who would buy a swamp in Louisiana thinking it's a real estate investment.