As recent posts have detailed, conservative new media has not lost the culture war. It has utterly failed to do so little as bother showing up for the battle. We have seen how CNM refuses to publicly acknowledge Christ, and how it is utterly unaware of legendary artists in its own midst. This week, we showcase a contemporary artist you should know. But don’t.

Mark Scudder resides in upper New York. He writes and records his music himself, unfettered by commercial considerations. Not that Scudder is undeserving of public attention, as one listen to an in-progress track from his upcoming reSolution project amply attests:

So how come you’ve never heard of him before?

Simple. He sucks at playing the game.

To be a recognized artist within conservative new media requires much the same approach as being a recognized artist within today’s Christian music scene. Unless you stick with R&B (repetitious and boring), you’ll never get anywhere. Don’t challenge. Don’t confront. Don’t show the slightest variation from either yet another rewrite of “God Bless the U.S.A.” or calling liberals poopyheads. And for heaven’s sake suck up to the high rollers long and hard. Maybe then you’ll get some digital ink spilled on your behalf. Maybe.

In recent correspondence Scudder commented, “The culture hasn’t changed for the better one bit, by the way. Yes we prevented Hillary from becoming President, but I’m starting to wonder if we haven’t just made ourselves more marginalized, because the channels that give voice to the celebrities we won’t boycott are just going to amp it up now that Trump is in the White House.” He added, “There is no more comprehension of the need for mainstreamable content among our peers than the day I started complaining about it.” Dour, but deadly accurate.

Do yourself and the world a favor. Actively support independent conservative artists such as Mark Scudder, whose music is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and elsewhere. Rather than kvetch about the Madonnas and Bruce Springsteens of this world, be a proactive responder by spending your entertainment dollars differently. Buy quality music from artists such as Scudder and Richie Furay. Treat yourself. Cut off pop culture’s allowance. It doesn’t need you. Real art does. And you need it too.

Sunday morning begins with the left all a shutter over Donald Trump revealing that the absolute moral authority™ that the left conferred on him over his civil rights record 50 years ago has expired.

It’s a very Breitbartian response to the congressman who was never called to account for making false claims at the passage of Obamacare despite a $100K bounty for video or audio to support his claims of racism.

The media/left loud outrage was predictable as was Allahpundit’s willingness to join in this panic but in the end it changes nothing and all that the fuss will do is demonstrate Democrat importance.

As Batman said to the Joker in the original Dark Knight #3. “you’re playing the old game, today I’m taking no prisoners.


We’ve also heard a lot about how horrible it is that he said this with  Martin Luther King Day coming, but the fact is many of the left rejected King in life considering him an uncle tom and only embraced him after death when he was of use.  Furthermore given the  black community’s rush to re-segregate schools and dorms in the name of “diversity” and the Democrats embrace of it that they invoke King at all is frankly obscene.

If MLK was alive today he’d be ostracized in the same way as Clarence Thomas


For several weeks in the media we have seen story after story about GOP fears over the repeal of Obamacare and the press reporting that they are having 2nd thoughts.

Alas for the left that narrative has gone the way of the dodo

On a largely party line vote, the GOP controlled House passed a budget which will allow the party to repeal Obamacare using reconciliation, a process reserved for budget related items which cannot be filibustered in the Senate. The budget bill passed 227-198, with all Democrats and 9 Republicans voting against it.

That amounts to under 4% of the GOP defecting and largely because they (rightly) object to the level of spending. In the highly unlikely event that the same level defect from the senate, say a Rand Paul in protest to the spending, that will easily leave 50 votes to finish off Obamacare and don’t be surprised if a few democrats running for re-election in red states join in.

So I guess we can classify those stories as “fake news”.


For all those journalists still getting the vapors over Trump’s attack, here is an example of the actual mistreatment of journalists:

Hamas blocked journalists from filming a major protest against power cuts in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, detaining an Associated Press journalist at gunpoint and badly beating an Agence France-Presse photographer who refused to relinquish his camera.

The journalists sought to cover a demonstration against chronic electricity shortages in Gaza, which the AP described as “one of the largest unauthorized protests in the territory since the Islamic militant group took power a decade ago.”

Oddly the MSM doesn’t find this all that newsworthy, likely because Hamas opposes Trump.


Speaking of fake news lets also talks more fake hate crimes

Ann Doss Helms reports another fake hate crime in the Charlotte Observer. A kindergarten teacher was alleged to have committed the fake hate crime against a Muslim student. CAIR promoted the fake hate crime in its patented style, alleging a two-month reign of terror against the boy. The fake hate crime duly made the national news. Then came the investigation:

Police found no evidence to confirm a November report that a teacher bullied and assaulted a Muslim kindergartener at David Cox Road Elementary, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported Friday.

Principal Celeste Spears-Ellis notified parents that the accused teacher has returned to the classroom after the District Attorney’s Office found “no evidence of an assault other than the complainant’s report” and no grounds for criminal charges.

As a general rule if you have to fake hate crimes to make news odds are they aren’t happening.  And may I say that this bit (and the next) shows that Powerline has become a must read website


We’ve heard a lot about fake news let’s talk fake charities:

The Clinton Global Initiative has informed the New York Department of Labor that it intends to lay off its 22 employees on April 15, 2017. The reason given is “Discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative.” Here, via the The Great American Movement, is a link to the notice on the NY DOL web site.

It’s must be tough for a family of influence peddlers when they have no more influence to peddle.


It seems to me that this evaluation is correct:

THIS ISN’T A PROTEST, IT’S A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY: Inauguration Protesters Plan To Destroy Property And Disrupt Balls.

I think these people have decided the way to power and influence in the Democrat party is to destroy, I think they’ll look great in a DC jail and if Sessions decides to go after this stuff using RICO and start suing the folks funding these guys it could get interesting


I’ve been playing a lot of Civilization 6. It seems to me a radical departure from the previous versions. I really feel that I’m playing a different game rather than an update, not necessarily a better or worse one, but a different one. The real change is that I’ve been working in a two laptop system where one is dedicated to the game and the other to this work.


I’m an old comic book guy and at Christmas I picked up a bunch of stuff out of my kids folder for them along with six issues of Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Staki that I never cancelled. You would think after 20 years the quality might drop just a little, but it hasn’t. Along with Groo I’ll still pick them up and enjoy them.


Finally Yesterday Atlanta made mincemeat out of Seattle 36-20 and were celebrated as a powerhouse  while the Patriots pretty much treated the Texans the same in a 34-16 win and were greeted with stories about what is going wrong with them.  That’s how good the Pats are.

Incidentally The NFL should think it’s lucky stars for Tom Brady and the Patriots, the story of his suspension and their quest for Superbowl 5 along with the rise of the Cowboys, Atlanta and Aaron Rogers Packers have overshadowed the idiocy of Kaepernick et/al, but the real NFL news was San Diego telling the chargers to pound sand when asking for a new stadium. I think taxpayers are catching on to the scam.

If Hillary Clinton opened up a hamburger joint, would you eat there? If George Soros wrote a book and went on tour, would you buy his book and wait in line at Barnes & Noble to have him sign it? Did you run out and buy a Dixie Chicks album after they attacked George W. Bush?

Why, then, do conservatives continue to support Hollywood when the vast majority of people in it are pushing a left-wing agenda? Many of them spend more times promoting their political narrative than making movies and television shows. Most of them allow those narratives and agendas to leak through in their performances and movie choices.

As I write this, the Golden Globes are being watched by millions of Americans. A good chunk of those watching are conservatives. This isn’t intended to condemn any of you; I had aspirations to be part of the Hollywood world at one point in my life and even moved to southern California to pursue it. Over the last decade, I watched as the liberal underpinnings of Hollywood emerged into blatant attacks on many of the things that I believe. Recently, the progressive rhetoric has reached a crescendo to the point that they don’t even try to pretend they’re only entertainers. They’ve come out feverishly opposed to the philosophies that make America awesome and in favor of the socialist, lawless, liberal ideology that is leading us towards oblivion.

There are few institutions that are easier to generalize than Hollywood. Save for a handful of brave and outspoken conservatives, the vast majority of actors, directors, and producers are as left-wing as they come. Last year brought more of them out of the political closet as the fear of Donald Trump prompted policy commentary from the strangest places. Today, they are outspoken and angry.

Most of Hollywood is pro-choice. They support the ideas of giving greater rights to members of the LGBTQ community than to average Americans. They want open borders as long as the illegal immigrants aren’t in their neighborhoods. They want total gun control except for their bodyguards. They oppose school choice while their children go to private schools.

They support Obama, oppose Trump, and they’re going to do everything they can to subvert his presidency.

As conservatives, we should not support them. We shouldn’t buy tickets to their movies. We shouldn’t bump up the ratings on their television shows. We shouldn’t be fawning over them at awards shows or idolizing them in any way. Like it or not, they have power through influence of their huge audiences. Some of them reach millions of people every day with their ideologies.

It’s hypocritical for us to condemn their politics but support their careers. Every time we buy a ticket to movies written, directed, and performed by liberal activists, we’re giving them money that will be used to promote their agenda. How many of them gave to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and other liberal politicians? Which ones held fundraisers to promote the progressive agenda? We empower them to attack our philosophies.

We need to make better entertainment choices. As much as I’d love to call for a boycott, it’s unrealistic. As conservatives, we can choose to watch movies by those who aren’t fighting us. They don’t even have to be outspoken conservatives as long as they’re not militant liberals. There’s a reason that Mark Wahlberg seems to be in every patriotic retelling of real events from Lone Survivor to Patriots Day. Clint Eastwood directs a movie every year or two. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could be the next Ronald Reagan. Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington might not speak too much about politics, but they’re open about their faith.

We have choices. We don’t have to kiss the ring of the Hollywood elites or risk boring ourselves with Fox News all night. If we spend our entertainment dollars supporting people and stories that align more closely with conservative philosophies, Hollywood will eventually take the hint. Even if they don’t, at least we can feel better knowing we’re not supporting the engines of our own demise.

This is the 2nd of three guest posts I did for Ladd Ehlinger’s site back in late 2011.  I’m reprinting them here (With Ladd’s permission) because I think the election of Donald Trump is a significant event in the culture wars and these posts (and the follow ups that I intend to write) serve to explain what happened to our friends on the left who are still pulling out their hair over the events of November.  While Ladd’s old blog isn’t there you can find the original piece via the wayback machine.

One of the things about the passage of time is that it changes perspective.

In the 50’s the producers of the British TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood used Ring Lardner Jr., unwelcome in the US for TV capposter1work due to his communist connections (which he stated as late as 1987 he did not regret) under an assumed name to write episodes that he gleefully described as attacks on Capitalism. When viewed today, however, these stories that supposedly celebrated collectivism instead come across as a love letter to the Catholic Church and a bastion against tyranny. A message that modern liberals, normally happy to view Lardner’s work, do not appreciate.

This dynamic comes to mind when examining the 1937 pictureCaptains Courageous starring Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew and Lionel Barrymore.

Let’s look at the IMDB summary of the plot:

Harvey Cheyne is a spoiled brat used to having his own way. When a prank goes wrong on board an ocean liner Harvey ends up overboard and nearly drowns. Fortunately he’s picked up by a fishing boat just heading out for the season. He tries to bribe the crew into returning early to collect a reward but none of them believe him. Stranded on the boat he must adapt to the ways of the fishermen and learn more about the real world.

It sounds like a liberal wet dream: A rich kid, one of the 1%, throwing his weight around and oppressing his schoolmates, made to see how the other half lives and taken off his high horse. Give that summary to a liberal film teacher who hasn’t seen it and they will book a showing in their classroom faster than you can say “racist tea party”.

Alas poor liberals, it turns out the movie is chock full of conservative themes and highlights modern liberal foibles.

You would think the early scenes showing poor little rich kid Harvey (Freddie Bartholomew) throwing his weight around in school, at the school paper and playing on other student’s fears of joblessness to be full of promise for our instructor, but unfortunately Harvey seems to resemble a Harvard yard occupod, a member of the elite, a child who has never been disciplined or told “no”. That resemblance hits too close to home for our socialist instructor, the vision of too many campus protesters come to mind.

It takes a plan gone wrong for his widower father (Melvyn Douglas) to bluntly inform Harvey that his sobbing act will no longer work. Determined to get more involved in his son’s life, he includes him on a trip to Europe by steamship where, as he hides over horseplay, he promptly falls overboard. If he had drowned our instructor could have talked about the bad karma of wealth but instead Manuel Fidello (Spencer Tracy) a fisherman from the Schooner We’re Here, out of Gloucester Massachusetts, fishes him out of the water and takes him aboard the ship and the Movie shifts.

Once again our instructor has hope, our rich kid is among the common men, the 99%.

At first the Captain (Lionel Barrymore) is willing to let Harvey’s attitude go and offers to make him part of the crew beside his son Dan (Mickey Rooney). He refuses to work, he starts ranting about sending the entire crew to jail unless they take him to New York, disrupting the ship.

Remind you of any group of people protesting in the streets lately? Remind you of an entire generation of children who will have what they want when they want it from their $600 iPhones to the latest video games? Our film instructor is torn seeing a mirror and not liking the reflection, and that’s where one of the pivotal moments in the film takes place.

Captain Troop, with the good of the ship and the livelihood of the entire crew to worry about, notes he can’t risk months of fishing on a boy’s yarn. When Harvey still rants Troop finally concludes: “I guess there’s nothing left for it.” He rears back and gives Harvey a slap that knocks him flat. Harvey for perhaps for the first time in his life doesn’t know what to say:

You HIT me!

“Now you just sit there and think about it.”

It is here, with the establishment of discipline, that the movie begins to shift. Harvey gets out of the way a bit but still refuses to work. The crew believes that Harvey is a “Jonah” because he is a passenger and not a crew member insisting Manuel do something about it as he fished him out. Manuel reluctantly takes him under his wing and slowly through trial and error begins teaching him the realities of life.

Harvey, now given direction and discipline for the first time in his life, slowly warms to Manuel as a father figure and mentor and Manuel, still missing his father, warms to him. The situation comes to a head as Manuel and Long Jack (John Carradine) get into an argument over hand lines vs. a trowel. Manuel wagers his new razor vs half a buck that that he and Harvey can out-catch LongJack and his partner Nate. When Harvey manages to catch a halibut Manuel is proud like a father, but Harvey apparently Harvey hasn’t shaken his old scheming habits.

Disappointed, Manuel brings Harvey back to the ship and finishes the day fishing alone. Easily losing his bet, he brings his razor in payment to Longjack who stayed out fishing despite injuries, and hooks in his skin from his tangled trowel. He insists someone had fouled his lines. Manuel tries to laugh it off but as Longjack gets angrier Harvey steps in, admitting what he’s done not just to Longjack and the crew. When Jack prepares to go after him Manuel is ready to throw down.

From this point he begins to earn the crew’s respect and begins to learn the ways of a fisherman. We see the boats at the final fishing area rushing to fill their holds and sail for home. Troop seemingly fills his hold first, but his arch rival Walt Cushman as we have seen a few times before, has stolen a march on him and the race for port is on. Both ships cram on all possible sail, and after a game of chicken it looks like Troop has the race won, when tragedy strikes.

Spencer Tracy death scene

Here again, we see a different set of values.

Manuel doesn’t rage against fate, he doesn’t blame Troop or the race, telling his captain that he’ll beat Walt Cushman next year. He simply accepts his fate, says goodbye to Harvey, declares that he’s going to see his father, and then drowns.

Here is a person, comfortable, well off, pampered and well educated, a person told all his life how special he is and given what he wants when he wants it. As if that isn’t enough he has just managed one of the most miraculous feats of luck that one can achieve, being rescued after falling overboard on an ocean liner in the dark in the middle of the ocean without even a life jacket. What is his response to his good fortune? Anger, indignation and demands, after all… he’s entitled.

The end is almost anti-climatic; the ship gets home, and Harvey’s father is informed by wire that he’s alive. He flies back from Europe to find a son changed and matured from hard work and discipline. After a memorial service to the sailors who did not survive the fishing season they head home.

Pity our poor liberal film teacher who can take no pleasure in this picture.

Not from the spectacular visuals of the ships and sailing nor of the performances from a fine cast such including Lionel Barrymore in one of his last roles on two legs, child Star Freddie Bartholomew, who managed a normal life when all was said and done, A young Mickey Rooney, already with ten years under his belt in film and the only actor in history to appear in movies made in 10 different decades, John Carradine, one of the most prolific actors of all time, and of course, Spencer Tracy, in the role that would earn him the first of back-to-back Academy Awards.

Even with all of this history, our instructor is stuck with a picture advancing conservative values, hard work and personal responsibility. Our instructor isn’t even able to take solace in the bringing down of a rich kid, since the catalyst of this entire process is an act that would shock the modern sensibilities of the instructor, who would have had the captain brought up on charges in an instant. In fact, the very concept of a pre- teen like Harvey doing such menial work has been a line of attack on a presidential candidate who dared suggest that those who don’t have the model of a work ethic needed such an example.

Perhaps with a different election cycle it will be less painful, but the illustration and the parallels showing that our friends on the left just are no longer connected with the common man.

That’s why in universities both history and classic film are things the left will want to keep on the shelf.

By John Ruberry

A couple of weeks back I completed my latest television binge-watching quest, in this case it was the neo-western Longmire.

Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is the Rainier Beer-drinking, unshaved sheriff in the fictional county of Absaroka in Wyoming. He’s a widower putting his life and career back together after the recent death of his wife. It’s easy to imagine Gary Cooper paying this role. His deputies are the loyal Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), Jim “the Ferg” Ferguson (Adam Bartley), and not-so-loyal Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), who runs against Longmire for sheriff.

The series is based on the Walt Longmire mystery books by Craig Johnson.

Originally an A&E show, the network, despite high ratings for the show, cancelled it after the third season. Netflix picked it up, airing the next two editions. It has been renewed for a sixth and final season. The books are set in Buffalo, which is coincidentally in Johnson County, Wyoming. In the show Durant is the county seat of Absaroka. So assuming that Johnson is Absaroka, that would give Longmire’s county 8,500 residents. And since, especially in the first four seasons, there is a murder in almost every episode, that could give this rural county a homicide rate higher than that of Chicago, perhaps, yes, even higher than the small Maine town where the television series Murder, She Wrote, was set. Recurring Longmire character Louis Herthum, has experience with this scenario, as he played a cop in Murder She, Wrote.

Also in Absaroka is a Cheyenne Indian reservation, which isn’t in Walt’s jurisdiction. But just as Captain Kirk was never supposed to violate the Prime Directive in Star Trek, circumstances often force Longmire to pursue police work on “the rez,” which for the most part annoys Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), a Bureau of Indian Affairs police chief. His predecessor, Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), was jailed after Longmire busted him for extortion.

By the third season the murder-a-week package is less relied upon as the events surrounding the death of Longmire’s wife, the release of Strand from prison, the building of a Cheyenne casino, and development projects in Absaroka driven by Deputy Connally’s father, Barlow (Gerald McRaney), collide with Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), the owner a local bar and restaurant. A Native American Longmire regularly tangles with is casino operator Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez). Also captured in this web is Longmire’s daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman), an attorney who is more like her father than either character realizes, as she also discovers that doing the right thing is often an insurmountable challenge in an flawed world.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the
Magnificent Seven

I thoroughly enjoy Longmire and I’m eagerly awaiting season six, as season five concluded with things in a very complicated state. As a western, the cinematography is of course superb, although the show is filmed in New Mexico, not Wyoming. Starting of course with the lead character, the acting is superb, and the story lines generally contain much depth. Although I am curious why Phillips’ Standing Bear character, like those in True Grit, particularly in the Coen Brothers remake, never uses contractions in his speech.

If you prefer westerns that aren’t “neo,” I still recommend that you give Longmire a look. Just imagine cowboy Walt riding a horse instead of driving a Ford Bronco, and replace moonshine with narcotics. And after all of these years there is still conflict between whites and Indians. And vigilantism is also a welcome plot development in any western.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

This is the first of three guest posts I did for Ladd Ehlinger’s site back in late 2011.  I’m reprinting them here (With Ladd’s permission) because I think the election of Donald Trump is a significant event in the culture wars and these posts (and the follow ups that I intend to write) serve to explain what happened to our friends on the left who are still pulling out their hair over the events of November.  While Ladd’s old blog isn’t there you can find the original piece via the wayback machine.

“The trouble is you don’t want a man for a husband! You want a coward who will run out on his friends! Well, that’s not me, never was, and never will be. I don’t care how much I love you! And I do very much. I’m a soldi… I mean I’m a man first!”

gungadinposterEven a person with a casual knowledge of movies knows the number 1 movie of 1939, because “Gone with the Wind”is the highest grossing movie of all time. If you asked them what picture was number 2 that year, odds are they haven’t heard of RKO’s “Gunga Din”.

A 70 year old action picture is unlikely to generate a lot of interest from the denizens of the CGI-YouTube era and with the left practically owning film studios, a period piece depicting the British Empire suppressing a murderous cult in colonial India is not going to be high on the view lists of professors.

This is a shame because it’s a movie that deserves attention from viewers, not only for conservative themes, but on its technical merits, historical influence, strong cast and the story itself.

First, one can’t watch this movie without seeing shades of pictures from “Indiana Jones” to “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. When viewed by the unaware, the reaction is much like that of a teen who has watched “Family Guy”for years who sees the opening of “All in the Family” for the first time.

Second, consider the scale of the film. Over and over you see groups of hundreds of men in formation, both marching and on horseback with great sweeping views over spectacular landscapes. For people used to CGI it’s quite a change to see real people and real animals reacting in real ways. This is 1939. What we would call “computers” were two to six years in the future and where they would exist was the size of Cuba. If you wanted a shot of a group of men charging on horseback, you needed…a group of men charging on horseback, if you wanted an incredible background vista, you either had to have incredible background paintings, or actually shoot at a such a location. And a fall off a roof meant someone actually had to take that fall or you needed good modeling. For the modern filmmaker or student used to manipulating massive groups with a click of a mouse, the concept of having to control hundreds of men and animals for a shot is way above their pay grade.

Third, check out this cast: Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; a legendary name who, in a few short years after this film would match his on screen valor in actual combat. Victor McLaglen; a two time Oscar winner who had faced two heavyweight champions in the ring and fought in Iraq before he ever appeared in front of a camera, and Cary Grant, acknowledged as one of the greatest actors who ever lived. Talk about holding three aces in a hand.

Finally there is the story, and what a story: After a patrol and a village drops off the map a force is needed to repair the telegraph lines and investigate. Three sergeants freshly pulled from a brawl are assigned to lead the party which includes a regimental bhisti (water bearer) named Gunga Din. While the troops begin repairing the line at the village the sergeants start searching the village and come across some suspicious characters whose arrest is a prelude to an ambush.

After a running fight the sergeants get their surviving troops out and report. Their commanding officer recognizes a captured weapon as a sign of the murderous thuggee cult that the British had suppressed decades ago (funny how things like the thuggee cult, the slave trade, Caribbean piracy and Suttee were all suppressed only by the actions of those evil colonial Brits)

A new advance force is prepared sans Ballantine, (Fairbanks Jr.) who is due to marry and leave the army in six days. In a hilarious scene, Cutter (Grant) & MacChesney (McLaglen) manage to temporarily incapacitate his replacement forcing Ballantine into the expedition. When they reach the village and set camp, Cutter, after being locked up to prevent it, sets off to find a temple of gold that Din, (Sam Jaffe) who dreams of being the company bugler, has told him is nearby. Din and Cutter find the temple beyond a mountain pass which turns out to be the base of a thuggee army they are looking for led by the cult leader (well played by Eduardo Ciannelli). Cutter prepares to send Din back to get with the exit blocked deliberately gets himself captured to clear the way.

With the prospect of his friend in deadly danger, MacChesney sets off with Din after him. Ballantine, end of enlistment or not, insists on joining them over the entreaties of his fiance. (Joan Fontaine, the only cast member still alive). They blunder right into the Guru’s trap hoping to lure the regiment to an ambush in the pass.

The following passages contain major spoilers, if you don’t wish to know how the movie ends, skip the following two paragraphs.

The heroes manage by means of a ruse to grab the guru and find themselves in a Mexican standoff that persists until the guru, after a speech that could have been made by any of the heroes in the pictures, sacrifices himself in order to allow the attack to go forward. With their hostage gone the thuggees take the Brits, bayonetting both Din and Cutter in the process.

The thuggees ignore the wounded Cutter and Din and drag Ballantine & MacChesney to the edge of the parapet to watch the ambush of their regiment. As the guards concentrate on their impending victory, Din, still bleeding from his wounds with bugle in hand slowly climbs to the top of the temple dome and blows “stand to arms”. He is shot down but he manages it long enough for the regiment to deploy, avoiding the trap and allowing the army to rout the thuggees. Din is given a hero’s burial and posthumously made a regimental corporal listed “on the rolls of our honored dead.”

Through the entire picture manly virtue is celebrated: It’s celebrated when the survivors of the first battle, after an arduous trek bearing their wounded, form to march into the camp parade in good order. It’s celebrated as Din, with Cutter’s support, dreams of being a soldier instead of a water bearer. It’s celebrated when Cutter allows himself to be taken so Din can give warning. Ballantine refuses to leave his friend in the lurch even for the woman he loves. Cutter and MacChesney endure torture, Din gives his life to warn the regiment, and even the villain of the piece sacrifices himself in the hope of victory for his cause.

These manly values are not only conservative values, but are instinctive human values that since 9/11 the left has been unable to suppress. It certainly isn’t matched by the left protestors who cry oppression if they are evicted from other people’s property at little personal risk.

But what about colonial cultural inequality? I’m glad you asked, let’s look at the first battle scene again.

While the men are repairing the telegraph wires (and given water by Gunga Din) the sergeants search the village for clue to what happened. Ballantine finds a first a single man then a group he is trying to conceal. When they fail to convince him they are poor villagers who survived the raid, one tries to jump him. He finds himself in an outnumbered brawl. Cutter and MacChesney enter, and rather than drawing weapons join in the brawl till the men are subdued. Our politically correct friends might point to this one might question one European handling a group alone, but only if they didn’t pay attention to the larger British group they handled at the film’s start. When they fail to provide adequate answers, they prepare to take them back when the leader lets out a cry signaling a group of snipers on rooftops to fire and a wave of riders to pounce upon them.

The entire British force other than the sergeants consists of Indian troops, yet nowhere in the scene from the start to the end is there any sense that these troops are different than any other. They fight as a unit, throughout the running battle and retreat through and over the rooftops the town against overwhelming odds. The sergeants lead from the front, take the biggest risks and you will note are the last to make the jump that predated Redford and Newman’s by 30 years. Just before the last of them jumps, he checks on a fallen private soldier to see if he’s can be saved, and when the survivors march into camp, they march in together with heads held high.

There was a time when this message was the norm, and it’s not a coincidence that it was also the time of the greatest generation. When we ceded the culture wars we ceded our message, the message of Judeo Christian values, the message of a shared culture and belief in not only right and wrong but what makes a culture and a people thrive as our forefathers did. If we are unwilling to fight the culture wars by supporting our own cultural message, then we need to remember those who already did so effectively in years gone by.

jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrellBy John Ruberry

It’s time to take a break from politics.

Many times while surfing on Netflix I came across a recommendation to watch the seven-part 2015 BBC One miniseries, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is described as such: “In 1806 ambitious magician Norrell leads a revival of practical magic in England and ignites a fierce rivalry with bold young conjurer Strange.” If that sounds like a dopey show, well, that’s what I thought too. But I yielded to the luring and tuned in. I’m grateful that I did.

Magic in the alternative universe of Strange and Norrell is not smoke-and-mirrors and rabbits being pulled from hats, it’s a neglected scientific discipline that for unexplained reasons was abandoned in England in the early 16th century. But Gilbert Norrell (Eddie Marsan), a magician from York, becomes a national sensation when he brings to life the statues of  York Minster Cathedral and, in his only use of dark magic, brings back from death the future wife of a prominent member of parliament, Lady Pole (Alice Englert).

But just as in another alternative universe where humans can sell their soul to the devil, the dark side, in this case a mysterious being known as the Gentleman (Marc Warren), sabotages the transaction and establishes Norrell’s second rivalry.

Norrell offers his services to fight the French and their allies in the Napoleonic Wars, although only Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) directly utilizes magic at the side of the Duke of Wellington (Ronan Vibert), who is initially skeptical of him. Included in the broad historical sweep of Strange and Norrell is the blind and mad King George III, and although not by name, the anti-industrial Luddites.

The rest of the cast is wonderful, particularly Ariyon Bakare as a mysterious butler and Vincent Franklin as the duplicitous promoter of Norrell and Strange. The special effects, with the exception of the ravens in the last two installments, are first rate.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a welcome diversion from the usual, and it’s a particularly good series for binge-watching.

Besides Netflix, the mini-series is available on many on-demand systems and on DVD.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

John ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

By John Ruberry

The leftist group MoveOn got its start as Bill Clinton was being impeached. Their initial message was along the lines of, Bubba has done a great job running the country, his affair with Monica Lewinsky was inappropriate, and now it’s time for Americans to, well, move on.

Now if only the cheerleaders in the media for the Democratic Party could do the same.

There’s a book’s worth of material out there for this post, but I’ll zoom in on just a few today. Dahleen Glanton, an African American Chicago Tribune columnist, puts the blame on the Democrats failure to keep the White House on where she feels it belongs. Yes, the headline gives the ending away, “White women, own up to it: You’re the reason Hillary Clinton lost.” Yet the first sentence of that column betrays how foolish she is, “I don’t understand women.” Her dazzling display of ignorance continues for another two dozen paragraphs.

There must be vile fumes from the Chicago River poisoning the minds of Chicago newspaper columnists, as ignorance begets insanity. I had to read Neil Steinberg’s Nazi-drenched column about Donald Trump and his advisor Steven Bannon, who, by the way, is not an anti-Semite, three times before I gave up trying to make sense of it. Well, almost.  When I am confronted with Nazis and insanity I do one thing and that is listen to avante-garde rockers the Residents’ masterpiece, “The Third Reich and Roll,” only this time I did so while trying to block out of my memory all of my knowledge of the 1960s garage pop classics that are satirized in this work, as a possible gateway into Steinberg’s rambling mess. That didn’t work either. But hey, I tried.

At the end of his column he all but claims that it will be followers of a religion who have been scapegoated for centuries who will be blamed if Trump’s economy doesn’t take off as he promises it will.

Oh, do newspaper columnists have editors anymore?

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who was exposed as a colluder with the Democratic National Committee by WikiLeaks, is calling the incoming Trump administration “the fake news presidency.” Yet two months ago Milbank was covering for Clinton’s “deplorables” gaffe by claiming that “she might have low-balled the number.”

Wrong.

Perhaps what these mainstream media hacks really need is a good cry, which is something the Residents have done as they confide in “Hitler Was a Vegetarian.”

Yes, it’s your party, I know it’s your party
And, you know that you can cry, and, it’s cool
But you have to remember that I too cried my 96 tears
And… it’s just something we all have to go through some time or another.

Get to it.

And then move on.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Unless somebody is actually paying me, I don’t watch televised debates. I visit the candidates’ websites, compare how they stand on the issues, decide on my own, and spare myself the aggravation of wasting hours of my life watching televised debates.

Yes, you can take for granted that the so-called moderators, products of liberal schools of journalism-in-name-only, will favor the Dems. The cable and TV networks are not as bare-faced as Univision’s activists, but sometimes they come close.

And don’t get me started on the unasked questions, especially the unasked question so far,

“You say you are ‘personally opposed’ to abortion, can you explain your reason for personally oppose abortion?”

So last night I watched instead Luke Cage, starring the fine-looking, fine-sounding Mike Colter. I knew nothing about the series, but it looked interesting when it came up on Netflix, so I watched.

Reading about the debate this morning, I’m glad I did, considering that Tim Kaine reportedly interrupted Mike Pence over seventy times. The video posted with that article shows Kaine, lifted eyebrow, finger pointed, yammering on about whatever came to mind, which may or may not be related to what Pence was saying, with little, if any interaction from the moderator.

If this sounds like an exaggeration, look at a brief section of the transcript, where Hillary’s servers, the Clinton Foundation, The Apprentice, Osama Bin Laden, Iran and Iraq swirled around in an alphabet soup,

PENCE: But there’s a — there’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton. And that’s because they’re paying attention. I mean, the reality is, when she was secretary of state, Senator, come on. She had a Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments.

KAINE: You are Donald Trump’s apprentice. Let me talk about this…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Senator, I think I’m still on my time.

KAINE: Well, I think — isn’t this a discussion?

QUIJANO: This is our open discussion.

KAINE: Yeah, let’s talk about the state of…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: Well, let me interrupt — let me interrupt you and finish my sentence, if I can.

KAINE: Finish your sentence.

PENCE: The Clinton Foundation accepted foreign contributions from foreign governments and foreign donors while she was secretary of state.

KAINE: OK, now I can weigh in. Now…

PENCE: She had a private server…

KAINE: Now, I get to weigh in. Now, let me just say this…

PENCE: … that was discovered…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: … Senator, you have an opportunity to respond.

PENCE: … keep that pay to play process out of the reach of the public.

KAINE: Governor Pence — Governor Pence doesn’t think the world’s going so well and he, you know, is going to say it’s everybody’s fault.

PENCE: Do you?

KAINE: Let me tell you this. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, Governor Pence, did you know that Osama bin Laden was alive?

PENCE: Yes.

KAINE: Do you know that we had 175,000 troops deployed in the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile?

Under Secretary Clinton’s leadership, she was part of the national team, public safety team that went after and revived the dormant hunt against bin Laden and wiped him off the face of the Earth. She worked to deal with the Russians to reduce their chemical weapons stockpile. She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot.

PENCE: Eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program?

KAINE: Absolutely, without firing a shot. And instead of 175,000 American troops deployed overseas, we now have 15,000.

PENCE: Right and…

KAINE: These are very, very good things.

PENCE: And Iraq has been overrun by ISIS, because Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate…

KAINE: Well, if you want to put more American troops in Iraq, you can propose that.

PENCE: Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton — Hillary Clinton failed to renegotiate a status of forces agreement…

KAINE: No, that is incorrect. That’s incorrect.

PENCE: And so we removed — we removed all of our…

QUIJANO: Gentlemen, we’ll get to…

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: … troops from Iraq, and ISIS was able to be conjured up in that vacuum.

KAINE: But I’d like to correct…

PENCE: … and overrun vast areas of Iraq.

Where was the moderator? Who knows? Fifty more minutes of that followed.

So you can understand why I prefer to watch the more handsome and entertaining Mr. Colter, whose character is named after Luke 4:18. Here’s the Gospel text in context,

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[f]

The greater lesson, for both Luke Cage and for debate viewers alike, remains, from Psalm 146:3-5 (emphasis added),

3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

No televised debate will change that.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

p12079367_b_v9_acBy John Ruberry

Without the phenomenal box office success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, HBO’s Game of Thrones series may not have ever launched. And without GoT’s ongoing critical and audience raves, The Last Kingdom would almost certainly never have been giving the green light by the BBC.

I just finished binge-watching the first season of The Last Kingdom, which like Game of Thrones is a television version of a series of books, in this case Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Stories. I might not have ever heard of the BBC series had not the ninth season of the Doctor Who reboot had been bombarded with Last Kingdom trailers. I guess that’s the point of promos.

Season two of The Last Kingdom is currently in production.

So how is it? Well, in a few words, LK is pretty good. After all, I kept watching, didn’t I?

Here’s how the series is set up–with spoilers for the most part that cover only the first half of the first episode:

The action begins in the late ninth century as Danish invaders–the word “vikings” is never used–have transformed themselves from coastal raiders into a disciplined army who have conquered each English kingdom save Wessex. The lead character is Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon), the son of a Northumberland noblemen who as a child witnesses his father fall in a battle against the invaders. After he humorously attacks a Dane, Uhtred is taken as a slave. Losing his Christian faith, Uhtred the Godless, much in the matter of white characters captured by Indians in Old West movies, seems unsure of his loyalties, but he’s determined to reclaim his family castle from his duplicitous uncle.

An adult Uhtred, after his Danish family is killed by other Danes, makes his way to Wessex where he pledges loyalty to King Alfred and joins the Saxon cause.

Attractive in a Jon Snow sort of way, Uhtred doesn’t have a vow of chastity to hamper his romantic pursuits.

Religion greatly drives the plot, The priest who baptizes the young Uhtred–twice–has also made his way to Wessex, where he serves as a counselor to Alfred. Refreshingly, the Christians in The Last Kingdom are pious, but not portrayed as foolishly pious. The only religious character treated with disdain is a Danish sorcerer.

Alfred (David Dawson), the devout king, doesn’t let his sickliness damper his resolve to save his realm and drive the Danes out of England.

Besides Alfred, other historical characters who appear in The Last Kingdom are the Danish chieftains Ubba and Guthrum, Saxons Odda the Elder, King Edmund of East Anglia, Alfred’s nephew Aethelwold, and Welsh monk Asser, the biographer of the Wessex ruler. A glaring oversight is the omission of Ivor the Boneless, the Dane whose name still perplexes historians. Ivor was the half-brother of Ubba.

The show plays homage to the legend that Alfred, asked by a woman to keep an eye on loaves of bread being baked, allows them to burn as his mind wanders to pressing matters of kingship.

The cinematography is superb although the filming of the series in Hungary, rather than England, might be the catalyst of one of LK’s noticeable shortcomings, cheap-looking wardrobes and crowns that appear to be plastic. If the series was shot in Britain, or even Northern Ireland where some of Game of Thrones is filmed, I’m sure the costume department of The Last Kingdom could have scrounged up more convincing crowns some better period clothes from a regional Shakespeare company.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

If you are looking for one more Game of Thrones comparison, then I won’t let you down. While gratuitous nudity is absent from The Last Kingdom, the brief glimpses of bare flesh amid the armor and swords appear forced as if someone is screaming at the directors, “We need naked bums for better ratings!”

I’ll be back for season two, hoping for more. (More meaning better shows, not bare buttocks.) After all, the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood didn’t hit its stride until season two and it didn’t achieve consistent greatness until The Children of Earth in season three.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit
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