sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

October 30, 2017

The Halloween Three

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 5:19 pm

I published three Halloween-themed posts over at Iron Ladies.

First, answering the question, is it evil to celebrate Halloween? Nope: In Defense of Halloween, as if it needs defending.

Second, looking at the most underrated horror movie Susperia.

And, finally, third, it’s not that Moana Halloween costume violates the sacred law of cultural appropriation or that it’s immodest, but that it lacks romance. Sadly, that’s the direction in which Disney is going.

On a totally different note, I wrote a response to that New York Times OpEd that tried to proof that women had better sex lives under socialism: The Real Housewives of the USSR. That one actually attracted quite a bit of attention.


October 1, 2017

Kings, Presidents, Terrorists

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 8:11 pm

Trump is a second-rate Elvis; he needs to be a Nixon

For the friends and readers who are still following me here and not at the Medium, the fabulous Iron Ladies published two of my essays, The Unabomber Is Relevant Again about the recently aired Discovery Channel miniseries and The King And The President about the #TakeAKnee controversy.

August 14, 2017

You Can Pull My Stilettos Off Of My Cold. Dead. Feet

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 3:15 pm

Sometimes blogposts write themselves; this reluctant defense of the Trump women and wholehearted defense of the high heel did:

April 25, 2017

What I’ve Been up To

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 1:39 pm

Over at the fabulous and terrific Iron Ladies whom you absolutely need to follow if you are not following them yet.

There Must Be More To This Provincial Life Than A Faithful Remake of A 25-Year-Old Cartoon.  That’s about Beauty And The Beast.

Reviving A Family Passover about growing up knowing precious nothing about my religion.

Leggings at The Gate  If a controversy is about something as trivial as legwear, it’s probably about something else.

Fearless Girl Is A Troll How a feminist sculptor appeals to our parental instincts.

Berlin on The Strawberry Creek which begins with an attempt to channel William F. Buckley.


Just so that my readers know where I stand

April 2, 2017

Programming Note

Filed under: politics — edge of the sandbox @ 2:00 pm

I’ve been blogging over at Medium here.  Also at the Medium, I am now an editor of Iron Ladies, a conservative feminist blog and a brainchild of Leslie Loftis.  From Iron Ladies mission statement:

Conservative women see ourselves as doctors, lawyers, accountants, writers, politicians — whatever — who happen to be women. Thus, we’ve rarely gathered on sites like Jezebel and have not organized into national advocacy groups like the National Organization for Women. And when we have tried that kind of grouping, we’ve not managed the membership success that NOW once boasted. We do not lack numbers, we simply do not organize around the fact that we are women.


Ask “what do women think about x” and there will be any number of feminists claiming to represent what other women think about x easily available for an interview. They own the perception of speaking for most women because they speak with organization and coordination. Ask “what do conservative women think about x” and where would someone go for the answer? To Fox, the one stop shop for finding a conservative woman for those who do not actually know any conservative women.

This shortcut creates the impression that conservative women largely agree on issues. Trust me on this one. We are not any sort of hive mind. We debate…frequently. Regardless, Fox does not provide a representative sample.

Check it out!

December 1, 2016

1930’s Revival Ideas — in case Steve Bannon Needs Help Strategizing

Filed under: politics, Soviet Union, the Holocaust, Ukraine — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:01 am

Last month (this blog moves veeery slowly) the President-elect’s “Chief Strategist” — or whatever — Steve Bannon rejected the term “white nationalist” opting instead for “economic nationalist” — or whatever:

“Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. [Andrew Breitbart is spinning in his grave– ed.] With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, iron works [I hear Trump used to host cocaine parties, — ed.], get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution – conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.”

Thanks, in part, to the rather unfortunate 1930’s experience, I am very much an economic internationalist, globalist even.  My biases are no secret.  And as a very biased person I find the claim that the 30’s were “exciting” rather odd. Can we replicate this 80-year-old success story in the 21st century?

1. Ask an average American what comes to his mind when we talk about the “exciting” 30’s, he’ll inevitably mention bread lines.  Being familiar with scarcity economy of the Soviet Union, I can assure you that yes, food lines are a fascinating part of social life.  You never know when a fist-fight will break out, for instance, or who the sales lady is going to berate and why.  I have no idea what it was like in the 1930’s US, however.  Judging by the vintage photos Americans might just be a tad more civilized.


The length of this 1932 bread line is not unimpressive

How likely are we to witness the emergence of Depression-era bread lines? The federal government had been in the business of subsidizing agriculture since the Great Depression; the size of the hand-outs to America’s farmers is now in the tens of billions. We produce more food than we can consume and historically we’ve been feeding our enemies, like the Soviet Union. We are not going to run out of food, it’s just a matter of passing it on to the plebes. Thanks to Barack Obama we have EBT so that the handouts to individuals can be distributed through privately owned groceries and a with pretense of dignity.

It looks like we are poised for Trumpulus and that the increased federal spending which crippled the US economy over the previous decade is here to stay.  However, the incoming president is unlikely to get rid of federal  programs that masks poverty. So, no, breadlines are not coming back.

2. Most inspirational rallies. Uh, who can forget Nuremberg! Immortalized by Leni Riefenstahl, one of the most celebrated filmmaker of her age, Nuremberg showed adoring, orderly crowds cheering Der Furher at a 1934 mass gathering. Can we see a revival of this type of mass events in the Western world?


A 1942 close-up of some of the individuals in this picture can be found at the bottom of this post

The Nuremberg rally was attended by 700,000 Nazis and supporters.  By comparison, the biggest rally in the United States is said to be the 2008 Obama event in St Louis that drew 100,000 attendees.   Although the outgoing president once spoke to 200,000 people in Berlin, I have little doubt that the crowd was far less lockstepish than thier great-grandparents.  I highly suspect most of them came to see whatever band was headlining that show, anyway.

Contemporary rallies lack the organization on display in Leni Riefenstahl’s film. Donald Trump rallies, for instance, were frequently marked by violence.  Even when the neoNazis get together, a soccer-inspired street brawl is more probable outcome than an orderly march. Verdict: in contemporary Western world, at least, a replication of Triumph of The Will is unlikely.

3. Impressive parades. While Hollywood adored Leni, it completely ignored her equally talented and arguably just as morally warped Soviet counterparts. Much groundbreaking propaganda photography was produced in the 1930’s USSR.

Every state holiday (and there were many) Joseph Stalin observed parades from the Masoleum tribune. Army units came at the head of the procession, followed by marching athletes, workers, folk dancers children, children athletes– and what have you– from every corner of the vast homeland.


No, this is not a still from a horror flick. This is a male athlete unit at an 1937 Red Square parade.  It should be a still from a horror flick, though

My town has 4th of July parades.  It’s mostly happy people in vintage cars and Trader Joe’s handing out candy to tots.  Cute.

4. Kristallnacht. Aryan blood was brooding with excitement on November 9, 1938.  On that day, countless Jewish homes and public buildings were ransacked, 1000 synagogues burned and 7000 businesses destroyed by Nazi paramilitary forces and German civilians.  The pogrom left hundreds, if not thousands, of German Jews dead and 30,000 were shipped off to concentration camps.  Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust.


Fire makes for a captivating scene

Unfortunately, race riots happen in the United States with predictable regularity.  However, they are highly unlikely to result in anything like the Final Solution.  Instead, we have young black men with vague feeling of dissatisfaction and wounded pride burning and looting their own neighborhoods.  The rioters might be egged on by powerful individuals who use the rioters’ desperate circumstances for their own political gain, but we don’t have a state apparatus dedicated to annihilating a minority.  Our institutions are too strong and Americans are too good of a people.

5. Holodomor.  Literally translated as starvationdeath from both Ukrainian and Russian, Holodomor was a man-made famine, a function of the Soviet collectivization of agriculture.  In 1932, Stalin stepped up grain confiscation from peasants in the most fertile regions of Ukraine, Don basin, northern Caucasus and Kazakhstan.  The idea was to force farmers into feudal-like collective farms, prop up the cities (USSR sold some of the grain and directed the funds towards industrialization) and to punish the areas that resisted the Bolshevik takeover a decade earlier.  During that year, Ukraine had lost 4 million souls and the population of Kazakhstan had shrunk by 38%, with ethnic Russians soon overtaking the Kazakhs as the largest ethnic group in the “republic”.


1933. Starved peasants lining up the streets of Kharkov, my native city and then capital of Ukraine

Over the last quarter century, Ukraine made Holodomor raison d’etre of its independence.  Good for them.

No country willing to accept economic aid from the United States will experience a famine today.  Then again, Holodomor was man made, and there’s North Korea.

5. Awe-inspiring labor camps and purges. GULAG is Russian abbreviation for Main Administration of the Camps; it was set up shortly after Bolshevik revolution but the party didn’t really start until the 30’s.  That’s when the Great Purge haunted, in no particular order, Soviet intelligentsia, government and party officials, peasants, military officers, persons with non-Russian sounding names, hapless jokesters and those in a wrong place at a wrong time. Although the exact number of victims is hard to calculate, historians estimate that up to 1.2 million Soviet subjects perished in the 1937-38 Terror and about 14 million went to GULAGS in the period between 1929 and 1953, Both criminals and “enemies of the people”.  Over a million died in the GULAGS.


This is the mugshot of one of my favorite poets, Osip Mandelshtam.  After witnessing Holodomor in southern Ukraine, Mandelshtam wrote a poem sharply critical of Stalin. He was imprisoned in 1938 and charged with counterrevolutionary activities. Mandelshtam died in a transit camp the same year

GULAGS today? Do we still have an embargo on Cuba?

6. Nothing highlights the geopolitical excitement of the 1930’s like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which split Europe between German and Russian spheres of influence.  Presented as a “non-aggression pact”, it led to the Nazi-Soviet division of Poland, Soviet occupation of the Baltics, parts of Finland and Romania and German occupation of Czechia.  The arrangement failed to thwart the war between Germany and USSR.


“To your health!” Said Stalin.  “To Poland!” Exclaimed Ribbentrop

Germany today is contained within NATO and Eastern Europe is now under our nuclear umbrella.  Under this arrangement, a direct Russian attack unlikely. Yet Donald Trump’s surrogate Newt Gingrich opined in July that “Estonia is in the suburbs of St. Petersburg” adding that the Baltic nations need to worry about our commitment to some of the NATO members’ defense.  On the other hand, Trump’s pick for Secretary of Defense general James Mattis Appears to be a fan of the Baltic country, so the future of NATO and Central Europe does not seem to be in jeopardy.

7. If you got an impression that Europeans had all the fun in 30’s, consider the Rape of Nanjing.  Imperial Japanese Army executed up to 300,000 of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers, tortured, raped and looted.  Riveting!


A disarmed Chinese POW about to be beheaded by a Japanese soldier

Given how Japanese birth rates are through the floor, they are not likely to invade and slaughter anyone.  In other parts of the world such things continue to happen: think Aleppo.

Exciting time, as you can see. Some of the excitement ended in 1942 on the shores of Volga.


Who doesn’t want to crash after a whole decade of excitement?

Historical change can be hard to spot.  In December 2014 my friends in Ukraine could not believe what was happening to their country.  Looking back, of course, it all seems obvious: Ukraine was, and still is, a failed state.  The self-proclaimed Leninist Bannon is wrong, however.  We are not going to party like it’s 1938 any time soon.  We are, in all likelihood, going to have a corrupt, wasteful presidency.  Conservatism might just eviscerate.  Divisions along the racial lines will only get worse.  National debt will soar.  International order will be checked by Trump’s real estate ambitions.  Autocratic regimes will flourish. And so on.  We are not about to experience a totalitarian nightmare on the global scale like that of the 1930’s and 40’s.

November 21, 2016

The Deplorables Versus The Insufferables

Filed under: art, politics, whatever — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:55 pm

This is going to be your next four years, America. Future Vice President Mike Pence went to see the musical Hamilton, and the crew thought it was necessary to replace the traditional bow, with a short lecture, just to let Pence know that simply because he shelled out a few thousand bucks for the tickets, he shouldn’t expect to feel welcome.

The reaction was immediate and as moronic as the incident itself: Trumpkins nearly broke Twitter, urging a boycott of the sold out show.  A little more than a year ago the followers of the reality star were incensed when the the liberals called for boycotts of his products because they found his words offensive.  Seems like yesterday.

The #BoycottHamilton calls weren’t the worst of it.  An entity that calls itself Bikers4Trump, vowed to block the entrance to the theater to help others boycott the musical:

Can we call them deplorable? Yes, we can.

I am impressed by Stevie Van Zandt’s policing of his comrades:

As a former Republican, I have to shrug.  Trumpists voted in a man notorious for his bullying antics and Mike Pence is his Vice President.  A vote for Trump was not, as some attempt to claim, a vote against political correctness.  It was an overreaction to political correctness and a vote against common decency.  If our president is a clown, what can we expect from actors?

The Hamilton crew’s self-righteousness betrays a lack of confidence.  They made a play about multicultural America, and the play should be a powerful conduit of their ideas.  It should stand on its own, without any editorializing.  I always thought that a rap production about a Founding Father is a bit silly, and the troupe’s behavior only confirms my suspicion about the quality of their art, which I am not going to see. But since the Hamilton movie is in the works, I will probably check it out when it comes out on DVD.  Controversy is generally good for performers (ask Donald Trump) so, I assume, the Hamilton musical stands to gain from the brouhaha.


On the second thought, maybe I’ll pass

In the coming years we will see anti-Trumpism generously recorded by the public.  Additionally, the president apparently being so easily ticked off only guarantees more insufferable behavior on the left.  Poking fun at the potentially least popular president ever is looking to be the new national pastime.  The Left is going to be insufferable. Trump’s election is good for The New York Times who immediately saw their subscriptions rate jump, Hamilton and Alternative Tentacles, bad for Rush Limbaugh and trumsplainers.  The audience interested in tuning in into soliloquies in defense of their special snowflake is rather limited and will diminish.

So far we hear a lot from team Deplorables and team Insufferables, both screaming loudly at each other, but, hopefully, conservative voices will be heard more and more as time goes on.

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