Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
March 12, 2008 - March 4, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Shakespeare on Terrorism

Nicholas Shakespeare

BRITABUSE. All right. I admit it. The headline was the whole motivation for the post. All that's left is a review by one Nicholas Shakespeare of a book on terrorists by his fellow Brit, Michael Burleigh. I know I should end the entry right now with a link to the book review in question, but I'm a stubborn cuss, and I can't help looking for some meaning to justify the grandiloquence of my headline. My apologies [Leave. Go. Get the hell out of here. I have absolutely NOTHING to say today that's worth reading]. Still here? Damn.

At least I'm not blogging about Eliot Spitzer. That's probably why you're still reading. Nothing is more boring than Eliot Spitzer. Not even Nicholas Shakespeare. And truthfully (???), the review does illuminate the profound death wish of the Brit intellectual caste. They are all so absent emotion that one could cut their throats and their final gurgled words would be a critique of your technique. Here are some excerpts from the review:

We live in an age of cultural disorder, where to point a finger at the absurdities of radical Islam is to be branded a racist, a fascist or a bigot. This timely and important book would probably not have been published 10 years ago, but its relevance is bracing.

Michael Burleigh's theme: the moral squalor, intellectual poverty and psychotic nature of terrorist organisations, from the Fenians of the mid-19th century to today's jihadists - the latter group, especially, being composed of unstable males of conspicuously limited abilities and imagination, and yet who pose "an existential threat to the whole of civilisation" with their crusade to realise "a world that almost nobody wants", all in the hope of an afterlife featuring 72 virgins and rivers foaming with honey and beer...

Burleigh has read and travelled enough to express an impeccable contempt for the "theoretical gobbledygook" of the IRA or the "stunningly tedious" ideology of the New Left, while sharing the bemusement of the kidnapped German industrialist Hans Schleyer "at the incredible ignorance his captors [the Red Army Faction] demonstrated about the higher workings of the German economy"...

Meinhof's co-revolutionary Andreas Baader embodies many of the resentful and narcissistic traits that Burleigh identifies in his subjects: sour, lazy nobodies, ugly, of febrile imagination and indifferent talent, who can only become somebody by blowing others, inevitably persons more talented and intelligent, up....

Burleigh parades an arsenal of facts, and the cumulative effect is undeniable. Only with his claim that the tactic of terror "never amounted to more than an irritant", and was not crucial in forcing colonial powers to leave Palestine and Algeria, not to mention acceding to power in Ireland and South Africa, do I depart from his thesis....

Burleigh shares in his prose style something of the pitiless monotone with which his targets engage with the world. He finds little room for levity in over 500 pages, except where his keenness to be up to date gets the better of him. He has his finger on the pulse, but his foot on the pedal....

Blood & Rage is in all sorts of ways an outstanding book; it is also fuelled by the manic energy and focus of someone accelerating a truckload of intellectual high-explosives into the gates of a "stunningly" credulous soft-liberal establishment, composed of "colluding" human rights lawyers and "celebrity useful idiots" such as Tariq Ali, whom Burleigh witheringly chastises for having "progressively marginalised high intellectual endeavour" while at the same time conspiring to convert cosmopolitan London into the Islamic haven of "Londonistan"...

Al Qa'eda's chief military spokesman in Europe puts it best: "You love life and we love death." If there are no flies on Burleigh, there are plenty on the moribund dogmas of those he dissects. [emphasis added]

An academic subject, terrorism. Really. Something to pass the time when no one else wants to discuss something important, like the unutterably depressing brilliance of Graham Greene novels. So here we have the passionless reviewing the passionless and noting passionlessness as a stylistic fault.

You know, the Brits are just fucking DONE.

Maybe I should have blogged about Eliot Spitzer. Even he is more intriguing than Brit intellectuals.


BRIZONI! Where the HELL are you when we need you?!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why I Hate Basketball

Slave chains are slave chains.

ELABORATION. The other day I made a passing reference to basketball as the "worst team sport played in America." I feel I should qualify and explain that statement. The qualification is that strictly as a game, basketball isn't nearly as awful as soccer. But basketball is still more immediately worse for Americans. That explanation takes a little longer, and it's a two parter. There are things I hate about the game itself, and then there's stuff beyond that. I'll tackle them in order.

The Game Itself

1. Five on the Court

The fewer the players, the more likely it is that one player can utterly dominate a team, for better or worse -- and mostly for worse. Basketball's concept of the Big Man represents more of a distortion of the team concept than anything else in true team sports. A Wilt Chamberlain or a Michael Jordan has more specific gravity on a squad than any all-pro quarterback, all-star power hitter, or ace pitcher. Even an over-hyped national hero like David Beckham is only one of fifteen on an incomprehensibly larger field of play. Which brings me to my next objection.

2. The Court

It's so small that it could be, and has been, outgrown by the sheer size of the players. A football field is still long enough that no quarterback can pass from one end zone to another. The geometry of a baseball field is still so perfectly neutral that a small man can smack a single through the gap between short and second, drive a triple into the gap between left and center field, or even lay down a bunt hit between the pitcher and the catcher. And hockey, the second most constricted major team sport, retains more separation between the fans and the players, thanks to the boards and the plexiglass wall that protects spectators from the puck and, mostly, from player aggression. None of these structural constraints still exists in basketball. Quite ordinary players can execute the slam-dunk that was never dreamed of by the game's founder, who thought the ten-foot height of the net was an equalizer, not an incentve for seeking out seven-foot anomalies as if they were great athletes. And, yes, there are still tiny dynamos like Alan Iverson, but even their greatness is no longer a function of team play, but of their unique ability to navigate a small giant-filled space all alone, like a broken-field runner in a dense forest of sequoias.

3. The Court

No, it's not a misprint. The basketball court is not a playing field. It's a theater. That's why basketball coaches are scrutinized and critiqued as if they were themselves players. They affect costumes, they stalk and pace and gesture and vocalize like actors on Broadway, and generally speaking, they are performers of a sort that would be unthinkable in baseball, football, hockey AND soccer. An obvious additional implication is that when the coach is a theatrical perfomer, his players are more than mere athletes. They, too, become -- at least to some extent -- actors, closer to WWE wrestlers than to, say, NFL prima donnas like Terrell Owens, who confines his antics to the times outside the whistles that start and end playing time.

4. The Court

If the court is so small that it's inevitably jammed with oversized perfomers, what chance do the referees have to be effective? There's no way they can be distant enough from the action to get good angles on who did what to whom. In fact, they're forced to compete with the players for the approval of the audience, and so they call their calls with more authority than accuracy. They also understand the rules of performance better than the refs in any other sport. It's more important to be quick and dramatic than correct. It's more important that the audience enjoy the show than that the rules of the game be enforced in a context where the rules are simply inadequate to the momentum of the game. That's why no NBA player is ever called for "walking," which is endemic and ludicrously unenforced. The result: the most critical rules in the game -- fouls, charging, goal-tending, and technical fouls -- are changing the results of games without any justifying percentage of accuracy. The refs have made basketball, at all levels of the sport, into roller-derby.

The Other Stuff

All of these game weaknesses have combined to make basketball an American cultural disaster as well.

1. Basketball as fashion.

The goddamn spinnaker uniform (derived from oversized prison garb) is reason enough by itself to cease watching the games. Who wants to see them flapping down the court like Victorian whores in bloomers?

2. Basketball as cultural pied-piper.

The thuggery that has become common in interactions among coaches, players, and fans is disgusting. Too much jewelry. Too many gangster vehicles, specifically Cadillac Escalades. Too many gun and drug arrests. Too many incidents of player-fan violence. At least in professional wrestling, the violence is mostly rehearsed and fake. When Artest attacks a fan or Kobe Bryant (allegedly) rapes a, uh, fan, the violence is all too real and we're all diminished and degraded. Worse, we don't seem to be realizing that fact.

3. Basketball as Organizational Model.

Star basketball players don't have to learn how to lead, sacrifice, or get along with others. They just have to throw their weight around. They can get coaches fired, supporting players traded or benched, and they can get the law enforcement organizations in their vicinity to back off. Just the model kids need if they're going to be good husbands, successful fathers, productive citizens, and efficient business partners. In fact, if you wanted to teach a kid how to be the worst possible member of a community, what better example could you proffer him than a lavishly admired basketball player in college or the pros?

4. Basketball as the African-American Dream.

Like everyone else, I've enjoyed movies like Coach Carter and Glory Road. But I HATE the overwhelming fixation on basketball in the African-American community. It is not and will never be the way out of poverty and deprivation. The stars who made the movies weren't basketball players at Duke or the Lakers. Basketball teams are tiny, and the number of people who can ever hope to compete successfully at the NBA, college, or high school level is correspondingly small. It doesn't matter at all in the global demographics of the situation that a successful basketball player can get a college scholarship based on his abilities. No matter how good he (or she) is, the chances of a college basketball player graduating with a degree are very slim, and much much much worse than that is the fact that the thousands of hours devoted to basketball by youngsters would be far better spent learning math, science, English, art, and history. The feel-good movies that are supposed to demonstrate the reality of American opportunity are, in fact, cruel vandals of opportunity.

Every time I see a movie featuring middle or upper-middle class African-Americans where suit-and-tied Dad goes out to shoot a few hoops with his sports-obsessed son, I want to shoot up the screen with a shotgun. The truth is, basketball just might be the worst thing that ever happened to African-Americans in this country, even worse than slavery itself. Why?

As I pointed out above, it's NOT a team sport;. it's a star sport. Which leads to egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior that we've seen repeatedly from NBA millionaires who should be role models but are the opposite instead.

Basketball is also peculiarly conducive to making individuals feel like better athletes than they are. It's got a pernicious "one-thing" practice delusion, meaning that you and a basketball and a net can practice all alone in a way that you won't find in any other team sport except hockey, which -- thank God -- is still mostly played by Canadians and New Englanders. It's possible to practice and practice and pactice and ultimately convince yourself that you're a great basketball player because you can sink shots from anywhere on the court. (Otherwise, we wouldn't have the scourge of all those 5' 3" nerds who want to play us one-on-one at the YMCA). But it's a lie. You don't become Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain or Kobe Bryant or LeBron James by practicing obsessively. You start out as one of those spectacularly gifted guys and refine your skills through practice and gifted one-on-one coaching. On the other hand, the same degree of devotion and persistence -- even without the million-dollar coach -- can make you a businessman, an entrepreneur, an attorney, an adminstrator, or -- if you pay as much attention to class as to B-ball -- a doctor.

4. That Ghetto-Chain Net.

I hate this image more than anything above. To me, basketball is the perpetuation of slavery. The odds of basketball freeing anyone from poverty are as bad as counting on the lottery to win a fortune. Seeing a chain instead of a net is like seeing another nail in a continent-wide coffin.

My libertarian leanings prevent me from seeking the abolition of basketball. But if we were to abolish basketball -- or if the people who claim to be trying to help African-Americans contrived to ban basketball -- the single biggest imprisoning illusion in the country would be vanguished and millions upon millions of kids would be suddenly freed to divert their energies to productive pursuits like learning, academic accomplishment, economic achievement, family creation, scientific curiosity. mathematical precision, and too many other good things to list.

Just a stainless-steel basketball net. Cool, right? No. Manacles for yet another
doomed generation, dead certain it can slam-dunk the education requirement.

I HATE basketball. I especially hate the squeegee sounds their thousand-dollar sneakers make on hardwood. Like fingernails on a blackboard. But, then, I know what fingernails on a blackboard sound like. I must be one of those white-boy geeks.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The New Masculinity

No, I didn't see it right off, either. Price of being a guy..

MANHOOD. They're coming for us, gents. While you've been watching the NFL and NASCAR and Jessica Alba's tush, they've been talking the womenfolk and the hyper-educated nerds into a new social contract. If you thought what you've overheard about the Global Warming scare was just the adrenalin rush people who don't care about sports use to get excited about something, you were wrong. They've massed along all our borders, and they're about to hit us from all sides. The scariest part is the women. They think the Obama dude is sexy because he does hours of foreplay from the pulpit and his wife has more balls and attitude than he does. They love him to death. Here's how the weeny Protein Wisdom explains the peculiar photo above:

So, what exactly are you trying to say here with your curiously framed composition, Mr Racist photojournalist? That black men have giant COCKS? With big white teeth?

And why is his prodigious joint so red and white and shiny, anyway? Is that supposed to invoke, like, baboon imagery? Mulattoism? Is it intended to make white men feel insignificant, and to make white women’s breasts heave with forbidden lust? Is this Obamandingo?

What are you trying to tell us?

Christ, between your antics and the Clinton campaign's photo manipulation and carefully-crafted commercial intended to remind Americans that Obama is, in fact, a geniune negro, it's getting kind of difficult for “"onservatives" to hold onto the title of most racist people in the whole entire world.

Please. Leave us something, won't you? Though, just for the record, I am of course OUTRAGED!


UPDATE... The more I look at this picture, the more uncomfortable I become. I mean, his cock — with its sly, rapacious grin: It's like it's taunting me.

The nerds don't know anything about Ford tractors. They don't know that the front-end "bullet" is hardly sexy without a big boost from fancy computer software:

Sexy as a washing machine.

And they don't know that they're not looking at the future, but at a long defunct and drearily decrepit past:

The old crap don't run at all for the most part.

What you don't understand is that all this talk about hope and change is really their hope that they can change us and everything we care about. They want to make life about being slow and careful and obedient and submissive. They want to take our cars away and replace them with this:

A car called "Insight." Yuk. Why not call it "Sensitivity"?

Worse, we have traitors in our midst. Even guys who care about cars are all tangled up in female fashion bullshit. For example, there's a guy pretending to be on our side who posted this:

Nice, huh. But get a load of what he said:

There is one aspect of the Testarossa that I can't really defend. Crockett and Tubbs drove a Testarossa on Miami Vice, forever linking the Testarossa with gauche 1980s fashion. It's hard to deny that even a glimpse of a Testarossa now inspires visions of pink t-shirts under white suit coats.

I'm sure he prefers 21st Century, eco-correct fashion like this:

Whereas, I'd trade that SUV queen-saint of CSI Miami any day of the week for the understandably screwed up, confused and betrayed hellions of Miami Vice, pink tee-shirts and all. How about you?

Just so you know. They want to take it ALL away. Here are the things they now deem as vile as child pornography. If you didn't know this before, you do now. You have no more excuse. Click and look at what you will be condemned and persecuted for. (btw, if you don't know how YouTube works, you can get a full-screen version by clicking on the extreme right-hand icon of this control bar:


Got it?

Now behold the new version of evil, male, anti-social, anti-planet neanderthalism:





Seditious Fun.

The first step is to reduce us to this -- nostalgic shadows of our former selves:

The Twilight Ride.

The end game is to replace our lively and unpredictable lust for life with the inert monoliths that symbolize the masculinity of tyrants and dictators. The more their statues look like viagra-style erections, the more dead the people under them are and the less they're allowed to do. Think of it as cock and no balls. Fossilized virility. Just like that dead Ford tractor above (and the testicle-free bozo sitting on it). That's what they really want us to be. It's their ideal.

Sometimes the ideal includes an integral condom.

Sometimes it's a sleek, New Age dildo.

And sometimes it's just a dumb-as-rocks straight-ahead dick.

Is it time to maybe start paying attention, you distracted bastards? Time to start reminding the fairer and duller among us that it ain't the meat but the motion?

Do what you want. If you can't see it, I'm pretty much done with you. All of you.

Why You Shouldn't Vote
for Hillary Obama, Pt. II

Because collateral damage against the aggressor is OK.

DEATH BY INCHES. No matter who wins, Obama or Hillary will wage a war of attrition against personal freedom, disguised as a war against general danger. Think of it as a wolf in golden retriever's clothing. They're so smart, and they want so much to help us, they can't not go all out to protect us from ourselves. God save us from their love.

But we the people are as responsible for our personal, individual freedom as the government is. National defense we habitually leave entirely to the government to manage. The Democrats seem to believe that the only actual fighting-and-killing offensive they can sanction in the whole War on Terror is against one man: Osama bin Laden.

But if President Clinton should personally shoot bin Laden in the head during a "police-action" firefight in the first month of her administration, would that end terrorism? Would tens of millions of actively militant Muslims just... run out of steam? Would Chechnyan rebels stop eyeing elementary schools to take hostages (Oh, it was just the one time, and it's both jingoistic and racist to imply they'll do it again... Sorry. Didn't realize it was merely a fluke. I withdraw my previous slander.) Would the major Palestinian political parties cease hating Israel enough to stop attacking nightclubs and goddamn seminaries? Not bloody likely.

The attack on the seminary happened last night. Probably while you were watching the CSI rerun. (Damn that writers' strike, anyway.) It wasn't a simple organized massacre carried out by grubby malcontents. Hamas, the Palestinian party in power, has triumphantly claimed responsibility. Imagine if the National Action Party periodically launched attacks on schools, nightclubs, pizza parlors, and army bases in El Paso and San Antonio. (Hey, we'll give them Austin. They want to be punished, don't they?) Imagine if crowds all across Mexico cheered and celebrated when attacks on authentic parts of Texas were successfully carried out, smearing co-eds across the grave of Sam Houston in, well, a bloody jelly punctuated by severed heads. Does that give you some perspective? At all?

Or, if this is easier for you, imagine California's Republican Party -- led obviously by evangelical Christians and a few well groomed Mormons -- waged similar guerilla warfare throughout Baja. Imagine coupon-clipping soccer moms and Boston Pops patrons celebrating over the dismembered corpses of cheerleaders whose MySpace pages evinced excessive fondness for Obama, astrology, and Global Warming.

Here's the Awful Question: What will we do when our new president proves persistently committed to his/her humiliatingly doomed "Diplomacy on Terror" (Gee, for some reason they still want us dead. We were nice and everything, too)? Am I the only one looking for any excuse at all not to inaugurate the "Vigilante Foreign Policy"? Or is that starting to smell good to more than a handful of troglodyte Obama skeptics?

What will we do? What will you do? Anything?

Me, I'm pricing pistol-grip shotguns.

Friday Odds and Ends

Your YouTube Political Insight of the Day.

TGIF. It's not the Friday Follies, because nobody around here is dancing. Did you look at any of the news this morning? Is this what they mean by "March Madness"? I guess not. That's actually a reference to the worst team sport played in America. Apart from politics, that is.

Anyhow. With so much silliness going on, it's definitely not a day for serious essays or deep thoughts. I mean, who can talk about the gender-race showdown between Gloria Steinem and Michelle Obama over who's the most subjugated victim in the U.S. presidential race when the real race is being run in socially enlightened Amsterdam on stiletto heels?

Everywhere you look, there are new phony controversies. Did anyone really need Prince Charles to weigh in on Global Warming and decide for us which scientists are right and which are "sheer madness"? No doubt, such judgments were reached at a colloquium of well born Brits like this one.

And then there are the acts of individual animal cruelty which have become the basis for condemning whole groups of people. Is it really fair that because one golfer murdered one hawk, the mass media should be painting the entire PGA as sociopathic killers? Personally, I don't think so. I think they should be ashamed of themselves.

Even St. Patrick's Day has been dragged into the phony controversy trap. An Irish pub owner in Manhattan has banned the singing of Danny Boy just because the words to the Irish tune weren't written by an Irishman. He also says it's too sad. Oh really. Like the Irish have something against sad songs. Here's a version of Danny Boy everyone ought to be able to live with.

The French decided to top everybody by pretending they've just discovered that French women are sexual predators and French men are chickenshit wussies. Who on earth didn't already know that? There's documentary evidence from way back in 1992 below the fold, but it's fairly NSFW, so be warned.

If you're too good to look, see you next week.

P.S. btw, we DID warn you to keep an eye on Samantha Power. But do you ever listen...?

P.P.S. Our post about the cars we imprinted on at the age of 17 has drawn some breathtaking responses, which we've published photos of in an update. If you want to come clean yourselves, we'll continue to update the entry. It's highly therapeutic. And fun.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

If Candidates Were Cars...

THERE'S SOME CAPITALIST IN ALL OF US. In the bad old days before young people got so in tune with the environment and protecting the planet from nasty hydro-carbons, one of the first statements of individual personality an adolescent could make was his choice of automobile. I'm not talking about the first automobile actually owned or driven, but the one imprinted on, the object of desire featured in individual fantasies of moving out into the big wide world in style. For example, this was mine:

I could claim that I outgrew it, but I didn't. Not really. It's still there in the back of my mind, that vision of myself young and fancy free driving like the wind in what I still think is the most beautiful production car ever made. A lot of you know what I mean. You see the view from the driver's seat and the picture of yourself driving it simultaneously, and you know exactly where you're going, how the ride sounds and smells and feels, and even what music is playing on the radio. It's all just burned in there, hence my use of the word 'imprinted.'

I think the archetypal age is seventeen, which is when most of us got our licenses and acquired the first experience of being in charge behind the wheel. Everything before that moment is infantile voyeurism. Afterwards the imagination incorporates all the senses into the fantasy. It becomes a very detailed metaphor for how we see ourselves at the cusp of adulthood.

What was the automobile you imprinted on? And what, just for fun, were the automobiles that figured in the first thrusts of self-definition by Hillary Rodham, Barack Obama, and John McCain when they were seventeen? Not having met them, obviously, we have to go on what they've done, what they say they believe, and what we can infer from the way they act on the public stage. So here are my guesses. You're free to disagree or nominate your own alternatives. All I ask is that if you do disagree, please explain your choices as logically as I explain mine. The formula is simple: date of birth plus 17 identifies the year in which the brand new vehicle that's always the stuff of fantasy was made. Ladies first:

Hillary = 1947 + 17 = 1964

She's always been motivated by the concept of service rather than fun. Practicality would be key, the ability to carry things and people from where they are to where she knows they ought to go. Convertibles are unsafe, big luxury cruisers are ostentatious and anti-egalitarian, and trucks resonate with the worst of all substances on earth, testosterone. Given what we know of her sojourns at Yale and Berkeley during the radical era, it's tempting to think she'd have been captivated by a VW bus replete with (anachronistic) McCarthy sticker. But that's too easy and probably wrong. She's always had the solidarity with labor that accompanies her humble origins in coal-mining country. She would absolutely have wanted an American car, and perferably one manufactured by a company that wasn't as obsessed with profits as the Big Three. Here's our nomination.

1964 Studebaker Lark Station Wagon

It's a blue-state feminist's dream, isn't it? You could put a whole buttload of entitlements into the back end of that thing, and it's still not a big-ass truck. (Not even wide at the hips.) Also, Studebaker had the good taste to go out of business a few years after this eminently utilitarian vehicle failed to attract lots of unseemly sales. Which is really hard to understand, because look at the progressive advertising campaign they ran. (All right. I'm not exactly sure what I mean by 'progressive' in this context. But I don't know what Hillary means by 'progressive' in the context of her atavistic Great Society-like social program proposals, either. Consider it a blind spot on my part.) Here's what I do know, though. The song that would be playing on the radio is one of 1964's top hits by Gerry & the Pacemakers. It kind of breaks your heart a little bit. Doesn't it?

Obama = 1961 + 17 = 1978

He's so serious looking in the picture up top. You can tell he'd want something a little dignified, but nothing that anyone would interpret as flashy or superficial. It would have to be sensible and economical, because look at what's happening with gas prices in spite of Jimmy Carter's heroic middle east diplomacy. And it would absolutely have to be American, because all this business of trading with foreign countries is a slippery slope (besides, Kenya wasn't making cars back then). But there should also be just a hint of a statement, maybe not as far as a Ferrakhan would go, but despite all his disgusting millions, Henry Ford had it right about some things. Maybe this would have been young Obama's dream.

1978 Ford Fairmont

It's a fine picture, isn't it? There you are with your best girl in the dark night of that terrible time in America before Columbia and Princeton and Harvard started knocking down doors to get you to grace them with your presence, and all you have in this moment of Godforsaken limbo is the blazing light of your own high beams to illuminate the impossibly difficult road ahead. And the stars, of course, which were always there to signify the immense importance of your personal journey. What's playing on the Fairmont radio as the lovers snuggle discontentedly together in the bleakness of their velour despair? One of these songs, perhaps this one by Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis. Yeah, that sounds about right.

McCain = 1936 +17 = 1953

Let's face it. John-Boy McCain wasn't exactly a visionary when he was seventeen. He was a military brat who'd be scraping through Annapolis at the bottom of his class in a few years. So there's no mystery at all about the piece of Detroit iron he'd have imprinted on. Something about flying low with a gorgeous blonde at your elbow. There was only one real choice for a red-blooded American jock.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette

Sad in a way. It can't help but point out what an old man he is now, obsolete in his utter lack of finesse and nuance. Who on earth would share this particular juvenile fantasy in our day and age? I hate to mention what was probably playing on the radio. It would have to have been one of these dinsosaur tunes. Probably this one.

But, as I said, I could be dead wrong. If I am, I'm sure some of you will let me know.

UPDATE. A couple of commenters have checked in with their "imprint" vehicles. One is the same as mine (see above). Two others are so cool they really have to be shared with all of you.

XK-120 Jaguar Roadster. Bigger photo here.

1950 Mercury Coupe. More and bigger photos here.

Personally, I think everyone should come clean about this, including their music choices. It would be a gratifying catharsis for them.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Where Are They Now?

Terrorists are people too.

Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground

THE LEGACY OF NED (CONT). The InstaPundit has a link today to a lefty apologist who praises the Chicago Sun-Times for this bit of editorial wisdom:

Clearing up another empty shot at Obama

March 3, 2008

And now, by our count, we have Phony Flap Number 6,537,203: Barack Obama Consorts With Known American Terrorist!

Conservative talk radio hosts are in a dither over the non-news that Obama is "friendly" with a fellow named William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Thirty-five years ago, it seems, Ayers ran with the Weather Underground, a guerrilla band of deluded "revolutionaries" who protested the Vietnam War, racial injustice and "The Man" by setting off bombs.

We know the nation's press can't be entirely familiar with Ayers, who is pretty much a Chicago boy, so allow us to fill you in.

Ayers was, indeed, a Weatherman. He bombed the U.S. Capitol, a bathroom in the Pentagon, and even cased out the White House.

He went on the lam in the 1970s, lived under an assumed name with his radical wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and gave himself up in 1980. Since then, he has built a respectable career as an academic and an advocate for troubled children.... His 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, has been praised for exposing how Cook County's juvenile justice system all but eliminates a child's chance for redemption...

Is Barack Obama consorting with a radical? Hardly.

Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is doing good. And while, yes, Obama is friendly with Ayers, it appears to be only in the way of two community activists whose circles overlap.

Time to move on to Phony Flap 6,537,204.

Maybe not completely time. Phony Flap No. 6,537,203 still offers a few crumbs of interest. To me, anyway. The nicest touch in the whole piece -- apart from the generally superior, dismissive tone -- was the assumptive close on the assertion that "the nation's press can't be entirely familiar with Ayers." He's a nonentity, you see, a mere "Chicago boy," who got into a spot of trouble a long time ago. Well, if the nation's press doesn't have its head stuffed "entirely" up its ass, it should be familiar with Ayers. He was a genuine terrorist, with very real blood on his hands. Without some bad luck for the Weathermen (that's good luck to you and me), he'd have been an accomplice in the greatest attack on America's home soil since Pearl Harbor. In 1970. Does that ring any faint bells?

Perhaps we're not as beatifically ignorant as the nation's press, but we thought it significant when Ayers popped his head up to discuss his Weatherman career in April 2004. That's why we posted this:

If you missed it, look for another opportunity to see the documentary Weather Underground shown last night on PBS. It was interesting and illuminating.... The more repellent excesses of the radical era were glossed over, in particular the criminal machinations of the Black Panthers, and the propaganda of the time was visually condoned with all the most extreme footage ever filmed of the Vietnam War, including vivid images of the My Lai massacre... and we [also] got a film reenactment of the New York townhouse explosion that took the lives of three Weatherman bomb makers. Worse, it seemed we were being asked to feel sorrow for their deaths, which occurred while they were planning to kill hundreds of U.S. Army soldiers and their dates at a Fort Dix dance.

What redeemed the documentary were some of the interviews with former members of the Weather Underground, all of whom eventually turned themselves in after nearly a decade of political bombings... The only really condemning voice we hear is that of Todd Gitlin, himself a former leader of the infamous SDS, who nevertheless was shocked and disgusted when the Weatherman "hijacked" the SDS and transformed it into a vehicle for political terrorism.

But we do hear voices of regret and even shame. Oddly, there seems an almost complete schism between the perspectives of the two sexes of Weathermen. The women, including the once fiery spokesperson Bernadine Dohrn, seem sorry that the Weather Underground failed to make any real difference. Yet they remain politically active, principally in feminist and environmental causes, and they seem to yearn for a return of the heady days of revolution. Naomi Jaffe and Laura Whitehorn both said on camera that they would do it all again. The men were a different story, with the possible exception of Bill Ayers, who is married to Bernadine Dohrn and and didn't speak with the same depth of emotion as the others... Brian Flanagan and Mark Rudd... appear to look at the defining events of their lives with a kind of shocked puzzlement. They use terms like "crazed," "kind of crazy," and "overwhelmed by the war" as they grope for explanations of their actions. Flanagan makes open comparisons between their state of mind and that of the 9/11 terrorists. "When you believe you have right on your side, you can do terrible things," he says. Mark Rudd is candid about his own anguish. "I feel shame and guilt," he confesses. "We were full of hatred. I clung to my hatred."

The documentary ends with a surprising snippet of Brian Flanagan, who now owns a bar in New York City, appearing as a contestant on Jeopardy. He won $21,000. Some of the others are doing well for themselves, too, by the look of it. Bill Ayers is a university professor (of course), and his wife Bernadine Dohrn is a lecturer at Northwestern University Law School. Mark Rudd teaches math at a community college in New Mexico. [emphases added.]

But the Sun-Times assures us, "Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is doing good."

A foolish past? Oh. Is that what we're hearing from Brian Flanagan and Mark Rudd, that they were just being foolish, and everything's better now that they're "doing good" again?

I don't think the implied redemption the Sun-Times is conferring comes from doing good. I think it comes from being successful, an accomplishment in which there has been loads of mass media collusion, all for the purpose of burying a whole army of embarrassing skeletons that could otherwise be unearthed among the "aging lefties" who now control the mass media, the nation's colleges and universities, and numerous fiefdoms of government, business, politics, the arts, and science. For example, Instapunk was also paying attention when Ayers's wife Bernadine Dohrn crept out from under her rock back into the limelight to do her part in the 2004 election:

Now it turns out that she's giving speeches on college campuses again, most recently at Northern Illinois University. The campus newspaper, ironically named The Northern Star (does anyone else remember the wartime Hollywood movie North Star, which glamorized Stalin's Russia?), ran a cordial feature story about her visit...

The article didn't contain a single reference to the Weatherman bombings. Note Dohrn's use of the words "educating" and "taught," as if she and her brethren spent the 70s holding wine and cheese seminars about the verities of life. Students at Northern Illinois could no doubt come away from the whole proceeding and its coverage believing that Ms. Dohrn is a mild-mannered heroine of the antiwar movement who is now contributing her time-honored wisdom to the current situation in Iraq.

The warning note I sounded then still holds true, I believe:

Our most powerful academics and scholars seem intent on transmuting violent felons into luminaries, murderous tyrants into misunderstood idealists, patriots into fascists, U.S. history into a criminal indictment, and, perhaps, Islamist barbarians into the nemesis of American democracy

But according to the Sun-Times, it's all cool. We're not supposed to remember Obama's middle name, although show me anyone else in public life who can get away with turning his own middle name into a banished term of hate speech. Okay. We're not supposed to get agitated about Obama's long relationship with this indicted Rezko character, whose connections go deep into the quasi-espionage world of Syrian and Saudi influence buyers. Okay. We're not supposed to feel any tingles of suspicion about the fact that Obama's mother was a committed Marxist, who remains largely unknown because her son preferred writing books about the father who deserted him rather than the mother who raised him, educated him, and groomed him for power. Okay. And we're not supposed to feel any qualms whatsoever about the fact that Obama had an apparently cordial relationship with a Chicago community activist who also, quite coincidentally, was a confessed terrorist who bombed the U.S. Capitol. Okay again.

Even so. Are any of you out there willing to slip for just a moment behind the curtain? Let's say you happened to meet a man who had spent more than a decade actively plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government and had, in furtherance of that cause, participated in acts that either intended the death of innocents or resulted in the violent deaths of his fellow conspirators. Would you want to go so far as to shake hands with him, smile at him, agree to call each other by first (no, not middle) names, affect even a superficial kind of businesslike bonhomie? Think about it. Upon learning who this man was and what he had done, mightn't you have felt a sick lurch in your stomach and a quick, clear conviction that though God might forgive a man such sins, you simply don't want to, can't bring yourself to, associate with him yourself?

Phony flap? Okay. Have it your way. But I have no compunction about showing my own intolerance about certain things. I don't like Bill Ayers. I don't like people who like Bill Ayers. And I'm not at all friendly to people who are willing to apologize for him, either.

So who's the morally corrupt screwball here? Me? Or the Sun-Times? How do you really feel about their golden boy? And while we're posing quiz questions, who do you think is the lady being asked to lay across that big brass bed?

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