“A day or two subsequent to the battle of Walker’s Creek, while on our way back towards San Antonio, we reined up, as usual, to prepare our evening repast near the bank of a small stream. It happened that I dismounted by cluster of musquete bushes, and as I struck the ground an enormous rattlesnake bit me on the ankle. I had before frequently witnessed the deadly effects resulting from the bite of these venomous reptiles, I confess, my nerves, which had not failed me in the hour of battle and in the face of death, were now completely unstrung. A sickening dreadful sensation came over me, terrible beyond all force of language to convey –- a sense of sorrow that I had not fallen in the recent battle and escaped the horror of my going to my long account in such an abominable way.
There was a Spaniard among our number who witnessed the incident. He immediately thrust his knife through the serpent’s neck, pinning it to the ground, and instantly began cutting portions of flesh from the still living and wriggling monster, and applying it to the wound. I could feel it draw, and in a few minutes the white poultice thus applied would change to a perfect green. These applications were continued until nearly the entire body of the snake was used. The remedy proved effectual, inasmuch as I suffered nothing from it afterwards save a slight soreness, but from that time forward, I always experienced an instinctive dread on approaching a musquete thicket, far more disagreeable than when charging an enemy.”
Australia’s litany of fearsome fauna seems to have a new entry. Added to deadly snakes, man-eating crocodiles and poisonous jellyfish comes Hermie the huntsman, a spider so unusually large and strong that it had no problem carrying a sizeable mouse up the outside of a fridge.
Hermie’s feat was captured on film by Jason Wormal, a tradesman from Coppabella in Queensland, who was heading out to work in the early hours of Monday morning when he says he received an offer from a neighbour that he couldn’t refuse.
“So I am just about to leave for work about 0030 and me neighbour says ‘You want to see something cool’ and I say ‘Hell yeah’, he wrote on Facebook.
“So we proceed to his place and he shows me this. Huntsman trying to eat a mouse.”
On the video shot by Wormal a voice can be heard off screen wondering in amazement: “What’s he gonna do with him? Man that is so cool”.
Stills taken of the spider seem to show the arachnid clutching the mouse by its head with its chelicerae while it scurries up the fridge.
Jonah Goldberg, in the course of discussing the disconnection with reality of Trumpkins’ narratives, took the time to casually boot Mousey around the block.
Consider the anonymous writer Decius (whose identity is known to anyone who cares to know it and hidden from the masses of people who couldn’t give a rat’s ass. But I will honor this ridiculous conceit.) Decius’s most famous piece of work — and it was a piece of work — was his Flight 93 Election essay in which he argued that this election poses an existential threat to America’s survival. Either we charge the cockpit and vote for Trump, or the figurative terrorists of the Clinton cabal kill us all. Either you muster the courage to fight the terrorists, or you’re with the terrorists. Moreover, if you don’t agree with his Manichean prescription, it’s probably because you’re acting to protect your status as a member of the “Davos class” or some other phylum of pocket-lining, rent-seeking remoras. I think that argument is grotesque on the merits, and unworthy of the author.
As I explained in a previous G-File, it’s also remarkably cowardly. He invokes the heroism of the passengers of Flight 93. Decius’s pseudonym harkens back to a Roman martyr who bravely gave his life to save the Republic. And yet, he’s unwilling to risk putting his own name on the literary bombs he throws for fear of losing his own Davos-class-worthy lifestyle.
In a more recent essay, Decius attacks my AEI colleague James Pethokoukis for writing a piece titled “A Conservative Case against Trump’s Apocalyptic View of America.” It’s worth noting that Decius had to misrepresent Pethokoukis argument from the outset. The title of Pethokoukis’s piece begins “A Conservative Case” — meaning that it is one argument among many other possible arguments. Decius changes it into the conservative case, suggesting that James is trying to assert that his is the only way conservatives should see the issues. That’s not Pethokoukis’s style, but it is the style of the man who says if you disagree with him about Trump, you’re a sell-out in favor of destroying America. Pethokoukis’s sin, according to Decius, is to even suggest that apocalyptic despair about America might be an overreaction to the current plight of our country. He goes on to write, with no sense of irony:
I don’t know James Pethokoukis. But I know lots of “conservatives” just like him: eager, even giddy, to throw anyone ostensibly on their side to the Leftist wolves.
I’m tired of being shot in the back my “friends.” It’s high time to turn around and let them shoot me in the face, in frank acknowledgement that I am their enemy.
I don’t think Decius is my enemy. But he clearly thinks anyone not in lockstep with his worldview is his. Still, I do have one suggestion. If you want your supposed enemies to shoot you in the face, stop hiding behind a pseudonym.
I dwell on Decius here not just because I am appalled by the way he’s been writing in bad faith, but also because it illustrates my larger point. As an actual argument, Decius makes some fine points about the current state of America — many of which I agree with in whole or in part. But in its totality it isn’t really an argument at all. It’s a cri de coeur, a venting of feelings. The passion, no doubt sincerely felt, has taken reason hostage. The correct response to so much of this venting isn’t to rebut his points case by case, but to simply say, “Lighten up, Francis.”
Mousey didn’t like it and has penned another of his hyper-pretentious, long-winded essays in reply. I find trying to dissect substantive arguments out of his writings is much like trying to pick up mercury from a tabletop with a pair of chopsticks. There is all that verbiage and all that self-congratulatory triumphant posing, but underneath it there is nothing but the same Alt-Right party-line delusional worldview:
This election is apocalyptic. Conservatives owe Trump support, because this is the Apocalypse, man, and you’re on the Alt-Right Trump side or you’re for Hillary.
The Alt-Right has History’s endorsement in its pocket, because, you see, Conservatism is a) simply a part of a diabolical elite, Davos-based, conspiracy to rule the country for its own benefit, and because b) Conservatism (despite its joint tenure with Progressivism in running things and the accruing benefit of drinking all that Haut Brion around the fire in Davos) has done nothing but lose.
And, finally, when this election is over, and he doesn’t say it, but he means “after Trump loses,” conservatives better fall in line with Trump’s issues, i.e. Nativism, Protectionism, Isolationism, or there will be a split.
Well, Mousey, I’d reply, there already is a split. You and your friends went whoring off supporting an unqualified, unconservative, populist mountebank without a shred of principles, rejecting every qualified, conservative, and electable candidate in the process. If the GOP had nominated any legitimate, respectable conservative, he’d be coming up on beating Hillary in a landslide. You and Trump lost this election. Not Jonah Goldberg, James Pethokoukis, or me.
The Conservative Movement rose after WWII, in defiance of fashion, the received view of history, and the status quo, to dominate the Republican Party; to elect Ronald Reagan president; to defeat the Soviet Union, liberate Central Europe, and win the Cold War; and to establish a sufficiently powerful intellectual opposition to Collectivist Statism that in the 1990s the Left’s candidates in Britain and America both acknowledged openly that “the era of Big Government is over.”
So what has Conservatism done for you lately? says the Alt-Right.
Political reality and political possibility, alas! move slowly and at a ponderous pace, sometimes moved in one direction or the other by Fortune, beyond the immediate control of any collection or alliance of us mortals.
George W. Bush screwed up and allowed the Left to turn public opinion against his military efforts, then Fate handed the Progressive Left both an economic crash weeks before the election and a well-spoken radical candidate with extraordinary symbolic appeal. Meanwhile the Left’s long march through the Culture and the Institutions went on, arriving recently at points frequently downright comedic.
I and the other conservatives I know generally thought that GWB really ought to have done a better job, but he actually was not consulting on a daily basis with most of us. We were supremely unlucky in 2008 and still unlucky in 2012, but frankly I think this year Fate was really getting outrageously out-of-hand.
No one contends that the detailed principles of the post-WWII Conservative Movement are written in stone, but if anyone is going to try to revise Conservatism’s policy preferences and positions, it is going to take better arguments and a better grasp of history than any of either the low-information, big-mouth shitbirds or the pretentious windbags with imaginary togas currently operating on the Alt-Right have so far ever shown.
It is regrettable that the Left dominates the universities, the media, and the Arts. Tell you what, after Trump loses, and the Conservative Movement splits permanently, why don’t you and Pat Buchanan and Mike Cernovich and Vox Day all go take the Culture and the Institutions back? It will give you something to do besides complain about how all the #NeverTrumpers stabbed you in the back.
In Atlas Obscura, we find that Asheville, NC has a lot of very large urban wildlife, and the experts (of course!) are studying the issue of just how many bears can live in the city.
Over the past decade, Asheville has racked up all kinds of accolades: according to one list of fawning headlines, it’s “Fantastically Yoga-Friendly,” “One of America’s 12 Greatest Music Cities,” “The Biggest Little Culinary Capital in America,” “#1 Beer City USA,” and “America’s #1 Quirkiest Town.”
Somewhat more quietly, it’s also one of America’s Best Cities for Bears. They hang out near the local hospital, and at the storied Grove Park Inn. Mailmen regularly run into them on their routes. Last August, a bear broke into an Asheville man’s home and stole a stick of butter out of his kitchen trash. As part of its pre-show, the Fine Arts Movie Theater, in downtown, shows a photo of a curious black bear reading its marquee from across the street. “I never saw a black bear until I moved to the city,” Boll says. “Now, I’ll be driving and I’ll go, ‘There’s a bear in someone’s yard!’ or ‘Look at that bear, knocking over that trash can and taking the bag!'”
When we talk about urban wildlife, we’re usually referring to small, deft creatures—squirrels, pigeons, or other standbys that mind their own business and fade into the background. Your average city-dweller might catch a deer in their headlights every once in a while, or spot a raccoon digging through the trash. A bear is something of a different story. A male can weigh 600 pounds. That’s not the kind of creature you get used to seeing on your commute.
Somewhere around 8,000 black bears range around western North Carolina, and many of those make Asheville itself part of their meandering. According to the Urban-Suburban Bear Study, an ongoing project by the state’s Wildlife Resources Commission and North Carolina State University, these bears are very healthy, often well-fed enough to have twice as many cubs as your average scrappy mountain bear, and confident enough to den right outside of town.
After a couple of years of study, the researchers—along with most of Asheville’s humans—are wondering exactly how many bears the city can hold.
The democrats are probably working on registering the bears to vote.
David Frum display his intellectual virtuosity by arguing all the possible conservative approaches to this year’s election. He gets mine pretty accurately.
“You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” So wrote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, one of this century’s bravest voices for human freedom. Solzhenitsyn defied a police state to speak his truth. All that’s asked of us is to vote our consciences.
Your principles reject Hillary Clinton. Your values are offended by Donald Trump. Why choose either?
People sometimes tell you to vote as if your vote were the only one that mattered. But that’s just silly. Your vote is never the only one that matters, not even in Florida in 2000.
Voting is an expressive act. It’s your opportunity to send information to the political elites. Of course, you’ll usually choose an imperfectly good enough choice over a worse choice. But sometimes the two choices are both so bad that you want to send a message to the whole system: Remember me! In 1912, nearly 1 million Americans voted for Eugene Victor Debs for president. Did they waste their votes? Debs was the only candidate promising unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, a half-day holiday on Saturdays, and old-age pensions. He lost. His ideas won. Did the Americans who voted for John Anderson in 1980 or Ross Perot in 1992 waste their votes? No, they changed politics. The Anderson voters punished the Democrats for nominating a candidate who was not liberal enough; the Perot voters punished the GOP for breaking its word on tax increases. Both parties learned their lessons—and did not repeat their mistakes.
For months, Paul Ryan urged you to swallow your distaste and vote for “the nominee” in order to advance a Republican agenda through Congress. Look at Paul Ryan’s face today. He has learned the hard way that Donald Trump cannot be trusted and will advance no agenda except his own.
Worse, Trump discredits and disgraces everything he touches. There likely won’t be a Republican party after 18 months of a Trump presidency, just a tangle of warring factions soon to be swept away by a Democratic wave in Congress in 2018. President Trump will then start making deals with the new Democratic majority, and probably more happily so—he always was a Democrat at heart, as he has repeatedly said over the past 40 years. His only consistent interest is self-enrichment. Since he’s so incompetent at business, his default mode of self-enrichment has become cheating and bilking people. Think of that in the Oval Office! Think of that at the head of the Republican Party.
Maybe you’re pro-life? Trump obviously isn’t, no matter what his surrogates preposterously assert today.
Maybe you take seriously those things you send back in 1999 and 2000 about restoring dignity to the presidency? You’ll be electing Trump despite his own on-the-record confession that he harasses and gropes women.
You recoil from the Clinton Foundation? Trump’s is sleazier—and penny-ante, too.
You’re a patriot? Did you ever think Reagan’s party would become Putin’s poodle?
The Supreme Court? If there’s one lesson to learn from Trump’s career, it is to never trust his word for anything.
Yet you don’t want to empower Hillary Clinton either! A President Clinton will probably face a Republican Congress. She’ll do a super-Obama: act by executive order, subverting constitutional restraints in order to aggrandize government and advance the social and cultural transformation of America. You can’t assent to that.
What you want to do is send a distinctly conservative protest against both Hillary Clinton’s progressive ideology and Donald Trump’s con-man narcissism. The bigger the protest vote total, the more respect your conservative ideas can demand in future. Hoist the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner, and check out who else is on the ballot: Libertarian, Independent, or Constitution Party.
Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr.
Matthew Continetti, in a must-read essay, reviews the often-fraught relationship between mainstream intellectual Movement Conservatism and its populist New Right allies.
Republicans have walked this tightrope for decades. When the party has integrated the issues, goals, and tactics of the New Right into its campaigns, it has been remarkably successful. Think 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1994, 2010, and 2014. But there also have been signs, on the presidential level most clearly, that the alliance with populism is bringing diminishing returns. The GOP is on the brink of losing the popular vote in six out of seven presidential elections despite its current nominee running precisely the type of campaign the New Right has wanted to see for years. And this election is likely to return to office a Republican House majority that is more anti-Establishment, more hostile to compromise, more suspicious of institutions and elites than the one we have today.
This is the crisis of the conservative intellectual. After years of aligning with, trying to explain, sympathizing with the causes, and occasionally ignoring the worst aspects of populism, he finds that populism has exiled him from his political home. He finds the détente between conservatism and populism abrogated. His models—Buckley, Burnham, Will, Charles Murray, Yuval Levin—are forgotten, attacked, or ignored by a large part of the conservative infrastructure they helped to build. He finds the prospect of a reform conservatism that adds to our strengths while ameliorating our weaknesses to be remarkably dim. …
From the Panama Canal to the Tea Party, from Phyllis Schlafly to Sarah Palin, the conservative intellectual has viewed the New Right as a sometimes annoying but ultimately worthy friend. New Right activists supplied the institutions, dollars and votes that helped the conservative intellectual reform tax, crime, welfare, and legal policy. But that is no longer the case. Donald Trump was the vehicle by which the New Right went from one part of the conservative coalition to the dominant ideological tendency of the Grand Old Party. …
Trump deploys New Right symbols and tropes. His antagonism toward the Eastern establishment is obvious. …
Immigration, which emerged as a social issue at the turn of the twenty-first century, was key to Trump’s success. So was his role as outsider, independent critic of the rigged system, scold of elites, avatar of reaction. The apocalyptic predictions, the dichotomy between makers and takers, even the idea of seizing Arab territory and “taking the oil” comes straight from Bill Rusher’s 1975 Making of the New Majority Party. The relentless hostility toward the media, both liberal and heterodox conservative, the accusation that it, the government, and the financial sector is engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Hillary Clinton, the denigration of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the appeal to supporters of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, the charge that the “global power structure” has “stripped” manufacturing towns “bare and raided the wealth for themselves”—this is adversarianism in its purest, most conspiratorial, most totalistic form.
The attacks on National Review, on George Will, on conservatives with elite educations, on conservatives granted legitimacy by mainstream institutions is a replay of the New Right rhetoric of the 1970s. Names have been added to the list of Republicans in Name Only, of false, cuckolded conservatives, but the battle lines are the same. On the one hand are the effete intellectuals based on the East Coast, shuttling up and down the Acela corridor, removed from the suffering of the average American, ignorant of the social issues, amenable to social engineering, fat and happy on a diet of foundation grants, magazine sinecures, think tank projects, speaking engagements. On the other are the blue-collar radio and television hosts with million-dollar contracts, the speechwriter for Wall Street banks who uses a pseudonym to cast aspersions on the feckless conservative elite, the billionaire-supported populist website that attacks renegade Jews, the bloggers and commenters and trolls estranged from power, from influence, from notoriety, from relevance, fueled by resentment, lured by the specter of conspiracy, extrapolating terrifying and chiliastic scenarios from negative but solvable trends.
It is the same discourse, the same methods, the same antinomianism, the same reaction to demographic change and liberal overreach that we encountered in the 1970s. The difference is that Donald Trump is so noxious, so unhinged, so extremist in his rejection of democratic norms and political convention and basic manners that he has untethered the New Right politics he embodies from the descendants of William F. Buckley Jr.
The triumph of populism has left conservatism marooned, confused, uncertain, depressed, anxious, searching for a tradition, for a program, for viability. We might have to return to the beginning to understand where we have ended up.
Harrison loves my country too,
But wants it all made over new.
He’s Freudian Viennese by night.
By day he’s Marxian Muscovite.
It isn’t because he’s Russian Jew.
He’s Puritan Yankee through and through.
He dotes on Saturday pork and beans.
But his mind is hardly out of his teens:
With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it all made over new.
Meet Kevin, a 23-year-old ardent Hillary supporter.
A photo of Kevin looking adoringly at Hillary, taken last year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at a pizza party where Hillary’s Iowa field workers got to meet the candidate, has gone viral since an Alt-Right 1488-er (who is probably himself an equally impressive specimen of masculinity) posted it in a tweet, wondering aloud if Kevin belongs to the same species as us.
Kevin, all 98 pounds of him, was not, however, dismayed and is apparent bearing up manfully (if that is the right word).
So what was your initial reaction?
I screamed. My roommate actually came in to see what happened. Then I started laughing because it’s so amazing to me.
It is pretty great. You look very, um, angelic in that picture.
I’m beaming. I didn’t realize Hillary was going to stand right next to me until it happened, so I’m in full shock and awe.
So have you read any of the replies to the tweet?
Of course I’ve read the replies. I have a good sense of humor, so I read them for the absurd comedy. …
There are also a lot of replies from some charming-sounding folks very concerned about your testosterone levels. Care to comment?
I mean, if it was one person I’d think it was a weirdo. But a lot of people are worried about it! Maybe they see something I don’t. I’ll schedule a doctor’s appointment and say I was referred by the crack medical team of Trump Twitter supporters. …
So how does it feel to have unwittingly become the face of a meme?
It’s hilarious and inevitable. I’ve been a pretty obnoxious Hillary supporter online for the last year, so this honestly feels like karma. I’ve been asking for it. And Hillary retweeted me once last year, which caused another wave of angry people, so I’m familiar with the routine. Stay perfectly still until they lose the scent.
Coyote Peterson is one of those weird guys with a unique approach to Natural History. He makes videos showing a variety of critters biting him or stinging him.
He’s been working his way up the great chain of painful insect bites, and this morning I came upon the video in which he serves up his own forearm to reputedly the second-most-painful insect sting in creation, the one delivered by the Tarantula Hawk, specifically Pepsis grossa.
As Wikipedia informs us:
Wasps of the genera Pepsis and Hemipepsis produce large quantities of venom and when stung humans experience immediate, intense, excruciating short term pain. Although the immediate pain of a tarantula hawk sting is among the greatest recorded for any stinging insect, the venom itself is not very toxic. The lethality of 65 mg/kg in mice for the venom of P. formosa pattoni reveals that the defensive value of the sting and the venom is based entirely upon pain.
Rod Dreher last month quoted an email he had received from Catholic philosopher Michael Hanby on the state of the American politics.
I really think there is a pervasive, but unarticulated sense that liberalism is exhausted, that we are at the mercy of systematic forces, difficult to name, which can be manipulated by the powerful but not governed by them, and that our problems are unsolvable. The reasons for this anxiety are manifold and cannot be reduced to politics or economics, though there are obvious political and economic dimensions that defy easy demographic categorization. In other words, the fact that we are in civilizational crisis is becoming unavoidably apparent, though there is obviously little agreement as to what this crisis consists in or what its causes are and little interest from the omnipresent media beyond how perceptions of crisis affect voter behavior. This seems to me a crucial part of the point and a key to understanding the sudden collapse of ‘movement conservatism’ on the one hand, and the increasingly shameless sophistry and cynicism of progressivism on the other hand. Part of what it means to say that liberalism is exhausted is that liberal order–which is more fundamentally a technological order–cannot even supply the conceptual categories and thought forms necessary for understanding our predicament.
In fact, I doubt we any longer possess enough of a ‘civilization’ to understand what a ‘civilizational crisis’ would really mean. We would not see it as a crisis of soul, but a crisis of management, in other words, another technical problem to be solved. We would no doubt think of it as something to be diagnosed by a battery of journalists, economists, evolutionary psychologists, and sociologists, who could then show us what levers to pull in order to fix it.
But if this is anywhere close to correct, then it seems to me that what we have in this election is fundamentally a contest between two forms of despair: Hillary represents despair in the form of cynicism and resignation, as evidenced by the fact that neither she, nor her surrogates, nor even her flacks in the press really pretend to believe in what she is selling. There is obvious cynicism within Trumpism as well; his supporters, on those rare occasions when he makes sense, seem to know that he is lying to them. But Trump represents despair in the form of anger and desperation, the willingness to embrace a strongman and a charlatan in the (false) hopes of regaining some kind of control over ‘the system’, whatever it is (which is a fascinating question, by the way.) Both are absolutely awful, indeed unthinkable, albeit in different ways, and yet this is what liberal order has come to.
I do not agree, by the way, that “the conservative movement collapsed.” I think it became startlingly apparent that a significant portion of the American electorate was furiously angry at the left, but at the same time was not in the least conservative in the traditionally understood meaning of the term. That portion of the electorate proceeded to select Trump as its leader, rebelling against elite establishment liberalism but at the same time rejecting the ideological constraints and intellectual leadership of the post-war conservative movement.
Since Trump seems destined to lose catastrophically, I would be disinclined to read too much into the failure of intellectual conservatism to connect with a suddenly coagulated group of unhappy, dissatisfied low-information voters with a demonstrable preference for noise, excitement, and insulting behavior over substance and serious ideas.
Support for the Trump candidacy could be looked upon as intrinsically frivolous. Trump voters have good reason to recognize that Trump is lying about everything and that Trump is perfectly capable of going back on any and all of his promises. They also have plenty of evidence that Trump is not winning and they had to recognize all along that the election of a political outsider with all of Donald Trump’s deficiencies was an outside chance at best. But this group of voters plunged into Trumpism with all the uncritical emotionalism of the Highlanders charging English cannons at Culloden. They wanted to give the finger to the coastal establishment elite so badly that it seems the gesture was enough for them. They could just get by on denial as to the ultimate result.