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Sunday, 22 March 2009
False in One Thing, False in Everything
Topic: Must Read


 My less-than-complimentary post about Margaret Atwood’s feminist screed, The Handmaid’s Tale, got me thinking about the relationship between politics and literature.


My principal complaint about Atwood was that she used the medium of fiction to send a political message. But I see now that my criticism flew wide of the mark. Though in the case of The Handmaid’s Tale the author’s ideological conformity spoiled a good idea, there’s no reason in principle to suppose that a writer with a political motive will inevitably produce junk.


The Handmaid’s Tale is a bad book not because Atwood had a political motive in writing it, but because the demands of feminist orthodoxy caused her to falsify her view of the world. Atwood is lying to her readers—but before that, she lied to herself. Because she doesn’t really believe that a cabal of religious fundamentalists will take over America and turn women into illiterate breeders, the intelligent reader cannot not believe it either. Nor can The Handmaid’s Tale be read as satire, for that which the novel may be seeking to satirize does not, in fact, exist. If anything, as I suggested in my earlier post, this book provides an insight into the weird mental universe of radical feminism—an insight hardly intended by the author.


It should be noted that there are on the conservative side some equally egregious examples of bad political fiction. Without doubt, the all-time champion is Ayn Rand’s libertarian tract, Atlas Shrugged. Once again, the basic idea is a good one: What would happen if the nation’s productive minority got tired of being fleeced for the sake of a parasitic majority and just…went on strike? But Rand could not control her fanaticism, and the result is an exercise in unpardonable exaggeration. Atlas Shrugged is variously adolescent, preachy, turgid, incredible (in the literal sense of the word) and just plain dumb. As with Atwood and The Handmaid’s Tale, it soon becomes impossible for the intelligent reader to believe that Rand is serious.


Orwell, Koestler, Solzhenitsyn and others have nobly demonstrated that there’s no bar in principle to the fusion of politics and literature. But it needs intellectual honesty—a virtue conspicuously lacking in these books by Atwood and Rand.

Posted by tmg110 at 1:53 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 27 April 2013 10:05 AM EDT
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Admittedly, He's a Tough Act to Follow. . .
Topic: Decline of the West

The original Messiah made the lame walk and the blind see. Our current Messiah just makes fun of them on TV.

Posted by tmg110 at 1:30 PM EDT
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Friday, 20 March 2009
Obama Channels Goebbels
Topic: Decline of the West


It’s becoming rather difficult to keep up with the lies being told by the Obama Administration and its enablers. But here’s one that can’t be allowed pass unchallenged: the oft-cited claim that 46 million Americans (that works out to one in six of us) are without health insurance.


In fact, as Philip Klein demonstrates in this article for the American Spectator, the actual number of long-term uninsurable people in the US is under 9 million. Yet President Obama and his claque go on citing the figure of 46 million as if it were an established truth. Surely they know better. But it seems they’d rather lie in pursuit of their objective—universal, socialized healthcare—than deal with the facts. And as Dr. Goebbels taught, the bigger the lie, the better.

Posted by tmg110 at 9:17 AM EDT
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Obama Channels Biden
Topic: Decline of the West


During his appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” President Obama made a snide little crack about the Special Olympics. Ha-ha. If only he and the members of his dysfunctional administration possessed a quarter of the guts and heart shown by Special Olympics athletes.


By the way, this incident goes to show something that I’ve long suspected about Obama: where humor is concerned, the guy has a tin ear.

Posted by tmg110 at 9:05 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 March 2009 1:40 PM EDT
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Feminism's Anti-Utopia Provokes Giggles
Topic: Must Read


There are some books that demand to be read simply for the pathos of their stupidity. I was reminded of this while posting about the untimely death of Natasha Richardson—who, I noted, had starred in one of the worst movies of all times, The Handmaid’s Tale. And it was no surprise that the movie reeked, for the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood was even more of a stinker.


Set in a future United States where religious fundamentalists have seized power, The Handmaid’s Tale pushes every progressive button on the ideological control panel, from anti-Americanism to radical feminism. Not that the idea of a fundamentalist dictatorship is necessarily a bad one. The science fiction writer Robert Heinlein used it to good effect in his 1953 novella, “If This Goes On…” But where Heinlein was primarily interested in telling an exciting story, Atwood was earnestly seeking to send a political message. Hence the general implausibility, swerving frequently into plain silliness, that permeates The Handmaid’s Tale.


The novel is worth reading, however, as a kind of social document. It offers an amusing glimpse into the kooky universe of radical feminism—though the realization that many people take such nonsense seriously is likely to alarm the discerning reader. And besides, though with no intention of being so, it's a funny, funny book.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:41 AM EDT
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Thursday, 19 March 2009
Natasha Richardson, RIP
Topic: The Box Office

I see that the actress Natasha Richardson has died due to a brain injury suffered in a skiing accident. She was just 45.

Among the tributes that are pouring in, there is but scant mention of Ms. Richardson's performance in The Handmaid's Tale (1990), a film adapted from the novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. I mention this fact only because The Handmaid's Tale is without doubt one of the worst movies ever made, right up there with Valley of the Dolls (1967) in the category of unintentional (and hilarious) self-parody.

The Handmaid's Tale is one of those cult classics that movie buffs love to hate. I suspect that they'll still be talking about it when most of Ms. Richardson's other films have been forgotten. As the career of Ed Wood demonstrated, there is a kind of immortality in that.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:37 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 19 March 2009 8:55 AM EDT
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No Second Helpings in Havana
Topic: Liberal Fascism

Ah, Fidel! He is the beau ideal of progressives everywhere: a true revolutionary's revolutionary. Barack Obama was hardly settled behind his new desk in the Oval Office when he began relaxing US sanctions against the Cuban workers' paradise.

Incidentally, how has the Revolution worked out for its alleged chief beneficiary, the average Cuban? The Weekly Standard is on the case. As with most communist regimes, one of the Cuban economy's most glaring weak spots is agriculture. As a matter of fact, despite paeans from American and European progressives to the wonders of "sustainable farming" in Cuba, the country currently imports more than 80% of the food it consumes. The minor improvements that have occurred in the agricultural sector since the end of the Soviet alliance are mostly traceable to creeping market incentives, i.e. a halting, hesitant return to capitalism. Meanwhile, the official food ration covers only 50-70% of the average Cuban's daily nutritional requirements.

Few people remember that when Castro and his cabal seized power, Cuba was one of the three or four richest nations in Latin America. Today, after fifty years of Fidel, the country is an economic basket case. Ah, but they have "universal health care"! No wonder progressives love the guy.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:14 AM EDT
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If We Object, Are We Cowards?
Topic: Decline of the West

You may recall that our new Attorney General, one Eric Holder, took the occasion of Black History Month to call America a "nation of cowards" on account of or alleged reluctance to talk about progressives' favorite subject, "race."

Now the AG has come up with another bright idea:

Attorney General Eric Holder said some detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration works with foreign allies to resettle some of the prisoners.

No, I didn't make it up. Barack Obama's chief law enforcement officer really and truly said this. And I'll bet he wasn't joking, either. What a presidency! Never in this history of American politics have so many stupid ideas been proposed on so short a span of time.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:01 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 18 March 2009
The Audacity of Barack
Topic: Decline of the West

Watching President Obama feign outrage over the AIG bonuses that his own legislation authorized, I am amazed afresh at the man's contempt for (1) the truth and (2) the American people. Quite obviously, our President believes that we, the citizens of this blessed land, are a bunch of mouth-breathing dumbasses who will unquestioningly swallow whatever he tells us, however transparently false. Now it's true of course that there are plenty of dumbasses in America…but it looks to me as though most of them are working for the Obama Administration.

Posted by tmg110 at 8:45 PM EDT
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Anything for a Veteran
Topic: Decline of the West


Among his countless campaign promises, Barack Obama assured us that he would provide this country’s wounded and injured military veterans with better care than they ever got during the reign of the wicked Bush.


And here’s how the President plans to make good on that promise: “he intends to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans with service-connected disabilities.”


Not surprisingly, David Rehbein, the head of the American Legion, was outraged when he received this news from Barack Obama personally during a meeting on Monday. As he so aptly observes in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, “According to the U.S. Constitution, it is the president and Congress who send troops in harm's way, not the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield.” The care of veterans with service-connected disabilities is a sacred national responsibilty that the American people are more than willing to accept. This attempt to bully private insurers into paying the bill is a cheap political stunt, unworthy of a great nation. But perhaps it accurately reflects the mind-set of the Obama Administration.


Incidentally, this proposal is also extremely bad politics. Did the President really not understand how the story would come across? When I first heard about it, I assumed that it was the brain-dead notion of some obscure bureaucrat. I was amazed—simply amazed—to discover that President Obama himself was pitching the idea to the head of the American Legion. What the hell is wrong with this guy?

Posted by tmg110 at 9:08 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 March 2009 9:29 AM EDT
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