our 4:20

…certainly beats the Old World version. Then again, we have inherited a bit of that latter in our New World. Founded by Josef Bischof in 1978, the Old World German Restaurant has long hosted periodic celebrations of Hitler’s birthday and conferences of Holocaust revisionists. In 1997 Josef exercised his inalienable rights under the First Amendment thusly: “Aust these no good [Santa Barbara County] supervisors. They deprived me of my property rights! They deserve the Auschwitz treatments.” Here is his daughter putting a spin on it:

He probably would have been better off saying, “The Santa Barbara County Supervisors should be sent to Siberia”—maybe then he wouldn’t have been such a “Bad Guy”. If you know your history, Stalin was just as evil as Hitler, and during WWII, people were deathly afraid of being sent to Siberia. However, the remark about Russia would not have pushed the buttons of so many, nor will Stalin ever be as memorable to the American public because of the significant amount of Jews in this country.

—Cyndie Bischof of Huntington Beach, 20 January 2000, OCWeekly

For my heritage of a GULag survivor, the best part is the mass noun amount used in lieu of numbering Jews.


Unheimlichen Geburtstag, Herr Schicklgruber! I’m taking Bragmardo and my Swiss friends on a stroll in the Old World.

where the extremes meet

The German optimist believes that God created the actual world as the best of all possible worlds. The German pessimist is certain that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds.

The Russian pessimist believes that the world is so bad that it couldn’t get any worse. The Russian optimist is certain that everything can — and will — get worse.

The American optimist invests in the world-wide march of democracy. The American pessimist arms against democracy poised to trample his inalienable rights. They are both right.

man’s got to know his limitations

As Harry Callahan has taught us, man’s got to know his limitations.
Shills for asexuality are foredoomed to reenact Hitler’s favorite joke:
    Hitler: My dog’s got no nose!
    Soldier: How does he smell?
    Hitler: Awful!
It has been settled over two millennia, that “there are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs of men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” But any kind of eunuch who won’t stop complaining about our inauthentic celebration of sex, wields no more authority than the blind grousing about our gaudy garb or the deaf clamoring against our cacophonous conversation.

reductio ad brassicam

“The Constitution as interpreted by the Court these past decades allows the federal government to put your taxes up and use the proceeds to send you a weekly box of broccoli.” This putatively commonsensical observation by Clive Crook is meant to support a transparent non sequitur: “If Washington instructed you to choose your own basket of fruit and vegetables or else pay a penalty, that would be a smaller infringement of your freedom than the Constitution already allows.” The logically warranted conclusion from the premiss at hand is that if a federal government’s individual mandate instructed me to choose my own basket of fruit and vegetables or else pay a penalty, that would be a smaller infringement of my freedom than recent Constitutional interpretation has tended to allow. The Constitution is an enduring factual body of principle that underlies the vagaries and wambles of its judicial interpretation. Let the trends change as long as the fundamental facts endure.

Yes, Mr Crook, our Constitution is a quasi-religious document, whose constancy is an inviolable national myth. But the constancy of our Constitution is also thoroughly attested, in extent and limitation, by its amendments. When changing it falls to the Court and is done by stealth, it becomes and remains liable to equally stealthy judicial reversals. That is what the Roberts Supreme Court seems to be poised to inflict upon Obamacare. Back in the realm of horticulture, American farmers have long received lavish subsidies from the government, enabling them to grow lots of things I don’t want to eat. So I am always already being forced to “buy” broccoli via the power of taxation. Likewise, the federal government could — and bloody well should — use its power of taxation to pay for government-administered universal health insurance. What it cannot and shouldn’t do is create a boondoggle for its favorite industries by compelling its citizens to transact with private vendors, be it for health insurance or fresh vegetables.

Your fellow countryman John Lanchester patiently explains this for you in the latest issue of the London Review of Books:

If there were ever going to be a serious and sustained theoretical challenge to the hegemony of capitalism inside economics — a serious and sustained challenge subsequent to the one provided by what used to be called ‘actually existing socialisms’ — you’d have thought one would have come along since the near terminal meltdown of the global economic system in 2008. But all we’ve seen are suggestions for ameliorative tweaking of the existing system to make it a little less risky. We have at the moment this monstrous hybrid, state capitalism — a term which used to be a favourite of the Socialist Workers Party in describing the Soviet Union, and which only a few weeks ago was on the cover of the Economist to describe the current economic condition of most of the world. This is a parody of economic order, in which the general public bears all the risks and the financial sector takes all the rewards — an extraordinarily pure form of what used to be called ‘socialism for the rich’. But ‘socialism for the rich’ was supposed to be a joke. The truth is that it is now genuinely the way the global economy is working.

Obamacare is socialism for insurance companies. If and when our society agrees that health care is a public good, let us socialize its administration. Empowering our government to bring the health insurance industry 32 million new customers is crony capitalism at its sleaziest. And it stinks.