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May 12, 2005 - May 5, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005


He's Ba-a-a-a-ck!

Pat Buchanan and friend.

REMEMBERING. It's unlikely that anybody cares, but Pat Buchanan has leaped into the current, already silly Yalta debate with an essay at WorldNet Daily called Was World War II worth it? Our old pal Neal Boortz links to it from his blogsite and says, "Pat Buchanan asked a very interesting question, one that is causing quite a stir. Considering the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe for almost half a century, was World War II worth it?" That's what prompted us to reply to rather than ignore Pat's latest outburst. It's embarrassing that many people still consider Pat a conservative of some sort, even if they qualify it with such terminology as 'paleoconservative.' He's NOT a conservative anymore. He's a deranged and intellectually dishonest demagogue who needs to be rapped on the head every so often from the right as well as the left. In his article Pat argues:

If Britain endured six years of war and hundreds of thousands of dead in a war she declared to defend Polish freedom, and Polish freedom was lost to communism, how can we say Britain won the war?

If the West went to war to stop Hitler from dominating Eastern and Central Europe, and Eastern and Central Europe ended up under a tyranny even more odious, as Bush implies, did Western Civilization win the war?

In 1938, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain refused. In 1939, Churchill wanted Britain to fight for Poland. Chamberlain agreed. At the end of the war Churchill wanted and got, Czechoslovakia and Poland were in Stalin's empire.

How, then, can men proclaim Churchill "Man of the Century"?

True, U.S. and British troops liberated France, Holland and Belgium from Nazi occupation. But before Britain declared war on Germany, France, Holland and Belgium did not need to be liberated. They were free. They were only invaded and occupied after Britain and France declared war on Germany – on behalf of Poland.

People who are ignorant of the history might read this and say, like Boortz, "interesting questions." But these questions aren't interesting, because they're based on deliberately false premises for the low purpose of propping up Pat's new ideology of isolationism at all costs. With apologies to those who know at least as much history as Pat surely does, we'll take this corrupt argument apart for the benefit of those who can't see what he's misrepresenting here.

Britain did not go to war to defend Polish freedom. She went to war to defend British freedom, which could not survive a Nazi empire encompassing all of western Europe. Churchill is the "Man of the Century" because he was the only major politician at the time who understood the scope of Hitler's ambitions. Pat now pretends that those ambitions did not exist. When he blames Britain's declaration of war for the Nazi conquest of France, Holland, and Belgium, he is standing the facts on their head. Hitler concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop 'non-aggression' pact with Stalin in August of 1939 expressly to protect his eastern flank while he was conquering western Europe. How can we be so sure of his designs on the west? Because Hitler rose to power in the first place by fanning the flames of German resentment about the Treaty of Versailles, whose harsh peace terms ending WWI originated in Germany's most longstanding European rival, France. Hitler's western war was a long and deliciously anticipated revenge on its most implacable WWI foes. These do not include Russia, which bailed out of the Great War in 1917 at the time of the Russian Revolution.

Note, too, that Pat is forced to use the weaselly generic noun "West" when he asks whether "Western Civilization" won World War II. He doesn't dare mention the U.S. by name because that would require him to acknowledge that his own country had a very legitimate self-interest in preventing a monolithic Hitlerian regime including all of Europe and the U.K. Had the U.S. opted out of the war as he elsewhere argues we should have, we would have become in short order a continent-sized island of democracy surrounded by barbarically murderous totalitarian empires in Europe, Russia, and the Far East.(That's right, Pat. World War II also saved far eastern civilization.)  It's impossible to compute all the permutations of such a global configuration, but given Hitler's mad ambitions in the east, what kind of civilized prosperity could possibly result from a Nazi nuclear war against Stalin, even if no American boys died in the combat. And given German technology's precocious development of V2 rockets, how long would it have taken a Nazi empire 300-million strong to have developed a first strike ICBM capability against a supine U.S.? Such missiles needn't ever have been fired to turn this country into a powerless tribute state.

Was World War II worth fighting even if eastern Europe was always doomed to a half century of subjugation? Yes indeedy, Pat. What's more, you knew the right answer to the question before you posed it. So what's your point? Yes, we get the isolationism motive, but even that is not sufficient to explain this kind of perversity. It's simply not necessary to keep revisiting World War II to make the case for your kind of American dismissal of the world. It's hard not to suspect that your obsession with this chapter of history arises from a deep if subconscious identification with Hitler himself. As a good Catholic(?), you really should revisit that part of your psyche and ask some hard questions of yourself. Until you do, we'll stand by the characterization we published in the Year 2000 Who's Who of Shuteye Nation, reprinted below. (In Shuteye Nation, the names have all been changed because it was more fun that way.)


Pat Buchenwald. Candidate for Presdent of the United States in the 2000 election. Blessed with the same cute jowls and forced smile as the famous Presdent for whom he once wrote speeches, Buchenwald has tirelessly pursued the highest office in the land for almost six years. In the 1996 election, he defeated Bob Dull in the New Hamshire Republian primary by introducing the GOP to old-fashioned William Jennings Brian style populism. When the Republian° voters finally remembered that Brian was a Democratic°, Buchenwald’s candidacy plummeted like a rock. This time around, Buchenwald has revised his platform into an an innovative mix of old-fashioned populism and old-fashioned national socialism, spelled out in his new book My Plan, and is seeking the nomination of Ross Pyro’s Reformed Party°. Unfortunately for his candidacy, some members of the mass media° have read parts of the book and are pillorying Buchenwald for his novel suggestion that the U.S. should have struck a deal with Hittler and stayed out of Wurld War II. Buchenwald adamantly denies being “soft on Hittler,” claiming that any such intimation is a fabrication of the international Jewish conspiracy which controls the banks and the mass media. At Buchenwald’s request, the retired German Fuehrer has issued a denial of political° ties to any Amerian candidate from his home in Snaziland.

Now, Pat, if you could please go away again, we'd appreciate it.

UPDATE:  Instalanche underway -- thanks Glenn -- welcome to InstaPundit visitors and feel free to take a look around. And if you like your humor a bit raucous, you might especially enjoy this entry from yesterday.

UPDATE II: A double thank you to Glenn Reynolds for this link -- we almost feel like grown-ups.




Wednesday, May 11, 2005


The Plot Thickens


UPDATE: LOPEZ CONFIRMS PRESIDENTIAL PLANS. As we reported yesterday, Jennifer Lopez is indeed getting ready to run the country. According to the Arizona Republic:

MSN Entertainment presents a translation of the star's conversation with German magazine Bravo, in which La Lopez claims to have presidential ambitions.

"I'm a total powerhouse," Lopez no doubt reluctantly offers, adding, "If you ask me, I'd like to become the first female president. That would be really cool."
 
But why did she tell the Germans first? That seems a bit Kerry-esque to us. Oh. That's right. Never mind. The West Wing soldiers on.





An Immodest Proposal


REAL CLARITY. I'm not sure I can take credit for this idea because the editors of RealClearPolitics.com seem to make a practice of putting related articles together. So it may be I'm not the first to see a connection between the last two items on the May 11 list of think pieces. But if I hurry I can be the first to make the connection explicit, because it's not quite as plain as the nose on your face.

The first of the two is Armor Amour - Suddenly the Beltway Loves Tanks by Austin Bay. When I clicked on it I discovered that it was all about -- TA DA -- tanks. Mr. Bay is taking the opportunity to offer a well-earned "I told you so" to his buddies in the military-industrial complex. Prior to September 11 and the Iraq War, a lot of the smartest military experts, including Donald Rumsfeld, thought the tank was obsolete:

In the original Rumsfeld program, heavy armor, like the M1 tank, was a "legacy system" -- an archaic technology. Rumsfeld's Whiz Kids weren't the only ones who thought the tank passe. An Army buddy tells the story of a could-be Democratic appointee he escorted through DOD briefings. The pipe-smoking pontificator kept saying, "The tank's dead." My infantry pal finally turned to him and said: "Yes sir, the tank's a dinosaur, but it's the baddest dinosaur on the battlefield. You face one."

By now, most people have forgotten that before the Iraq Occupation, it really had begun to look as if modern wars were about speed, mobility, special forces, and high-tech electronic gizmos that could destroy enemy communications at a distance and guide missiles through doorways. That's why the military vehicles in Iraq were mostly unarmored Humvees. Those of us who fume about the appalling lack of armor in 2003 are mostly geniuses in hindsight. Not Mr. Bay, though. All the way back in the old days, he knew better:

An article I wrote in August 2001 -- pre-9/11 -- took some hits from Whiz Kid supporters. Titled "Grunt Work," it argued for retaining a sufficient mass of high quality infantry (see it here). The article drew on T.R. Fehrenbach's Korean War classic "This Kind of War." One Beltway critic labeled me a hapless Luddite. Nope -- I believed then and now we never know the future and, when it comes to maintaining U.S. security, all bets must be hedged. I love robots and smart bombs, but I suspected full-spectrum 21st century war would also require bayonets and police batons.

And now everyone else knows better too:

The May issue of Armed Forces Journal features a tough-minded article by Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute. Goure notes "the conventional wisdom" assumed that a "small ground contingent" would wield "decisive power" by deploying promptly and maneuvering rapidly.

"On reflection, it now appears that the conventional wisdom is wrong. The overriding lesson of recent conflicts, both conventional wars and counterinsurgency campaigns, is that some armor is good and more armor is better."

A good article. It makes sense to have some tanks handy. Maybe even a lot of tanks.

The next and final article on the May 11 list was about something completely different. It's called Retaking the Universities. In it, Mr. Roger Kimball of New Criterion magazine describes just how terrible the condition of the nation's universities is. Like Mr. Bay, Mr. Kimball is writing about a subject on which he has taken strong positions in the past. In 1990, he wrote:

With a few notable exceptions, our most prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities have installed the entire radical menu at the center of their humanities curriculum at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Every special interest--women's studies, black studies, gay studies, and the like --and every modish interpretative gambit--deconstruction, post-structuralism, new historicism, and other postmodernist varieties of what the literary critic Frederick Crews aptly dubbed "Left Eclecticism"--has found a welcome roost in the academy, while the traditional curriculum and modes of intellectual inquiry are excoriated as sexist, racist, or just plain reactionary.

What's different today is that it's all gotten much worse.

Traditionally, a liberal arts education involved both character formation and learning. The goal was to produce men and women who (as Allan Bloom put it) had reflected thoughtfully on the question " 'What is man?' in relation to his highest aspirations as opposed to his low and common needs."

Since the 1960s, however, colleges and universities have more and more been home to what Lionel Trilling called the "adversary culture of the intellectuals." The goal was less reflection than rejection. The English novelist Kingsley Amis once observed that much of what was wrong with the 20th century could be summed up in the word "workshop." Nowadays, "workshop" has been largely replaced by the word "studies." Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women's Studies, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Studies: These are not the names of academic disciplines but political grievances. They exist not to further liberal education but to nurture the feckless antinomianism that Jacques Barzun dubbed "directionless quibble."

These are only some highlights of the 'What's Wrong' portion of the essay, which is quite long but well worth reading in full. For example, there's a lengthy discussion of the importance of the gender tinkering that's going on in a lot of schools, even in places like Smith College. Mr. Kimball asserts that it is no side issue but fundamental to the radicalization process and offers us this quote from Irving Kristol:

"Sexual liberation" is always near the top of a countercultural agenda--though just what form the liberation takes can and does vary, sometimes quite wildly. Women's liberation, likewise, is another consistent feature of all countercultural movements--liberation from husbands, liberation from children, liberation from family. Indeed, the real object of these various sexual heterodoxies is to disestablish the family as the central institution of human society, the citadel of orthodoxy.

Eventually, the article returns to its inital premise, which is to consider whether and how we can go about fixing what's wrong. Mr. Kimball proposes that reform is a two part effort, which begins with relentless, large-scale, and far-reaching critiques of the university system, including hiring practices, tenure policies, curricula, and even the contemporary definition of academic freedom. The second part is changing the institutions while maintaining the same level of criticism and questioning. But who is going to effect change and who is going to accept it?

Faculties often take it amiss when critics appeal over their heads to alumni, trustees or parents. But ultimately teachers still stand in loco parentis, if not on everyday moral issues then at least with respect to the content of the education they provide. Many parents are alarmed, rightly so, at the spectacle of their children going off to college one year and coming back the next having jettisoned every moral, religious, social and political scruple that they had been brought up to believe. Why should parents fund the moral decivilization of their children at the hands of tenured antinomians? Why should alumni generously support an alma mater whose political and educational principles nourish a world view that is not simply different from but diametrically opposed to the one they endorse? Why should trustees preside over an institution whose faculty systematically repudiates the pedagogical mission they, as trustees, have committed themselves to uphold? These are questions that should be asked early and asked often.

This is the point at which I began to lose the hope aroused by the article's title. Try as I might, I just can't see meaningful change of the academic monstrosity our universities have become issuing from faculties, parents, alumni, and trustees. I found myself speaking out loud.

"It ain't gonna happen that way," I said. "What it would take is..."

...and then the brilliant thought came to me: "Tanks!"

So here's my plan. We round up every tank we can find that isn't actually being used in Iraq or Afghanistan. Next, we conduct a nationwide Internet poll to determine which institutions need to be retaken first. The result of the poll will be a list of all the target universities in the order they will be subjected to reform. Then we have a secret meeting with all the anti-marxist and nonmarxist students and faculty in the country. I've even got a place in mind for this. It's called the Charcoal Pit and should hold everyone nicely. The ivory tower types will never suspect a thing.



The Charcoal Pit is in Delaware, which isn't centrally located, but on the positive side of the ledger the food is good and since this is summertime, after the meeting we could enjoy a couple of days at the Jersey shore before Operation Academic Freedom gets officially underway.

The actual battle plan is pretty simple. We drive our tanks up to the front doors of the universities and start shooting. Timing is important. We'll have to wait till 11 am or so, or else there won't be anyone in class. Ammunition is important. We'll need lots and lots of it. The firing plan is to keep blasting until there's nothing left but smoldering ruins. Then we go on to the next on the list. If the first target is Harvard, for example, we would move on from there to, say, Yale. So fuel will be important too. There's going to be some long distance driving involved between engagements.

I really think Operation Academic Freedom has an excellent chance of success. It's the only plan that fully addresses the scores of problems identified by Mr. Kimball in his article. So I urge you all to help us begin these reforms by contributing some money to the tip jar on this website. Give us much or as little as you can, but $1,000 per person seems like a good average to strive for.

How about it? There's no better time to start than today.

UPDATE:  Instalanche underway -- thanks Glenn -- welcome to InstaPundit visitors and feel free to take a look around. With all the activity stirred by the Buchanan-Nazi post we were distracted. Our apologies.




Tuesday, May 10, 2005


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Network Battle of the Presidents

ABC's President Geena Davis and NBC's President Jimmy Smits

TRANS-FER OF POWER. It turns out that Drudge got only half the story when he ballyhooed the new ABC series Commander-in-Chief, starring Geena Davis as the President of the United States. The other shoe dropped Monday, when producers of NBC's The West Wing announced they would respond to ABC's incursion on their presidential turf by employing the "Nuclear Option." What might that be? At season's end, The West Wing left us with Republican Alan Alda (Sure.) running for the White House against Democrat Jimmy Smits. But during the summer hiatus in the campaign, Smits will undergo a sex change operation that will turn him into Jennifer Lopez, thus making him/her the only Hispanic transgender person to win election to the highest office in the land.

West Wing's Supervising Producer Alexa Junge said, "There just isn't any way that ABC is going to outglam us in the White House. We've been in office for two terms, and we know a thing or two about how to whip up voter, er, viewer interest. Fans know we've been paving the way for women in politics for a long time now. Our crack political consultants believe we've made enough progress in this regard that the country is ready for a transgender president of color, which is just about the only way we're ever going to solve the gay marriage problem, provide national healthcare for all our kids and AIDS sufferers, repeal the disgusting tax cuts for rich white men, and legalize the millions of undocumented workers in Beverly Hills. You know, all the stuff that Americans really want but are too stupid to ask for from a white male politician."

An unnamed ABC producerette was quick to respond to the rival network's offensive, saying, "Apparently, NBC doesn't know there's a War on Terror going on out there. We do. That's why our show is called Commander-in-Chief. And we believe Geena is the perfect leader for the global crisis we now face. No one who has seen Thelma and Louise or The Long Kiss Goodnight can doubt that she's plenty tough, if it comes to that, but the chances are that only a real woman can sit down with bin Laden and Zarqawi at the U.N. and work out a cooperative framework for resolving everyone's issues without further bloodshed. Frankly, we don't think hormone injections are going to give Jimmy Smits the kind of sensitivity, understanding, and tolerance that's required. But good luck to him. I mean her. Whatever."

Junge replied tersely: "We'll see who the better woman is in the November Sweeps."

Should be exciting.





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Fauxsy

Friendly Uncles

THE WORD IS AVUNCULAR. So I checked in at the Huffington Post looking for the promised GlitzBlogs and who do I find there but the old shoe of NPR, Garrison Keillor. He was talking about radio, but not really. No, he was talking about what's wrong with America, which he can tell by listening to the radio. This site has previously given guidance about how to read New Yorker articles, and some of the same skills are helpful with the writing style of the Sage of Minnesota. The beginning is oblique and tone-setting rather than a straightforward introduction of the subject. Here's his first paragraph. (I know it's a whopper and I'm sorry, but you can get the point by scanning... honest.)

I am old enough to be nostalgic about radio, having grown up when it was a stately medium and we listened to Journeys in Musicland with Professor E.B. "Pop" Gordon teaching us the musical scale, and the guest on The Poetry Corner was Anna Hempstead Branch, who read her sonnet cycle, "Ere the Golden Bowl Is Broken," and the gospel station brought us Gleanings From the Word, with the whispery Reverend Riley trudging patiently through the second chapter of Leviticus, and at night there were Fibber and Molly and Amos and Andy and the Sunset Valley Barn Dance with Pop Wiggins ("Says here that radio's gonna take the place of newspapers. I doubt it. Y'can't swat a fly with a radio."), but I don't feel a hankering to hear any of it ever again. I am rather fond of radio as it is today, full of oddities and exceptions. It is an unmanageable medium. Management is at work trying to format things, but reality keeps breaking through the bars. You twiddle the dial, and in the midst of the clamor and blare and rackety commercials you find a human being speaking to you in a way that intrigues you and lifts your spirits, such as a few weeks ago when a man spoke about his mother, in Houston, who as she was dying of lung cancer made a video for her severely retarded daughter to watch in years to come, which the daughter does not watch, being too retarded to comprehend death, which in itself is a mercy. It was very graceful, a fellow American telling a story unlike all the other stories. Pretty amazing. And all the more so for showing up on a dial full of blathering idiots and jackhammer music.

Folksy, ain't it? Here's a man, we're being told, who knows how to listen, a man whose ear for heartstrings has perfect pitch and infallible memory. The word pictures create for us a space of tender three-dimensional empathy inside which we can share with him everything that is fine and good and humble and human and authentic in the American experience.

But there are dark things afoot, things that cannot help but alarm a man of such exquisite sensibilities and, of course, all who have the depth of character to recognize the harmonic intricacies of his composition. Okay, I'll get to the point. If you want to know what Garrison is working up to here, listen for the discord in this passage:

After the iPod takes half the radio audience and satellite radio subtracts half of the remainder and Internet radio gets a third of the rest and Clear Channel has to start cutting its losses and selling off frequencies, good-neighbor radio will come back. People do enjoy being spoken to by other people who are alive and who live within a few miles of you.

People like Tommy Mischke, a nighttime guy on a right-wing station in St. Paul and a free spirit who gets into wonderful stream-of-consciousness harangues and meditations that are a joy to listen to compared with the teeth-grinding that goes on around him. Not that teeth-grinders are to be disparaged: I enjoy, in small doses, the over-the-top right-wingers who have leaked into AM radio on all sides in the past twenty years. They are evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I love and turn it into a banana republic, but hey, nobody's perfect. And now that their man is re-elected and they have nice majorities in the House and Senate, they are hunters in search of diminishing prey. There just aren't many of us liberals worth banging away at, but God bless them, they keep on coming. [emphasis added]

My my. The article is 1770 words long, but the bold-faced clause is just about all you need to read. Like his soulmate Andy Rooney, Keillor affects a folksiness that is merely a cover for pronouncements by a personage who is, truth be told, superior to most of us. He simply knows and we should believe him because he is wired into the real soul of the nation:

The reason you find an army of right-wingers ratcheting on the radio and so few liberals is simple: Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave listening to people who think like them. Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society; tuning in to hear an echo is not our idea of a good time. I go to church on Sunday morning to be among the like-minded, and we all say the Nicene Creed together and assume nobody has his fingers crossed, but when it comes to radio, I prefer oddity and crankiness. I don't need someone to tell me that George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man--that's pretty clear on the face of it. What I want is to be surprised and delighted and moved. Here at the low end of the FM dial is a show in which three college boys are sitting in a studio, whooping and laughing...

Do you see what's going on here? In his universe, good and evil are so dead obvious and simple that they don't need to be explained, illuminated, or even considered. They are merely declaimed like commandments, because the speaker is not, for all his aw-shucks "hankering" and "twiddling," one of the great unwashed, but a seer. He listens, he sees, he passes judgment. What is his authority? The wave of hyper-reticulated sentimentality in which he conceals his arrogant simplemindedness. He is the mirror image of the cartoonish fascist fundamentalist he presumes to detect in you and me and everyone else whose politics do not accord with his.

Beyond this he has nothing to offer but writing tricks. All the down-home diction is actually a hostile takeover attempt. He is trying to claim for his side everything that is warmhearted and comfortable in daily life. It's time for a reality check, Mr. Keillor.

Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society. Then why do the most exclusively "liberal" principalities -- for example, universities and your beloved NPR -- suppress, ridicule, ignore, or assault opposing advocates? Why is the most consistently vicious, ad-hominem bile on the Internet the work of "liberal" sites like Moveon.org and Democraticunderground.com? Why do "liberals" openly cheer when prominent conservatives fall ill or die?

I don't need someone to tell me that George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man--that's pretty clear on the face of it. Clear to whom? Let's see. The more than half of American voters who reelected him to a second term are not part of the just-folks country you celebrate so tirelessly? There are no good-hearted Republicans who carry bunt cakes to church suppers, plant tomatoes and beans on stakes in the garden out back, sniff in delighted wonder at the first hints of spring and fall in the air, and yet see in their president a man who is trying hard to do an impossible job? If his corruption is so "clear on the face of it," what does that say about the majority of just-folks who believe differently?

Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave listening to people who think like them.  Whereas "liberals" feel no need of affirmation? Then why, after holding a 40+-year monopoly on the mainstream media -- with CBS, NBC, ABC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, most major metropolitan newspapers, and a radio spectrum shackled by the so-called Fairness Doctrine providing the Democrat majority with a continuous echo chamber -- do "liberals" like you whine and rant and rave about the emergence of an unruly minority of media in which conservative voices can be heard? What could be more fragile than the ego which requires its affirmations to be universal, with no dissenting views allowed?

And who is it exactly who "do(es)n't feel comfortable in America"? Which brings me to this gem:

They are evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I love. You're full of it, Keillor. I've heard your radio monologues about Lake Woebegone. Very charming. Lots of Swedes and Norwegians and Lutherans up in your neck of the woods, aren't there? I have no reason to doubt your love of your country. But I do wonder how comfortable you'd be in some other parts of the country, where the great liberal causes are not just things you read about in the 6-page local newspaper, behind the headlines about crop predictions and snowfall totals. Do you think all your rock-ribbed Democrat neighbors would be comfortable attending Cuntfest in State College, Pennsylvania, operating a grocery store in the part of L.A. that was destroyed without punishment during the Rodney King riots, sending their daughters to incompetent urban public schools where the only thing little girls learn is how to dress and talk like whores, live in a state whose numerous nuclear plants and proximity to New York and Philadelphia make it the number one terrorist target in the nation, cross a state line in the Northeast where the fine print of gun laws can turn a Pennsylvania hunter into a 5-year New Jersey prison inmate, farm in a state whose property taxes and EPA and agricultural regulations require family farms to grow crops they consider poisonous for no profit while the developers queue up at city hall to seize them by eminent domain, take their aged mother to a hospital where the intricacies of Medicare and federal insurance regulations virtually guarantee her premature release and death?

I suppose your beloved Swedes and Lutherans know nothing of these things, either. Authentic good American life is more picturesque and poetic than it is in inauthentic America, where the conservative evil continues to oppose the liberal utopia of your fanciful memories. The funny thing is, I have picturesque memories too. I grew up in the country. I remember the sharp earthen smell of tomato fields present but unseen outside the candlelight of our screened-in porch. We listened to the Phillies games on the radio -- the rich official voice of By Saam paired with the dry humor of Richie Ashburn (there's a Norwegian for you, Garrison) -- and we talked, my father, mother, sister and I, about what we'd do tomorrow and the rest of our lives. Everything seemed possible in those enveloping summer nights, where Johnny Callison hit homeruns and the fireflies danced outside the screen and high up in the whispering elms and buttonwoods the voices of treefrogs bubbled like big drops of rain.

But none of this is good or authentic or even American because there were times when my father spoke of politics, and he would describe Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president for 12 of his first 22 years of life, as a cynical lying bastard who had tried to destroy the country we loved. No point in arguing that my father had a right to his opinion without being evil himself. It can't matter to a patriotic liberal that he joined the Army Air Corps as soon as he was old enough, flew 88 combat missions in North Africa and Italy, and came home to start a family and work hard all his days. It couldn't be relevant that he considered FDR a "deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man" in part because after returning safely from Europe, he was compelled to fly submarine patrols in foggy New York harbor to sustain the PR fiction that the continental U.S. was in danger of attack during the 1944 presidential campaign. Since he's evil by definition, it's irrelevant that he lost friends in this dangerous and pointless duty, pilots who survived Nazi anti-aircraft guns and the strafing runs of ME109s, but not the political expediencies of a dying megalomaniac.

Enough. Mr. Keillor, you don't own or speak for everything that's good and true in America. You are entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to deliver that opinion from your platform on NPR or to shout it from the rooftops of Minnesota. I thus grant you what you seem loath to grant us who disagree with you. All I ask is that you be more careful when you think you are speaking for all real Americans. Too much? I will trust not.




Monday, May 09, 2005


Giving Money Away to the People Who Need It
Sometimes there is an idea that you just have to think about for a minute to see that it makes sense. Instead of a $300,000,000 public works projects for the eight home games your local NFL franchise will play each year perhaps this would be a better idea.





UPDATE -- please take a look at Dave Hardy's comments for this post regarding the SILVEIRA v. LOCKYER case. It appears DH has some intimate experience with the case regarding your gun rights. Oh, yeah, and join the NRA.





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UPDATE: GREYHOUNDS IN NEED. As we first learned from dougpetch.com, the governor of Connecticut has made a public statement about the Plainfield situation. You can read the news story here. The gist is this:

Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Tuesday called on the prospective new owner of the Plainfield Greyhound Track to protect the dogs as the operation prepares to close... "I need your assurances that every effort will be made to relocate these beautiful animals to either another adequate racing venue or to ensure that new loving homes are found for them," Rell said in her letter.

New England Raceway developer Gene Arganese of Trumbull, who obtained an option to purchase the dog track last year, has said he halted greyhound racing to begin construction of a new facility. He plans to apply for a transfer of the park's dog track license next year.

On Tuesday, he said he would release his plans for the dogs in a few days and would not comment on Rell's letter.

However, the track's executive vice president said Tuesday that the track will be using available resources to ensure the greyhounds' safety. Karen Keelan said the dogs will be sent to other racetracks, be returned to their farms or owners for breeding or placement in an adoption program or be placed in homes as pets.

This does not mean the dogs are safe. It does mean that people are watching; we will continue to keep an eye on the Plainfield Greyhound Track as the story develops. And please consider whether you or anyone you know can provide a foster or adoptive home to any of these dogs. The need for helping hands remains.




Sunday, May 08, 2005


Unconditional Surrender
Remember the last time rabid religious extremists held sway in Washington, DC? From sixty years ago, today:

And now, I want to read to you my formal proclamation of this occasion:

A Proclamation: The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God's help, have wrung from Germany a final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.

Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of the dictators or the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak. The power of our peoples to defend themselves against all enemies will be proved in the Pacific war as it has been proved in Europe.

For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to the peoples everywhere who join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who has strengthened us and given us the victory.

Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.

I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks to God for the victory we have won, and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle and guide us into the ways of peace.

I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given their lives to make possible our victory.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand

Wow. Sure glad we're all too smart for that kind of thinking now.

You can get to the whole thing HERE.




Friday, May 06, 2005


Half-Staff

Col. David Hackworth, 1930-2005

HARD CASE. One of America's greatest soldiers has died. Military.com has an entry that says more than we can. Here's an excerpt:

Col. Hackworth's battlefield exploits put him on the line of American military heroes squarely next to Sgt. Alvin York and Audie Murphy. The novelist Ward Just, who knew him for forty years, described him as "the genuine article, a soldier's soldier, a connoisseur of combat." At 14, as World War II was sputtering out, he lied about his age to join the Merchant Marine, and at 15 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Over the next 26 years he spent fully seven in combat. He was put in for the Medal of Honor three times; the last application is currently under review at the Pentagon. He was twice awarded the Army's second highest honor for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, along with 10 Silver Stars and eight Bronze Stars. When asked about his many awards, he always said he was proudest of his eight Purple Hearts and his Combat Infantryman's Badge.

Thank you, Colonel, for everything.





Mother


PINK FREUD (BOOK OF ED, CHAPTERS 70 & 71). With Mothers Day upon us, I find myself thinking about one of the more puzzling performances in the very odd event known as "The Wall, Live in Berlin." I can't begin to guess how popular or obscure the DVD of this concert is, so forgive me if you already know the particulars I'm about to recap.

In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Roger Waters delivered a concert of the album he had conceived with the band Pink Floyd. To fill in for the missing musicians, Waters solicited the aid of innumerable past and present stars, including Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, James Galway, Rick Denko, Jerry Hall, the Scorpions, Thomas Dolby, Marianne Faithful, Albert Finney, Tim Curry, the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army(!), and the peculiar young woman shown above. An audience well in excess of 100,000 people watched what amounted to a musical stage production of The Wall, featuring a massive prop wall set against the backdrop of the former Berlin Wall.

The show was a kaleidoscope of ironies. At first blush, all the musical content had in common with the milestone it celebrated was its title. An earthshaking change in global politics that affected hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people was meant somehow to be symbolically akin to one of the most grandiloquent expressions of solipsism in the history of pop culture. Just as Oliver Stone has contrived to make the Vietnam War a sinister conspiracy to ambush a young Oliver Stone, Roger Waters has transformed World War II and its Cold War aftermath into a vicious plot against the happiness of Roger Waters. There is no hint on the stage in Berlin of the ghosts of those who died seeking literal freedom on the western side of a very real wall made of stone, concrete, and barbed wire. Instead, there is the bizarrely ass-backwards use of vast, long-term tragedy as a metaphor for the self-absorbed sexual neuroses of one poor little rich kid.

This fundamental inversion of meaning is echoed in different ways throughout the performance. Waters builds his big metaphorical wall LIVE and then actually performs from inside an artificial womb within the structure, peeking out at us through the hole that will be bricked in after the song. In the next number, Paul Carrack and other musicians perform with their backs to the audience, staring fixedly at the terrible monolithic prison created by the sins and omissions of Roger Waters's mother. Which brings us to the psychological core of the piece, the intensely weird arrangement of the song "Mother." On the original album, Waters sings it himself, and quite rightly, because the lyrics are his plaint against the unfair circumstance that he is, thanks to WWII, fatherless and therefore helpless against the walking, talking, devouring vagina dentata that gave birth to him.

Mother, do you think they'll drop the bomb?
Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
Mother, do you think they'll break my balls?
Mother, should I build the Wall?
Mother, should I run for President?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Is it just a waste of time?

But the Live in Berlin production is about inversion, and so the part of Roger Waters is sung by Sinead O'Connor, presented in deliberate androgyny with a shaven head and baggy unisex clothes. Her performance seems unmindful of any irony, including that of a supposed feminist participating in a paean to misogyny. The chorus, which represents the voice of the castrating mother, on the other hand, is sung by three men, including Waters himself and a rather embarrassed-looking Rick Denko.

Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry
Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true
Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you
Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing
She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing
Momma's gonna keep Baby cozy and warm
Oooo Babe
Oooo Babe
Ooo Babe, of course Momma's gonna help build the wall

Strangely enough, this far into the inside-out proceedings, the show does begin to make a certain kind of sense out of its setting. Waters is acting out for us the moral and cultural collapse of the western world that accompanied the Cold War. While Eastern Europe was killing and imprisoning millions of flesh and blood people and using up its entire physical infrastructure, much of the western world was engaged in a process of spiritual suicide whose climactic moment occurs in this very performance: spoiled narcissists who have finally forgotten what freedom is just as it has been procured for a continent and a half of former slaves. The children of the west have stared into the darkest hours of the twentieth century's existential terrors and seen that the greatest villain is, uh, the Mom who can't make everything perfect in our little Universe of One.



I yearn to know whether the thousands of young people in attendance, presumably liberal about social and political matters, gave any thought at all to the implications of Waters's material. His "Mother" stands at the very beginning of the great Baby Boom, and she is therefore a prototype and archetype of the single mother who has become the damaged anchor of the decaying nuclear family. Under her wing, no boy can truly become a man, and in her new responsibility she can no longer remain purely woman, twin circumstances which lead to the gray androgyny of the X and Y generations, perfectly embodied by the lunkhead elf Sinead. And when the audience participates by wearing thousands of identical subhuman masks, are they aware that this is not meant to be play-acting but a sardonic demonstration of the reality? Or is their unawareness -- of themselves and the outrageously inappropriate performance they're supporting -- the whole point?

What, I wonder, must the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army have thought of this grotesque Passion(less) Play? Did they marvel at how they could have lost a 40-year-long war against such an empty and rudderless opponent? Did they, perhaps, read Waters's 'Mother' as a cunning western allegory of the smothering mother state inevitably created by socialist dogmas? Did they (think they) perceive(d) a new connotation of the term 'Motherland'? Or were they, like so many of us (apparently), simply dazzled by the spectacle itself and its galaxy of unquestioning stars?

Of course, the event took place 15 years ago, and perhaps we shouldn't dwell on these old ironies or take them very seriously. All those single mothers are doing a better job than Waters would have us believe, aren't they? Their kids are growing up more enlightened than their predecessors, after all, tolerant and more than tolerant of homosexuality, multiculturalism, hip hop testosterone, and alternative rock's gravel-voiced estrogen. They're not as confused as Waters, are they? They're so confident of their sexual identities that the girls are happy to dress like Times Square hookers, while the boys know to dress like gold-toothed ghetto druglords. And look at how many of them stared into the crucible of 9/11 and came away with the conviction that nobody as young as they are should ever be asked to die in a war of any kind, for any reason. The nightmares of The Wall haven't all come true, have they?

Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Is it just a waste of time?

That's enough of that, I guess. But for all the mothers out there, and all the fathers, who are still trying to build and nurture strong families, I wish you a beautiful, happy, and joyous Mothers Day.




Thursday, May 05, 2005


Be Careful With That Gun
We send our heartfelt thanks to Your Philosophy Sucks for calling our attention to the dissenting opinion in the United States Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refusal to grant a rehearing en banc regarding SILVEIRA v. LOCKYER authored by Judge Alex Kozinski.

From the Keep and Bear Arms website dedicated to the case we learn: "Silveira v. Lockyer was filed in the Eastern District Court in California in the year 2000, by California attorney Gary Gorski. It argues for the individual right of the people to keep and bear arms under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. The case seeks to overturn California's arbitrary ban on semi-automatic rifles -- a gun ban based on the ergonomic and safety features the firearms possess.

The dissent referenced by YPS led to a Supreme Court petition which was denied in November of 2003 from what we can tell. Now, there isn't an attorney among us (say, maybe that's why we got picked up by The Washington Post before Hugh Hewitt has ever linked to us once), but the six dissenting Judges on the en banc appeal seem to be trying to tell us something as well as his peers on the Court.

Judge Kozinski seems to think that the majority has fallen prey to a delusion -- "popular in some circles -- that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll." Hear. Hear. Wait, there is more -- "But the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people." Now, that makes sense to us.

The good Judge goes on to identify instances within U.S. history when such a right was necessary for the survival of citizens of the United States and highlights how the elimination of this right abroad allowed tyranny to have its way with its newly unarmed citizenry. We've talked about this issue before here and here and it's not our intention to rehash those arguments. We just want you to be aware of what is going on in your beloved US of A.

Take a look at the YPS post. They've got links to all the pertinent data. You should download the full set of dissents in this pdf file and read them. And, if you joined the NRA like we told you to do before -- come on join already, it's not that expensive ($35 for one year) -- you would have read President Kayne Robinson's explanation of why all these little fights must be fought and won.

You can read his note here and get a full view of how these little laws and regulations reduce the number of gun owners in a population until they are a minority -- like smokers -- who nobody has to listen to anymore. They did just this in the U.K. Enough said. Go buy a gun. Join the NRA. If you already own a gun, get a permit to carry the thing and carry it.

If you're worried about the gun getting into the wrong hands or your kids -- buy a gun safe and lock it up with plenty of ammunition for the day you need it. Our prayer is that you never have to open the safe. But, not all of our prayers get answered in the affirmative.




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