Tom Tomorrow on HRC


 The last two panels of this old cartoon capture my feelings perfectly.

Free Music from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The world’s greatest ukulele orchestra has made some of its music available in the form of free MP3 downloads.  Do look them up on youtube; their showmanship is half their appeal.

Bow Tie of the Week



The Atlantic Monthly (two issues)

March 2008: Which religion will win, asks the cover?  Eliza Griswold predicts that in Nigeria, the winners will eventually be those Christians and Muslims who can put sectarian animosity aside and live together in peace.  Granted, this prediction comes at the end of a staggering catalogue of extreme violence between the followers of the religions, but such is her prediction.  Alan Wolfe also foresees religious peace.  Walter Russell Mead predicts that the next generation of America’s elite will largely consist of people with evangelical Christian upbringings.  Lori Gottlieb urges her fellow single women to marry the first guy who comes along.  Francis X. Rocca visits the monastery Generalissimo Francisco Franco built to surround his tomb.  Sandra Tsing Loh writes about her experience as a mother of public-school students. 

April 2008: Some showbiz stories- a profile of paparazzi who make their living stalking Britney Spears, a review of a biography of 30’s star Joan Crawford, and a piece about Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to recapture its glory days of the 1970’s.  Lawrence Scott Sheets writes about some cases of attempted Uranium smuggling, one of which eerily recalls Ken Kalfus’ novella Pu-239.  B.R. Myers, assigned to review Ian Robinson’s Untied Kingdom, lavishes praise on the author’s 1973 book The Survival of English before noting that his current book his cranky, ill-informed, and bigoted.  Myers does put in a half-defense of Robinson’s identification as a “conservative Christian,” mentioning something disgusting from a recent Academy Award winning movie and pointing out: “the only people who actually object to this sort of thing are the religious right.  We of the non-faith either applaud the ‘pushing of the envelope’ or look the other way; it’s just culture, after all.”  I think Myers is onto something here; it strikes me that one of the great weaknesses of liberalism in all its varieties is a failure to engage with culture, to take it as seriously as it takes the claims of the marketplace.  Corby Kummer writes about the power of community gardens to create a peaceful space in violent neighborhoods.  Barbara Wallraff explains the origin of the phrase “cut to the chase” and explores popular unwillingness to accept the evidence of its recent appearance, then discusses ways in which dictionaries may differ from one another.

Chronicles (four issues)

My subscription to this ultra-ultra conservative publication ran out a couple of years ago, but they keep sending it to me nonetheless.  I suppose they really mean it when they say they believe in tradition. 

November 2007: Gregory McNamee remembers his friend Edward Abbey, alternately acknowledging his faults (“Was he a racist?  Undoubtedly, at least after a fashion”), even praising him for what others might regard as faults (the fact that Abbey “never bothered himself with developing a coherent politics apart from that most old-school of tenets: The individual trumps the collectivity, the collectivity is always suspect, freedom is the sine qua non of existence, the world is a fine place and worth fighting for.”)  Lefalcon’s idol Srdja Trifkovic compares the current phase of the US occupation of Iraq to the USSR’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.  Ted Galen Carpenter analyzes likely consequences of Kosovo’s “independence,” bringing up the six members of the Kosovo Liberation Army caught planning to attack Fort Dix. 

January 2008: Clyde Wilson looks at what it would mean if the USA were indeed a “Proposition Nation” as some like to say, finding that the consequences of such a belief are quite brutal; Kirkpatrick Sale argues that the time has come for the states to secede from the USA; Sale and Tobias Lanz sympathetically review books propounding a new agrarian vision; and Srdja Trifkovic finds the American Empire compromised, even paralyzed, on every front, and concludes that the best thing for the USA would be for this paralysis to continue indefinitely.

February 2008: Leon Hadar looks at calls for Washington to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and finds “Another Middle East Fantasy.”  “America’s role as facilitator of a potential peace accord [can] only be achieved if and when the Israelis and Palestinians reach the conclusion that the costs of continuing to fight have become so high that they require agonizing compromises over Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, and the Israeli settlements.”  For all its influence, the American government is in no position to create a situation from which this cost-benefit anaysis would flow.  A recent case of “Honor Killing” in Canada, coupled with the Canadian establishment’s panicked attempts to prevent public discussion of the case, prompts a brief note calling for “more open debate in Canada” about immigration policy.  Chronicles editor (and classics PhD) Thomas Fleming discusses neoconservative ideas about domesticating Islam and taming Muslims, finding these ideas to be delusions that have issued in disaster, most recently in Kosovo’s “independence.”  Gregory McNamee provides a miniature biography of Billy the Kid, a surprisingly fresh and informative little sketch.  Roger D. McGrath writes about his favorite western movies, Clay Reynolds about his least-favorite specimens of the same genre.  Taki Theodoracopulos tells a story about an English judge who fined him the equivalent of $400,000 for the offense of explaining the origins of some words derived from Greek.  John Willson reviews a favoriable biography of Senator Joe McCarthy, adding hgis own fervent commendation.  Andrei Navrozov explains his multiple marriages by quoting an alleged Russian proverb to the effect that a man should marry three times- the first time for no reason, the second time for love, the third for love.  And Srdja Trifkovic finds in Kosovo’s “independence” a catastrophe of global dimensions.   

March 2008: Gregory McNamee discusses the immiseration of the average Mexican over the last few decades, connecting it to the mass migration of her citizens northward.  McNamee argues that this migration is not only a result of Mexico’s declining standard of living, but in several ways a cause of it.  William Lutz reports on educational controversies in Texas.  Taki provides his usual story of boozy life among the jet set, then tacks on some chilling facts about Kosovo.  A review of Chilton Williamson’s Immigration and the American Future focuses on ways in which mass migration of unskilled workers increases economic inequality.  A review of a biography of Dick Cheney appears under the headline “A Self-Made (Mad)Man.”  And Joseph E. Fallon points out the similarities between the ongoing massacres in the Sudanese region of Darfur and the Ethiopian region of Ogaden.  “Why the outrage over Darfur, but not over Ogaden?  There are three reasons: Islam, oil, and China.”

The American Conservative (three issues)

The Republican primaries are as much a focus of attention here as are the Democratic primaries in The Nation (see below.) 

11 Feb: A terrific cover shows a cartoon of John McCain with a large globe, apparently about to eat it.  The text: “Invade the World, Invite the World” (ostensibly a summary of McCain’s hawkish foreign policy and liberal immigration policy.)  An editorial endorses Ron Paul for president (wonder how that worked out?); an article by’s Justin Raimondo documents McCain’s warlike intentions towards not only Iraq and Iran, but Russia and China as well; and Thomas Woods reviews Paul Gottfried’s Conservatism in America, praising Gottfried for debunking earlier writers’ attempts to gloss over the eccentric and sometimes alarming character of the older American right by claiming to find links between American conservatism and European conservatism. 

25 Feb: A cover depicts Barack Obama as Christ, but wearing ammo belts and a machine gun; an article by Brendan O’Neill documents Obama’s history of support for US military intervention everywhere but Iraq; and Nicholas von Hoffman investigates Bill Clinton’s post-presidential moneymaking activities.

10 Mar: Another arresting cover, this one with text: “Fuel imported into Iraq- 3 million gallons/ day  Cost to the US- $929 million/ week.”  Steve Sailer (your favorite blogger!) analyzes Hispanic voting patterns; Scott McConnell is slightly encouraged by Barack Obama’s apparent reluctance to grovel before the most extreme elements of American Zionism; Leon Hadar dismisses the foreign policy terms “realist” and “idealist” as empty, appealing to Walter Russell Mead typology of Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Jacksonian, and Wilsonian as somewhat more capable of carrying meaning; Eamonn Fingleton critiques the view, widespread among America’s elite, that a prosperous China will naturally become democratic (though strangely he neglects to mention James Mann, whose recent book provided a powerful argument exploding that view); Daniel Larison sounds the alarm about Kosovo’s “independence”; Neil Clark finds that refusal to join the European Union has strengthened the economies and preserved the liberties of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and (get ready) Belarus; Jesse Walker praises The Kinks; and Doug Bandow looks at Christian Zionism and sees a collection of crazies.

The Nation (five issues)

The Democratic primaries dominate the issues of 25 February, 3 March, 10 March, 17 March, and 24 March.  Interesting bits do slip in, though.  What are these bits?

 25 February: A long review of a biography of Joschka Fischer and Stuart Klawans’ review of the Romanian illegal-abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

3 March: Alexander Cockburn declares that diverting Social Security taxes to Wall Street “was never a job for the Republicans, any more than was welfare ‘reform.’  Eradication of the social safety net is a job for the Democratic Party,” a job Bill Clinton would have completed had God not sent Monica Lewinsky to rescue us.  Kathryn Joyce writes on the New Natalists, right-leaning types who worry that too few white babies are being born.  Joyce identifies historian Allen Carlson as the intellectual godfather of this group.  I’ve read some of Carlson’s books and can attest that he is at once an excellent historian whose works anyone can benefit from reading and a far-right crackpot whose triumph in the realm of public policy would be catastrophic.  Jochen Hellbeck reviews two books on Stalin, tracing the development of Utopian plans into hellish institutions.  Ronald Grigor Suny reviews two other books about Bolshevism.  And from Charles Bernstein, a nifty little love poem called “All the Whiskey in Heaven,” which ended up in my Valentine’s Day package to Mrs Acilius.

10 March: Tom Hayden revisits Vietnam and is very uncomfortable with what he finds there; Daniel Wilkinson reviews four books on Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela and reaches far less rosy conclusions than have previous issues of The Nation.

17 March: Jeremy Scahill reports on Barack Obama’s stated willingness to continue using mercenary firms like Blackwater; and Daniel Lazare reviews two books on religious conflicts in early Modern Europe, arguing that secularism is older than the Enlightenment and defending it as the one tried-and-true means of overcoming religious conflict. 

24 March: Mark Mazower wrings his hands about the implications of the Kosovo’s “independence”; Neve Gordon reviews work on Palestinians who collaborate with Zionism; and Stuart Klawans reviews Chop Shop, a film which he identifies as part of “a small but fascinating group of Iranian-flavored movies made in New York City.”

The Baffler, no. 17

More politics and less whimsy than in most issues of this irregularly produced Chicago-based magazine.   Labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan explains how understaffing of regulatory agencies has effectively repealed many of the reforms of the early 1900’s; Jim Arndorfer chronicles the role of Milwaukee industrialist Harry Bradley in financing the American right; Kim Phillips-Fein reports on the business of online poker; Martin Riker contributes a story about a conceptual artist who develops a piece around an impossible challenge that may not be impossible after all; Steve Evans describes the consequences of Ruth Lilly’s bequest of $100,000,000 to Poetry magazine; Jim McNeill remembers Victor Reuther and the battles that built the United Auto Workers; Matt Weiland looks in on a revival of the Chataqua circuit; and Catherine Liu looks at the use of the word “creativity” in modern corporate-speak, concluding that “It is apparent that ‘everlasting uncertainty’ is code for no job security, ‘lifelong learning’ is code for constant retraining, while ‘creativity’ is code for workforce docility.‘”

Telos, Number 141, Winter 2007

A special issue on “Nature and Terror.”  Tim Luke endeavors to rescue Edward Abbey from his admirers; Dan Edelstein considers the history of the phrase hostis generis humani (“enemy of the human race”,) beginning unfortunately from a misunderstanding of Cicero’s special use of the word hostis; Victoria Fareld, in a piece on “Charles Taylor’s Identity Holism,” argues that neo-Hegelian philosopher Taylor’s attempt to transcend individualism ends in a form of radical individualism.  I have a copy of Taylor’s “The Politics of Recognition,” I’ve been meaning to read it for several years, this essay should make me likelier to read it.  In fact, I fear it will have the opposite effect.    Telos‘ current editor, Russell Berman reviews a book which defends, alas, the term “Islamofascism.”  All in all a pretty good issue, even though Berman drags his neoconservatism in at the end.