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Archive Listing
June 21, 2007 - June 14, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Hmmm.

It's got to be lonely in that ivory tower.

AVOIDING THE PROLES. I really don't know what to make of this. Two powerful conservative bloggers have recently posted personal reactions to the Forbes list of top 100 celebrities. Both seem to be taking a certain perverse pride in not knowing a lot of the names on it. Here's Ilya Somin from the Volokh Conspiracy:

Looking at Forbes' list... it turns out that there are 26 of these people that I've never heard of, and another 10-15 whom I vaguely recollect but don't really know what they do....

Just as the average American is rationally ignorant about politics because it doesn't interest him much, I am rationally ignorant about Hollywood and pop music stars because most of them don't interest me much (other than the ones who co-star with Randy Barnett, of course!).

The lesson to be learned, if there is one, is that rational ignorance is a universal phenomenon, not limited to the "stupid" unwashed masses. We are all inevitably ignorant about a wide range of topics. Unfortunately, however, popular ignorance about politics probably causes more social harm than academic geeks' ignorance about pop culture.

The highest-ranking celebrity I'd never heard of: Jay-Z, ranked no. 9.

Then there's Los Angeles luminary Patterico, who gets very specific:

I list the names of the people I never heard of in the extended entry. I recognize that Iím particularly ignorant in this area, but Iím still willing to bet that youíve never heard of some of these ďcelebritiesĒ yourself.

People I never heard of:

Jay-Z
David Beckham
Michael Schumacher
Ronaldinho
50 Cent
Roger Federer
Kimi Raikkonen
LeBron James
Gore Verbinski
Valentino Rossi
Michelle Wie
George Lopez
Daniel Radcliffe
Larry the Cable Guy
J.J. Abrams
Dane Cook
Rhonda Byrne
Dakota Fanning
Danica Patrick
Mitch Albom
Hayden Penettiere
Paula Deen
Bobby Flay

There were several other people whose names sounded vaguely familiar, but who I couldnít place exactly. For example:

Vince Vaughn (I guessed he was a singer, but the wife reminded me he was in the Wedding Crashers and I then remembered him)

Alex Rodriguez (I thought I didnít know who he was, but then my wife said ďHeís some sports guy, isnít he?Ē and I remembered I knew him as a big-time home run hitter when he played for my hometown Texas Rangers)

Emeril Lagasse (I have seen his face on sausages I have bought at the store but didnít know for sure if that was him because I donít know his last name)

Annika Sorenstam (I knew she was some kind of sports babe, but thought her sport was tennis, when itís actually golf)

Hilary Duff (I thought she was an actress, but apparently I was thinking of Hillary Swank. This person is a singer of some sort. But I think Iíve heard the name.)

How about you?

Of the 28 people listed by Patterico, I know 22. And I'm honestly struggling with the statement, implicitly seconded by Patterico, that "popular ignorance about politics probably causes more social harm than academic geeks' ignorance about pop culture."

Whether the statement is true in some absolute sense or not, I can't escape the logic that it would be almost impossible for an "academic geek" to view the question any other way. What we don't know, after all, is obviously less important to us -- and less obviously harmful in our eyes -- than what we do know. In other words, how could Somin and Patterico possibly believe otherwise? There's clearly a huge amount of popular culture they have missed or deliberately ignored. And if Patterico's commenters are any indication, they're not alone.

I have a problem with that. The people on the list have, collectively, a huge impact on who we are as Americans and westerners, for both good and ill. To be ignorant of such a high percentage of them bespeaks a narrowness and rigidity of interests that may be as injurious to political perceptions as an inability to name members of the President's cabinet.

Jay-Z is number nine on the list because he is a cultural archetype of the emerging phenomenon of the rapper as business mogul and social trendsetter. To know nothing of him or 50 Cent suggests a person who hasn't looked much below the surface of the hip-hop gangsta movement that's in the process of transforming American (and European) youth in ways that may prove critical to our future. (And don't claim you've read a book or two about it. If you haven't heard Jay-Z with Linkin Park, you don't know squat about it.)

Others, primarily sports figures to be sure, represent extremely significant accomplishments that don't deserve to be patronized even by 'academic geeks.' Michael Schumacher is possibly the greatest Grand Prix driver of all time. Ditto for Roger Federer in tennis. Annika Sorenstam is almost certainly the greatest woman golfer in history; calling her a "sports babe" actively derides the talent, discipline, character, and perseverance it takes to become the best at anything, which really does include sports in addition to law practice, academic research, and political power. LeBron James may be on his way to breaking the records of Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. I'm certainly no fan of the NBA, but as with the other sports names (including Beckham of World Cup fame and A-Rod of the New York Yankees, for heaven's sake), the only way I can imagine not knowing who he is would be through deliberate refusal to discuss anything with my fellow man but the topics I'm most interested in. I used to rail at the kind of hausfrau who lived with a football fan husband for years without ever learning the first thing about the rules of the game. It struck me almost as an act of malice, her perpetual ignorance requiring more effort to sustain than would a modest learning curve. Now I see that women own no monopoly on that kind of small-mindedness.

Several of the actors on the list are noteworthy for having done some very good work and/or participated in projects that generated social controversies or large popular followings. If you haven't heard of Dakota Fanning, you probably missed an affecting movie called Man on Fire, in which she and Denzel Washington shone. You also missed the aborted release of Hounddog, in which Hollywood suddenly had to reexamine its responsibilities to child actors because of a scene involving implied child rape. If the name Daniel Radcliffe means nothing to you, you're probably one of the few who turned his nose up at the Harry Potter phenomenon, which simultaneously outraged fundamentalists and attracted young people to the reading of books more effectively than a decade of lame public service ads. If you've pigeonholed Vince Vaughn on the basis of a chance encounter with one bad comedy, I have to feel sad that you're probably never going to see his tour de force performance in Return to Paradise, one of the best movies in years about the meaning of personal moral responsibility in the ambiguous modern context.

None of these omissions invalidates an individual person's right to comment on matters political and social, but just how arid and remote is the mindset of a man whose circle of acquaintance includes no old lady fan of George Lopez's TV show, no youngster who forces confrontation with the bizarre persona conveyed by Dane Cook's stand-up comedy routines, no countrified pals who laugh uproariously at Larry the Cable Guy,† no serious sports fan who scratches his head at the Paris Hilton-like self absorption and questionable ethics of golf's enfant terrible Michelle Wie, and no woman or metrosexual open-minded male who gushes enthusiastically about the cooking feats of Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, and Emeril Lagassis?

I would argue that experience of the culture itself -- its highs, lows, and in-betweens in a wide range of human pursuits -- is also an important credential for those who presume to assess where we are as a nation and where we might go from here. In this perspective, our celebrities are not simply the kaleidoscope background of the simple-minded, but a glimpse of potent forces that touch, shape, inspire, lead, and occasionally mislead the people who are ultimately responsible for making decisions in the voting booth. If you know nothing of their interests, and care less, I'm guessing you're darn near as handicapped as the folks who can't name the three branches of the U.S. government.

At the very least, some contact with the popular culture is invaluable in perceiving how it is that the great issues of the day seep into the public consciousness to the extent that they do. If you studiously dismiss sports and television and the movies as perpetually beneath you, I will never listen to a word you have to say about the strengths and weaknesses of the mass media, because these matters are destined to remain perpetually above you.

And if you don't know who Danica Patrick is, you're definitely an old fart and probably a eunuch besides.

So there.





In a Nutshell...


RIGHTS. RIGHT. We first saw this news story on Fox & Friends, where all the hosts agreed that it was ridiculous to object to the noise little girls can make when they're disporting themselves in a swimming pool. Here's the press account.

William and Rachel Poczatek, who live in the village of Bayville, were hit with a notice of violation after neighbors complained about the couple's daughters, aged 5 and 11, who they said played too loudly around the family's backyard pool.

The couple is due in court Wednesday to face the charge of violating a noise code usually reserved for "the shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers and vendors which disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.''

The penalty if convicted? According to the village code: $250 fine, 15 days in jail, or
both for each day the offense continued.

Rachel Poczatek, 43, said she didn't know how to solve the problem. "Should I muzzle my children?''

Neighbor Mark Kostakis, whose wife, Angie, is listed as one of the complainants on the summons, said he began making audio recordings of the children to document the noise. He said he spent three years complaining to the village and the Poczateks.

"This is it for me,'' he said. "I don't work 12 hours a day to come home and listen to this....''

"Should I muzzle my children?" Uh, if need be. Of course, the court decided otherwise:

It's what kids do: squeal in delight when they're having fun.

But to some Long Island residents those squeals were unwelcome noise, and they wanted two neighborhood girls playing in a backyard pool to pipe down.

The complaints fell on deaf ears Wednesday night when Bayville's acting village justice dismissed a summons accusing the girls' parents, William and Rachel Poczatek, of violating a village noise ordinance.

"I think the village did the right thing," William Poczatek said.

Poczatek said he was shocked when he and his wife were slapped with a summons. Sure, he said, Ashley, 11, and 5-year-old Chloe make noise when they're outside enjoying their aboveground swimming pool.

"What, are you telling me that a kid can't make noise?" he protested. "It's not fair."

Right. Full-grown adults can't possibly be expected to tell kids to pipe down and make it stick. It's just not possible. It hasn't been possible since the 1950s when the last parents who made any attempt to discipline their children were informed by Benjamin Spock and company that it's malicious parenting to make demands of children, to put them in their place as junior and subsidiary members of the family, and to spank them if they fail to learn basic lessons about how to behave in adult surroundings.

Since then, we've all been subjected to the trail of loud noises and broken things left by parents shuttling their unformed larvae through the homes and malls of America. In that time, most parents have learned not to apologize for the casual destruction their little darlings wreak and not even to attempt rectifying the damage they leave behind. Toddlers have become gods, and we're all supposed to accept their unprecedented divinity without question. It's bad form to object.

I object. Children are not angels. Uncorrected and undisciplined, they are monsters. Parents are not ladies-in-waiting. They are continuously responsible for the havoc their reproductive urges might inflict on the world. Little girls can be cute. Their glass-shattering shrieks are not cute. It's possible for children to have fun without requiring the evacuation of an entire city block.

Control your kids, people. The kids will be much the better for it. And so will the rest of us.

UPDATE. This is for J. I grant there's a generation gap here. I thought you might find it helpful to review an older InstaPunk entry from June 1960. Those were cruder times, but they had their compensations.




Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Reader Photo Challenge:

C'mon C'mon

Mexico, USA

EL DORADO. All right. The politicians don't get it. Mostly, the affluent urban and suburban dwellers don't get it, either. You know. The people who aren't from a place but a station in life. Professors, pundits, plutocrats, priests, and, of course, politicians. The protected ones who never encounter Hispanics without advanced degrees. They see the immigration issue as an academic exercise, a philosophical issue, a potential bump in the road in relations with their gardener and/or governess.

This is your chance to show them what's really happening. Send us your digital photos of the Mexicanization of your home town. From all the towns nobody understands to be in peril. From Illinois, Massachusetts, South Carolina, New Jersey, Nebraska, Maryland, Indiana...

There will be no prizes. But we will beg, borrow, or steal enough bandwidth to post pictures from as many places as we hear from. Then we will forward the pictures to everybody involved in the attempt to pass the current immigration bill. Is that simple and clear enough as a strategy? We think it is.

Here's the email address for your photos: punks (at) instapunk.com.




Monday, June 18, 2007


Selective Paranoia

By all means, watch it. Admire the cinematography. I did.

FILM STUFF. There's very little reason to go to the movie theater these days. Most of the movies suck, so much so that the trailers used to advertise them generally serve as superior substitutes for the movies themselves, and theaters have become a contemptuously blatant con job. The screens are small, the ticket prices big, the popcorn and soda prices bigger, the restrooms dirty, the audiences loud and uncouth, and after you creep across the sticky floors to your seat, you are subjected to the one thing you are supposed to be free from in a pay-per-view arena -- commercials. The whole experience seems designed to persuade you that you're a fool for showing up in the first place, but here you are, so what else can we do to bore and annoy you for cold cash?

You don't agree? Well, that's my excuse for what is obviously a late review of a movie masterpiece called "The Children of Men," which I saw over the weekend via cable On-Demand. I have some observations to make, but don't read them until you've clicked on the YouTube file and watched it all the way through.

I'll wait right here while you do that.

Done? Good. Ready to run right out and see it? Not so fast. Here's are some excerpts from the only review -- by Kyle Smith of the NY Post -- that reflected my own experience of the movie:

The report from 2027 delivered by "Children of Men" is mixed. On the plus side: Flat-screen TVs for every one! Also, alcohol is plentiful, and the dog track is still operating. On the minus side: The world has turned to smoldering ruins, and it's been 18 years since any woman has given birth...

Playing Theo, the shell of an alcoholic whose son has died, Clive Owen is just the man to pick his way through the wreckage of what used to be London...

After a surprise visit from his ex (Julianne Moore), who now leads a group fighting to protect immigrants from being caged and deported, he stumbles onto a woman (she jokes that she's a virgin) who is pregnant with the only baby on the planet. They spend the movie dashing from safe house to safe house, one of which is the home of a chuckling old stoner played by Michael Caine, who appears to be wearing Emmylou Harris' hair. The goal is to save the child. And humanity.

Everyone around them is a terrorist, and most are wearing government insignia. Between the marching Muslim extremists, snarling immigrant-haters, gun-toting immigrant-protectors and a police force determined to crack skulls first and ask questions never, London has turned into a bombed-out ashtray.

Director Alfonso Cuarůn has a vision so mesmerizingly terrible that it alone - at least, for those who enjoy a gorgeous nightmare - is reason enough to see the film. His color palette runs from soot gray to corpse gray as he hurls his camera over the festering landscape. Nothing is presented with the slightest degree of "Road Warrior" fun, either: This is humanity's garbage time, in both senses.

The story, based on P.D. James' novel, grabs you at first, but its grip slackens as the unanswered questions and murky plot developments add up. In addition to saving the girl, you want Theo to solve several mysteries: Is this really the only pregnancy? If so, what is different about this woman? Why did all women become sterile back in 2009? Who exactly can he trust? [emphasis added]

Instead, Theo seems content to dodge bullets, get increasingly grimy and try to get mother and fetus to a mysterious organization called "The Human Project"...

The film wants to be political... But it completely misses the point about what is happening today to the same farcical degree that "V for Vendetta" did: Who seriously has an equal fear of London's bobbies and radical Islam? In the past five years, the movie industry has virtually blacklisted any mention of Muslim terror - even documentarians are more worried about Wal-Mart's health insurance - but "Children of Men" makes sure its buses, which are filled with political prisoners, are labeled "Homeland Security." Ha ha.

Actually, the movie's cinematographic artistry serves to undermine its affect because the impossibly long tracking shots inevitably remind the movie buff of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil, which was an incomparably superior movie. There, the villain was not a stylized visual backdrop standing in for a vague, deliberately undefined ideological dilemma but something quite specific, human, and recognizable. The Welles tracking shots represented a ruthless hunter endowed with the frightening ability to track and understand his quarry. Cuaron's represent only a kind of helpless, incoherent paranoia that makes even pursuit seem like a nightmare flight from every conceivable conviction and cause but the saccharine ideal of infancy.

Which is all fine, of course. It's acceptable to roll back the entire history of philosophy and declare that the only certainty is the innocence of the unsocialized newborn, but it scarcely merits designation as an idea. It's a default, a kind of automatic reboot that simply ignores reality and postulates the suckling child as superior to all the mentality a suckling child does not possess. Is this what impresses the liberal cognoscenti as thought-provoking, politically astute, and intelligent? Give me a break. There is absolutely nothing in the script which attempts to translate the provocative images of fascism, Islamists, and immigrants into argumentation of any kind. It's all simply a gray, undifferentiated threat to the survival of a baby whose existence has no apparent meaning to the movie's premise but anomaly and, oddly enough, celebrity.

Did you get that? It's a chase movie, a poisoned remake of The Terminator. The protagonist is prepared to die to save the life of the most important being in his universe, except that the nature of that importance is never explained or even hinted at. If all women are sterile, what difference does one baby make? It's not going to save mankind. There's no indication that the mother possesses any unique properties, physically, mentally, or spiritually -- except that she's an illegal immigrant. Which makes her a political straw man and, well, that's all.

Apparently, what's supposed to save us -- what's supposed to inspire us, at least -- is the good intentions of those who fight to keep the baby alive. Well, isn't THAT the liberal paradigm writ large?

In the end, we never learn what the Human Project is. We never learn anything about what the real nature of the conflict between the government, immigrants, and native "resistance" fighters is. I guess we're supposed to assume an allegory that isn't actually delineated, although the chief property of allegory is usually that it is delineated, usually in too much detail. (Perhaps an allegory that refuses to explain itself is the highest of post-modern art.) I infer this means we intelligent liberals are supposed to graft various Bush-isms and Blair-isms onto the script and privately pronounce our own political "Aha!"

Maybe Cuaron could have gotten away with that. Maybe. If he hadn't given himself away with some truly bush league moves. Like casting Michael Caine as a 70-year-old pot-smoking hippie ("Tell Sid he's a 'fascist pig'") who represents the only fully individuated character in the movie. And twice referencing the beloved counterculture sixties with the Stones ballad "Ruby Tuesday,"only not in the original Stones version but in a castrati cover, because in a movie like this Mick's voice somehow sounds too ballsy and vital... And when the credits finally (finally) begin to roll, playing a typically dumbass-Marxist John Lennon song, "Free the People."

We don't care what flag you're waving,
We don't even want to know your name,
We don't care where you're from or where you're going,
All we know is that you came,
You're making all our decisions,
We have just one request of you,
That while you're thinking things over,
Here's something you just better do.
Free the people now...

Well we were caught with our hands in the air,
Don't despair paranoia is everywhere,
We can shake it with love when we're scared,
So let's shout it aloud like a prayer.
Free the people now,
Do it do it do it do it do it now.

It's all too perfect. Instant nihilism. Add tears and stir. A lot of liberal condescension derives from their supposed artistic superiority over the rest of us. There's no question this "film" has an artistic feel, but it has no content. It's interesting and instructive that the libs don't recognize it. For them intellect has become merely a pot-smelling esthetic, which is ipso facto brilliant even when devoid of ideas, rationality, and sense.

It's good information. If you know what to do with it.

POSTSCRIPT. I'll leave it to all of you to divine the relevance of this news item. Al Gore gave an interview in London in which he said:

ďThe G8 have been meeting in Germany and the United States is throwing a monkey wrench in the efforts to get a consensus.

The planet is in distress and all of the attention is on Paris Hilton. We have to ask ourselves what is going on here?Ē

My sense is that at the moment, Paris Hilton is more important than Global Warming. As parents and their kids discuss Paris Hilton, they may arrive at some personal decisions about how life should be lived that will have great impact on their lives in the next four or five years.

If they obsessed about Global Warming instead, they'd be seeding important lessons about paranoia, but the lessons might not bloom for another ten or twenty years. Think of all the things that might kill large numbers of people before Global Warming ruins Venice as a tourist attraction: another worldwide flu pandemic (overdue), nuclear wars precipitated by Islamists or China (likely), an economic depression caused by destruction of the mideast oilfields or overly aggressive economic controls in the name of slowing Global Warming (likely), an asteroid strike (more likely if we suppress technology in the name of Gaia), a killer quake in California (overdue), et al. Come to think of it, it is a lot easier to forget all the crises for which we might bear some actual responsibility and focus on a phantom future problem instead...

For the time being, though, it's at least possible that American families are seizing the opportunity to prevent tragedies that are very specific, human, and recognizable by discussing what it means to be an irresponsible spoiled brat. I don't think anything Al Gore has to say is more important than that discussion, if it's occurring, and I can't think it's worth truncating such conversations to go see "The Children of Men."

But that's just me.




Friday, June 15, 2007


The Friday Follies:
Global Infantilism


ADDING IT ALL UP. What a week. All the best of western civilization was on display this week, with special highlights provided by various liberal leaders in the United States, the mass media, Hollywood, and, oh yes, the peace-loving muslims of the middle east.

The tone was set early on by Dan Rather, who was kind enough to offer some constructive criticism to his old employer, CBS Evening News. Dan suggested that Katie Couric's newscast was failing because it had been too "tarted up" with Paris Hilton stories by her producers. CBS executive Les Moonves told Dan the news hadn't been tarted up and the only reason viewers were ignoring Katie like that was because they were a bunch of sexist old white men, probably a lot like Dan. That's when Dan said it wasn't about gender, and Moonves fired right back at him:

"It is so."
"Is not," Dan replied.
"Is too."
"Is not."
"Is too."
"Uh uh."
"Uh huh."
"Your mother wears army boots."

And then they both ran home crying. Which brings us to the tragic and mesmerizing saga of Paris Hilton (who actually got only an hour or two of coverage by CBS News). Some nasty judge thought that if you lost your license for a DUI and then got caught driving again, twice, and were late for your court date on top of that -- not to mention getting photographed by the paparazzi, driving again, after said court date -- maybe you should go to jail for a while. Thirty or so of Paris's best attorneys tried to get the judge to see how completely unfair it was to put rich people in jail in California for crap like this because they don't even put rich people in jail in California for murder, which she didn't do yet. The judge listened to their arguments and sentenced Paris to jail for 45, uh, no, make that 23 days. The attorneys filed an instant appeal:

"Oh, come o-o-o-o-on. That is SO not fair."
"I say it is fair," the judge told them.
"It is not."
"It is too."

Then the attorneys ran home crying, and shortly afterwards Paris ran home crying from jail, which made the judge mad all over again, so he told Paris, "Stop that snivelling this instant, young lady, and march your little legs straight back to jail. And," he added, "This time, you stay there till I tell you can come out."

Since then the whole mass media, and the blogosphere, and millions of ordinary Americans have been debating the finer points of the case as if they were attorneys themselves:

"That is SO not fair."
"Is too."
Etc.

All of which eventually caused Paris to release a statement to the press suggesting that everyone should stop thinking about her and give some thought to the problems in Iraq and the middle east and everything.

That's when everybody noticed that the oppressed and misunderstood muslims of Hamas were having a civil war with the oppressed and misunderstood muslims of Fatah in a place called Gaza, which obviously isn't in Iraq because no matter how hard they looked, the journalists couldn't find any American troops there to blame for all the bombing and shooting and death squads that were making the streets run red with civilian blood. Which meant that it must be Israel's fault instead. When Israel pointed out they didn't have any troops in Gaza, either, the Prime Minister of Fatah explained what had happened:

"Hamas started it."
"No," said Hamas. "Fatah pinched me. Hard."
"Only after you pushed me."
"That is SO not true."
"Is too true."
"Is not."
"Your father wears a burkah."

Then they went at it again, like they'd never stopped, which was actually good news for Angelina Jolie, who had just made this really serious important picture about how some of the misunderstood muslims occasionally cut the heads off dedicated journalists, but the journalists have to keep fighting and braving the dangers in their eternal search for the truth, which is a message that resonates even more when muslims are doing lots of murdering in the week before your big movie premiere. So Angelina started scheduling interviews with journalists to tell them about her great message, only she wanted to be absolutely sure that none of the slimy journalists could water down the message about freedom of the press by asking a bunch of questions about her personal life, so she told them they had to sign a contract promising not to ask any personal questions or else she could seize their tapes and sue them for a hundred million dollars. Oh, and by the way, Fox News shouldn't bother to show up at all, because look at their hair and tacky clothes. That's when Fox News published a story about how Angelina was always trying to keep journalists from getting at the truth, like in Namibia, where she and Brad wouldn't talk to any journalists except the ones who could be executed by the Namibian dictator if they asked any personal questions.

"I did no such thing," Angelina replied, with her hands on her hips.
"Did too."
"Did not."

The storm that erupted afterwards from Angelina's publicity machine was so severe that it reminded the Broward County Commissioners in Florida of a huge problem they were about to have when hurricane season got into full gear this season. They needed a big strong radio station with a lot of listeners and satellite stations to be their conduit for emergency weather bulletins to the people who might get killed or drowned or something in a hurricane. The problem was that the radio station with the strongest signal had Rush Limbaugh on it, and Sean Hannity, who were the ones who screwed up the vote recounts in Florida back in the 2000 presidential election, which is how George W. Bush got selected president and started making all the hurricanes so much worse with his global warming tax cuts. Or something like that. Obviously there's no point in telling listeners about hurricanes when Rush and Sean will come right back on the air and tell them there isn't any hurricane and don't take any precautions because there are too many Democrats in Broward County anyway. When he heard about this, Rush Limbaugh responded to the Broward County Commissioners:

"HA HA HA HA," he said. In that way of his. You know. Mean. "HA HA HA HA HA."

So the commissoners ran home crying and issued a statement through their mothers that they didn't care anymore and if people wanted to get hurricane news that was all twisted and lied about by Limbaugh and Hannity, it would just serve them right.

This was unfortunate because it freed up Limbaugh and Hannity to immediately start making fun of Senator Harry Reid, who'd ingested some poisoned bourbon earlier in the week, right before his online chat with a bunch of liberal bloggers, which explains why he couldn't remember all that clearly how it was that he'd decided to call General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an incompetent. In his usual fashion, Limbaugh analyzed the prospect of Harry Reid calling Peter Pace incompetent:

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA," he concluded.

But Harry Reid didn't cry. He's not like that. He's one of those babies who just scowls and screams like a descending artillery shell and starts throwing gobs of baby food all over the place.

I could go on. Believe me, I could go on and on. This week was a pip (Dukakis, Pelosi, Nifong, Massachusetts democracy, immigration tantrums, patriotism, etc). But perhaps you're ready for just a couple of adult moments?

Like the essay on Global Warming written by the President of the Czech Republic.

And Governor Schwarzenegger offering grown-up advice to Hispanic immigrants.

Common sense about free speech from Justice Samuel Alito.

And, finally, this (h/t Brit Hume), a small reminder that there still exists a strain of human aspiration beyond infantilism.



Have a lovely weekend.




Thursday, June 14, 2007


"Earth to Michelle Malkin...!"

We repeat: Where's the Dark Matter?

YOU'RE NOT LISTENING. I appreciate that Michelle Malkin is working hard to cover the underhanded campaign in the U.S. Senate to pass a horrendous Trojan Horse of an immigration bill. But merely reporting on the dirty procedural dealings isn't going to prevent passage. That should be clear even to Ms. Malkin by now. No sooner had the bill been tabled after two lopsided votes against cloture than it sat up and began clambering off the table for yet another run at passage, as Malkin is reporting in gruesome detail today. So when exactly are her "Kill the Bill" efforts going to include investigation of what forces behind the scenes are really driving this insanity?

FACT: There's very little popular support for this bill, as Rasmussen has shown:

"Just 20% of American voters want Congress to try and pass the immigration reform bill that failed in the Senate last week. . . . Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters would favor an approach that focuses 'exclusively on securing the border and reducing illegal immigration.'"

FACT: As this blog pointed out last week, the cabal of Republican senators backing the bill are tantamount to suicide-bombers. The personal (and party) political risks they're taking are so extreme and contrast so starkly with their years of total political cowardice before this that there must be something large, invisible, and incredibly powerful behind them calling the shots. It's not the President, as we also demonstrated last week.† The mystery is so profound that several pundits have finally realized there is a mystery:

InstaPundit: WHY THE RUSH ON THE IMMIGRATION BILL? I don't know, but speculation abounds. Hard to believe that enforcement could make this much difference, but if it did that would certainly undercut one argument -- that there's nothing else we can do -- for the bill.

Mickey Kaus: John Hawkins talks to a GOP Hill aide and gets some good-as-MSM tick-tock** on how the immigration bill crumped last Thursday. Hawkins then asks the aide "why he thought so many Republicans had been supporting such an incredibly unpopular bill." Three reasons come back... [But the answers provided are the same old nonsense,]

The Corner's Rich Lowrie (h/t Instapundit): Chertoff and Kyl both seem to have answered that question recently, Kyl in his Wall Street Journal interview and Chertoff on Fox News yesterday: because businesses are starting to worry about efforts to enforce immigration laws at the local level. One state in the vanguard of that effort is Kylís (and McCainís) home state of Arizona, where the legislature has passed numerous laws (usually vetoed) on the issue, and where the public voted for Prop 200 back in 2004.

To me that says something far more ominous than that Congress is being disingenuous or naÔve on the matter. Far from simple being empty promises, this amnesty bill is actually a blatant attempt to head off any attempts at enforcement at all.

But the question still isn't answered, even if this theory is substantially true. Both of Arizona's senators, for example, seem determined to annihilate their own political careers on behalf of these unidentified "business" interests. Things don't happen this casually in Washington, DC.: "Oh, I like business, so I'll cheerfully cut my own throat with no quid pro quo or threat involved."

If you want to stop this juggernaut, Michelle, find out who's really pulling the strings. If you don't, all your weeks of work on this topic will amount to no more than an autopsy.




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