Friday, February 14, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: The Sexual Politics of Toy Story IV

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another deep dive into the art of screenwriting.

As a starting point I guess I should confess from the get go that I have a slight aversion to animated films in general. I'll admit it's a peculiar undercurrent of "un-enjoyment" that I have a hard time explaining, or justifying, in that I readily watch South Park, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, think that Fantasia was one of the great classic films of yesteryear, and if CG is any indication - I watch tons of content that has been altered by some form of animation.

Regardless, I must give PIXAR credit where credit is due. Forgoing the fact that the 21 feature films (and shorts) are animated, (and well animated I must add), it is obvious that what attracted throngs of fans to their films was the writing. The folks at PIXAR, originally a Lucasfilm subsidiary, and now a Disney property, was founded in 1979, and through the assistance of various investors such as Steve Jobs, at the time of their purchase by Disney in 2006, PIXAR had a valuation of $7.4 Billion.

At least five of their films - Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story are franchises with sequels that account for 13 of the 21 features. At the time of this blog post the most recent of them is Toy Story IV, which is listed as having a $200 million budget and drawing almost 1.1 Billion over its six week box office stint. So, yay, Go PIXAR!

What I personally have always admired about PIXAR, or at least leading figures like John Lasseter, was their uncanny ability to make adults sob uncontrollably in response to the sentiment- ality and overall relate-ability of their story-lines. Masters of catharsis - the bastards! Still, kids of all ages are capable of watching movies like UP! over, and over, and over, again.

So let's look at Toy Story franchise, and the newest sequel in the series, shall we?

First off, the protagonist of all of the films is a cowboy doll called Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks. All of the other characters are secondary or tertiary perhaps with the exception of Buzz Light Year - a not so brainy space explorer figure, who supplies the role of a comedic Enkidu to Woody's Gilgamesh. Buzz's best moments were arguably in Toy Story III where his story arc included a memory loss, bouts of self-doubt, and a budding love relationship with a cowgirl doll called Jessie.

Gone is all that in Toy Story IV. With a screenplay penned by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom with some story blocks contributed by Lasseter, and even the delightful Rashida Jones, who I like very much as an actress, the focus moves firmly back to Woody.

So, you're probably wondering about now, "what does this have to do with sexual politics?" - as mentioned in the article title. Well, I'll illuminate.

It's the Little Bo Peep character.

While she is clearly presented as a potential love interest for Woody, she lacks entirely an internal story arc of her own. Sure, in her absence from the series she's become a bit of bad ass having lived out on her own without her former friends as a "lost toy", but my question is, is that enough?

I suspect that the writers felt that by making her a capable, outspoken, woman that they had sufficiently empowered her persona to stand as a shining example of modern femininity. But did they? I think not. For while giving her character a healthy dose of vim they absolutely failed to impart to her a story arc of her own.

On the other hand, In Toy Story IV Woody clearly experiences an crisis of conscience and an existential malaise arc throughout, defined by his dedication to his leadership role in his group, his feelings of uselessness and abandonment in regard to his new child "Bonnie", and the regret of not leaving earlier to explore a romantic relationship (we suspect) with Little Bo Peep.

These arcs all resolve by the end of the film.

But Bo Peep, for all her so-called "archetypal feminism", does not evolve at all over the acts. Thus, in the guise of virtue signalling their feminist stance, the writers failed to make Bo Peep an actual human. Uhm, a toy of course, but you know what I mean. For goodness sake, if she just talked about Woody or one of the male characters a tad more the script would have surely failed the Bechdel test.

Being the weird deconstructionist I am, I of course re-wrote the problematic issue in my mind as I watched. I do this by imagined what I suspect is going to occur, but in this case it never did. I think upon Woody encountering Bo again, she should have feigned good will regarding his quest of rescuing the captive "Forky" from the erstwhile villain of the piece "Gabby Gabby". While Woody would have been fooled by giving her the benefit of doubt, but upon meeting up with Gabby, she sells him out to her for something that she wants from Gabby. While this casts her more in the position of an antagonist, Bo then has the entire script / film to, first; feel remorse for her betrayal, second; to turn on Gabby, and third; to acknowledge her feelings for Woody. She even had a built-in chorus in the form of her sheep who could have prompted her to question her bad decisions. As Bo came to the rescue at the end of the story, the completion of her own arc would have paralleled Woody's, creating a perfect ending, both structurally and emotionally.

The way the film is now, she can take or leave Woody, and the onus of him staying with her specifically is neutral enough that they could just be friends. Now I know that these films are for the most part made for children, but you may recall that there were several notable romances that littered the plot of the last film - specifically between Ken and Barbie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato head, and Buzz and Jessie. My suspicion is that the left-wing virtue signalling culture of the Hollywood elite - long infected by Marxist Intersectionality and Post-Modernism has become so entrenched that relationships, maybe even more so hetero-normative ones, are unconsciously (or maybe overtly) perceived to be best avoided altogether. This is probably why familial (particularly sister-sister and mother-daughter) and platonic friend relationships have supplanted dashing Prince's coming to the rescue in all of the most recent Disney Princess outings, such as Frozen and Maleficent.

While I understand that the outdated images of a helpless, agency-bereft waif like Cinderella or Aurora requiring a man (or Fairy Godmother...or both) to swoop in and save them from their plight is a bit of utopian wish fulfillment that is even more disastrous for female character writing than Peep as she stands, but as I understand it, fictional characters are designed to be human, and must behave like, well, the humans we all interact with on a daily basis.

Clearly in a climate where upon writing a male-female love relationship, a mob of Twitter goons attack you for not making the couple in question homosexual, or start re- visiting Metoo rape culture topics, or worse, they up the ante and denounce the creators as bigots for not addressing the triggered feelings of the non-binary trans-gender midget furry demographic, it is all certainly concerning to say the least.

I personally like writing...good writing. Writing that is so solid that it stands the test of time. And when I'm talking about time I don't mean just in the decade sense, but in the century and millennia, across culture and language sense.

Don't get me wrong, catering to a specific audience is some- times a fully sound and appropriate premise, but robbing char- acters with previously established personas of their humanity is never a good thing. I mean, did Buzz and Jessie just sort of fall out of love since the last movie? Ken's desperate protectiveness of Barbie was certainly not in the mix. And even the touching concern Mrs. Potato Head expressed repeatedly for her spouse was relegated to, yep...one snippy complaint.

In my mind Little Bo Peep was not just a "capable" woman, she deserved to learn and grow through the film, like Woody, and to experience her own epiphanies and feelings, that we, the audience would have shared with her in catharsis.

But alas, while I generally enjoyed the ride of Toy Story IV, and their forays into childhood sentimentality were still effective enough to urge me to feel great pathos for both the heroes and antagonists in the film, the mismanagement of Little Bo Peep's character arc suggests that it is surely the weakest written film in the franchise.

Come on PIXAR. Don't walk on eggshells. Just stick to your model. Write great scripts!

Till next time.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thank You, Nancy Pelosi!

Wow. Just wow.

Welcome back to the mighty Gauntlet of Balthazar for yet another terrifying glimpse into the dark psyche of the creature inaccurately, but nevertheless self-described as "a progressive liberal".

As moderates, centrists, Independents, Libertarians (left and right leaning), Blue Dog Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives (religious and/or fiscal), we have in the past often turned a blind eye to the elitist and judgemental abuse that Neo-Lib Statists and Marxists have become accustomed to, and I might add, are very comfortable heaping upon us.

From (Hillary Clinton's and Barak Obama's mentor and political guru) Saul Alinsky's play-book (Rules for Radicals) via their dominance over the mainstream media and the educational system, the left has consistently inverted reality for their own ends and has routinely cast their own negative attributes onto their perceptions of their opponents - disregarding their mounting cognitive dissonance and the reality of history, as well as any thought of consequences.

But, every once in a great while, the so-called "liberals", who are truly illiberal, come up with an action - a single action, that ushers them into the light of day as surely as pulling back a thick and velvety red curtain that impedes the progress of an oncoming and suddenly pained thirsty vampire in an old Hammer Film horror classic.

But, let me explain.

In case you didn't catch it, or missed, the recent State of the Union address, let me fill you in on the events that transpired, and relate just how telling and beautiful they were. You see, for those of you who don't know, the President of the United States is required to formally address the entire government and the American people each and every year, and relate the accomplishments of his, or her, administration and pitch a list of upcoming plans and the like.

Well, regardless of what anyone thinks of President Donald Trump's off-the-cuff use of language and quips slathered in smart-assery and douchbaggery, his administration has been remarkable in the sheer volume of the achievements they've accrued in a very short time when compared to all but a few of the US's earlier leaders. Historically this alone places him alongside the founders, Lincoln, Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt as a leading "agent of change" in the history of the nation.

Of course, his agenda reflects the post-Tea Party right, or as I like to term it, the Neo-Whigs, who are not only opposed to the policies of the Neo-Libs and Marxists, Socialists, and Communists, but also to the Neo-Conservative regimes of the past and the entrenched bureaucracy of Washington D.C. - often referred to as the "Military-Industrial Complex", the "Deep State", or the "Shadow Government". Trump calls them "The Swamp". As I mentioned earlier, the left was very comfortable with "tolerating" Republicans on shared Neo-Lib and Neo-Con Kleptocracy issues, and they accepted the paradigm for many years, and thus, partisan back-biting was by today's standards quite mild.

However, as the renewed Whigishness of the right mounted through the Obama years, spurred on by the GOP attempting to force Neo-Con disappointments like John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush to the forefront of each Presidential bid, the anti-Neo-con's like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and yes, Donald Trump took center stage.

In reaction, the Democrats quickly sought to enlist their Neo-con allies in order to push down this affront, but instead, many former Neo-Con's (such as Senator Lindsey Graham) began showing signs of moving to the Right-Libertarian side of the spectrum, and those who supported the previous regimes were summarily labelled "war mongers", "swamp creatures", and of course, "Never Trumpers".

What were the Dems to do? Well, call everyone racist was the first order of business as usual. I mean it was Alinsky 101. I might be digressing here, but in case you're not familiar with Marxist agitator Saul Alinsky, and since I've now mentioned him twice in this article, here's a handy list of his suggested tactics for the left to use to turn America into a Socialist state.

Sounds familiar, huh? Well it certainly should be because this is the roadmap the increasingly far-left has used for years against the right, with only the polite, soft Conservative and Objectivist push back from the William Buckley and Ayn Rand types as they sipped their tea and shook their heads.

But now, the Democrats had a real problem on their hands - a populist.

The media barrage, highlighted by Marxist race, class, and gender warfare rhetoric just wasn't working fast enough to get rid of these pesky deplorables and their douche-bag king. So, they worked their box harder, and their box was Congress. The Mueller report, Wikileaks, Russia, Ukraine, and the impeachment "trial", all ended in partisan loggerheads with the Senate dismissing the Democrat's inverse conspiracy theories (Rules 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 13). Sadly, the Democrats chose to not heed Rules 7 and 12.

Thus, when Trump delivered his most recent State of the Union address, mind you, just prior to being acquitted by the Senate, he very rightly never mentioned the trial and was on his best behavior, speaking in perhaps his most gentle, eloquent, and statesman-like fashion. I guess he can turn it on and off when he chooses.

Apparently this was just too much for the so-called resistance to take, and many Congress-persons representing the former pro-slavery party just up and walked out, 'cuz they were "too triggered" by the fact that it appeared like their wonderful post-Marxist religion might not be everyone's cup of tea. Worse, lo and behold, Trump and his devotees might not be the monsters they had depicted them as, and worse yet, the disease seemed to be spreading. Hell, even traditional ethnic hubs for the Democrats were breaking rank and moving to the other side. Good numbers of Latinos, Blacks, Jews, and Asians, (that Northern Democrats gained by playing race politics in the first half of the 20th century) as well as Moderate Democrats, started looking for lifeboats to get away from the now all but Democrat in name only Socialist Party.

But being a member of a resistance movement takes a toll on the psyche, and soon PTSD sets in. In this case we've deemed it TDS, or Trump Derangement Syndrome, and some folk have it bad, spurred on mainly by social media, and their quest for greater clicks.

When Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, and leader of the Democrats in the government, ripped apart the transcript of Trump's address for her base and the cameras, she was making a statement of resistance. It was an "I'll never stop" gesture to her base.

However, to moderates it appeared as simply petty and childish, and to Republican's - the effect is perhaps the most interesting part. The right looked at Nancy's tantrum, not only as the unhinged rant of a sore loser, but it illustrated viscerally, that these people for all of their invoking of the spirit of the founders, and God, and patriotism...have none.

Often politicians pay lip service about caring for citizens and the nation while really only being obsessed with their own power - and this was it. In Republican eyes the Democrats ceased to be Americans (in the same way) in that instant. They were revealed as the power-hungry moral bigots and hate mongers we've always suspected they were, and the latitude we extended to them went out of our collective hearts in that instant.

Sadly, I can't underscore that point enough.

But, it is what it is.

So, I must thank you once again Nancy Pelosi for crystallizing that moment in time so clearly for everyone, especially for those of us on the right. Perhaps we've been pulling our punches too much. But I fear those days are now over. So I hope your petty gesture and victory lap were worth further alienating a public that you were already losing.

See you at the ballot box, or in the unemployment line.

Till next time.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Finally: Happy Brexit Day!!! - Globalism Versus Sovereignty in Symbolism

Hey there and welcome. Perhaps it's just me, but I for one am quite relieved that as of midnight January 31st, 2020. Brexit has indeed finally come to pass.

Now I know as an American being so interested in a British issue might seem to some as an odd and distant concern. I mean, they (the Brits) play weird games like Cricket, occasionally drink warm beer, don't have the most interesting gastronomy of Europe, and in some regional cases "English almost disappears" to quote Professor Henry Higgins of My Fair Lady fame.

Still, I think many of us (non-Brits, that is) have peripherally followed the intransigence of the Left / Labour Party in the United Kingdom as well as the vexing fecklessness of the Tories throughout this long process of referendums, calls for renewed referendums, talk shows and YouTube videos, three trillion articles, and demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. We must admit that such divisiveness is nothing new and went hand-in-hand with the increasingly vitriolic left-right rhetoric and felt eerily familiar to anyone who has watched the Trump versus Left paradigm in the US, the Yellow Vests versus Macron in France, the Democracy calls of Hong Kong against the Chinese Communist government, and the post-Arab spring world, etc., etc.

So, what, you may ask, does all of this mean?

Well, rather dwelling on notions and emotions, I'd rather focus on the philosophic root causes of the Brexiteers versus Remainers schism and point out that it occurred for the same reasons that caused Donald Trump to be elected US President in 2015. As a microcosm of this issue we only need to look to what can only be seen as a predictable response to the above hypothesis that I imagine would slip from a typical leftist's mouth as they flippantly quip, "Yeah, both the average Brit and average American are just racist, xenophobic, misogynist, capitalist A-holes".

Those are of course not the reasons, but merely the reaction the left has been programmed by the media in order to respond to all those who do not share their opinion of the glorious road into the future. I mean, they're trying to save the world, literally, for future generations, don't you know? How virtuous they are!

So let's look at the big picture, shall we?

For the majority of its history the Labour Party in the UK was a Classical Liberal outfit that was generally moderate but incorporated Progressive ideology starting in the Victorian and Edwardian Periods. Their primary cause was the betterment of the lives of the poor, working-class people of Great Britain - mainly by offering them a representative voice in the areas of Trade Unions and National Health issues.

Just as in the Democratic party in the US, Labour gradually incorporated more and more Socialist ideology into their platform, until, within reason, their leaders often propounded notions that would be much more comfortable within a Communist context.

Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone today that Labour Party Big Cheese Jeremy Corbyn and Presidential wannabe Bernie Sanders pretty much parrot one another in almost every respect.

As so called Socialists, or as they like to frame it (for those of us with weaker hearts) "Democratic Socialists", who are in actuality just Communists in sheep's clothing, they are by their nature, inclination, and dogma, "internationalists". In case you've forgotten your Karl Marx 101, I must remind you that Communism is meant to take over the entire world - with Socialism serving merely as the gateway drug to saddle the nascent embryo of those ideals onto otherwise Democratic systems. Socialists often deny this, but this was indeed Marx's premise of political evolution.

This internationalism is exactly why the left will go to no ends to distance themselves from their Socialist brethren who opted to attempt to institute these sort of dramatic economic changes on a per nation basis. They will swear up and down that any conflation of Nationalism with Socialism is by definition is "right wing", confusing the Civic Patriotism of Conservatives and Republicans with economically Socialist, yet Authoritarian regimes, such as the Pan-Arab Ba'ath Socialists of Saddam Hussein and the Assad boys, the payback-seeking Serbian Socialist junta of Milosevic in Bosnia, and of course the king of all secular Ethno-Nationalists - Hitler and the German Workers National Socialist Party, otherwise known as the Nazi Party.

In the US Globalism entered into the political sphere via the Populist Party in the 1880's and can be seen as coming into crystallization under President Woodrow Wilson's administration during the first World War and his goal of establishing the League of Nations - the precursor to the largely useless and mostly corrupt United Nations.

Regardless, "Globalism" - sometimes disguised by the term "Trans-Nationalism" (a term which I believe was coined by Nelson Rockefeller) festered through the mid-twentieth century and stood as a respectable counter to "Marxist Globalism" in that it still held that Capitalism was something that can be worked with rather than "eliminated".

The means of production were not to be taken over by the state (as in Communism), they merely would be regulated (kind of like Fascism). Within reason, the same re-distributive premise that is overt in Socialism was involved and in the establishment of the European Union, and the economies of all member states were designed from the start to be managed, controlled and manipulated by a faceless, un-elected, bureaucracy based in Brussels. Yay!

Many of the early philosophic founders of the European Union admired the organization of the Fascist dictatorships, and while Fascists and Communists have sworn an eternal pact they are the Lawful-Evil and Lawful-Good of the political spectrum, we must never forget that every Communist state that has ever existed has instead applied the term "Socialist" in their national moniker, and ended up being guilty of the same authoritarian Fascist behavior that they insisted they were so against. Regardless, a government with "Socialist" somewhere in it's name was literally and, ahem, collectively, responsible for well over 100 million deaths through genocide and culturcide in the 20th century. 

So in a nutshell, Marxist Globalists want the world to eventually come under the control of a single Utopian Communist state, Trans-National Globalists want the world to eventually come under the control of an Elitist left-leaning bureaucracy. I would almost call this the conflict between Globalism and Globalization, if you get my drift. On the other hand Ethno-Nationalists (such as the Nazis or ISIS) want their specific country and / or ideology to dominate first their nation, then their region, and then the world.

On the other, other, hand Civic Nationalism insists that each country is entitled to exist, and to be free of inclusion from these supra-blocks if they so decide so. In the past this was simply called "Patriotism", and in the US, the founding fathers made it clear that this had nothing to do with race, but rather ideology. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams were not concerned with "foreigners" adding their numbers to America, they were only concerned that those new arrivals would not understand the core Classical Liberal values they had striven so hard to establish.

For one to be patriotic, one requires a nation -  a sovereign nation - to exist, and ideally that nation will democratically represent the interests of the population. This is what Brexit was really about. A referendum was called and the majority wished to leave the European Union. The Remainers, much like the bitter Democrats, their puppet media, and their strangle- hold on the (re)education system, were not able to properly process that their dogma was not unilaterally dominant in all matters. Like "Trump Derangement Syndrome" the Remainers quickly cultivated "Brexit Derangement Syndrome".

This is mostly due to the fact that the increasingly radicalized left has historically always just sort of "tolerated" Conservatives and Republicans in both the UK and USA, as long as the latter kowtowed to them and approved whatever idiotic policies they wanted to have financed at the moment. You give me Trans- gender bathrooms and we'll let you have some more tanks and submarines. That sort of thing.

However, it seems abundantly clear now (especially since the Tea Party, etc.) that the left might not gotten the memo that world has indeed changed of late. Frankly, it's their own fault for turning their their agenda "up to eleven" and not expecting a backlash.

In the last twenty years Communism and Socialism has started to die globally. India, a previously Democratic Socialist land embraced Capitalism and low-and-behold, suddenly created a 500 million person middle class where none existed before. Likewise even Communist China, after incorporating Free Trade zones, sudden had a 650 million person middle class on its hands. Russia - the role model of the Communist nations, for all of it's Kleptocracy, embraced Capitalism, and now has more billionaires than anywhere else on earth. Vietnam, Cambodia, etc., etc., have all shifted away from full-tilt Marxism, and only outliers like the destitute North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela remain as stunning examples of how failed Karl Marx's utopian notions were.

Within reason it can be argued that Marxism, Socialism, and Communism lost well over a billion devotees around the globe between the years 2000-2020, which I guess makes it all the more ironic that in the same period Europe and the USA have seen swells of (mostly younger) people identifying as Marxists in their political arenas via Marxist Intersectionality (Race, Class and Gender Warfare), Post-Modern language policing (PC), and in general, "Woke" politics.

It seems that rather than the rats fleeing a sinking ship, leftists have opted to go on the full-tilt attack, transferring all of their negative attributes onto their opponents (as suggested by Saul Alinsky). The Democrats (who were / are the party obsessed with race, have routinely slandered the Republicans as the "racist party" for years, notwithstanding the fact that it was they who were the pro-slavery / pro-segregation party and the Republicans were the ones to put slavery to an end. But I digress. Well, maybe I don't, because this is exactly what the Woke Labourites have done to the Tories and to those who voted them in, and who voted for Brexit.

Rather than looking at this conflict as simply a difference of political opinion, the left looks at this as a moral conflict. They are good, the other side - bad. And as this is the framework in which they work. They were incapable of losing a vote to such "horrible" and "stupid" people. The "basket of deplorables", as Hillary Clinton deemed all Trump voters / most Republicans. Thus, while there should really never have been such a thing a Remainer, there should have also never been the phenomena of Tory Brexit apologists. The vote was what it was. I mean, the nation is a democracy, isn't it? Oh, I forgot, Socialists sometimes find it very easy to slide into authoritarianism, as witnessed from the aforementioned data.

In order to get their way the left of course went the alarmist route, and if you listen to a typical Remainer, you might have gotten the impression that they thought that in the aftermath of the UK leaving the EU a wall was to be built around the island, that they would no longer be able to visit the continent for vacations, and that England would more or less be at a state of war with the rest of Europe. This was / is simply concocted hysteria, and not appreciably different from the left's endlessly tiring invective against Trump. I mean, at any moment everything is about to go belly-up, right?

Anyway, I wish you, and all pro-sovereign anti-globalists out there a Happy Brexit Day!!! Maybe if we're lucky next time we'll have "Frexit", and leave the Germans to their "Fourth Reich".

I'd like to leave you with one last thought, which is a quote displayed in the European Union Parliament in Brussels. I think it says it all, and perhaps most ironically, it was penned by a a citizen of the UK - Philip Kerr; the 11th Marquess of Lothian, British Ambassador to the United States, and well-known appeaser of Hitler in the Pre-War years.

“National sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our times…The only final remedy for this evil is the federal union of the peoples.”

With archetypes like him you don't need any enemies.

Till next time.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Buttons, We Don't Need No Stinking Buttons!

Hello everyone, and welcome to, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar - a hopefully enigmatic and curious blog that explores the worlds of writing, art, music, film, media reviews, and of course political philosophy.

While most of my posts here are of a grander and artsy nature, I just realized that for all of my encouraging you, the reader, to follow this blog, since the demise of Google+ there hasn't been a follow button on this page. My bad!

In light of my little oversight I've installed it now, so if you would like to be notified of new posts whenever they appear here just click on the little blue button labeled "Follow" at the top right of the page.

Anyway, that's about all for now, so have a really great day, and as always, till next time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

From the Graphic Design Studio: The Sovereignty Branding Images

Welcome too, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar for the last part in a series of posts dedicated to multi-nominated and award-winning Nevekari Enterprise's new episodic hard-sci-fi series "Sovereignty".

Now I know what you're thinking - "Where can I see the first episode of this awesome new show you're telling me about?", and you'd be right in thinking that. But what many people outside of the creative fields are not aware of is that the average series you end up binge watching on Netflix took on average nine years to go from concept to debut - and those are often coming from teams that are already established from previous series.

Obviously, for a small company such as ours it would require a lot of money to shoot something like Sovereignty. However, I must confess that even if our bank account was suddenly filled with endless magical cash, and we soon popped out a self-financed project, it is still highly unlikely that it would be picked up by an outlet of note, as they might never hear of it's existence without a notable producer, and an agent with "oumpf" involved.

From my years at the screenwriting, development, filming, etc., gig I think in a nutshell the "agent quandary" can be explained as this - A creator needs an agent to get their beloved projects made and distributed, but an agent will not take on a creator as a client unless they already have a "hit". Thus, this catch twenty-two puts the onus on the creator to create on a smaller scale, and to self-promote him, her, or themselves, in the hope of being noticed by a lesser agent, and to eventually get stolen from that lesser agent by a "big fish" who already possesses the connections required to make these sorts of projects "take off".

Vexing, no?

Anyway, the way we've gone about it, at least up to this point, is pretty simple, and I'll lay out the creative process step by step, in case you're curious, or are starting out on a similar path and want to understand part of what you're up against.

Firstly, an idea is born. Many times this idea can be quite old. In Sovereignty's case, some of the characters and universe building goes back about twenty-five years. Other elements are about ten years old. Regardless, at some point, I believe in 2015, my partner and I realized that his old premise for a novel, and a short story I had laying around were actually built in more or less the same universe, and so it quickly went onto the "to do" list.

Combining the elements was not the problem, nor was the scope of the potential future we decided to depict, and in this case the challenge was how to imbue more emotion into the story-line. And so, an outline was hatched. Invariably, I find that laying out an outline, by act and scene, really aids in establishing the infrastructure of a piece of literature, of any kind. Still, scenes were added, scenes were changed, even character attributes were tweaked, and in the end, the original script for what was at one point called, "The Journeyman Circuit", was finished, and, shocker...it was a train-wreak!

Sometimes things just sort turn out good, other times they're average, but as award-winning screenwriter's we looked at the document, and just couldn't figure out what the hell was wrong with it. Something had to be changed, but then again, we had other projects we were writing and filming, so it just sat, and sat, and sat - until, that is, some time had passed and we had some distance, and we tackled it once again, in 2019. This time just by deepening some of the relationships, raising the "trauma" bar a little higher, changing the order of events slightly, and ergo, some dialogue, not to mention the title, Sovereignty suddenly worked.

And so, with the pilot script copyrighted I started working on prototype score to use in a trailer video, and soon ended up with a 4-Track EP, the trailer, and graphic design images we could use in various media to help promote the project. Needless to say, we're still vexed by the "agent quandary", but at least if someone does take a look at our homepage, our YouTube channel, our facebook page/s, or the 391 & the Army of Astraea Bandcamp page, Sovereignty appears as holistically developed as it is. Therefore, while I focused on the website page, the video, and then the music in the last three posts, this time I'd like to pin the three still images that have come about in the evolution of the graphic design concepts of the project.

From top to bottom throughout this post, the first, (the video still and Soundtrack EP cover) was taken from a composite of NASA (and other) images of Mars created in a number of overlapping 2-D layers. The second is a 3-D CG still (created in DAZ) that adorned the top of the page dedicated to the series on our website (and the first article in this series), but now marks the main page chevron / link to the page. The third, and last, design is the replacement of the previous image. It is a 2-D image that started life as a gratis download from Pixabay by a contributor named Richard Reid (reidy68). I've changed it pretty severely from the original, and as you might imagine, it under- went many dozen permutations in Adobe Photoshop CS6 in order to reach it's current state.

Anyway, I believe that for the most part the came out fairly well, and as far as development goes, I think that the first few episode scripts, the series bible, these images, the video clip, and album / EP are quite enough. I hope that in the long run they will aid us in at least appearing coherent to you the viewer and listener, other creators, and ideally, the all too elusive gatekeepers.

So, keep rooting for us - like, subscribe, follow, etc., and please feel free to communicate your feelings about these images, music, or regarding any other content that appear here.

Till next time.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away: Introducing "Sovereignty" - The Soundtrack EP

As promised here is the third installment in this Gauntlet of Balthazar series of posts dedicated to multi-nominated and award-winning screenwriting and creative content company Nevekari Enterprises new episodic Hard Sci-Fi series "Sovereignty".

While the first post introduced the concept and script in general and specifically the dedicated web page on our site to it, and the second post featured the video trailer for the project, this post highlights the 4-track extended play single released digitally on Bandcamp on December 20th, 2019 in anticipation of the web page and video debut on the 31st.

Two of the tracks, "In Hermetica" and "Arsia Mons" were released previously in less fully formed versions and now reside on the 391 & the Army of Astraea "Battle and Realms: Catalogue Volume II (2018-2019)" compilation, once again on Bandcamp. I personally prefer the new versions of these tracks (respectively the Wahrheit Mix and the Collier Mix) and think the two new tracks - "Sovereignty (Main Title Theme)" and "Transgenic (DSY Series Mix)" really do capture some aspects the mood that I feel different characters in the scripts emote.

Anyway, the embed is below, or you can find the album on the Sovereignty page on Nevekari Enterprise's website or on the Bandcamp 391 & the Army of Astraea page.

Please feel free to "follow" 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bancamp, or to "like" Nevekari Enterprises and Stubborn God Productions on Facebook, "comment" to the Gauntlet of Balthazar here, or to like, subscribe, share and click notifications on Nevekari Enterprise's YouTube Channel.

Thanks for playing, and as always, Till next time.

 

Monday, January 6, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: Introducing "Sovereignty" - The Trailer Video

Welcome to, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar for installment number two in introducing the most recent project from multi-nominated and award-winning screenwriting and media content company Nevekari Enterprises, and our new episodic Hard Sci-Fi series "Sovereignty".

In our last episode I briefly explained the premise of the series and posted links to Nevekari Enterprise's homepage and our site's Sovereignty page. While I often straddle a narrow line of how much to reveal, or not to reveal, about a project that hasn't yet made it's transition from page to screen, I am hopeful that just enough is being said about a project to intrigue you, the reader and viewer, to be curious about said project.

Obviously there will always be some disconnect between creator and consumer in regard to projects in their proposal state, and I imagine that most people who consume media just sort of take it for granted that series and films magically appear on their whatever screen they are sitting in front of, and they are oblivious to how long it may have take the project to move from a notion, to concept, to an outline, to a script, a series bible, more scripts, more revisions, concept trailers, and eventually an actual pilot for a series or a film.

Saying that, Sovereignty is by no means our first rodeo as far as episodic series, pilot scripts, series bibles, web pages, or concept trailers go, but it is Nevekari Enterprise's first completed Hard Sci-Fi series. For those of you who have trouble with the distinction, a Hard Sci-Fi is generally a relatively near future outing with the technology being presented in it as falling within as a linear evolution of our current mechanical prowess. Unlike Space Operas, like "Star Trek", or Nevekari Enterprise's "Partisan Earth" which present alien races and "unexplainable" tech, or "Space Fantasies" such as "Star Wars", which present little adherence to the laws of physics and gloss over the inconsistencies of the synthetic languages presented therein, a Hard Sci-Fi must by description only include social, political, linguistic, and technological paradigms that are likely possible evolution's from their current paradigms.

This is not to say that everything we come up with will come to pass, or that we would even like things to turn out this way, but nonetheless, they are presented as possible future outcomes. However, at the heart of it all must remain the human relationships that navigate through the story-line. I think this is an element that is sometimes forgotten by fans, and often creators, who may not understand on a deeper level what they are doing, and what / why they are writing, when they "get a clever idea".

As I always contend, raw inspiration is wonderful, and attempting to gently sway the viewer's sensibilities to another philosophic position is admirable (hey, the ancients called it catharsis), but there is a fine line between presentation and propaganda. I like to think that for the most part we present situation we create objectively and display various characters reacting to those situations in a range of normal human reactions. Thus, while I am personally an advocate for nation-states, an ardent  globalist may watch the series and find a character he or she identifies with and promulgates their preferred philosophy. It's often a hard literary road to hoe, but as we all know, even the worst villains believe they are the hero of their own story.

Please do enjoy our new little trailer embedded below, and if you could, please visit Nevekari Enterprise's YouTube channel and subscribe, like, click on notifications, share, and leave comments both here and there if you'd like.

Till next time.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: Introducing "Sovereignty" - A New Hard-Sci-Fi Series

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for a series of posts featuring a new episodic hard sci-fi series created by the multi-nominated and award-winning screenwriting team and media content company, Nevekari Enterprises. This particular project is titled "Sovereignty", and as the name implies, the philosophic fulcrum that the show rests upon is the eternal debate between how much power a government is given by its citizens and how, and in which ways, individuals wrest or demand their own or local power.

Clearly this is a very prescient issue in the west of late as the culture war between various forms of Marxism and Classical Liberalism has become something of a daily exercise in metallic bickering on both sides.

Obviously, as a socially Liberal, fiscal Anarcho-Libertarian with a strong Conservative-Republican streak, you might have discerned from my earlier forays into politics posted here that I am outspoken in my disdain for all things Communist, Marxist, Socialist, Democratic Socialist, Intersectionalist, Globalist, and Post-Modernist. Thus, to be clear, I am patently FOR national sovereignty and the unique cultural identities that individual societies possess, and ideally, should preserve.

Saying that, Nevekari Enterprise's "Sovereignty" addresses the push and pull of individual rights, ethnic and civic statehood, and larger regional block identities such as membership in globalist organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union.

As a hard-sci-fi, Sovereignty takes place in the year 2158, in the aftermath of a series of dramatic changes to our current social milieu. These are not limited to, but include, a period referred to as "the Great Crisis", during which the collusion of aggrandizing warfare, environmental calamities and fiscal collapse has led humanity to the brink of extinction. As a result, the formulation of the United Nations-like Earth Sphere Government was formulated to quell the resultant anarchy. In a series of conflicts termed "The New Lands Wars", eventually most of the world's nations have come under the hegemony of the Earth Sphere. However, as humanity has expanded past the boundaries of Earth, throughout the solar system pockets of those seeking cultural and political rights have formed and define the conflicts that drive the series forward.

Set aboard a damaged and "de-annexed" (i.e. sovereign) transport ship known as "the Journeyman" our main characters negotiate the fractious world of system-wide politics marked by Earth Sphere purists, Transgenic rights advocates, Martian separatists, powerful corporate entities, crime syndicates, the media, and Artificial Intelligence.

Please feel free to visit our homepage at http://nevekari.com/Sovereignty.html for more information about the themes and story of this timely project.

Till next time.

Friday, December 13, 2019

From the Writer's Studio: What We've Learned So Far From "Star Wars: The Mandalorian"

Well, it's been quite a while since I reviewed any media here on the Gauntlet of Balthazar, so as a follow-up to my previous deep forays into the Star Wars universe, i.e. http://www.gauntletofbalthazar.com/2018/03/from-writers-studio-personal-freedom-in.html and http://www.gauntletofbalthazar.com/2018/01/from-writers-studio-star-wars-mythos.html, I think the debut of the first ever live action Star Wars series, "The Mandalorian", on Disney+, deserves some attention.

 So let's dispense with formality and get started with the deconstruction, shall we.

Episode One: The Creative Team

I believe I should start with a mention of the two brains behind the operation; which are Jon Favreau and David Filoni.

The prior is an able comic actor as well as a swell action writer who has penned several Marvel films. The latter has been the guiding hand of pretty much all of the Star Wars animated series. While I'm no animation buff, I can not offer enough praise about the writing merits of both "The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels" series.

As an aside I should mention that I have never commented on the most recent of the Filoni-driven animated series, "Star Wars Resistance", because it deserves as little commentary as possible, as it is one of the most unbearable pieces of writing I have ever seen in my life.

In brief, "Star Wars: Resistance" features a so-called "protagonist" who is by far the least interesting character ever designed in the Star Wars universe, and certainly within the series, with events occurring around him, or in hearsay, and happening to much more compelling individuals. Now I know that one might contest my critique by pointing out that Filoni's goal of that particular series might have been to illustrate that even "an average Joe" could contribute to the cause of fighting against the evil Galactic Empire, but this is just not enough, for me at least.

Missing is writer Simon Kinberg, whose even darker sensibility flavored Star Wars Rebels, as well as "Legion", and the X-Men franchise including the downright dismal "Logan".

But onto brighter pastures as the Mandalorian is a very, very, different sort of tale.


Episode Two: The Structure

Firstly, The Mandalorian is structurally a classic Western...full on.

The protagonist is a gun slinging bounty hunter for hire, and as such, the modus operandi for him interacting with other characters is built into his lifestyle and occupation, as is his anti-hero moral dilemma. Apprehending criminals, even violently, doesn't really make him a bad guy, but then again, he has no issues with, well, murder.

Secondly, like many classic westerns, the series is written in a fairly minimal style, and is lite on dialogue. To that point, as of episode six, we have only learned about three character names, not including the protagonist, who is referred to by others only as "The Mandalorian", or by the seemingly racially pejorative "Mando".

Likewise, the protagonist's facial appearance is obscured by his helmet, and his back-story has as of yet only been related in brief snippets, most of which are set in his childhood, during, we suspect, the Clone Wars - if only judging by glances of Battle Droids wreaking havoc on his town, thereby also explaining the main character's disdain for all things robotic.

Episode Three: The Appeal

Admittedly, the Mandalorians have always held a special place in the hearts of hardcore Star Wars fans ever since the first appearance of Boba Fett (who I'm told dons Mandalorian armor but is not ethnically Mandalorian). In fact, Mandalorians have been featured in many episodes of the Clone Wars, and one of the ensemble characters of Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren, was a Mandalorian.

I think the adoration of the Mandalorians is similar to that of Star Trek's Klingons, in that they are a race whose warrior caste appears to be dominant in their society and culture and their martial ethos is synonymous not just with their political outlook, but with their religious faith. They are within reason a race of knights, though surely, there are Mandalorian doctors, lawyers, and garbage collectors. Psychologically, I believe the appeal of the Mandalorians is not so much their "bad ass-ness" but rather the presentation of a group whose unwavering adherence to "difficult", often uncomfortable, principles are out of reach for our pleasure-driven and compromise-ready contemporary culture.


Episode Four: Setting, Era, and Connection to the Rest of the Canon

At first I must admit I was guessing that Favreau and Filoni were throwing us an "era" curve, and that the series was actually set a millennia earlier than the feature films and series. But the events of the series do seem to be taking place just after those depicted in "The Return of the Jedi". The Empire is recently defunct, and the "New Republic" is weak, ineffective, and apparently, broke. This only makes sense of course, since under the Empire the Trade Federation, the Banking Clan, and the Techno-Union Guild, were all under direct Imperial control.

This holds true to the clever economic underpinning paradigm of the Star Wars universe as established by George Lucas starting with the mostly atrocious "The Phantom Menace", and expanded on in the Clone Wars animated series. Thus, within reason the Western motif of The Mandalorian is even more visceral as law and order is presented as all but illusionary, with might making right in far off settlements, or, one speeder towns, culminating in episode four, "Sanctuary", which serves as an overt homage to Akira Kurosawa's classic film "The Seventh Samurai". 

Episode Five: The Social Circumstances

With the conquest of Mandalore, and the destruction of it's moon, outposts of warrior caste Mandalorians have been scattered throughout the former Empire and have chosen to cluster together in secretive cult-like pods, not unalike the first Jewish refugees arriving in neighboring Middle Eastern and Southern European lands in order to escape the genocidal ravages of the Roman-Judean Wars of the first century C.E.

Rather than embracing the more esoteric or artistic aspects of their previous culture, it seems that a fair number of Mandalorians apparently feel that the reason they lost their political autonomy was due to the fact that they were not true to their warrior ethos. So, rather than thinking outside of the box, they're pretty much set on working the box harder. Fair enough, especially in light of the fact that the main character, and we can assume many others, are presented as "foundlings", or rather, war orphans. The Mandalorian's "pod" seems to be controlled by an equally helmet obscured female blacksmith, who serves as the "Fagan" to theses martial Oliver Twists.

Episode Six: Enter the Moral Dilemma (Spoilers)

So, got it so far?

Gun-slinging bounty hunting warrior wanders into town after town in search of quarry in order to accrue "Beskar", which is the special metal that Mandalorian armor is cast from. The condition of a Mandalorian's armor dictates, or rather, reflects his or her "station", and as we must recall their society was a global, or rather trans-global, or ethno-feudal state (run by a Duchess) which had gone space age technology happy.

Anyway, inevitably, the protagonist is enlisted to his potentially most profitable gig, ever, paid for by a group of disenfranchised former Imperials who want him to bring them a highly protected person. No details, no questions, just a location and the age of the target. Needless to say, this turns out not to be a criminal, but rather a child...an orphan. As an orphan himself, the Mandalorian just can't bring himself to turn this little force-wielding tyke over to them, and thus, this starts their life on the run, and the inevitable reciprocal emotional and dependent relationship between the two characters.

As I mentioned earlier the child bears a striking resemblance to Jedi Master Yoda in infant form, and he even wields the force at times. Thus, if the series is indeed set when it seems to be set, then either members of Yoda's species are like the Zombie Jellyfish and reform anew after death, or the child is a clone of Yoda, or merely, that the similarity is uncanny, down to the mini Jedi robes. Nonetheless, the mystery hook is, "Why do former Imperial officers want the child, and for what purpose?"

The Bonus Episodes: The Review

All in all, I really enjoyed the first five episodes of the series, and I find it incredibly consistent with not only the Star Wars film universe, but the extended franchise as well. I find it highly unlikely that it will contradict anything in the J.J.Abrams or Lukas outings, though I don't feel as confident that the variant content in Star Wars novels will be so sacrosanct.

While I occasionally feel like I'm watching a really expensive fan-fiction film (as I did with Rogue One), the series is fully believable (for a Space-Fantasy), is adequately gritty and dark, is not fully dualistic (i.e. is anti-hero driven), and is rife with almost lovingly nostalgic homages to scenes in the original films. I mean, the Mandalorian even stops off on Tattooine and visits the same watering hole where Luke and Obi-Wan first met Han Solo and Chewbacca, and he even sits at the same table where Han shot Greedo. Nice little touches, and rendered loyally, or at least loyally to the images as they existed prior to the Lukas re-releases and added CG generated wildlife minutia.

I have to say that I am eagerly waiting to watch episode six, and I recommend that if you are a Star Wars fan, that you do so too...not just episode six of course...don't be weird, start from the pilot.

Anyway, I assume I'll have to pen a follow-up to this post as the series evolves, but that's for another day.

Till next time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats: Part II - 1854-1921

Salutations and welcome to, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar for Part II of "Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats (1854-1921).

I'm guessing that if you did read through the last post in this series, you either fully take my point, or are in such a state of left-right partisan denial that you either perceive the facts, yes facts, presented here as "fake news" or "lies", you have rationalized that "it was all a very long time ago", or that there was such a mythical occurrence often referred to as a "party switch".

I know that unlike real liberals, or I guess I should say, moderate Democrats - an ardent Marxist might even add that it all of this history stuff really doesn't matter because it's all about the post-modern "now' and that all truths are subjective, and besides, both of the major political parties of the United States were founded on an oligarchic and exploitative racist premise rather than a set of lofty philosophic and Constitutional goals, so it's all moot, and the entire system should be destroyed a.s.a.p - ideally replaced with a Socialist "utopia"...that they of course will run.

Well, pull up a chair and stay a while because in this installment the march of history will take us from the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 till the end of World War I and Woodrow Wilson's presidency in 1921. Surely the same rebuttals to this overview can and will be logged, but I believe that by the end of the series you will see that my central thesis will be fully illuminated: which is, that the Democratic Party has for the most part consistently focused on a lurid race-based platform through its history. I will show, and have shown, how from the DNC's founding that Democrats sought to pervert a liberal aspect of Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party in order to bolster not just the continuation of African-American chattel slavery, but to encourage it's growth in newly acquired states.

In the aftermath of the Civil War we will see how this Anti-Republican / Anti-Northern sentiment contributed to the founding of ethno-identitarian movements such as the Klu Klux Klan, and the diminished rights of free African-Americans under the Jim Crow laws through the "Gilded Age". I will then show how the Progressive Movement in the early twentieth century was forced to find a home almost exclusively among Republicans due to the bane-fullness of the Democratic platform, while contrarily in Great Britain, Progressiveness was clearly a left-wing phenomena. Lastly, we will examine period movements that the Democrats did indeed come to embrace and fuse into their platform in the WWI era - these being namely Trans-National Globalism and the highly questionable Eugenics Movement - a precursor of German National Socialist race theory.

Looking forward to the next part of this article to the 1921-1974 time period, we will look at Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and the emergence of the Military-Industrial Complex, the so-called "party switch", President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" program and Nixon's "Southern Strategy", and eventually, we will look at the current year - where we can now all plainly see the Democratic Party platform rife with the "woke" politics of racial identity - wrapped in a nauseating veneer of Socialist class, race and gender warfare.

Whether being hawkish on appropriating Native American land after the War of 1812, to seeking to keep Catholic immigrants out of America, or oppressing blacks in the nineteenth century, enfeebling them in the urban ghettos in Civil Rights era, and plying Marxist race, class, and gender warfare theory in order to exacerbate victim-hood identity and racial animosity - this, is par for the consistent course of the left, or I should say, the Democrats.

So let's get started, shall we.

Part Three: 1854-1877 (The Civil War Era and Reconstruction)

As previously mentioned in the prior installment many Southern Whigs, reflecting the adversarial underbelly of the party among it's Anti-Masonic constituents, rather than joining one of the two parties straight out opted to join the xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Republican Party (not to be confused with National Republican Party of John Quincy Adams). Perhaps to forgo confusing the populace with a similarly named entity, it was soon renamed the Native American Party - as in Native-born Americans, not Native Americans as in indigenous Indians. The party was soon after renamed the American Party (in 1855), but was commonly referred to as the Know Nothing Party (1844-1860). They even had a oath-bound secret wing know as the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner created by Charles B. Allen in New York City. Conflicts involving the Nativist movement and their adversaries took place in major US urban areas, and can be seen in historical dramatic form in films such as Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York".

I find it highly ironic (or is it a telling precursor?) that this movement was based in otherwise free-wheeling, liberal New York. Perhaps what is even more ironic was that the Know Nothing Party was founded by a man who holds the distinction of being the first American Jewish Congressman - Lewis Levin; often referred to as "Uncle Sam's youngest son" and "Citizen Know Nothing".

Born in 1808 in Charleston, South Carolina, Levin was quite the unusual character - an activist, a lawyer, a congressman for the First District of Pennsylvania, a frequent duelist, anti-alcohol crusader, clearly not a religious Jew who intermarried, and spawning from a family rife with mental illness. While Levin himself did not seem to possess particular personal animus toward Catholics, he nonetheless appealed to those who despised them, and it was this ethno-religious identitarian constituency that served as his power base. If I had to find a current parallel for the Know Nothing's it would probably be the "Alt-Right", though generally speaking, Alt-Righter's are not really best described as "right" as they are anti-Constitutional, economically Socialist, Ethno-Fascists.

But, carry on...

Of the somewhat collectively unremarkable mid-nineteenth century U.S. Presidents who served in the period following Andrew Jackson up to the Civil War, their names, states of origin, and party affiliations are as follows: Martin Van Buren 1837-1841 - New York (Northern Democrat), William Henry Harrison - Virginia (Southern Whig), John Tyler 1841-1845 - Virginia (Southern Whig), James K. Polk 1845-1849 - North Carolina / Tennessee (Southern Democrat), Zachary Taylor 1849-1850 - Virginia (Southern Whig), Millard Fillmore 1850-1853 - New York (Northern Whig / Know Nothing Party after 1856), Franklin Pierce 1853-1857 - New Hampshire (Northern Democrat), and James Buchanan 1857-1861 - Pennsylvania (Northern Democrat).

As you may note, these officials were for the most part Southern Whigs or Northern Democrats (and one Southern Democrat and Know Nothing switcher) with not a single Republican in sight. On some level this only made sense as Washington D.C. was firmly in Democrat establishment territory (Virginia) since Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican days, and as slavery was "their" issue, their base was fired up to hold onto the institution. Republicans had been pretty much "pushed out", and their increasing abolitionist sentiments garnered quite the adversarial response from their Democrat opponents.

As I pointed out in Part One of this article, the Democrats did indeed absorb many of the Libertarian notions that were part of Thomas Jefferson's Anti-Establishment derived party, but while Jefferson held a firm disdain for religious authority, Democrats of the mid-nineteenth century period utilized their Protestantism to bolster the moral justification of holding other humans in bondage. If you are unaware of this phenomena, I'll explain just how they managed to do this, philosophically. You see, in their reading of the bible, or more specifically the "Old Testament", otherwise known as the Jewish Torah, they observed that slavery among the Jews of ancient times was sanctioned - as long as the Jewish slave-holder did not hold another Jew as the slave. Islam later incorporated the same motif, and thus, Muslims were quite eager about slavery in the Middle Ages, as long as their slaves were culled from Pagan (Sub-Saharan African and Eastern European) stock.

Anyway, in one tale (in Genesis 9, I believe) regarding the descendants of Noah, his three sons - Japheth (the Aryans - such as Greeks, Persians, Anatolian's, etc.), Shem (the Semites - such as Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, the Ethiopians, etc.) and Ham (the Hamites - such as the Egyptians, Berbers, Nubians, etc.) are catalogued. As punishment for a frankly obliquely mentioned infraction of "mocking" his father's nudity, God declares that the progeny of Ham (the Hamitic peoples) would be forevermore forced to serve his brother Shem's progeny. As Christians, the mantle of being a Semite through philosophical emanation or transference via Jesus Christ was a common notion, and thus, Hamites were destined to serve as slaves, by the order of God. As an aside I feel I should mention that in a very real historical way this did indeed become a truth in that the ancient Egyptians, after falling to the Islamic conquest, had undergone the slow process of Islamization starting in the eighth century, and could be views as a Hamitic population "submitting" to a dominant Semitic language and religion.

Be that as it may, these post-colonial goyim were no Semites, nor were their African slaves of Hamitic background as they were prior to their importation to the new world, predominately of West African (Bantu) origin. Regardless, this was the applied religious thinking utilized to philosophically fortify the institution of slavery, and thus, the more religious the better. In fact, it almost goes without saying that convincing your slaves to buy into this religious paradigm was ideally the first order of business.

And so, with a bible in one hand and a sword in the other, this same rational fueled the Indian Removal Policies of Andrew Jackson's Democrats onward, and bolstered white ethno-identitarianism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-Catholic sentiment. It was this thinking, most earnestly expressed in the ranks of the Southern Democrats, that urged those Northern Democrats and Southern Whigs who sought to temper the slavery issue, to  create a number of Pro-Union parties that came about immediately predating the outbreak of the American Civil War.

It should be noted that the abolitionists - embodied almost exclusively in the ranks of the Republican Party (and their allies among disenfranchised "Barnburner" Democrats), held the reins of state almost exclusively from the Civil War onward in the 1861-1933 period. Turnabout being fair-play and all that. The only exceptions to this golden age of Republican dominance was the National Unity Party Democrat Vice-President Andrew Johnson - who finished out and followed Abraham Lincoln's term after his assassination (1865-1869), Grover Cleveland's two interrupted stints (1885-1889, 1893-1897), and Woodrow Wilson's two terms (1913-1921). Needless to say this only made sense, as the Federal government was after the war firmly Republican ground, and Democrats had to slowly gain Republican trust in order to be part of the national government and dialogue once again. 

But let's get back to the years immediately leading up to the Republican-Democrat / North-South fracture that broke the Union - otherwise know as the American Civil War.

While many citizens aligned with either the Anti-Slavery Republicans or the Pro-Slavery Democrats there were indeed many smaller parties that hoped to forge a compromise between the two, or in some cases to push the envelope further. One such third party came into existence solely to push the extreme wing of blatant Pro-Slavery thought. Known simply as the "Opposition Party", the OP was exclusively represented in the south from 1858-1860. However, their fire was short-lived, and they, as well as the American Party (or Know Nothing Party) soon fused with many Southern (Cotton) Whigs and Unionist Democrats and became know as the Unionist Party (1852-1866).

Strange bedfellows they may seem, but as all were Pro-Slavery, but also Pro-National government, and Anti-Republican, the old civic nationalism of Thomas Jefferson persisted and molded all three into the core of the the successor of the Unionist Party, know as the Constitutional Union Party (1860-1861). In many ways the CUP was the last entity that sought a true compromise between Northern Republicans and Southern Democrats in a final effort to avoid the increasingly clearly forthcoming war between north and south. However, it can't be mentioned enough that Jefferson's libertine values were largely lost on these fallen Whigs, who had become little more than slavery apologists. In fact, their party can only be described as a Southern Unionist religious center-right party - far more Conservative than a libertine like Jefferson could envision.

Perhaps members of the Constitutional Union Party thought that the imminent war could be averted, and that tempers would cool and the status quo of ignoring the slavery issue would be the order of the day once more. After all, there was indeed a "stall" embedded in the US Constitution deferring the legislature from confronting the contested issue of slavery for fifty years from the signing, so perhaps they weren't completely unrealistic, only if not for retrospect. But this compromise codicil was specifically included by both sides as a balm for the nation to come into existence as one unified entity, capable of focusing on forging a nation free from the British yoke rather than immediately fighting a Civil War at the founding. Surely, that would have only supplied the means by which the British would re-take their lost colonies.

As the war increasingly took it's bloody toll and compromise fell away, the only third party to survive was the successor of the Unionist Party, re-dubbed the Unconditional Union Party (1861-1866). Formed in Missouri, the UUP was ideologically Classically Liberal as well as being both Federalist and Pro-Union, so it should come as no surprise that in the aftermath of the Civil War their members merged into, you guessed it - the Republican Party. Once again the push and pull of Jefferson's Libertarian civic nationalism and John Adams' Federalism was firmly represented an internal counter-point within the Republican camp - not on the Democrat side of the aisle. 

Thus, as we can plainly see, the majority of those holding abolitionist, pro-union thought invariably ended up Republican, while the majority of Democrats through the nineteenth century firmly held to secessionist thinking and race politics - endorsing the aggrandizement of slavery, the diminishing of Native American territory, and thereafter adding a pinch of Nativist anti-Catholic immigrant sentiment to their repertoire.

Obviously the war served to crystallize the Republican party, and ever since the GOP has been referred to as "the party of Lincoln", but for the purposes of this article, Lincoln's well-known life, and minutia about Civil War combat is fairly superfluous. So, I'll just press fast forward...  

After the War, only the two familiar parties survived the once fractious American political landscape - the Republicans and the Democrats. This period, know as the Reconstruction (until 1877), could easily be described as the "de-southification" of the South. In essence the national government - almost entirely dominated by Republicans, administered the South as a territory of conquest. For thirteen years Republican's sought to mold the eleven former Confederate states back into Union states, meanwhile insuring the rights of newly freed African-Americans.

The more radical the Republican Senator, the more extreme those rights were sought to be insured and implemented. The more earnest the Democrat the more those rights were sought to be undermined.

On July 9th, 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified as thousands of Northerners still flooded into the south in order to build schools for the freed slaves, as well as to fill government posts and Church pulpits, while others assisted the U.S. Army administration and the Freedman's Bureau in re-shaping the African-American community. These Republicans, often pejoratively called "carpetbaggers" by the "occupied" Southerners, often promoted and elected freed blacks to local and national government offices, much to the chagrin of the humbled secessionists who lived below the Mason-Dixon line. Boo-the freak-hoo!

Part Four: 1878-1900 (Jim Crow Laws, Immigration, and The Gilded Age)

With the unionization of the Confederate States complete (i.e. the withdrawal of Federal troops) the south gradual reincorporated home rule, and the Democrats quickly got back to work on their "race problem". Their solution (aside from forming groups like the Klu Klux Klan), was of the legislative sort, and starting in the late 1870's southern state governments got busy passing a series of race-based parameters designed to keep freed African-Americans in a position that the former slave holders were comfortable with. This legislation is now collectively known as the "Jim Crow Laws", and these retro-medieval practices were enforced until 1965 - the year of my birth. Ouch, I'm dating myself!

It should be pointed out here that while the former slaveholders, as wealthy persons, had almost as much control of the economy and culture of the south as they did before the war, they accounted for only about 6% of the total southern population. Forgoing any modern leftist notions of collective onus, or "privilege", and all that, I would be remiss if I did not point out that this of course means that 94% of all southerners did not own slaves, and that many very well might have been well-meaning folk. Adding to that slavery was almost non-existent in the north, this brings the percentage of slave holding families in the Civil War period down to about 1.4% of the total white population. That might sound  like a diminution of the matter, but in a society where 90% of all blacks were enslaved and only 10% were free in the north, the fact remains that some 4,392,000 African-Americans had been slaves less than thirteen years earlier.

Sadly, an often ignored fact that speaks volumes about human nature is that the same percentage of southern blacks owned other southern blacks as did whites, and often served as "breeders". This had become much more of an important aspect especially once the federal government passed the Act Prohibiting the Importation of (new) Slaves in 1808, under President Thomas Jefferson - ironically a conflicted slave holder himself.   

Honestly, a survey of the Jim Crow Laws could account for an article (or book) all of its own, but the main thrust of the laws were to rob the vote from free blacks, and to segregate them from whites in public schools, as well as in a number of other public forums, such as eateries and the like. Add to it that share-cropping basically hoisted economic serfdom on blacks, it seems not a great advance from full chattel bondage. But I guess the alternative would have been for the north to indefinitely occupy the south with Union military for the next eighty years, or to not recognize the former Confederate States as U.S. States and keep them as "administered territories", but that sounds like a literal alternate-history dystopian nightmare.

Regardless, the first true chinks in the armor of Jim Crow occurred in the mid 1950's with notable Supreme court desegregation cases such as Brown vs. the Board of Education, and of course Rosa Parks choosing to sit in an undesignated section of her local bus, culminating in the Civil rights movement of the 1960's.

But more on that later.

While the south grasped at simulating a romanticized antebellum culture, their waning agrarian economy was being put to shame by what was happening in northern cities. While this had pretty much been the same disparity since colonial times, industrialization, advances in technology and the creation of huge industries, as well as the arrival of waves of immigrants to work in those industries was changing the north in an increasingly dramatic fashion. Tapering from the "traditional" source of colonial immigration, i.e., the English, Welsh, Scottish, Scots-Irish (Protestants), French Canadians, Irish (Catholics), Germans, and Scandinavians prior to the 1850's, a new wave of immigrants to the US started to come in large numbers starting with the Chinese. They were soon followed by large groups of people hailing from Southern and Eastern Europeans, specifically Poles, Greeks, Jews, and Italians. These numbers eventually softened by 1910, but these millions changed the nature of northern cities, and new states, particularly in the west, all the way to California. Sea to shining sea and all that.

With the Whigs gone, and Southern Democrats firmly associated with slavery and segregation, this meant that Northern Democrats were desperately scrambling to find constituents, and constituents they did find in these mostly poor immigrants. After all these newcomers required representation, and well, what better way to pull them aboard than by distancing yourself from the fact that your party was the pro-slavery party that started a civil war than by telling them that you represented them as disenfranchised "others". After all, this wave of immigrants, even the white ones, well, they weren't quite as white as the previous white settlers. They didn't speak English, or they were swarthy, or both, or they were members of "wrong" religions". So, racial politics it was for the Democrats, and they would be in it for the long haul. Trade Unions, aid societies, and convincing entire ethnic groups to exclusively vote for them was on the agenda, and I must say, they did a remarkably bang up job of it. Even today, some 40% of Irish-American Catholics, 57% of Chinese / Asian Americans, 65% of American Latinos, 75% of American Jews, and a whopping 89% of African-Americans, routinely describe themselves as, and vote almost exclusively Democrat.

So, how did this happen? How did, say, the African-American community, which once voted 100% Republican, and voted 44% Democrat for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, only voted 11% Republican in 2016?

Well, I would suggest that this shift was completely due to public relations and perception, and a premeditated pattern of consistent messaging designed to specifically change a narrative from the truth, to what I see as a big lie. The Democrats might as well have followed the later advice of Adolf Hitler, who once famously said, "Never get caught telling a small lie, because once it comes time to tell the big lie no one will believe you." Truly, the series of untruths that they have hoisted upon their constituency over time can be at best only described as reprehensible. But I must say that the biggest culprits here are the Republicans themselves, simply because they consistently failed to offer the alternative, they never spoke up, they never refuted or argued. They bore the yoke of the Democrat's depiction of them with polite silence and temperate joviality for upwards of 75 years. For some reason they failed to realize that their opponents were playing for keeps, and would do and say anything to get and keep power.

I believe that this paradigm led to a comfortable situation wherein the Democrats felt entitled, and "tolerated" the Republicans - as long as they just rubber-stamped whatever entitlement program whims they wanted that quarter. This was the case, until the Tea Party and Trump, when the Libertarian, or Neo-Whig / Anti-Neo-Con faction of the GOP broke free from their Federalist chains and issued the DNC a grand ole politically incorrect slap on their increasingly Socialist kisser.

But I'm getting ahead of myself once again, so it's time to go back to the origin of the Progressive and Conservation Movement in the United States prior to World War One. 

Part Five: 1900-1921 (The Progressive and Conservative Movements versus Eugenic "Science" and Globalism)

Admittedly, the Republican love of trade and commerce assisted in the emergence of a gaggle of Gilded Age robber barons such as J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab, and John D. Rockefeller, among others. These oligarchs pretty much ran America on the Republican's watch, and the Grand Ole Party pretty much facilitated these monopolist's unfettered growth. Hey, J.P. Morgan once even paid off the US governments deficit, out of his own pocket, cuz, you know, he could do that, and they would owe him later, of course.

Needless to say graft and corruption was endemic in Washington D.C. from the 1880's to the 1930's (like it's not now, right?), and at the tail end of the this period we had President Warren Harding and the Tea Pot Dome Scandal (1923) for example, which, if anything, only aided the Democrat premise that "Republicans only cared about themselves, and not the common man".

Their immigrant base, many of whom were exploited by these magnates, were increasingly joined by blacks moving north in search of new lives and employment, and both were fed a steady diet of resentment from the DNC, and step-by-step Marxist Socialist class warfare elements were incorporated into the Democratic Party platform.

But as I mentioned, while the Democrats have always played a race game, the Republicans still had the two philosophic threads at odds with one another in their party ethos. The old Federalism versus Libertarian push and pull was still there, and it served as rocket fuel for a renewed wave of anti-corruption, anti-trust, pro-worker, pro-infrastructure activism that called for the creation of government bureaus designated to deal with economic, environmental, and pressing social issues.

These ideals were embodied in New York Republican President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt (in office 1901-1909) and his Bull Moose Party (1912-1918), otherwise known as the Progressive Party. T.R. busted monopolies, created the FDA, the EPA, passed child labor legislation, and as a Conservative, (i.e. Conserving stuff) he is credited as being the father of the American Conservation movement, (now called being Green I guess), all the while being hawkish on American military involvement in foreign wars. I think it's this list of accomplishments that is the reason why Teddy Roosevelt is one of the four heads on Mount Rushmore aside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Shortly after taking office T.R. dined with African-American orator Booker T. Washington at the White House - much to the outrage of Southern Democrats. While Roosevelt had always been a supporter of Black Republican candidates, such as John R. Lynch, dating back to the 1880's, he afterward only met with Booker T. during morning office hours in order to sooth southern tensions. Regardless, his support was almost exclusively in the north, but unlike in the south he was on favorable terms with many Northern Democrats. In the South many Republicans preferred William Howard Taft as the candidate, and so his support base was quite similar to Lincoln.

While I personally have issues with some of the points of the 1912 Progressive Party platform, such as support for national income tax and inheritance taxes, the rest of it is just grand and will seem very familiar to current readers.

So, let's look at a few points, shall we...

Campaign contribution limits, registration of lobbyists (Trump just did this), no secret congressional committee proceedings (Congressman Adam Schiff IS doing this). A Federal securities commission (got it), a National health service (still working on it), and items that have come about - woman's suffrage, unemployment insurance, workers comp, minimum wage, an eight hour work day.  In general, T.R.'s program, dubbed "New Nationalism", promoted a strong federal government (Federalism) which regulated industry, protected the middle and working classes, and took on great national projects. It went against Democrat Woodrow Wilson's individualistic "New Freedom" platform, as that platform relied heavily on the civic responsibility of the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican's - finally an actual Democrat belief in the Democrat party! But also unlike Wilson and like Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt also favored a vigorous foreign policy, including strong military power, which alienated Progressive pacifists. Then again this was a Progressive movement in the hand of Conservatives, unlike in Britain where Progressiveness was decidedly leftist.

I feel that the appeal of Progressive principles in the period was perfectly suited to a Republican "resistance", much in the same way that the Tea Party had it's place resisting Neo-Con dominance over the GOP prior to Donald Trump's election. Meanwhile, what was on the mind of Woodrow Wilson and his Northern and Southern Democrat friends?

I must say that Wilson is a thoroughly unlikable character, to me. A Virginian who became the governor of New Jersey, he almost reads like an Presbyterian rehash of Know Nothing Party founder Lewis Levin. He lowered tariffs, set up the Federal Reserve System, the IRS, and Income Taxes. While he was also against monopolies, and did pass some good legislation, this full house of economic, and maybe treasonous, sins are far too much for me to tolerate. Add to it that he was both a globalist and eugenicist, we can see the precursor of elitist Democrat "soft bigotry of low expectations" racism we see in them now.

Just as today, so-called "liberals" and "Progressives" claim that they are "for" people of color. When asked why they feel this way, their answers are invariably enfeebling, and they speak about the various "oppressed" groups they advocate for as if they are retarded children at best. This is the kind of thinking that forges a Lyndon Johnson - who intentionally ghettoizes a population and then claims that hooking them on government aid is the only solution - just to keep them voting Democrat.

Wilson was no different. He claimed he wanted justice and equality for "the negro", but he believed in eugenic science, as Margaret Sanger did. Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is still a hero of Neo-Lib's like Hillary Clinton, and regardless of any aid her institution has provided to innumerable women, she did indeed create the organization for the purpose of eliminating a greater number of black, immigrant (Jewish and Italian), and poor white babies. Now before you get too ruffled, she states this in her own writings. So horse's mouth and all that.

Anyway, eugenicists believed they could strengthen the species by selective breeding, and as elites, they could make the choices of what was the best stock. This is what Wilson, Sanger, Henry Ford, and Adolf Hitler all share in common, and thus, Wilson, seemingly the least offensive of the bunch, is still unbearable.

Regardless, Wilson did eventually get the United States into the closing overs of World War One, but sadly he didn't use American might to temper the Treaty of Versailles from the ire of the allies. As such, the treaty imposed an overly harsh peace on Germany, which most likely contributed to Hitler's meteoric rise.

But I guess hindsight is 20/20, and how could Woody have know?

Then again, his "League of Nations" plan set the ground work for the creation of the United Nations - an organization that in my opinion has achieved very little except in the name of it's own aggrandizement, and the concept that it seeks to oversee the demise of the sovereign nation state. This prospect didn't work really well if one was a civic nationalist as propounded by both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams way back in 1789, and thus, Wilson has been traditionally reviled by Republicans.

While Wilson was in office until 1921, political perceptions in the north shifted slowly throughout the decade and culminated in 1932 where we can see the visceral effect of Democrat tactics in the sudden dramatic shift in Jewish and African-American voting patterns from predominately Republican to predominately Democrat.

Prior to F.D.R.'s landslide victory, regardless of the candidate's party affiliation Democrats were still only dominant in the former Confederate slave states, while Republicans were dominant in the Union northern states. But, the shift had begun, and Northern Democrats and their immigrant race politics shared a party rife with eugenicists and white supremacists in the South. Either way, the contention remains that the Democrats have and did, and do, focus on primarily on race, one way or the other, while the Republicans have consistently focused on the only color they ever cared about - green (as in money).

Till next time.