Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
March 3, 2008 - February 25, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

Yes, You.

SICK. It's fine to talk about Europe, which we have done plenty of here, but it's quite another to speak to Europeans. When's the last time you saw somebody really get in their faces and tell them off? It's much more emotionally rewarding than you'd expect, even more than it should be probably, since contemporary Europeans fall into that strange category of being so damn smart they don't have a clue what fools they've become. Recently, the Swiss newspaper Junge Freiheit interviewed Victor Davis Hanson, who unburdened himself at some length about the arrogance and stupidity of Europe in its views of the United States and in the conduct of its own affairs. You should absolutely read the whole thing, but I'm going to quote a few pungent excerpts just to whet your appetite. Everything not quoted here is every bit as good.

The interview began with a somewhat condescending inquisition of Hanson's perspective on America's immigration problems with Mexico. Hanson returned serve for a winner, explained the details of the U.S. immigration challenge, and then went on the offensive.

JF: Do you see any appreciable differences between the way the U.S. is dealing with immigration issues, and Europe’s response to similar problems?

VDH: We will stop the influx soon and through our powers of assimilation and popular culture absorb those here; you may well not and thus are already seeing a tiny elite on top mouthing utopian leftwing bromides while a radical rightwing movement on bottom will grow, demanding xenophobic solutions.

I am not confident in an easy solution for Europe, given its 20th-century past — whether confronting the specter of a Muslim Eurabia, or the counter-rightwing backlash that could get very ugly. You in Europe have little facility — socially, culturally, and politically — to absorb immigrants into full-fledged Europeans. We do (as Europe’s historic critiques of America as a mongrel nation attest) — if the numbers of new arrivals are reasonable, of diverse backgrounds, and of legal status.

Officially Europe sounds more utopian, while in reality Europeans are clannish and reluctant to integrate and embrace; America sounds strident and angry, while Americans in their personal lives integrate, assimilate, and marry Mexican nationals who come here illegally — the tragedy being that if we just cut the numbers of new arrivals of illegals, the existing cohort would soon disappear through assimilation.

Right on, Victor. But at this point, he's just getting warmed up. It turns out there's a lot to tell the Europeans about us and themselves they don't really want to hear.

JF: What is it that makes the U.S. and Europe so different from each other? From the outside, the two are often perceived as a monolithic unit: the West. Does this unity really exist, or are we talking about two separate worlds? Do you think the alliance between the U.S. and Europe is made to last, or is it no more than an illusion?

VDH: We have a common legacy, as the elections in France and Germany remind us. And we coalesce when faced by a common illiberal enemy — whether against the Soviet empire or radical Islam.

But after the fall of the Soviet Union, you diverged onto a secularized, affluent, leisured, socialist, and pacifist path, where in the pride and arrogance of the Enlightenment you were convinced you could make heaven on earth — and would demonize as retrograde anyone who begged to differ.

Now you are living with the results of your arrogance: while you brand the U.S. illiberal, it grows its population, diversifies and assimilates, and offers economic opportunity and jobs; although, for a time you’ve become wealthy — given your lack of defense spending, commercial unity, and protectionism — but only up to a point: soon the bill comes due as you age, face a demographic crisis, become imprisoned by secular appetites and ever growing entitlements. Once one insists on an equality of result, not one of mere opportunity, then, as Plato warned, there is no logical end to what the government will think up and the people will demand.

The interviewer goes on to explore Hanson's perceptions of European bias against America and then:

JF: Is there a corresponding bias against Europeans in American society? How come nobody has ever thought to diagnose such a sentiment? Is it truly non-existent, or is it just that Americans are too wise, and Europeans too cowardly to mention it?

VDH: There has always been skepticism of Europe as a class-bound, hopelessly aristocratic static society, warped by Old World factionalism, and prone to dangerously wide springs between totalitarian fascism and totalitarian Marxism. Few note such suspicions of ours, since we are self-obsessed within our borders, and don’t translate these musings into some driving ideology. Nor do we feel that Europe per se affects our lives to any great degree, despite our ubiquitous Western heritage that we owe to Europe and the billions of U.S. dollars that are held by European governments.

The irony is that while Europeans periodically chest-pound and loudly vie with each other in hating the United States for various alleged sins (fill in the blanks from global warming to Iraq), slowly, insidiously we in the U.S. are drifting away from Europe, whether defined by commitments to its security (I doubt we would intervene again in the Balkans) to sort of a popular weariness. One article in Le Monde or a quip by a Chirac or Schroeder might pass over the heads of those in Iowa or Nebraska, but not a few hundred of these per day. So the Europeans have done the almost impossible: alienated a Western powerful ally, that kept it safe and free for the majority of the 20th century.

From there the conversation turns to questions of international morality, the viability of the European Union, and the challenge facing Europe if it wants to be a true power in the 21st century. Hanson has the nerve to mention religious faith, a couple of times, which leads to this:

JF: How much political significance do you ascribe to religious faith? Do you consider the U.S. to be a religious nation? Would you consider a strong religious faith a geopolitical advantage in the sense that it is a source of strength in the struggle for hegemony? If so, what does this mean for Europe, which — speaking honestly — is a completely secularized region in the grip of rationalism?

VDH: Religious belief means transcendence, or the notion you are living for something greater than yourself. Atheism means this is it — so why have children, invest in your country, or sacrifice your health for abstractions like your country? We worry about Europe because it seems to be creating a new culture in the West: marry at 35, have 0-1 children, be taken care of from cradle to grave.

Everyone needs a god; Europeans have turned their backs on the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and adopted in its place a Rousseau or Foucault as totems. Atheism is bad enough when it worships the Calf of Pure Reason, but when logic and rationalism are themselves replaced by postmodern relativism, then the loss of god, and the trade off become an even worse deal.

For those of you who need a shot of inspiration, here's an exercise to try. Read the whole interview out loud. For the questions put on your best dry, slightly bored Swiss accent. For the answers, remember to savor the second-person pronouns. Really taste that "you."

If you're still having trouble feeling the encounter, review this clip of an interview between BBC attack journalist Jeremy Paxman and Ann Coulter. It's the Paxman part that best captures the prevailing ambiance of Euro-U.S. relations. Coulter, frankly, isn't really into her part, although bored, terse, and contemptuous is a mien more of us really should adopt in future. Hanson, bless his heart, is still trying to communicate with these enervated dimwits.

NOW read the Hanson interview to yourself.

Anybody want to call up some Europeans on the phone? You know, just to rattle their filthy gilded cage?

MISSING: One Chain Gang.

IT'S A DNA THING. One minute they were there, the next they were gone. Maybe it was something we said. They're from South Carolina, where the chain gang profession is so old it has acquired a culture and mystique all its own. Quite independent. Or so I'm told.

All we know for sure is that the old homestead seems kind of empty without them. No one else could have come up with the perfect bromide for all the most egregious sins of our selfish age. No one else called the 2004 election ahead of time with such deadly and scathing certainty. And no one else in the entire blogosphere ever gave a moment's attention to what Mrs. Bill O'Reilly might be thinking about anything at all.

So. If you happen to come across some wandering troop of shackled prisoners who have as one of their number a displaced Canadian hockey player, tell them to call home. We've got ALL NEW locks and chains and uniforms for them, plus brand new admin support in the form of helpful "prisoners' aides." See?

Chain Gang's new "Prisoners' Aide No 1."

It wouldn't do to keep her waiting. Just last night she said she was feeling "kind of restless." We don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound entirely good.

Does it?


Banquet security let him keep the hat on, but
drew the line at the "Press" card in the brim.
The two-tone wingtips also had to go. Clearly.

THE ONE-FOURTH ESTATE. Are these headlines worth even electronic column inches? You be the drudge judge.

Actress Dumb­.

Chicago Awful.

Politician Lies Like Hell.

Palestinian Conflict has Ebb, Flow.

Come to think of it, "Ebb, Flow" is apropos.

I imagine a kid dashing around a sunny beach, wearing his father's jacket as a trenchcoat, introducing himself as "Cub Reporter" to all and sundry. He spends the entire vacation assaulting adults with questions from his little notebook, declaiming "dispatches from the front" via his driftwood microphone, reporting on anything and everything that's going on. "The Drudge family had pork chops for dinner." "We are going (BEAT) back to the beach tomorrow morning at 9." "The lady with the really big top was staring at the lifeguard all afternoon." Even when he's on the verge of sunstroke, he can dig new scoops from the soggy sand: "That last tide was bigger than the three before. The weird-looking guy on the jetty is thinking we're in for it. You heard it here first" Always in that child's clumsy imitation of a "Last Chopper Out of Saigon" intonation. The boy journalist version of the Steven Spielberg kid from hell we'd all like to clock with a huge jagged (nerf) rock on that STOOPID hat. [The Boss made me put in the parenthetical. But you know what I mean and, what's more, you agree with me. Enough said.]

Yes, I'm busting Matt's balls harder than necessary. I love me some wicked, rumor-dripping, anonymously sourced, WTF-is-he-up-to-now Drudge Report, same as you. Thing is, the only criticism ever directed toward the guy is of the "he's a footsoldier in the vast right-wing conspiracy" variety (and the attendant ad-hominem slander). Doesn't take a thick skin to brush off that brand of crazy. Recognizing his Hindenberg-sized sense of self-importance as being in place well before he even dreamed of having political convictions... that's an Indian Burn of a different color. I encourage you all to parrot it verbatim.

Okay. I admit it. Even I was embarassed by what Drudge did to Prince Harry, the Ginger Wizard of the Windsors. And the thought that right now Matt the Mug is hugging himself with glee over it is more than I can stand. It makes you want to bulldoze Walter Winchell out of his unsanctified grave, stuff the soulless remains into the Drudge url like a stick of dynamite, and blow his yellow journalist ass UP, spraying his rotten innerds all over the scummy walls of the Internet. All right. Now I'm hyperventilating. Where's my bag?

I'll be okay. In a minute. Honest.

Don't be alarmed. Keep on keeping on. Anything that sounds like laughing here is cognitive dissonance. Yours. Not mine. ***Developing***

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Emergency Tweaks Required
in Human-Climate Interface

The Good News: Celebrity hybrids have stopped Global Warming cold.

THE BAD NEWS. Global Warming fans were stunned this week when Daily Tech reported the following:

Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously... The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.

Leading climatologists were quick to respond, however, proving with PowerPoint charts and abundant hand gestures that the sudden drop in global temperatures does not indicate any error in the unanimous worldwide scientific consensus that the earth is being mugged by human CO2 emissions. Noted biochemist Leonardo di Caprio said, "There's nothing whatever wrong with the science we've been making up on the climate change question. In fact, what we're seeing in the new data is that our efforts to halt Global Warming through human lifestyle changes have been sensationally successful."

Di Caprio showed spectacular graphics created by Industrial Light and Magic which traced plummeting temperatures to a dangerous bubble in the burgeoning carbon credits market. In particular, he explained, heavy investments by celebrity carbon consumers in buying offsets for their private jet travel, mansions, and vast entourages have created a dramatic surplus in the market, thus precipitating an exorbitantly excessive decrease in energy usage worldwide.

A related phenomenon, called "doubling down", has further exacerbated the market crisis. For example, superior citizens of Earth like Nobel Prize-winning climate expert Al Gore used to buy carbon credits while continuing to consume 20 to 30 times the energy used by the ordinary and unknown people they were proselytizing to save the planet. But due to the unscrupulous pressure of right-wing climate-change deniers, many celebrities actually began to make modest reductions in their own carbon consumption. Al Gore, whose lifestyle habits were nobody's business, nevertheless "doubled down" by reducing the energy drain caused by his Christmas tree:

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Al Gore, who was criticized for high electric bills at his Tennessee mansion, has completed a host of improvements to make the home more energy efficient, and a building-industry group has praised the house as one of the nation's most environmentally friendly.

Al Gore recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global climate change.

The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs -- even on his Christmas tree.

"Short of tearing it down and staring [sic] anew, I don't know how it could have been rated any higher," said Kim Shinn of the U.S. Green Building Council, which gave the house its second-highest rating for sustainable design.

Al Gore posing outside his "energy updated" Tennessee home last August.
"Once again," said di Caprio, "Vicious Republican hate-mongers have pushed the world to a new tipping point, one that will require even more drastic globally enforced controls on the economies and personal lives of citizens around the world."

Asked "Huh?" by the assembled press, di Caprio responded that the planet's climate is obviously far more sensitive to its interactions with the human "disease" than even the most brilliantly gloomy of scientists had estimated. This means that for the foreseeable future, every particle of energy usage by ordinary people must be monitored, regulated, and where necessary punished to the maximum by the people who know more than average people do about everything. Almost all national governments, for example, will have to be replaced by committees of scientists and celebrities who can talk like scientists. "We have no choice," di Caprio said. "Time has obviously already run out. 'The Day After Tomorrow' is now."

In terms of weathering the current crisis, di Caprio was somewhat more optimistic. "We can reverse the present overcorrection through a few well considered 'tweaks'," he assured reporters. "For the short term, all that's needed is for celebrities to resume their old carbon-consuming lifestyles and, perhaps, to suspend participation in the carbon credits market. I'm trying to set a leadership example myself by trading my Prius in for a V-10 Dodge Viper convertible and quitting my old affectation of taking commercial flights rather than hitching rides on one of Travolta's two dozen jets."

Heroic as always, Al Gore is doing his part by eating surplus carbon credits.

What should ordinary folks do? "Stay the course," di Caprio said. "We can't possibly afford a return to the apocalyptic energy usage levels that precipitated Global Warming in the first place. If you're some 40K a year jerk in Sheboygan and you've been recycling and driving the brood around in a 30 mpg Jap tin can, keep on doing that. We're counting on you. And we'll let you know immediately if there are more sacrifices we need you to make.

"Remember," he intoned, "Earth itself is hanging in the balance."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hill's Last-Ditch Pitch for Obama's Base

It's all about CHANGE, you know.

That's what we've heard anyway.

A Full-Immunity President?

Be very careful what you wish for.

A WEEKEND'S WORTH OF SERIOUS READING. Somebody has to talk about what's happening here and what it means. We're in the process of seeing the canniest pair of politicians in American history reduced to humiliated ruin at their own game, by a rank newcomer, after starting their campaign with a gigantic lead. So far, all the leading lights are still discussing this startling outcome in terms of the campaign only. For example, WAPO media critic Howard Kurtz is groping his way through the subject, thus:

Is Barack Obama protected by a special suit of armor--one that fits only African Americans?

Obviously, anyone running against the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency has to be sensitive about racial slights, real or perceived. Remember when Joe Biden got into trouble for calling Obama "clean" and "articulate"? And the backlash against Bill Clinton's comments, especially when he dismissively compared Obama's South Carolina win to Jesse Jackson's earlier victory there, underscored the tricky terrain...

[I]s this a big enough factor, in Obama's case, to change the nature of the campaign? Are opponents forced to pull their punches? Would it be deemed more acceptable for rivals to criticize a white candidate's admission of past marijuana and cocaine use?

After all, Obama's two main rivals, Hillary and John McCain, have already had to apologize to him for things said by supporters....

Politico's Ben Smith says Obama may be milking the contrition of his rivals:

"Most of them have apologized for saying something insensitive about Obama's race, his name, or his heritage. And the dynamic of outrage and offense this campaign has proved race to be a much touchier subject than gender. At times, Obama's campaign has sought to downplay burgeoning outrage. At others, he's stoked it for political advantage..."

I've previously stated my own belief that America is ready for a black president. I've also said that race is a three-edged sword, which I explained, like the rest of the herd, in campaign terms:

The first two edges have been abundantly noted and commented on. Yes, there are Americans who still aren't ready for a black president, though not nearly as many as the paranoids in the liberal media feared. There is also a deadly danger to anyone who makes a charge or even an observation about Obama that might conceivably be interpreted as suggestiive of racial prejudice. The third edge is concealed between the bright lines of the first two....If every gaffe or unpleasantness committed by the Obamas on the campaign trail is going to be shushed up or suppressed to spare their racial sensitivities, resentment is bound to grow like mushrooms in the dark. If that's the strategy, the third edge will cost Obama the election.

But those who have been observing a related phenomenon called the Bradley Effect are concluding that so far at least, it's not nearly the hindrance we might have imagined:

This seems like a good time to revisit the "Bradley effect," the theory that Obama was losing votes on election day from scared whites who told pollsters, uh, sure, they'd vote for the black guy... and then voted for Clinton or Edwards. While there have definitely been odd pockets precincts and counties where Obama bottomed out... we have not seen another situation like New Hampshire, where Obama underperformed his polls. Check out Virginia, where the final SurveyUSA poll showed Obama beating Clinton 60-38 and getting 47 percent of the white vote to her 49 percent. On election day Obama won by 28 points and won the white vote 52-47. He won the white vote again in Wisconsin, winning by 17 points a state where polls had him up by 5 or 6.

The Pew Research center has been testing this out with every primary and come to different conclusions, and I haven't done as much research as them, but outside of the deep South there doesn't seem to be the lying and polarization among scaredy-cat whites that we were told existed after New Hampshire.

Yes, what happens in the campaign, and why, is interesting and important, but what nobody is yet contemplating is the effect such matters might have on a presidency -- you know, the thing that comes after a presidential campaign. I guess I'm elected.

I'll start by returning to the subject of the Clintons. I know I had Clinton fatigue long before the Democrats did. When Hillary was still riding high in the polls, I asked:

I mean, do Americans really want to go back to sex scandals (Lewinsky, Willey, Jones, Huma...) and campaign finance scandals (Charlie Trie, Norman Hsu...) and personal corruption scandals (Whitewater, Marc Rich, Hillary's private jets...) in an age when lowly U.S. Senators are coming across with bathroom stall scandals and the young lions of the Democrat Party believe they can prove the President and his VP not only stole two elections in a row but also planned the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history? In this context, the standard Clinton fireworks are pretty small potatoes if you ask me. [YAWN]. Excuse me. Didn't mean to be disrespectful there, but facts are facts.

Hillary's stock has plunged like Victoria Falls since then, but note that nothing I cited ever became an issue in the campaign. There were plenty of murmurs, of course, but only in the righty blogs, who have always been part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" the Clintons succeeded in pinning Bill's, uh, troubles on in the past. None of it stopped the party establishment from regarding the controversial, carpetbagger wife of an impeached ex-president as the "inevitable" heir to the Democrat nomination for the presidency of the United States. Despite the continuous, unending reams of scandals, large and small, the political pundits saw Hillary as formidable and probably unstoppable. Certainly, they expressed no early interest in stopping her themselves.

Now, though, the Conventional Wisdom is that Hillary ran a bad campaign, that she was a bad candidate, that the fabled Clinton magic had, like the Fonz of Happy Days, somehow "jumped the shark" and lost its mystical feel for the heart of the American electorate. Poor Hillary is suddenly a sad female hammerhead whose latest jump was a bridge too far. Isn't that the new narrative?

It's bunk. All of it. Make no mistake. The Clintons, both of them, are master politicians, whatever the weaknesses of their ethics, ambitions, and policies. In a curiously American way, the nakedness of their Machiavellian maneuverings was always part of their allure. That's why Bill was deemed the first black president. You could see the game he was playing every step of the way, but he was so damned good at it, and charming to boot, that you let him take you in. Because he also knew that you knew, and he counted on you understanding that he was half sincere and half self-serving rogue.Which is to say that he was a pure politician and purely American -- in that he was never claiming to be better than you in absolute terms, but only at working the system on his AND your behalf. That's how he skated through the Lewinsky scandal and kept his approval ratings higher than all those dully virtuous presidents who didn't enter the Oval Office and see it as a stationary exoticar pussy-magnet.

The blanket, knowing forgiveness that gave Bill his two terms was also extended to his wife -- whose personal travails we all understood without her ever coming clean about them. As a people, we accepted her marriage of convenience and saw it as the dues she had paid to become just as pure a politician as her rapscallion husband. Despite her seeming lack of humor, that was the joke the members of her party were willing to share with her without forcing the punchline to be uttered out loud.

So now it's all over. A long, deeply committed relationship axed via text message, What can do that? Only an infatuation. All the durable lovers have deserted them -- blacks, feminists, poor single mothers dying for another chance to be betrayed by yet another sweet-talking user, and even the unionists who have always known their cause depended absolutely on smiling corruption. Momentarily at least, they have all forgotten that American politics is about finding the best politicians who are willing to be on your side for a price you can both agree on without spoiling the pleasure between the sheets at least one of you is counting on. They've forgotten everything, including the basic nature of the transaction.

You see, Hillary was never a femme fatale. That's the role Obama has stolen. He's the mysterious, alluring, elusive siren, arousing, intoxicatingly seductive, remote but poetic, blade strong yet easily wounded and possessed of myriad vulnerablilities, all of which must be observed, placated, avoided, kow-towed to, and appeased. He is running for the position of national Greta Garbo.

A romance made in heaven, to be sure, the stuff of dreams. But what if, underneath it all, he too is a politician. What if he should turn out to be simply a different kind of manipulator than the Clintons -- not the jolly whore of our egalitarian tradition but a greedy mistress with a grievance and a murderous grudge?

Down to earth. If the Clintons can't make a dent in the campaign of a coolly ambitious, non-African-American, Ivy League Chicago machine politician, what will any of of us be able to do if he turns out to be inept, short-sighted, vengeful, corrupt, or actively seditious? If some clumsy American politician accidentally says something to offend his 300K-a-year Princetonian executive wife, for example, will we all have to apologize -- or pay in some other coin? If he violates his vow to uphold the Constitution, will we have the recourse we would have with mere politicians? Or will every voice -- in politics and the press -- fall silent, because raising an objection of any kind is tantamount to a hate crime?

What stories will not be pursued by the already horrifyingly cowardly PC media? What legitimate policy objections will not be posed by senators and congressmen who are already living in daily fear that their most inadvertent verbal slip will bring down 400 years worth of resentment on their heads?

Think about it. If the "First Black President" has already been made to look a bigot for daring to promote his wife's candidacy over Obama's, what chance do the rest of us have in the next four or eight years if we start to see in Obama a Carter, a Ferrakhan, or Quisling? No matter what he does, he could never be impeached. It's debatable whether he could ever be criticized. Let alone mauled and mocked and belittled day after day like a Bush or a, uh, Bush.

The first black President must be a politican, not a messiah. We've already seen what happens when teflon meets a halo. The halo wins. Without even being responsive. The truth is -- and this is not racist, but statistically valid -- that the first black president really can't coast unexamined into office; he has an absolute moral obligation to demonstrate with full candor and understanding that he isn't Marion Barry, Alcee Hastings, William Jefferson, Ray Nagin, or all the mayors of Newark, Detroit, and Philadelphia who have ridden the horse of jury nullification into sinecures of power only to abuse that power in systematic ways while branding all who objected to their corruption as bigots.

What we cannot afford at this time in our history is a sainted Jimmy Carter, a well educated Huey Long, or a closet Castro..

Inquire of yourselves -- again and again -- how did a neophyte take down the Clintons?

This weekend, read ALL of the following pieces and then ask, how well do you really know this obviously clever and oh-so-ambitious man?

Obama's Women Reveal His Secret.

What You Didn't Know About Obama and Rezko.

More on That Canadian Television Story about Obama and NAFTA.

Walking on Eggshells.

Granted, it's a lot of reading. But you've got all weekend. Unless Brizoni gets off his ass and contributes something more amusing.

A final thought. If you forgave the Clintons because at least we always knew the game they were playing, how sure ARE you you know the game the Obamas are playing. Me, I don't have a clue.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Missed, But Never Gone

A TIME TO BE GRATEFUL. The eulogies are all over the web, and they are well worth reading. All I will add is that too many of them make it sound as if we have lost William F. Buckley. We haven't. Thanks to his writings and the vast electronic memory of the media age we live in -- which he helped create -- we have more than a monument to his memory. We have his wit, his intelligence, his personal warmth and rhetorical fire, his inconography as a giant who transcended his own caricature of himself, and we even have the twinkle in his eye at the touch of a button. It is not mere metaphor to say that he is still out there sailing his beloved ocean, grinning as he looks back at us through the spray of the waves.

Bon voyage, Mr. Buckley.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hollywood Hearts Hollywood.

FOUR HOURS, KIDS. Did you stay up for the whole thing too? We're suckers together, then. Grindhouse was snubbed, so I only paid attention out of journalistic obligation. If you missed it, count yourself lucky. Nothing at all happened.

Almost nothing. The old man hates Jon Stewart, but he earned props in Zoni's book tonight. An Irish songwriting team won the Best Original Song award (Isn't InstaPunk Irish or something? Welsh? One of those...) and were so shocked and humble the girl didn't approach the mic before it got turned off and the music swelled. Flustered, everyone walked off w/o complaining.

After the commercial break, Stewart brought her back out to say her thanks. He might be far and above the worst sophist of our time, but he knows from class. Apparently.

But so what? The most life- AND art-affirming flick of last year didn't get so much as a token technical nod. That makes the Academy entirely bankrupt.

This is an oversight on the level of Citizen Kane losing the best picture statue. When's the last time you gave How Green Was My Valley any thought? Exactly.

A few other things almost happened, too. Viggo Mortensen seemed genuinely attracted to his 13-year-old date. Hal Holbrook yelled out, "What about Anna-Nicole??" after the death montage, which ruined the moment of silence. So what, so what, so what. Hollywood's self-love is getting worse, but we're used to it getting worse, so it doesn't seem worth commenting on. I was attracted to Tilda Swinton, which I think makes me gay.

God, look at that. '68 Charger, right? Maybe I'm straight after all. Hello, gorgeous.

[ED. It's not a Charger. It's a Chevy. You ARE gay.]

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