Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 8, 2008 - February 1, 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

YouTube Wednesday

Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. (H/T Michelle Malkin.)

WHAT DO MEN KNOW? Times change. It used to be that we wanted a big man to be our President. Now we want a little woman. Or a little man. Or even an ant.

The Obama Revolution

Obama is so sensitive to the needs of the rest of us antz.

It's all going to be so great, isn't it? When we have an ant for a president. We didn't get to hear all the anaphora about CHANGE, but otherwise the likeness is perfect. (Lest you think we're being all maudlin and pessimistic, here's Obama winning the War on Terror.† Just look out for that big sneaker.)

But if you're feeling nostalgic for the bad old days, here's a link (courtesy of BalowStar) to the last time we got a pep talk from The Gipper. He didn't think we were antz. For some reason.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

UPDATE. If anyone's interested, one of our InstaPunk contributors is also writing now for Bill Quick's new site, The American Conservative Party.† To be honest, we're suspicious. Sounds like old people stuff.


BH -- v.2.6

The Huckabee Effect†††

WE WARNED YOU. Even God didn't want you voting for Huckabee.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Super Tuesday!

The big showdown for Hillary, Obama, McCain, Romney, Huck, and Paul.

DOOMSDAY. I got up really early on this day of days to start taking in all the exciting round the clock coverage. And sure enough, super news was already breaking. Bobby Knight has resigned as the Texas Tech basketball coach! Just like that. No notice, no waiting period, he's out of there as of now. Of course, he's smoothing the rough edges of the transition by making use of the new American tradition of keeping the power within the family. His final act was to appoint his son Jedi to take his place. We can only hope the designated heir is up to the challenge.

Bobby Knight resigns in favor of his son.

Even so, the media coverage -- and the controversy -- has just begun. Was Bobby really as awful a person as we all thought he was? Is this abrupt exit just one more angry stunt like hurling a chair across the basketball court or throttling a player for disobeying an order? Is he, in fact, betraying the Texas Tech players who still have 10 games left to play in their season, and does this make Bobby what he has always shown the most utter contempt for -- a quitter? I don't think there are going to be enough hours in the day, despite the 24 hour commitment by the media, to sort out all these complicating factors to everybody's satisfaction. I can't wait to see what CNN and MSNBC and Fox News are reporting about this. In fact, I think I'll check them out now.

Ew. I just channel-hopped the so-called cable news channels and they're all blathering about some damn primary election or other. Eeeeeewwwww. How disgusting.

I don't know about you, but I'm sticking with ESPN today. As I understand it, there's nine months to go before we actually have to decide which one of these cartoon characters gets the keys to the Fortress of Solitude in Washington, DC. That's enough time for fate to intervene -- several times, in fact -- and save the day for the rest of us.

It's still a long way to the election, though. Anything could happen.

Gotta go now. More super news is breaking...

Whale vs. Wop
Thhe Smartest Whale
You've heard the songs of the Humpback Whale. Now hear the smartest whale.

SIX REDUX. It is in fact Super Tuesday! And since Punks are all about the contrarianism (Firefox insists I meant to spell "agrarianism"-- I will go contrary to Firefox!), I'm going to outPunk LocoPunk and tell you to watch ALL the cable news coverage AND keep this entry in mind at the same time. Tempting though ESPN is today. I've got about 20 hours on my DVR of that Lumberjack Olympics thing ESPN-5 always airs. American Sumo, I call it.

Try to stay with me on all this: A couple weeks back, Graham Hancock's News page, the Drudge Report of eyebrow-raising science and history stories, had a Scientific American blog that asked the pertinent question "Are Whales Smarter Than We Are?"

We humans pride ourselves on our big brains. We never seem to tire of bragging about how our s upreme intelligence empowers us to lord over all other animals on the planet. Yet the biological facts don't quite square with Homo sapiens' arrogance. The fact is, people do not have the largest brains on the planet, either in absolute size or in proportion to body size. Whales, not people, have the biggest brains of any animal on earth.

Just how smart are whales? Why do they have such big brains? Bigger is not always better; maybe the inflated whale brain is not very sophisticated on a cellular level. We're closer to answering such questions now, for a couple of recent papers address them squarely. What they find is helping separate fact from fiction.

R. Douglas Fields goes on, looking at the things one would think to look at using this line of inquiry; the brain-to-body-size issue, the complexity and wiring of various brain structures, the number of neurons, etc. Only in the last paragraph does he address the objection a more common sense approach would ha ve:

We're now wondering, essentially, what goes on in a whale's head -- and why, if it's supposedly so smart, it doesn't have great works to show for it.

Yep. He answers this, as far as he does, about how you'd expect:

Many have argued that humans dominate the planet because we have manipulative hands that enable us to make tools, be they harpoons or missiles. What would be the cetacean equivalent? One wonders how different life on earth might have been if humans, big brains and all, had flippers instead of hands... [emphasis added]

There's a massive list of human invention and achievement one could draw up, IF mankind isn't being held up to the rest of nature. Then, even the really impressive feats (skyscrapers, duct tape, walking on the moon, polio vaccine, and you've just thought of a couple more on your own, haven't you?) vanish from the modern brain. Even people who don't actively hate human beings and civilizati on can only think "makes war, doesn't live in harmony with nature". An orthodox brain fart.

The implicit conclusion of it all is, if whales are smarter, as the brain science shows they could be, they obviously know better than to build anything (which they can't, which works out), instead probably enjoying a rich oral tradition and otherwise living, you know, harmoniously. Just floating in the ocean, doing everything slowly and therefore beatifically. Wise enough to eschew curiosity.

Rachel Lucas, our latest blog-obsession and foot-stamping atheist, had something like a religious experience at the Vatican a few days before the whale post. What could have brought such a thing on? A famous work of HANDSMANSHIP:

But nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to Michelangelo's Pieta. I didn't take my own photo because I was so enthralled that I forgot I even had a camera, but in case you don't know the sculpture I mean, here's a shot from Google:


[Our tour guide] gathered us in front of the bulletproof glass the Pieta is behind and talked about it for a good 20 minutes. I stared fixedly at it the whole time; I simply couldn't take my eyes off of it. It is so beautiful. I'd seen pictures of it before and only ever thought, why is Mary so young? Fool! That doesn't matter. What matters is that this sculpture can make even an atheist choke up with tears. I'm completely serious.

I do not believe Mary had a virgin birth or that Jesus was the son of God or died for our sins. But this representation of that story brought tears to my eyes. I knew for the first time in my entire life why people might have religion and why they hold some things so sacred. Because it was impossible for me, an atheist, to look at this work made by human hands and not truly, deeply feel that there was more to it than that. How could a man have created this thing all by himself? It's just a simple thing, a shape chiseled out of stone, a little bigger than life size, but it looks alive. I watched it, waiting for Jesus to slide off Mary's lap. You have to see it in all three dimensions to know what I mean - it looks impossibly dynamic. Does that make sense? It looks like it is actively disobeying the laws of physics.

Some atheist she is. This isn't exactly convincing me that buildings and cities and stuff are vile blemishes of an otherwise beautiful planet, you know? And she does more damage:

I got more out of that day than I'd anticipated, to say the least. I knew I'd see great art and great history, but to have been sincerely awed was a fantastic surprise. The Popes really take their stuff seriously and it shows, and I see it all in a different light now. I kind of get it now. The doctrine and the rules, I will never agree with, but the fact that such beauty was made in the name of God? I appreciate it. [EA]

Whoa, Jesus H.! Why don't you just suck the Pope's dick? Eloise, you are kicked out of atheism. Hand in your badge and smirk.

But seriously. Whales might be smarter than humans. With their astoundingly complex vocalizations, they might even conceptualize more advanced-ly than us. Big shit. Humans are smart too, and physically, we're in a position to do a lot more w/ what we have. Keep that in mind while you sweat today's Primary. Just remember the Pieta. Or duct tape.

That paragraph was supposed to end it, but I can't leave duct tape alone. No joke, how awesome is that stuff? Think about the history of innovation that led to it. Could you invent that stuff, just working on your own? And how much tougher would it be to come up w/ it† if you'd never seen it? Sure, you can't use it on actual ducts, but you already know it's far from useless. Use that great big "compared to the rest of nature" perspective you're all so fond of and consider just how novel duct tape is in this universe as you watch hour 20 of non-stop Super Tuesday coverage.

NY Hearts NY
Good God, We Love Ourselves

SCREW THE OLD NFL. I wouldn't call it a Pyhrric victory, but did it have to be New York? If you're tempted to pretend this is a triumph of an underdog, don't.

Monday, February 04, 2008

NFL Giants Loaf by AFL Patriots
in Post-Season Exhibition Game


POST SCRIPT. I don't know if anybody happened to see it, but we're diehard football fans in New Jersey, and so we couldn't resist tuning in to the Tom Petty Concert in Arizona yesterday to watch the scrimmage between the NFL Champion Giants and an AFL team from somewhere in New England.

It went about the way you'd expect. The NFL's Eastern Division is the toughest and hardest hitting in professional football, and the kind of pure passing attacks they favor in the pitty-pat league are sitting ducks against real defensive linemen.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the show, though, especially when a game but overmatched Patriot team briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter. After that it was the inevitable close we're so used to seeing: the bigger, more talented, more aggressive team stormed efficiently down the field for the oh-so predictable winning touchdown.

If you can catch a replay sometime on one of the back channels of your cable or satellite hook-up, it might be worth your while to give it a look. Manning, Tyree, and Burris got some good additions for their highlight reels, and there were some equally good efforts on the defensive side from Strahan and Umenyiora.

No big deal, really. I just wanted to make sure somebody covered it. You know how it is. Tiger gets all the attention when he's playing, and he played yesterday. And won, obviously. But you knew that.

BBC Anti-America Programming Alert:
Low Gear

Imagine driving this through the home turf of Britain's 'football' hooligans.

THE BRIT WAY. We've gotten our fair share of amusement out of the BBC show Top Gear, which consists of three superannuated adolescents playing (usually) dangerous games with automobiles. We like it when they do things like push a Bugatti Veyron to its 253 mph top speed and talk various Brit actors into humiliating themselves with a timed lap on a race course.. But we've also been dubious about them at times. In particular, host Jeremy Clarkson has shown an occasional tendency toward mean-spiritedness, which when you're messing around with cars can be dangerous indeed. Nearly killing the youngster of the bunch, Richard Hammond, by filming and then capitalizing on his very near fatal jet car crash seemed close to the line even for cold-blooded reality TV ratings. On a far less dire but still irritating note, there's Clarkson's penchant for bashing America at regular intervals, particularly when his celebrity guests are actors who (almost all of them?!) live in Los Angeles. "Why don't you want to live in a civilized country?" he asks every time, as though he has just thought of a new joke.

The U.K.'s delusional fancy that life there is better than life here has become increasingly commonplace, and it's hardly a surprise in any event. Or at least not a surprise to InstaPunk, which has noted contemporary Brit affectations of superiority here, here, here, here, and here, for just a few examples).

Which brings us to an episode of Top Gear that will be shown tonight on BBC America at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time. Here's an Aussie-Brit fan of the show summing it up for us:

Last nights (here in the UK) Top Gear was quite amusing...

The episode was a full hour story about a couple of weeks in the states where they had to buy a car for under $1000, do a few tasks and drive to New Orleans.

Most of it was pretty funny, some of it in a Borat kind of way. However, even though I didn't take offense to it, I can see a number of parts that there will be complaints about. I give them credit for having the balls to it but I know that there will be something on the BBC soon saying how many complaints were made to Ofcom regarding the show. So I guess I am predicting the "why are we spending out licence money on this rubbish" complaints here in the UK.

I did love the dead cow on top of the Camaro though. I can see that the vegos may have a problem with that, particularly when he did the sharp reverse turn to roll it off the roof!

I am sure it is up on YouTube now for you US guys to have a gander.

We urge you all to watch the episode. Not because it's about us. But because it's about them. It's hard to imagine any people but the English who would travel to a foreign country for the purpose of filming a long road trip and make no attempt whatever to speak with the natives, learn anything about (or, gasp, from) the natives, or do anything at all but contrive cheap stunts to confirm their lowest preconceived notions of the natives. That's unquestionably why the English invented the word 'wog' as a name for all non-Brit peoples subjugated under Brit rule during the days of empire.

The Top Gear trio journeyed from Miami to New Orleans in this hour-long English masturbatory fantasy of a show. They sought out the poorest sections of Miami in which to buy junk cars for less than $1000, and their only communications during the purchase process were with camera-happy pawns only too delighted to play to their prejudices about the prevalence of guns, violence, and murder in the American south. Clarkson described his own $800 purchase as a vehicle made when all American cars were "rubbish" and "put together by idiots." (Oddly, he seemed to regard it as a personal triumph when his totally trashed 19-year old Camaro still did 0-60 in 7.9 seconds on the racetrack.)† Then they leaped into their cars and drove all the way to New Orleans without talking to anyone but one another. They didn't try to see any sights, they didn't try the local food -- in fact, they plunged into some sick Brit twist on Deliverance by pretending they were going to dine exclusively on roadkill (which we never saw them eat, by the way), they didn't explore the local history or architecture, and for their grand climax, they chose to incite violence against their own persons by defacing each other's vehicles with graffiti like "NASCAR Sucks," "Country & Western Music is Rubbish," "Hillary for President," and "Man-Love Rules."

When they stopped for gas in a small town in Alabama, they were melodramatically terrified by the fact that their inflammatory fender art drew a hostile response and fled wide-eyed for the Louisiana border. (Exeunt chased by crackers. Good-Oh.)

Where the mean-spiritedness stopped. Upon entering New Orleans, they momentarily ditched their puerile japery and became America's older, wiser, disappointed uncle. "How can the richest nation in the world see this [post-Katrina] devastation and do nothing?" Clarkson asked, almost as if he gave a flying fuck about the miserable black wogs of the Big Easy. So moved were the Top Gear crew that the junkers which were supposed to be sold to lowlife American suckers were instead donated outright to ungrateful Katrina survivors, one of whom threatened to sue because the promised 1991 Camaro was only a 1989 model. (Even the most downtrodden of our nation know what to do when confronted by a condescending limey prick.)

Safely back in their Brit studio, Clarkson intoned the lessons to his adoring audience. One, it is possible to buy rather than rent a car for a foreign road.trip. Two, stay away from America at all costs.

A few points. One, these jackoffs were never in America. They were inside their own cock-eyed impression of the evil, Christian, Bush-loving, deep south America, and they never attempted for even a moment to peek beyond their own perverse inventions to the real place they were insulting as ugly Britannians. Two, it's incredibly unlikely that any two-decade-old vehicles "put together" in the U.K. -- including, especially, Jaguars-- would have made the same trip without breaking down catastrophically before reaching New Orleans. Three, our guess is that even Brit bookies would bet on the relative nonviolence of Alabama NASCAR civilization versus British football hooligans civilization. Four, the Brits can lecture us about how long it should take to repair the ravages of extreme weather when their tepid island actually experiences some weather; maybe this is the best reason yet discovered to hope the Global Warming fundamentalists are right. And five, Top Gear's sick insistence on chasing roadkill (which is admittedly closer to English cooking) over down-home southern food deprived these gits of perhaps the one opportunity in their sorry-ass lives to eat something good.

A riot at NASCAR? The Super Bowl? No. English FOOTball. Tally-ho.

Was the show, as it was no doubt intended to be, funny? Yes indeedy. Watching a born asshole prove it in a different context is always hilarious. But there was also disappointment. A really good punchline is best driven home by a really good pratfall. And these nancy Brits deprived us of the Big Laugh they seemed to promise -- they got out of Alabama without getting killed. Pity.

TONIGHT AT 9:00 PM ON BBC ANTI-AMERICA. Watch it. It's good for a chuckle if not a true American belly laugh.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Six is a State of Mind

Listen to EloiseRachel.

C'MON. There are times when the naif is smarter than the experts. This might be one of those times. Yesterday, I read comments about McCain at a leading rightish blog. The battle raged back and forth between those who swore they'd rather see Hillary in the Oval Office than compromise their principles and those who argued the philosophically less glamorous point that half a loaf is better than none.Today I read a slighly different perspective, notable both for its uncompromising posture and its primitive approach to politics. It's okay to be primitive as long as you don't make too much of a virtue of it, and Rachel Lucas seems to have a becoming awareness of the crudeness of her judgments.

Let me put that more plainly. Rachel is a 35-year-old woman who is, for all intents and purposes, six. Here, for example, is an excerpt of her views on economics:

Rupert keeps trying to explain economics to me; what causes this or that, all the intricacies. But I think Iíve mentioned before that I just get turned on when he does that and never remember anything.

She belongs to no political party. Her views are too pure for that:

I really donít like writing about politics; it gets people too excited and punchy. Plus despite popular belief, I AM NOT A CONSERVATIVE. I just donít like socialists, itís really that simple. I donít give a toss about abortion or religion or gay marriage. All I want is to pay less taxes and to have my guns, and that does not make me a Republican.

Well, not completely pure. When she decided to run her dog Sunny for President (we demurred by the way), she sounded way less than liberal in her views on abortion:

Sunny believes that you can eradicate abortion, along with much child abuse and neglect and poverty, with one simple program: mandatory sterilization before puberty. After much research and careful consideration, she perceives that this is the most brilliant goddamn idea of all time.

Of course, we are not running on the Nazi ticket, so it would be temporary sterilization, reversible upon the individualís attainment of all of the following:
(1) The age of 25
(2) Completion of a child-rearing course and passing a test on it
(3) An amount of no less than $10,000 in a bank account
(4) An IQ of average or above
(5) An ongoing relationship of no less than 3 years with the potential co-parent

So, actually, she's like all of us are when we're not trying to be completely rational and consistent. She's -- what's the word? -- spontaneous. Which suggests that like a willful child she also has the ability to cut straight to the heart of the matter on occasion, unhindered by self-destructive intellectual traps of the sort students of various sophisticated disciplines fall prey to. If you were six, how would you view the current presidential race? Something like this perhaps?

†Just what in the hell kind of crack are Ann Coulter and lots of other conservatives (even the normally brilliant Michelle Malkin) smoking when they say they wonít vote for him if heís the Republican nominee? Coulter actually said last night on Hannity and Colmes that she would campaign for Hillary instead...

[McCain]'s not going to socialize healthcare like Hillary or Obama would. He actually gives a shit about fighting the war against towelheads, unlike Hillary or Obama. Heís not going to appoint liberal activist judges. So what if he thought Alito was too conservative? I DO, TOO...

Donít get excited. I donít like a lot of his record, particularly a long list of quotes heís given about class warfare and taxes. I think heís nuts to want the Gitmo population put into American prisons. YEAH RIGHT. I think heís an asshole for things heís said and supported about gun shows.

And I donít even have enough curse words in my brain to communicate my opinions about McCain-Feingold. Jesus on a muffin, that is some bad, bad stuff.


Seriously, people. Seriously. Youíd rather have Hillary? Youíd rather have Obama?

I donít even know you....

Hmph. Honestly, I just donít even want to talk about it anymore, itís all so pointless. People want some sort of perfect president and itís never ever going to happen. Personally, I think we should do away with the position of president altogether; all it is is a popularity contest anyway. And I donít even want to post this because people are going to bitch at me in comments. McCain is eeeeevvvillll! Bah. What politician isnít? Pick your poison, theyíre all gonna make you sick.

Yeah, you can snipe all you want. She's in favor of eugenics and she thinks Alito is too conservative. I didn't say she was actually smart. I said she had a knack for cutting to the heart of the matter, and she does. Here's what she's got right. And don't any of you forget it.

Politicians are crooked, bought and paid for, every damn one of them. (Yeah, I, too would like to think that Reagan was an exception, but I'm old enough to know that if he was, the exception was partial and mostly a miracle.) Voting for any politician is a deal with the devil; you're just hoping against hope that the one you vote for has some tiny remembrance of the idealism he confronts in the faces of his supporters when they gather to admire him.

When you vote, you're always choosing the lesser of two evils. And there are degrees of evil. The corrupt, lying, narcissistic, power-mad idiot you vote for just might be marginally better than the corrupt, lying, narcissistic, power-mad idiot he's running against. Especially if one of them is the depraved wife of a depraved ex-President or a snot-nosed cipher too in love with himself to realize that two years of national office doesn't qualify you to run the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

I'm not saying the conservatives shouldn't carp. But Ann Coulter is being an ass. And so is every other conservative who would rather turn the country over to Hillary Obama for four or eight years than vote for a nasty old fart who doesn't hate America as much as every single Democrat in the United States.

I told you how to prevent this. You didn't listen. I told you it would come to this. You didn't listen. I also told you I can't stand him. Now it's time to be a grownup and quit dreaming about what might have been. It's time, in short, to cut the crap and be six.

Are you up to that mighty challenge? If EloiseRachel can do it, you sure as hell can.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Escape from Boston and New York

You can double your Sunday pleasure with Double Dragon.

SUPER WHAT? How many of you are going to watch the Super Bowl this weekend even though the prospect of seeing the Patriots cap a season-long blowout makes you sick to your stomach? All of you?

Come on. Let me remind you there's a whole world full of things to do, and even on Super Bowl Sunday, most of them are still available.

Take, oh, me, for example. I'm headed to the Baghdad Theater (named back when the city had the exotic allure of, say, Timbuktu) for a weekend of Supertrash. If your sad life landed you someplace other than Portland, and you'd like a taste of the fun I'm going to have (of course you would; I'm younger, sexier, and happier), do your best to understand this article. It's written for kids my age, who don't have to interrupt for clarification of every word. If that's not you, you're welcome to eavesdrop. I guess.

All these flicks made this list because they're unavailable on DVD, so downloading them for free is fair game. Therefore, not every movie I wanted made the cut. Notably, I wanted to put the USA Network classic Gymkata on here, but wouldn't you know it, someone had the vision to re-release it. Don't crash Amazon logging on to buy it all at the same time, everybody.

Split Second

My stiff, half-dead predecessor moved his dried hand, w/ crooked pointer finger stuck extended, and waved his arm around the keyboard enough to post the trailer, which has the basic gist: In the far-flung dystopian future of 2008, global warming means there's a foot of water everywhere, and there's a renegade maverick cop who plays by his own rules but gets results. Rutger Hauer has to defend London OF THE FUTURE against a Predator-like beast that "has the DNA of all his victims". Also, Rutger wants revenge against the creature. It sounds generically bad, but it's exquisitely bad. The DVD is long out of print.

Double Dragon

It's the Big Trouble in Little China of the 90s. Two brothers, one white, one Mexican, compete in karate tournaments in dystopian New Angeles-- L.A. after the big quake. Since it's 2007, Madonna is married to Tom Arnold, the L.A. river is flammable, and street gangs RULE THE NIGHT. It's got Robert Patrick, who by all rights shouldn't have worked after this. Mortal Kombat is still the Citizen Kane of video game movies.

Guess who. He really shouldn't have worked again.

Raw Deal

Yeah, the Schwarzenegger flick from the 80s. This one's Donnie Brasco meets Commando, with Arnold in the Johnny Depp role. For some reason it's out of print, so go nuts.

Crippled Masters

Two men. One has no arms, the other withered legs. They learn kung-fu. They get the bad guys. The filmmakers used real cripples, a la Tod Browning. So old and foreign, it's gotta be in the public domain.

And you thought I was kidding.


I wanted to put Three the Hard Way here, but it's not even available to download. If you ever come across it, snatch it up immediately. In the meantime, the aggressively awesome Black Samurai, and the more-highly regarded Black Belt Jones, both starring the black guy from Enter the Dragon, will have to do.


Grizzly Adams in a Santa suit vs. Nazi midgets. If that isn't incentive enough, you're probably hopeless.

If all the above is Greek to you... well, I'm not going to take the time to lead you out of the darkness of technological illiteracy. I will, however, give you some hints in the form of the half-finished guide below. I have faith you can figure out how to work the Magic Typing TV if you give it the slow, deliberate thought it needs. Just don't forget you're learning, you know?

For the Uncle Zoni Awful and Awesome Movie Party Pack, you'll need:

- a home computer (try this on your work computer at your own risk).

- ÔŅĹTorrent, which is for downloading files called torrents.

- a DVD burner. If you don't have one and don't want to buy one, follow these instructions to hook up your computer to your TV (you'll still need to buy some equipment, but it'll be a lot less expensive). Again, if you're thinking about panicking, don't. Just follow the guide. If you get hung up on a word or term, Google it and look for definitions.

- DVD conversion software, like the bundle offered by VSO.

So now there's no need to feel trapped in the great overblown pageant that's going to put half the country to sleep on Sunday. That's what I'm here for. Public Service.


The Nanny Paradox

Universal Paradise.

DON'T LISTEN TO ME. If the big picture polls are right, the Democrats are right on the issues, which means that a majority of you really are in favor of what Hillary Obama is calling "Universal Health Care." Apparently, you adore declarations like this one:

Never mind that eastern Europe's 72 year experiment with central government control of everything proved that the only thing such governments excel at is building a huge and powerful military. Which, if you thought about it, is the one truly massive societal function that specifically regards the human components of the system as expendable.

The whole notion of universal health care is, in fact, one of the better ways of seeing the danger inherent in government that claims to care about everyone. Because caring about everyone is not synonymous with caring about you in particular. That's the paradox of the Nanny State. Very large bureaucracies are intrinsically incapable of the simple human function of emotion. In systemic terms, caring has to be defined mechanically, as "budgeting," "processing," "managing," and "controlling." Caring can make it into the private sector, because where there's more than one provider, quality of service is a competitive factor. But the glorious term "universal" means "one." It means there is really only one provider, the government which decides everything for everyone. There is no alternative source which competes for market share by finding a better way. And that means we all become units to be processed, managed and controlled. If there's nobody left to care about you in particular, that's tough.

These aren't bland and hazy assertions. Most of the rich, liberal democracies in the world have committed themselves to a version of the "universal health care" you seem to want. The United Kingdom -- which recently boasted that it now possesses a higher standard of living than the United States [HA!] -- has had its National Health Service for a generation. Here's the latest news from them.

The elderly should be refused operations if they are unlikely to live long enough afterwards to enjoy the benefits, many doctors believe.

A third of medics questioned said the Health Service should think twice before carrying out hip and knee replacements and other routine operations on older patients.

Smokers, the obese and heavy drinkers should also be barred from such lifechanging operations, freeing up millions to spend on younger patients with healthier lifestyles, the doctors said.

Sounds kind of military, doesn't it? Like battlefield triage. What governments are good at. When we tell them to care for everyone, we become conscripts. They get to tell us how to put the least strain on the system. We grant them the right to lay down the law about what we can eat, smoke, drink, breathe, drive, and even how we can fornicate. (No condom, no care for STDs?) Will there still be separation of church and state when health has become the secular religion?

Is there any theoretical limit when that occurs? If your right to life depends on avoiding behaviors deemed bad by the state, what will you do when the beneficent health czars decide not to treat the very people whose behaviors are most likely to result in specific care needs? People who listen to loud music aren't entitled to hearing aids. People with more than "n" speeding tickets aren't entitled to emergency care after an automobile accident. People who read too much or spend too many hours at their computers aren't entitled to ophthalmic services. People with too many prescription medications in their health care histories aren't entitled to expensive diagnostic services when their bodies finally crash. People who get cancer aren't entitled to treatment because holistic studies show either that your genetics or your "negative" lifestyle choices make you undeserving.

And worse than that. Say, you really do conform all your behaviors to the risk-averse mandates of your universal health care system. You survive all the waiting lists in the rationing system that replaced the bad old days, and you reach the ripe old age of 80, which is the Parcheesi-style "home" all the nagging is driving us toward. But the actuarial tables still say there's only a very limited lifespan left to you. You no longer qualify for medical treatment because the cost-benefit equation just doesn't add up.

There's the Nanny Paradox writ large. You're not supposed to live daringly, sensually, adventurously, or unusually in the first place. And even if you obey all the rules against living, when you become prosaically and mundanely old, you're so unexceptional that your life can simply be thrown away to comply with some federal budget cap.

Who will look stupid then? The people who lived like sheep so they could be slaughtered like sheep? Or the vile and venal rebels who drank, smoked, speeded, screwed, and ate their way to an early and far more dignified grave?

The only thing universal about universal health care is tyranny. Just try to wrap your head around what the government means when it says, "Everyone."

Got it? No, I suppose you don't. Because how on earth could they ever fail to care about you?

UPDATE. My favorite Paulista informs me that the great winnowing has already begun. Take a look at this.

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