Category Archives: politics

Thomas Paine: Common Sense

Just like the famous shot heard around the world from the battle of Lexington, Thomas Paine’s liberty treatise from 1776 opens with a fire of clarity and purpose that, Trumpian pugilism notwithstanding, is a rare commodity in today’s era of political obscurantism and postmodernist chicanery.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

In four sentences, Paine draws a critical distinction that has been buried under years of political rhetoric and false morality.  In the classical liberal formulation, the nation state exists only to punish violations of individual liberty and property.  In the modern progressive mind, the nation state is the ultimate arbiter of virtue whose guns and prisons can somehow be repurposed to serve a seemingly endless list of moral imperatives and confer an ever expanding list of “rights” to any group claiming the mantle of oppression.

Thomas Paine embodies what is now referred to as classical liberalism. Since today’s liberals have perverted and collapsed this basic distinction beyond all recognition, Common Sense restores the word “liberal” to its true meaning.

In Common Sense, Paine makes an appeal to American colonists to secede from British rule and form a constitutionally limited State. It is, in many ways, the first #Brexit. It is equal parts polemic, Biblical history and political philosophy.

It’s easy to understand why this wouldn’t go down so well in today’s Age of Social Justice. Besides being the work of a white male, Common Sense’s primary object is anathema to the modern Left: liberty.  In contrast to the childish romanticism of the modern Left’s conception of the federal State, Paine views government without the blinkers of progressive pablum. He sees it as at best, a necessary evil, and at worse, an engine of destruction.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Paine even attempts an argument that has been all but abandoned by the modern Left: an appeal to economic common sense.  Paine views the construction of a naval fleet as a unique opportunity for economic gain and common defense. Rather than being another screed of a tyrant reaching for imperial power, we hear a humble man making a rational appeal to economic logic in service of rallying the skills and resources of his countrymen in order to fulfill a single revolutionary objective.

No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost. And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

Paine even expresses a concern for fiscal prudence and the burden that profligate spending would place on future generations.  The disdain he heaps on the politician who trades political favors for power is especially refreshing.

But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and a pedling politician.

Paine promoted a fervent belief in religious freedom, and the idea that it is the indispensable duty of government to protect this freedom.

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Let a man throw aside that narrowness of soul, that selfishness of principle, which the niggards of all professions are so unwilling to part with, and he will be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be diversity of religious opinions among us: It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. Were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle, I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only, in what is called, their Christian names.

It’s very easy to read this and use it as a bludgeon against contemporary pro-Trump/anti-Muslim sentiment, but I believe it’s important to remember that this sentiment came from an avowed deist, and specifically, one who was raised in the Christian tradition. Has any similar sentiment arisen anywhere in Islamic culture? Does Islam promote a diversity of religious opinion now or at any other point in history?  To what extent is this belief of religious pluralism shared by contemporary Muslims?  Will progressives hold Muslims to this standard when they profess intolerance towards non-belief in Islam? Paine may have been appealing to what people in Western society regard as universal principles, but it doesn’t follow that every culture will share these principles.

What’s especially refreshing about Common Sense is the absence of the stink of academia.  That’s not to say that all academic thought is staid and stolid, but Paine’s prose burns with vigor because this is the work of a man who grasps the historical portent of the moment and knows that he has a winning argument.

At the center of Paine’s plea for liberty is an appeal to posterity, decency and yes, common sense.  Though Paine is largely viewed as one of the founding fathers of modern liberalism, the contemporary Left has all but abandoned Paine style liberalism.  Modern progressivism has traded the generosity of spirit and moral clarity of Paine for a shrill, condescending elitism which prioritizes identity politics and subservience to perceived institutional expertise over individual liberty. I doubt any progressive would concede the point, but you’re more likely to find the unifying message of Paine in an average Trump supporter sporting a MAGA hat than you will in a dyed hair collegiate gender studies major Berniecrat.

On these grounds I rest the matter. And as no offer hath yet been made to refute the doctrine contained in the former editions of this pamphlet, it is a negative proof, that either the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favour of it are too numerous to be opposed.Wherefore, instead of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiosity; let each of us, hold out to his neighbour the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissension. Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the rights of mankind and of the FREE AND INDEPENDANT STATES OF AMERICA.

Milo at UC Berkeley: The Death Knell of the Free Speech Left

​I can barely express the deep sadness and disappointment I feel watching this footage. I have family members who attended UC Berkeley and wax nostalgically about the heady days of the Vietnam War protests and the free speech movement.

What a monstrous and grotesque inversion of that movement the modern Left has become. Mindless hordes chanting their slogans of hatred all cloaked in a phony veneer of “resistance” and “protecting the marginalized”. Marxism has always been the ideological core of the Left throughout the 20th century, and now it has apparently reached its inevitable apotheosis. Full on ideological conformity paired with a naked thirst for power. All they’ve done is update the formula with a few pride flags and a pepper it with a dash of Islamophilia.

News flash, progressives. You’ve become what you profess to abhor. You are the totalitarians. You officially forfeit any claim to the term “liberal”. You are a bunch of pathetic zombies. You are hastening the destruction of everything that’s decent and civilized.

You don’t get to call speech with which you disagree “violence” only to use that idiotic reasoning as a moral rationale for ACTUAL violence in order to prevent someone from exercising his right to free speech.

And lest you believe that local politicians would hastily denounce this mayhem, banish the thought.  The first words uttered by the mayor of the #TOLERANT paradise of the People’s Republic of Berkeley considered Milo’s alleged “hate speech” the greater threat than the Antifa rioters.  That should tell you everything you need to know about the Left’s priorities when it comes to the exercise of violence in service of advancing its political goals.

To say that the celebrity Twittersphere was throwing gasoline on the fire is an understatement.


If you can’t compete honestly in the arena of debate and you justify VIOLENCE in order to silence your opponents, your ideas are terrible. 

Dear Lefty Boomers

Sorry, Lefty Boomers.

I’m sure the sex, drugs and rock and roll were fun, but the Flower Power dream was an empty charade and little more than a rainbow hued road to serfdom. You are nothing more than a sad cartoon of an overrated myth emanating from a bygone counter-culture revolution that never was and is exactly analogous to the current incarnation: pampered, entitled, college educated middle-class people who took too many bong hits and took The Communist Manifesto way too seriously.

All your anti-war agitation was nothing more than impotent bleating which was instantly pacified when a charismatic man named Barack Obama ascended to the Presidency and flattered your egos with lofty rhetoric while he reduced the Middle East to ashes. You’re incensed about the refugee crisis now, but you couldn’t be bothered to give a shit when the bombs were dropping.

Marxism was a tragic failure, but that didn’t stop you from colonizing academia and repackaging it as economics, gender studies and sociology. You’ve completely ruined the social sciences and mangled economics so badly, that people think that a partisan hack like Paul Krugman is a trustworthy intellectual.  You’ve turned the natural sciences into Manichean witch hunt which pits climate change Believers on one side against Deniers on the other. It doesn’t matter if you understand a single thing about climate modeling methodologies or that you’re completely oblivious to the Malthusian designs of the agenda, a Bill Nye the Science Guy meme is all you need to dispatch the knuckle dragging troglodytes who aren’t yet #WOKE to climate #SCYENCE. Academic awards and institutions exist only to reaffirm your cults of personality and indoctrinate the next generation. And you can take all of your insufferable Foucauldian, postmodernist wanks and shove them right up your ass.

The entertainment industry has devolved into an echo chamber of preachy egomaniacs and a stultifying regime of PC multiculturalism. Your legacy is an entire generation of hypersensitive Tumblristas weaned on a brain damaged diet of identity politics, safe spaces, and microaggressions who prattle away about “fascism”, but are absolutely oblivious to the dangers of socialism for which they mindlessly agitate.

You aren’t revolutionaries.  You’re conformists who just updated the dress code to accommodate dyed hair and piercings and redecorated the bureaucracy with pride flags and gender neutral bathrooms.

You don’t want to change things for the better.
You only crave power.

You didn’t separate church and state. 

You just made the state your church.

You had a chance and you blew it.

Deal with it.

What I Learned From the 2017 Womyn’s March

Hundreds of thousands of #STRONG womyn and their obedient m*le allies marched in several major cities on Saturday to protest President Literally Hitler, wear some dumb pink hats, take selfies with their besties, carry signs emblazoned either with idiotic clichés or references to female genitalia, show off those yoga pants that are cute but not objectifying and otherwise collectively whinge about living under the bootheel of white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. Or something. 

This is the overarching message I received from all of this posturing:

1. Though it was called a Womyn’s March, it was really about feminism. Since feminism is a political agenda almost exclusively aligned with the political Left, we’re going to call it a Womyn’s March because we want people to equate women with feminism in their minds.  Since women are virtuous, wonderful and oppressed and m*n are violent PYGS, we want to advertise to everyone that we are the ones who support womyn. Not like those sexist #ReTHUGliKKKans.  

2. Since feminism presents itself as a liberation ideology which is aligned with Women’s Suffrage and we believe perfectly analogous to the Civil Rights movement and the abolition of slavery, everything for which we currently advocate is Virtuous and Good by definition and proves that we are on the Right Side of #Hxstory. Feminism is the Correct Ideological Position to take if you actually care about the entire spectrum of beleaguered groups suffering under the oppression of the Trumpocalypse and white supremacy in general. Feminism stands for all races, cultures, sexual orientations and gender identities that aren’t white, European or Christian. Everyone who opposes us is a misogynist and a Nazi.  

3. Though we carry signs which virtue signal how “kind” and “loving” we are, what this is really about is ensuring the survival of the feminist (i.e. Democrat) legislative agenda and promoting the idea that the only people fit to govern are Democrats. Womyn are only truly empowered when the taxpayer subsidies are flowing towards our preferred institutions and causes. If it doesn’t, it’s fascism. Everyone who opposes even one piece of the agenda is a racist, sexist #BIGOT.  

4. Our advocacy for this legislative agenda proves that we are Good People® who are #WOKE.  If you make even one attempt to suggest otherwise, you’re a hateful, sexist #BIGOT and a white supremacist. 

5. In feminist media and academia, we will rail against biological gender dimorphism and gender signifiers like the color pink, but in the March, we’ll jettison all of that and wear pink pussy hats, wear lots of makeup, and carry signs proudly advertising female anatomy all while insisting that we are not determined by gender and expect to be taken seriously as individuals. After the March, we will resume calling opponents of gender construction theory transphobic #BIGOTS. 

6. We will happily don an American flag hijab to show our #SOLIDARITY with Muslims, but we will actively ignore the oppression of women in Islamic countries.  Besides, it makes us look like the Shepard Fairey painting and it looks super cute with Snapchat filters and we’ll get lots of likes on Instagram.  Most importantly, we’ll completely disregard Hillary Clinton’s ties to Saudi Arabia, her active support for the invasions of Libya and Iraq and the incalculable damage each caused, as well as Linda Sarsour’s open advocacy of Sharia Law in America.  #StayWoke, SYSTERS!

7. “Reproductive rights” means taxpayer subsidies for abortion and contraception. We’ll remind all of the #TROGLODYTES and #RePYGliKKKans that taxpayer funding doesn’t fund abortion cuz Hyde Amendment and shit and condescend to you for being an ill informed luddite who listens to Fake News. Any and all opposition to any taxpayer funding for either abortion or contraception means you are a hateful misogynist. It’s HEALTHCARE! WHY DO YOU HATE WOMYN?! And we’re talking to you, pro-life “feminists”. 

8. Disagreement with any aspect of our agenda is bigotry, hate and fascism. We’re Tolerant® people, after all.  

Consider that patriarchy SMASHED, feminists!

The Crumbling Edifice of “Settled” Climate Change Science

For those of you who like to indulge the notion that you are with the Angels and on the Right Side of #SCYENCE and #Hxstory by supporting the climate change agenda while blithely ridiculing skeptics as clueless, sub-human, knuckle dragging mouth breathers who’ve been duped by the petroleum industry, it’s time to acknowledge the climate change project for what it actually is: a political agenda. This is not a scientific endeavor and I’m not convinced it ever was one to begin with. Calling your opponents Climate Deniers© does not make you intelligent nor is it a sufficient intellectual or scientific argument. On the contrary, it makes you look like a dittohead and a stooge and nothing more than an unwitting pawn for power hungry politicians. 
You can no longer stand smugly on the sidelines and ridicule skepticism as “anti-science” pretending that this is a totally humanitarian, objective, scientific endeavor when the field is so obviously rife with political pressure and flooded by government money.

In a recent piece in Reason, Ronald Bailey discusses climatologist Judith Curry’s resignation from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the highly politicized field of climate science. 

Climate “science” asks you to accept some very far reaching predictions about atmospheric temperatures, sea water levels and sea ice levels years from now based on mathematical models.  If there is any soundness to the theoretical underpinnings of this “science”, these models should be predicting accurate outcomes.  And guess what?  They’re not.

Hollywood Proselytizes for the Cult of Obama to the Bitter End

​If Meryl Streep’s steaming pile of smug and the generally ignominious and partisan tone of the Golden Globes weren’t a sufficient reminder that Hollywood is a de facto propaganda arm for the Democrats and all things Obama, I present this towering feat of kiss ass.

This creepy, outrageously obsequious and idolatrous ode to the Obama Cult of Personality comes courtesy of celebrity sycophants, and a Diverse© pool of Marginalized P*rsxns engaged in a breathless and vacuous recitation of talking points and virtue signalling that would make Kim Jong Il jealous. Obama is obviously concerned about the demolition of his legacy so the self-congratulatory vibe is cranked to 11.

In the Soviet Union, artists were required to glorify the State.  In America, it’s a way to telegraph that you’re a Good P*rsxn and totally #WOKE while indulging a fantasy that you’re being edgy and contrarian despite being in a bubble of near perfect ideological conformity.

Positively loathsome. 

Betsy DeVos Versus the Government Education Establishment


I have family members and close friends who currently or previously worked in public education, and I can assure you, dear reader, that the libertarian argument for free market education isn’t a position that’s held in high regard in my world. It is my sincere hope that those of you reading this who also oppose a competitive market for education services will take this post in a spirit of promoting a real diversity of political opinion. 
Betsy DeVos has been nominated for the Chair of the Department of Education, and as is the case with everything Trump says or does, the progressive establishment is having a conniption. Whether it’s her lack of Ivy League credentials, her advocacy of charter schools or her positively abhorrent donation to FIRE, Betsy DeVos has been branded Public Education Enemy Number 1 by the entire government education apparatus. In his recent piece in Reason, Robby Soave very carefully and methodically points out why all of them are wrong and it is they who are the ideologically hidebound zealots. 

Here’s the deal. 

Pretty much everyone agrees that education is important. The larger and more important question is over how best to promote real education; as in independent thought, critical thinking, a curious mind, marketable skills and a lifelong love of learning, versus just going to school.

It’s easy to view education as a “right”. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not. If you are honest, you will easily be able to recall numerous occasions when school felt pointless and utterly without value. And the real world bears this out.  Unless you cultivate entrepreneurial skills, a high school education is basically worthless in the marketplace.  A bachelor’s degree doesn’t necessarily add much more value to your marketability either. When you treat any good or service into a “right” for which the government makes provision, you destroy the incentive to provide actual value. 

Whenever the failure of public schools is discussed, “Reform” is the default cliché deployed. Anyone who suggests a market based alternative is just someone who hates children and only wants rich people to have education. Sadly, the Left is very good at painting opposition to government education as opposition to education itself while portraying themselves as Guardians of Knowledge and Social Justice from the mindless hordes of conservatards who just want to plunge America into a regressive New Dark Age of mandatory Christianity. It should be obvious to everyone that there is no such thing as “Reform”. Once you place a giant institution like education behind the government wall, there’s little you can do to truly reform it.  

Institutional learning only reinforces deference to itself. If you want to promote real individuality and critical thinking skills, a bureaucratic, compulsory school system won’t produce that result.  

I have plenty of skepticism over whether Betsy DeVos is going to make any meaningful difference, but I’m certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. The public school bureaucrats are the real zealots here. It’s easy to point the finger of reproach when you enjoy the tacit protection of the government. And no, it doesn’t make one goddamn bit of difference that she doesn’t have fancy degrees.  She’ll be in charge of a gigantic bureaucracy which sets the agenda for other bureaucracies. 

If nothing else, she should do everything in her power to squelch the Title IX jihadists and the campus star chambers dispensing extrajudicial “justice”.

Rogue One

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Before Rogue One, I had resigned myself to the reality that a new Star Wars film isn’t going to rock my world quite like it did in 1977.  How could any new entry possibly match that experience? Star Wars certainly wouldn’t have become the global phenomenon it is without having some thematic heft and adult appeal, but it has always aimed to pluck the heartstrings of youth.  To say that Star Wars transformed my youthful dreams and angst into a two hour symphony of pure cinematic magic which moved me to the core of my being at that time in my life is an understatement. Though my story is hardly unique in the vast universe of SW fandom, my love affair with the original series was indeed profound and deep.  When Luke stares into Tatooine’s twin sunset and the music swells to a crescendo, the yearning for something greater was palpable. When Luke tells Obi-Wan that he wants to go to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force, I felt that shit. Anyone who doesn’t understand that these scenes all by themselves formed the core of Star Wars’ primal and transcendent appeal doesn’t really get Star Wars in the first place. Sure, the lightsaber duels, battles and starships were awesome, but at a very basic level, Luke’s quest was my quest. This seemingly effortless fusion of the universal and the personal was the truly great feat of cinematic sorcery that George Lucas conjured.

I’m never going to be that kid again, but that kid in me simply hoped that the new gatekeepers of the SW legacy are going to remember that for all of the cinematic and visual effect innovations that have been the hallmarks of the series, what really made these films tick is that they gave you characters in which you wanted to believe. Star Wars gave you friendships and bonds in which you were deeply invested.  It gave you characters whose motivations and foibles were sufficiently fleshed out that when the chips were down, you knew that each character was putting himself to the test and that made the ultimate triumphs all the more satisfying.

While the prequels failed miserably in this task, The Force Awakens also suffered from similar deficiencies in character development. It was enjoyable enough, but every character was paper thin. There was no real backstory to the characters and subsequently, no dramatic arc. These problems were only compounded by the stink of SJW agenda fulfillment permeating every frameFrom the could-be-gay bromance of Finn and Poe to the cartoonish emotional instability (translation: toxic masculinity/male fragility) of Kylo Ren to the impossible Mary Sue-like competence of Rey, The Force Awakens had the unmistakable aura of a PC feminist/SJW checklist.

Despite this string of disappointments, I still came to Rogue One with genuine optimism.  I didn’t care that Jyn Erso was very likely going to be another outrageous female power fantasy designed to flatter the egos of feminists and bolster a now deeply clichéd Girl Power/inverted stereotype hero narrative. I didn’t care that writers Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta were pandering to the SJW, multi-culti, Fight The Power progressive mindset when they tweeted out some moronic nonsense about the Empire being a “white supremacist organization.” I didn’t care that Disney demanded reshoots after Gareth Edwards presented his first cut of the film. Just give me some characters in which to believe and cheer.  Give me a little bit of human drama to complement Gareth Edwards’ epic vision.  I wasn’t worried about the eye candy or the mayhem. I just wanted to care about the people involved.  I just wanted to have a small taste of that yearning to go to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force all over again, or in this case, root for the Rebel Alliance to dismantle the evil dominion of the Empire.  Surely, a new Star Wars film could deliver this modest goal to my adult self and I believed that Gareth Edwards was up to that task.

If this is also your new hope for Rogue One, I can firmly attest that this film is absolutely the droid you’re looking for. Rogue One is hands down the most successful Star Wars film since the Original Trilogy and the most genuinely satisfying Star Wars film I’ve seen since 1977. I still can’t believe how genuinely good this motherfucker is. It’s the Star Wars film you didn’t know you wanted, but now that it’s here, you can’t live without it. It also succeeds in achieving a goal that eluded The Force Awakens by referencing the original series and mythology while presenting something completely contemporary and fresh.

Rogue One is the story of a team of rebels who manage to abscond with the plans of the Death Star which find their way back into the hands of the Rebel Alliance and Princess Leia. What’s remarkable is how effectively the film builds a compelling story around what amounts to a couple sentences of opening crawl in Episode IV.  Since there’s no real Jedi quest, the film is able to be a full on war/espionage story set in the SW universe at the height of tensions between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. It comes across like a lighter version of The Dirty Dozen with a post-Battlestar Galactica grit to it and to my great astonishment, it’s a mix that works brilliantly.  I believe it marks a distinct tonal shift away from the pop space opera vibe of the other canonical films, but this choice has given the series the new lease on life that has eluded every other post-OT installment.  It is indeed a war film and it packs a visceral punch that is unmatched in the series.

I was concerned about the character development in this film since this has been the great Achilles Heel of every new installment in the series up to this point. While you don’t necessarily know a whole lot about any one of them, you learn enough to be invested.  As Jyn Erso, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I believed in Felicity Jones’ transformation into a rebel leader and her bond with both her father Galen and the militant Rebel who raised her, Saw Gerrera. The scenes between her and Mads Mikkelsen’s Galen Erso are genuinely sweet and give the film the emotional core that made the original films sing. Once again, we’re presented with a SW protagonist who had been snatched away from her birth parents and raised by a surrogate who happened to be a radical extremist within the Rebel Alliance.  Subsequently, it’s not impossible to believe that she would be proficient with firearms and have the mental and physical fortitude necessary for combat.  The Strong Womyn archetype who’s smarter and stronger than her male counterparts has become very commonplace in action and SF films for many years, and I was concerned that we were going to be given another variation on Rey. Thankfully, everything about Jyn’s development and the proficiency she exhibits was consistent with what we were presented.  Although when it came to Jyn’s tepid attempt at channeling Henry V, I have to agree with CNET’s Ashlee Clark Thompson that it invoked “Girl, I guess so” more than it summoned the spine of steel one would need to face certain death at the hands of the Empire.

The remaining characters were surprisingly compelling despite how little we actually knew about them.  Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor draws you in through his confessions of the losses he faced at the hands of the Empire as well as the moral compromises he’s made in service of the Alliance. Nothing is really known about the origin of the friendship between Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe, but their affection for one another is never in doubt and when they meet their tragic end, it has more emotional weight than expected. Bodhi Rook’s defection from the Empire roughly mirrors Finn’s from TFA, but is remarkably more interesting and believable because unlike Finn, he was merely a pilot for the Empire and one could imagine him being persuaded to the cause of the Alliance by Galen Erso.  The big standout of the film is actually Alan Tudyk’s voice characterization of Imperial droid, K-2SO. He brings some welcome comic counterpoint to the film’s grim tone and his lines are genuinely laugh out loud funny.

On the Imperial side, Ben Mendelsohn brings a sufficiently nasty sneering menace to his role as Director Orson Krennic.  And yes, Rogue One marks the welcome return of the greatest Sith of them all and one of the greatest cinematic villains of all time, Lord Vader. Vader’s appearance in the film is limited to two excellent scenes, and only serve to remind you that neither Kylo Ren or young, tortured Anakin has managed to scale the heights of sheer Dark Side terror that Vader can summon in one line of dialogue or just by entering a room.

Perhaps being unshackled by the weight of the Skywalker mythology really freed up some creative energies, but Gareth Edwards deserves a vigorous round of applause for the feat of world building he has pulled off here.  The film is filled with both new and old worlds that have that grimy, used future vibe of the OT as well as numerous classic vehicles and images.  Mostly, Gareth Edwards managed to convey a sense of scale that even surpasses Lucas’ original vision at certain times.  The Empire has never seemed more massive and imposing on screen as it does in Rogue One. The data storage facility at Scarif is what you’d imagine Qatar to be like had it been developed by the Empire.  Jedha and Jedha City are equally impressive with obvious connections to Arabic citadels and architecture. Edwards even gives us Vader’s palace at Mustafar as a dark monument to the disfigurement he suffered at the hands of his former Jedi mentor.

My biggest gripe with Rogue One is the facile message and the refusal to confront the inherently political content at its center in an honest and meaningful way. The entire message of the film can be summed up as Be Hopeful, Listen and Believe (especially if it’s a womyn), and Down with the Space Nazis. Sure, it’s a Disney property now, it’s unrealistic of me to expect them to make anyone think too hard and Lucas’ message was arguably just as superficial, but when Disney’s Bob Iger says there are “no political statements” in Rogue One, I’m calling bullshit.  Of course Star Wars is political!  It’s about fucking WAR fer chrissakes, people!  It’s about the struggle of liberty versus tyranny. There is nothing more inherently political than war or armed revolution. War is the business of the nation state. Revolutions organize themselves around a political philosophy. The Rebel Alliance were the just remnants of the Old Republic who want to preserve peace and justice by restoring “democracy”.  The films never spell out exactly what the Alliance’s political ideals or principles are beyond “democracy” or “hope”, but the Rebels do aspire to reclaim the seat of power in their own right.  Presumably, they’re just going to be better at it than the Empire.

The politics of Star Wars have long been a subject of debate throughout the geekosphere, but I suggest that’s because people want to be able to connect it more immediately into the world of the present and their own political worldview. Disney and Lucas undoubtedly tried to keep the political content as neutral as possible so that one could view the films though one’s own ideological lens, but it still leaves me wanting a bit more. The film presents a very easily digestible Manichean dichotomy: Rebels are Good and Imperials are Bad.  This simplistic dualism doesn’t allow you to wrap your mind around which mechanisms of political policy the Empire exploited or the propaganda they deployed in order to accumulate such massive centralized political power in the first place. Edwards’ world contained mountains of untapped thematic potential.  If there was an Imperial Labor Camp on Wobani, it stands to reason that this is where dissidents and thought criminals were sent, and subsequently, it was a missed opportunity to introduce the propagandists for the Alliance.  Furthermore, there had to be segments of the galaxy that were pro-Empire and totally pro-Death Star. It was fundamentally a government program and by extension, a boon for lots of industrial interests throughout the galaxy.

Unfortunately, the political content doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense when you inspect it closely, and more often than not, reaffirms a lot of dopey leftist clichés.  How did the Confederacy of Indepent Systems, essentially the UKIP of the Republic, get to be the bad guys simply for embracing secession and opposing the excessive taxation and bureaucratic palsy of the Republic? That sounds pretty American and like the real rebels to me. And why is the Galactic Empire called a fascist regime?  They weren’t promoting a racially pure ethno-state nor could they promote a unitary galactic identity.  If anything, they were Space Communists, not Nazis.

As good as it is, I can’t help but wonder what Gareth Edwards presented to Disney executives initially.  It’s a little ironic that a film franchise that cashes in on a sentiment of rebellion is ultimately subordinate to the aesthetic mandates of its corporate, Imperial overlords.

But don’t let any of this hyper-analysis deter you if you have even the slightest misgivings.  Rogue One is the best thing to happen to the franchise since Luke Skywalker first brandished a lightsaber.  Who knows if it is a harbinger of Episode VIII or if it remains a solitary bright light in a dying franchise?  Regardless, Gareth Edwards has given us something that all of us OT OG’s have long awaited: a Star Wars film that’s actually fucking good. Enjoy it while it’s here. 

Le Tigre and Feminism’s Cult of Government Worship



In case you still harbored the delusion that feminism was some kind of edgy, contrarian ideology, the original purveyors of 90’s Riot Grrrl feminist electroclash, Le Tigre, have returned from the dead to destroy all doubt. In this sad attempt at cultural relevance, these would-be “rebels” become full throated propagandists for corporatist, neocon-approved Hillary Clinton. 

That’s right. Apparently, cheerleading for the woman who has voted for wars which have killed tens of thousands, taken money from Islamic regimes, and actively undermined her husband’s rape accusers is super feminist and like totally empowering. She’s a Democrat, she has a vagina, and she’ll be the first womyn in the Oval Office, so set aside all those petty right-wing conspiracy theories, PYGS!

If you can even make it past the knife-to-the-skull intro, the song is nothing more than a moronic and childish pander-fest. Filled to the brim with idiotic clichés, feminist straw men, obligatory talking points, and canned Trump hate, the song achieves new heights in cringe.  

Apparently, neither Le Tigre or Pitchfork are all that interested in feedback on this song because the voting buttons and comments have been disabled.  

Way to stand behind those feminist convictions, SYSTERS.  

Mao or Hillary?

Enable every woman who can work to take her place on the labour front, under the principle of equal pay for equal work. This should be done as quickly as possible.~ Mao Tse Tung, 1955

We hail from all corners of the country and have joined together for a common revolutionary objective…. Our cadres must show concern for every soldier, and all people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other. ~ Mao Tse Tung, September 8, 1944

Unite and take part in production and political activity to improve the economic and political status of women.~ Mao Tse Tung, July 20, 1949

By increasing women’s participation in the economy and enhancing their efficiency and productivity, we can bring about a dramatic impact on the competitiveness and growth of our economies. ~ Hillary Clinton, September 16, 2011