February 26th, 2024

Almost three-quarters of Iranians want a secular government instead of a theocratic dictatorship, an anonymous state-run poll has revealed.

The survey also revealed that less than one in 10 people think women should be forced to wear a hijab.

[The last survey] was in 2015.

[This one] shows a sharp uptick in demands for secular rule, up from 31 per cent to 73 per cent, indicating the push for secularism will probably grow in coming years.

Only 7.9 per cent of respondents said they agree women must be made to wear hijab, down from 18.6 percent.


The survey was apparently leaked.

February 23rd, 2024
As ex-terrorist Shamima Begum’s efforts to regain British citizenship go down in flames once again…

UD invites you to revisit her posts about a woman who indeed does seem to me too dangerous to return to a country she tried to destroy.

Her lawyers, I guess, will go to the Supreme Court, but they won’t get what they want there either.

Begum could have tried for Bangladeshi citizenship, but didn’t apparently bother to; her best move now is to gather a bunch of money from her supporters and try to buy citizenship somewhere.

UD’s old friend Peter argues that Begum should be repatriated to the UK here.

December 27th, 2023
‘[T]he reality of criminal bans is maybe potentially different than people imagined in sort of more abstract statements about right to life or protecting unborn babies.’

You betcha. There’s something about losing your medical license and spending a long stretch in jail, where you’ll maybe share a cell with one of your abortion-seeking patients, to concentrate the mind, huh?

December 11th, 2023
Tusk is In!

Poland’s new PM represents an inspiring victory for democracy against the tyranny of the now-deposed Law and Justice party, whose bitter senile leader rushed the podium at the conclusion of the vote in favor of Tusk. YOU ARE A GERMAN AGENT!” he shouted at the PM.

November 8th, 2023
‘Virginia Democrats sweep legislative elections after campaigning on abortion rights.’

Easy peasy.

November 7th, 2023
‘Statehouse Republicans put up a nasty fight, but at the end of the day, Ohio voters proved just how out of touch they are and have been. As polls predicted they would…

… Ohioans enshrined abortion and other reproductive rights into the state constitution.’

And that’s Ohio, mes petites.

Related. And more.

October 19th, 2023
‘[H]ard-right members and their ideological allies didn’t succeed in their efforts to install one of their own as second in line for the presidency, but that doesn’t mean they will give up on their radical goal of undermining the processes of legislation by consensus for which Congress was designed.’

Yes. La lutte continue.

October 18th, 2023

 A big [Republican] majority has embraced a figure whose life’s mission is to disable government, including its system of justice…

Jordan has not passed a single piece of legislation in his 16 years in Congress. John Boehner, a former Republican Speaker whose career Jordan helped to end, called him a “legislative terrorist”… A Jordan speakership would be the most troubling sign of US democracy’s declining health since the January 6 2021 storming of Capitol Hill. Jordan spoke extensively to Trump in the lead up to that failed putsch and ignored a subpoena to testify to the committee that investigated the assault…

Jordan has tried to overturn a US presidential election. Some might consider it reckless to give control of the people’s house to a counter-revolutionary. 


“The Kamikazes on America’s Capitol Hill”


“A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier, and insurrection insider the speaker of this House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies,” [Pete] Aguilar said…

[Jim McGovern said:] “[Jordan] is like—rock bottom of who they could have picked to be their nominee.”

October 17th, 2023
The House Goes There.

It crosses the river Jordan.

He wages partisan wars against Democrats. That’s it. He does not try to meaningfully improve the lives of the members of his district. He does not sponsor legislation that would affect people’s day-to-day lives, even from a conservative point of view. He serves on committees, harangues the witnesses before them, and goes on Fox News afterward to tout his own actions… He beat the drum for Trump’s lies about a stolen election after Biden was declared the winner in November 2020 and sought to weaponize the House to spread those claims ahead of the electoral vote count on January 6, 2021. After a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Jordan voted to carry through their ultimate goal and overturn an election for Trump’s benefit… If Jordan prevails on Tuesday, it will feel like the natural progression of the House GOP’s approach to Congress over the past 30 years. Starting with Newt Gingrich in 1994 and continuing to the present day, Republicans have done everything they can to transform the House of Representatives from a functioning legislative chamber into a vehicle for performative lawmaking and partisan stunts. Jim Jordan’s career, as it were, is a testament to how thoroughly that impulse has overwhelmed everything else. To elect him as speaker is to simply give up on basic governance.

October 15th, 2023
Amid all the wretched news…

… the opposition wins the Polish election! Mr UD, who voted yesterday at the Polish embassy (where he reported rather long lines), is absolutely thrilled.

August 20th, 2023
‘Over the next decade, the government plans to increase the budget of ultra-Orthodox educational institutions by 40 percent. This will make Israel the first country in the developed world that incentivizes schools that barely teach core subjects such as math, science, and English.’


And the core reason Israel is now functionally a theocracy?

Israel has never created a constitution separating church and state. As a result, among other things, the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate holds a monopoly on marriage, which forces many secular Israelis to get married in other countries, or even online. Israel has no formal public transportation on Saturdays, which strands the millions of residents who don’t own a car.

As most of the school funding goes to schools that reverse engineer intelligence, having no wheels on a Saturday is going to be the least of Israelis’ problems.


One silver lining: Normal people are being brought together.

“We should be glad about the greatest achievement we got: the creation of a new kind of centrist identity,” [one observer says]. “This center includes various shades, from the capitalist, hawkish right that believed in Netanyahu so far but not anymore, through the liberal center and up to the social-democratic left.”

“[When] a serving coalition is acting in a frenzy, it makes us feel, every minute of every day, that we are connected,” [says another]. “The liberal camp is a country that is just being formed.”

It’s the same thing here with theocratic attacks on abortion rights; it’s the same thing in Iran with theocratic attacks on women. Outrageous acts bring normal people together in defense of liberty, democracy, decency, equality. Indeed I think we can begin to see, in the polling, the same thing happening in regard to America’s homegrown outrage-generator, Trump. Eventually most normal people can’t take gross abnormality.

August 15th, 2023
The toxic Claremont name.

An opinion piece in the Claremont Colleges student newspaper calls for a forceful public act of separation from the “disgusting” Claremont Institute, home of traitors.

[T]he Claremont Institute is not a normal think tank: their values and platformed beliefs are extremely far outside of anything [the Claremont Colleges stand for]… As a set of small schools we must acknowledge that our small reputation risks association with bad actors such as the Claremont Institute. Combatting that association cannot be a passive process — it requires active combat against the Institution.

Having besmirched the word “Claremont” with their vile and inhumane social positions, and with a hatred of American liberal democracy so intense as to turn their leadership into aiders and abettors of the unspeakable John Eastman, the Claremont Institute has become a damaging embarrassment for the colleges that share its name.

August 14th, 2023
Boys Behaving Badly: The Claremont Institute

Many extreme ideas that first look wacky and disreputable and then end up sweeping the country originate in California, and such is definitely the case with the Claremont Merry Pranksters and their thing: The urgent need to blow up American democracy.

Named after their ‘sixties precursors who drove a school bus all over the US while similarly denouncing The Establishment, the Claremont group also shares with the original Pranksters a virtually all-male membership, a belief in “the power of a certain kind of approach to politics that’s sensational,”  and a commitment to overthrowing the country.

Their creed: Human society is incapable of the kind of rational, deliberative government that liberal democracy requires, man. Y’all need a dictator, like Donald Trump, cuz without him you is making one shitty stinky mess of things.


Given their belief that (in the slightly altered words of SNCC, another ‘sixties precursor) ‘the only position for women in CMP is prone,’ it must be quite the provocation that not one, not two, but three women have lately written the most in-depth and scathing denunciations to which the organization has ever been subjected. “We’ve been warning people about Vagina Dentata from day one, and here it is,” one Prankster (He goes by the anonym Santa Monica Centurion. Okay, I made him up.) has commented in response to the girl essays. “Now they’ve really gotten their teeth into us.”

The first essay appeared around this time last year and, in a more in sorrow than anger way, noted the increasingly Dennis the Menace feel of the group. This year, as the CMP’s escalating hatred of liberal democracy, coupled with rage at Donald Trump’s and John Eastman’s post-Jan 6 travails, has taken it way, way off the reservation, Laura K. Field and Katherine Stewart both openly express horror at the combination of juvenility and violence inside the organization.

Why has so much of the American conservative movement embraced the story that the principles of equality and the pursuit of a more just society are the greatest threats to Western civilization today? Who or what is responsible for giving these paranoid ideas an intellectual veneer? The Claremont Institute gets you much of the way to an answer.

The paranoid Claremont men have convinced themselves that they must kill nihilist, relativist, progressivist, female-fetid, American democracy before it kills them:

“Given the promise of tyranny, conservative intellectuals must openly ally with the AR-15 crowd,” argues author Kevin Slack, a professor at Hillsdale College, in a lengthy book excerpt published in Claremont’s online magazine, The American Mind. “Able-bodied men, no longer isolated, are returning to republican manliness in a culture of physical fitness and responsible weaponry. They are buying AR-15s and Glock 17s and training with their friends, not FBI-infiltrated militias or online strangers but trustworthy lifelong friends to build a community alongside.”

The armory might not have been necessary had Eastman’s traitorous January 6 plan, in which Claremont continues fervently to believe, worked.

[C]onsider the cynicism and nihilism necessary to believe in [Eastman’s] theory—or even to take it seriously as a possibility… You must believe that our institutions are so top-to-bottom corrupt that nothing and no one is worthy of civic trust. Not the neighbors who served as election observers, not the poll workers, not county officials, not city governments, not state legislators, and certainly not Republicans in Congress. This is conspiracism in its most unaccountable form... Once you begin understanding our national politics as a matter of emergencies, corruption, and lies reparable only by figures of exceptional heroism, there is no returning to a politics of the everyday, of democratic choice and representation, and of disagreement, contestation, and compromise. There is … no easy weaning from the dystopian hype.

For evidence of the survival of the non-cynical world, read this.


I remember my first encounter with dystopian hype (“[M]any Republicans … are pushing the view that America is a degenerate society that cannot be saved.”), and I remember how sexually exciting I found its dark Eastwood (Wood, not Man; Clint, not John) pathology: It was my reading, as a Northwestern undergrad, of Kit Lasch’s (I got to know him when we were both at U Rochester) Culture of Narcissism, a book whose utterly black disposition in regard to every aspect of America has been shamelessly adopted by Patrick Deneen and other contemporary theocrats who want to convince you that your secular life in this country is so unbearably empty that you’re desperate to embrace existence under an all-male, all-powerful, Vatican.

Lasch himself, I was excited to discover, was a handsome, brooding, chain-smoking, dead-ringer for John Cassavetes, and the whole spectacle – intellectual, erotic – had me weak at the knees.

But, tu sais, I was twenty-two years old and really dumb and immature – pretty much where the leadership of Claremont is today – and then I grew up and saw how cheap and manipulative radically dystopian anti-Americanism is, left and right variety. I mean, it’s the oldest sales pitch in the world – your Dodge Charger is a total piece of shit you should be embarrassed to be seen in. I’ve got a late-model Mercedes C-Class you’ll feel much more meaningful inside of…


“They just want to blow the place up,” concludes Katherine Stewart, and oh how the UD I used to be loved this disrupter shit.

Yes bring it on baby pistol whip me with your AR-15 make me feel young again.

August 12th, 2023
“There is no other country in the global north, among states that are considered liberal democracies, that gives formal powers to a system that is totally, completely male and excludes women. Instead of abolishing this, Israel is going in the exact opposite direction and expanding their power.”

How could it have been stopped? Everyone foresaw it, but how could they have stopped it?

Is it really too late to do anything? I fear it’s too late.

August 10th, 2023
If your sanction comes from eight miles high / Your social issue’s gonna die.

The soul-searching natalists of Ohio could do worse than keep UD‘s little ditty up there in mind as they survey the hulking ruins of their best-laid anti-abortion plans.

Here’s the deal: The US is really strongly distinctly not a theocracy, but it sure looks as though the activist core of the No Abortion Even For Nine Year Old Rape/Incest Victims Or For Any Other Human Atrocity You Can Think Of movement is composed of theocrats.

Now, a few anti-abortion people are not theocrats and they are looking directly away from the ruins of Ohio toward the land o’ compromise. But they can forget it. When you’re taking orders from God, you’re in no mood to fuck with compromise. Compromise will compromise you right out of heaven, and you’re not going to miss your salvation.

In a perfect world, the theocrats would shut up and content themselves with mini-theocracies like Idaho, where they can pursue a heaven-bound life unmolested by rapidly secularizing Americans. But their faith makes that impossible; they must always pursue the impossible dream of absolutely no reproductive rights up and down this great land of ours. Good luck with that.



“Republicans spent half a century working to overturn Roe, yet they weren’t prepared for the democratic policy debate when that finally happened in Dobbs last year. Now they’re seeing abortion regimes as loose as Roe, or potentially looser, imposed by voters even in conservative states. This political liability will persist until the GOP finds an abortion message that most voters can accept.”

[A]bortion-rights groups may yet encounter an electorate that they cannot sway. But for now and for the foreseeable future, the energy and democratic will is on their side. Americans in general have been fairly clear for years that they did not support overturning Roe v. Wade. Roe’s demise strengthened that position instead of diminishing it. 

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