One of the Wiggles lost my laptop twice, and it was really annoying. I wasn't even aware he was entrusted with it, but that is the logic of dreams: you're participating in the long-awaited reunion of the Wiggles, and one of them takes your laptop in its bag and leaves it unattended in a public place. The show, such as it was, was a live broadcast staged in a peculiar set - all rust and exposed industrial materials, with a large elevator in the middle. We had no script. (There are never any scripts in my dreams, just plays that are about to happen.) One of the Wiggles - the tall one - was fretting over his lines, and the director said - and I quote:

"Just say something sarcastic about the boiled deer."

From this I gathered that a meal of deer, boiled, would figure in the story, and that we were doing a restaurant routine. Apparently sarcasm about menu items was something for which this Wiggle was well-known, and this would make old fans smile with recollection. Then my phone chimed because I had a text from Daughter asking to be picked up.

Which I did. Took her home. Then she went to a play in North Minneapolis; I picked her up from that. Then I sold some books and DVDs at Half-Price book. The offer was small.

"That's . . . better than nothing," I said. The clerk nodded. "Do you ever get people haggling over the offer?"

"All. The. Time."

"Does it ever work?"

He shook his head. I went to the DVD section to see if there was anything old and interesting I might buy, and for some reason found myself looking at the Children's section, as if I would find "The Wiggles Eat At A Restaurant And Have Fun!"

Went home and took an astonishingly thick nap, which left me feeling schmozzled and abashed. Drove Daughter to something. Went home; waited; picked up Daughter. I'd like to think that the weekend was much, much more, but I'd be lying to you and myself.

As you might have heard, the National Review did an issue devoted to opposting Donald Trump (hereafter DTs, with all the "Lost Weekend" connotations you wish to add.) I am a columnist and contributing editor for NR, but was not in that issue. In case anyone thinks this was because I dissented, well: here we go. Or you can skip to the conclusion.

There are many people who surprised me by shining Trump's shoes because they think the wind is shifting. And perhaps it is, but it's telling that their well-oiled vane moved when it did, before the breeze turned into a hurricane. The qualified, muted, careful expressions of approval are the worst, because they're positionings, not statements of principle. Even so, they signal an abandonment of principle, or an admission that there were no principles to begin with. When this preference cascade gets going, you'll find lots of people having Strange New Respect for DT, and describing him in terms that miraculously comport with the issues they have supposedly cared about.

Then there's the group that decided National Review is irrelevant, or liberal, or ESTABLISHMENT, or in the pocket for whatever candidate the critic doesn't like because of one or two positions (which were either once held by Trump, or will be). These are the Twitter folk whose remarks indicate they've never read anything in the magazine, but feel utterly confident to judge its stable of writers as Losers, per their idol's preferred insult.

There were 22 writers in the issue. Lovely sentiment, eh? When I hear the word culture, I reach for my cellphone.

These are the people who read's praise for Trump and have memory-holed Andrew's own contempt for the man; these are the people who say that NR has made Buckley roll over in his grave, when Buckley had Trump's number long ago. They would praise NR if it had decided to endorse Trump, and all objections to anything the magazine had done - or they thought it did - would be absolved.

Then there's the throne-sniffing talk-show hosts. One I'd never heard weighed in on the criticism of Trump's use of Emiment Domain to kick an old lady out of her house:

I'll bet he liked "Up," too. When you have people too stupid to let a private enterprise use the power of the state drive her out of her house, she's not only undeserving of respect or contemplation of her situation, her mulishness reflects on the general and specific wrongness of not doing what DT wanted to do - which was self-evidently correct because DT wanted to do it.

On his website, he addresses the issue at length, and gives us this modern definition of the principled advocate of the individual's role vs. the state:

I’ve seen way too many people who simply want to block growth and expansion (which helps everyone) for their own selfish-benefit while at the same time using the argument, “this is my land” when it comes to their own property.

Okay. Noted.

Up the ladder there's Laura Ingraham, whose show used to run in this market. She had a great producer who could assemble lots of pertinent actualities, after which she would say "what's up with that."She has called the National Review "mastodons" in an article that demonstrates an odd modern delusion: writers are usually aware they make poor talkers, but the obverse doesn't seem to apply.

National Review, in its issue dedicated to taking down GOP front-runner Donald Trump, has made a big mistake. With so much on the line for America, how is it smart to close the door to Trump’s voters and to populism in general?

That's her opening gambit. She can't even phrase the argument with any clarity. The issue was an argument to Trump voters who can still be dissuaded, and a reminder that populism - in general! or even in specific - is like a downed power line thrashing around on your front lawn. Some people equate "populism" with "popular," which is like hearing "fashion" when you really know the person said "fascism."

In her eyes it would be more impressive if a magazine did not take a stand on principles, because it would appeal to people who do not share the magazine's principles, and would be thus inclined to entertain the magazine's principles, provided there was no assertion of contrary principles.

She goes on to quote Pat Buchanan's know-nothing characterization of NR - everyone, all of us! - as "Davos conservatives," a meaningless term that's supposed to make everyone think we jet off to Swiss think-tank meetings to sip chardonnay and chat up the advantages of borderless states. She wants:

A return to traditional GOP law and order practices when it comes to illegal immigration.

Does she read Mark Krekorian? Obviously not.

A return to a more traditional GOP foreign policy that would put the national interest ahead of globalism.

Curious formulation on her part; she's talking about the second Iraq war, which she admits supporting. What was advertised as a prophylactic measure and an exercise in swamp-draining is now, in her mind, globalism - a term inflated by her misapprehension to mean nothing except "Donald wouldn't do that." Donald would, of course, Bomb the Shit (TM) out of ISIS, which is awesome! But deposing Saddam and setting up an imperfect but reasonably functioning state that allows the Kurds to go their own way and provides a footprint in the region to counteract Iran, that's globalism.

A return to a more traditional GOP trade policy that would analyze trade deals from the perspective of the country as a whole and not blindly support any deal — even one negotiated by President Obama.

"From the perspective of the country as a whole." She wrote that. What she can't write is "tariffs on Chinese goods are awesome and lots of stuff should cost more because then we will make iPhones in Topeka," because that would require looking at the long-term, quotidian effect of Trump's broad pronouncements. Which he may or may not mean. If he doesn't mean them, it doesn't matter because you have to stake out extreme positions when you're negotiating. If he does mean them, it's proof he's a straight shooter.

By refusing to make room for these ideas within conservatism, NR risks creating the impression that the revolution brought about by George W. Bush — in particular, his belief in open borders, his effort to create a permanent U.S. military mission in the Middle East, and his notion that trade can never be regulated, no matter how unfair — is now a permanent part of conservatism that can never be questioned.

This is like watching strawmen smolder through thick glass smeared with Vaseline. But assume she's trying to assert something here. It is not the case that certain ideas cannot be questioned. It is a matter of A) the bona fides of DT, the questioner; B) whether the questioner's solutions are workable. It is ignorant to assert that questioning "open borders" is off-limits for discussion, or that NR has insisted such topics be banished. Again, it's all weasily drivel: NR risks creating the impression. Hell, when I go outside to get the paper and I haven't shaved, I risk creating the impression I am pro-beard.

They are also inviting those who disagree with Bush on those points to leave conservatism and start seeking their allies elsewhere.

This Bush you speak of. He has been out of office for a while, no?

It seems she missed the part about how running a fellow who is not a conservative is injurious to the cause of conservativism. As if Trump's brand of corporatism isn't at stark odds with what Veronique DeRugy has been writing about Ex-Im on NRO for months. As if Trump's remarks about keeping land in Federal hands because the States might do something stupid is a testament to his abiding faith in Federalism.

She concludes:

"Conservatism," Reagan biographer Craig Shirley said, "transcends any individual or organization, because it’s ultimately about the God-inspired belief that we are destined to be free."

Unless you're an old lady who wants to live in her house. In which case, get lost, gran, and make way for the winners.

Oh, more to come. There's just so much.

tl;dr Hell no, this guy. Hell no.




The Fourth in the series. Even if you haven't been following along, you can probably guess the franchise's name:

Mind you, the Thin Man has been gone for a very long time, and unable to block the photons from a distant star:

It's 1941 now; the hard times of the Depression, which needed the bright carefree tone of the first few movies, have been replaced by a nervous world at war, which needs the bright carefree tone of the latter movies. Yes, movies are always direct reflections of current political and economic events!

Anyway. Time until first drink: it's about three minutes. Nora summons Nick from his position in the park several stories below by rattling the shaker, indicating the next wife-sanctioned dose of alcohol is imminent.

They have a kid. Usually this would be murder on the romance, but given that Nick's older and possibly has impotence problems, it doesn't matter. The kid's no great addition, to be honest. He insists his father drink milk. Dad is possibly not paying attention to the small child.

Dickie Hall. Didn't make the jump from child actor. Probably went into real estate.

One of the actors: it's the manager of the Overlook Hotel.

There's a big wrestling scene; this fellow is "Mike Murphy" or something suitably Irish, I don't know. IMDB says the character is named Jack the Ripper. Whatever name his character has, the actor is famous . . .

. . . for being in the worst movie in the history of the world, "Plan Nine." It's Tor. Well, we needn't linger too much on the lot. You know what's up. Red herrings, sprightly dialogue, and glimses of the 30s - or at least what the 30s thought they were, or everyone wanted them to be like.


You never see the name of a medium balred out in neon anymore. The word still had power and glamor. TV has always seemed a bit more juvenile, at least to me. Radio has three distinct syllables, a certain cadence and resonance; TeeVee is short and high and sounds like the squeak of a dog's toy.

There's a sequence where Nick gets on a carousel while half in the bag. It does not result in a blast of vomit, but you wish this kid would have gotten a mug full:


America hated him instantly, I suspect.

Asta was dizzied by the ride, and had to take refuge by the symbol of dog relief and territorial marking:

Another staple of the era: the old lady who ran a boarding house and loved gruesome murder stories.

This type could always be called upon to hel out any detective or policeman, having first asked if he was on a case; she loved slinging the lingo. We don't have these characters any more because there are no old ladies running boarding houses.

No clip, but this sums it all well enough.


Busy day, but there will be a Ramble podcast tomorrow. See you around!


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