An Old-School Democrat Defending The Old-School American Ethos-What About California?

From a reader:

John O’Sullivan At The American Conservative revisited Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We’?:


‘The first effect of these attacks—and the controversy they generated—was to make people want to read the book. (At the National Airport bookshop where I bought it, I got their last copy a day after publication.) But the book they bought was very different from the article that had prompted them to buy it. It is about much more than immigration. It is a comprehensive analysis of the threats that are undermining America’s common culture and sense of itself. As such, it analyses virtually every major skirmish in the cultural wars of the last 40 years. And it analyzes them from a distinctly conservative standpoint.

Huntington is, of course, very far from being a “movement conservative,” or even a neoconservative, let alone a paleoconservative. He is a Democrat for starters, and he gave the New York Times interviewer a bad fit of cognitive dissonance by telling her that he opposed the war in Iraq and intended to vote for John Kerry. Yet almost 50 years ago, in an article in the American Political Science Review, he advanced what still remains the single best definition of conservatism: namely, that it is the set of ideas that men adopt in defense of their social and political institutions when they come under fundamental attack. Huntington believes that America’s national identity and the social and political institutions and traditions that sustain it are under fundamental attack. His book is a conservative defense of them.’

Marxists tend to see ‘ideologues’ everywhere…

O’Sullivan again (addition: bringing up Louis Menand…who’s pretty obviously not a Marxist):

‘Or here is Louis Menand in The New Yorker:

    ‘… it is absurd to say that [multiculturalism] is anti-Western. Its roots, as Charles Taylor and many other writers have shown, are in the classic texts of Western literature and philosophy.’

Has Menand never heard of Marx? The German social philosopher is undoubtedly a major figure in the Western tradition of literature and philosophy—few more so. Yet there is no doubt either that his major works are anti-Western. They seek to undermine Western society and to replace it with something fundamentally different—and from all the evidence of experiments in Marxism, something a great deal worse. If it finally succeeds in replacing America’s traditional national identity, multiculturalism seems likely to be a great deal worse too.’

Well, I suspect many on the Left prefer to draw their own lines between themselves and more center ward liberals (often loathing neo-liberalism but often resigning themselves to it nonetheless come election time).

Did Huntington use the data accurately and correctly reason his way to witness a diminishing national American character?

Goodbye, fiscally sound, Anglo-Protestant melting-pot?

Hello, more indebted, multicultural wonderland?

On that note, there’s been a lot of talk about the Golden State.

What those well-educated, intellectual types are thinking about can really matter…

As previously posted:

Louis Menand’s piece at the New Yorker: ‘Out Of Bethlehem:‘ (he’s still dealing with the idea of multiculturalism).

The radicalization of Joan Didion:

‘After the Old Sacramento moment, Didion came to see the whole pioneer mystique as bogus from the start. The cultivation of California was not the act of rugged pioneers, she decided. It was the act of the federal government, which built the dams and the weirs and the railroads that made the state economically exploitable, public money spent on behalf of private business. Didion called it “the subsidized monopolization” of the state.’

Perhaps too many people have been watching ‘Chinatown‘ and ‘There Will Be Blood,‘ but Menand’s piece highlights one potential writer’s turn from certain Western ideas to other Western ideas:  Multiculturalism, cultural relativism, a nod to ‘cultural hegemony,’ and the buy-in to European colonial oppression.

California, if you’ll pardon the crudeness, was always full of dreamers, nuts, fruits and more than a few flakes, but this has also allowed it to dream big.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m reminded of a fundamental change I think happened during the Boomer generation, here represented by Tom Wolfe, referring to Californians in this piece by Michael Anton:

‘Noyce was like a great many bright young men and women from Dissenting Protestant families in the Middle West after the Second World War. They had been raised as Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, United Brethren, whatever. They had been led through the Church door and prodded toward religion, but it had never come alive for them. Sundays made their skulls feel like dried-out husks. So they slowly walked away from the church and silently, without so much as a growl of rebellion, congratulated themselves on their independence of mind and headed into another way of life. Only decades later, in most cases, would they discover how, absentmindedly, inexplicably, they had brought the old ways along for the journey nonetheless. It was as if . . . through some extraordinary mistake . . . they had been sewn into the linings of their coats!

I suppose we’ll see.

(addition: another conservative Democrat)

Victor Davis Hanson 

‘Soon, even the Stanford professor and the La Jolla administrator may learn that illegal immigration, cumbersome regulations, and the terrible elementary schools affect them as well.

The four-part solution for California is clear:  don’t raise the state’s crushing taxes any higher; reform public-employee compensation:  make use of ample natural resources: and stop the flow of illegal aliens. Just focus on those four areas-as California did so well in the past-and in time, the state will return to its bounty of a few decades ago.  Many of us intend to stay and see that it does’

(another addition): Predictions are hard, especially about the future

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey

Hearst Castle 4 by Bill Kuffrey


-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

Related On This Site:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homelessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

‘Don’t Fire Until You See The Whites Of Their Eyes’-Some Links

Apparently, there’s not enough room on the ‘arc of history:’

‘White House Does Admit It Did Return Churchill Bust To England.’

Niall Ferguson at The Boston Globe: ‘Alexander And Charles’

A short article about Britain, the EU,  Brexit, America, ‘Hamilton,’ etc.


‘So 2016 is not about to be Britain’s 1776, nor will anyone emerge as the Alexander Hamilton of Brexit. Pronounce that ugly little neologism however you like, but for heaven’s sake — in the immortal words of Astaire and Rogers — “let’s call the whole thing off.”

Victor Davis Hanson gets a little more sentimental- ‘Setting The Record Straight On Britain, America and WWII:’

‘Britain helped America in World War II as much America did Britain. We should keep that contribution in mind in speaking softly and preserving our long and mutually advantageous partnership.’

Let’s turn that sentiment up to 11!

Henry Fairlie At the New Republic-‘Why I Love America:’

‘In praise of gadgets, manners, women, and freedom

I had reported from some twenty-four countries before I set foot in America. I will never forget the first shock—even after having been in every country from the Sudan to South Africa—at realizing that I was in another place entirely, a New World. In the casbah of Algiers during the first referendum called by de Gaulle in 1959, when the women hurrying down the steep streets to vote for the first time pulled their yashmaks around their faces as they passed a man (which seemed to me only to make their dark eyes more fascinating), I was still in the Old World, however strange it was. But here in America it was all new.’

A quote by a very influential Englishman, continually worth putting up:

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.’

‘Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied. ‘

‘Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. ‘

And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or personal experience.”

Thanks again…

-John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty: Chapter II-Of The Liberty Of Thought And Discussion’

***From a reader: Now I know who Ronnie Pickering is.

A Quote By S. Korner On Kant

For a philosophical friend, with similar doubts:

“Space, it follows from the Kantian analysis is empirically real; that is to say, it is real ‘with respect to everything which can be given to us as an external object’.  It is also transcendentally ideal; which means, in Kantian nomenclature, that ‘ with respect to things…considered in themselves ‘ space is not real.  Time, too, in which all perceptions are situated, is empirically real, that is to say it is real ‘with respect to all objects which could ever be given to our senses; and it is transcendentally ideal.  ‘Once we abstract from the subjective conditions of perception it is noting at all and cannot be attributed to the things is themselves.”

S. Korner ‘Kant’ Pg 39 Pelican Books 1955.

So, why follow Kant out to such a limb…on his mission to put metaphysics on a more sure footing (when even greater minds can’t put the epistemology of mathematics on such a sure footing, though mathematics is an a priori and synthetic form of reasoning ((by Kant’s analysis)) and Kant’s metaphysics doesn’t even reach that standard)?

I am stuck with the contradiction of saying that objects are really there, and exist as I perceive them by my senses and by my reasoning…. but then also saying that I can not ever know them as they really are, and may never be able to know them.

Why should these be the limits by which I pursue knowledge?

Also On This Site:  A Few Responses To Kant’s Transcendental IdealismLink To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On KantA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Saturday Poem-George Santayana

Cape Cod

The low sandy beach and the thin scrub pine,
The wide reach of bay and the long sky line,—
O, I am sick for home!

The salt, salt smell of the thick sea air,
And the smooth round stones that the ebbtides wear,—
When will the good ship come?

The wretched stumps all charred and burned,
And the deep soft rut where the cartwheel turned,—
Why is the world so old?

The lapping wave, and the broad gray sky
Where the cawing crows and the slow gulls fly,
Where are the dead untold?

The thin, slant willows by the flooded bog,
The huge stranded hulk and the floating log,
Sorrow with life began!

And among the dark pines, and along the flat shore,
O the wind, and the wind, for evermore!
What will become of man?

George Santayana

Update And Repost-Some People In New York Are At The Center Of The Universe

From a reader: The New York Observer-The Trial Of Ryder Ripps: ‘An Embattled Artist On Haters, Angry Muses, And Threats:

One brander calling out another in the marketplace in a bid for fame, celebrity and self-promotion?:

‘The show is called “Ho,” as all the paintings are based on Instagram posts from the feed of model Adrienne Ho—the self-curated building blocks of her own personal brand—and to see the huge diptychs in person, the torrent of bilious blog posts hellbent on exposing Mr. Ripps as a misogynist, seems a little overblown. They’re just oil works on square canvas, but I was a tad surprised at how skillful they were, given that my exposure to Mr. Ripps had thus far been through the ad campaigns of his design firm, his internet hijinks, and his collaborations with fashion designers like Nicola Formichetti and rap producers like Mike Will Made It. Not through painting.’

Where post-pop, (some) art history and theory, meets coding and game design, meets post-Koons art marketeering?

Some people from Jeff Koons’ workshop were involved with the oil paintings.

Robert Hughes really didn’t like the lack of acquired skill and mastery of materials many moderns lack.

There have been a lot of virulent reactions to ‘modern’ life and technology ranging from utopian futurism to nihilism to consumerism and a kind of dejected anti-consumerism and spiritual malaise.


Let’s suppose this isn’t your thing, not worth your time, and perhaps, you’re thinking, beneath you.  But let’s also suppose that each of us have our own personal, moral, ideological, aesthetic and various other reasons for those suppositions:  ‘I just don’t care,’ ‘Art should elevate the soul,’ ‘It’s not good art,’ ‘I don’t like what my ‘culture’ is producing,’ ‘This guy can’t even paint,’ ‘It’s a sham and a hustle,’ ‘Art for its own sake, technique and talent trump personality and celebrity…’ etc.

Perhaps you agree with at least one of these reasons, and I may agree with you, but whom do you trust to introduce new and good art to you and to maintain the pursuit of the good and the beautiful?


On that note: Banksy, the mildly talented, ironic/iconic graffiti artist tries to shock you awake to how the world really is.

It’s not Disneyland, it’s ‘Dismaland.

Get it?


I admit I find Disney theme parks to be rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization, and storybook themes.  There’s a lot of kitsch in them thar walls.

Clearly, though, many people love them.  They provide families with a place to go and spend time with their kids, and provide the kids a safe place to explore.

They’re a business, operating for profit.  I get it, but I don’t really care.

I can understand that a Frenchman, living in the shadow of Euro Disney, consuming a local wheel of perfectly aged cheese might have a different set of concerns, and perhaps some valid concerns, but I still don’t care that much.


So, why ‘ironically’ target Disney, copying their model of people paying to wander through rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization and storybook themes?

Artists often want your attention, usually to have shaped your imagination in a slightly different way, or to make see the world anew by creating something beautiful enough that your reasons can’t justify your aesthetic pleasure.

So, ironically, and with politics infused, Banksy has deigned to get your attention by making something shockingly modern and urgent, globally just and socially conscious enough to direct your attention to the world as it really is.

Deep man, deep.

Surely, while highlighting the problems artists have always had with money and patronage, Banksy has no commitment to post-Enlightenment ideas that offer rather sentimental recreations of nature, civilization and storybook themes…still haunting the landscape like so many abandoned theme parks that few people care to visit?

This strikes me as a rather sad use of the imagination…

Related On This Site:  Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza

They designed a city in the heart of Brazil that really doesn’t work for people: Brasilia: A Planned City

No thanks to living in planned communities upon someone else’s overall vision.: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Repost-Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..where is modernism headed? Via Youtube: Justin, The Horse That Could Paint

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

The Taliban, Neo-Liberals, And Neo-Cons-A Few Links

James Bowman at The New Criterion: ‘Singing Those Ne0-Liberal Blues’

This time it’ll be different:

‘Presumably, New York Times readers are unaware that, in Paris, protest movements are always awakening, most of them, like the current one, composed of economically illiterate students reacting against left-wing governments which, having been mugged by reality, periodically make desperate but ultimately futile attempts to undo some of the economic damage caused by themselves or by previous left-wing governments.’

Let there be puppets!

So, on the other side, this time it’ll be different?:

Daniel Larison at The American Conservative on the speculation from some liberal centrists that some neo-cons have cause to join…liberal centrists: ‘Will The Neoconservatives Abandon The GOP?’:

‘Even if the party’s current policy elites stay right where they are, the GOP still isn’t going to be a “party of ideas” until it starts adapting its policy agenda to address contemporary problems.’

Reality is still there to do the mugging, I’m guessing:  IS, Hamas, Hizbollah, Al Qaeda, Wahhabis and Saudi money, Boko Haram, The Taliban, the Mullahs, Putin, Chinese authorities pursuing Chinese interests quite logically….will do enough mugging, perhaps.

Speaking of the Taliban:

Dexter Filkins at The New Yorker: ‘Not Even Kabul Is Safe From The Taliban:’

‘Now Kabul increasingly resembles the rest of Afghanistan. With the attack that unfolded on Tuesday, the Taliban demonstrated, among other things, how easy it has become for them to get inside the city. The building that was struck was run by the N.D.S., which oversees much of the security in the capital. As a result of the recent increase in violence, the mood in Kabul has changed dramatically. All those restaurants, as well as the Gandamack, are closed; the Taverna du Liban was destroyed in a suicide attack. In their place are checkpoints and blast walls.’

Here we are…

As previously posted:

Here’s a documentary on the Green Berets passed along by a reader, which has good footage of what American special forces are being asked to do in Afghanistan: The fierce fighting. The tribal, poor and divided loyalties of what come to be Afghan forces. The thuggish tactics of the Taliban:


******From a previous post, if you’re interested:

3. Neoconservatives–Often coming from backgrounds of academic social science, chased away from the New Left and ‘mugged by reality’, Kesler’s neoconservatives would include Norman Podhoretz, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and James Q. Wilson.  On Kesler’s view, they come to distrust ideology, rationalist political theory and have been persuaded by the fact/value distinction. Doubts are bred from within the social sciences and political sciences about how one can be sure of what one knows, especially when that knowledge becomes a source for public policy and a way for a few people to run the lives of many others.

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. Mill…

From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation

Pauline Baker At The American Interest: ‘Unraveling Afghanistan’

A Few Serious, Assorted Links

All via David Thompson:  The Most Exclusive Website In The World

Tests for your musical ability at Tonometric, and your color vision here.

As previously posted-This blog stays on the cutting edge, the cusp of the culture, the hot molten core and the birth of the new.

Anything is possible.

Distance to Mars.  It’s pretty far.

The Afterlife keeps coming up as one of the worst interwebs designs ever.  A MIDI version of Bryan Adams “Heaven” will guide you towards salvation.

This is starting to remind me of Jeff Koons’ kitsch and marketing, high and low, fleshed out in pieces like Michael Jackson And BubblesWinter Bears and ‘St John The Baptist’.

Modern Art by gps1941.

Photo found here…gps1941 photostream here. More on the original St. John The Baptist here.

A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?