July 19, 2006 - July 12, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
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
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.
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
, 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
The only way to rescue Gilad Shalit.
. 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
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
Then there's the question of exactly what kind of populace is presently
inside this maximum security zone. In a recent interview with Hugh
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.
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
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
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
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.
Are you out there?
Excuse us. We were just clearing our throat..
If night were day,
could win just like Reagan did.
. 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
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
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
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
. 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.
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
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
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
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...