Friday, July 15, 2016


Look, I've been in a middle-late Residents fugue state for weeks,
you're just going to have to roll with it guys.

• I see conservatives are attacking Obama for not keeping France, the 51st State, safe from a truck terror attack. What I often wonder is, what is their plan for stopping such terror -- besides rhetorical muscle-flexing like "peace through strength," I mean, or promising to torture more detainees? Fortunately Newt Gingrich is around to fill us in:
“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity...

Gingrich also said that the attack in Nice is the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary,” and suggested that mosques in America need to be monitored.
The Washington Post showed some guts, at least, by pointing out that "Gingrich’s proposal, which made no distinction between U.S. citizens and noncitizens, would violate scores of First Amendment-based Supreme Court rulings as well as civil rights laws..." But since we are not at one of those rare "libertarian moments" right now, I doubt the yahoos care. Maybe a war on Tunisia, where the assailant is from? Or, hell, on Iran, that's a popular favorite. If this becomes the Id Monster Election, Trump has it hands down -- which would be okay, because if we fall for this we're finished as a society anyway.

• I subscribe to a wingnut newsletter that connects me with some of the lesser-known culture war scolds, and today it brought me a lulu: At Standpoint, one of those fancy journal only Ross Douthat impersonators read, Daniel Johnson raves at hyperlength about the usual stuff: for example, how Trump is a betrayal of some much classier True Conservatism, the through line of which Johnson hilariously traces "from Edmund Burke to William Buckley, from Samuel Johnson to Paul Johnson, from Irving Kristol to Bill Kristol" -- a classic culture-war tell of conflating the Great Ancients with one's, er, less exalted buddies. But he really gets churning when he reaches a favorite subject of the chin-pullers, How the West Has Lost Its Way and Only My Scolding Will Save Her. Hark:
There are numerous viruses attacking the Western body politic, but only one medicine. To face the future unflinchingly, we must return to the past: listen to the patriarchs and prophets, the ancestral voices of our literature, break open the arsenal of our intellectual history, and mobilise the resources of righteous indignation against the dominions, principalities and powers of darkness that threaten to overwhelm us. The great books, from Homer to Shakespeare, from Plato to Pascal, from Dante to Bellow, must once again not only be assigned to every student, but learned where possible by heart. The music of the masters, from Gregorian chant to George Gershwin, from Sebastian Bach to James MacMillan, from Palestrina to Arvo Pärt, must not only float across the courts and quads of our colleges, but fill our airwaves and headsets.
From Shakespeare to James McMillan! Yessir, Johnson sure loves that trick. Note how perfectly this expresses the culture warrior's idea of art as ordnance. Not only in Johnson's imagining is it an "arsenal" to use against the Muslims and the Marxists, it's also a scourge with which to drive Western Youth into battle with them; their headsets must be filled with music selected by the Committee, even if they prefer Drake or 2Chains; they must memorize passages from It All Adds Up, et alia. For them art is not pleasure, and you can't expect even your own people to embrace it; it must be pounded into their skulls. Johnson imagines that by this he will save the West, but can a more despairing view of Western culture even be imagined?

• Oh, yeah, there's a writer named Tom Block who is looking down the barrel of a very tough diagnosis and he is not so financially secure (I mentioned he's a writer, didn't I) that he can be sure of a safe and comfortable place from which to fight it. If you're looking to drop a mitzvah, you could do worse.

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