Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there;
And ’twill be found, upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation.
After discussing the Revolutionary War last time, the next major historical comparison I’d like to look at is the one comparing our situation to the mid-nineteenth century American Civil War. In this comparison the Left is equated with the historical “North” and the Right with the “South.”
We’ll start with things that do align in this comparison. The cultural and intellectual elites of the Abolitionist Movement do line up well with the modern Left. In fact, there is probably a decent number among today’s Woke Left that are direct descendants from the Abolitionists themselves. And certain historians believe that the culture of New England and its exports to areas like the Great Lakes area and the Pacific Coast states have preserved the viewpoint and authority of the nineteenth century elites from that region of the country. From that point of view there is a certain direct analogy between the Northern Abolitionist Leadership and the Modern Left.
But let’s look at some of the other factors. First of all, let’s look at the driving force of the cause. The Abolitionists wanted to end slavery. It’s hard to over stress just how popular this cause was. It was evident to even many Southerners that slavery was an evil that could not be justified by its benefits to the economy. For a country whose whole existence is expressed in the single word freedom, slavery is anathema. Therefore, the moral underpinnings of the Civil War were very powerful. Certainly, the Southern States were able to muster a justification for the practice of slavery but at no time did this justification convince anyone outside of the South and not even everyone inside. So, the abolition of slavery was a cause that resonated broadly around the United States outside of the Deep South.
But look at the current agenda of the Woke Left. It is a rag tag grab bag of radical ideas and identity politics grievances that isn’t even rationally self-consistent. Feminism and even lesbian feminism are at odds with transgender “rights.” And the BLM agenda of eliminating the police won’t stand scrutiny by other communities like Asians and Hispanics now that they see that it equates to wholesale criminal anarchy. It is far from certain that even in the “Blue States” that the whole agenda of the radical Left is entirely acceptable. This is a major difference between the Civil War situation. The Left’s agenda today is far less popular than the abolition of slavery was back then.
The next consideration is the location of each “side.” The Confederacy was never able to convince even some of the slave states to join in its revolt. The border states Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland never seceded. And even an area of Virginia refused to join and “seceded” from Virginia to become West Virginia and remain with the Union. Inside the free states there weren’t any large areas that would have joined the South or opposed the abolition of slavery for the most part.
But look at today. Instead, the Red and Blue States are only an indicator of the majority status of each side in a state. But geographically we can see that this is really a city versus countryside polarization. The cities in the Red States are full of Leftists for the most part and even deep Blue States like California and New York have rural areas that are completely red. This definitely helps our side. These concentrated populations of Leftists work well when you want to cheat during an election but it doesn’t help much when you are trying to control a population that is diffused over thousands of square miles in some cases. Controlling the back country especially when it is adjacent to a Red State may turn out to be an impossible job.
And finally in the 1860’s the slave states were so afraid of a Republican holding the White House that they seceded before Lincoln could even assemble his government. We’ve seen two truly woke administration already. Obama and now Biden. And Biden is using all the force of the federal government to destroy our way of life. But what it seems to show is that determined state leaders can use the state laws to combat these Woke orders and possibly nullify their effects without having to leave the Union. This is still a preliminary evaluation but I think it is worth seeing if the lessons learned from Sanctuary Cities can be applied to other issues like Second Amendment Rights and First Amendment Freedoms.
So, from the point of view comparison, it seems to me that our side is significantly better off in the present situation than the South was during the Civil War. And that is definitely a thing to be happy about.
Here’s a movie directed by and starring Orson Welles. Makes you think of Citizen Kane? Well, not exactly.
Charlton Heston is Ramon Miguel “Mike” Vargas, a Mexican prosecutor on vacation with his American wife Susie played by Janet Leigh. As Mike and Susie are getting ready to cross the border from Mexico into Texas we watch as a bomb is planted in a car with a man and woman as passengers and in the extended opening shot the Vargases and the car wend their interweaving ways toward the border crossing from Mexico to Texas. When the car explodes on the American side of the border and the passengers are killed Ray gets involved to represent the Mexican authorities in this cross-border incident.
Local police captain Hank Quinlan, played by Orson Welles arrives with his associate Pete Menzies to investigate the crime and almost immediately start to clash with Vargas. Quinlan is trying to frame a Mexican local who is married to the daughter of the man killed in the car explosion. Vargas works with the local District Attorney’s Assistant, Al Schwartz to uncover a pattern of planted evidence in several of Quinlan’s old cases. At the same time some local Mexican criminals, the associates of Joe Grandi, are after Vargas because of a conviction he got against one of their family. The Grandis reach out to Quinlan and he agrees to allow the Grandis to kidnap Susie. Susie is staying at an isolated rural motel on the US side of the border which is owned by Grandi. Grandi’s henchman terrorize her then apparently rape her and inject her with a narcotic and drag her back to town.
Meanwhile Quinlan, for no apparent reason, strangles Grandi and tries to pin the murder on Susie. Mike Vargas goes berserk and beats up the entire Grandi gang single-handedly for attacking his wife. Then he convinces Quinlan’s assistant Pete Menzies to wear a wire to prove that Quinlan is guilty of corruption. But because of the hokey nature of 1950’s surveillance equipment Quinlan hears the feedback between the microphone on Menzies and the speaker Vargas is pathetically carrying around with him to remain in range of the perambulating fat police captain. Quinlan shoots Menzies and is just about to shoot Vargas when a dying Menzies shoots Quinlan and he slowly sinks into a wastewater pond like a dying whale.
This movie seems to be Welles daring us to find something good to say about it. I will admit that the long opening scene with the car and the Vargases is very well done and interesting both dramatically and visually but after that this whole movie is a hot mess in every way possible.
Let’s start with Charlton Heston as a Mexican. Oh, come on! Sure, they put some bronze-o on him and gave him a thin moustache but then it’s still Charlton Heston. He looks like Charlton Heston; he sounds like Charlton Heston. He even walks like Charlton Heston. All he left out was saying, “Let my people go.” Heston runs around the movie with great energy and reasonableness. All the viewers are rooting for him. All the other characters including Janet Leigh’s Susie are making his life extremely difficult. He’s finding decades old evidence against Quinlan and beating up hundreds of Mexican gangsters and setting up and monitoring very ticklish radio-frequency surveillance equipment. And all the time hard at work trying to look and sound Mexican while being Charlton Heston. I’m giving Heston a solid B for effort.
Next there’s Welles. He looks like he weighs 400 pounds. They must have used a special lens to make him look even fatter. It’s awful. I can’t figure out if they’re trying to make him seem somewhat sympathetic. If so, they failed. He’s loathsome and repulsive.
Then there are the supporting characters. During the rape scene at the motel, the “night manager” is played by a young Dennis Weaver who seems to be playing the role as a hick who also is some kind of psychiatric patient. I found him more off-putting than the “Mexican biker gang” that is there to torment Susie. But they’re weird too. There is some kind of implication that we are seeing some subculture involving drugs and possibly lesbianism but it’s so confused and furtive that I’m not sure the actors even know what they supposed to be portraying.
And then you have a very worn looking Marlene Dietrich playing a brothel madame named Tanya who Quinlan still remembers fondly and visits for some reason. The scene is so bizarre that it reminds me of Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles doing an homage song to Dietrich called , “I’m Tired.” It’s like Dietrich is doing a bad impression of herself.
And finally, they made Zsa Sze Gabor a strip-club owner. But her part was so minor that mercifully she didn’t have to pretend to act.
So, who should watch this movie? I guess people studying film in college. Fans of Orson Welles who want to talk about his evolution as a director. And people who like really bad film noir. That should do it. You have been warned.
Now I saw, though too late, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it.
Loved the book (Treasure Island) as a lad. In fact, I read it to my brother who was not old enough to read at the time and we played pirates for months on end. One of the greatest boy’s books ever written, true. I’d put it up there with Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn. Billy Bud, Call of the Wild, Johnny Tremain, Old Man and the Sea, Old Yeller (and Savage Sam), Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Red Badge of Courage, the Time Machine, War of the Worlds, White Fang, both Jungle Books, Have Space Suit – Will Travel, Tunnel in the Sky, Podkayne of Mars and Rocket Ship Galileo.
Along with the old Boy Scout Handbook, circa 1950-ish.
There was another series, the title/author of which I cannot remember, written for boys. The hero was a Poindexter-like young genius who solved issues such as he broke a case because the witness said they saw a squirrel backing down a tree. Squirrels always run down a tree head first, so the witness lied. A bit Sherlockian but set in Middle America. A bit like the Hardy Boys but better written, I thought. The hero used his brain and his studies and as a skinny young lad never resulted to violence or other like heroics.
One of my favorite Jules Verne novels was turned into a classic comic. “Steam House”, about a group of British nationals traversing India in a trailer thing pulled by a stem powered, mechanical elephant. I read all of Vern’s novels as well as a lad. I was amazed at seeing things he predicted in his novels come true.
I read Big Little books as well “Phantom”, “Mac and the Marines”, “Alley Oop” etc. Heck, I practically taught myself to read on the pulps like “Amazing Stories”.
“Rolling Stones” was pretty good. Castor and Pollux showed up again in “Number of the Beast” which was definitely NOT a children’s book. I preferred “Between Planets” until I learned what Venus was really like on the surface, which Heinlein could not have known at the time it was written. Blast you, Carl Sagan. 😉
I was an omnivorous reader as a child. Sci-fi, dad’s Zane Gray and Louis L’Amour books, anything written by Sam Clemens and Rudyard Kipling. I went through the child’s section at the local library in short order and then onto anything written about dinosaurs and aircraft/space. Dad worked for North American Aviation, later called Rockwell then Rocketdyne. He helped develop the X-15, OV-10, A-5, B-70 and others, as well as worked on the Saturn V boosters and Dino-Soar reentry vehicle and ICBM’s. He brought home color photos and posters for me to hang on the wall of the aircraft he helped develop. He also recommended many books on jets and space vehicles, as well as westerns (his favorite genre).
Dad and mom had rings made from a reentry missile nosecone that had been in space and suffered the fiery reentry. Whatever it was made from, only diamonds could cut it and it took them time. It was like white gold but never tarnished and no chemicals ever had any effect on it. It must have been some titanium alloy as it looked like white gold and easily survived reentry. It had his first name and hers on their rings, and the engraving took a week with a special diamond tip. Both were buried with them.
This is film noir has Glenn Ford as homicide detective, Dave Bannion in a city where mob boss Mike Lagana controls the police department all the way up to police commissioner Higgins. When one of the crooked cops, Tom Duncan, has a change of heart and kills himself, leaving a file with all the details of the police corruption, his not so grieving widow Bertha hides the file and tells Lagana that she wants to keep getting money or she’ll have the file released to the newspapers.
Dave Bannion is assigned the Duncan suicide but when he starts sniffing around Duncan’s life, he finds that the supposedly honest cop is involved with a lot of shady people. Dave’s boss Lieutenant Ted Wilks, gets pressure from the Commissioner’s office to stop digging into the case but Dave refuses. Bannion finds that Duncan had a barfly girlfriend named Lucy Chapman who tells him that Duncan was unhappy in his marriage and felt guilty about being a crooked cop. Unfortunately, Lucy is overheard talking to Bannion by one of Lagana’s men and she ends up tortured and killed by his henchmen.
Now Bannion is sure that Lagana is responsible for Duncan’s and Chapman’s deaths and he confronts Lagana at his palatial home. After roughing up Lagana’s bodyguard and threatening the mob boss he leaves and the next day is dressed down by Wilks who has been ordered to stop Bannion from continuing with the crusade.
The next night when Dave gets home his wife is killed by a bomb that was planted in his car and was meant for him. After moving his young daughter to his sister-in-law’s home under police protection Bannion returns to work where Wilks and Higgins try to persuade him to let the department solve the murder of his wife. Bannion as much as accuses Higgins of being Lagana’s stooge and Higgins demands his badge and gun. Bannion gives him his badge but says the gun is his own and when Higgins warns him not to use it, he replies, “I won’t use it until I find my wife’s murderers.”
Lagana has a hood named Vince Stone, played with mad dog panache by Lee Marvin. Vince and another hood Larry Gordon are handling the Duncan problem for Lagana. Living with Vince is his girlfriend Debby Marsh played by the alluring Gloria Grahame. She is the comic relief while Vince and Larry are berated by Lagana over the bungling way they committed the murders of Lucy Chapman and Bannion’s wife.
The rest of the plot revolves around Bannion digging into the murder of his wife and the fallout from this search. Because an election is going on Lagana warns Vince and Larry to be discrete in public so when Bannion confronts them at a bar Vince and Larry leave the bar in full flight and Debby Marsh gets left behind. She becomes fascinated by this cop who is able to send Vince scurrying away and follows Bannion back to his hotel. But Debby doesn’t provide any information for Bannion and he insults her romantic advances so she leaves.
But that is the fuse that drives the story to its conclusion. One of Vince’s boys followed Debby back to Bannion’s hotel and when she lies to Vince about where she was, he flies into a jealous rage and throws boiling coffee at her, hideously scarring one side of her face.
Realizing that her life is in danger Debby runs away from the hospital where she had received treatment for her burns and calls on Bannion at his hotel room. He agrees to hide her and she provides information on who was responsible for his wife’s murder, Larry. Bannion goes after Larry and beats the truth out of him about the murders and the Duncan case. Bannion then tells Larry that he better run because Bannion will tell Lagana where he got his information. And sure enough, when Larry does run Vince catches up to him and kills him.
Now Bannion knows about Bertha Duncan’s arrangement with Lagana and he pays a visit to her and threatens to kill her because he knows that her death will automatically trigger the release of Duncan’s file to the newspapers. But he is interrupted by a police detail that Lagana sent to her house as protection against Bannion.
Meanwhile the protective police patrol at Bannion’s sister-in-law’s house is called off by Lagana and Bannion hurries there to find that his brother-in-law has called in the help of his old army buddies to protect the house and in fact Lieutenant Wilks and one of the other detectives have volunteered to guard the building on their own.
Meanwhile, Debby Marsh decides to go over to Bertha Duncan’s house and being a crook’s girlfriend, she decides that it is her place to kill Bertha Duncan and, in that way, put an end to Lagana and his mob. After shooting Duncan she heads to Vince’s penthouse apartment and hiding in the dark she throws scalding hot coffee in her boyfriend’s face and gloats about it. He shoots her a few times and right then Bannion shows up and backs Vince onto the terrace with his own gunfire. He calls the police and ambulance and then goes out and shoots it out with Vince. But when Vince runs out of bullets Bannion beats him down and hands him over to the police and comforts Debby as she succumbs to the gunshot wounds.
The movie ends with Dave Bannion back at the homicide squad doing his job.
I would describe this movie as a melodrama. The emotional strings are being pulled pretty hard. A likeable police officer with a pretty young wife and little daughter see’s his wife killed in front of his eyes by a bomb meant for him. You couldn’t come up with a scenario more fraught with pathos.
But it works. In fact, this was Glenn Ford’s sweet spot. This kind of average good guy in an impossible situation was what he did best. So, this works. I’m not saying there aren’t a couple of spots where you yell at the screen, “Oh come on!” But the movie is enjoyable and the audience gets the payoff it expects. Ford is heroically vengeful. Marvin is delightfully vicious and Grahame is comic and tragic at the same time.
This isn’t a perfect movie but it’s good of its type. I recommend it for fans of film noir and fans of Glenn Ford.
A friend sent me this link. It interlaces a Russian military recruitment ad with some of the US military’s pathetic diversity and inclusion mush. It’s beyond embarrassing and is obviously intended to demoralize normal servicemen. I have to hope that at some point this will lead to revolt. It’s surreal.
As the West goes from abomination to abomination these four former Eastern block captives point to a strategy for protecting their citizens and national identity from being obliterated by the nihilist globalist cancer all around them. Well they certainly have caught my attention. Hopefully there are Red State leaders who are receptive to similar strategies. Joining an organization like this would make a lot of sense. If not I may have to learn Hungarian. Maybe Czech or Polish is easier. Decisions, decisions.