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Another Dead Republican

with 82 comments

It’s Monday, and I’m sitting in the office eating yogurt and otherwise doing nothing, since I’ve already taken care of all of my actual work, but it’s office hours, so…

Anyway, the title of this post is the title of a book by Mark Zubro.

If you’re reading me on FB as well as here, you already know that I gave this book a strong recommendation, and I’m going to stand by it here.  It’s very well written.  It’s very well plotted.  The narrator and his partner–the two main characters of the series–are very attractive as characters, and I would definitely read other books in this series.

And that’s about as good as it gets for a recommendation, at least from me.

And it doesn’t really bother me that the narrator and the book are highly partison Democratic.  I read lots of highly partisan books from lots of different points of view.

But I did have a problem with this book that is at least partly a result of the partisanship, so let me see if I can explain it.

All the Republicans in this book are highly stereotypical–the problem is that they’re a conglomerate of four or five different stereotypes all mashed into one.

There is the murder victim, Edgar Grum, who manages to be racist, sexist, homophobic, fat, stupid, vile, obsessed by guns and ridiculously rich all at the same time.

At least I think he was supposed to be ridiculously rich.  The thing about the money kept going in and out of focus.  On the one had, his family is the Great Power in the fictional county in Wisconsin where the book is set, capable of controlling everybody’s life and employment.

These days, that takes A LOT of money, and Zubro indicates several times that they have it.

But body weight follows social class, not political ideology.  Rich right wing Republicans tend to be thin, not fat, and not even Rush Limbaugh let himself get the kind of obese that would make it difficult for him to move around a room.   Your average fatso Republican is lower middle class, not rolling in dough.

And Edgar is the stupidest (but not the fattest) of the lot, but the rest of his family isn’t much in the brains department, either.

And that poses another problem.

You really just can’t sit on your ass and get or stay rich.  The Grums have a family trust.  The idea is that they must have inherited what they had.  And that’s fine, except that if you’re dumb enough, you can lose it all damned fast.

And Edgar was dumb enough.  He was losing millions on a nearly daily basis and sucking at least one of the brothers into the vortex with him.  If these people aren’t depleting their assets at a rapid rate, we’re back to assuming that we have the kind of money that would virtually guarantee that they would weigh what they do.

And then there are the motivations, which are opaque, and not just on the part of the Republicans.

To begin with, there’s Veronica, the victim’s wife and the sister of the narrator.  The narrator and his partner are gay men.  Their families, including Veronica, are fine with this.  Veronica herself is fine with this.  Edgar acts like she’s a two year old in a Victorian novel, not letting her work, have her own bank account or know anything about the money.

And she married this guy, why?


And she stayed with this guy, why?


I’m sorry.  Love is not enough of a motivation.  It really isn’t.  Any woman of the kind Veronica is supposed to have been before her marriage a) would only have married the idiot if she got really drunk one night in Vegas and ended up at the Elvis chapel; b) would have thrown the ass out on his ear three days later; and, c) if he refused to go, would have shot him.

But motivation is missing on the part of most of the Republicans, too.

Why do the Grums despise Tom and Scott?


Why are they always snarling and bullying everyone?


I’m sorry.  Hate is no better than Love as a motivation.

Certainly people do things out of love or hate, but that love or hate has to be in context.  And with the exception of Edgar himself, there is no context here.  The Grums do everything they do out of hate, and they hate because they’re hateful people.

They also treat their employees in ways that would end them up with no decent help in any normal part of the country.  The only people who would put up with the kind of crap they’re supposed to dish out are the kind who have nowhere else to go, and it’s not that hard to move to Milwaukee from the fictional Harrison County.

And then, of course, there’s religion.  Or sort of religion.  The Grums are all loudly and obnoxiously “religious” in the sense that they pray at the top of their lungs at the drop of a hat, but it’s impossible to figure out from that what it is that they actually believe in.  If anything.  My impression is that they don’t believe in anything much.  The religion thing is just another form of bullying.

There are some outliers, of course–a pair of super super super rich brothers, who seem to be based on the Kochs (VERY loosely) and whose motivation is Money–but the partisanship extends to both history and wishful thinking.

Our narrator is willing to accept that the Daley machine rigged the Chicago vote for JFK, but he’s quick to point out that he’s heard they learned how to do this from secret Republican maneuvers that haven’t gotten as much publicity.

And then the book takes place during a recall election in Wisconsin, which is so close that “of course” the Republicans steal it–except that the Scott Walker recall election in Wisconsin, which took place in the same time frame, wasn’t actually close at all, and he had an even bigger majority when he ran for reelection.

I don’t think Mark Zubro knows why people vote Republican, or why they resist the government recognition of same sex marriages, or why they go to church and what they find there.

And I am me, and being me I am unusually sensitive to things like point of view.

But this would have been a better book, and the Democrats would win a lot more elections, if Mark Zubro and his friends would actually listen to their opposition and learn to understand what is actually going on.

Because if you think it’s all about love and hate and greed–yeah, it doesn’t make any sense.



Written by janeh

April 6th, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

82 Responses to 'Another Dead Republican'

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  1. Uh, welcome to democracy, peace, prosperity and the advancement of science? Yes, I think they’re good things too. That doesn’t mean you have to like all the consequences.

    In societies with plenty of stuff to go around and voters to insist that some of it does, women don’t have to choose a good provider over this week’s hot lover, and the man who walks out on them for his trophy wife isn’t leaving them to starve. I figure slut-shaming and tossing divorced men out of the regimental mess bought us about two generations. How many could you hope for?

    The patriarchy was based on biological reality–that men could carry thicker armor, heavier weapons and “shovel coal into a blast furnace until you lose your fear of Hell.” (John Wayne, THE QUIET MAN.)
    Now size really doesn’t matter. Remember “all men are equal–Colonel Colt made them that way?” Only now we don’t even have men with .45 revolvers and women with derringers. As war and work more and more resemble video games, the ability to march 20+ miles with a 60-pound pack or lift 16 tons of Number 9 coal is less and less relevant. Give me an absolutely reliable autoloader, and I might prefer a female tank crew. They’d fit better and be more dexterous.

    In a world where hardly anyone dies of childhood diseases and the state provides for one’s old age, even the consequences of being a bad mother are mitigated, and both homosexuality and manufacturing sterile “women” with male chromosomes become perfectly feasible. We don’t need the extra babies anyway.

    Has anyone else read H. Beam Piper’s “A Slave is a Slave?”
    “But what do the Masters DO?”
    “Masterly things: they sue each other and sleep with one another’s wives.”
    We have machines instead of a servile class, but the end result seems to be the same.

    The customs I dislike are the consequences of the world I’m glad to live in. But whatever my opinion, it’s a temporary thing. The fruit was green in the ’30’s and ’40’s, and ripe in the 50’s and ’60’s. Now we’re well into rotten, and that’s not a permanent condition either. But I’d be curious about the seed.


    8 Aug 15 at 9:38 am

  2. The following link is a pretext for a rant:


    I observe that “affordable” has taken on a special meaning in politics. It doesn’t directly have to do with expense and income, and when a politician promises “affordable” housing, medical care, education or whatever, said politician does NOT mean that the actual cost will go down. You could, say, make housing less expensive by building smaller prefabricated houses on smaller lots. You could make medical care less expensive by eliminating “defensive medicine” and unnecessary tests. And you could make education less expensive by doing something about administrative overhead. But at no time have I ever heard an American politician talking about “affordability” mean such efficiencies. In every case, by “affordable” they mean Group X will write smaller checks because Group Y will have to write bigger ones. (Didn’t someone quote Kipling lately? “Take from selective Peter to pay collective Paul.”) The intention may be defensible. The misuse of language is not. If nothing else, sloppy, misleading language encourages sloppy thinking, and we have more than enough of that already.
    Is it the same elsewhere?


    10 Aug 15 at 3:00 pm

  3. Robert, I have never known an Australian politician to suggest anything but “affordable” they mean Group X will write smaller checks because Group Y will have to write bigger ones.

    So its the same here. Although they rarely use the word “affordable”.


    10 Aug 15 at 8:30 pm

  4. After considering


    I am not sure there is any point in sending people to college except for engineering and science.


    10 Aug 15 at 8:41 pm

  5. Medicine? Mathematics? Possibly law? My distinction is between those courses of study in which the professor can be proven to be wrong, and those in which he cannot. Diplomas may be rendered worthless, but reality-oriented education has value in itself.

    As for the rest, a finishing school or four years of making useful “contacts” has value, though it is not an education. And I think a potential minister of any text-based religion should learn the text, and appropriate languages and the various schools of interpretation. That is both job training and an education, though not a liberal arts education.

    [Finish the essay, Jane! Finish the essay!]

    But yes. The rest of it is pretty well designed to show us various ways to live and think. If there is only one way to live and think, and the program is not subject to amendment on the basis of reality, I should think a pamphlet of about 32 pages should suffice.

    I regret I will be unable to read it. In the words of John D. Clark, “I have an engagement in the Hyborian Age, and will be gone all evening.”


    11 Aug 15 at 6:16 pm

  6. I studied law as an articled clerk in one of the local law firms in my home town. The course was supervised and exams were set by the State Law Society, basically the Bar Association. The best lawyer I ever knew was a graduate of that scheme. But while I’m confident that learning law on the job is as good or better than going to law school, I am a firm believer in professional studies being subsidiary to a liberal arts degree because if only because it broadens the mind.


    11 Aug 15 at 7:41 pm

  7. Mique, Judging from the articles we have been reading, the students have taken intellectual control of the universities and they do not want their minds broadened.

    [finish the essay, Jane!]


    11 Aug 15 at 8:39 pm

  8. Obviously, the Rule of Law is a seriously endangered concept in th US:



    12 Aug 15 at 11:12 pm

  9. Indeed. In fact, I was debating posting that same link. I can’t think of anything much more dangerous to a democratic government than to have the armed forces believe that there is one law for them and another for their masters. The overlapping cast with the Sandy Berger case a few years ago doesn’t help. And it’s having–so far, at least–surprisingly little political impact. But we’ll see what the next few months brings.


    13 Aug 15 at 5:16 pm

  10. starting a new thread


    The story is shocking but the reader comments baffle me. Instead of commenting on ISIS, they seem to be blaming George W Bush for invading Iraq.


    14 Aug 15 at 2:57 am

  11. jd, pretty much the entire subscription base of the NY TIMES is made up of Codevilla’s Political Class, and the left end of that. They blame W for everything. I don’t think they even begin by asking “how did we get into this mess?” but with “how is W responsible this time?”

    Commentary threads are rarely models of reason and decorum–except here, of course.

    But the complete lack of interest in the IS on the part of feminist critics is interesting, especially when you compare it with their “campus rape” outrage and the hysteria over a lack of support for homosexuality overseas.


    14 Aug 15 at 4:30 am

  12. I sometimes think that the feminist movement (as opposed to individuals of a sincere feminist persuasion), in the English-speaking world at least, is contained in a hermetically-sealed opaque bubble. They have their petty little local agendas and seem to be completely impervious to wider issues that clash with that. How they can ignore IS and its wider implications for women everywhere is simply pathological. But that’s been around for a long time. As that Slate series of interviews with Camille Paglia showed, the American NOW’s reaction to Bill Clinton’s serial rapacity was priceless. I remember watching three NOW women being interviewed on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour at the time and they staunchly defended Clinton and threw Monica under the bus. Outrageous. I was heartened to read in Slate that Camille Paglia had precisely the same reaction to that as I had at the time, and I was given a hard time, as was Jane, for making the same points in RAM by women who thought it was all Monica’s fault and that the very public misbehaviour of the very public US President, in his very public official White House work place should not be judged because it was his private life. God help us.


    14 Aug 15 at 10:19 am

  13. Robert, I glance at the NY Times online. The health and science sections are still useful. I skip the US politics completely since I can’t vote there.

    Once in a while, there is an article such as the ISIS, which reminds me that the Times used to be a great paper. And then the reader comments reminds me of what is wrong with the US.


    14 Aug 15 at 5:50 pm

  14. There are certainly things wrong with the US, but all the Comments section of the NY Times tells you is (some) of what’s wrong with our political class. It’s not even a New York paper any more–second or third in local circulation, I’m told. But it goes out to, if you will, the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party all over the country. And the readers of partisan journals, talking to one another, are not noted for nuance or insight. The comments on a popular conservative blog would be different, but equally partisan and no more representative.


    14 Aug 15 at 9:16 pm

  15. Apropos our earlier remarks about the continuing relevance of Shakespeare. How on earth will present and future generations manage without him?



    17 Aug 15 at 8:22 pm

  16. We won’t need to. The universities can’t kill Shakespeare any more than they can kill Homer–or even Kipling, whom they’ve really tried to kill. What they’re doing is making themselves culturally irrelevant.

    Thinking of which:



    21 Aug 15 at 4:38 am

  17. I will expound at length. The University or “post-secondary education” generally, has three justifications. One is training for a profession. This is the oldest reason. It is in fact, why Cambridge and Oxford and Harvard and Yale were founded–to produce priests (or ministers) able to read and expound on the Scriptures and familiar with the major doctrines and controversies. That’s as much professional training as anything going on in the schools of medicine and engineering.

    Another is assimilation to the ruling class, which they were once pleased to call “character formation” and which others call “making contacts” or “finishing school.” It wasn’t new when Gibbon was at Oxford, and it accounts in large measure for the ferocious competition for certain schools. It requires that you learn certain things–but not necessarily things listed on the syllabus with written tests and grades.

    The third is what we generally mean by a liberal education–a knowledge of history, perhaps of certain languages, of the most important art of the culture and of the great books which have argued what we are and what we should do. To look on this as something apart from becoming a gentleman or preparing for the ministry is a relatively new thing. I suspect in certain ways it post-dates World War II. It is also, I think, the thing universities do least well at present, and the purpose for which they are least necessary. If you go to Jane’s web site, you’ll find “The Canon According to Me.” I would double her books, or a little over. That gets you somewhere around the famous “50” bookshelf.” Add explanatory volumes. Add vast heaps of history. I’d say somewhere around 200-250 books, you’re an educated person whether or not you ever spent a day in a classroom after high school. I will go further. The young person who has a PhD from a prestigious school but can’t explain the difference between Adam Smith and Colbert on economics or between Jomini and Clausewitz on war, who doesn’t know what the St Crispin’s Day Speech or “paying the Danegeld” is or what Ayn Rand was talking about is NOT an educated person–merely one with a very expensive wall decoration.

    If, as societies, we focused on what people need for job training and what constitutes an education, there’s a decent chance many of our young people could have both. But so long as the schools have no core curriculum, and as long as the justification for universities is “people need educations to get good jobs” than the logic of the politician who explained that “I went to college to get a job and left college when I got one” is irrefutable. Jane says the bubble will pop. I prefer to think Toto will draw back the curtain and expose the little man. But either way, Oz the Great and Powerful can’t continue much longer.

    Education, however, will continue.


    21 Aug 15 at 7:18 pm

  18. What, nothing? Let me be more provocative and provide a list of educated men and women–all from the Anglosphere, all since the time when secular gentlemen were attending university–and all completely without university attendance. (A little time in business school is allowed so they can learn to type.)

    William Shakespeare—grammar school
    Benjamin Franklin—two years Boston Latin School, ending at age 12
    George Washington—tutors “possibly amounting to elementary school.”
    Jane Austen—two years boarding school
    Mary Wollstonecraft—no formal education. Sometimes attended lectures.
    Bronte Sisters—none more than two years boarding school
    Abraham Lincoln—itinerant teachers, less than 1 year total.
    Frederick Douglass—no formal education.
    Samuel Clemens—fifth grade
    Rudyard Kipling—iffy: Westward Ho! Was officially the United Services College, but Kipling left it at 17, and couldn’t qualify for an Oxford scholarship.
    Dashiell Hammett—left school at 13
    Ernest Hemingway—high school graduate.
    H. P. Lovecraft—high school dropout
    Robert E. Howard—two semesters business school
    Harry S. Truman—Independence High School. One semester commercial college. Some night law courses.

    [G.K. Chesterton misses by a heartbreaker. After St Paul’s School, he took courses from the Slade School of Art, which is allowed, but there are reports of taking Literature courses from the University College of London, which disqualify him.]

    I will undertake to match the political figures here against the two dozen people who currently imagine themselves to be qualified to be President of the United States, and the literary figures against the recent nominees for any literary award you would care to name. Education is important: university attendance not so much.

    Would anyone care to add names to the list?


    23 Aug 15 at 9:41 am

  19. Robert, I have nothing to add it you admirable list. On the evidence of this blog; you, mique and myself are the only people left in the universe and we think very much alike.


    23 Aug 15 at 8:02 pm

  20. Like jd, I find it hard to add to or argue with your comprehensive list. Back in the good old days before the rise of the professional political class, some of the best of Australia’s political leaders were not even high school graduates. One very popular and competent prime minister was a what Americans would call a steam locomotive engineer. Tradesmen, who in those days finished their school learning at Year 9 before undergoing a four or five year apprenticeship, were the heart and soul of the then very competent and formidable Australian Labor Party. One famous old Labor politician described the modern situation aptly saying in disgust that when he joined the Labor Party, it consisted of the cream of the working class. Now, he said, it consisted of the dregs of the middle class. In fact, it’s even worse now, because all major parties are swamped by the dregs of the “New Class”.


    23 Aug 15 at 9:50 pm

  21. jd, I hope you’re proven wrong. Not that I don’t enjoy your company and Mique’s–but people who agree with me only provide supporting details. It’s people who think differently who will tell me when I’ve gone completely off my chump.

    Meantime, has anyone read a good book on the “New Class?” I’ve got Djilas, of course, and Bobos in Paradise is fun. But there’s nothing I’d put on the shelf next to The Theory of the Leisure Class, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism or The Unheavenly City.

    And come November, I will once more have shelves to put them on.


    24 Aug 15 at 7:35 pm

  22. Mique, as you said about the rule of law:


    Nothing like listening to one of the rulers “accept responsibility” without consequences of any sort, while knowing you’d be sent to prison for the same behavior.


    28 Aug 15 at 5:54 pm

  23. Shameful, isn’t it? Even at this distance, the corruption of the Obama administration rivals and probably surpasses any other administration in my lifetime. And it still amazes me that the sheep voted for him again even knowing the full extent of the incompetence/malfeasance.

    And this goes a long way towards explaining why: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/08/the_quiet_revolution_how_the_new_left_took_over_the_democratic_party_.html

    It’s as bad here or worse, for much the same reasons.


    28 Aug 15 at 11:55 pm

  24. Mique, I’d agree with the article’s sequence, but I don’t think it’s organized much. Jane’s “Why Intellectuals Love Marx” covers some of it–but neither she nor the article address self-interest. Apart from the joys of lording it over people, the Maximum State has all kinds of job opportunities for its advocates–as propagandists and censors for instance, though I gather I’m supposed to call them lecturers on multi-culturalism and sensitivity trainers.

    Just in case Michael F ever stops by:



    30 Aug 15 at 6:54 pm

  25. This says it all, really. http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2015/09/man-times-indeed/

    Malcolm Turnbull is the latest in the train of Australian Prime Ministers, and he is right down to the “quality” of other western leaders. We’re all in a bad way, politically, scooping the dregs.


    22 Sep 15 at 12:17 am

  26. A Yogi-ism, just because:

    “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

    I can think of several places where that one should be carved over the door.


    24 Sep 15 at 5:33 pm

  27. Love it. Sad about Yogi. When we were talking about his death a few days ago, my 13 year-old grand-daughter asked how could Yogi die when he was only a cartoon character. What an honour to have been made pretty much as immortal as any western person is ever likely to get by having a popular cartoon character named after him. It certainly won’t be over till it’s over.


    24 Sep 15 at 7:22 pm

  28. I keep telling people that one reason for supporting the left is that it pays very well:


    Where are the muckrakers when we really need them?


    1 Oct 15 at 3:22 pm

  29. And then there’s this. VDH nails it yet again. What a dunce this Pope is.



    2 Oct 15 at 1:03 am

  30. Mique

    2 Oct 15 at 8:31 pm

  31. Mique

    9 Nov 15 at 5:59 pm

  32. The term “Generation Gap” is becoming more meaningful to me.

    I vaguely remember WW2. I do remember the Berlin Blockade and the Korean War, and the Civil Rights marches.

    I do not understand this generations demands for trigger warnings and worries about Halloween costumes.


    10 Nov 15 at 3:23 pm

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