Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 8, 2006 - February 1, 2006

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Send him home.

PSAYINGS.5A.19. We frequently disagree with Sean Hannity, but never more so than yesterday, when in characterizing Jimmy Carter's disgraceful performance at the funeral of Coretta Scott King, he referred to Carter on his radio show as the "second worst president of the twentieth century after Bill Clinton." Hannity is dead wrong. Jimmy Carter is, bar none, THE worst president in American history, and it is a source of national shame that he has been allowed to continue screwing things up on the world stage as the worst ex-president in American history. Here's what he did yesterday at the King funeral:

Former President Jimmy Carter later swung at Bush as well, not once but twice. As he talked about the Kings, he said: "It was difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps." The crowd cheered as Bush, under fire for a secret wiretapping program he ordered after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, again smiled weakly.

Later, Carter said Hurricane Katrina showed that all are not yet equal in America.

The wizened little trailer trash pipsqueak omitted pointing out that Martin Luther King was wiretapped by Robert Kennedy, the attorney-general for his sainted brother, John F. Kennedy (why has nobody ever cared about that particular gangster appointment, by the way? Just how many decibels would the screaming amount to if GWB named Jeb AG? Right. Shudder...).

This Carter creep is the guy whose stewardship gave us 13.5 percent inflation, a prime rate of 22 percent, 10 percent unemployment, de facto surrender to the thugocracy of the Soviet Union, and -- TA DA! -- the U.S.-sponsored rise of Islamic fascism in the Middle East. It was Carter who took no action of any kind while Pol Pot was murdering a third of Cambodia in the aftermath of the Democratic Party's assassination of South Vietnam. It was Carter who connived at the oveerthrow of the Shah of Iran and enabled the bin-Ladenesque Ayatollah Khomeini to seize power. It was Carter who failed to rescue American hostages taken in a blatant act of war by the Khomeini barbarians, and it was also Carter who presided over the most humiliatingly incompetent military embarrassment in American history.

No matter where you look, Carter's fingerprints are all over every foreign policy crisis we've experienced since he first defaced the Oval Office. It was Carter who backed the communist Sandinistas over the capitalist rebels in Nicaragua. It was Carter who managed to sabotage even the minimal stand the Clinton administration had taken against North Korea's nuclear weapons program. It was Carter who... well... backed the anti-American side in every instance he poked his head into global politics after the electorate hurled him out of the White House in an epic landslide.

And he has the nerve to despoil a funeral for the purpose of sniping at a sitting President who has ten times his guts and twenty times his understanding of world affairs. He should be punched right in the face. For starters.

To call Jimmy Carter a deliberate traitor to his country would be a compliment, because that at least would grant him him the assumption that what he has tried to do he has succeeded in doing. The truth is far worse. This tiny, contemptible, presumptuous, conceited moron has done -- in the name of patriotism and under the influence of a loathesome self-aggrandizing hubris -- more damage to this nation than Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, and Nathan Bedford Forrest combined.

It's way past time to send this classless, witless, clueless little outbreak of national melanoma home. Back to the Faulknerian nightmare that spawned him. Back to the trailer park. Even they might not accept him. But if that's the case, they will still know how to deal with him.

That's what we're counting on, anyway.

P.S. Shame on you, Sean.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Installing the Safety Valve

BREAKING THE ICE. So now Iran has declared Cartoon War in earnest. The mullahs' aggressive ambitions in this milieu are in some ways just as significant and portentous as their nuclear plans. But this new front is one we might do well to expand, notwithstanding all the weeping and wailing and beating of breasts that's going on in the western press. Why? Well, I'm going to tell you in a bit, so keep your shirt on.

A great deal has been written about this controversy. Pundits and bloggers are having a hard time arriving at clear answers about right and wrong on this matter, though, because their arguments keep getting deflected by the gravitational pull of contradictory ideas. Traditional liberals -- the same ones who bridle at conservative objections to the tasteless Toles cartoon -- feel an obligation to defend freedom of the press even as they feel an equivalent obligation to protect the sensitivities of the ignorant and oppressed of the Third World. Traditional conservatives are sensitive to the fact that lampooning someone else's religion is impolite -- they've been on the receiving end of similar blasphemies from secularists here for a couple of decades and they know it can be offensive sometimes -- but they also can't shake the conviction that the same Islamists who think nothing of murdering thousands of innocents don't merit quite the same level of decorum Presbyterians observe with Methodists. In fact, they suspect the Islamists have this particular humiliation coming, at the very least. And both of these western perspectives are influenced by the grotesque circumstance that possibly great death and destruction could be caused by mere cartoons.

The result is that most of the analyses contain a lot of "on the other hand" equivocating, and not many useful prescriptions. Yet there is one line of discussion that has produced genuine insight. The psychiatrist blogger Dr. Sanity evades the traps described above and dives straight into the real cause of the conflict:

A guilt culture (i.e., the West) is typically and primarily concerned with truth, justice, and the preservation of individual rights. As noted earlier, the emotion of guilt is what keeps a person from behavior that goes against his/her own code of conduct as well as the culture’s. Excessive guilt can, of course, be pathological.

In contrast, in a typical shame culture (i.e., Arab/Islamic culture) what other people believe has a far more powerful impact on behavior than even what the individual believes. The desire to preserve honor and avoid shame to the exclusion of all else is one of the primary foundations of the culture. This desire has several side-effects, including granting the individual carte blanche to (1)engage in wrong-doing as long as no-one knows about it, or knows he is involved; and (2) engage in any necessary behavior, including wrong-doing (i.e., murder, beheading, etc.) in order to avoid shame and/or recover honor.

In other words, Dr. Sanity is pointing out an irreducible fact that liberals of all stripes can never seem to understand -- that the Islamic culture and its followers ARE NOT THE SAME as we are. They do not, no matter how much we squint and rationalize and otherwise kid ourselves, really want the same things as everybody else. It's not just that they're poorer, or more oppressed, or more burdened by historical grievance. They have a profoundly different mentality, which Dr. Sanity elucidates in multiple ways, but most significantly here:

There is no shame involved in insulting or denigrating other cultures for Muslims. Therefore such insults are acceptable. That is why there is a disconnect between the disgusting cartoons that are incredibly offensive to Jews and Christians and/or the West (see here), yet at the same time, they angrily DEMAND on threat of violence that even the most mildly offensive cartoons (i.e., the Danish ones here) be immediately repudiated.

SHAME MUST BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. Everything else is secondary. Contradictions are irrelevant; logic and reason unimportant. HONOR MUST BE RESTORED, and this can only be done at the expense of those who originated the "insult".

The inferences Dr. Sanity draws from her observations are bleak. She believes there is no way to resolve the situation because they are the way they are and we are the way we are:

Meanwhile, in our guilt culture, we obsess about how we might have hurt their feelings and some of us (not me) actually desire to make amends and apologize. This is laudable and very sensitive. It underscores the sense of tolerance that has evolved within Western culture. However well-meaning, IT WILL NOT WORK, particularly in the long-run. Making an apology for having "shamed" someone in such a culture is merely a sign of weakness from their perspective (since you are shaming yourself by admitting guilt), and hence only escalates the self-righteousness and demands that follow; and it does not ameliorate the next insult when it inevitably (and usually unintentionally) comes.

She sees nothing but violence ahead because in "shame societies, even the mildest insult must be avenged with death," and:

When a culture determines that the avoidance of shame is necessary no matter what the cost, the result is a culture of fanaticism, bizarre behavior in the name of "honor"; and simultaneously within the culture, the oppression, subjugation, and humiliation of women and others perceived as "weak" (and therefore "shameful") is a high priority. Additionally, the shame culture will always perceive the guilt culture as "weak" and inferior.

For Dr. Sanity, shame is not simply an attribute of Islamist society; it is the primary and driving force, responsible for all the worst aspects of Arabian culture generally.

But then -- almost inadvertently, it seems -- she offers us an oblique glimpse of a ray of hope:

The last such culture the West dealt with was Japan during WWII. Interestingly, they also had their suicide bombers (kamikaze) and their ritual killings for honor and vengeance related to shame avoidance.

After this, she proceeds to a grim prognosis about Islam versus the west that represents her final word on the subject. You should go read it. She's smart and knows what she's talking about. But here I'm going to drift backward to the passing mention of Japan.

She's right. That is the kind of Japanese culture we confronted in World War II. Women subjugated, a concept of honor defined by group opinion rather than individual conscience, an exaggerated sensitivity to humiliation (real and imagined), an authority structure obsessed with aggression, superiority, and -- ironically -- petty rules of rank and conduct.

The interesting additional observation I will make is that Japanese culture has changed. Defeat in war by the United States and subsequent events really did effect major shifts in the culture of shame that precipitated WWII. Yes, one can still wade through any number of books that emphasize the persistence of traditional Japanese ideas in their approach to government, jurisprudence, business, and social affairs. Shame-related suicide is probably still a fact of life there. Women are still subsidiary to men despite MacArthur's imposed constitution declaring universal suffrage. But if you get away from the academic tomes and look at contemporary popular culture, you will observe a startling phenomenon that did not exist prior to the Occupation: the Japanese have learned to laugh. More than that, they have learned to laugh at themselves, as individuals, which is the real stake in the heart of a shame culture.

Today and every day on Japanese television, one can watch game shows in which men and women subject themselves to what (to western eyes) appear to be cruel humiliations, for virtually no reward. Their delight in participation seems almost inexplicable; perhaps the explanation lies in its subversiveness of  the shame culture. The ability to laugh through an artificially created and voluntarily accepted public humiliation is, perhaps, a powerfully satisfying assertion of individual identity, a redefining of the concept of honor as a personal, interior choice that cannot be stolen by critical external eyes.

And if this is the kind of subterranean transformation it seems, how was it accomplished? Certainly not by force of arms alone, or the indignities of extended American occupation. It would have been hindered rather than promoted by official deference to Japanese traditions such as the divinity of the emperor. The agent of change is most likely to have been the introduction of popular American culture.

I'll propose a particular stereotype as having iconic importance in this context: the irreverent, slang-talking half-native, half-Americanized Japanese boy who always seems to become the American hero's sidekick in Japanese monster movies. He wears a baseball cap, he uses a distinctively outdated and sometimes incorrect vocabulary of American colloquialisms, and he is both mischievous and grinning. He is also immediately charming and attractive because he can be loyal, brave, resourceful, and honorable without taking himself too seriously. At some level, he senses that he may appear slightly ridiculous to others, but he can handle it because he is carving out a unique identity for himself. And he likes jokes.

To boil it all down to simplest terms, I'm suggesting that Japan has been able to retain vast parts of its traditional culture while coexisting with hugely different western cultures because its people acquired, finally, a sense of humor.

As with Dr. Sanity's perspective on shame culture, we are looking now at something that appears incidental or secondary but really isn't. A sense of humor is the great bridge between the prison of immature egotism and belonging in the greater world of humanity. Its possessor simultaneously views himself more humbly (and charitably) and others with greater wonder, appreciation, and pleasure. The ability to make a joke that causes others to laugh is one of the most direct sensory experiences of individual identity there is, and the ability to see that humor arises from the unexpected juxtapositions of great and small things is not to have learned a trick, but to have perceived a deep truth about life itself.

Dr. Sanity did not specify the fact that what she calls guilt cultures routinely exhibit a sense of humor about even their most sacred ideas. Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, and rabbis have been telling jokes about Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, and rabbis since, well, how about the end of the Inquisition? The differences between faiths do involve massive juxtapositions at every scale, and humor is the vehicle for accommodating them all under the same firmament. Those faiths which survive over the long haul do so by permitting and even institutionalizing a certain irreverence for what they hold most dear. Carnival, mardi-gras, and other apparent celebrations of "sin" were originated by Catholics who knew that any discipline without an occasional safety valve becomes a breeding ground for violence and destruction.

Conversely, the faiths and belief systems which see humor as a blasphemy against their brand of truth grow ever more rigid, cultish, brutal, and deadening to their followers: the Soviet Union, Maoist China during the Cultural Revolution, contemporary extreme fundamentalist Christian sects, ultra-politically correct leftists and feminists, Islamists. Each of these subcultures becomes suffocating to the extent that it cannot tolerate laughter about its own pretensions and peccadilloes.

The important truth is that Iran cannot win a cartoon war with the west, despite the fact that even western ranks are debilitated by humorless fanatics on the extreme left and right. We have a couple-thousand year head start, and they have no sense of humor. There will be nothing funny about Iran's cartoons of the holocaust. They lack the introspection and wide awareness required to detect what is humorous in any situation. They are very like a teenage girl so consumed by her appearance in the eyes of her preferred clique that she is unable to detect the absurdity of her own affectations.

But we can help Iran and the other Islamists the same way we'd go about helping that teenage girl mature: proceed to make jokes at her expense until she learns to laugh instead of bursting into tears. Because here's the other secret: it isn't humor that teaches youngsters to laugh; it is laughter itself -- and the glorious liberating feeling it provides -- that teaches youngsters to see and prize humor. On the day she finally dares to experience the relief of laughing genuinely, at herself, she will pass a threshold that brings her into the adult community. She will have discovered the one best escape from the prison of shame, which cannot be locked from outside without the active connivance of the victim. She will, through the experience of laughter, become conscious at last in the sense of understanding that she is only one center among billions, tiny yet potent. What a relief. What an empowering insight. Welcome to humanity.

The world must stop coddling the Islamists and their shame culture. The best thing we can do for them is laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh, at both them and ourselves. Eventually, they will, like the Japanese, start to get the joke, and we'll all be able to breathe easier.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Punch Mohammed!

Just click on the image.

THE WILL OF ALLAH. We tried to figure out the best way to respond to the childish, violent, and ludicrous worldwide reaction of muslims to the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Since there have been many thoughtful and informative analyses by westerners (h/t Malkin, Reynolds), we finally decided that what's missing is a childish, violent, and ludicrous reaction from westerners. Here it is. (And yeah, we know that maybe our pic isn't of THE Mohammed, but there are lots of Mohammeds out there, and who can tell one from another anyway?) So. Click on the image, wait for the new screen, and start punching away.

Doesn't that feel better? Of course it does.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Contest: Rewrite the Cartoon

STAY TUNED.  Our story thus far... A Washington Post cartoonist named Toles took a slap at Rumsfeld and in doing so failed to realize that his depiction of a soldier wihout arms and legs might be offensive to American troops. Then all six of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote a letter of protest to the editor of the Post, probably the first time they have all agreed on anything. Michelle Malkin has the details, including the original cartoon and the letter. The paper responded today; it doesn't see anything wrong with the cartoon and doesn't feel any apology is necessary.

So we're sponsoring a little contest. Above you'll find the inoffensive image from the original cartoon stripped of its names, labels, and words. We invite you to fill them in however you think appropriate. You can copy the image and Photoshop it yourself, or you can email InstaPunk with the text content you want. We will choose a winner sometime next week and publish the best versions. (You can Bush-bash if you want, but we'll throw your stuff away...) We'll even do the Photoshopping of the best ones if the contestants can't. After we've published the worst you can do, we will fail to apologize for any offense taken by your targets. How's that for a prize?

Just to clarify what we're proposing, here's a sample reworking of our own:

Here's hoping we can get a little help from you and our blogger colleagues in promoting our bit of fun. Thanks for letting everyone know, and thanks for submitting an entry.

UPDATE. Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link. Also, just to make sure everyone understands, both jpeg files and text entries can be emailed to the address shown on this page. You can also enter informally via the Comments section, but please keep the format simple and understandable.

And thanks to Glenn Reynolds, too. More thanks to Ace of Spades.

UPDATE 2/13/06. You'll find the contest results here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Vietnam Psychosis

The Poster Child: Maryscott O'Connor, Center of the Universe

THE DAILY CAUSE. Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt reported on the response of the "KosKids" (NSFW) to the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.

For those not in the know, Hugh was referring to the contributors and commenters at the Daily Kos, brainchild of Markos Moulitsas, who has become such a luminary of the Democratic Party that even the august Teddy Kennedy is making entries at his website.

The leader of the Kos response was a woman named Maryscott O'Connor. Here's an excerpt from her sophisticated reaction to the defeat of the Dem's crazed filibuster attempt (asterisks mine):

We are F***ed.

The original text is blockquoted below, but it seems cruelly, viciously ironic to keep it up right now.

What I want is a complete list of every Vichy Democratic Senator who voted for Cloture. That's what I want.

The Vichy Democrats: Akaka, Inouye, Cantwell, Rockefeller. Byrd, Bingaman, Lieberman, Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Baucus, T. Johnson, Dorgan, B. Lincoln, Salazar, Conrad, Landrieu, Pryor, Carper, Kohl

I don't know what to DO with this list, not yet -- but I know for GODDAMNED sure I won't be VOTING for any of them, lt alone sending them any goddamned MONEY.

Frankly, right now I'd like nothing better than to torpedo the entire lot of them. Just dump them like so much worthless, leaden, VICHY MOTHERF***ING BALLAST.

I got nothin', folks. Don't look over here if you want comfort or a nice, uplifting LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY speech.

I'M DONE WITH THEM. They are DEAD to me.

Yeah. CANTWELL and BYRD and LANDRIEU and BINGAMAN and every last motherf***ing one of them, I'm DONE with them.

I'm registering Independent tomorrow. You're welcome to join me.

I guess she's telling us that she doesn't have enough words in her vocabulary to express her chagrin, hence her tendency to rev over the redline into the ignoramus zone of all-caps and F-words. This isn't a new phenomenon, obviously, and she isn't even the first woman cited at InstaPunk in the last week or so who thinks it's somehow persuasive to curse like a 14-year-old boy. A "lady" named Jane Hamsher recently got just as exercised about Kate O'Beirne's book criticizing feminist politics.

What is a little different, and therefore illuminating, is the amount of personal information Ms. O'Connor provides in the bio portion of her website, which is called My Left Wing. Here is the beginning of her "manifesto":

My name is Maryscott O'Connor. (MSOC for short.) I am 37, married (to Adam Crocker) with a 5.5 year old son (Terry O'Connor).

I am also an orphan of Vietnam.

My father, Lieutenant Terence Raymond Roach, Jr. of the Third Marine Division, was killed on February 8, 1968 at Khe Sanh, during the Tet Offensive. I was born 3 months later, on April 29, 1968.

This is a sad thing (although the word orphan in my experience applies to children who have lost both parents). One might be tempted to feel sorry for her if she hadn't elaborated to an unattractively revealing degree:

I consider Vietnam to be the defining feature of my life. Had it not been for that unjust war, I would have grown up with a father and a happy mother. Had she not been widowed, my childhood would have been very different; I cannot imagine it would have been worse (that's a lie: I can imagine Terry Roach coming home with PTSD and providing me an even MORE f***ed up childhood than the one I had -- but I choose NOT to imagine it that way). It ought not surprise anyone that I have an extreme sensitivity to needless war. [emphasis and asterisks mine]

Bear in mind that this woman is 37 and has a 5.5 (?!) year old son, yet she still expresses herself like a teenage girl in the throes of a self-induced anxiety attack. We are all supposed to give her plenty of leeway about her "extreme sensitivity" because she was a victim of the Vietnam War. It's hard not to gain the impression that of all the dark consequences of Vietnam, this is the one that matters most, because it happened to Maryscott. Even the alternative universe in which her father survives Vietnam is stained with potential disaster. She doesn't miss him; she weeps only for herself. From her very first breath on, she has been a victim, acting out in every conceivable way, taking her revenge against every possible accomplice in her misery, however tangential: the federal government (especially those who advocate a strong national defense), the military, capitalism, authority of any kind, men, and, probably, the United States of America.

Think I'm overstating? Here's her chosen epithet for herself:

A Radical Leftist Liberal Socialist Commie Feminist Pinko from Hell

I have always been politically aware, a Democrat and a liberal. In 2000 I became a political activist. The national shame of that sham election spurred me to contribute to John Kerry, to volunteer for the Kerry campaign and to become involved to a degree I never imagined possible for me, by joining a liberal blog (Daily Kos) and interacting with thousands of people who felt as I do – that George W. Bush is the worst thing that has ever happened to the United States and that we must do everything in our power to elect John Kerry and John Edwards.

Of course it's her style to exaggerate for effect, but when a conservative describes himself as being "to the right of Attila the Hun," his exaggeration is nevertheless informative. So, too, with Maryscott.

There are millions of us out there in the world, and, like me (as I have discovered to be true), many American liberals have spent the past 5 years feeling as if they wandered in a wilderness, bereft of companionship, solace or sustenance. Once having found communities like Daily Kos, we also found our voices again. We discovered that, contrary to the claims of the Vast Right Wing Corporate Propaganda Machine, we liberals are legion.

What if all our voices, cacophonous as they might sound to the uninitiated, are actually the harmonic, symphonic key to saving democracy, saving the Democratic Party – and by extension, saving our beloved nation and the world from the heretofore deafening and meretricious roar of the Radical Right Wing?

So I say to you now: WE are the messengers of truth. WE hold in our hands the power to change the world. WE hold the high ground, my friends.

How hard is it to imagine her experience of life as she would see it? Who would require more data (more, say, than the vision of wandering "in a wilderness, bereft of companionship, solace or sustenance") to delineate a story of unending ordeals, obstacles, injustices, and unfair accidents as she might tell it? The fact that she does tell it would be superfluous if it didn't also reveal her self-obsessed unawareness that all lives exhibit these attributes, whether we're all in perpetual mourning for a person we never met or not. Here's an excerpt from the section titled About Me.

I WAS a professional actress, before I simultaneously became OBSESSED with politics and realized I would never, EVER be able to do and be what it takes to make a successful acting career here in Los Angeles.

I am not one for false modesty; talent-wise, I happen to be a gifted actress. That's no more to my credit than the colour of my eyes -- I was born with it. Also not a half-bad singer.

But… I do not have the single-minded drive and willingness to subjugate all else to my aspirations to a career as an actress. If I could go back in time and change one decision, it would be this: I'd have finished college and then turned LEFT out of Ann Arbor instead of right. New York. I should have known that the stage was my proper milieu. But I had a man to follow to Los Angeles, and out-of-whack delusions and expectations of a film career. The lure of fame and money and love was irresistible to my vanity and self-aggrandizing self-image. Thus did vanity contribute to my seemingly irresistible (though certainly subconscious) drive to f*** up my life for at least a decade.

But such is life; had I made different choices, I certainly would have had a very different life... but I'm actually sort of ENJOYING the life I lead today.

Yeah. We noticed. But in case we don't believe her, she gives us more details in a section titled Minutiae about Me:

If you’ve made it this far into my logorrheic self-obsessed biography, Congratulations! Have some trivia:

•    I’m a recovering alcoholic. Haven’t had a drink since November 22, 1996.

•    I’m a smoker. And serial quitter. One day, I swear, I WILL defeat this ***ing addiction.

•    I am on disability, due to an immune disorder that causes chronic pain and fatigue (fibromyalgia – what a bullshit diagnosis).  Adam used to make a living as a photographer, but Bush’s fabulous economy forced him to go back to work in the film industry.

•    My husband and I are college educated people (though I dropped out of the University of Michigan to move to California with my first husband and royally f*** up my life for a solid decade). Adam's parents were wealthy and my mother was solidly middle class. Our combined income now puts us somewhere on the edge between middle and lower-middle class. Before I became disabled, my son and I already qualified for MediCal and Medicare because our income had become sufficiently low. However, as our income stagnated over the past four years, my MediCal benefits were cut and my share of cost increased to the point where we could not afford to avail ourselves of medical treatment.

Fortunately, last year Adam became eligible for health insurance through his union (though continuing with that coverage depends on his working at least 300 hours on union jobs, which are scarce). It came just in the nick of time, too – shortly after getting the healthcare benefits, I had to undergo testing for uterine and ovarian cancer. I might have been tested and treated months earlier, but opted not to seek yearly physicals because of the increased share of cost through MediCal. However, should the worst diagnosis have come to pass, I was more worried, frankly, about our share of the expenses than I was about dying. Twenty percent of a medical crisis is enough to bury us. It turned out to be a problem easily remedied with a D&C and birth control pills, incidentally. Two treatments I'm sure the Radical Right Wing Neocon Christofascist Zombie Brigade would love to make virtually impossible to receive...

If you've waded through all this and are still here, you've probably had a gestalt by now. How utterly perfect this woman is as a symbol and archetype of the contemporary American left! She's a victim, she's a victim, let us count the ways: war orphan (sorta), exploited and duped out of college by a MAN, substance abuser, a sufferer from chronic fatigue (Is this the syndrome nicknamed "The Yuppie Disease"?), perpetually under the thumb of the healthcare bureaucracy (and apparently an expert in the Byzantine intricacies of health insurance, MediCal, and other freebie programs), and throughout, of course, a victim of the endless machinations of the "Radical Right Wing Neocon Christofascist Zombie Brigade."

The only sense of personal responsibility she demonstrates is the cant of 12-step recovery programs for victims of this and that. But fundamentally, she appears to take no real responsibility for anything because her life was ruined by the President of the United States before she was born. No one has ever prospered without having a father.

You already know what they are, but here's an abbreviated list of her political positions:

•    I am pro-choice.

•    I oppose the death penalty.

•    I support gay marriage.

•    I oppose school vouchers.

•    I believe public education should be funded on a per-student basis equally throughout the nation.

•    I support the legalization of marijuana (and, frankly, all narcotics)

•    However, for as long as drugs are illegal (and I realize my views on decriminalizing drugs are not shared by most people), I believe that non-violent drug offenders ought to be put in treatment – not prison.

•    I believe that “three strikes” laws and mandatory minimums must be eradicated.

•    In addition to sentencing reform, I believe in the necessity of massive prison reform in this country.

•    I believe in strong government regulation of corporations:.

•    I support the concept of Fair Trade, as opposed to “Free Trade.”

•    I believe in universal health care.

•    I believe in that most basic tenet of every reputable religion and philosophy that ever existed: Love thy neighbour.

•    To that end, I do believe in humanitarian and sometimes military intervention by the United States and every civilized nation when it comes to genocide (see: Sudan), brutal dictatorships and the systematic abuse of human rights.

That last one's interesting. In case you had any doubt, Saddam does NOT qualify as a brutal dictator: none of his victims was named Maryscott O'Connor. But I'm only kidding. You knew that already.

Overall, the picture is pretty clear. Life's hardships and inequalities should be eliminated by the government, and anything and everything that anyone wants to do is fine and dandy, although if they slip up and really hurt someone else, they should get free and caring treatment from the government. The only freedoms that are truly dangerous and need to be suppressed are free trade, free competition in the marketplace, and the freedom to choose a different school for your children than the one in your immediate neighborhood.

This is what she calls the high ground, and on this basis she claims to be the possessor of TRUTH. But I'll bet she doesn't recognize the freedom of other people -- that is, people who hold different views from hers -- to regard their own convictions as truth. In fact, I don't think she could even understand the argument. Why? Because she lives in a Universe of One. (see the picture above.) Regardless of her talk about the people, there is only one person whose experience means a thing to her, and that person is trapped in a solipsistic nightmare that will last to the day of her death, no matter how many opportunities to learn life affords her. That's why her anger is so utter and so unquenchable. Vietnam slew her in the womb, and so every day, every challenge, every issue is Vietnam, an unwinnable ordeal inflicted malevolently upon her so damagingly that it bleeds away all energy but rage, her last pitiful connection to the humanity that is otherwise "dead" to her. Whose death is she really talking about? And how many other dead are out there blogging for vengeance against the author of all calamity, George W. Bush. The mind boggles.

It's hard to take voices like this seriously, but we have to because there are so many of them and they dwell so permanently outside the bounds of rational discourse. My own first inclination was to feel sorry for her, but this is a dangerous temptation. Maryscott feels sorry enough for herself to let the rest of us off the hook. What we need to do is understand that all the most outrageous loons of the left are likely to have quite similar life stories. What they share is not politics per se, but a view that life is something that is happening to them. Since there is no chance that we can teach them to live their own lives and accept responsibility for both the good and the bad they experience, we are forced to battle them at one remove from their real grievance. There is no chance to change political views that are merely symptoms of an inside-out perspective on life. All we can hope to do -- and therefore must commit ourselves to do -- is win the debate where it counts, in the voting booths of our nation.

That said, I do sincerely hope that Maryscott experiences a miracle and discovers the joy of trading in her politics for a fulfilling life in America.

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