And Then There's Just Plain Old Sinfulness

A guy on Twitter (I refuse to call it "X") posts insightful quotes from Thomas Sowell, and I liked this one a lot:

This struggle is (for me) most evident in fetishism, in the non-sexual sense: "worship of an inanimate object for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit." The modern-day magical objects/substances/services/businesses causing people to behave badly?

Guns, first of all. Witness the popularity of the term "gun violence" which neatly draws the focus away from the human perpetrator.

Drugs! Their siren song beguiles the weak!

Social media! It's the cause of endless woe!

And (most recently) car manufacturers! The ones who make their cars irresistably easy to steal!

Unsurprisingly, a society that downplays personal responsibility eventually becomes… well, irresponsible.

Also of note:

  • Without an ideology to stand on. Martin Gurri look at the current state of tyranny; we're living in The World Before the Thaw. A longish excerpt:

    The fundamental difference between 20th-century dictatorships and our own today is ideology. Back then, aspiring despots could camouflage their thirst for power with ideals—nationalism, racialism, communism—that plausibly addressed the chief anxieties of the age. Ideology was a lever that moved millions and overawed the opposition. Under the “leadership” and “vanguard” principles, rulers personified the ideology and stood on a plane of absolute moral supremacy: They had authority to murder entire populations and wage savage wars. Most were true believers. Stalin and Hitler, Mao and Castro, lived and died without a twinge of regret.

    History has buried these old ideologies. They were defeated in war and outcompeted on every front, and now, in William James’ phrase, they have become “dead options.” Nobody today believes in revolution. Nobody thinks society can be radically transformed unto perfection according to some ideological scheme. We are, no doubt, somewhat sadder but infinitely safer for the loss.

    The 21st century has inaugurated the era of pseudo-ideology. Marxism-Leninism in rigor mortis, for example, is called the “great rejuvenation” in China, “Juche” in North Korea, “anti-imperialism” in Cuba, “Bolivarianism” in Venezuela. These constructs are “pseudo” not merely because they are incoherent patchworks of slogans and exhortations, explaining nothing and persuasive to no one. The reason for the epithet is functional.

    The grand ideologies of the last century arose after World War I and the Great Depression had discredited the liberal order. They grew into mass movements that aimed to overthrow that order and impose utopia by brute strength. In their doctrines and their consequences, they were moral monstrosities, every one of them, but they represented organic attempts to grapple with the big questions of a particular moment in history.

    A pseudo-ideology is designed by the people in power to keep them in power. It is blatantly self-serving and artificial. Far from grappling with big questions, pseudo-ideology rests on a foundation of avoidance. Far from seeking to overthrow the establishment, it demands its perpetuation unto eternity. A world justified by pseudo-ideologies must lapse into the political equivalent of suspended animation. That is our world. All around us, decrepit regimes cling to power by default. Dead ideologies are digitally exhumed and cannibalized. Absent the ferment of new ideas, the flow of history has frozen solid.

    This describes the democracies as well as authoritarian nations. Everywhere, a mutinous public struggles in vain against a glacier of mendacity. In the twisted echo chambers of the web, the public can only rage impotently against the ice age while waiting for a thaw.

    I'm currently reading an awful book that might have been better had its authors read Gurri.

  • You don't have to be stupid to be an antisemite. And sometimes it doesn't even help. Jeff Jacoby looks at The dubious link between education and antisemitism.

    WHAT KIND of person considers Jews "the central enemies of Western civilization"? What sort of individual spreads caricatures of leering, hook-nosed Jews or claims that Jewish Germans used their influence to introduce "sexual perversions of all sorts," including "sadism, masochism, lots of homosexuality"?

    It likely wouldn't surprise you to be told that those grotesque and hateful slurs, which attracted attention recently in the British press, were spewed by a knuckle-dragging boor who never got past grade school. In fact, they are the words of Boštjan Zupančič, who for 17 years was a judge on the European Court of Human Rights. Until recently, Zupančič had a sterling record as a legal scholar and a protector of human rights. He earned degrees from Harvard, lectured at colleges around the world, and published extensively in multiple languages. He even wrote poetry.

    He is also, it transpires, a raging antisemite. Zupančič has spread numerous smears about Jews, of which the examples quoted above are merely a selection.

    This connects well with that Sowell quote up there. We'd like to think that education is a "magic bullet" that will cure all wrongthink. But antisemitism is (as Jacoby says) "moral derangement" and "a form of conspiracy thinking". Rooting that out is difficult in our relativistic time that refuses to see evil clearly.

  • I'm OK with… Impeaching Joe Biden. How does William McGurn feel about it?

    September in Washington, and the Hunter Biden scandal is in the air. The only question now is what happens first: an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden’s role in his son’s influence-peddling—or a Hunter Biden indictment from a grand jury impaneled by special counsel David Weiss.

    Normally, Republicans might defer to law enforcement. But a politicized Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation have squandered the public’s trust. The elevation of Mr. Weiss to special counsel has persuaded many that the fix is in, given Justice guidelines that say a special counsel should come from the outside. Mr. Weiss’s appointment further gives President Biden the “ongoing investigation” excuse for not answering questions, which could bury the issue.

    But the ultimate question surrounding Hunter’s overseas millions from places such as China and Ukraine—and whether his father was the quo for the quid his son received—is political. More important than seeing anyone packed off to prison is learning whether Joe Biden, as vice president, willfully enabled his son’s schemes and twisted U.S. policy in the process.

    Hopefully, McGurn wishes, the GOP-controlled House will avoid the deck-stacking and corner-cutting employed by the Democrats against Trump.

  • It's not about banning Of Mice and Men any more. If I had a dollar for all the times I've seen this self-backpatting bullshit…

    [self praising bullshit]

    You'll note that those books that Cat in the Hat is smirking over do not include And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street or the other five titles deemed to be "hurtful and wrong".

    Also not in the Cat's purrview: Gender Queer. Which recently had a reading at an ad hoc book group: Democrats Froth and Seethe After John Kennedy Reads 'Gender Queer' During Senate Hearing.

    Sen. John Kennedy made waves on Tuesday after he read excerpts from the book Gender Queer, among others, during a hearing.

    The book in question is available in various public schools across the country and has become a symbol of the left's attempt to sexualize children. In light of that, parents across the political spectrum have risen up in order to reassert their rights and demand the removal of pornographic materials from classrooms.

    Astonishingly, Democrats have doubled down, proclaiming that Republicans are instituting "book bans" by passing laws to stop school libraries from stocking sexual content. Some states, such as Illinois, have even gone so far as to pass laws against the removal of pornographic materials from classrooms and libraries.

    There were no reports of anyone coming out of the hearing room smarter or more empathetic.

    Confession: I read A Wrinkle in Time from the Boyd Elementary library (Omaha, Nebraska) when I was 10 or 11. And managed to emerge without a smug look on my puss.

  • Having it both ways. Liberty Unyielding staff forward news you probably should not use: Democratic politician has sex for money on the internet, then claims it is a 'sex crime' to disclose that to the general public.

    “Susanna Gibson, a House candidate in Virginia, had sex with her husband in live videos posted online and asked viewers to pay them money in return,” notes USA Today. A recent video shows the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates doing sex acts. She also had sex with “other men,” not just her husband.

    When a Republican operative brought this to the attention of the Washington Post, which ran a story about it, Gibson claimed that was an “illegal invasion of privacy” and a “sex crime.” The New York Times made that dubious “invasion of privacy” claim the focus of its story about her, declining to quote any free-press advocate or lawyer who could have pointed out that Gibson can’t sue for any invasion of privacy over the release of this publicly-available information. Gibson’s lawyer has also claimed that the release of this information is a criminal violation of Virginia’s revenge porn statute. But it is doubtful that this information can be criminalized as revenge porn, given the fact that the First Amendment protects speech on matters of public concern even when a state law defines it as an “invasion of privacy.”

    Well, I'm sorry, but that's hilarious.

Recently on the movie blog:

[Google Drive Img]

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:14 PM EDT

I Care a Lot

[4 stars] [IMDB Link] [I Care a Lot]

It's pretty clear from the get-go that Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) has got a pretty nasty scam going. Her opening voiceover soliloquy establishes that she divides the world into "Predators and prey. Lions and lambs." And she's determined to be the former. Her lucrative business model: in league with a crooked doctor, an ex-cop girlfriend, a shady nursing home, and a complaisant judge, she gets appointed as legal guardian of elderly folk with high net worth. And proceeds to isolate them from friends and family and loot their estates.

In short, this is not a great advertisement for American elderly care.

But Marla may have made a mistake in picking her latest victim, Jennifer (Dianne Wiest). Oh, Jennifer gets shuffled off to the nursing home easily enough. But it turns out she has lots of secrets, including a bag full of diamonds squirreled away in a safe deposit box, and a secret connection to a shady mobster (Peter Dinklage). This predator/prey thing works fine, I guess, until and unless you run afoul of another predator.

IMDB classifies its genres as "comedy, crime, drama". But (be warned) the comedy is as black as Lutheran church-basement coffee. And Netflix adds on the "LGBTQ+" genre, based (I guess) on the lesbian relationship between Marla and her partner in crime. (Is it a bold move to make the villains homosexual?)

Last Modified 2024-01-28 3:02 PM EDT