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Klavan On The Culture

Thanks, Christian White Men!

August 6th, 2014 - 6:06 am
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It is difficult for me to imagine — as I’m sure it must be difficult for all of you to imagine — how anyone could be angry at a sweet fellow like me. But judging by some of the comments on the Truth Revolt site, apparently this video did it. And yet, check me on this. Making allowances for condensed expression, is there anything untrue here? Anything cruel or hateful? People keep emailing me lists of all the sins committed by Christian White Men. But to say, for instance, that Christian White Men held slaves or started wars is as much as to say they had two legs: i.e. they are like everyone else. I concede that, of course, but I’m talking here about the things that differentiated Christian White Men from others: ending slavery, granting women equal treatment and extending toleration to those who were unlike themselves.

For which, by the way, thanks a million, Christian White Men!

Is Sex Just Sex?

August 4th, 2014 - 12:57 pm
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An excellent debate went on at The Week last week (h/t to director Jeremy Boreing for sending it to me). The issue was sex.

In a civilized and considered essay, senior correspondent Damon Linker declares, “The culture war isn’t really about culture, and it never has been. It’s about sex.”

Welcome to sexual modernity — a world in which the dense web of moral judgments and expectations that used to surround and hem in our sex lives has been almost completely dissolved, replaced by a single moral judgment or consideration: individual consent. As long as everyone involved in a sexual act has chosen to take part in it — from teenagers fumbling through their first act of intercourse to a roomful of leather-clad men and women at a BDSM orgy — anything and everything goes.

All of our so-called cultural conflicts flow from this monumental shift — and the fact that some of our fellow citizens (religious traditionalists and other social conservatives) are terrified by the new dispensation.

Linker goes on to say that, while he feels comfortable with modern sexual liberty and appreciates its relief from “sexually inspired suffering, shame, humiliation, and self-loathing,” he has also come to appreciate that some traditionalist critiques of the situation are worth considering. The gains of the sexual revolution are clear: “It’s fun! It feels good!” But it may be that traditionalist fears that promiscuity threatens the stability of society and the welfare of children have merit.

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How Leftists Succeed

August 1st, 2014 - 10:49 am

Comedian Evan Sayet has a snazzy new website, where he continues to spew the sort of despicable right wing hate speech I very much enjoy. Here’s his latest very funny video solving the mystery of “How Liberals Reach The Tops of their Professions.”

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There’s lots more where that came from — which is here.


Show Business Welfare, New York Style

July 29th, 2014 - 10:05 am

“You earned it! I want it!”

One of the best reporters in New York state — one of the best reporters in the country for my money — is my friend and Manhattan Institute colleague E.J. McMahon. The president of the Empire Center for Public Policy, McMahon covers Albany and all its works with a steel-trap grasp of economic realities combined with a restrained but acerbic understanding of human foibles and corruption. And since “Human Foibles and Corruption” could be the motto on the New York state seal, the word out of the Empire Center is generally authoritative.

This week in Newsday, McMahon has a typically controlled and suggestive piece on the latest rain of taxpayer dollars to be showered by Democrats on that great Democrat institution show business. This time, it’s CBS and Stephen Colbert who’ll bathe in their fellow citizens’ hard-earned cash.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that New York State will steer $16 million in subsidies to CBS to keep the “Late Show” in Manhattan under its next host, Stephen Colbert.

The deal is just the latest in a series of lucrative state tax giveaways to the entertainment industry — part of a national trend, even though Cuomo’s own tax reform commission last year suggested that credits for movies and TV don’t really pay for themselves.

Last year, NBC secured tax breaks estimated to be worth at least $20 million to help finance its move of the “Tonight Show” from Burbank, California, back to Rockefeller Center, where it originated in the 1950s. This was made possible by a 2013-14 state budget provision that extended New York’s already generous film and TV tax credits to “a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York.” That language was so obviously tailored to NBC that it became known in some quarters as “Jimmy’s Law.”

Though CBS didn’t qualify for this particular out-of-the-citizens’-pocket bonanza, Cuomo found a way to pony up 16-mil of other people’s money by bending a law meant to provide performance-based tax credits to businesses other than that of show.

The premise behind the CBS tax breaks is that the “Late Show” and 200 jobs might have moved away without them. In reality, if Colbert hosted his show in Los Angeles — as Jay Leno used to do on NBC, before giving way to Fallon — it would have caused barely a ripple in the city’s economy…

The joke, it seems, is on us.

No doubt. You can read the whole thing here. And if you want to put this particular piece of Democrat waste in context, visit the Empire Center’s website and check out their Albany Spend-O-Meter! Which is hilarious but also, you know, not.

President I-Don’t-Care

July 27th, 2014 - 9:59 am

What is the president thinking?

That seems to be the question of the day. Russian clients are shooting passenger planes out of the air with Russian weaponry, Al Qaeda on Steroids is taking over Iraq, Iran is running circles around gormless western negotiators while it builds nukes for “peaceful purposes” (because once all non-Muslims are dead, there will be peace!), the Jews are at war with barbarous terrorists so of course the world is cheering for — guess who! — the barbarians, our country is being overrun by illegal aliens we can’t afford to accommodate — and the president of the United States is doing what? Yeah, fund-raising, baby! Doing his charming give-me-some-money speech thing:

I just flew in from Washington and boy are my arms tired! But seriously, it’s great to be back in Akron! Are those Republicans stinkers or what? It’s a war on women, I tell ya. They’ll probably impeach me next cause I’m black. Don’t boo — vote!  Thanks, and that’ll be $30,000 a plate!

What is he thinking? The ladies on Fox News — Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren  — keep asking their guests in tones of amazed frustration. The big writerly minds have comments and theories. Here’s Peggy Noonan in a Wall Street Journal column headlined “The Daydream and The Nightmare”:

I’m not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man…. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic…. [He] doesn’t seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he’s made that have not turned out well…. He thinks he’s done his work… history will look back on him and see him as heroic…. It is weird to have a president who has given up.

Here’s Daniel Henninger in the same paper, with a column headlined, “Obama to World: Drop Dead”:

How… to explain someone who claims he can run the country and a troubled world out of his back pocket while he flies from fundraiser to fundraiser? Barack Obama is the most provincial U.S. president in at least a century. The progressive Democrats who displaced the Clinton machine in 2008 and came to power with Mr. Obama have no interest beyond consolidating political and electoral power inside the U.S. Not even the White House of Lyndon Johnson, the ultimate pol, was so purely politicized.

The fundraising is a frantic effort to protect this new Democratic voter machine. The world doesn’t vote, so the world doesn’t matter.

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Who took the Hero out of “Hercules”

July 25th, 2014 - 11:26 am

You wouldn’t think it possible to say something profound about a movie starring The Rock — it seems almost an offense against reason! But over at the classics website The Forum — or as I like to call it “Young Klavan on Old Culture” — my son Spencer delivers a brilliant treatise on why taking the myth out of mythology gives us, not modern profundity, but emptiness and cynicism:

Back in the day, hero myths were how Ancient Greece told the stories that America now tells in superhero comics. An unstoppable renegade throwing a destructive hissy fit then going down in a blaze of glory for the good guys: that’s Phoenix from X-Men and Achilles from the Iliad. An ordinary guy turned extraordinary champion of justice to avenge a murdered father: that’s Batman and Theseus. And the long-lost son of super-parents in the sky, raised by humans to save earth with unheard-of strength and powers? That’s SupermanThat’s Hercules.

But Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules is no Superman. In this movie, all that phony supernatural stuff is for suckers, a bedtime story that Hercules perpetuates to pump up his image. Scene after smug scene, the movie knowingly debunks its mythic origins. Son of Zeus? Let the saps believe that so they’ll fear me, says The Rock. Centaurs? Please. Just dudes on horses (from far away . . . before contact lenses). “I have seen too much reality to believe the legends,” says the canny queen, Ergenia, but “the people need a hero.”

In other words: Joe Schmo needs a pretty story so he can believe in “virtue” and “heroism.” The élites know better.

Yowsa! And he’s just getting started. Read the rest of it, really. It’s all good.

MindWar: “Relentless Action”

July 23rd, 2014 - 10:18 am


There’s a really lovely review of my new YA novel MindWar in the highbrow Christian journal Books and Culture.  MindWar is the first book in a trilogy about Rick Dial, a former high school football hero who becomes an expert video gamer after a car wreck all but cripples him. Enlisted by a secret government agency, he is projected into a dangerous cyber world that has been designed by a terrorist to destroy America’s defenses.

Books and Culture editor John Wilson, writes:

When I was a boy, I loved adventure stories—anything featuring a murderous giant squid was a good bet—but I also liked to read my mom’s copies of Ladies’ Home Journal.) Friends with sons ask me to recommend good “boy books”: they can’t find enough of them.

One writer I point them to is Andrew Klavan, a masterful suspense novelist who branched out into Young Adult fiction a couple of years ago…

Wilson goes on to praise the novel’s “relentless action,” and concludes, “Most readers will be waiting impatiently for the second volume of the trilogy, Hostage Run, which is scheduled for publication in March 2015. Count me among those impatient readers.”

You can read the whole thing here.

You can buy the book here. And you can even pre-order the sequel! Come on, what are you waiting for?

Farewell the Maverick

July 21st, 2014 - 10:10 am

I know: with the Obama presidency unraveling in a disaster for America and the world, it seems absurd to waste a blog post on the death of actor James Garner. But bear with me. This is a blog on the culture. It was the culture, dominated by leftists, that helped make this catastrophic presidency possible. Garner’s death underscores part of what went wrong.

The star of the ’50s TV western Maverick and the ’70s private eye show The Rockford Files died at 86 over the weekend. He was a wonderfully charming and entertaining actor who made some fine movies (The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily) but was only truly a star on the small screen. In this, he resembled two other favorites of mine, David Janssen, who starred in The Fugitive and Harry O and Darren McGavin, who starred in Mike Hammer, The Outsider, and The Night Stalker.

I’m not sure — no one’s really sure — what made an actor more suitable for the small screen rather than the movies back in the day, or why some could move comfortably between one and the other. Garner, Janssen and McGavin all had a limited range and a set number of out-sized mannerisms. But that was true of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood too, two of the biggest movie stars of all time. Maybe something about Garner and the others was just more recognizable and knowable and human than what we saw in movie stars when there actually were movie stars. Wayne, Eastwood — even more actorly stars like Brando and Pacino — all had something huge and iconic about them. No matter how well they played their parts, they were always more personae than persons. You could imagine hanging out with Garner. You could only dream about being John Wayne.

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Leadership: Three Videos

July 18th, 2014 - 10:36 am

Take about six minutes and watch these three videos through to the end. The first is President Ronald Reagan’s reaction to a passenger jet downed by the Russians, the second is President Barack Obama’s reaction to a passenger jet downed by the Russians, and the third is my exclusive interview with someone who thinks President Obama is doing an absolutely terrific job.

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Had a chance to chat in depth with Paul Cook at CBS station KMOX NewsRadio 1120 out of St. Louis. The talk ran from writing fiction to politics to my new novel MindWar, the first in a trilogy of Sci-Fi adventure novels for young adults. First reviews for the book are starting to come in over at Amazon. I like this one from Wheelsms: “It reads like a cross between Tron, This Present Darkness, Ender’s Game, and The Matrix.” Not bad.

The story centers on Rick Dial, a one time star high school quarterback who retreats into obsessive gaming after his legs are shattered in a car crash. Turns out, his gaming skills combined with his quarterback reflexes and mentality, make him the perfect candidate to fight the MindWar and he’s injected into a video game-like atmosphere where the stakes are very real and very high.

You can buy it here, and you should!