You know, I’m getting to the point of being numb about this sh*t. Herewith the graphic predicting the angle of news coverage of this and other outrages. (Sorry for the long absence – real life, writing and home reno projects. I’ll be back, I promise.)
Amid some pretty stiff competition news-wise this week, these two linked stories were particularly infuriating – mostly because the matter received relatively little attention, in comparison to coverage of the protest itself. But such is the towering hypocrisy of these times. The establishment national news media continues to conduct itself in the manner that, sadly, we have come to expect of them. Mostly, they cover stories like this with a pillow, until they stop moving.
But the sheer gall of a protest encampment called to protest potential-possible- maybe environmental damage caused by construction of a pipeline … which then actually does damage to the local environment by the sheer quantity of stuff abandoned over the past six months, and the possibility of seepage of human waste into the nearby river. Well, really – one might have very good reason for doubting the sincerity of those protesters with regard to protecting the environment in the first place. More »
The concept of “fake news” appears to be the meme du jour among the serious internet news set … well, the serious mainstream news set, anyway. Calling it the meme du jour is merely a kinder way of describing the mainstream media’s primal scream of denial. Me – I have become extremely suspicious when a meme suddenly pops up all over the national mainstream news and entertainment media and social media takes it up as if they were junior fashionistas entranced with Kim Kardashian’s latest exercise in stuffing ten pounds of avoirdupois into a five-pound sack. It’s as if there were some kind of coordinated list of talking points, similar phrasing, and suggested party lines being surreptitiously circulated among influential cognoscenti … like there was some kind of briefing paper being circulated. But that’s my nasty, cynical mind speaking there. They might have a new name for “JournoList” and circulate it by other means, but yes, that playbook is still operative.
The Primal Scream of Denial from the establishment media is all the more bitterly amusing – because they themselves played a huge part in destroying their own credibility with those citizens of Flyoverlandia who tended to vote for Trump. (With varying degrees of reluctance, I should make it clear. For every voter who went out and voted for him wholeheartedly, there must be at least one who held their nose as they voted for him, and another who regarded a Trump vote as being one big middle finger of protest, extended towards the bicoastal ruling elite.) Tin this latest kerfuffle, those major news establishments continue damaging themselves in the eyes of news junkies and bloggers who have been paying rapt attention since the rise of the internet as an internet news provider and fact-checker. The damage is ongoing, and perhaps accelerated to light-speed by the very Primal Scream of Denial. For anyone who has been paying attention over the last decade or even longer – there has been a long, long and sorry series of ‘fake news’ generated, perpetuated and splashed all over Page 1 above the fold, the endlessly hyped headline story on the evening news, or the one promoted in breathless ads for the investigative programs like 60 Minutes.
The long list of so-called ‘fake news’ might be said to begin with Walter Cronkite declaring that the US had lost South Vietnam in the Tet offensive. Four decades before the establishment of internet-enabled alternate news sources, it took years for it to emerge that no – the Tet offensive had been a disaster for the Viet Cong. But Walter Cronkite spoke … and such was his, and the national media’s authority – that saying made it so. So the established national media maintained the grand castle of their authority … for a while, until bloggers, commenters, and interested parties had the ability to publicly report, comment, fact-check and criticize. I’d date this from the early Oughts, just around the time of 9/11, which is when I became acquainted with the concept, although for some who were more technically adept, it may have been a thing for several years before then.
For me, the biggest crack in mainstream news credibility was the Dan Rather/TANG memo debunking in 2004. Here was a huge story, broadcast practically on the eve of the election, a story based on documents of a deeply uncertain provenance, relayed to a Bush-hating reporter by a man with a grudge against Bush. It came over as a breathtakingly audacious attempt to throw an election based on forged memos. Worse; I began to wonder how many other stories that 60 Minutes had broadcast over the years were built on just as shaky a foundation … which had gone unremarked, as interested amateurs with specific knowledge had never gotten a chance to examine the evidence for themselves. The list of other fake news perpetuated by the mainstream media is frankly overwhelming to contemplate; fabulists, fakes, and selective omission. I’ll skip making a comprehensive list of them, as it would make this post the length of one of my books, and those of us of a libertarian/conservative leaning have our own lists readily in mind.
It’s only gotten worse in the last election cycle, seeing that so many media establishments and reporters were so in the pocket for Hilary Clinton – as revealed by the Wikileaks memos. This had been suspected – yea, assumed – for the last decade, at least, but to see it all laid out in detail – names, networks, publications and favors rendered – was depressing in the extreme. I don’t see that the mainstream media can fight their way out of the tangle they backed themselves into. Their credibility with the conservative portion of the population is sunk as deeply as the Titanic. Once-respected weekly news magazines like Time and Newsweek are a thin shadow of what they were, once. Newspapers are shrinking, television news is going shriller, more partisan and fragmented. It may be as Sarah Hoyt observed – organizations tend to turn hard-left, just as they self-destruct. Your thoughts?
It has been an education, watching the mass public meltdown on the part of the not-Trump faction over the last week and a half. OK – I get the shock and denial, said to be the first stages of grief. Hillary was supposed to become the first woman elected president of the USA! (Yay, vagina!) It was her turn, per the Ruling Uni-party and a whole lot of people who should have known better. And she was supposed to be qualified – the most qualified woman evah! – although specifics about those qualifications are somewhat thin on the ground and mostly to do with her grabbing in marriage an attractive, promising professional pol on his way up, and sticking with him no matter what personal humiliations that entailed for decades.
I’d interject a personal note here: I once had a security clearance, and handled classified material for a couple of years. If I had been so damned careless with those documents as the Dowager Queen of Chappaqua was as Secretary of State, I’d still be in a cell in Leavenworth, instead of blissfully retired from the Big Blue Machine for two decades. Too, she had the establishment national media in her pocket, slavering to be of obedient service to the Queen, and a whole lineup of celebrities, likewise dropping to their knees and elbowing each other out of the way in their haste to swear fealty. Her campaign spent a bomb on pollsters, advertising, and whatever else presidential campaigns are supposed to spend megabucks on – which until now was always supposed to signal victory. It was in the bag for her, without a doubt! And yet … the dominoes dropped, one after one, after one. And the coronation was off. No wonder the Dowager Queen is reported to have had a particularly horrific tantrum on Election Night, and vanished from the eyes of her adoring public for more than a week, reappearing looking like a side dish of Death indifferently warmed over.
Her supporters’ first reaction seemed to be shock and denial, followed swiftly by skipping over the pain and guilt and going straight to the anger and bargaining, as demonstrated by a diverse variety of “never MY president!” advocates. Some of them may simply be virtue-signaling to their fellows, going along with the herd, as it were – like the cast of Hamilton. Others, mostly has-been celebs like Cher and Yoko Ono appear to be screaming “Look at MEEEEEE!” The celeb virtue-signaling wing appears almost universal among the glitterati – to the point where cooler heads like Oprah Winfrey advising a “wait and see” approach are treated as if they are vile Trumpist fellow-travelers.
The whole liberal meltdown and mass-virtue-signaling exercise exerts a kind of horrified fascination, like contemplating a spectacular 20-car pileup on the interstate. Out of decency, you want to look away … but you just can’t, because the vehicles involved have wound up in such bizarre positions: on-end in the median, pretzeled around an overpass support, or balanced on the safety railing like a child’s teeter-totter.
The pathetic part of it all is that right up until the day before yesterday (or so it now seems) Donald Trump was just a rich, blowhard Noo Yawk vulgarian, a habitué of the tabloid pages with a no-more-than-usually centrist-to-socially-liberal political stance, a reality-show businessman. Against that parody image, his businesses seemed to be well and profitably run. His family (divorces aside) appear well-adjusted; assorted wives and offspring to be quite happy and functional. He had a reputation, as it now turns out, for picking good people – borne out this very week as he selects a political dream team for his cabinet.
But to judge by the screaming tantrums of the anti-Trumpists, he is the very incarnation of Hitler, Genghis Khan, Simon Legree and Oliver Cromwell, all rolled together in one horrid package. The screaming, or as one pundit puts it, the freakoutrage, will go on for the next four years, unabated by any success on the part of a Trump administration. Racist and anti-Semitic, against every evidence to the contrary – the accusations fly, and fly and fly again, no matter how much evidence there is on the ground to counter them. The protests, the virtue-signaling, the routine street violence and the academic spazz-outs will likely continue for the foreseeable future no matter what events may befall a Trump administration for good or ill. Good thing that the establishment press – having revealed themselves to be so nakedly in the tank for partisan interests – appear to have less and less credibility when it comes to matters political among red-state Americans.
Trump’s run for the presidency seemed like a joke at the start, but to everyone’s surprise the car-chasing dog not only caught the car, but is sitting alertly in the driver’s seat, deftly spinning the wheel and touching the brakes as the vehicle roars through traffic.
Discuss, if you can bear it.
Count me among those who were astounded and relieved – somewhat – to wake up on Wednesday morning, to the sweet sound of my daughter saying, “He won it!” She had stayed up to all hours watching the returns on streaming video, becoming hypnotized by watching the dominoes begin to cascade. I just didn’t have the endurance in me. I thought all day Tuesday (and for a week or so in advance of Election Day) that while he might possibly have an excellent chance, based on the sense that his various, wall-to-wall-scheduled rallies had standing room only crowds, while Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua basically had to bus in Dem Party stalwarts and lock the doors to keep them from leaving. Just the comparative pictures of the crowds … well, that lent hope. The cascade of revelations from Wikileaks also gave hope that perhaps a larger audience would see the Clintons for the grasping, corrupt plutocrats that they have become, and perhaps have always been. But – seeing the major national news media were so neatly pocketed by her campaign, and knowing that 18-wheel trailer-truckloads of fraudulent ballots were likely being packed and loaded – I could not bear to watch our America fall into the status of a banana republic in a single awful night. I believed that at best – Republicans would hold on to the Senate and House and to a preponderance of the state legislatures and governorships. After all, the Dowager Queen of Chappaqua, AKA Her Inevitableness, is not Evita, and we are not Argentina – and what a pure relief it is to know that millions of Americans of all colors, genders and political persuasions agree with me. “There is a Providence,” as Chancellor Bismarck is believed to have remarked (although likely he didn’t) more than a century ago, “that protects idiots, drunkards, children, and the United States of America.”
It turns out now that most of us who chose, with varying degrees of hope and despair, to vote for Trump, were overlooked by the professional pollsters, fibbing to them when we were not overlooked, and the pollsters themselves nudging their findings this way and that to favor the establishment narrative. That is the other takeaway from last Wednesday morning; that just about every polling and mainstream media organization got it all catastrophically wrong. I mean wrong on the sense of launching an unsinkable ship on a collision course with an iceberg in mid-Atlantic in the late spring of 1912, and then standing about with eggy disaster caked on their faces, wondering what just hit them and why the water level is rapidly rising towards the Boat Deck. Shock, horror, disbelief … that everything which had always worked so well before in packaging and presenting a candidate to the electorate suddenly didn’t. Spending a lot of money didn’t work, suborning the establishment press to your side didn’t work, and collecting celebrity endorsements and the endorsements of the moneyed new-tech class didn’t work at all. Their understanding of the world is rocked … but I am certain that those who have suddenly tripped and fallen flat over a pothole of reality in their road will pick themselves up and hurry on as if nothing shattering had happened at all.
Not that we are out of the shadows yet, of course. The hired protestors and freelance rioters are creating mayhem in major cities even now; likely they will continue to do so for as long as the checks from various Soros front “social justice” organizations keep coming, and the busses are for hire to bring them together for a “spontaneous” demonstration with nicely-printed protest signs and carefully briefed professional activists posing as ‘just ordinary folks’. Of course, the establishment media cameras are there to offer lip-smacking, ghoulish coverage. Funny thing, though – as a handful of internet wits are pointing out – basically, this conforms the judgement of those of us who thought that we were taking a huuuge chance in voting Trump. Another mordantly amusing item – the “Not My President” protesters are creating destruction, havoc and inconvenience … in the very places which most probably turned out for the Dowager Queen in substantial numbers, an irony of such density that it threatens to drop through the center of the earth and come out someplace in Tashkent.
Discuss and speculate, as you are inclined.
So, I had this marvelous inspiration for an epic miniseries last night, which I am sure has probably occurred to other people – would that at least one of them might be in a position to act on this inspiration. We were watching Father Ted, and on the way to watching it, skimmed through some of the other offerings available through Amazon, Netflix, and Acorn … and I was thinking, since there are so many period series available, which offer all sorts of alternate or even just slightly-skewed versions of history, especially the versions which offer the actors the opportunity to get all vamped up in corsets and coats trimmed up in gold braid and whatever … what would be a good and popular historical novel series to make a TV miniseries out of … something with a swaggering, handsome and sexually-adventurous-hero, who romped all through the known world of the 19th century, brushing elbows with all kinds of interesting men of note and bedding women likewise, hip-deep in scandals, scoundrels and skullduggery, oh my.
Can you picture for a shining moment – what a thumping good miniseries the Flashman books would make? Yes, George McDonald Fraser’s Flashman series of books, wherein the dashing rakehell of the outwardly heroic, inwardly lily-livered Harry Flashman goes from the First Afghan War, scampering down the corridors of power all over the globe, looking over his shoulder and putting on a desperate burst of speed. Think of all the famous historical personages portrayed over five or six episodes by well-known actors doing a guest turn, consider all the supporting and reoccurring characters, whose listing on imdb would feature this role at the top of their CV. Consider all the exotic, exciting locations for Harry Flashman’s adventures … well, OK, likely Afghanistan is off the list as a real-life shooting location since history is still repeating itself there: You got England and Scotland, Germany, the Crimea, Russia, India, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, Mexico, all through the US and better than half a century of significant events, wars, campaigns and punitive expeditions across four continents. You got Abraham Lincoln, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Empress of China, pirates in the South China Sea, mutineers in India, and Apache on the warpath.
It would be splendid. And with even more book materiel than George R. R. Martin, too. Enough to do at least ten seasons if they did all twelve books, although likely to fill in the American Civil War segment, they might have to figure out exactly how Harry Flashman managed to fight for both the Union and the Confederacy. GMF never wanted to do it up in a book; Flashman being an Englishman, the American Civil War was just one of those minor foreign scuffles to him.
And the best part – would be that nervous-nelly, eternally politically correct social justice warriors would absolutely melt down into puddles of anguished tears at it all.
There have been any number of important stories covered by the nationally-based establishment media in the last decade or so – in the deathless phrase tweeted by Iowahawk, David Burge, “with a pillow, until they stop moving.” Through the internet and alternate media, a good many of those stories that would have stopped moving through judicious use of the media pillow in previous decades – have still managed to percolate from those alternate media sites into the national mass media conversation. Things like the Dan Rather/TANG faked memo, the Swift Boat Veterans going after John Kerry as the duty-shirking Eddie Haskell of the Swift Boat service and dozens of other incidents fought off the smothering pillow, the Chick-Fil-A boycott, and yes – eventually got discovered in the major media outlets. With considerable reluctance, one might add. The matter of black on white violent crime may be on the edge of being discovered by the mainstream media, much as the Hollywood producer in the Godfather movie discovered the head of a dead horse in his bed.
There are these issues, you see – about which the major national media outlets appear to have a strange, almost Victorian compact; a determination NOT to see them, even when ordinary citizens know about. Not only know about, but are deeply concerned – and have strong opinions. (I mentioned one of these issues some months ago – here.) The matter of illegal immigrants in the US is one of those radioactive issues that the media, the political and intellectual leadership in this country do not wish to touch. They wish for various reasons, including the fact that there are certain monetary and social benefits to tolerating an influx of illegal immigrants, that the issue be disappeared, bundled out of sight and off the front pages. But the issue adamantly refuses to stay disappeared – precisely because there are so many stories like this one; the horrific bus accident in Louisiana on IH-10 this last week, where it appeared that the driver of the bus was not only an illegal alien, but unlicensed as well.
It’s a regularly occurring thing, all across the West and southwest; automobile accidents involving uninsured and unlicensed drivers, often illegal residents. Sometimes alcohol is involved as well. Precise statistics are hard to find – especially since partisans on one side don’t wish to find them, and those on the other side may be prone to exaggerate for effect. But with so many ordinary Americans having had an on-the-road accident experience where the other party was unlicensed, fraudulently unlicensed, uninsured, illegal or any combination of the above … there must be a substantial number of them – together with their families, friends, co-workers and neighbors affected to a lesser degree. Then there are the million working Americans whose social security numbers have been stolen by illegals – a matter over which the IRS feels no particular urgency. A large part of Donald Trump’s popularity across flyover America is precisely because he does address issues like this. Perhaps this will break the major media’s reluctance to acknowledge such matters.
Or not. Your thoughts?
… Or as I used to refer to Hillary as “Her Inevitableness.” This was back in in that campaign season of 2008, when she and the Fresh Prince of Chicago were going toe to toe. I called that contest “Ebony vs Ovary” and regret that such a pithy phrase never caught on in the blogosphere.
Anyway – bend over, for here she comes again, the woman whose’ main qualification for high office seems to have been in staying married to her horn-dog of a husband who coincidentally was the occupant of the White House three administrations ago. She does not appear to be particularly charming or charismatic, or to enjoy the company of other people, as her spouse did. She also doesn’t seem to have any facility for above-board political wheeling and dealing among parties or individuals of equal standing. She has, however, been very good at ruthlessly manipulating others from a position of strength, in the manner of a Mafia don. She has a long-standing reputation of treating no-name personnel who worked in the White House or the State Department – military, housekeeping staff, and members of the Secret Service – with rudeness and outright abuse. Increasingly, there are indications that her health is not all that good. She may not be in very good physical shape at all; certainly unequal to the grueling demands on one’s energy and intellectual resources necessary for a successful candidate-driven campaign. Indeed, her campaign thus far is lackluster compared to that of Bernie the Socialist and The Donald. It’s as if she began it determined to only put in the minimum of effort required, on the way towards that inevitable coronation … sorry, swearing-in.
We are in a vacuum as far as polls go; fewer and fewer people want to say to any but trusted friends who they are voting for. Can the polls be trusted at all, even? No one but the confidently confrontational wants to put out a lawn sign, or a bumper sticker on a vehicle, risking petty vandalism at least or a physical confrontation at worst. Yes, she might very well be sworn in as the next president. She has the greater part of the establishment media and a large chunk of the entertainment world in her corner, all elbowing each other in jostle to get closer and kiss the ring, and gain glory in having supported the first woman president of the USA, writing open letters demanding that The Donald fold his campaign tents and meekly go away, leaving the field uncontested. Entertainers and the establishment media counts for nothing with those of us who are relatively internet-savvy, politically knowledgeable and on the libertarian-conservative side of the scale. But they do count with low-information voters, and low-information voters in concert with strategic vote fraught might very well carry the day for Her Inevitableness.
And that is when things might really get interesting – especially if widespread voting fraud is involved in Her Inevitableness’ victory. Those who voted for anyone else will be furious, and those who backed Hillary would, I think, be bitterly vengeful. Under a Clinton administration, the vampire squid that is the federal establishment would be jamming its tentacles in everywhere with even more force than in the last eight years; Washington would get even richer, almost everywhere else would get even poorer, desperate, and even more angry. The disastrous international chickens launched by the Obama administration would also come home to roost – I derive some small comfort from knowing that they would roost in the Clinton/Democrat party coop.
I suppose that the most horrifying aspect of the Trump rally in San Jose last week was not that there were obnoxious and semi-coherent protesters outside the event, or even that they became violently abusive to those attending the Trump rally. It was that the San Jose PD, and the civil administration appear to have at best sat back and watched ordinary citizens be chased down and physically abused – and at the very worst, facilitated, enabled and afterwards blandly excused such attacks. The civil government of the city of San Jose apparently decided that it was okeydokey for the agents of law and order in San Jose to sit back and allow law-abiding citizens exercising their rights in attending a political rally to have the c**p beaten out of them … because they didn’t approve of the particular candidate.
Well, at least those police supposedly keeping public order after the Trump rally didn’t send for popcorn and cheer on the beatings, or participate in the active part of the thumping themselves, so I will give them props for a few lingering shreds of professionalism. But this is not a good thing – it is in fact, the second step on the way to a new civil war, or at least, to Single Party-Ruling Hell. It sends a very clear message, when thugs on one side of a political divide can routinely beat the ever-living-snot out of citizens exercising their right to be politically involved, or at least politically interested, in the face of a massive police presence … and the police just shrug and look away, while the local civil authorities essentially say in response to criticism, “NOKD and they richly deserved it.”
That was the Second Step. The First Step on the downward-leading path to Single Party-Ruling Hell is the routine “othering” of a political element, or a portion of the citizenry, on the part of not just an ambitious political class, but becomes especially noted when the political punditocracy and popular media join in the fun. This process has been going on for some time, but I noticed it particularly with regard to the Tea Party. Earnest, responsible middle-class (for the most part) good citizens, newly engaged in the political process, championing fiscal responsibility, fidelity to the Constitution and free markets … and for all of their efforts and evidence to the contrary, got painted by politicians, the punditocracy and the popular media as dumb, racist, stupid hicks. And this ‘otherizing’ stuck – I have the evidence of my own family to confirm it.
So, this “othering” was accomplished, and has proceeded at a break-neck pace with all the fuss about Black Lives Mattering (but only when they have been killed by a Policeman of Pallor), the academic ruckus about so-called White Privilege (which somehow never seems to accrue usefully to working-class and rural residents of fly-over country who happen to be of a pale or lightly-freckled pallor.) and by the animus poured on … well, non-coastal, red-state conservatives of every class. I had only to look at the comment threads on major news sources when they posted stories about the Bundy Ranch imbroglio, or about the stand-off in Oregon with regard to the Malheur location … as an aside to various liberal commenters on that matter – My god, people – do you comprehend how ugly you sound, when you urge the elimination of rural ranchers and their sympathizers? By whatever means possible?
So, Step One – the “otherizing” of those judged by the righteous and the good to be … beyond the pale. Infra Dig. NOKD (Not our Kind, Darling) They deserve what is coming to them, by the actions of the righteous and just. That has already been concluded, as far as I can see. Step Two – seems to be in train, by the example of San Jose and the Trump rally last week.
Step Three … ah, that is the use of civil law against those previously ‘otherized.’ Really, whichever law can be utilized. Step Three seems to be in the formative stages at this point. The motion in the California legislature to criminalize doubt with regard to global warming. Weaponizing the federal bureaucracy – the EPA, the IRS, ATF – against perceived enemies of the state has already been done, through selective investigation and enforcement of existing laws.
Step Four involves locked boxcars, and distant reeducation camps, and ordinary citizens looking away and murmuring things like, “Oh, too bad … but they had it coming.” And no, we really don’t want to go there, as much as leftists like Bill Ayers and his Weatherman friends fantasized over that very prospect, back in the 60s.
Honestly, that is the only way that I can account for the out-of-completely-left field popularity of Donald Trump. He is not a notorious small-government libertarian like the Koch brothers, or has any previous political interests of any stripe to recommend him particularly; not even any detectable small-government, free-market and strict Constitutionalist Tea Party sympathies to recommend him. If anything, he has always appeared to me as one of those big, vulgar crony-capitalist, unserious reality-TV personalities; the epitome of vulgar architectural bad taste and in blithely using his money and influence to cheerfully run over anyone who got in his way. His campaign at first seemed to be a particularly tasteless joke – a grab for publicity on the part of a flamboyant personality who never seemed to get enough of it, in a bad or a good way. So – all props for having the sheer brass neck to start playing the game, and playing it with calculated skill.
My supposition at the first about Donald Trump was that his main value lay in speaking the unspeakable; that which dare not be said in the polite company of the establishment political elite and those in the media who are their obedient handmaidens. He was opening up the circle of that which would and could not be talked about in polite society. It’s quite Victorian, isn’t it? This whole range of things which we aren’t supposed to talk about, or even notice in polite society, isn’t it? Especially if we live in those places where the Ruling Class dwells and associates only with other members of the ruling political, monetary and intellectual elite ….
Now that he had brought it all out, and proved resoundingly that there was no downside in the polls or news coverage to talking about it – dragging the whole fetid carcass of open borders and a lot of other stuff into the open – then other prospective candidates for the highest office in the land could also talk about it. Skyrocketing crime, the bias of the press, the criminal misconduct of Obama administration functionaries like Hillary Clinton, replacing American citizen workers with cheaper labor, government agencies like the EPA, the Bureau of Land Management, the IRS, and the misbegotten security organization that is Homeland Security allowed – nay, encouraged to abuse regular citizens in job lot … all that and more have made ordinary Americans angry. Very, very, angry, angry with the fury – not the incandescent fury of a thousand burning suns, which most often is demonstrated by frenzied mobs burning down city blocks and random “others” having the snot beaten out of them and/or lynched.
This is that cold and calculating fury, just about one inch from becoming a black hole of anger. (I wrote about this cold anger previously.) This is the cold fury of people who do not care much about Trumps’ personal and personality flaws, about his business dealings, his crudity, his morals, his taste in architecture, his political inconsistency in saying whatever hits home with the audience he is speaking to at the time, or really – anything of that. They don’t care. The thing that matters – to these working class and flyover country Americans of all ethnicities, orientations and colors – is that Trump is scaring hell out of the Ruling Class, as Angelo Codevilla described them. Backing Trump, cheering him on at rallies and in social media is the way to give the biggest middle finger gesture possible in the direction of the Ruling Class … that very class who added the insult of contempt to the injury of being a completely incompetent and bungling Ruling Class.
Taking pen in hand … or actually, the computer keyboard … to while away a few minutes of leisure between wrapping up today’s work. (Yes, I am a small business owner and independent author; weekends and holidays are normal working days for me, although those hours and days are of my own choice, which makes up for quite a lot. And also, the commute is short.)
I was working away on graphic adornments for the next book in the Luna City Chronicles, and an editing job which I had thought to finish by mid-month, but these things happen. Anyway, I was diverted upon coming out to start cooking supper, to note that Blondie is also working away on her own stuff for upcoming events; for aural wallpaper, she had an old TV show on streaming video as she works. She has been going through various old shows in recent weeks. Last week it was the original Thundercats, the week before that it was McGyver. But this week it’s The X-Files … a show which she finds nostalgically amusing, but which I began to find so repellant that I stopped watching after a certain point. Was it the episode with the murderously incestuous hillbilly clan with the armless, legless mother, or the one where an oh-so-secret US Army unit machine-gunned to death a whole group of human-alien hybrid offspring? Memory does not serve up an exact date at this point, but that was where I decided that The X-Files just was not my cuppa any longer. Not for dealing out spine-chilling bits of horror in weekly episodes – the creepy guy who could slither through AC ducts, the primitive humans living in the wilds of New Jersey, the life insurance salesman who could foresee the death of his potential clients … for sheer story-telling expertise and creepy thrills, right up there with The Twilight Zone, or Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Likely, The X-Files still is, among certain aficionados.
No, what I could no longer countenance by watching was the government/alien/political shenanigans plots; Cigarette-smoking Man, assassinations, and aliens and all, with the government massively covering up. That, I began to sense was encouraging a terribly unsavory mind-set among the terminally paranoid. It’s one thing to have all this spilled out in the wee hours on radio in Coast to Coast; quite another to have it on prime-time broadcast television. It was almost as if the show was deliberately encouraging and egging on the paranoid element – for ratings and pure sadistic amusement. And so we stopped watching it entirely. Now my daughter is entirely amused, shaking her head over how the show-runners seemed to find it credible that long-term projects undertaken by the military-industrial complex could be kept secret for years, or decades, given that nothing much will remain long a secret when people retire, leave service, and all. Eventually, they write books. Sometimes years later, or even just months. The military is an odd place – and nothing stays secret in it for long. Good story-telling is forever. Messing with the minds of the conspiracy-inclined is also forever, given how many viewers seem to believe that if it is on TV, then it is real.
And the next media imbroglio – that there are no actors/actresses of color in this years’ Oscar noms… and the chief complainant regarding that situation is a guy-an-spouse who live in a huge estate the size of which if you ran away from home, you could still be at home. This is on-par with Orca Winfrey going on a prolonged media whine about how a Swiss shop assistant demurred showing her a particularly ugly handbag which cost retail about as much as my pension yearly plus what I earn from the Tiny Publishing Bidness. I mean seriously, Will Smith – you want an award trophy for just like … showing up? I suppose the best riposte to this was in another comment thread, by a contributor who seems to be in the acting profession. It was to the effect that he would rather be known at the end of his career by the question, “Why did he never get an Oscar?” than the question, “Why DID he get an Oscar?”
Discuss, if you will, these relatively trivial matters.
My daughter was nearly ten years old, in that Christmastime of 1990. I was stationed at Zaragoza AB, in the Ebro River Valley of Spain, which was serving as one of the staging bases in Europe for the build-up to the First Gulf War … the effort to liberate Kuwait, which Saddam Hussein seemed to believe that he had a perfect right to occupy, loot and exterminate those opposing him in that small matter. But this is not about that war, particularly – only as it affected those of us located far along the haft of the military spear towards the sharp and pointy end.
Zaragoza was a long-established US base in Spain by then – sufficiently long enough to have grown up a second generation of children born to American servicemen and their Spanish wives. It was sufficiently well-established to have a fairly modern on-base school, which housed the elementary classes in one wing, and the high school in the other. My daughter started there in kindergarten, the very week that we arrived, in 1985, to the day that we departed, six years later, when she started the sixth grade. It was a safe posting, especially considered after my previous assignment to Athens, Greece, where terrorism aimed at American personnel and at the base generally was accepted grimly as an ongoing part of life, like hurricanes along the southern coasts. One took every careful precaution and internalized certain practices against an irregular and specifically unpredictably-occurring threat. One of my daughter’s earliest memories is of watching me from the front step of the suburban Athens apartment where we lived then … kneeling down to look underneath my car, parked out in the street. I was, of course, looking for something explody-ish with trailing wires, where such a device ought to not be attached to the underside of the bright orange Volvo sedan that I had purchased from a fellow NCO upon arrival in Athens. (The Volvo had the temporary USG or US Forces Greece license plates on it, which branded the vehicle as being owned/driven by a member of the American military, and thus a likely target for anything from crude vandalism to a bomb. Just one of those things; it was a relief to get to Spain, where the practice was for regular Spanish license plates to be placed on automobiles owned by American service personnel.)
Late in autumn of that year the build-up began. Zaragoza AB went on a war footing, which meant that duties and hours devoted to those duties doubled, or in some cases, tripled for all personnel. Bright new concertina wire went up, all along the base perimeter; one of my memories of that period was how weirdly beautiful it looked under a layer of winter frost in the early morning – like sunshine brilliantly glittering on matte-finished silver.
Christmas was coming. After that, New Year’s Day, and then the deadline for Saddam Hussein to give up Kuwait. We knew that, barring a miracle, he wouldn’t. And then War, sometime in those days of the first week. Inevitable. The dark grey storm cloud on the horizon, flickering with flashes of interior lightning, blotting out the horizon and moving inexorably closer. One was made aware of it in dozens of ways, as the minutes, hours, days ticked by – even as the prosaic routines went on. My daughter had school every day, I cooked a family supper every evening, read to her at bed-time, shopped for groceries at the commissary, pressed a fresh blue uniform shirt every morning, mailed out Christmas cards, bought and wrapped presents. Because Christmas. One holds on to as many shreds and shards of normality as one can, when it comes to children.
These last few weeks, I have been feeling the same foreboding that I did, that holiday season more than twenty years ago. My daughter and I have a full schedule of weekend holiday markets and events. When we were setting up for the first of them, on a Friday afternoon, we came home to the news about the Islamic massacre in Paris. This week, as we were getting ready for another, it was the Islamic massacre of local government employees in San Bernardino. Next week … who knows? I am fairly certain that there will be another atrocity perpetrated by Daesh fanatics over the coming holiday season. It will occur in a place and at a time where it will all come as a horrifying surprise to the victims of it, to our national leadership cadre and to our major news outlets. The latter two will, of course, be horribly inconvenienced by having to throw some thin shreds of career-saving rationale or justification excusing such an unexpected event. This I know, as surely as I saw the deadline for military action in the Gulf inch closer and closer.
Merry Christmas, y’all.
It’s one of those things that one becomes aware of as a blogger, over time. The internet is like a vast ocean, with weird currents, storms and agitations in far corners that eventually send out waves and ripples that travel across wide spaces and eventually turn up crashing into the shore of awareness. Many moons ago, as time is counted in internet years, the ruckus over the fraudulent documents presented in a 60 Minutes/Dan Rather expose broadcast on the eve of the 2004 election created one of those far-rippling storms. So did the fracas generated by the Swift Boat veterans, when it turned out that despite John Kerry’s attempt to campaign as sort of studly Dudley Do-Right Vietnam veteran, those who served with him in-theater viewed him as more of a Frank Burns/Eddie Haskell figure, and were not afraid to say so in whatever small-media or internet venue would give them the time of day. Yes, eventually the whole issue crashed ashore on the Island of Major Media Awareness.
Ever since then, I am of the notion that it pays to keep an eye out for those interesting ripples, especially when those on the Island of Major Media Awareness seem most determined to avert their eyes. I very much suspect that a lot of ordinary news-consumers are not ignoring these concerns. Look at how many people turned out for Chic-Fil-A appreciation day, having got the word through blogs and social media.
… and then turn around and whine because some cis-male said something, or looked something, and I feel so … so threatened! Look, girls…ladies … possessor of a vagina or whatever you want to be addressed as this week in vernacular fashion; can you just please pick one attitude and stick to it? Frankly, this inconsistency is embarrassing the hell out of me (sixty-ish, small-f feminist in the long-ago dark days when there was genuine no-s*it gender inequality in education, job opportunities and pay-scales to complain about and campaign for redress thereof). This is also annoying to my daughter, the thirtyish Marine Corps veteran of two hitches. The Daughter Unit is actually is very close loosing patience entirely with those of the sisterhood who are doing this “Woman Powerful!-Woman Poor Downtrodden Perpetual Victim!” bait and switch game. So am I, actually, but I have thirty years experience in biting my tongue when it comes to the antics of the Establishment Professional Capital-F Feminist crowd.
See – it’s an either-or proposition. Either you are strong, capable, intelligent and have thick enough of a skin or at least a toleration and sufficient understanding of the world in general, and the male of our sex in particular to forge your way enthusiastically through the world, throwing off the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, the occasional sex-based misunderstanding, the overheard crude joke, the inability of many of the males of our species to attend to details of housekeeping or good organizational order, and their juvenile enthusiasm for sexual congress under circumstances and with co-conspirators which – the less said of that the better. That is the attitude that my daughter and I personally favor; we take no stick, and when someone – male or female tries it, we hand it back face to face with generous interest. That’s what strong, capable and intelligent women do.
It’s either that or the conventions of womanhood which held sway in popular Victorian culture. That is – one who is too fine, too delicate and too gentle to endure exposure, even by the slightest suggestion to any of the above … like tweeting a picture of two guys overheard making a crude joke and setting off an internet meltdown which resulted in firings, internet shamings, death threats and everything but the burning of Atlanta. Seriously, what Ms Richards overheard and took exception to – essentially complaining to a wide audience that “Ohhh – those awful men were making me feel threatened! Make them stop!” was relatively mild when compared to some of the conversations I overheard (or sometimes participated in) while in the military. I can only imagine the degree of absolute meltdown if Ms Richards had heard some of them … and yes, both my daughter and I have often been the only woman, or one of a handful of women in a sea of men.
So, strong, capable and equal … or frail, sensitive and desperate for that fainting couch; pick one or the other and stick to it consistently. At the very least, don’t talk like one, and act like the other. It only confuses the guys and embarrasses the heck out of women like me.
(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz)
If ever there were a 19th Century journalist more deeply wedded to the old mission statement of comforting (and avenging) the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable with energy and fierce enthusiasm, that person would have to be one William Cowper Brann. In the last decade of the 19th Century, he possessed a small but widely-read newspaper called the Iconoclast, a reservoir of spleen the size of Lake Michigan, and a vocabulary of erudite vituperation which would be the envy of many a political blogger today. Born in 1855, in Coles County, Illinois, he was the son of a Presbyterian minister. Upon losing his mother when barely out of diapers, he was placed with a foster family. At the age of thirteen, he ran away from the foster home and made his own way in the world, armored with a bare three years of formal education. He worked as a hotel bellboy, an apprentice house painter, and as a printer’s devil, from which he graduated into cub reporting. He and his family – for he did manage to marry – gravitated into Texas, settling first in Houston, followed by stints in Galveston and in Austin, working for local newspapers as reporter, editor and editorialist, and attempting to launch his own publication – the first iteration of the Iconoclast – terming it “a journal of personal protest.” For William Cowper Brann had opinions – sulfurous, vituperative and always entertaining, even for a day when public discourse not excluding journalism was conducted metaphorically with brass knuckles – and he despised cant, hypocrisy and what he termed ‘humbuggery’ with a passion burning white-hot and fierce.
The first launch of the Iconoclast failed, but nothing discouraged, Brann sold the name and the press to another writer – William Sidney Porter, who much later became well-known under the nom-de-plume of O. Henry. Brann knocked around between big-city Texas for another couple of years, which makes one wonder if a) his wife ever entirely unpacked the Brann household goods, and b) what she said in private to her peripatetic spouse at hearing of yet another move. At the start of 1895, Brann – now working as chief editorialist for the Waco Daily News – re-launched The Iconoclast as a monthly periodical. Eventually, he had a subscription list for it of over 100,000, a fair portion of it national and even international. Which is quite understandable, given his talent with a well-turned phrase and a savagely telling choice in description; in this century he would have been a blogger, and a very well-read one at that. A selection of his pieces (linked here) are readable and highly entertaining, very much on par with luminaries like Mark Twain, in my opinion. (He had written a couple of plays, and at the abrupt end of his life was working on a novel.)
Brann had his list of favored targets – and in what his near-contemporary Mark Twain termed ‘The Gilded Age’ (and Twain did not mean that as a compliment, but rather as something cheap and nasty, all tarted up to look rich) he was rather spoiled for choice in the targets of his broadsides. His remarks on one of the signature social events of the decade – the notorious Bradley-Martin masquerade ball are one of the most savagely-slashing preserved.
Mrs. Bradley-Martin’s sartorial kings and pseudo-queens, her dukes and DuBarrys, princes and Pompadours, have strutted their brief hour upon the mimic stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream—have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom, a malodor from the cloacae of ancient capitals, a breath blown from the festering lips of half-forgotten harlots, a stench from the sepulcher of centuries devoid of shame. Uncle Sam may now proceed to fumigate himself after his enforced association with royal bummers and brazen bawds; may comb the Bradley-Martin itch bacteria out of his beard, and consider, for the ten-thousandth time, the probable result of his strange commingling of royalty- worshiping millionaire and sansculottic mendicant—how best to put a ring in the nose of the golden calf ere it become a Phalaris bull and relegate him to its belly.
In a word, he detested Europeans, particularly British, the new rich of America, vulgar excess, excess of every sort, the deviousness of cows, cant and hypocrisy of every stripe, and Baptists – of which last he opined, “I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough.” (It has to be admitted here that he detested blacks and didn’t think much of women, either.)
Since he was living and working in Waco – the home of Baylor University, which Brann described as “that great storm-center of misinformation” – and thus a kind of Vatican of Southern Baptists, these openly expressed and published remarks regarding Baptists did excite considerable local comment and resentment. Brann paid a price, personally – in being occasional apprehended and assaulted by partisans. His popularity, locally and elsewhere, soared, however. Local anger became especially marked when he published accusations that college administrators and their family members had imported orphaned female child converts from missions in South America … and not only exploited them as domestic help, but sexually as well. I am given to wonder if this didn’t hit Brann in several personal ways, having been given up by his own father, the Presbyterian minister, into the care of people who cared so little for him that he ran from their tender care the minute he was able to do so. But Brann was just getting warmed up. Next, he alleged that male faculty members were pursuing female students sexually. Any father contemplating sending his daughter to Baylor as a student was putting her at hazard of being raped; the university was nothing but – in his words, “A factory for the manufacture of ministers and magdalenes,” – magdalenes at that time being the socially acceptable term for ‘whores’.
A Baylor supporter – the father of a female student there, one Tom Davis who dealt in real estate in Waco and the surrounding country – took personal insult from Brann’s choice of words, simmered over it … and rather than writing a fiery letter to the fiery editor, took his own gun, emerged from his office on downtown Fourth Street, and ambushed Brann as he walked past with a friend in the late afternoon of April 1, 1898. Davis shot Brann in the back, mortally wounding him. The sound of bullets sent newspaper vendors, passing innocent citizens, street musicians and trolley-car motormen, policemen and simple citizens going about their business on a busy Friday evening darting for cover. First escorted to the local police station and then carried home by his friends, Brann died the next morning. He was buried in Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery; the monument marking his grave is a square dark stone pedestal with his profile in white stone and the word “Truth” engraved on it, topped with a Brobdingnag-sized stone lantern … which since appears to have been stolen, if the comments on Find a Grave are anything to go by. The publication of the Iconoclast itself was in the hands of Brann’s long-suffering wife, who subsequently sold it … again. The new owners removed the publication to Chicago; likely it sank shortly thereafter, since it was Brann himself whose corrosive genius in print carried it all on his back.
And what of Tom Davis, who chose to ambush and shoot his bete noir in the back? He didn’t last any longer than William Cowper Brann … who in the best tradition of the Wild West – upon being shot in the back and holed through his left lung, drew his own personal Colt revolver and emptied all six shots into Davis … who fell into the doorway of a tobacconist’s establishment. Back in the day, the city fathers insisted that Waco was the Athens of the West … but the locals all called it Six Shooter Junction, for the disagreement between the newspaper editor and the real estate man was only one of many.
… at the Paris offices of a French satirical magazine. For the usual crime – that of mocking Mohammed.
Herewith some more and vigorous mocking – the return of the Danish Motoons o’ Doom! (Courtesy of Zombie at PJ Media.) Click on the images to embiggen.
There is a saying to the effect that you know who your rulers (or your prospective rulers) are, by what you are not allowed to mock.
(You know, I thought I might loosen up before a weekend of book-stuff by taking aim at Gwyneth Paltrow, a legacy movie actress who I have always suspected to be close to a total blithering moron in real life, but now know it for sure, in addition to being one of B. Obama’s the most appalling sycophants. Gwynnie, sweetie, I suspect that your acting career – at least in enormously popular blockbuster movies – is now at and end. I’d have done a right proper Sgt. Mom rant, but commenter Drumwaster at Protein Wisdom beat me to the punch with this blast of ranty goodness.)
Gwyneth? Gwynnie, hun? I know you aren’t ever going to read this, because it is neither a script with a multi-million dollar-paycheck made out to you (and your agent), nor a fan magazine story kissing your cellulite-laden heiney, but maybe someone who cares about you will read it to you…
Pay attention, now.
SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU HYPOCRITICAL BINT. You are an example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood and none of which is right with this country. You are the spoiled brat scion of worthless parents who brought you up to believe that Fame – Wisdom, and have surrounded yourself with people who believe the same thing. That is no way to go through life, dearie.
Your Dear Leader had two years of damned near veto-proof majorities in both Houses, and the only thing he managed to get passed were trillion-dollar deficits and the ruination of the Health INSURANCE industry, while doing absolutely nothing at fixing the problems with the Health CARE industry. Not to mention the elimination of any kind of real credibility the US might have once had before he took office, any kind of Full Faith and Credit the American citiznes might have once had with their government, what with abusing the IRS to punish “his enemies” (who were also American citizens, remember), the NSA to spy on the rest of you, gutting what protections the Constitutional Amendments may have once offered (such as the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Fourteenth, et alia), selling guns to the drug gangs south of the border, refusing to admit there actually IS a southern border, abandoning our allies, encouraging our enemies, and demolishing what little value the currency has left.
He may be “so handsome”, but he is as worthless as you are, with the added fact that he can’t even deliver a valid speech without a teleprompter, while you have the (not-at-all-rare) ability to memorize words written by people better and smarter than you. So if you really want to make the world a better place, take the money you would have given him, add in all the money you get from selling all those fancy clothes, expensive cars and that craptacular box you live in, and donate it to the nearest actual charity. If you need a place to live at that point, go rent an apartment and live paycheck to paycheck like all of the people you say have it easier than you do with those “14 hour days” you work. (ProTip: You wanna know what the rest of us call a “14 hour day”? Normality, but without the chance to get a do-over when a mistake is made.)
(Wherein I meditate upon the relationship between military members and veterans, and the commander-in-chief – present and most recent last.)
I was not a voter especially enamored of establishing a ruling class, so I was not all that enthused about Bush 2. In the 2000 elections I was considerably annoyed that it was an unedifying choice between the scions of two long-established political families. I thought it was not a good omen, redolent of hereditary politics and an established aristocracy – and that there was not that much to choose between them. At this point Al Gore had not displayed anything of his hypocritical and self-serving fixation on so-called ‘global warming’ – and I basically flipped a coin. But as it turned out, post 9-11, my daughter’s commander in chief was Bush 2, and as it also turned out, his respect and consideration for the troops in wartime was a rock of constancy. To quote the line from the TV series Sharpe’s Rifles, “There are two kinds of officers, sir: killin’ officers and murderin’ officers. Killin’ officers are poor old buggers that get you killed by mistake. Murderin’ officers are mad, bad, old buggers that get you killed on purpose – for a country, for a religion, maybe even for a flag.” Bush-2 was the second sort – he might get you killed, but it would have been for a serious purpose. (Since this is a discussion of how our presidents appear to, or appeared in the past to relate to successive commanders-in-chief, I will not be drawn into a sidebar discussion regarding the wisdom of making war in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2002.)
My daughter and I both had the same opinion of Bush 2 with regard to the military; one of affectionate and mutual respect, which he has carried on in his private life. I suppose one of the best examples of that was on the occasion of his surprise visit to Baghdad in 2003 – when he appeared, the roar of applause and cheers was unforced and spontaneous. (No, it was not a plastic turkey.) One still reads now and again of Bush 2 and Laura B. still quietly coming to meet returning troops at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, or hosting disabled soldiers at private events and marathon mountain bike rides at the ranch, and mention is made now and again of their quiet and relatively unpublicized visit to Fort Hood after the Hassan shooting spree.
Which brings us to the present commander in chief, a man who has perfected the fine art of returning a military salute with a Styrofoam coffee cup in his saluting hand. I’d join in the outrage over this, but really – the man is only behaving in the manner that we have come to expect from him in regards to the military. He appears to like the perks, the toys such as drones and Air Force 1, the deference and being able to whistle up a uniformed rent-a-crowd at any moment, but he doesn’t possess the least particle of understanding of or respect for military tradition. One gets a sense that it’s a perfunctory effort – and that military people really aren’t quite real to them; just automatons, all dressed alike, to be dispatched to Africa because of an Ebola epidemic, to Benghazi to not defend the consulate, or to hold an umbrella … whatever. While he has bestowed honors for valor on individuals at White House ceremonies, and Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden have now and again made a stab at a show of support and concern for dependent family members, the sense is inescapable that the Obama administration is just going through the minimum motions required for a favorable photo op.
Although Obama has made a superficial good showing with military-oriented events, they seem to be scheduled less and less often. I suppose it is a bit of a thrill for the junior troops come through a base and have a meet’n’greet with them. As indifferent as I was to Jimmy Carter way back then, I would have appreciated a visit from the commander in chief – I might even have been rather thrilled to do an interview for FEN, if it had been allowed. More telling, I think is the reception that Obama got, at a speech last month before attendees at the American Legion convention. That was an audience of veterans of all vintages – and the largest portion of them all but sat on their hands and listened with stone-faced courtesy. One might almost feel sorry for a speaker whose presentation meets with such a cold reception, but … well, his is the administration whose Department of Homeland Security head had to walk back from a report which painted disgruntled veterans as likely recruits for terrorist organizations, and was reported to have briefly considered John Kerry, of Winter Soldier anti-Vietnam war protest fame as Secretary of Defense. That such a nomination was even considered sufficiently enough to make it into the Washington paper of record should be proof enough of the veiled contempt in which this commander in chief holds for the larger part of those citizen-defenders who make up the US military.
Early this month, my daughter and I clubbed together and bought a DVD collection of Mel Brooks movies for our evening TV-watching pleasure. I think we already had Blazing Saddles on DVD, and maybe The Producers and Young Frankenstein on VHS – but the plain fact is that we didn’t have any of the rest, and I only dimly recalled seeing many of them on original theatrical release, most usually at tiny AAFES movie theaters in various overseas locations. Seriously, it took years to get over expecting to stand up for the national anthem before the main feature, along with the usual wits shouting “Play ball!” as soon as the last strains and the flapping flag in slow-mo mistily faded from the screen. My daughter hadn’t seen any of them, save the aforementioned two, and so … we’ve been happily entertained, by working our way through the collection. It’s often noted, by no less than Mel Brooks himself that Blazing Saddles probably couldn’t be made today. Oh, let me count the ways, from the non-stop use of the n-word, gleeful use of national stereotypes, the campfire scene, the breaking of the fourth wall, the campy and screamingly gay movie director… yep, the professionally aggrieved would be screeching to high heaven.
Young Frankenstein doesn’t hit on quite so many social sore points as Blazing Saddles … but History of the World Part 1 certainly does. That’s another one which probably would send the professionally aggrieved on fire. As for Silent Movie, that was kind of a one-joke sketch fattened out to feature movie length. My daughter didn’t know that Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft were married, or that Burt Reynolds and Paul Newman had ever looked so very young. High Anxiety was funny enough, as a pastiche of practically every movie Alfred Hitchcock ever made. So – on to The Twelve Chairs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights in the coming week. Don’t know how those two will manage to offend the easily offended, but I have hopes. It is kind of dispiriting, when I remember funny, slapstick and anarchic humor like Mel Brooks, or those movies like Airplane and Top Secret! Produced by Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, or mockumentaries like Spinal Tap and confections like Ghostbusters … and then consider at the great earnest blocks of concentrated dullness coming out today. There are comedies still being produced of course … this is a list of what is currently available on Netflix, but scrolling through it, I just don’t fell much like watching any of them. Quite honestly, most of them just don’t seem like all that much fun.
Between my English and Scots-Irish-English grandparents, a deep and abiding love of English literature and history, a fair number of English friends, and two long-ago summers sojourns in Britain doing the youth hostel and Brit-Rail Pass, I’ve always looked on the place as my metaphorical second country. I know it about as well as any American could and not actually be in residence there, and I’ve always kept in touch – through English magazines, newspapers and yes, in recent years through websites. Yes, and I score sufficiently high on any number of those quizzes testing American knowledge of British slang to say, with perfect truth, that I speak fluent Brit. (Although I can’t place British regional accents … something to do with acquiring most of this knowledge from the printed page rather than the spoken word.)
So, ever since I happily discovered The Internet, and began following more news than was available in the local newspaper and mainstream print publications, I’d been reading English news sites – starting with, I think, The Times of London and The Spectator – before they put the good stuff behind a pay-wall, and moving on to the Telegraph. I had a print subscription to the Guardian Weekly, for years – and occasionally checked out their website before the burden of wading through waist to neck-deep oceans of political-correctitude got to be too much of a chore. Now my guilty tabloid pleasure is to scan the Daily Mail; I know, in the eyes of the grand and the good, this is about one step above the Star or the National Enquirer. But the Mail and the Enquirer have of late begun to commit regular acts of non-partisan journalism – especially when it comes to the American political scene, in contract to the supposedly more respectable publications.
So, I was already aware of the horrific and ongoing scandal of native English girls – many barely into their teens – being groomed, raped, gang-raped and sex-trafficked by British-born Pakistani men, in Rotherham and elsewhere. The release of an especially damning report on a formal inquiry into the matter has even rattled the cages of bloggers like Wretchard at Belmont Club – and no wonder. The most horrifying aspect isn’t just that girls were routinely raped on a wholesale basis, or that many were blackmailed by threats to their family into cooperating in their own exploitation. Even worse is that the police forces, social workers, and local politicians also knew – but refrained from doing anything about it because they did not want to be accused of racism. It seems that the national media outlets also looked away, for as long as they could. As commenter Andrew X, at this discussion thread explained: The media lying is due to a combination of fears – fear of being called racist, fear of Muslim fanatics, and above all a fear of the public. The establishment sees the working class as ignorant racist morons so they’re afraid to say anything that might give the mob an excuse to go on the rampage. It’s not just the rape gangs that see British people as “white trash”.
Wrap your mind around that, if you please – that those bureaucrats, politicians and investigators whose profession and mission is to protect and defend their fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them – hesitated to act because they were afraid of being called racists, which would be a career-limiter, in these present days. They might get a letter of reprimand, or a tough question or two from local media and a certain degree of heat from the diversity-loving intellectual set. That many of the girls victimized were from working-class families or the English equivalent of trailer-trash, or from troubled backgrounds anyway just adds a dimension of particularly ugly snobbery. In order to maintain the benign mask of multicultural toleration and diversity in place, the ruling managerial and political class essentially sacrificed the children of the ruled class to a sexual Moloch … and kept quiet about it for years. How badly the ordinary British citizens are being served by their ruling class, these days! (Nearly as bad as as Americans are being served when it comes to black on white crime, but that’s a rant for another occasion.) My grandparents would be appalled, and horrified at what has become of the country that they immigrated from 100 years ago, but still held in affection.
(Crossposted at www.chicagoboyz.net)
I see, from a brief news release, and the subsequent minor bloggerly hyperventilating about it, that the story of the 60 Minutes-Dan Rather-faked TANG memo is going to be made into a movie, starring Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchette as Mary Mapes, his producer. If it were a cautionary tale about what happens when those who report our news content so desperately desire items of dubious provenance to be the genuine article and so skip merrily past every warning signal in their hurry to broadcast a nakedly partisan political hit piece on the eve of an election … well, I might be tempted to watch it. No, not in a theater – are you insane? I might opt to pay a couple of bucks to stream it through Amazon and watch it at home … but alas, likely I will give it a miss, altogether. It’s going to be based on Ms Mapes’ own account and defense of the indefensible, and frankly I am not all that interested in someone engaged in a lengthy justification of their own gullibility and/or willingness to wink at obvious forgery in service to a partisan political cause.
Adrift without a map, we are, in the sea of current events. Especially after this last week, which brought us a ground war in Gaza and the shoot-down of a passenger airliner over Ukraine; both situations a little out of the depth of the past experience of Chicago community organizer, even one who spent his grade school years in Indonesia. Quite a large number of the blogs and commenters that I follow have speculated over the last couple of months – at least since last year – have predicted disaster. They know not the day nor the hour, but they have read the various augurs according to their inclinations, suspicions and particular expertise, and gloomily speculate on the odds of various events occurring. There is something bad coming, the air is thick and heavy with signs and portents, never mind the cheery cast that the current administration and it’s public affairs division attempts to put on it. It’s like a makeup artist, plying the art on a six-months-dead corpse; it’s just not working.
The list of possible events speculated on begins with some kind of dirty nuke on a major (or even a relatively minor) American city, or other terrorist act, sustained racial riots in inner cities leading to violent resistance when the rioters spill out into the fringes, an epidemic caused by the recent accession of thousands of Central American illegal aliens and the administrations energetic dispersion of them everywhere, violent resistance to any number of ham-handed actions on the part of the federal government spiraling out of control as in the BLM-Bundy Ranch scenario, complete devaluing of the currency to the point of a ten-dollar bill having the value of a used bus ticket – I can come up with any number of issues which might potentially provide a flashpoint, and commentators likely can come up with as many more, even as we grimly acknowledge that the ignition point might be one which we won’t even see coming.
Today, Governor Perry of Texas announced plans to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border area – an area which has always been about as porous as a wet sponge, but which troubled no one much beyond those law enforcement in border counties, and residents whose ranch properties were essentially highways for the human traffic. The trickle of illegal immigrants (take THAT, PC Police, they’re illegal immigrants!) has become a gusher in the last year or so, and many on the conservative-libertarian spectrum suspect that it has been deliberately engineered, in an effort to Cloward-Piven our national borders. Darker prognostications have it that this is an attempt to stuff the ballot-boxes with sufficient voters to ensure a Democrat Party majority for the foreseeable future, to destroy the working- and middle-class – who have the ungrateful habit of independency and a disinclination to do as their so-called betters order them – and replace them with grateful serfs who will obediently do as they are told. How better to dissolve the people and replace them another?
There was a protest scheduled last Friday and Saturday – at the Mexican Consulate in San Antonio. It was a rather small one, when I passed by on Friday afternoon, and if the protest continued as scheduled on Saturday, I can find no evidence for it – but then, seeing how frequently the establishment media organs function as the public office of the Obama administration, I wouldn’t have been surprised to know that the protest was continued, and with more protesters – just that the local news coverage was of the “close your eyes, cover them with your hands and hope it will all go away” variety. One thing I did notice on Friday was that the protestors were raising the issue of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who inadvertently crossed over into Mexico at a particularly confusing San Diego freeway interchange earlier this summer. He had his personal weapons in the trunk of his car – and has been in a Mexican jail ever since, accused of smuggling guns into Mexico. I imagine that the Mexican authorities are feeling the schadenfreude, on account of Fast and Furious, but I haven’t seen much enthusiasm on the part of our State Department on getting him out of durance vile, Mexican-style … so every little bit of street theater may help.
(Crossposted at Chicagoboyz.net)
The inestimably acute and prolific blog-commenter Subotai Bahadur coined that acronym and has propagated it across the conservative-libertarian corner of the blogosphere ever since. It has achieved the status of an entry on Acronym Finder, for whatever that is worth. It is shorthand for “those who are no longer our countrymen” – itself an abbreviation for a slashing denunciation of those American colonists who were in sympathy with the wishes of Great Britain in a speech by Samuel Adams on American independence, delivered in a fiery stem-winder of a speech at the Philadelphia Statehouse in August of 1776 –
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Sam Adams was a bit of a fire-eater, and the speech must have been magnificent to listen to, for certain of the phrases sound like a tocsin, a war-alarm on the ear. “Ye love wealth better than liberty,” “The tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom,” and “Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you,” which reminds me irresistibly of the establishment media as represented currently. Not to speak of “May your chains set lightly upon you,” – and “forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Yes, that’s the phrase that slashes like an old-fashioned straight-edge razor; clear and cold and across a couple of veins. “Forget that ye were our countrymen.”
Me – I have now had the experience in several different theaters of realizing that certain people, politicians, media, intellectual and entertainment figures of note, or even the establishments they work for – are no longer our countrymen. In fact, those certain people and their establishments deeply despise us ordinary, moderately-conservative, content and hard-working middle class citizens. They hate us, indeed – with a passion that convulses their souls, and drips in their every word like corrosive acid. They hate that we are individual, un-biddable, independent and proud. They hate it even more ferociously that we are not humble in the manner of the 19th century lower class Europeans in the face of nobles and bureaucrats, and they despise everything that we honor and relish, from church membership, to where we choose to shop, to adorn our homes and what we do for hobbies. They hate it that we have the franchise and exercise it, too – and even assume that it is our right and duty to be politically-involved; most recently with movements like the Tea Party. (Which, inter alia, shook and is still shaking the current ruling class down to it’s bones – hence the viciousness of the reaction to it, from the media, to popular entertainment and to the long-established political parties.) Most of all, I think – they despise us for not giving a damn what they think particularly, and rejecting practically everything that they tell us to do – ride public transportation, move into urban stack-a-prole housing, give up eating meat (or much of anything else), and continuing to believe that we can raise our own children and sort out our own lives without self-elected nannies breathing down our necks 24-7. Very likely the well-manicured and delicate hands of the new ruling class itch for a whip to give us all a good thrashing for our temerity. Indeed – they are no longer our countrymen in spirit, any more than the Tory sympathizers who departed the American colonies two hundred years and more ago are.
The most galling quality of the TWANLOC ruling class is how they constantly preen themselves on being so cultured, so tolerant, intellectual, competent and so very, very non-racist … unlike the ordinary rest of us; the veteran, the blue-collar working stiff, the stay-at-home-mom, the cashier working at the local grocery store, the owners of companies large and small. Alas, nine out of ten, the TWANLOC ruling class is not particularly cultured, tolerant or intellectual. Nine out of ten, the most vicious bigotries and stereotypes drop from their lips and into their narratives … and yet they remain blissfully unaware of their own faults and shortcomings.
So the division has widened and deepened over the last decade or so. Now we stand at a point where our international standing has never been lower, we barely have any border security at all, a number of cities which once were manufacturing power-houses are all but ruined, federal bureaucracies have been corrupted and weaponized against generally-law abiding and tax-paying citizens, the economy – despite increasingly desperate-sounding news releases to the contrary – is seemingly on the verge of tanking entirely. The anger at the TWANLOC ruling class who appear responsible for bringing this about is building. When it will come to a full boil – in that the anger will be expressed in more than comments, editorials, blog-posts and radio-call in shows – and in response to what kind of provocation is anyone’s guess. The tinder is everywhere, and the gasoline is poured. All it lacks is the spark; something like the stand-off at the Bundy place earlier this year, someone responding with a weapon to being the almost-victim of a knock-out game, a spontaneous local protest blockading a place where illegal immigrants are being processed, as in California in the last few days … that will light the spark. Likely TWANLOCs will be surprised. Likely they will excuse themselves of any responsibility for creating the conflagration. But we won’t.
(Cross-posted at www.chicagoboyz.net)
I believe now that the battle royal has been joined, between Her Inevitableness and the forces of … well, not darkness, exactly – but sort of café au lait darkness, in the person of the current resident of the presidential mansion … which I hesitate to call the White House, seeing that the current resident and his spouse seem to maintain a certain resentment-level regarding those citizens of these somewhat united states who are of a Caucasian pallor.
No, the current resident of the presidential mansion does not much care for those of us of pallor, or those of us of the working middle class, those of us who maintain small businesses – those who are not profitable enough to afford lavish donations to his eternal campaign and who take the principles of a traditional Judeo-Christian upbringing fairly seriously. I am also pretty certain now – especially after a scan of recent political headlines – that Her Inevitableness and the Current Resident do not care much for each other, either. In fact, I am convinced that they hate each other with the white-hot passion of a thousand burning suns, and we would observe open proof of this enmity at some point. I had supposed that the dirty laundry each had on the other would be aired later rather than sooner. Like, closer to the 2016 primaries.
That each party has dirt on the other goes without saying – and I always thought that Hillary was the ice-cold and manipulative intellect of the Clinton partnership; a Lady MacBeth as it were; Bill Clinton was the one with the charm, the gift for schmoozing, of being personally likeable and liking others in return – and if not, then of being able to mount a convincing facsimile thereof. There have always been grumblings from the military staffers, the Secret Service and those who worked in various low level staff positions in the Clinton White House of how horrible she was to … indeed, back in the dark ages of blogging (say around 2001-2003) the original founder of this blog was a humble AF maintenance tech for the Presidential aircraft at Andrews AFB. He once remarked that the only two members of the Clinton administration who rated flights on AF-1 or AF-2 who appeared to be genuinely nice people, and respectful of the staff who served on them were Louis Freeh and Tipper Gore. Just about everyone else they regularly flew were … well, apparently non-disclosure agreements were in force.
So is Hillary becoming less and less Her Inevitableness? Damned if I know how the low information voters see her – but I was pretty revolted by the revelation of how she defended a pedophile rapist by painting the victim as an unbalanced fantasist, and chuckling in self-satisfaction over her own skill as a defender. Look, every accused has the right to competent legal representation in a court of law, and the lawyer involved has a right to be proud of a good job well-done, but doing it by trashing the reputation of a barely teen-aged girl, and chortling about it in a video interview? That’s nauseating. Way to go about being the righteous defender of all womankind, Your Inevitableness. As a die-hard Tea Partier and libertarian-conservative, I eagerly await the upcoming revelations of horribleness – from both parties.
I’ll fetch some more popcorn in the interval. Something tells me I should see if Sam’s Club carries it in 25-lb bags.
We have carried on with watching Upstairs, Downstairs – warming up to it every evening with a half-hour palate cleanser of Blandings … which reminds me, I must steer my daughter towards those copies of PG Wodehouse which I have on the shelves, and my volume of the collected works of Saki, otherwise HH Munro … a writer of short stories only equal in my estimation to Rudyard Kipling … whose collections I also have on the shelves. Yes, HH Munro died in WWI, and so did Kipling’s only son, John. One was in his forties and over-aged for the military combat duties, the other seventeen and a trifle young for it … but they both rushed to join the forces, such was the tone of the time. (Munro turned down a commission and served in the ranks, John Kipling’s influential father wrangled his near-sighted son a commission in the Irish Guards.)
This once-proud and forward-thinking world and it’s brutal disillusion is reflected in the current series of Upstairs, Downstairs – first, the tenor of the time, of optimistic patriotism, outrage at German brutality in Belgium and France, the honestly-felt obligation to serve King and country … and then shading into war-weariness and despair, as the casualties mounted, up and up and up. England, France, Germany and Russia were gutted of a whole generation of men – some time in college (or maybe it was a grad school course) there was reason in one of my textbooks for a couple of tables of statistics for males by age in certain Western European countries. There was a considerable divot when it came to the male population of certain countries who would have been of an age to serve in WWI. That was statistics on a page; brought home now and again by the local war memorials in various towns all across Britain, France and Germany – a small stone obelisk in a corner of the town square, or a panel let into the side of a wall, with fifteen or twenty names on it. Heartbreakingly – especially in smaller places – there would be a couple or three identical surnames. Brothers, fathers and sons, cousins … the only wartime losses in the US to equal the English toll in WWI had happened fifty years before, in the Civil War, when local companies went down in sheaves like wheat under the scythe, in a storm of shot where the minie balls came down like hail, and there went just all about the fit men of age from some small town in Illinois, or Virginia, Vermont or Ohio, in some contested field – a sunken road, a wheat-field, a peach orchard or an angle of trench.
In Upstairs, Downstairs, this carnage all happens off-stage. It was a television program after all – and even if by Season Four it was a winner in the popularity stakes, additional budget largess went to more scenes set on location, rather than the studio set, and rather better costuming for the female characters. I have not noticed so many eye-blindingly awful selections with obvious zippers up the back as there were in the first two seasons. It is telling, though – that the fashion for rather more practical and shorter skirts for every-day wear is quite obvious, although the older generation, exemplified by Lady Pru resolutely keeps to toe-length, and Mrs. Bridges holds on to the old-style of dress, apron and cap. The sun will never set on Mrs. Bridges in a hair-net and a knee-length dress.
James is a total and self-centered jerk … but there must have been something to him, else why would Hazel ever have seen something to him, and stuck around? Perhaps she was just out of her mind for a couple of months in 1912 or so. Poor Rose missed her chance of domestic happiness – kick and scream as she must, she’ll be the rest of her life in service. Hudson still holds up his end – although as blind as a bat himself, he had a go at volunteering for the Army. And there we stand, with four or five more episodes and the final season – the one which I never actually saw, since I was in the military myself and overseas when it aired on PBS the first time around.
OK – so, since we are now almost a year into giving the heave-ho to cable TV, and busily exploring the delights available through Hulu/Amazon Prime/Acorn, I took it into my head that I should like to watch the original Upstairs, Downstairs series. The very first season of this, which aired on Masterpiece Theater when it was hosted by Alistair Cooke, was seriously truncated when it showed on PBS … which was when I was in college, umpty-umph years ago. Not only did I miss seeing most of the first season, but I also missed absolutely all of the last season, through having enlisted in the Air Force and promptly been assigned overseas. That was the season which romped through the post WWI decade. Very likely I missed other episodes throughout the run of the program. Although I regretted this, I have always declined to spend however much it would cost to buy the entire series of Upstairs, Downstairs, no matter how much I wanted to watch it and no matter how much it is marked down through Amazon specials, or considered in comparison to How Much It Would Have Cost When First Made Available. (Yes, I laid out an ungodly sum of money for the VHS set of Jewel In The Crown, which I watched again and again and thoroughly enjoyed, but never again shall I spend more than I did then for a costume mini-series. So, bite me, vendors of classic TV series – I will wait and wait and wait until the ones that I want are available in slightly-used DVD editions. Or on streaming internet … yes, where was I? Oh – Upstairs, Downstairs.)
First off, my daughter says that she hopes that producers, writers and show-runners for Downton Abbey are paying a mint, or at least giving the original producers miles and miles of artistic credit and acknowledgements. Downton has re-used sooooo many characters and situations. They’re probably in public domain these days, though – so never mind.
Yes, it is screamingly obvious that the first season was produced on the cheap – and very obviously on a set; outdoor shots were at a bare, bare, bare and almost daily soap-opera minimum. My daughter even noticed the walls shivering slightly, whenever a door slams. Outdoor scenes only begin occurring in the second season, wherein Miss Lizzie’s marriage is turning to dust and ashes. There’s a lot more indoor-to-outdoor scenes at that point; obviously there’s more in the budget, and the producers pretty much established the cast below-stairs that would carry on for the next four.
But dear god – what they had to do for the female leads’ costumes. Not so much for downstairs; plain black or pastel-colored long-sleeved dresses with elaborate aprons – hard to mess up the working costumes of the female working class way back then. Their get-up was obviously uniform and practical. But for Upstairs, they obviously, went into some vast internal closet for long dresses that at a squint appeared vaguely Edwardian. A good few of Lady Marjorie’s costumes look as if the costume department had cornered a herd of wild 1960s upholstered furniture, slaughtered them whole-sale, skinned them, and made her dresses from their pelts. It’s bad. How bad? I frequently spotted my own particular bête noir when it comes to period pieces; obvious zippers up the back. No – in my admittedly less than expert study of female costume, circa 18th-19th-early 20th centuries … zippers did most emphatically not figure. They fastened in just about every other way and in every other place than a zipper up the center-back seam. Trust me, when I tell you this. Let this particular book – Nancy Bradfield’s Costume in Detail be a guide, should you wish further enlightenment. I leaned on it rather heavily, in working out Lady Isobel’s wardrobe in Quivera Trail; my own take on the perils and challenges of Upstairs and Downstairs. Otherwise – I am enjoying renewing my acquaintance with the series, and if memory serves, the latter seasons did get very much better as popularity of the series grew.
… about the egregious Al Sharpton, whom I will not dignify with the title of reverend, first because there is no record of the fat, illiterate, race-baiting rabble-rouser ever having attended a seminary of any sort, and secondly because … oh, good lord, just look at those old pictures of him from the 1970s and 80s; jheri-curled, velour track suit and gold pendant the size of a man-hole cover. People, trust me when I tell you that I require a smidge more dignity from those who hold churchly office in any denomination, a standard from which Al Sharpton fell so far that he would need a bucket-truck with a three-story-tall extension even to get close.
Yes, in the interests of keeping abreast of news events in the pre-internet days, your Dear Author bought or subscribed to a great many print publications, to the point where on days when bulk mail came in to the military post office, I practically had to use a crow-bar to extract them all from my post-box. One of the regular reads – gotten from the Stars & Stripes bookstore, since I didn’t particularly feel the need for a subscription – was The Village Voice. So – yes, I had heard of the unsavory Mr. Sharpton some years before he burst upon the wider world of New York with the Tawana Brawley affair in the late 1980s.
Subsequently, I always wondered why the wretched little man seemed to be legally untouchable, even in spite of being ordered to pay out in the case of the Pagones defamation suit. The Crown Heights riots, the Freddy’s Fashion Mart fire – all of that had Al Sharpton’s smeary fingerprints all over them … and yet … he seemed to talk away always, unscathed by any meaningful payback. Falsely shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater and setting off a panic which kills people – that would be actionable, surely?
And yet, nothing ever happened to the so-called reverend; he appeared to thrive as a particularly scummy and public race-baiter – and indeed, even to recent times, ascending to a presumably well-paid position at a major broadcast television channel. Which again – this really gives one cause for wonder, seeing as that the egregious Sharpton, who appears to have lost some weight and refined his sartorial taste – has gone vaulting up into higher and higher levels of visibility and social authority. Still – why?
Part of the answer, according to this story, courtesy of the Daily Mail, is that Al Sharpton was an FBI snitch. (Why again, are so many stories of this kind appear on a publication like the Daily Mail, which seems to have semi-literate high school students write their headlines, cut-lines and badly re-write stories lifted from other places? Well, at least they do, which is more than what can be said of our very own dear national media.) And if you believe he volunteered to be a snitch with regard to the FBI investigating two prominent Mafia families out of the goodness of his heart and as a fine upstanding citizen with a deep concern for the welfare of his community … then bless your heart and I have some fine Nevada swampland that I’d like to sell you. I’ll throw in a small bridge in Brooklyn, just because I am a good upright citizen myself.
No, Al got leaned on by the Fibbies, and I hope I live long enough to read in the headlines exactly what they held over his head and threatened to charge him with to ensure his cooperation. I’ll break out a $20 bottle of champagne or maybe a fine Fredericksburg Winery Fredericksburg and Northern vintage red Zinfandel and drink a toast. Al was a valued informant, and therefore Teflon in his subsequent career. Interesting also that it is revealed now – and I also wonder if there is some FBI agent a couple of weeks from retiring with a good pension who decided to square things by slipping the word to The Smoking Gun. Discuss.
(Cross-posted at chicagoboyz.net.)