And Now, Some Throwback Political Dudgeon

Yes, I changed the theme again. I wanted some red.

I used to have a Blogger blog devoted solely to politics, Revolutionary Nonsense. It’s been five years since I wrote anything there, but when the primary campaign produces its inevitable disappointment, I occasionally meander over there to see if anything from the time when I pretended I was an amateur pundit holds up.

Here is one such, from the summer of 2011, when the first glimmer of the total decadence of our political class came clear to me: Thieves, Liars, Whores, Swine and Gilded Fools: A Four-Letter Dissertation on Politics.

No, I have no animus for the Rangles and Byrds of the world of politics. Thieves are thieves, and eventually they end up robbing themselves. I reserve my true hate for the ones who claim not to hunger for graft or power but for a Square Deal for all Americans, the ones who claim that it is time to put politics aside and do the People’s Will. Proggies have been shilling that line for a century, and it’s the biggest pile of dinosaur shit there is.

The People don’t have One Will; that Rousseauist fantasy builds nothing but guillotines. The People are a multiverse of conflicting dreams, desires, and ideology. They have no Main Line from which silken-voiced princes with first-rate temperaments can eternally suckle. 40% of them hate Democrats, 40% hate Republicans, and the rest would rather everyone just play nice. You cannot claim a Mandate to do whatever the hell you please on the basis of winning 51% of such an electorate. It is a house built on quicksand.

The People’s Will is a fantasy, and I hope that Obama knows it. Bill Clinton did. That man was as gifted a liar as politics has seen in a while, but he was a better whore. And whores know that it doesn’t matter what the john wants if you get extra for the service. So if the john wanted to hear that The Era of Big Government was Over, then Billi would make that sound pretty coming out of his mouth. He knew the tricks; he knew the game; the People (or 60% of them) loved him.

Here’s another: I am the Wrecking-Ball Right

It is the knowledge of this ignored benefit, this silent payback, that animates what Reich calls the Wrecking Ball Right, the awareness that the bureaucrats, the lobbyists, and the politicians are the true Ruling Class of this country. And like any ruling class, they will self-aggrandize, to the ruin of the nation unless checked.

The time for that checking has come. We are in debt for trillions upon trillions of dollars to pay for our Ruling Class’ follies. They have turned our heavy industry into scrap-heaps, our cities into wastelands. A drive through any part of Baltimore City shows the marks of the kind of “strong, effective government” that Reich wants to save. A city with one of the best harbors and shipyards on the Atlantic coast is home to block-upon-block of empty, collapsing rowhouses, which only the desperate and the criminal use. Only the names of the politicians on campaign posters above the streets change.

Robert Reich’s social model of government as the counterweight to the wealthy is yesterday’s panacaea to society’s ills, snake-oil and laudanum peddled by confidence men weeping crocodile tears. We’ve had a Department of Education for over forty years, and American schools fell behind almost every industrialized nation. We’ve had a Department of Housing and Urban Development for over fifty years, and every middle-class family who could afford to bought houses in the suburbs. We’ve had a Department of Health and Human Services for the same time, and not a soul has anything good to say about our health care system

It would be bad form to link only to my own stuff, so here’s an almost-throwback post on The Other McCain. I say “almost-throwback” because it’s not a dissertation on the folly of Third-Wave feminism, but an old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone rant against the great Conservative-Boob-in-Good-Standing, David Brooks.

Oh, there’s a reason I always walked out a room whenever David Brooks walked in. Restraining my Jacksonian populist urges requires conscious effort sometimes, and it’s best not to risk an assault charge.

Look what he’s made me do here. I’ve endorsed Trump for pure spite. The worst thing David Brooks can imagine is Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination, but what would be worse for Brooks — what he cannot even imagine — is for Donald Trump to be elected president.

Let us rekindle our Jacksonian spirit, America. Let us ignore the advice of David Brooks and ask ourselves, “What would Old Hickory do?”

If Trump ends up becoming our 45th President, this is how he’s going to do it – you may detest the man, but he’s the enemy of everyone who’s the enemy of you.

Caring About Jonathan Franzen

Stacey McCain is nothing if not fair-minded. He will lambaste someone six ways to Sunday, but then he will offer, dispassionately, praise. And not even backhanded praise.

Damn his atheist soul, but Barrett Brown is an excellent writer.

This links to Brown’s recent prison-penned review of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, posted on The Intercept_ (the underline space is not a typo). McCain advises everyone to read it, and I admit it has a nice full does of snark, but I found it irritating for a couple of reasons.

  1. It is expressed (with a certain degree of irony, but still expressed) that Franzen is the representative of White Male Hegemony, that he is “the Great King of the Honkies”. While I don’t doubt that the SJW’s sneer most sneeringly every time he jumps to the top of the bestseller list, I don’t see why we have to nod to it when reviewing the work. Jonathan Franzen does not speak for me (or Barret Brown, or McCain) just because we’re both caucasoids with Y chromosomes. No one thinks that he does. So why do we have to credit this reduction of Franzen to his DNA? I keep hearing that that’s a bad thing, so why do we keep doing it?
  2. No doubt related to this is the recurrent meme of Franzen’s misogyny. Now, I’ve not read Purity, so I don’t know if there is a current of misogyny running through it, but what I do know is that Brown doesn’t bother to provide evidence for the assertion. It is simply assumed as true. There’s a reference to psychotic mothers, and one or two other asides, indicating that female characters are shown with flaws and dark sides (the male characters must lack these), but I can’t find anything indicating a thoroughgoing hatred of women qua women. I know that Brown is of the left, and I guess that means he just accepts the construction that a male cannot criticise a female absent a deep-seated hostility to people-with-ovaries as such. But that doesn’t mean I have to be impressed with it.

I do share some of Brown’s antipathy for lit-fic. Franzen writes the kind of books that one admires rather than enjoys, serious books for serious people to have serious thoughts about. I read Freedom in a rare decision to accept what the chattering classes considered significant literature. I liked it fine as I was reading it, but have felt no need to revisit it. There’s too much agonistes and not much action.

So I doubt very much that I’ll be reading Purity, as I find little edification and less entertainment in novels about upper-middle-class anxiety. There’s a place where Brown and I agree with that, at least.

To Be Trapped in a “Loveless Marriage”

I know a woman who gave her husband four or five chances to renounce his adulterous ways. He could not, so she kicked him to the curb.

My great-grandfather had the same problem. He was fuzzy on the whole “marriage” thing so my great-grandmother sent him packing when my grandfather was six months old. Since this was 1930, she went to mass every day for the rest of her life to atone for her sin and never remarried.

So I understand that divorce is a thing that regrettably, happens, and that there can be good reasons for it happening.

But I don’t know what “being trapped in a loveless marriage” means, a phrase this dissenter of RS McCain’s deconstruction of Sudden Onset Lesbian Syndrome exemplifies the use of:

I know you’re confused with all these changes, but that’s what human freedom looks like. A lack of freedom would have been her staying in a loveless marriage, and bending her will to social norms.

Of course, the woman in question never actually said her marriage was loveless, merely that she discovered her new sexual identity, which grants and automatic get-out-of-marriage-free card. The rest of the commenters talk about the value of keeping one’s promises, and what is a marriage if not a promise?

Still, the notion of denying oneself the romantic and erotic fruit to which one has just “discovered” affinity seems like a hard pill to swallow. I get that. Because I’m married.

All marriages involve the binding of the will and the limitation of desire. That is the point of them. To marry is to say “You and no other, until one of us is dead.” That’s a promise, and a promise is binding by definition. It has no meaning otherwise.

Unfortunately people have a habit of marrying in the heights of an emotional connection and assume that such connection is an effortless norm. When the truth proves otherwise, they name their marriage “loveless”, because they think “love” means that powerful emotional connection. That’s not even close to what love is.

Love is taking a feeding from your exhausted wife because she’s bleary and tired and she’s had the kids all day, even though you’re also tired.

Love is supporting your husband spending his time in thus-far non-profitable writing projects because you know that he needs it.

Love is giving the other a break, taking care of the other’s needs, in lieu of looking out for number one.

Love is patience, kindness, and the host of other fine and essential things that St. Paul delineated in that oft-quote passage from 1 Corinthians that no one absorbs when they hear it at weddings. Love is doing for another, when you’d rather not, when you have a thousand other things to do, because the other needs it, and you have claimed the other’s needs as your own. A marriage that utterly lacks these thousand acts of goodness may fairly be termed “loveless”

Whereas discovering that things that sexually excite you more than your spouse? That’s just boredom. It happens. The comfort and security of marriage diminish the excitement. The manifold labors of building a life together exhaust the body. It doesn’t mean anything other than you need to take a moment to refresh the erotic charge. It doesn’t happen all on it’s own.

If a woman spends her wedding night trying to imagine that her husband is not male, then yes, she’s a lesbian living a lie, and the truth needs to come out, ASAP. But if a woman spends ten years or so contentedly sharing a man’s bed and then let’s a crew of Sisters (who clearly have no stake in the outcome whatsoever) convince her that she’s really part of Team Sappho, despite her years spent otherwise, then she’s just bored and looking for a new bed to jump into without bearing any responsibility for breaking her promise.

Nice work if you can get it, I suppose. But it’s no different from a forty-year-old man discovering that twenty-year-olds have perkier breasts and easier smiles than the woman who’s shared her best years with him. It just has the stamp of societal approval.

Friday Linkfest: This, That, and T’other

It’s not the post that Friday needs, but the post the Friday deserves:

Peace out, cub scouts. Have a great weekend.

The Shaky Evidence of Gender Theory

Stacy McCain could be a accused of being a “feminism bore”, as often he seems to write about little else. But feminism, especially of the radical variety, merits the response. Today McCain takes a long look at Kate Millet, author of the 1970 radfem tome Sexual Politics. His main point, about Millet’s mental health and unhappiness, is of a piece with things he’s written before, but I’m more interested in the bad evidence for Gender Theory that Millet used.

The crux of gender feminism  is that there are no men and women, only “men” and “women” – social constructs that can and should be done away with in the interests of true equality. But upon what evidence does that claim rest? According to McCain, precious little, at least insofar as Sexual Politics is concerned:

Scientific advances have been quite unfortunate for Millett’s claim that “there is no differentiation between the sexes at birth,” in part because her citation for that claim is dependent on one of the greatest frauds in scientific history. On pages 30-31, she excerpts a quotation from a 1965 article “Psychosexual Differentation,” from a book entitled Sex Research, New Developments; in her bibliography, Millett references a 1957 book, The Psychologic Study of Man. The author of both of these works? Johns Hopkins University psychologist Dr. John Money, whose botched attempt to turn a boy into a girl (the notorious “John/Joan” experiment) failed spectacularly, ultimately resulting in the suicide of Dr. Money’s pathetic human guinea pig, David Reimer.

Dr. Money’s unethical (and perhaps criminal) methods of attempting to psychologically “condition” Reimer to be a girl were never successful; “Brenda” Reimer aggressively rejected the female identity that Dr. Money tried to impose. Yet Dr. Money, having trumpeted the “John/Joan” case as proof of his theories in the 1970s, misrepresented the case in his academic publications and in popular media. It took many years before another scientist, curious to know how Dr. Money’s patient had adjusted to adult womanhood, discovered the shocking truth behind Dr. Money’s fraudulent “research.” As a teenager, “Brenda” Reimer had decisively rejected “her” female identity, and sought treatment to become the man “she” had been born to be. David Reimer married a woman and, despite the loss of functional genitalia — castrated in infancy as part of Dr. Money’s “treatment” — he was by the 1990s an otherwise normal (that is, masculine) young man, albeit suffering from depression that finally resulted in his 2004 suicide.

This is startling, and not just because you find yourself wondering “Who the hell authorized the castration of an infant boy?” But because you would like to assume that basic ethics would prevented someone from making use of such experiments. But apparently one would be wrong.

Concurrently, Millet dismisses contrary evidence without having done the reading:

Millett, whose claim to expertise was . . . well, what? She got her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota and got a postgraduate degree in literature at Oxford University, then went to Japan where she taught English and married an avant-garde sculptor.
Here she was in 1970, however, presuming to accuse Dr. Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology, of misrepresenting the research of zoologist Konrad Lorenz, who won the Nobel Prize in 1973. If Tiger was guilty of misrepresenting Lorenz’s work, you might think that Lorenz himself would have made the accusation, which he never did. Anyone interested in the subject may consult Konrad Lorenz’s 1966 book On Aggression and Lionel Tiger’s 1968 book Men in Groups and decide for themselves whether the two authors were in accord.

Of course the answer to this is that science is a patriarchal construct. Which is a rhetorically effective device, as all the devices employed by conspiracy theorists and totalitarians tend to be.

Now, I’m betting that evidence for gender-theory – the nurture side of the equation, as it were – is more pronounced today than it was in 1970. But so is the counter-evidence. There’s more than enough scientific data on how boys and girls behave differently from birth to at least seriously question the notion that gender is a social construct. That there are divergences in gender behavior among men and women, no one denies. That there are social aspects to gender, no one denies. But the assumption that the cart is pushing the horse has never made sense to me.

Why I’m Not Talking About Elliot Rogers, and You Shouldn’t Be, Either.

So a guy decides that he’s not getting sex enough, and that he’s gonna kill some people, and that will show them all . . . something.

Read that again. Did you notice the part where it doesn’t make any sense? Like, any at all?

Let’s go with that.

Let’s not turn Rogers into the latest representative of our favored demonologies – mysogynist, beta male, child of divorce, closeted gay, gun culture, feminazis, what have you. A few sophistic flips will make him stand in for any or none of them. And everyone knows that. So unless you’re talking to someone who already belongs to your particular ideological tribe, your learned discourse is going to meet rolling eyes. So let’s just…not.

Let’s not assume any more about Rogers than he was a disturbed young man who decided, quite deliberately and with malice aforethought, to explode, and take as many with him as he could (four men and two women, as it turned out). Let’s not use him, and the pain he’s caused six families, as another excuse to shout at each other on the Internet.

Let’s just skip to the end, where we shrug our shoulders and recognize that whatever was going on in this young man’s mind was beyond our ability to help, and we forget about it. Because it was, and we’re going to. He was sick, and he killed six people. There is no why. There is no answer. Homo homini lupus est.