"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, November 30, 2023

In Sickness And In Health - Poor Joe Biden, Javier Milei, And The Coming Of Donald Trump

Anyone can see that the US President is not up to the task of running the country let alone making any sense. He has become a stumbling, incoherent shuffler, in the thrall of obsessive progressive claques, a puppet, an inconsequential dreamer, a man with A Child's Garden Book of Verses by his bed, policy papers stacked, unread in a corner, unreadable by a man barely beyond McGuffey's Reader. 

The election of Javier Milei as President of Argentina should give Biden supporters pause.  For decades the Argentines have suffered under the legacy of Juan Peron and his fairy princess Evita, drowned in the magical realism of Peronism and its give-away policies.  Argentina, a land of natural resources, European descendants, favorable climate and geopolitical position, should have been a star in a continent known for misrule and corruption. With its dalliance with military rule in the era of the disappeared, its continued dreamlike support of faux populists only out to ride the coattails of the dead dictator and his embalmed wife, Argentina has fallen farther and farther into disrepute, poverty, and  economic hopelessness. 


Then along comes Milei, a Trump-like man of theatrical energy, a rock star, a circus performer free of cant, sanctimony and intellectual arrogance.  Like Trump a man of the people - not an earthy Woody Guthrie at home with the folk on the pampas and in the barrios but a man of outlandish, preposterous opportunity.  After so long laboring under the neo-socialism of Peronism, Pope Francis and his Liberation Theology acolytes, and in-and-out petty dictators and claims to Bolivarian restitution, the Argentine people had had enough.  Basta! No mas!

The new president will do away with the peso, the central bank, and the ponderous inefficient, self-serving government bureaucracy.  He will, with one swift kick, one fell swoop, rid the country of its self-inflicted socialism and leaky progressive idealism. 

More important than the man's policies is the man himself - an outsized public talent, a willful, determined politician who tells people that reform will be easy - and easy it will be, for he will do away with the codicils, the caveats, and the deliberately arcane tangles of the bureaucracy.  It takes decades to build up government 'service' that exists only to perpetuate itself, to create corridors and back alleys, byways and hidden doors, oubliettes and coffee corners; but it takes only one determined, purposeful, and willful man to do away with it all. 

Of course every newly elected politician who has run on vacant promises to sweep clean with a new broom rarely does so; but Milei has the Argentine people behind him - not only those who understand how privatization and drastic fiscal and financial reform are exactly what's needed to set right the national ship; but those who, at the end of their ropes, are willing to try anything.  And trying with such a charismatic man, imbued with the tango, the ethos of the gaucho, and the sense of destiny of European civilization is an easy matter. 

Idolatry! A Mussolini dressed as an Argentine clown, a fascist in principle, character, and deed, howl his critics who can think only within the narrow focus of American-style inclusivity and diversity.  They miss the point - Milei was elected as much for who he is as for what he has promised.  Argentines want to have freedom again, to be free from the pandering, the hectoring, the miserable intellectual impoverishment of the Peronists.  Life in Argentina can be prosperous, and fun again, the pearl of the continent, the Latin Shining City on a Hill 

Sound familiar?  Donald Trump and Javier Milei are brothers, two of a kind, two peas in a pod - both brilliant politicians who understand the psycho-social dimensions of electoral rule, what the people want, feel, and desire - not some artificially articulated policy paper on doing the right thing 

Donald Trump’s opening campaign salvo in Tulsa during his 2020 campaign was vintage Trump – a loud, outrageous, politically incorrect evening of bombast, sight gags, and ridicule.  The image of Sleepy Joe Biden, pale and cramped in his basement, wearing a mask, afraid to go out, and speaking tired nostrums was priceless.  The ‘protesters’ outside the arena were not exercising their freedom of speech for an important cause, but thugs, looters, anarchists, and miscreants.  ‘Bad people’, the President said, nothing laudable or respectable about them. 

His West Point story, or “The President, The General, and The Ramp” was worthy of Eddie Murphy’s raw one-liners and Steve Martin’s physical comedy at their best.  His imitations, his accents, his build-ups and pauses had a comedian’s timing.  His lambasting of the Left’s toppling of the statues of Jefferson, Grant, and Washington showed the comedic master’s understanding that ridicule, not umbrage, gets laughs and exposes the idiocy of the cancel culture.

Every Northern Liberal, shouted Trump, has a slaver in his family tree; a greedy, land-grabbing capitalist, and anti-Semitic misogynist, so what’s the big fucking deal?  

Trump posed and postured, strutted, and shambled; was at times garrulous and and at others curt.  He played to the audience, to his faithful, and to the millions of others who have grown tired of progressive cant, civil disorder, and knee-jerk complicity.  It was a speech which put the Democrats on notice.  They have had months of a free rein, their own purposeful, righteous political Woodstock.  Now it is time to bring in the cavalry.

The liberal press was quick to criticize Trump in Tulsa – the expected crowds never showed up; Trump’s lies, innuendos, distortions, and ad hominem, gratuitous attacks were on display; and the very reasons why this arrogant, retrograde idiot should be overthrown were there for everyone to see.

Phooey, said the President, as he always had.  Fake news; but this time, within the hilarious comedy and in-your-face provocation, Trump was deadly serious – a shot across the bow, a wake-up call as loud as the one he shouted in 2016 which Hillary Clinton never even heard.

Here was a man in his mid-seventies but in his prime – a combative, confident, strong man – against whom a notably absent, querulous, and over-matched, deer-in-the-headlights Biden will have no chance.  The message was lost on no one.  No more watching the Democrats destroy themselves with street violence, radical policies, and a moralistic approach to COVID.  The conservative forces would now be on the march and as ruthless as Sherman.

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Those at Tulsa and watching on social media were not only pleased with the President’s unequivocal political stance, but with his performance.  This president has been one of a kind – a one-man circus act and vaudeville headliner all rolled into one, a Borscht Belt comedian with timing, irreverence, and honest humor.  Who said that there was one way of ‘acting presidential’? Who said that the Eastern image, the Upper West Side image of a president was the only one?  

Most Americans are either like Trump or want to be like him – rich enough to have trophy wives and girlfriends, yachts, five homes, and enough money to say screw you.  They are as Las Vegas glitz and cheap glamour as he is.  They are as fake news, soap opera, Hollywood, and the mean streets as he is.  Finally they have a president who is one of them.

Donald Trump has a genius for understanding Americans, our love of glitz, ribbons, and tinsel, our dismissal of the somber and the presumptuous   Thanks to his intelligence, arrogant confidence, absolute ambition, and vaudevillian sense of timing and audience appeal, he has just begun another perfect electoral campaign. 

Donald Trump is a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, vaudeville, and Barnum & Bailey.  He is the first candidate to understand – and embody – our deliberately illogical preferences, our passionate anti-intellectual populism, and our anti-establishment moral rectitude. Issues don’t matter for either him or for his supporters.  Not even Ronald Reagan stirred so many legitimate aspirations.  No more logic, issues, and moderation.  The way forward is visceral, and absolute.  There is no on-the-one-hand-on-the-other dispassionate consideration here. The circus is the message.

Biden's problem is that he will have to run again against the most savvy vaudevillian circus performer in the nation’s history.  Trump’s term in office reset the political calculus.  No more political correctness, compromise, respectful debate, or honorable disagreement.  Trump has been a clown, a comedian, a bare-knuckles John L Sullivan street fighter, a man cut from an American cloth with an amoral approach to power and individual interest.  Biden will be sorely tested by this master of sarcasm, cynical darts, and innuendos.

At first - if he in fact decides to debate Trump - he will be bemused, wry smiles, and head-shaking at Trump’s obtuseness. The people understand what a buffoon Trump is and rectitude, temperance, and good counsel will win the day; but as Trump’s ad hominem attacks continue and increase in intensity, Biden will become flustered and despite the advice of his handlers, will respond in kind.  Yet he is not up to fighting dirty.  First of all, anyone representing the party of decency, progress, respect, and inclusivity can afford to look like a street-fighter.  It would be unseemly, and it would show the electorate that there is no qualitative difference between the candidates.  

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As sure as Javier Milei is in the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, the regency of Joe Biden is coming to an end.  Just as Argentines became sick and tired of old political chestnuts, empty promises, failed treasury-emptying public spending, weirdness, and the brooding death cult of the Perons, Americans are sick and tired of progressives' nostrums and their empty calls for diversity as they champion their own self-selected black, transgender heroes.  They have had it with legislative nightmare calls for electric only vehicles, and energy dependence; climate change hysteria, and geopolitical accommodation. 

The victory of Milei is not just a warning shot over the bow.  It is the future. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Biden, Israel, And Ukraine - Uncertainty, Indecision, And The Failure Of American Foreign Policy

Joe Biden is a wartime president.  As implausible as that sounds, he is presiding over two wars and many skirmishes.  However none of these military enterprises are serious, committed uses of American political and military firepower.  Biden has not entered the war in Ukraine or in Israel, has used popgun exercises against Iranian-backed militias in Syria, and has limited his support for wars against ISIS in North Africa and the Sahel and al-Shabab in Yemen.  American foreign policy is tepid, noncommittal, and lost in the weeds of American domestic politics. 

Israel, fighting for its life against an implacable enemy outspoken in its hatred of Jews and unshakeable commitment, fights alone.  There is no doubt that Hezbollah incursions into Israel from the north and a stepped up guerrilla attacks from the West Bank will be met alone.  The United States, fearful of 'a wider war' will keep its warplanes on the ground, safely on carriers in the Mediterranean.  It will continue to supply Israel with arms and materiel, but will stay clear of the fighting. 

The shameful irony of all this is that Israel is the United States' only friend in the region; and as importantly the only ally which will without hesitation or restraint defy the Iranian mullahs and defend itself against that country's military and nuclear ambitions. 

Israel stood alone in opposition to Barack Obama's naive nuclear peace agreement with Iran.  The treaty focused only on deferring - not eliminating - that country's nuclear weaponization; and ignored its far more destabilizing and dangerous support to Islamic terrorism in the region.  Iran was sure to continue its clandestine nuclear production until the ten-year period of caution expired and full production could be resumed; and during the period provided its client insurrectionists military, economic, and political support.  Iran is now a threat to Israel even more than it was before the treaty. 

So America, now facing a much more militant, stronger, and more defiant Iran, has Israel to thank for standing indomitably firm - or, to put it much more crudely, to let Israel do America's dirty work. 

And yet with all that, the United States is intent on putting the brakes on Israel's military reply to Hamas' savagery.  Negotiation, truce, talks, compromise, civilian welfare all are instruments of weakness and geopolitical ignorance.  Unless Hamas is destroyed and its civilian population intimidated enough to never again turn to terrorist rule, Israel will not be safe.  Israel, taking a lesson from America's own General William Tecumseh Sherman, knows quite well that the civilian population is not only complicit in Hamas' terrorism, it is as harshly and brutally anti-Semitic as it is.  Years of Islamic radical propaganda has turned a failed state into an intractably hostile one.  

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Berlin, and Tokyo are the right lessons. Vietnam's hearts and minds, the pullout of  Iraq to 'the people', leaving it to Islamic insurgents; and the complete abandonment of Afghanistan are exactly the wrong ones.  With American 'persuasion' - i.e. the weight of its billions in economic and military aid - Israel is being forced to pull up, be nice, and assure the rearmament and revitalization of Hamas. 

The war in Ukraine is a senseless, useless war, fought over a vague idea of democracy.  Ukraine is no staunch American ally nor economic partner.  'This shall not stand', is the only excuse for US support to Kyiv; but unwilling to become involved with Russia and its supreme, defiant, and unshakeable leader Putin, the US sends weaponry and pours billions of unaccountable dollars into Ukraine's questionable coffers.

Ukraine cannot win the war unless the US commits itself to the use of defensive and offensive airpower and land support.  The end result will be Russia's victory, if not submission of Ukraine but total sovereignty over Donbass, the only real reason for Russia's incursion in the first place.  Intimidation - assuring that it would not join NATO was never part of the military algorithm - because it would never happen even under the best of conditions. 

As far as the minor skirmishes in the world, the US has decided they are not worth it.  Is some scrappy piece of the Sahelian scrub and Saharan dunes really worth replacing the French in Mali and taking on ISIS?  Yemen is already torn apart by civil war - savages vs savages in a play of Third World hopeless underdevelopment - so why should America waste firepower on a political wasteland?

Biden and his progressive supporters think only in terms of peace, conciliation, and concession - a liberal ethos based on idealism, Utopianism, and a new age assumption of world harmony.  He cannot possibly understand the likes of Putin, Xi, Kim, Erdogan or the Ayatollahs who have been demonized and branded as anomalies.  Their kind will not last and will eventually be replaced by congenial, inclusive liberal democracies. 

To believe this shows a complete ignorance of history - the history of Emperors, Shoguns, kings, popes, and ayatollahs; and the history of expansionism, territorialism, and power - and a belief in a fairytale, imagined place of warm lighting and crackling fires. 

Either go all-in in Ukraine or get out; either commit planes to the skies and boots on the ground in Israel, or admit that in its heart of hearts America is just as anti-Semitic as the rest of the world. The Jewish lobby isn't what it was, and the race-gender-ethnicity inclusivity claques have more political influence now than ever before. 

As far as the terrorist Iranian-supported Islamic extremists is concerned, we neutralized ISIS and buried its claims to a regional caliphate, so a few splinter groups in the desert really are really not our concern. 

It's not like fighting Imperial Japan or Hitler, accommodationists say.  Those days of bombing the daylights out of our enemies are over.  We live in a more integrated world.  Wholesale slaughter and victory at any price are not in the cards. 

Of course these revisionists are blinded by the idea of the world as musical comedy.  They may well have had their day, and defiant, militant, Machiavellian former President is in the electoral wings and likely to be re-elected. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Black Widow Spider– A Tale Of The Sexual Will Of A Devouring Woman

Brent Lively had known since the beginning that his marriage to Beth Parker, daughter of an Iowa farmer, successful investor in iron works and copper, would never amount to much.  She was the classic calm, practical reasonable anodyne to the tempestuous relationship with Lacey Thomas, a woman who had eaten him to an inch of his life.  An inch was enough to survive, and although his sexuality was almost indistinguishable from what it was before her, so neutered was it; he was still alive, his sexual fires banked, his sexual soul temporarily under wraps, both waiting for an opportunity to reignite and emerge.

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Lacey had devoured him out of lust, ambition, and Lawrentian purpose.   She was woman who considered orgasm her birthright, the defining element of womanhood, the only event worth noting in an otherwise humdrum evolution; and the fact that Brent had been the first lover of any promise – a confident, strong, and equally sexually purposeful, desirous Mellors to her Lady Chatterley – was incidental.  She cared little who the gatekeeper to her sexuality was, only that he perform as was expected. Her great beauty – classic, imperious, and perfect was both a source of sexual power and a foil to her ultimate interests.  Physical beauty distorted the sexual calculus – too many incompetent men were drawn to her; and too many competent men were distracted by it.

Her previous lovers had been promising but inept, desirous enough, male enough, but without the will to make love as existential as Lawrence saw it, central to everything, incidental to nothing. Maleness and femaleness, Lawrence thought, were absolute, clearly defined, and primal, and true sex was the way for men and women to realize, appreciate, accept, and fulfill their sexuality.  The phallus might be the initiating instrument of sexual union, but a woman’s sexual energies stimulated and released by it were no less valid and important to physical and spiritual consummation.

Two rivers of blood are man and wife, two distinct eternal streams that have the power of touching and communing and so renewing, making new one another, without any breaking of the connecting link between the two rivers, that establishes the two forever.  And this, this oneness gradually accomplished throughout a lifetime in twoness is the highest achievement of time or eternity.  From it all things human spring, children and beauty and well-made things, all true creations of humanity. And all we know of the will of God is that he wishes this, this oneness, to take place, fulfilled over a lifetime, this oneness within the great dual blood-stream of humanity (Lady Chatterley’s Lover)

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Brent had had the sexual confidence, the purposefulness, and the desire to mate with Lacy; but he teetered on the edge, balked at her sexual omnivorous appetite, pulled away before he was consumed, unsatisfied, wanting more, but too fearful to give up and give in.

Lacey, like Lady Chatterley reviewed her options.  Mellors was as sexually sophisticated as Lady Chatterley and as aware of the sexual premium of mutual ‘finality’ but too diffident, too concerned with social class and propriety – like Miss Julie’s valet who needed to do the right thing, and was always chattel to it – and Brent was no different.  A likely candidate, a good choice, but ultimately too timid and withdrawn to perform.

Which is why he escaped Lacey and retired to the arms of a woman who had no such designs, no such hunger, and no such sexual designs.  Life with her, while ordinary, would never be feral or dangerous; and sex while never existential and always predictable, would always be procreative, physical and uncomplicated.  Neither she nor sex would change anything. 

Of course Brent quickly tired of the routine and longed for Lacey, although she was long dead and buried in an Amboy cemetery, visible from the Garden State Parkway, unceremoniously laid to rest with only a few mourners by the graveside and none of her lovers.  His failure with Lacey, his non-compliance with her non-negotiable sexual demands, and his being left on the curb did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm and his awkward sexuality.  Lacey would always be his Marilyn Monroe – a sexual icon, unattainable but more desirous because of it.

Beth was temperate, forgiving, longsuffering, and loving; and no matter how often or how far Brent strayed, she took him back; and he always came back, never contrite but exhausted.  Beth was always a safe haven.  Burton, Mungo Park, and Speke all had homes to which to return; or at least the dream of having one.  For Brent, he could never have had his own adventures without the guarantee of safe return and safe haven. 

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Why, one might ask, would a man like Brent Lively seek another Black Widow, a woman whose sexuality was impossible to satisfy and whose demands were intimidating and threatening?  Yet most men are like Mellors and see sex as metaphysical as Lawrence did.  While sex might be incidental and forgettable, without significance, a burnishing of ego at best, and a drunken and clumsy event at worst, the idea of sexual balance - an expression of complementary wills -  an ineradicable  piece of memory, and a defining experience was irresistible.

From this perspective Brent’s affairs were desultory and predictable.  There were sexually hungry women but whose voracity came from some petty psychological and all too familiar twist – an indifferent father, a demanding mother, a bad marriage, an overactive ego, or a distorted self-image – and never from the Nietzschean lust described by Lawrence. 

All the great words, it seemed to Connie, were cancelled for her generation: love, joy, happiness, home, mother, father, husband, all these great, dynamic words were half dead now, and dying from day to day. Home was a place you lived in, love was a thing you didn't fool yourself about, joy was a word you applied to a good Charleston, happiness was a term of hypocrisy used to bluff other people, a father was an individual who enjoyed his own existence, a husband was a man you lived with and kept going in spirits.

As for sex, the last of the great words, it was just a cocktail term for an excitement that bucked you up for a while, then left you more raggy than ever. Frayed! It was as if the very material you were made of was cheap stuff, and was fraying out to nothing.


Sex without something more than simple physical satisfaction or the temporary resolution of old, minor sexual issues was never worth it.  There had to be something more.  Connie found it in Mellors, a sexual twin, an ontological partner, but few other women or men ever do.  Lacey was too devouring, too insistent on reaching a transcendental orgasm, to emasculating to find complementarity.  Brent was too timid, and although sexually aware, was reluctant to be devoured and consummated.

For Lawrence sexual complementarity was far from today’s sense of mutual respect, patience, and carefully-balanced parity.  It was the complementarity of wills – one dominant, the other submissive, regardless of gender.  Women in Love, Lawrence’s long, often preachy, and windy book about the sexual dynamics between the partners of two couples, gets at this idea of will.  

Each of the characters struggles to come to grips with their sexual will or lack of it; and most are conflicted between desires of submission and desires of dominance.  They challenge all the social conventions,  parental authority and patriarchy, feminine and masculine expectations to try to achieve sexual independence and identity.  They stumble and get so caught up in their intellectual pretensions to follow their natural instincts.


In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a book published after Women in Love and Lawrence’s last, he creates in Connie a woman without such pretentions.  Connie is as desirous as Gudrun and Ursula and as motivated, but far more mature and honest.

The beautiful pure freedom of a woman was infinitely more wonderful than any sexual love. The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the matter. They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.

And a woman had to yield; but a woman could yield to a man without yielding her inner, free self. That the poets and talkers about sex did not seem to have taken sufficiently into account. A woman could take a man without really giving herself away. Certainly she could take him without giving herself into his power. Rather she could use this sex thing to have power over him. For she only had to hold herself back in sexual intercourse, and let him finish and expend himself without herself coming to the crisis: and then she could prolong the connection and achieve her orgasm and her crisis while he was merely her tool.

Mellors, while sharing sexual experience with Connie, follows her.  The women in Lawrence’s novels are always sexual leaders.  They are the ones with will, determination, and purpose; and the men in their lives rarely match up.  From Margaret, Paul’s mother in the autobiographical Sons and Lovers to Connie Chatterley, it is the women who have an insight into the limitless potential and power of sex. 

While Mellors and Brent may have sensed the importance of mating with powerful women, they were not always up to it.  Brent was nearly devoured and Mellors lost his way.  Strindberg’s Miss Julie was another sexually powerful, determined woman who used Jean, her valet for her own sexual ends; but both were too confined by society, culture, and bourgeois expectations to fulfil them. Ibsen’s women succeeded in realizing their power, but – like Lacey – destroyed the men they sought to manipulate.

In Women in Love after Birkin and Ursula have finally made love, Birkin expresses Lawrence’s central idea:

He knew what it was to have the strange and magical current of force in his back and loins, and down his legs, force so perfect that it stayed him immobile, and left his face subtly, mindlessly smiling. He knew what it was to be awake and potent in that other basic mind, the deepest physical mind. And from this source he had a pure and magic control, magical, mystical, a force in darkness, like electricity. It was very difficult to speak; it was so perfect to sit in this pure living silence, subtle, full of unthinkable knowledge and unthinkable force, upheld immemorially in timeless force…

Yet Birkin like Gerald cannot retain the focus, and have mated with imperfectly sexual women.  Neither Ursula nor Gudrun have achieved the sexual maturity of Connie Chatterley and therefore are distracting.  Although Birkin has an intimation of the power of sex, without the clear singularity of purpose of his lover, his intentions are diverted.

Lawrence’s idea of complete sexual parity, a complementarity of sexual wills, and the epiphanic nature of a perfect sexual union, is Platonic at best and romantic at worst.  Yet Brent like most men understood it well. Being nearly devoured by Lacey was only the beginning of his sexual maturity; and he had the resolve to keep looking.

Most men keep looking well beyond their ability to attract and keep a mate.  God’s greatest irony was to create men with a limited sexual life but condemned to an obsessive perennial fascination and desire for women.  A sexual Sisyphus, doomed to desire and flogged daily for it, almost reaching their sexual ideal, but turned back near the top.

Brent, like most men, returned to his wife and their predictable, comfortable older years.  At least he had tried, although that was cold comfort since he never stopped looking for another Lacey, albeit from his armchair.