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July 19, 2006 - July 12, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Spillane.
Dead.



LIKE A DOORNAIL. It all started with a twisted masterpiece called I, the Jury. In the opening scene, a man on a bridge thinking about suicide glimpses the face of Mike Hammer and immediately jumps to his death. In the final scene, a beautiful cold-blooded murderess tries to escape Hammer by stripping and advancing to seduce him. He shoots her at point blank range. As she sinks to the floor dying, she asks, "How could you?" He tells her, "It was easy." Between these two deaths are many others, as well as brutal fistfights, gallons of whiskey, a carton or two of smokes, a gaggle of lusty, big-breasted women, and plenty of .45 caliber bullets, all tied together by the man in the black suit whose name is more famous than all the hardboiled detectives who ever made a reader turn the page.

Liking Mickey Spillane is not politically correct. Despising him is. According to the thrillingdetective.com website:

Hammer certainly took no prisoners. Within the first five books forty-eight people die violently - thirty-four of whom had Hammer to thank for their untimely demise. The books are littered with an almost casually extreme violence: a cigarette lighter flicked into an eye, clothes stripped off a woman who is a communist and who is then whipped. Whatever you thought about Hammer, he was not one to walk away from the fight....

The reaction from Spillane's peers was equally extreme. Few writers have been as disliked as much as Spillane. Anthony Boucher maintained that "I, The Jury" should be "required reading in a Gestapo training school". The books, however, sold in their millions (by the early 80's Spillane had sold nearly 150 million). But the genre continued to shun him. Although Hammer received a 'life long achievement' award from the Private Eye Writers of America, no similar honour was forthcoming from the Mystery Writers of America. Hated by the 'liberal' writing establishment - for some reason - Hammer very probably represented a rampant right wing and reactionary politics.


If you get paperback royalties, thank this guy.

Now Hammer's author and alter ego is a corpse. Get the straight skinny here.  Mickey Spillane was 88. Have a shot of whiskey and a Lucky Strike in his memory. He probably wouldn't want a lot of nice words said about him. Hig biggest champion, Max Allan Collins, summed it up best: "Anyone who doesn't recognize Spillane's importance is an idiot."

Sounds like an appropriate epitaph to me.

I thought it was going to be hard to strike the right note. It was easy.




Monday, July 17, 2006


Snake, we need you...

The only way to rescue Gilad Shalit.

THE KENSINGTONIAN GAMBIT. Why should anything in the current middle east crisis make us think of John Carpenter's Escape from New York?

Well, there was this news item about the Gaza Strip:

The Egyptian authorities have stepped up security measures along the border with the Gaza Strip and the Rafah border crossing after Palestinian militants blew part of the border wall and hundreds of Palestinians crossed into the Gaza Strip through the gap on Friday.

The Rafah crossing, the only gateway for Gazans to the world, has been shut since Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier during a cross-border raid on June 25.

About 500 Palestinians were stranded on the Egyptian side of the border, according to MENA.

The place is sealed tight, and the only permitted traffic is in, not out.

Then there's the question of exactly what kind of populace is presently inside this maximum security zone. In a recent interview with Hugh Hewitt, Mark Steyn described it thus:

Gaza, which has been left to the Palestinians, as you say, the mask is off. You suddenly realize they've got no interest in nation building, no interest in state building. There is no Palestinian nationalist movement. The salient fact about Gaza is that the average age in Gaza, the median age is 15.6 years. You're dealing with a population of unemployed teenage boys, raised in a death cult, and encouraged to think that Jew killing is the highest fulfillment of life.

Some of you more tolerant types might be tempted to accuse Mr. Steyn of exaggerating when he speaks of a death cult, but here are some explanatory excerpts from a post by the always insightful Dr. Sanity:

When you see large groups of men willingly blowing themselves up to kill innocents, you know there is some sort of psychopathy at work. When the only way to express "gender liberation" is for a woman to imitate the homicidal / suicidal rages of the males--you know there is a problem.

Consider also, how a child could grow up in any sense normal-- knowing that their mother and father think of them only as fodder for jihad and that he has no worth to them otherwise...

We see in research studies of people from fringe or outcast social groups (such as gangs), that the members of such groups often behave respectfully and honestly toward others within their own group, but treat outsiders as if they were not human, without any sense of wrongdoing.

The ringleaders of such groups are often the the true psychopaths, and these leaders have a seemingly unlimited supply of morally weak or immature individuals (many of them very young)--who embrace antisocial behavior under group pressure....

Those who do not have the innate biological or parental resources to prevent it become the disposable fodder that can then act out the psychopaths' scripts for them. Such individuals become the stooges--the suicide/homicide bombers--who mindlessly carry out their leaders' orders without every once considering that if holiness and sainthood are guaranteed by becoming a human bomb for Allah , then why is it that their leaders are not jumping with joy to grab the opportunity for themselves?

Islam has become toxic, infusing the entire Middle East with a culture inimical to not just the 50% who are female; but equally to the half who are male and consider themselves "superior". Children are raised in a misogynist family and cultural environment and the young boys are thus encouraged to hatred and violence. This has been going on for decades among the Palestinians in particular...

These are the people -- irreparably damaged, murderous kids -- who have kidnapped a civilized person into a closed community without institutions, an economy,  human values, or flush toilets. They are overwhelmingly -- male and female both -- psychopaths who live only to kill and to die. Even (or especially) in their own terms, it doesn't matter what price they are made to pay for what they have done. And the one thing that will do absolutely no good under any circumstances is negotiating with them, no matter how pious that might make the naifs of the world feel.

Rather than offer the hypocrite leftists of the world more high-profile opportunities for their morally bankrupt pseudo-moralizing, wouldn't it be better to send in one clandestine, expendable warrior who understands exactly who the abductors are and how to savage them at their own game? Israel needs a Snake Plisskin to bring back their kidnapped son.

Problem is, we heard Snake was dead. Besides, it's likely not even the Israelis have the balls to send real balls to the wall. If it didn't work, the publicity would be terrible.

Wouldn't it be fun, though? Wishful thinking? Sure. But we're all guilty of some form of that these days, aren't we? Even (or especially) Chirac, Annan, and the Pope.

Sn-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ke. Are you out there?

Excuse us. We were just clearing our throat..





If night were day, then...

Hillary could win just like Reagan did.

GETTING ELECTED. Our jaw just closed, finally, after reading Hil's Keys to the Oval Office, an article by supposedly reputable pollster Frank Luntz, who fancies Hillary's chances of winning the presidency.

For all those Republicans and a few Democrats who think Hillary Clinton can't possibly be elected President, I have two words for you: Ronald Reagan.

I remember it well. He was too old. He was too conservative. He was too scary. And he was elected in two landslides. The exact same kinds of assumptions about electability 25 years ago are alive and well in 2006, and they are just as wrong for Hillary Clinton today as they were for Reagan in 1979.

She's too divisive. Too calculating. Too marred by the Clinton years. Oh, - and she's a woman.

Reagan was suspected of being a reactionary, war-mongering old coot. Hillary is suspected of being a corrupt, ruthless bitch. Both characterizations embody assumptions about electability, to be sure, but are they really the "exact same kinds of assumptions"? Specifics aside, the term 'kind' would seem to indicate a categorical similarity, such as that voter suspicions are basically (in)accurate or (ir)refutable. Is that what Mr. Luntz means? Let's see. He goes on to say:

Never mind the chatter. Hillary Clinton sits atop many polls for President with good reason and, if she plays her cards right, she could remain there right through November 2008.

Why? Because her intelligence, assertiveness, personality and celebrity are powerful strengths. I know this for a fact. My firm has conducted extensive focus-group research in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Iowa and New Hampshire, huh? (We've all heard the old saying: as go Iowa and New Hampshire, so goes the nation, haven't we? Haven't we?) Well, he's a professional pollster. He must know what he's talking about. Of course, his optimism is mitigated by some caveats. We'll consider them one at a time:

First, she must be herself. Her recent tack to the right - from equivocating on the Iraq war, to supporting a ban on flag burning - is fooling no one and is seriously agitating her liberal base. The reason Hillary became so popular in the first place was her unflinching willingness to tell it like it is. She must say what she means, and mean what she says.

Similarly, recent efforts by Clinton to inject religious references into her speeches to prove she's a person of faith is like fingernails on a chalkboard to Democrat primary voters. Clinton must win the primary first - then worry about the general election. If Democrats really cared about religion, they'd be Republicans.

Being himself was pretty much what Reagan did from the beginning of his political career to the end. That's what put the voters at ease in the 1980 election. The self he was was friendly, reassuring, hopeful, idealistic, and charming. Isn't it just a little worrisome to Mr. Luntz that Hillary has yet to declare her presidential candidacy and already needs advice to start being herself rather than a politically expedient flip-flopper on deeply consequential matters like foreign policy and religion? Just asking.

Second, Clinton must give us answers, not just criticism. She is already applauded by most voters for her focus and determination and does a good job explaining the specifics (and even the minutiae) of the issues she cares about. None of that should change.

But she spends so much time criticizing the Republicans that voters aren't hearing enough of what she would do instead. If Clinton can modulate that overly negative tone, she will bolster her chances.

Democrats already know what they don't like about Republicans. They expect Clinton to prove to them that she can, and will, undo all the “damage” that has been done. So, she should write another book that outlines a positive vision for the future. Give voters the alternative to Bush's America - in writing.

Funny how Democrats think voters will be persuaded by some book that says the right things. Probably because they think JFK won more votes with his ghostwritten Pulitzer-Prize winning book called Profiles in Something than he did with his patrician sex appeal and family connections. Reagan didn't start his political career with a book but a speech. In fact, The Speech. Which would be worth a second look by Mr. Luntz because it represents the opposite of the task he has set for Mrs. Clinton. The Speech was the most eloquent assault on all the failures of New Deal liberalism ever articulated, and yet it came across as a startlingly clear and inspiring vision of what America could become. What Luntz wants of his candidate, however, is a rhetorical tract that somehow avoids nasty criticism of Republicans and yet transforms "undoing" into a positive agenda for the future. Maybe the Reagan communication genius isn't something that can be learned and executed like a campaign tactic.

Third, Clinton, who can be charming and funny in private, should be more candid and unpredictable. She should tell voters something new every now and then to give them a reason to listen. A been there, done that campaign approach won't sell in an age of 24-hour news coverage.

A good joke - even one made at her own expense - wouldn't hurt.

Deja vu all over again. Spontaneity and charm in a public setting aren't skills you acquire from a textbook. Having a spontaneous, engaging personality that is heightened rather than shrivelled by the presence of ordinary citizens is quite likely a function of character, not practice. Ditto with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Self deprecation among friends is easy. Among opponents and enemies and inferiors, it's damn near impossible. As a ploy.

Fourth, Clinton needs to remember to speak from her heart, not her head. Right now, she sometimes sounds like Al Gore ... without the pizzazz. Successful Republicans think. Successful Democrats - like Bill Clinton - feel. Hillary should lower her decibel level, making voters strain to hear her. The softer she is, the more emotional she will sound.

Ronald Reagan had a native ability to make Americans feel the simple virtue of his thinking. He never ranted, lectured, or blared like a stuck klaxon in partisan rage. Luntz wants Hillary to stop arguing like a prosecutor and more like a down-home defense attorney with no case, and thus persuade the thinking middle to accept her policies on the basis of her intellectual superiority. It sounds like he wants her to become a political pretzel. Doesn't it seem like we just rejected one of those in the 2004 election?
 
Unlike the other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton has genuine star power. She clearly delivers the brains and the intensity, but there are a number of verbal and visual miscues that could undermine her presentation, her image and, eventually, her support. She must realize, as Reagan did, that she is more than just a messenger. She is the message.

Hillary's star power, lest we forget, derives from her eight years as the grimly combative wife of a popular, genial president. In fact, minus the integrity and conviction, Bill Clinton resembled Ronald Reagan more than any president since FDR. But Hillary is not regarded as warm, humorous, humble, or personable, even to the millions who back her. So, is Luntz urging Hillary to become her husband? It sounds like it. But that's another problem, and possibly a fatal one. Bill Clinton never won a simple majority of the American electorate. The "simple" majority somehow always knew that he said what people wanted to hear and made his decisions based on what pollsters like Luntz told him would sell. They also suspected that despite his likability, he wasn't quite trustworthy. Isn't it ironic that so much of Luntz's advice is designed to offset these recurring Clintonian weaknesses with expertise drawn from the same source that both elected Bill and doomed his presidency to mediocrity?

Now let's think back to Luntz's generalization about "the exact same kinds of assumptions about electability." I think we can see that they're not. Reagan wasn't a reactionary, war-mongering old coot. He was a tradtionalist, to be sure, but also a visionary and paternally reassuring leader through a crucial time of foreign confrontation and domestic renewal. Whereas, Luntz's own advice to Hillary Clinton tends to confirm that despite her talents, she is a corrupt, ruthless bitch. He just wants her to manage the trick of concealing it.

ERGO: Hillary could be just like Reagan, if only she weren't his exact opposite, both politically and personally. Is this kind of advice going to help her? I think not.

But what do I know? I am only...




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