June 29, 2007 - June 22, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Bush and the boobs.
You've at least got to
try to look your opposition in the eye.
I was going to congratulate the warriors of the blogosphere -- Malkin,
Ace, etc -- for their victory in defeating the immigration bill. But
then I spoke to Mrs. IP, who told me it just doesn't matter, that the
government is still corrupt, stupid, and arrogant, a laughable gang of
I had to put her in her place, of course, so I said, "You're absolutely
right." And she agreed.
Since that pretty much ended the celebration, we're left to figure out how this whole absurd affair happened at all. What could the
President have been thinking about to jettison all that's left of his
constituency in exchange for a nightmarishly loopy bill that pleases
little more than 20 percent of the electorate? What?
If you know, tell us. We're flummoxed.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Meeting the Kaus
For sound, click the
AWAY WITH IT
AUDIO ON button at upper left. Refresh to replay.
. Here's our little entry in the Mickey Kaus challenge
show senators what kind of ads they might be facing in the next
election. We're still working on converting it to YouTube, but there's
no harm in putting it up here first.
there's some huge under-the-table payoff that's been promised
these guys for killing their own political careers. So this ad might be
more useful when the constituents start seeking indictments against
There is now a YouTube version of this ad available.
Pass it on. (Since you're YouTubing, take a look at the InstaPunk ad
about Nancy Pelosi
from last year's election campaign. As always, we were dead right.)
Thanks (and kudos) to Ace
for putting the corruption question front and center at
his blog. We also love his Dramatic Chipmunk
clip. Perhaps a world-class diplomat like Jimmy Carter could resolve
the deep differences between the Ace of Spades lifestyle and the
InstaPunk lifestyle. We can always hope.UPDATE 07/06/07
might enjoy these other InstaPunk
, too. And other stuff
. Thanks, Mickey.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Something about baggage from the past.
. It's just a silly story
about an unintentional celebrity gaffe:
US actress Cameron Diaz has apologised
for wearing a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories
[Diaz] visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes wearing
an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words "Serve the
People", perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous
political slogan, printed in Chinese.
The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some cities around the
world, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining
Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s
in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.
"I sincerely apologise to anyone I may have inadvertently offended,"
Diaz said in a statement. "The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist
in China and I did not realise the potentially hurtful nature of the
slogan printed on it."
Okay. Give Diaz a pass. She got caught up in a Chinese fashion trend.
But we've talked here before
about the influences fashion can exert in transforming a culture, and
the truth is that the personality cult of Mao is thriving in this
country as well as China. You don't have to be a movie star to
accessorize like Carmen. You can order these little gems right on the Internet
You know. Just for fun. Or, if your taste in revolutionaries runs
closer to home, you can plop yourself down at the keyboard and order
Many other Che Guevara accessories here
Or you can skip Che and adorn yourself with the memory of his boss,
And, of course, much much more here
I suppose we could all squint a bit and claim that this is nothing but
a sort of nostalgia for the lost Baby Boomer "idealism" of youth.
Nostalgia is what the Germans are calling this odd new development in
their nation's hospitality
Check in here.
The four clocks behind the reception desk of Berlin's new budget hotel
Ostel show the hour in Moscow, Berlin, Havana, and Beijing. Time,
however, appears to have stopped here sometime before 1989, when
communism was still entrenched in all four capitals.
The Ostel offers a renewed whiff of life in the former German
Democratic Republic, welcoming travelers with portraits of communist
leaders adorning the walls...
There are rooms that replicate bedrooms from typical East German
apartments, from about $50. At the other end of the scale, $12-per-bed
Pioneer Camp dorm rooms feature two bunk beds and spartan living
conditions evocative of the summer camps of the Free German Youth, the
party youth organization.
Socialist Unity Party functionaries such as party General Secretary
Erich Honecker and Prime Minister Horst Sindermann peer down from
portraits in most rooms, giving the impression that one is under
Helbig and Sand plan on expanding their East German hotel project with
a series of eight East German-style vacation apartments near the Ostel.
One hotel. No big deal, right? Right? The really good news is that if
you think the old Soviet Union was kind of cool in a retro sort of way,
you don't have to go to Germany. You can go here
buy things like this:
Time and familiarity render all these images harmless. We begin to
associate them with comfortable events in our own experience, and the
ideas and facts they reference are gradually reduced to abstractions
from which we can deliberately exclude unwelcome complications. Like
all contemporary progressive icons, they are more important for the
good original intentions we impute to them than for any inconvenient
excesses that may lurk underneath.
Finally, we tell ourselves that associating ourselves with these
symbols doesn't mean that we're endorsing communism or oppression of
any sort. We're actually turning them into the opposite of that.
If you suggest to the progressives who think like this that what
they're really endorsing is
communism, they are truly astonished and scornful. One of the
(anonymous) commenters at InstaPunk exemplified this doublethink in his
response to a quote he reproduced from one of my Global Warming posts:
"Never let it be said that the morons
who believed in Marxism and defended the slaughters of Stalin are
Oh my, the commies are back? I thought the Gipper wiped them out in
Grenada or something, didn't he? Let me guess, they were hiding under
our beds all this time.
Yet the commenter undoubtedly would defend the imposition of a
'Dictatorship of the Scientific Consensus' in order to save the world
from Global Warming by edict. Any historical parallels with the
disastrous managed economies of the USSR and, say, North Korea don't
apply now because the actual history has been peeled away from the
rationalist model of absolutist social engineering for the common good.
They simply wouldn't repeat any of the worst mistakes of the past,
which were probably exaggerated anyway because look at the crazed
John Birchers who opposed the communists. They were nuts. They had a
blacklist. And what about Vietnam and Iraq and Florida in 2000? You
call that freedom and democracy?
Think I'm overstating the degree of self-deluded rationalization
involved? Perhaps you haven't seen this
in today's Drudge Report?
THE history of the Soviet Union had
fewer black pages in its history than certain other countries, not
least the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in a speech.
"Regarding the problematic pages in our history, yes, we do have them,
as does any state,'' Putin said at a social sciences conference, citing
Stalin's purges during the 1930s.
"But other countries have also known their bleak and terrible
moments,'' he said in comments published on the official Kremlin
"In any event, we never used nuclear weapons against civilians, and we
never dumped chemicals on thousands of kilometres of land or dropped
more bombs on a tiny country than were dropped during the entire Second
World War, as was the case in Vietnam,'' he said.
I'm betting Putin will find some progressives in this country who think
he's scored some major points with this idiotic statement. I can name
at least one who thinks that way, and he certainly has a bunch of
devoted fans. Here's an excerpt of a review
of his latest cinematic demonstration of progressive thought:
In the Cuba section of "Sicko," so many
guys in white coats (don't look at the camera, guys!) scurry around
Moore’s patients listening to symptoms, peering at X-rays and firing up
high-tech medical equipment that the scene seems to have been
co-written by Groucho and Karl Marx. If Fidel himself gets this level
of care, it’s no wonder the guy has outlasted nine presidents.
You can’t film anywhere in Castro’s Alcatraz without government say-so,
meaning the whole scene was as phony as what happens when Frank Bruni
walks into a four-star restaurant, and if there is a Michael Moore of
Cuba, he is in jail right now. Reporters without Borders calls Cuba the
world’s second biggest prison for journalists after China. But Moore
solemnly reports Cuba’s official health statistics, which are of course
a fiction dreamed up by El Presidente, because Moore's motto is to
trust no authority figure from cringing corporate spokesman on up to
Washington windbags. Except dictators. Dictators, he’ll take your word
for it. I expected Moore to protect himself with a thin coat of
disclaimer, just a line to say, "Look, I know Cuba is actually a prison
nation where nobody’s gotten a new car since Fredo betrayed Michael,
but I’m just using this as an extreme example for ironic purposes."
Instead, his irony runs the other way: He plays scare music over an
image of Castro to get a laugh. I say
that again: he thinks the idea that Castro is evil is so obviously
ridiculous that he says it sarcastically and expects you to giggle
along. Moore calls Cuban health care among the best in the
world. Nonsense. Cuba is short on everything from clean drinking water
and aspirin on up. [Emphasis added]
Conservatives who write about this kind of disconnects between
progressives and reality call it 'moral relativism.' They're right, but
in giving it a label that can be easily referenced and repeated, I
think they're overlooking the reality they assume we understand. 'Moral
relativism' is, in plainer words, a double standard, and a double
standard is a comparison test that unfairly values one thing at the
expense of another thing.
We can legitimately ask the question, what is it that progressives are
valuing too highly and what is it they're not valuing highly enough?
The answer to the first part of the question is that they are assigning a
ridiculously high value to the 'good' intention of egalitarianism. The
rational ideal of a society that does not let any person or group
receive more of society's resources than any other outweighs all the
costs it might entail. The common good is best served when all men and
women are so
common that no
individual head sticks out of the crowd (unless one brilliant leader is
needed to keep it that way.) This is why they lionize Castro despite
the universal economic misery his kind of egalitarianism has produced.
The fairness of absolutely equal want and deprivation trumps any
prosperity that might produce winners and losers.
The answer to the second part of the question is that such a rigid
ideal automatically under-values individual liberty and individual
human life. In the utterly rational model, people are indistinguishable
units. Only the sum of units matters. Individual units are expendable,
the more so when they attempt to act as individuals.
Note that any definition of humanitarianism which is prepared to
nullify individual worth without counting the individual human cost of
"serving the greater good" is, in fact, anti
-humanitarian. Progressives of
this ilk find it easy to forget or overlook the massive death tolls of
left-wing despots because what they care about is not people, but The
People, the abstract symbol
they create for every community, political faction, ethnic type,
regional population, or nation-state they can identify by an umbrella
name of some sort. If the equilibrium they define as egalitarianism is
absent, all possible means are justified to attain it, including
beheadings, mass murder, and absolute suppression of freedom.
Egalitarianism is so important, indeed, that it drives them even to
identify with populations who disagree completely with everything else
they believe in. They can champion the cause of woman-hating, Jew-hating Islamists because the
western world prospers while the Islamic haters do not. They can
simultaneously despise Hitler -- and compare all their enemies to him
-- even as they tacitly espouse Hitlerian anti-semitism, because they're
both guilty of anti-egalitarian behavior. Hitler wanted a hierarchical
society. The Jews have acquired too much influence, money, and power.
The progressives don't even see the contradictions.
That's also how they can look under every mattress and see a threat to
vital civil liberties of The People and yet work in dozens of different
ways to reduce or eliminate the individual freedoms they find so
inconveniently conducive to inequity in the Constitution. They'll fight
to the death for the 'common' right of every man, woman, and child to
have unrestricted access to any and every kind of pornography. Yet
they'll dismiss the Constitution's emphasis on political speech as the
single most important kind of speech that must be protected from
That's why they'll be outraged today that the McCain-Feingold statute
limiting free political speech was watered down by the Supreme
. And it's why progressive Senator Diane Feinstein over the weekend
declared herself on the side of limiting another kind of political
WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- U.S.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday she is "looking at" the
possibility of reviving the fairness doctrine for U.S. broadcasters.
Feinstein, speaking on "Fox News Sunday" with Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.,
said talk radio in particular has presented a one-sided view of
immigration reform legislation being considered by the Senate.
U.S. talk radio is dominated by conservative voices...
Asked if she would revive the fairness doctrine, which used to
require broadcasters to present competing sides of controversial
issues, Feinstein said she was "looking at it."
"I remember when there was a fairness doctrine," she said, "and I think
there was much more serious correct reporting to people."
Key word, of course "correct" reporting. Mao would understand. So would
Che and Fidel and 'Uncle Joe' Stalin. That's why they're so willing to
return the favor and 'forget' the savageries summarized below the fold
of this post. Maybe Cameron should give Diane her Mao bag as a gesture of
solidarity. She can always get another one via the Internet.