Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 12, 2007 - May 5, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Hillary X-Factor

DEEP DOWN. When conservatives contemplate a Hillary Clinton presidency, they are overcome by visions of socialistic domestic programs -- a nationalized health care system, sharply higher and more progressive income taxes, expensive giveaways for every conceivable Democrat constituency, and a crushing new burden of federal regulations on business. It's possible that these are her intentions, although few of her critics delve too deeply into the contradictions between her leftist ideological roots and the lessons she must have absorbed from the more pragmatic strategy practiced by her husband, who was, with a few exceptions, disinclined to break the great American economic machine with expensive social engineering projects. Why spend good money on causes you can just talk about to great effect?

The truth is, it's very hard to know what kind of president Hillary would make. Maybe being the first woman president and getting reelected are more important to her than the radical agenda she developed in college and law school. We are handicapped by our very experience with the Clintons, which teaches us not to trust anything they say about anything, because they always feel free to do whatever they deem advantageous at the moment, regardless of what they've said in the past. That's why conservatives are not at all surprised that Hillary has suddenly done an about-face on the Iraq War, despite a long and very well documented record of espousing an opposite view.

In a sense, the conservatives have tricked themselves on the subject of Hillary by getting their reasoning backward. They've convinced themselves the great danger of a female Clinton presidency is a socialist pogrom and that the best strategy for preventing it is to keep reminding people that the Clintons aren't to be trusted when they make promises -- and besides, they're almost unbelievably ruthless and vengeful when crossed. But it's actually the latter -- the character issues -- that are more threatening to conservatives, who will be made to pay dearly for past slanders. A socialist agenda, if Hillary actually still has one, is not the nightmare but the dream come true. Big socialism always hurts an otherwise strong economy, and if Hillary reaches too deeply into the voters' pockets, they will hurl her and her party out of office. (That's why, as we've pointed out elsewhere, all the Global Warming reformers are going to be bitterly disappointed in short order.)

With one exception, the most reasonable and probable scenario for a Hillary presidency is a less successful version of the Bill Clinton presidency, less successful because Hillary simply isn't as charming as her husband. That's not a particularly interesting prediction, and it neither helps the desperate Republicans nor provides much inspiration to Democrats. Which explains why hardly anyone is making such a prediction.

But we noted an exception. It's a big one, and it's one that should be intensely interesting to both Republicans and Democrats. It's about the character issue. It made an unexpected and history-altering impact on Bill's presidency. And it would likely do the same to a Hillary presidency, but in an entirely different way.

You see, we can't believe anything Hillary's ever said about the Islamic jihadists and the War on Terror. As she tacks farther and farther left -- toward surrender in Iraq and a strictly defensive posture vis a vis terrorism -- she is making herself increasingly vulnerable to the one thing she cannot tolerate -- being made to look bad. If she rides a wave of pacifist denial to the White House, the consequences of American retreat will land squarely on her desk in the Oval Office. A re-emboldened al qaeda will eventually attack the United States again on our home soil, probably more seriously than they did on 9/11. How will Hillary respond?

I think her likely response would make that of any other candidate in the '08 race, including McCain and Giuliani, look mild by comparison. Bin Laden and his followers are too dumb to realize it, but the one thing they never ever want to do is make Hillary Clinton look bad. She shares almost none of the constraints that limit the male candidates in the '08 race. She isn't a "nice guy" or a cool-headed "manager." She has neither military experience nor any particular admiration or regard for the military. And she wouldn't have to placate timid appeasers in the opposition party.

When the attack comes, all the issues that have gotten no traction during the past five years -- the vicious subjugation of women in the Islamic world, the perverted exploitation of children as suicide-bombers, the rise of global anti-semitism, the contemptible double-dealings of so-called friendly Arab governments, the barbaric murders and mutilations of civilians -- will suddenly gush nonstop from the Clinton spin machine into the public consciousness, successfully this time, and she will resurrect the JFK Democrat patriotism of old; she'll give the "bear any burden, pay any price" speech and she will mean it. She will be willing to spend American military lives more freely in the name of her vengeance than George W. Bush, Cheney, McCain, and Giuliani combined. She will have no compunction whatsoever about morphing into an American Churchill. The phony war will be over for good.

What Republicans and Democrats have to decide from their opposing perspectives is just how they feel about this. One can make the case that from time to time the nation really does need a true sonofabitch at the helm, someone who knows how to attack and keep attacking until the enemy is vanquished or destroyed. George W. Bush has been resolute, but he lacks the killer instinct and the monumental ego that overrides all opposition and doubt. Hillary possesses these attributes in spades. How should Republicans feel about Hillary as Commander-in-Chief? I don't know.

I clearly don't speak for the Democrats. They have their own decisions to make, based on their own criteria. All I can offer them is a bit of advice. Don't look for proof that I'm wrong in any of Mrs. Clinton's utterances, past, present or future. Look into her mind and soul. If you like what you find there, so be it.

Correcting an Oversight

John Voight.

NOT A VOID. To fall on the sword right away, we admit that this site's coverage of Hollywood celebrities has been completely one-sided. In our defense, we'll offer up the fact that the MSM has also been one-sided, successfully conveying the impression that everyone with real talent in show business is a radical lefty pacifist/envirofreak/Bush-hater.

But we have known for a while now of some notable exceptions whose identity when we discovered it surprised the hell out of us. It's time we acknowledged that. Robert Duvall, Harvey Keitel, Gary Oldman, and Dennis Hopper were the four who shocked us most. And now Jon Voight. Here's a partial transcript from an interview he recently gave on Hugh Hewitt's talk radio show:

HH: When Ahmadinejad says Israel will be gone in a flash, do you take him seriously that he might use a nuke if he obtains one? And should we allow him to obtain it?

JV: Obviously, he means what he says, and heís spoken about the destruction of the United States as well. So heís a serious enemy. We have to take him seriously. And he is going, you know, heís going forward as fast as he can to achieve that weaponry.

HH: So the phone rings, and itís George W. Bush, and someone sent him a transcript of this, and he says you think I should bomb them? Theyíre getting close. What do you tell him?

JV: Well, I think weíreĀE think that we have a tremendousĀEhis time is fraught with dangers, and we have to have responsible people in the White House and in our government. And I believe that our generals are capable, and I believe our President is capable.

HH: Now letís turn to Bush. You said some nice things about Bush and the Vice President in Radar. Again, a lot of people donít like this. You said, ďThe attack on George W. Bush I find to be reprehensible. I have great regard for our government. We have all sorts of checks and balances that are afforded us by our Constitution. We have a lot of hard-working people in the government. Once it gets to be partisan, it takes the energy in another direction.ĀEYou point out that they wanted to impeach Lincoln in 1864. Whatís Bushís reputation going to be in twenty years, Jon Voight?

JV: Well, you know, who knows? At this time, when you ask me a question like that, Iím reminded that Iím an actor. This is not my strong suit, but I would say in my little humble view, I think he will have a high place. [emphasis added]

HH: Did you vote for him?

JV: I did not.

HH: You voted for Kerry?

JV: Oh, this last election, I voted for him, yes.

HH: Okay, but you voted for Gore?

JV: Yeah, I voted for Gore.

HH: And what has impressed you the most about Bush in the six and a half years heís been in?

JV: I think this strength of character, his fortitude. I think he sees, he understands things, and I think heís, by the way, I think heís extremely gracious. When you seem him introducing Nancy Pelosi, or meeting with other members of Congress who are, who have set themselves against him. Heís always a gracious figure, he always speaks kindly and nicely of people. He never stoops to name calling or any of that. But he holds the line. He knows what has to be done, and he stays with it. He doesnít seem toĀE mean, you have to have extraordinary strength of character, I would say, but you know, to take the blows that he has taken in office, you have to have an extra reserve of strength, and he has it. It was one of the kids in Walter Reed said, and he was one of the fellows who said Iím not going back, I wonít go back. And almost everyone else to the man said I want to go back and be with my buddies, and if I canít do the things on the field because of my injuries, theyíll find a place for me, and Iím very grateful for that. Iím going back, Jon. This fellow said no, I donít think Iím going to go back. Thatís it for me. I said well, what do you think about our President? And he said he is strong. This guy is a strong guy, Jon.

HH: What about the Vice President? You also refer to Cheney in this Radar interview.

JV: Well, I referred to an aspect that was, that people very little know, we see a certain kind of face on Dick Cheney. And people make jokes, and try to demean this fellow, but heís got a great dignity, heís very bright. And also, heís very sensitive. He goes to Walter Reed every six weeks, and goes to every room. And when I see, when somebody talked aboutĀEeople review a speech as if they would review a movie or something like that. They said well, his tie was this way, and he was looking around at this point, and I saw at the State of the Union, Dick Cheneyís face, and I know what heís carrying in terms of the responsibility and his caring for this country and for those guys, too, and thatís what I see in his face.

This man is among the very very few famous people -- in or out of politics -- to identify the extraordinary personal grace of George W. Bush and understand its importance. He's right, notwithstanding the exceptionally rare humility that prompted him to deprecate his own opinion because he is "an actor."

There's starting to be a discernible pattern in the slow uncovering of such right-leaning celebrities. We were surprised that the actors listed above have become conservatives because none of them has been conservative in his choice of parts in the acting profession. That was just sloppy thinking on our part. All have acted in truly important and/or ground-breaking motion picture projects, which suggests both independence of mind and dedication to acting as a profession rather than as a mere route to stardom. Perhaps ironically, they are most closely identified with movies that could be considered archetypes of the counterculture -- Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Sid and Nancy, Mean Streets, and many more. All have been perfectly content to play villains after having played leading men, and they all excel at it. They must have a good strong sense of who they are. Notably, they are conspicuous in not fitting the mold of the drab, conformist drones lefties assume all conservatives to be.

It's probably foolish to look for too many commonalities among them, since they are all evidently individuals. Three are military veterans, two are college graduates, and none are the offspring of other Hollywood stars. But all of that is neither here nor there. The purpose of this post is to salute them as individuals, not as symbols of some demographic. They're worthy of our respect.

We'd like to shake their hand.

UPDATE. As commenter Mike reminds us (Thanks!), there's also John Malkovich, who's almost cultishly important for just being himself. We knew that. Our bad for forgetting it, even momentarily. It's a formidable list, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Time Goes By

DAVE.32.1-26. Who doesn't remember the scene above from the most famous of all movies? It doesn't hurt that the Marseillaise is unquestionably the most stirring of all national anthems, but the real heart-catching moment is the closeup of the female collaborator at the bar reawakened to courageous patriotism. For that instant, everyone watching is also a Frenchman.

Now: how many of you have seen this clip from the Sarkozy victory rally the other night? Pay close attention at 38 seconds in.

A trick of drama and cinema? Or is there hope, after all, for this long troubled nation? I don't know, but I know which I'd like it to be.

Camille don't get it.

(Make up your own caption.)

DAVE.5.1-11. Today, Drudge drew everyone's attention to this, as if it actually mattered. Camille Paglia is a smart woman who knows how to turn a phrase in print and snap off a pungent soundbite on camera. In fact, she's as smart and sensible as a true academic intellectual can be. Lest we forget, though, that's a demographic defined by its determination to focus laser-like on areas so narrow that it tends to lose all contact with common sense. Camille's real talent is, in this regard, a knack for sounding sensible when she pops off about all sorts of irrelevancies, including the meaning of Madonna, the various wrong turns of feminism (clocking in at 100 percent by my count), the enlightened lesbian perspective on manhood (she's pro, in some sort of abstract, nostalgic, and thoroughly superior way), and her own views of contemporary politics (brilliant, if she does say so herself).

It's this last category that predominates in the Drudge link. Paglia writing on current events is generally amusing and not much more than that. Her work in this vein vaguely resembles the kind of thing Gertrude Stein might have written about the 1919 World Series, fascinating as a solipsistic hall of mirrors refracting splinters of the real event into a Dali-esque self portrait of the author, but the splinters wouldn't add up to what actually transpired on the field. They'd be useless for any purpose but directing our attention to the personage behind the words. When Camille writes about politics, the only parts that are recognizable are the thudding cliches shared by 90 percent of academic lefties. Her actual positions are banal, but she thinks she can disguise this fact with eccentric riffs, much the way Keith Richards transformed ordinary rock chords into the instantly recognizable persona of the Stones. That's why Stones music is aways somehow about the Stones. Camille's writing is always about Camille.

That's why everyone should get nervous when she decides to write about a military funeral, which she does in her Salon piece. An excerpt:

As I grappled with this impressive phrase (does "homecoming" truly apply to the dead?), I contemplated the striking photo of Manion, handsome and debonair in his battle gear. All of that energy, intelligence, discipline and training extinguished in a moment.

The melody from a classic 1960s song, Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair," floated piercingly into my mind. The traditional English folk ballad that is its core consists of a message sent by a dying young man to his "true love" back home whom he will never see again. The festivity of Scarborough Fair represents the joys of life that are fading for him, just as the symbolic herbs of the haunting refrain ("parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme") represent memory as well as nature's fertility, here truncated by early death.

Into this beautiful, elegiac song, Simon and Garfunkel brilliantly inserted a "canticle," interwoven as a countermelody. Out of the pastoral imagery of "deep forest green," gently, almost subliminally rise these powerful lines: "War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions/ Generals order their soldiers to kill/ And to fight for a cause they've long ago forgotten."

This was an indictment of the contemporary Vietnam War, in which more than 58,000 American soldiers would die. And what did that war actually achieve? It is hard to believe that the generation of the 1960s that now holds power in Washington seems to have learned next to nothing from the disaster of Vietnam, which tore the U.S. apart.

Of course, Simon and Garfunkel never bothered to indict the aftermath of the Vietnam War in which hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese were killed and imprisoned and millions of Cambodians were slaughtered as the dominoes fell. The obvious truth of her statement "the generation of the 1960s that now holds power in Washington seems to have learned next to nothing from the disaster of Vietnam" is singularly bitter on the tongue because she's so evidently one of the ones who didn't learn the lesson that abandoning the field to totalitarian fanatics results in mass murder on a scale that makes open warfare look like peacekeeping.

As I said, the actual positions that underpin her allusive rhetoric are cliches. But that's not the main reason for quoting this particular run of bilge. I'm thinking of a dead marine lieutenant and wondering how he would react to the sissification of his memory as mere backdrop to a weepy Simon and Garfunkel song about not wanting to die. I'm thinking Camille Paglia doesn't know anything about who marines are -- or about who men used to be before people of her ilk began the great mission of turning all westerners into a single undifferentiated, self-obsessed sex.

I'd probably have let it go at that, without remark, because it's become almost impossible to make the case to today's hermaphroditic idiots that 18-year-old men have not always been automatic "sacrifices" when they died in wars. Frequently -- given who they were (and are) -- the inborn daring and recklessness that make for good marines and soldiers would have expressed itself spontaneously in other ways, some honorable, some disreputable, some that might have brought fame and fortune, some that might have resulted in absurd and absurdly premature deaths.

That's not completely a tragedy. It's who guys are. Or were. And evidently, some still are, because they're doing the heavy lifting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to venture to say so by reference to memory and anecdote provokes an immediate backlash founded in the contemporary rewriting of even recent history as reactionary fantasy.

But this time I found something that's not fantasy. It's rock solid evidence. Go to Iowahawk and read his brief history of† Turbonique Inc. It's infinitely more entertaining than anything in Camille's long ego-dump, and it's true. I'm only going to give you a taste because I want you to go to his site, read his whole post, and study his documentary and physical evidence. What's the setup?

Once upon a time in the postwar, before the advent of EPA and OSHA and the Consumer Products Safety Commission and weenies in bike helmets and multilingual warning stickers on stepladders, crazy people walked this earth. Good, fun-loving Americans who knew that "instructions" were something you threw in the trash along with the empty Falstaff bottles. A halcyon era filled with manly men who savored the wholesome virtues of a rugged game of un-seatbelted automotive chicken.

Where did they all go? Perhaps it was the feminization of culture, or the rise of litigation, or the cumulative toll of various maimings. All I know is that entire industries were once devoted to sating their demand: tether lawn mowers. Home blowtorches and 110 electric welders... But there is one name that stands alone at the apex of the daredevilry supply industry: the Turbonique Company of Orlando, Florida....

Its products represented the zenith of no-compromise, crazyass crazy. Recall Acme, that enigmatic mail order purveyor of catapults and jet skates to cartoon coyotes? Pikers, compared to Turbonique.

Iowahawk goes on the describe the company's "low-end" products, the lowest of which doubled the horsepower of V-8 engines with a bolt-on part. He provides product literature and photos. Then he gets to the real meat and potatoes:

Okay, so rocket superchargers and drag axles are all well and good, but what if you really needed undiluted, industrial-grade insane? You'd be in luck, because also Turbonique provided microturbo thrust engines. Not rocket powered superchargers, or rocket powered axles, but rocket-powered rockets - pure thrust engines for horizontal speed...

Most of us have, at one time or another, heard the urban legend about the friend of a friend of a friend who stole a JATO motor from an Air Force base, strapped it on an Impala and ran it into a cliff side at 300 mph. If you've ever wondered where that story originally came from, here you go.

There's even more craziness than that, including 1000 horsepower rockets attached to go-karts, and pictures of same. Then the sad part:

Those days are long gone. Turbonique seems to have ceased operation around 1969. Original Turbonique equipment is extremely difficult to find, in part due to their extreme heavy duty use, and possibly because of deliberate destruction to avoid liability judgments.

Interesting about the year of Turbonique's death, isn't it? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

What Camille and all the other girls, male and female, who presume to write about young men at war can never possibly understand is that what they do involves far more than dying and breaking their mothers's hearts. They also work and compete and seek the limits of their own courage and skill for the sheer thrill of doing what lesser folk can't. They have no need for the pity of the ants who have the nerve to look down at them and see boys rather than heroes in rough draft, engaged in a powerful process of creating themselves as men. Not men as feminists have perverted the term, but as their fathers and grandfathers and forefathers would have defined it. That's not a process that can ever be completed without risks, big ones, to life and limb and character and soul. And believe it or not, there's always some fun involved. Fun as pure and huge as the potentially deadly costs.

Battlefields are one place to engage in that process. There are many others. But all of them entail contact with pursuits and experiences the self-proclaimed seers of our intelligentsia would call insane. How could it be otherwise? Simon and Garfunkel never wrote a song about looking death in the eye and spitting in his face.

By the way, Iowahawk has a Turbonique supercharger, all parts complete. He's looking for the right vehicle to install it on. When he gets it up to speed, maybe Camille would like to go for the first real ride of her life

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Pair of Sad Sparrows

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

PSAYINGS.5Q.56. Oh, what might have been... It all seemed so close. Hillary and Segolene as the first two popularly elected female Presidents on earth. We were even noodling out the best way of paraphrasing the first sentences of Charles Dickens's masterpiece about another great revolutionary era.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of [leftwing] wisdom, it was the age of [rightwing] foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief [in Allah], it was the epoch of incredulity [in God],
it was the season of Light [in the blue states], it was the season of Darkness [in the red states],
it was the spring of hope [in Iran], it was the winter of despair [in Iraq],
we had everything before us [because the liberals were finally in charge], we had nothing before us [because of the looming apocalypse of Global Warming],
we some of us were all going direct to [Suicide-Bomber] Heaven, we some of us were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil ungood, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England America; there was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France...

The saddest part is that the Royal queen who should have ascended the throne of France was betrayed by the very peeps who once knitted ruthlessly through the execution of the tyrannical aristocracy patriarchy over two centuries ago -- the women.

Socialist Segolene Royal failed to win over a majority of women voters in France's presidential election and may have paid a price for focusing too much on her gender at the expense of promoting her policies.

Only 48 percent of women voted for Royal, according to an Ipsos poll conducted on election day on Sunday, while 52 percent supported rightist rival and overall winner Nicolas Sarkozy.

It's like Madame DeFarge cheering on the Scarlet Pimpernel. Ugh.

It seems like a double catastrophe. If this can happen in France, where bold women are regarded as magical, mystical, beautiful and wise, why wouldn't it happen likewise in America, where bold women are regarded as scheming, grating, opportunistic harridans in pantsuits, who ruthlessly carpetbag their way to senate seats on the strength of having married the nation's most popular lecher? Is the great dream in danger of being dashed altogether?

Have the women of France and the U.S. been hurled all the way back to the tragically oppressive fifties and sixties in a single blow?

Perhaps not. Segolene hasn't lost all her powers just because she didn't capture one particular seat of power. She's still a mighty attractive woman.

The chapeau needs some retooling, though.

Moreover, she's already demonstrated that she's still got the magical, mystical mojo on her side. She hadn't even lost yet when she started predicting what would happen if the French made the mistake of choosing Sarkozy over the divine right of woman.

France risks violence and brutality if right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy wins Sunday's presidential election, his Socialist opponent Segolene Royal said on Friday.

On the last day of official campaigning, opinion polls showed Sarkozy enjoyed a commanding lead over Royal, who accused the former interior minister of lying and polarizing France.

"Choosing Nicolas Sarkozy would be a dangerous choice," Royal told RTL radio.

"It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of (his) candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country (if he won)," she said.

Pressed on whether there would actually be violence, Royal said: "I think so, I think so," referring specifically to France's volatile suburbs hit by widespread rioting in 2005.

Was she right? Of course. Aren't women always right about what the dumber, more violent sex is likely to do? Especially when they've had the chance to drop some sharp hints about what they expect their admirers to do... or no more blue bikini shots.

French riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at youths lobbing bottles and stones in central Paris to protest the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president on Sunday.

A number of similar incidents involving thousands of anti-Sarkozy protesters were reported in the suburbs.

Police said at least four police officers and one civilian were injured in the Place de la Bastille confrontation in central Paris, but did not say whether arrests were made...

There were anti-Sarkozy demonstrations in cities across France on Sunday night, with minor scuffles between police and protestors reported in Lille in the north, Toulouse in the southwest, Lyon in the southeast and Nancy and Metz in the east.

The Paris suburbs, where the riots began before quickly spreading across France, were mostly quiet by Sunday night after Sarkozy's victory.

But police reported that youths had burned several dozen vehicles.

In the Mediterranean port of Marseille, police dispersed around 300 protestors with tear gas.

The crowd, hiding behind a barricade of burning garbage cans, taunted police for several hours before dispersing.

La Vie en Rose

C'est l'Amour

Un Ouragan de Toi

In short, Segolene can say, quite honestly, "Je ne regrette rien." We recommend the immediate launch of her singing career, modeled after that of the immortal Edith Piaf, dedicated to endless delineation of the tragedies that will befall everyone in France if the nation continues to pursue policies that are pro-capitalist,† pro-law-and-order, pro-western-civilization, and pro-American (well, you know, it's all relative...). She can dress in black, mount the stage in near-total darkness, and sing hauntingly of the miseries caused by working more than 35 hours a week in jobs from which you can be gratuitously fired for laziness or incompetence. She can reduce everyone to tears with songs about how annihilating it is to get arrested for burning cars every night when any decent person would recognize how virtuous arson is if you live in a country where they don't give you your own chateau unless you speak the native language and bathe twice a month.

You know. She can break their hearts. Relentlessly and mercilessly. Until everyone feels so guilty and despairing they give in to whatever she wants. That is the primal power of the superior sex, isn't it? We feel supremely confident Segolene Royal can manage it. There's nothing wrong with being a Little Sparrow for a while if you can use the wounded bird routine to metamorphose into the eagle of Napoleon. N'est-ce pas? Mais oui.

And, Hillary, don't be an ass. Just this once. Take notes every step of the way. Sego may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but she's got the woman thing down cold. Just look at her campaign workers reacting to her defeat.

Sacre bleu. Tout le monde est merde.

If you can generate that degree of existential despair in your gofers, you'll win in a walk.

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