Monday, March 20, 2023

For the Record: What Was That Civil War About, Anyway?


Blacks in the Civil War. Until very recently, the list of Civil War casualties stopped about about 620,000 dead. but this was missing something like 130,000 Black combatants killed by Confederate and in some cases Union troops, and mostly by the same enemies that killed most of the white troops: pneumonia, yellow fever, and smallpox.

Some Lost Cause buffoon defending the original (1865) Ku Klux Klan in the course of yet another version of the beloved claim that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery: 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

New Light on a Familiar Conspiracy

"October surprise" via Merriam-Webster website.

I hate the American "paranoid style" in its usual rightwing form and in the leftwing form too, but there are some conspiracy theories that are just the right size and weight, and of these my favorite, possibly, is that of the 1980 October surprise, when somebody in the Reagan presidential campaign, most probably the old spymaster and future CIA director Bill Casey, is said to have worked to torpedo the Carter administration's negotiations with the revolutionary government of Iran and get the Iranians to delay the release of their American hostages until after the election, to stop the Carter campaign from benefiting from it, promising them that a Reagan administration would give them a better deal than Carter. 

The theory didn't in the end work in the most explicit form, that developed by journalist Robert Parry—Casey hadn't been visiting the places he was said to be—but that didn't mean it was wrong, just that the narratology wasn't adequately developed, and a lot of people continued to think there was something to it, including expert Gary Sick, and by at least some reports President Carter himself, and now there's something else, reported in today's Times by Peter Baker of all people: a story of how Casey may have planned the operation but the go-between was somebody else, former Texas governor John Connally, on a somewhat mysterious series of trips to the Middle East in summer 1980 on which he was accompanied by a rising young Texas Republican called Ben Barnes.

It's Barnes, now 85, who is telling the story, apparently struck by remorse at having kept it quiet for so long and moved by the condition of the former president, now in hospice care:

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Emperor's New Dog-Whistle

Yesterday's discussion has gotten very "interesting" from the standpoint of our pugnacious new friend Alfredo, but my understanding of what's interesting is different from his, and I'm bowing out of it after one last word, suggested this morning at Roy's place: the last word being "n****r-lover".

The progress from “n****r-lover” to “woke” as the favored pejorative of bigots could make for a book-length study; but I will say the earlier, cruder version had this much going for it: It didn’t come with a bunch of alleged intellectuals trying to explain it.

Except I don't think it needs a book. Rather, the progress involved is pretty simple: "woke" means "n****r-lover" with deniability. That is, it is "n****r-lover" for those who would like to deny that they're the kind of person who uses "n****r-lover". With the scent of Black English Vernacular (as I noted somewhere in the comments) giving it a Trumpy kind of pungency (like Trump's use of "nationalist"—"but I'm not supposed to use that word"—when he wants to confess, with deniability, that he's a Nazi). Much more satisfyingly vulgar than the whiny old standby "politically correct".

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What Woke Means


Though she adds that she devoted a whole chapter in her book to defining "wokeness", so she must have an idea of some sort, and I thought of checking it out. The book being Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation, by Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz and published by Ben Shapiro's Daily Wire Books. There's no online preview, but the authors' promo op-ed in the New York Post did in fact offer a bit of an effort at unpacking the meaning as the authors use the term, as an "ideology" to which they are apparently opposed. Only I'm sorry to say it quickly fell into a pit of circularity and never really re-emerged:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Literary Corner: Nicely, Nicely

As you know, former vice president and reputed presidential candidate Michael Pence boldly confided to the attendees of the Gridiron Dinner on Saturday (no cameras), that the Former Guy's launch of his irregulars' attack on the Capitol was constitutionally ill-founded, and also insensitive to Pence's personal needs: 

“President Trump was wrong; I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence told the gathering of reporters and politicians on Saturday. “And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

I'm sure he's right and January 6 will live in infamy as Pence Family Endangerment Day. 

Meanwhile,  the Former was quick to respond, basically, that Pence had endangered himself:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Cancel Culture Was Calling From Inside the House


From the farewell column kissing all us Mongoloids goodbye.

This is from behind a paywall at Vanity Fair, but I'm reading it at Alternet: Rod Dreher, writer at The American Conservative now living as an expatriate in Hungary, has been fired as a columnist at the instance of the donor who has paid his 6-figure salary for the last 12 years, banking heir Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who felt Dreher's columns (published by special arrangement directly to TAC's website "without any revisions or legal oversight," we're told) "had simply gotten too weird."

He has warned that so-called sissy hypnosis porn is 'profoundly evil;' detailed the 'formal' Catholic exorcism of a friend's suicidal wife; and recalled—in unsettling detail—the time he witnessed a Black classmate's uncircumcised penis.

The last was the memorable reference to the "primitive root wiener" in October 2021, which may be what Ahmanson regarded as the coup de gross. Rod will continue to function as an editor at large, but has taken his writings to Substack.

I don't have anything particular to say about it, except to note once again, for the record, that when cancel culture really strikes it tends to attack from the right.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Today in Conservatives Are Too Emotional


Image by Ben Allan/Political Quarterly UK.