A New Year of Resolution Versus Defiance

Congressional Democrats have but one resolution: to undo the president. Do not bemoan their cause, because they intend to keep their word—their newest members never hid their intentions from the public—regarding their desire to investigate the president, to impeach the president, to have a grand jury indict the president.

Do not belabor their promise to do these things. Do not belittle their power to pursue these things, as they have the means to slow if not stop this presidency, as they mean to end this presidency by upending it in fights they can win, as they mean to win until a Democrat wins the White House.

Do, however, ask Republicans the following questions: Will you work to halt this effort or will you do nothing but watch it advance? Will you help Democrats by pretending to be helpless before a force that is irresistible only because you are not immovable in your objections to these attacks?

Their answers will determine not just the fate of a president but faith in our ability to diminish, never mind drain, a swamp where all others acquiesce to the unnatural order of things.

It is a reversible order, made unnatural by the denial of human nature; made acceptable by the refusal to recognize the nature of institutionalized power; made invasive by the investigative power of the state; made more powerful by the swamp itself whose powers expand with each expansion by the powers that be.

We must, indeed, all drain the swamp together or, most assuredly, we shall all drown separately.

Photo credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

By |January 1st, 2019|Comments Off on A New Year of Resolution Versus Defiance

Cuba Libre

The greatest story ever told—about the greatest story ever told—is not “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” as the New Testament has nothing to do with the 1965 movie about a Nordic Jesus and an ensemble cast of three “Batman” (TV series) villains; a bald Greek (as a Roman prefect); a cross-dresser (in reruns); a murderer; a bisexual, who was later murdered; two icons; and a black Jew and a white Elvis.

No: The greatest story ever told, on film, is “The Godfather Part II.” Which brings me to the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

The film’s depiction of the first 30 seconds of New Year’s Day 1959 looks a lot like the 30th and final day of April 1975, in terms of Francis Ford Coppola’s prescience about what many may have felt but he alone foretold: that between the seventh day after Christmas on-screen and four months before the radio broadcast of “White Christmas” in real life, the United States Embassy in Saigon would fall like its cinematic outpost in Havana.

Between the entry of the rebels and the end of the ancien régime, between the mob scene—in this scene about mobsters—and the actual chaos in the streets, Coppola creates history by recreating it, with better music.

He is allusive, authorial, and authoritative.

In this scene, he is all of these things—and more—as he mixes the festive with the funereal, as he marries the fraternal with the fratricidal, as he severs the bond of brotherhood with the ultimate act of betrayal. He seals the moment with a kiss.

Meanwhile, a twin-engined monoplane fogs the runway at José Martí International Airport.

Elsewhere, crowds storm the U.S. embassy. They loot and burn the American imperium, as we hear but do not see the approach of two even more murderous brothers: Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Therein lies the exception to one of the film’s most memorable lines: “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.”

Six decades later, after having killed our chances to kill Cuba’s dictator, Fidel is dead—of natural causes.

Six decades later, Raúl is still alive and in power.

We have yet to make him an offer he can’t refuse.

By |December 29th, 2018|Comments Off on Cuba Libre

A Lilliputian Revolt

Images abound of American servicemen celebrating Christmas. From shirtless soldiers in the South Pacific, whose first summer is a December day below the equator, to troops in the rain-soaked strip between North and South Korea, whose last Christmas—at home—is a reminder of where they long to be; from these many, whose presence our allies take for granted, we grant 2,000 souls the best Christmas of 2018: an executive order to leave Syria.

To Michael R. Bloomberg, this is no gift—which means he is wrong and President Trump is right.

Bloomberg is wrong because, despite his rhetorical raid of James Mattis’s closet, he is more petulant than the president he hates. He comes across as a child—a 39 short in Army Greens—whose outfit looks like it belongs on the shelf at FAO Schwarz, rather than in a locker at Fort Bragg.

To read this armchair general, who surveys the Middle East from his high chair, who sits behind his plastic food tray with his field rations of red wine and filet mignon, the president’s order is disastrous; a betrayal, in his estimation, of an ally and an affront to a defense secretary who did no wrong; who did the right thing by resigning, as he could not wage a war the president would not let him fight.

A question about that war: What do we have to lose by letting Syria and Russia spend their own blood and treasure to protect a war criminal, who is a Shiite Muslim, against a criminal gang of Sunni Muslim terrorists?

I can think of worse things than a war of attrition between the forces of evil.

I cannot, however, think of a good reason to keep our troops in Syria for another Christmas.

Photo credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

By |December 24th, 2018|Comments Off on A Lilliputian Revolt

The Rise of the ‘Welfare Capitalist’

Facebook spends more money to protect Mark Zuckerberg than it does to safeguard your personal data. Do the math, or have Google do it for you, as your hand may cramp, your pencil may break, or you may not have enough space to write so many zeros on behalf of such a zero.

Take what Facebook spent in 2017 on Zuckerberg’s home and travel security, and multiply that number by the number of people who are active on Facebook: (7 million x 1 billion = 7e+15). What you get is a product so preposterous that it is easier to picture Zuckerberg as a benevolent dictator than it is to believe his source code—with its many glitches concerning truth and empathy—is a man of inherent goodwill.

Less preposterous is the rational number of irrational thinkers among Zuckerberg’s community of the preposterously rich and the intellectually poor: the Silicon Valley billionaires who worship Ayn Rand.

Either they believe life is a simulation in which they can bend if not break some of the rules of this program, as if they neither need nor want a safety net, fiscal or physical, because they can stop time and do a crouch jump in mid-air, despite their outward appearance as a collection of schlubs riding the bench in an endless game of wheelchair basketball, or they think Rand’s novels are in fact a series of economics textbooks. Either way, what they believe or think is nonsense; dangerous nonsense, because these welfare capitalists are hypocrites.

They are hypocrites because they fancy themselves as the world’s creative leaders, on the one hand, while they seek and accept subsidies or favors from the government, on the other. And yes, I know: To believe life is an illusion, no matter our ability to name and enumerate the nature of matter, is, according to Rand, a crime against reason and a form of savagery.

We should be so lucky—to know what we know is not real—so we may know that none of this is real.

Thus we would not have to read or listen to a speech whose length is a test of continence and a trial of the strongest constitution, whose content is an attack against the character of assorted parasites, sluts, leeches, and morons, whose content speaks to the character (or lack thereof) of its principal character: a cult-like figure of physical perfection whose eyes are as green as bismuth and whose skin glistens like bronze, whose body is as taut as metal and whose hair glimmers like gold, whose being belies any suggestion of arrogance, tension, or scorn.

That welfare capitalists see no contradiction between the ideology they profess—and the prophet they worship—while their profits are more fictional than one of the most turgid works of fiction; that they model themselves after a nonexistent character whose creator believed in the totality of existence; that they (presumably) believe there is nothing more to existence than existence itself; that these men are the alleged champions of reason is all the more reason for us to go back to sleep.

Photo credit: New York Times Co./Getty Images

By |December 23rd, 2018|Comments Off on The Rise of the ‘Welfare Capitalist’

Home for the Holidays

They come home more indoctrinated than informed, more addicted than adjusted, more estranged than educated. They come home the way they left it: able to shade the right ovals and say the right things—to not know there are different things to say—because their opinions do not differ from established opinion. They come home with the mistaken belief that where they go reflects where they will be; in power, with the right to rule the world and a mandate to inherit the earth. They come home as putative presidents, senators, governors, and secretaries of state. They come home as tyrants in training.

Such is homecoming for the many among the few: the students at eight to ten schools, where admission is tantamount to anointment, where admission requires suspension of disbelief, where it is easier to not know how when no one can explain why; why this student and not that one; why this man and not that woman; why this color and not that one; why brown and not yellow; why red and not all colors—why!

Why learn the truth, that acceptance is arbitrary, when so many think they are exceptional?

Why learn anything not listed on a syllabus?

Unwilling to ask why, these individuals are nonetheless not afraid to say: Me, too. Not the me-tooism of presumed victims but the shout of presumptive nominees, because they think they are the ones we have been waiting for.

God spare us the wait, please.

God spare us, period, because we have no time for false messiahs.

By |December 17th, 2018|Comments Off on Home for the Holidays

End Times for Time Magazine

From Men of the Year to Person of the Year. From the men who slipped the surly bonds of Earth and touched the heart of all mankind, who touched the heavens and read the words of our Father who art in heaven, who touched the pages of the oldest book—who turned to the verses of the Old Testament—to tell the tale about the newest journey in man’s long climb from the swamp to the stars, who touched the light while they spoke of the first day when God said: Let there be light.

From this trio of heroes—from this trinity of hope—Time magazine has reversed course.

One of its Persons of the Year, Jamal Khashoggi, was a victim of horrible violence, but he was no man of virtue.

He was a journalist in name only. His murder was unconscionable, but he was no prisoner of conscience.

The crime committed against him was scandalous, but the bigger scandal is the crime printed by Time on its cover, its cover-up concerning an apologist for Islamist terror, its cover story on behalf of an ally of the forces of ignorance and intolerance, its coverage of a spiritual accomplice to evil.

By labeling this man a “guardian,” as if he were a reporter of truth; as if his last will and testament were a bequest to not only enable others to report the truth but to have them revolt against a kingdom of lies; as if his reports were as holy as his people’s holiest book, whose verses appeal to the satanic impulses of jihadists worldwide; by making this man into a martyr, Time is no longer a guardian against the yellow fever of fake news and newspeak.

Its time is over.

By |December 11th, 2018|Comments Off on End Times for Time Magazine

Final Thoughts About the Finality and Burial of an Ex-President

Soldiers carried the flag-draped coffin through the nave. They carried it beneath the individual flags of the Republic, between the image of the nation’s Founding Father and the symbol of the Union’s savior. They carried it toward the altar of the National Cathedral, past diplomats and dignitaries ranked in rows, past military commanders of the highest rank and leaders of the commanding heights of power.

They carried it to the front—to lie in repose—where it rested, while speakers eulogized this warrior of peace; while eulogists memorialized America’s former commander in chief; while each spoke about the decency of their fallen friend, who was felled by the infirmities of age; while each said the man belonged to the ages; while each of his allies, from home and abroad, gathered to see him home and laid to rest; while the survivors of so many shattered states and bludgeoned races filed past to pay their respects.

Historians compared him to his successor.

They still speak of the contrast between the two.

One was terse in public yet tender in private, while the other captivated the public and tried to conceal his private behavior. One was inarticulate in public and ambiguous in general, though he was a general, while the other was clear—and courageous—in his speeches to the public about the price to be paid, the burden to be borne, and the hardship to be met.

One had a vice president whom the media reviled ever since he had entered the House and become the President of the Senate, while the other had a running mate known as the Master of the Senate.

In the end, history will note—and we will long remember—the greatness of one.

May God bless Dwight David Eisenhower and may God bless the United States of America.

Photo credit: Bettman Archive via Getty Images

By |December 10th, 2018|Comments Off on Final Thoughts About the Finality and Burial of an Ex-President

A Date That Lives in Infamy

He spoke after the dawn’s early light, after he had received proof through the night. He spoke to a nation in mourning. He spoke with growing confidence, because he knew the morning would come when we would raise our flag in defiance; when we would plant our flag on enemy beaches; when we would fly our flag from island hilltops; when we would wave our flag in the streets; when we would win the war and lower the flag of the Empire of Japan.

He spoke about the events of the previous night.

He spoke in a refrain about last night, when Japanese forces had attacked Malaya, when Japanese forces had attacked Hong Kong, when Japanese forces had attacked Guam, when Japanese forces had attacked the Philippine islands, when Japanese forces had attacked Wake Island, when Japanese forces had attacked Midway Island.

He spoke about Pearl Harbor.

He spoke without apology.

He spoke without regard to party or politics.

He spoke with strength.

He spoke to the strength of the facts.

He spoke with certainty as commander in chief of the Army and Navy.

He spoke as the thrice-chosen head of a nation of 130 million.

He spoke as the 32nd president of the United States.

He spoke as an American.

He spoke as a man.

He spoke to posterity.

We speak of him with everything from reverence and awe to outrage and opposition.

We will never not speak the name Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Photo credit: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

By |December 6th, 2018|Comments Off on A Date That Lives in Infamy

Tom Friedman’s Garage Sale

I have seen the future, and it is a chain-smoking chimpanzee typist: a chest-beating, keyboard-banging columnist for The New York Times who does on paper what he does to the floor—take a massive dump.

Yesterday, he used his column to empty his cage. He listed his belongings for sale, including a trampoline, a safety net, drones, a robot, school supplies, and a self-driving car.

He breached the wall—a great wall with big beautiful doors—between editorial and advertising by promoting the Next America. He scaled a Chinese wall, which is not in China, to advance his vision of America, which looks like Americans’ nightmare about China: a soulless land not of creative destruction but of destruction itself in which artificial intelligence is supreme and worker training is a euphemism for re-education camps.

He trashed America—and added to his trash heap of mixed metaphors—by typing his predictions about the year 2020.

It was a primal scream, which achieved its intended effect: to win support for a global ban on animal cruelty, to enshrine this ban in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to enumerate the rights of all primates to write, to establish the primacy of the Times’ chief chimpanzee.

It was a potassium-laced manifesto from a creature who had gone bananas. It was an online act whose stickiness owed more to the dissemination of a single creature than the distribution of a set of ideas, whose spillover was a flood of biblical proportions, whose spillage was a downpour of onanistic excess, whose seed was a deluge without the release of a raven or a dove.

It was another Tuesday for Tom Friedman.

Photo credit: Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty Images

By |December 5th, 2018|Comments Off on Tom Friedman’s Garage Sale

Every Page Is Extra: The Interminable Nature of John Kerry

The initials JFK are shorthand for tailors and typesetters alike. The letters adorn barrel cuffs and shirt pockets, where the stitching is surgical in its precision and subtle in its placement: a hand-sewn monogram, in indigo or ivory, that matches the darkest color of a particular fabric. The letters have regional and national significance. They have international importance, too, whenever they appear in print by way of Simon & Schuster or the Boston Globe.

But this JFK is not that JFK. John Forbes Kerry is not John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Try as he might, and he tries mightily, John Kerry is more pompous than populist, more presumptuous than prudent, more partisan than patrician. That so many know so little about Kerry is a credit to his skill at deflection.

And yet, one man saw the truth.

That this man is a rogue in his own right, that he is more of a natural politician than “The Natural” himself, Bill Clinton, is a testament not to his sins but to his shrewdness; because John Edwards was sensible enough to see—and smart enough to know—that John Kerry was unimpressive.

He was also wise enough not to criticize Kerry in public, which is not to say he never criticized him, because he did. But Edwards’s comment, as told by Andrew Young in The Politician, was a form of summary judgment: the dismissal of the case for Kerry without a full trial, without the need to review the merits of the man, without the desire to find the person beneath the politician.

Kerry seemed well-informed, according to Edwards, like someone “who had read The New York Times every day for twenty years,” but he was not a creative person or even a good problem solver. Nor was he particularly intelligent, despite all myths to the contrary.

The myth is now available in hardback, titled Every Day Is Extra, which reads as though Kerry tried to time his sentences with the tides; his words cresting with the waves—gathering strength with the rhythms of the ocean—whose currents carried his ancestors aboard the Mayflower, whose currents carried him from mansions in the New World to an ancestral estate in the Old, whose currents are visible from his maternal grandparents’ compound in France; where the waves crash against the cliffs in Brittany, where the rich laugh and live above, where Americans lost their lives climbing the cliffs to save the life of Europe.

Edwards was right: Kerry may be a Democrat, but he is no democrat.

The better book is The Politician.

It is a tale about talent, about its ability to elevate the son of a millworker to the echelons of the United States Senate, where John Edwards stood alongside John Kerry. It is a tale about the dangers of talent, about its ability to exhaust the workers who believed in the promise of a man of singular talent. It is, in the end, a tale about the temptations of talent, about the moral rot and marital decay between a husband and wife.

It is a tale about the personal price of political success.

It is a tale worth heeding.

Photo credit: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

By |December 3rd, 2018|Comments Off on Every Page Is Extra: The Interminable Nature of John Kerry

Not His Finest Hour: George Bush and the End of the Cold War

Picture Victory in Europe Day not as an hour of triumph but as a moment of tribulation in which, instead of thanking Englishmen for their strength and stamina, instead of standing alongside ministers of many parties and almost every point of view, instead of standing in defense of King and Country, Winston Churchill stood alone—behind a curtain—so as not to embarrass Germany.

Picture the scene stateside, in which Harry Truman, who was then as foreign to the English as he was to his fellow Americans, offered little in the way of determination and nothing in the form of decency; because he hated crowds and wanted to crowd out the memory of his predecessor; because he thought silence was a smart strategy—the best strategy—to subdue the public’s urge to celebrate the occasion or to commemorate the loss of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose words radiated hope, whose hope was to win the war, whose life was a star of hope.

If that scene is hard to imagine, because it never happened, think of what did happen when all Europe was freed—and George Herbert Walker Bush refused to go to Berlin, because he chose evenhandedness over elation.

In a life filled with hours of greatness, Bush’s response to the end of the Cold War was not his finest hour.

Were the citizens of East—and West—Germany not owed a speech by the leader of the free world? Were the people of Prague, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia not worthy of an address about the sinews of peace? Were the survivors of both Hitler and Stalin not a big enough audience to attract the president’s attention?

Apparently not.

President Bush went to Kiev instead, where he told Ukrainians to be . . . Russians. He came to a city that had been starved of freedom. He came to a country that had been destroyed by famine. He came to praise stability by preaching against “suicidal nationalism.”

He came at a great turning point in history.

He was a great man who was not a good president.

Photo credit: CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

By |December 2nd, 2018|Comments Off on Not His Finest Hour: George Bush and the End of the Cold War

Required Reading – November 26 Evening Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Greenfield: The New Crooked Congressional Black Caucus

“In the last decade, every single House Democrat sent to prison for financial crimes was a Congressional Black Caucus member. In the last twenty years, it’s been over 80%. After the midterms, the CBC has grown past a record 50 members. But that doesn’t mean it’s getting better. Power makes it worse. […]The Congressional Black Caucus has only one foe it hates more than Republicans, the Office of Congressional Ethics. Rep. Marcia Fudge, who had recently essayed a failed bid against Rep. Pelosi for the Speakership, tried to gut the independent organization in 2010. Joining her were 19 CBC members.  The resolution would have sealed complaints against House members away from public view.”

Read more at Front Page Mag.


Leonard: US abortions hit record post-Roe v. Wade low

“The number of abortions in most of the U.S. fell to 638,169 in 2015, according to data released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new post- Roe v. Wade low. The latest number represents a 2 percent drop from 2014 and a 24 percent drop from 2006. The number of abortions reached a peak in the 1980s, following the 1973 Roe Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in every state, and mostly fell after that. The data are incomplete, and are reported voluntarily, but shed light on patterns in demographics and public health practices. The latest information represents 49 areas, excluding California, Maryland, and New Hampshire. Teens saw a significant drop in abortions, by 41 percent since 2006. The data mirrors the results in other studies that have found that teens are using more effective birth control, that they are less likely to get pregnant, and that they are more likely to delay sex. Women in their 20s accounted for nearly 60 percent of abortions. The CDC’s latest data, from 2014, indicated . . .”

Read more at the Washington Examiner.


BLAS: Texas Is About to Create OPEC’s Worst Nightmare

“OPEC’s bad dream only deepens next year, when Permian producers expect to iron out distribution snags that will add three pipelines and as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day.”

Read more/Review graphic at Bloomberg.


By |November 26th, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 26 Evening Update

Required Reading – November 26 Afternoon Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Doran and Badran: Trump Is Crude. But He’s Right About Saudi Arabia

“There’s not much Republicans and Democrats agree on nowadays, but President Trump’s expression of support for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi killing managed to unite them. Democratic and Republican leaders declared that the president’s statement was dishonest, morally blinkered and strategically obtuse. […] . . . it is vitally important to evaluate the policy on its merits more than its mode of expression. And the truth is that on the big strategic questions, Mr. Trump is cleareyed and right. […]  Instead of standing with the Saudis, Mr. Trump’s critics call for, as Senator Lindsey Graham recently did, sanctions that would persuade King Salman to appoint a new crown prince. But King Salman is not the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia; Prince Mohammed is. A policy that seeks to change the king’s mind is based on a delusion that is far more deranged than anything in Mr. Trump’s statement. […]  Whatever Prince Mohammed’s faults may be, he actively supports the American regional order that the Iranians openly seek to destroy.”

Read more at the New York Times.


Salazar: Migrant caravan members may be planning ‘human stampede’ at US border: aid group

“. . . some are growing impatient, and believe their best option is to plan a mass crossing.”

Read more at Fox News.


Bernard Kerik: Open Letter to Senator Cotton Regarding the First Step Act

“Dear Senator Tom Cotton,I’ve recently read of your opposition to the First Step Act, the most meaningful piece of evidence-based federal criminal justice reform that our country has seen in at least a decade. It would be an understatement to say that I am disappointed. You claim . . .”

Read more at Newsmax.

By |November 26th, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 26 Afternoon Update

Remembering Ricky Jay

He was two names in one.

Not Rick, Richard, or Ricardo. Neither Ricky nor Jay, but Ricky Jay.

Rick—ee. J—ay.

Ricky Jay.

He was fluent in Mamet speak: ready to do the thing, because he said he would do the thing; the thing he talked about, which was his thing; that this thing—everything was secondary to the thing—was why he did things, because he was a man; and men have been doing things since the thing began.

He was also Jamesian in his speech, a man for whom words like thaumaturgist, prestidigitation legerdemain, and encomia were part of his argot. It was the patois of his performance in which he was a monologist with a repertoire of stories: a raconteur who spun yarns about masters from Mitteleuropa, possessors of the bestiarum vocabulum, oversized illustrations of griffins, basilisks, dragons, and unicorns.

He was a carnival barker, too, luring parents and children alike with tales of wonder. He was a vintner of dandelion wine—with a spritz of seltzer—who smoked maduro cigars shaped like the barrel of a .50 caliber handgun, who produced three-inch columns of ash, who lit Churchills in Macedonia, and exhaled clouds of smoke—spiced with cumin and sweetened with caramel—in Montenegro.

He also did card tricks.


By |November 26th, 2018|Comments Off on Remembering Ricky Jay

‘House of Cards’ Collapses

The wooden, zebra-striped arm—the mechanical limb attached to a squat torso—where cars stop and drivers lower their windows and strain to accept a paper wafer of a ticket before they circumnavigate the levels of this hellish parking garage, before they park their cars and check their teeth in the rear-view windows of their respective sports cars, before they enter the lobby of Netflix’s headquarters in Hollywood, California, to pitch their ideas for the sixth and final season of “House of Cards.”

Inside this glass building, with its stacked terraces of bushes and bougainvillea, in which the exterior is the result not of time and pressure but of technology and precision, where the outdoor decks rise and fall like six levels of polished rock—inside this extrusion of steel, which is as much an affront to nature as it is a monument to the arrogance of human nature, inside this tower both of Babylonian morals and the Babel of mathematics, idiocy reigns supreme.

I can only hypothesize about what happens inside, given the way “House of Cards” ends by featuring multiple homicides and a botched attempt at infanticide.

The backstory: In an effort to sidestep accusations of sexual harassment, Kevin Spacey reprises his Academy Award-winning role as Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time crook with a limp and a damaged arm, who is less agile than an encephalitic patient playing catch with Dr. Oliver Sacks, when in fact Kint is the criminal mastermind Keyser Söze; who, with the aid of a toupée and elocution lessons, assumes the identity of Frank Underwood, the 46th President of the United States, a (mostly) heterosexual South Carolinian who breaks the fourth wall.

Frank is the Democrats’ Nixon (this Nixon, not that Nixon) who introduces himself by killing his neighbor’s dog.

With the help of his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), Frank goes from House Majority Whip to the  White House. He gets there, in part, by pressuring the incumbent vice president to resign so he can take his place—after Raymond Tusk, friend and advisor to President Garrett Walker, recommends him for the job.

Frank then dispatches Tusk; and gores Walker by having him resign, too, because of his collusion with Tusk. A simple plan, since Walker is as fearsome as a dad in mom jeans—on a White House tour—who walks into the Oval Office in search of a key to the ladies’ room. (That his wife in real life plays his fictional secretary of state, that she is a blonde of a certain age, who is as delightful as her real-life counterpart is deplorable, is a delight to behold.)

Along the way, the Underwoods kill more journalists than Craigslist and Vladimir Putin combined.

By the sixth season, Frank is dead—and Claire is pregnant with his daughter. She is also president of the United States.

The other stuff—including shots against the presidential motorcade and the thwarted poisoning of the First Fetus—is filler.

Before her (Republican) vice president can invoke the 25th Amendment and her cabinet can remove her from office, Claire strikes first.

In an estrogen-infused homage to the baptism sequence from “The Godfather” and a bloodless take on the bloodiest death in “The Godfather Part Two,” President Hale (née Underwood) nonetheless bloodies her hands by murdering the last man standing.

She stabs Doug Stamper, Frank’s former chief of staff.

So ends the beginning of the first term of America’s first female president.

Thus begins the beginning of the end of good storytelling in the age of #MeToo.

By |November 25th, 2018|Comments Off on ‘House of Cards’ Collapses

Required Reading – November 21 Evening Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Mikelionis: Democrat Mississippi Senate hopeful misled about $750G lobbying contract with African despot

“Fox News can reveal that Espy was paid $750,000 in 2011 by then Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo’s government. The payment appears to contradict Espy’s previous statements that he accepted just a portion of it. […] Espy represented the African ruler who lost the 2010 election, but refused to concede to his opponent, unleashing extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape of his political opponents, according to the U.S. State Department. He’s currently being tried at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.”

Read more at Fox News.


Solomon: Kamala Harris and a 21st century example of McCarthyism

“Reedy told me that what marveled him most was McCarthy’s ability to ask questions or make statements insinuating something evil about a person he was questioning without formally lodging an allegation. In fact, he said, McCarthy might add a qualification to his question, suggesting that wasn’t making an accusation — before implying that very accusation. McCarthy’s questions whipped up hysteria that marked those he questioned as “guilty as charged” without a shred of evidence. Those lessons had long faded into the recesses of my memory, until Thursday. That’s when a question-and-answer exchange involving Sen. Kamala Harris  (D-Calif.) resurrected them.”

Read more at The Hill.


Giaritelli: US shuts down busiest border crossing between Mexico, California

“U.S. border officials on Monday shut down all vehicular traffic flowing north from Mexico into California at the country’s busiest border crossing and diverted staff to help bulk up the infrastructure and security there, in anticipation of the arrival of thousands of migrants traveling in caravans from Central America. The San Ysidro port of entry, which processes 20,000 pedestrians and 70,000 vehicles moving from Tijuana to San Diego each day, closed all passenger and commercial lanes and one of its two pedestrian crossings.”

Read more at the Washington Examiner.

By |November 21st, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 21 Evening Update

Required Reading – November 21 Afternoon Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Baumann: Bombshell: Court Rules Hillary MUST Answer Additional Questions About Her Email Scandal Under Oath

“U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled on Thursday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has 30 days to answer additional questions about her email scandal. The decision comes after Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit to obtain additional information from Clinton and Director of Information Resource Management of the Executive Secretariat John Bentel. The watchdog group also wanted top Clinton aides and State Department officials, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills’, deposition videos made public. The lawsuit was part of a broader Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that came about in October 2016 when Clinton refused to answer several of Judicial Watch’s questions, saying she “does not recall.”  After a lengthy hearing, Clinton was told she must answer these two questions: . . .”

Read more at Town Hall.


CBS New: Trump throws support behind criminal justice reform bill

“President Trump officially threw his support behind a criminal justice reform bill at the White House Wednesday afternoon, giving the legislation the push it might need to overcome a stall in the Senate. “Working together with my administration over the last two years, these members have reached a bipartisan agreement . . .  […]The First Step Act, which has already passed the House, would constitute what would be a major overhaul of the criminal justice system. Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who was in the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, has been working with senators and private sector stakeholders to make improvements to the country’s prison and sentencing policies. Mr. Trump personally thanked Kushner, senators and law enforcement officials in the room.”

Read more at CBS News.


Donner: Culture Wars: Disney Princesses Receive SJW Makeover

“In just a few days Disney will release its latest movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, which features a reformed bad guy and a princess archetype as central characters. This animated extravaganza is Disney’s latest effort to restructure the fairy tale princess into an empowered 21st Century woman of substance. If you don’t like the culture police in Hollywood messing with your kid’s head, you might want to sit this one out or at the very least use it as a teachable moment for children old enough to understand the messaging. […]  What are the leftists complaining about now? First off, the Prince kisses Sleeping Beauty while she is snoozing: unwanted sexual advances! Call the police. Second, we have a woman who needs a man to rescue her: for shame! Third, there is the actual . .”

Read more at Liberty Nation.

By |November 21st, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 21 Afternoon Update

Required Reading – November 21

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Chang: No Deal With China Is the Best Deal for America

“Vice President Mike Pence in a stinging interview aboard Air Force Two on November 13, chastised China and rebutted critics of Trump policy. In doing so, he staked out a position not up to now heard in post-Eisenhower Washington.”

Read more at National Interest.


Bannister: Poll: 25% Follow Trump on Social Media; More Liberals Than Conservatives Follow Trump on Twitter

“A national post-election survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that 25% of the nation’s voters keep tabs on Trump via at least one of the following social media platforms: . . . […]  Trump’s massive reach on social media ranges from a low of 2.6 million likes/4.6 million followers on his presidential Facebook page to a high of 55.7 million followers on his personal Twitter account: . . .”

Read more at CNS News.


Enjeti: White House Backs Down In Acosta Fight, Lays Out Three Basic Rules For Reporters

“‘This afternoon we have notified Jim Acosta and CNN that his hard pass has been restored. We have also notified him of certain rules that will govern White House press conferences going forward,’ Sanders said. CNN immediately responded that it would drop its lawsuit against the administration. Sanders listed several enumerated rules for reporters during presidential press conferences including: (1)    A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists; (2)   At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor; (3)  ‘Yielding the floor’ . . . (4)    Failure to abide by any of rules . . .”

Read more at Daily Caller.

By |November 21st, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 21

Required Reading – November 19 Evening Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Joondeph: Thanks, NeverTrumpers. Are You Happy Now?

“Slowly but steadily the election is being overturned. Republican victories on election night are either being contested or have already been overturned, a week later morphing into Democrat victories. Funny that. Were any election night Democrat victories overturned a week later due to the miracle of uncounted or provisional ballots? Election thievery, similar to deep state justice, seems to go in only one direction. The Senate majority, assuming it holds, is a slim one, with no certainty of holding the Republican coalition together given the whims of NeverTrumpers Murkowski, Collins, and a resurrected John McCain in the form of Senator Mitt Romney. Will the next Supreme Court nominee be easily confirmed or will one of them channel their inner McCain, strolling into the Senate chamber with his or her thumb pointed downward? As Mrs. Clinton said after her electoral surprise two years ago, ‘What Happened?’ There are many answers, but much lies at the feet of NeverTrumpers, particularly those in Congress. […]  In the 2014 midterms, 4 million more Republicans voted than Democrats. In 2018 it was the opposite, as the chart below demonstrates. In addition, in 2018, . . .”

Read more at American Thinker.


Sen. Mike Lee: A conservative case for criminal justice reform

“‘Government’s first duty,’ President Reagan said in 1981 and President Trump recently tweeted, ‘is to protect the people, not run their lives.’ The safety of law-abiding citizens has always been a core principle of conservatism. And it is why we need to take this opportunity to pass real criminal-justice reform now. […]  When the public sees judges handing out unfair punishments, it undermines trust in the entire justice system. This makes it harder . . . Second, excessive prison sentences break apart families and weaken communities — the building blocks of American civil society. Incarceration is . . .”

Read more at Fox News.


Vlahos: Were Americans Made for Civil War?

“Civil division and its conquests are the true makers of America and continue to shape its national progress—or threaten its undoing. […]  America’s path to a civil war has five phases: . . .”

Read more at The Imaginative Conservative.

By |November 19th, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 19 Evening Update

Required Reading – November 19 Afternoon Update

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Miller & Varney: Republican activists claim 15 ballot box tags as proof of Florida election fraud

“Bikers for Trump leader Chris Cox bustled through the throng of protesters at the Broward County elections office at the heart of the Florida recount fandango, drawing attention to colored zip-tie tags found on the ground near the building’s loading dock. Mr. Cox and a crowd of Republican activists are convinced that the 15 red and orange tags were cut off ballot boxes before the votes reached the election office, which could be a violation of state law, evidence of vote tampering or nothing at all.”

Read more at the Washington Times.


Greenfield: Democracy Dies in a Leftist Coup

“The best midterms that San Francisco donors could buy. Senate Democrats picked up $220 million in out-of-state donations these midterms. That huge pile of cash also amounted to sixty percent of their haul. The majority of Dem Senate cash came from donors who weren’t living in the states they were running in, but who were trying to buy elections for them. It’s not just Senate races being bought up by out-of-state donors. 45% of House Dem money came from out-of-state donors. And when they didn’t succeed in buying a local election the first time, they just kept on pouring in more money into a district until they got their way.”

Read more at Front Page Mag.


Shapiro: Here’s The Biggest Problem In American Government. No One’s Going To Deal With It.

Thanks to the weakness of the global economy in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, tremendous appetite for American debt shielded us from the fallout from our $20 trillion debt – but that could soon be ending. When it does, there will be fiscal hell to pay. The Congressional Budget Office estimates interest spending will rise to $915 billion by 2028, or 13% of all outlays and 3.1% of gross domestic product. Along that path, the government is expected to pass the following milestones: . . .

Read more at Daily Wire.

By |November 19th, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 19 Afternoon Update

Required Reading – November 19

Required reading from around the web of the best, most interesting, or most though provoking things we’ve read:

Dinan: Flake to halt judicial nominees until Mueller protection bill passed

“Sen. Jeff Flake announced Wednesday that he will not vote to advance any new judicial nominees through the Judiciary Committee, nor will he vote to confirm picks on the Senate floor, until he gets his way on unrelated legislation to prevent the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mr. Flakemade the announcement on the Senate floor minutes after his bid to pass the bill failed. His threat could block the committee from approving any more judges this year, since the GOP only holds a one-seat majority on the panel. […] “I don’t think any legislation’s necessary,” Mr. McConnell had told reporters hours earlier. He said he agrees the Mueller probe should be allowed to finish, but said he has not seen any evidence that Mr. Trump will sink the investigation.”

Read more at the Washington Times.


Moran: Kevin McCarthy Elected House Minority Leader

“McCarthy received 159 votes from House Republicans, while 43 Republicans voted for House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan (R-OH) for House Minority Leader. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) became the House GOP conference chair. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) became House minority whip by acclamation and ran unopposed.”

Read more at Breitbart.


Mikelionis: Sinema hit for not objecting to Schumer’s re-election as minority leader

“Newly-elected Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema didn’t object to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bid to continue leading the party, despite previously saying she wouldn’t support him if elected. Sinema is facing criticism of breaking her campaign promise just days after she claimed victory against Republican Martha McSally in a tightly-contested race in Arizona. ‘I am not going to vote for him,’ Sinema told Politico in June, referring to the New York Democrat, casting herself as a moderate Democrat.”

Read more at Fox News.

By |November 19th, 2018|Comments Off on Required Reading – November 19

November 22, 1963

It was not the last word he said, but it was the final word he may have heard. It began in the morning and ended that same day with the nation—and the free world—in mourning. It was both a sentiment and a sight. It was written on signs and placards. It was the name of the site itself. It was the spirit of the city, from the field where he landed to the feeling the state’s first lady expressed when she said: “Mr. President, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.”

They loved him before he arrived at Love Field. They loved him even more when they saw him, when they saw his Boeing 707—with its sheet of polished aluminum and its two shades of blue, with its presidential seal and its bold stripes and bright stars—taxi at the runway; when the First Couple emerged from Air Force One; when the crowd went from the foreground to the background; when the crowd became a sea of black-and-white, while John F. Kennedy and his wife shined in bronze, navy, red, pink, green, silver, and gold.

Fifty-five years later, the anniversary of his death falls on the second-to-last Thursday of the month.

This Thursday is that day. It is Thanksgiving Day.

Fifty-five years later, the torch still burns.

The eternal flame consecrates President Kennedy’s hillside grave.

It preserves his pledge that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

It protects his memory—and more.

By more, it proves everything: that President Kennedy asked nothing more of his fellow Americans than he was willing to give himself; than he gave that morning in November, when he gave the last full measure of devotion; than when he received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church; than when it fell to Walter Cronkite to read the news.

From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, 2:00 Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.

Photo credit: Art Rickerby/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

By |November 18th, 2018|Comments Off on November 22, 1963

‘As You Wish’: Remembering William Goldman

William Goldman was the 10th dentist, the outlier among the nine out of 10 dentists who recommend Crest. Untrained and unlicensed, he did more to fight cavities than a global communist conspiracy to fluoridate America’s water supply. His secret: a Nazi dentist—redundant, I know—who introduced himself to patients, before introducing the instruments of torture, by way of an innocuous question; a banal inquiry: “Is it safe?”

Cut to Laurence Olivier as Dr. Christian Szell, “The White Angel,” holding, in one hand, a stainless steel periodontal scaler with an angled terminal shank—a miniature scythe—and a bottle of clove oil in the other, before he pries Dustin Hoffman’s mouth open and begins to extract information by drilling for it; by drilling into Hoffman’s teeth, as we see Olivier’s back—as we look at the silk back of his suit vest—while the sound of the drill spinning muffles Hoffman’s screams.

Fade to black, and fade-in on a subterranean parking garage as dark as the deepest depths of the sea—an oceanic noir of ink—where Robert Redford (as Bob Woodward) approaches Hal Holbrook (as Deep Throat). The latter, who is barely visible, further conceals his eyes behind a cloud of cigarette smoke while he says the most memorable line about Watergate that never was. In three words, he uses history to make history: “Follow the money.”

The rest is, well, history.

William Goldman was, indeed, that good.

He was wise, too, because he knew what Hollywood is loath to admit; that “nobody knows anything”; that there is no secret; that there is no formula; that there is no poll, pollster, or prophet who knows how to make nothing but profitable films.

To the naysayers and critics—to all who refuse to listen—I say: “As you wish.”

Photo credit: Joe Kohen/Getty Images

By |November 16th, 2018|Comments Off on ‘As You Wish’: Remembering William Goldman

Eyewitness to Hell: The Woolsey Fire

The demonic-shaped face of a cyclone, with two fireballs for eyes—the earthly equivalent of solar flares, with long filaments of plasma—whose pursed lips are like the world’s largest vacuum, suctioning all the dust and debris from the Great Basin—all the sand of Nevada, all the sediment of Oregon, all the stones of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming—until that vacuum becomes a gun barrel; unleashing a fusillade of wind, heat, and fury; unleashing over 5,000 years of accumulated rage, as it traverses mountains and rivers—as it travels across America’s Dead Sea—until it ignites California and incinerates innocent lives.

My city is in ashes, with a plume of smoke visible from space and a wall of soot impossible to penetrate from where I stand. My friends and neighbors, whose names are not famous but whose deeds outshine the biggest stars, among these families—whose ancestors predate the transformation of Malibu into a colony for the rich and famous—among the men and women of the land, whose grandparents and great-grandparents rest not-so-peacefully below ground, among these individuals, the fight is more than a battle between man and nature. It is a war over a way of life.

The ranchers and horsemen, the farmers and farmhands—their property is barren, their animals banished or burned alive, their crops bombarded, their workers battered and bruised.

Three days after Veterans Day, a century after the end of the Great War, the hills and streets look like one uniform Bocheland: a hellscape of chimneys without houses, forests without trees, and people without homes.

It will take a lifetime to heal from this disaster.

It will take years to recover from this catastrophe.

Some will never heal from this tragedy.

At least 50 souls will never recover from this inferno.

Felled by unimaginable forces, it falls to us—the survivors—to repair the breach.

Photo credit: Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post via Getty Images

By |November 14th, 2018|Comments Off on Eyewitness to Hell: The Woolsey Fire

A Tribute to Stan Lee

Picture the scene transition—the spin, the blur, and the fade-away—as we segue from footage of the Hitler Youth to a fleet of newspaper delivery trucks outside Grand Central Station in New York City, where the roll-up doors open and drivers hurl stacks of comic books—of the same comic book—bundled together with twine, as the camera zooms in on the debut cover of “Captain America” in which the titular hero punches Hitler in the face, while the Gestapo point their rifles and machine guns—and a Nazi officer opens fire—only to see the bullet ricochet off an indestructible shield of red, white, and blue. Picture Hitler falling backward onto a map of the United States.

Picture the transition from black-and-white images of mass madness—of teenage boys delivering the Nazi salute at a rally in the Lustgarten in Berlin—while, across the Atlantic, Timely Comics sells nearly one million copies of its Mercury dime edition of its star-spangled story. Picture the blond-haired, blue-eyed soldier beneath the mask: the orphaned son of Irish immigrants, a Gaelic Gollum, by way of the four-color system of printing of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK).

Picture Stan Lee in this world crafted by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Picture a Vesuvian-like atmosphere of cigarette and cigar smoke, of gaseous salesmen and combustible personalities, of tin cans—with their ripples and seams—containing pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, and sharpeners. Picture styrofoam cups and coffee-ring stains, as if the latter were a notarized sign of inclusion among the misfits, the rebels, and the troublemakers: the caffeinated ink that fueled the rise of Marvel Comics and propelled the life of Stan Lee.

That I got to play a part—on film—in this world amazes me. That I got to enter the world of Stan Lee’s creation is a marvel unto itself.

His passing marks the loss of a good man and a great American.

I will miss him, always.


By |November 13th, 2018|Comments Off on A Tribute to Stan Lee
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