Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
April 29, 2008 - April 22, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Candid Conversation
with the PGA Gallery

The PGA Gallery: (from left to right) Tom Darfa, Fred
McCutchy, Ted Angelo, Zippy Kendall, and Mac Duff.

THE GREATEST GAME. It's Day 3 at the Byron Nelson Classic in Irving, Texas. With no Tiger Woods on this course -- or any PGA tournament course for the next four to six weeks -- the play proceeds in the near silence of an interment. The leader, whoever he is, nobody's quite sure, tees off from the first hole and no one's eardrums are shattered by the cry of "GET IN THE HOLE!" The few television announcers on hand are amazed to discover that the striking of a golf ball has a sound, which they keep reporting as an "odd thunk" or a "strange thwack." But when the ball comes to rest several hundred yards down the fairway, there is another sound that seems in this setting quite unexpected -- a smattering of polite applause. The PGA Gallery has just been heard from. A caddy looks in their direction, crosses himself, and whispers, "Thank God."

It's not what you'd call a big gallery. As the final pairing of pros heads down the first fairway toward their second shot, we introduce ourselves to the new unsung heroes of the PGA: Mac, Zippy, Ted, Fred, and Tom. They don't look like heroes, but what do you call the people who do what no one else will do in a time of urgent need? Our conversation is brief, conducted in whispers, but nevertheless revealing. What, one wonders, are they doing here?

"Sure, it's boring," concedes Mac, who seems to be the leader. "Without Tiger, spectator golf is basically watching grass grow under the feet of plump, poorly dressed strangers. But if we weren't here, there wouldn't be anybody at all. That hardly seems right when millions of dollars are going to change hands at the end of it. If people can clap at the close of a day of Wall Street trading, I can contribute some applause and an occasional 'ooh' or 'ah' to a clever bunker shot."

Fred concurs with a sotto voce chuckle. "Being here gives you a sense of real purpose most people don't get to experience. The guys who are going to NBA or NHL playoff games this weekend may think they're being loyal in some way, but they have to have at least a suspicion that they're also being entertained. All that action, exciting plays, leads changing hands from minute to minute, they'd have to admit is fun. During the work week, I'm an attorney for a big firm. We don't do pro bono. I like to think of this as my way of giving back."

"Well, I actually enjoy it, " murmurs Zippy, who's sporting binoculars and looks happy to be the odd man out. "I signed up as soon as I heard about Tiger's surgery. I mean, where else can you find this kind of total peace and quiet? The Tiger Gallery is a loud, thundering herd. You can't hear yourself think when they're on the course. And he's too predictable anyway. What I really enjoy is watching some total unknown line up a difficult putt for three minutes and then, with that look of incredibly earnest dedication and doubt playing across his face, take his best shot and blow seven feet past the hole. In silence. That's what I call real life."

There's a soft snort from Ted. "These guys are shining you on, dude. The truth is, we all like golf. No matter who's playing. Yeah, it's true we don't have any idea who these guys are for the most part, but they're all really good at golf. They've worked and sacrificed their whole lives to get here and yet when they do, there's no one here to watch. That's just not right. That's why all these jokers are really here. Regardless of what they tell you. They're honoring the game. And the men who play it really well. So what if they're not all handsome and personally charismatic and rich enough to turn an aircraft carrier into a private yacht. All of these guys could play eighteen holes at St. Andrews and come back alive, if slightly over par. They deserve some basic human respect."

Only Tom hasn't been heard from. We're almost to mid-fairway, where the leaders' second shots await. What about it, Tom?

"Me, I'm a Tiger fan. He loves this game. What does it mean if everybody who plays it is a chump but him? Doesn't it kind of say we don't have any real respect for him and his accomplishments, either? I'm here because he'd like to be playing here, against the best of the best. If I yawn from time to time, it's only because I stayed up way too late last night, watching "The Greatest Game Ever Played" for the fifteenth time.

Then the gallery shushes us and turns completely away. The leader has begun the intricate process of selecting his club. You could hear a pin drop.

In fact, we did drop a pin. We heard it land. It made an odd if tiny thwapping sound.

THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS: (left to right) Mac Duff, Zippy Kendall,
Ted Angelo, Fred McCutchy, and Tom Darpa. Hang in there, guys.

The PGA Gallery. They don't really expect any recognition. The way they see it, they're just doing their duty.


Patti Smith wasn't a racist, is she?

OLD GUY RESENTMENT. When you get hundreds of comments to the effect that you're a racist, mostly from people who have lived their lives in such a tiny sliver of protected America that they think black people are Halle Berry and Samuel Jackson, you get worn out. I give up. I admit it. I'm a racist. The way the endless waves of lefty certainty define it, at least.

I'm not changing anything I said before. There are still black people I admire. What I acknowledge that I may not have been clear about before is that I believe American black people have made themselves inferior in the competition for the American Dream.

Does that change the equation in any way? I used the N-word because so many people regard NOT using it as the proof of their color blindness. Personally, I think all the people who got so exercised about the use of the unspeakable "Nnnnnnnnnn" term proved that they are racists. There's no equivalent term for whites that would have made them so choleric: hence, the Grand Inquisitors have a double standard. They're obliged to oversee the welfare of poor black folk because they're inferior and need protecting.

So I'm a racist because I don't think they need protecting. I think they need a hiding. Unlike all the suburban I-met-all-my-best-black-friends-in-college-and-they're-willing- to-like-me-for-my-ingratiating-obeisance, Obama-worshipping illuminati, I actually grew up with black people. Why don't they trust each other? Why do so many of them have multiple names and identities, like fugitives? Why do they warn even their white friends against doing business with (or buying drugs from) other black people? Why, after all these years, do they still act like members of the Resistance, happy seditionists who acknowledge no debt and seize on every opportunity to misuse a mistaken credit card?

Because I'm a racist. Obviously. Even my lamenting of this state of affairs makes me "patronizing," "paternalistic," and somehow Simon Legree-like. Apparently, the rest of you like to be conned, lied to, played for a fool, and generally suckered by anyone who can spin you a good enough story.

This isn't your experience? Where are you from, then? Maybe not from the part of the African-American community that contributes 40+ percent of the prison population to the record-setting incarceration total in the U.S. That's racial profiling, right? No. It isn't. It's why black people are more afraid of black people than you are. They have more common sense. The violence Europe sneers at us for is overwhelmingly caused by African-American males.

But it's okay because their ancestors were slaves? No. It's not okay. If your oppressors' major charge against you is that you're stupid, violent, sexually insatiable, childishly drawn to shiny objects, and not to be trusted around expensive mechanical objects, how do you help yourself by demanding millions of dollars for chanting 100-decibel doggerel about how many gold chains and guns you're wearing while you screw all the beautiful blondes in your neighborhood in the back seat of your Bentley Mulsanne? Oh, and by the way, you'll actually KILL anyone who claims he's wearing MORE chains while screwing MORE beautiful blondes in the back seats of even MORE expensive Bentleys.

And we white people aren't supposed to notice the race angle...

We're not supposed to notice that our own sons and daughters are being swept up in the iambic death knell of rap. We're supposed to think there's nothing racial about the transformation of our daughters into tattooed ho's (Heard the term 'tramp stamp'? No? It's the visual distraction from premature doggie-style ejaculation inked on your daughter's lower back...) and our sons into mush-mouthed thugs who can't escape the law because their pants are buckled around their knees. So that if anyone anywhere dares to use the N-Word, that fact alone makes him worse -- even when it comes to protecting our own sorry-ass children -- than all the pimps who destroy girls with drugs for money and more opportunities to sell drugs and show their tits and ass to all comers. The people who do this kind of thing are N______.

I know. Everyone's against me on this. Even my own wife. You just can't say that awful word. It brands you as something unspeakable. As something worse than the underprivileged manipulator who lies in wait at the bus station to capture 14 year old girls and send them back into the streets as prostitutes until they die from drug addiction or random murder. You can't call pimps a dirty name. And we already know what to call a girl who spreads her legs for drugs or fear or money. Especially if she's white.

But there's nothing racial about such tragedies. My own wife has never once in her life even thought the N-Word. Not ever. It's never even occurred to her. She's lived all her life within a hundred miles of Newark and Jersey City, and when she sees the "snippets" of news about wildings and rapes and murders she never connects it with any racial component. In fact, she hasn't even realized that local news in Philly and New York no longer identifies the race of a suspect being urgently sought. I mean, why would they do that? It's so unfair to go looking for a "black male" when everybody already knows that the guy who raped the college girl and stuffed her severed head into the dumpster was a black male, isn't it? Just because you know doesn't mean you're allowed to get that racist confirmation of what you know. That would merely reinforce your unacceptable prejudice.

Unless you're me. The guy who doesn't know how to say it pretty. The guy too old to fuck around. The racist. The guy who didn't grow up in some narrow economic slice of suburbia with a bunch of false notions about how undangerous a criminal underclass might be. The guy who grew up in two counties where everyone, black and white both, knew that black guys were responsible for almost all the violent crimes, no matter how much the psychologists wanted to pretend that murder was just the "acting out" of childhood grievances.

I have a rebuttal for all the suburban saints who danced on my head for using the N-Word. Fuck you. You have no ugly real-world experience. But I do. And I repeat the fact that I don't hate black people. I don't fear them either; I know when to fight, when to run, and when to do the trash talk or the oh-so-humble guilty white act. I'm old as the hills, wrinkled as a year-old peach, and still alive, dammit, even though I have more than once been drunk as a skunk in an all-black bar. Match that, you cartoon dude motherfuckers. But I DO believe absolutely that black people in this country have to get their own act together before they start telling the rest of us how to live. And as for you twenty-somethings who think you know something about life, guess again. Try to kill me and I'll kill you. Funny thing is, try to kill you in another 20 years, and you'll kill the ones you're defending today. The ultimate color-blindness is realizing that killers need to be killed, even black ones.

If we've got all that straight, maybe you can start gettiing to the real problem. It's not me. It's all of you out there who never use or think the N-word and yet believe that black people need all kinds of special protections and favors because they're too inferior to compete on an equal basis. Which includes most black people and all you assholes who get more fired up about the N-word than you do about 'kike' or 'gook' or 'spic' or 'mick.' The differential in your outrage is the measure of your racism. How are you planning to root that out? By yelling at me? By cutting off any part of your own body which dares to notice that black people can't get ahead without massive, federally enforced cheats in their favor? Or by facing down your own prejudice and trusting black people to be equal enough to compete like every other disadvantaged group has -- by expecting more of themselves and each other than the 'oppressors' do.

Even you must have noticed that prejudice didn't really stop them from succeeding in areas where they excelled for real. Otherwise, there'd be affirmative action programs in the NBA and you'd never have heard of the Motown sound. How do you explain such exceptions to yourselves? Sports and music aren't as cutthroat competitive as the rest of life? Please. I'm the racist and I have the explanation you can't quite put your finger on. A free market isn't racist.

Let me repeat that. A free market isn't racist. Only rigged markets are. And really superior competitors can shoulder their way past the phony restrictions of rigged markets. That's why black athletes broke through the color barrier in collegiate and professional sports. That's why they parlayed the tiny beachhead called 'race music' into dominance in jazz, R&B, blues, and other popular music genres. If you really believe they aren't inferior, they can do the same in every other aspect of American life. But not if you coddle them like retarded children. That's what saps their will, their self-confidence, and the resolve it takes to overcome all the unfair obstacles that lie in wait for everyone.

If you really aren't a racist, prove it. Stop overprotecting them. Stop making excuses for them. Take the wraps off the N-word. Use it as much as they do, until it's utterly lost its black magic sting. Do away with affirmative action. Treat them as you would anybody else -- with suspicion and distaste -- like those damn pushy Jews, workaholic Koreans, money-grubbing Indians, getting-by-on-looks-alone blondes, evil chicks who sleep their way to the top, old boy networks who've always had the inside track. You know what I'm talking about. Your mind is a forest of prejudice and bigotry. There isn't any group you don't have some stereotyped grudge against. Except black people. For them you have nothing but love and understanding and deep-seated convictions about equality. Even as they're slashing your throat for the seven bucks in your wallet. Horseshit.

Do them the honor of suspending your own hypocrisy. Resent them the way you would anyone else who's slightly different from you. Stab them in the back exactly the way you would your best friend if he stood between you and a golden financial opportunity. Call them every dirty, foul name you can think of, the way you would if your significant other cheated on you and didn't care when you found out. When you can do that, you won't have to worry about me and my kind anymore. You'll have to worry about them acing you out of your job, your spouse, your sense of inborn moral superiority. And won't that be a paradise on earth?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Twists & Turns
& Tapioca

Do you hear something freezing over?

THE WIDENING GYRE. Peculiar things are going on. The falcon is definitely getting mixed signals from the falconer. For example, there are actually two good reasons to watch 60 Minutes this Sunday. When has that ever happened? But if you tune in, you'll get to see Justice Scalia put Leslie Stahl in her place.

"I say nonsense," Scalia responds to Stahl's observation that people say the Supreme Court's decision in Gore v. Bush was based on politics and not justice. "Get over it. It's so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn't even close. The vote was seven to two," he says...

Furthermore, says the outspoken conservative justice, it was Al Gore who ultimately put the issue into the courts. "It was Al Gore who made it a judicial question…. We didn't go looking for trouble. It was he who said, 'I want this to be decided by the courts,'" says Scalia. "What are we supposed to say -- 'Not important enough?'" he jokes.

Cool. And that's not all. In another reckless move, 60 Minutes is also featuring an interview with the head of the Israeli Air Force, who is given air time to make a point as dead obvious as Scalia's -- that Israel doesn't think Ahmadinejad is joking when he declares Iran's intention of wiping Israel off the map.

Of course, you can expect them to do some CBS-style spinning and misrepresentation, but we know for sure that some of the necessary things do get said on the air -- not on the editing room floor -- by the interviewees. Amazing. (Just remember to change channels before that old bastard Andy Rooney starts squawking at the end of the show.)

Next thing you know, Barack Obama will miraculously agree to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Just kidding. Never gonna happen.

What??!! You don't say! Really?

The Obama Watch Comes To An End: Fox News Sunday Gets Obama!

Chris Wallace must be happy...

FishbowlDC has learned that Sen. Barack Obama will finally appear on Fox News Sunday this weekend. A pre-taped interview is slated to take place Saturday in Marion, Indiana.

You'll recall that Wallace started the "Obama Watch" in March (and even put notice of it on his office door) and dated it back to May 2006, when Wallace said Obama agreed to a face-to-face interview on Fox News Sunday.

What do you suppose changed his mind? Could it be the other absolutely unbelievable thing that happened on Fox News this week?

Actually, this kind of turnabout is happening enough on Fox of late to make left-wingers start scratching their heads. Back in January McAuliffe complained about mainstream media bias (?!) to Chris Wallace and even joked with him about Bill Clinton's ugly Fox interview. Then, this week, he was a guest on John Gibson's Fox radio show and utterly trashed MSNBC's Chris Matthews. And McAuliffe isn't the only former DNC chair to start cozying up to the most hated name in cable news. Governor Ed Rendell praised the network in March and again this month, which earned him Keith Olbermann's ultimate plaudit (1:40 in), to which he responded pretty directly on the Charlie Rose Show: "Keith Olbermann should be on the Obama payroll."

It all kind of defies analysis, doesn't it, to hear any Democrats talking this way? It's reminiscent of that terribly ominous scene in Ghostbusters (2:00 in).

Venkman: "This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions."
Mayor: "What do you mean, biblical?"
Ray: "What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor... real Wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies."
Venkman: "Rivers and seas boiling!"
Egon: "40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanos."
Winston: "The dead rising from the grave!"
Venkman: "Human sacrifice, dogs and cats, living together... mass hysteria!"

Dogs and cats living together. Would that be anything like this?

What the hell is going on? Gingrich is trying to explain it away, but we're inclined to think it's part of some astrological inversion where Mercury is in retrogade and all the houses are misaligned with the planets under a bad rising sign or something. How else would you explain Jenna Bush suddenly -- pointlessly -- volunteering on national TV that she might not vote for John McCain? Or John McCain -- still sorely in need of winning over a recalcitrant conservative base -- going out of his way to slam Bush for a Katrina screw-up most conservatives believe owes more to city and state incompetence than to Washington's?

For that matter, who would have expected that the decisive rebuttal of a Washington Post hit piece on McCain's dangerous temper would have been delivered by arch-Democrat Bob Kerrey? (btw, many hat tips to Hot Air for the above.)

And above all, who out there could possibly have imagined that a New York Times columnist delivering a speech on an Ivy League campus would be physically assaulted as if he were Ann Coulter or Pat Buchanan or some doesn't-deserve-to-live scum like that?

Yet in this most extreme circumstance, we can see the beginning of an explanation for the chaos. It's all about the New York Times. For at least a century, the "Paper of Record" has been the linchpin of the intricately interleaved framework of the vast American media-political complex. Everyone from senators to network news producers to small town editorialists to professors and novelists looked to the front page of the Times and its op-ed section for guidance about what was news, what was a legitimate political or social issue, and what didn't count for squat. In a very literal sense, the Gray Lady was the Great Nanny who ordered the way to our current over-protected and hyper-sensitive national culture.

Then she gradually went senile and, frankly, insane. Imposing her will through increasingly inept sons and grandsons, she hired reporters for their color and sex and politics rather than ability, she forgot the meaning of basics like fact-checking and fairness, and she began to embarrass herself in public like a crazy old aunt shouting gibberish in church.

Without her even being aware of it, everyone has stolen silently out of the room. They're loath to admit it, but these days the place everyone looks first to see what's happening is the Drudge Report, where the only criterion for the front (and only) page is sensationalism. If a headline isn't the umpteen-zillionth reworking of "Man Bites Dog," you're out of luck -- unless you can prove that hundreds or thousands have died or maybe possibly might.

"Man Bites Dog" is the approximately correct headline for most of the anomalies we've reviewed here. We've all subtly absorbed the lesson that doing the unexpected is the last way left to get attention in this increasingly silly media circus. So Republicans scorn their own two-term president who has prevented another 9/11 and tilted the odds against al qaeda, blue-chip liberals eviscerate the Clintons for exactly the same attributes they defended tooth-and-claw a decade ago, and everyone everywhere pretends that what used to be called advocacy (and sometimes truth-telling) is some kind of hate crime that gives all decent people a paralyzing anxiety attack. All the also-rans and has-beens and might-be's scramble ceaselessly around with their hands in the air and in each other's pockets, hoping to be the next surprising headline. And, oh yeah, every hack attention-seeker who claims the sky is falling must be some kind of irreproachable saint.

Good God Almighty.

Is this what we want? Is it? It's at least something to think about. Can we really continue in this overwrought, I'm-so-offended, I'm-so-perfect, look-at-meeeeee media hysteria in perpetuity without having some kind of national nervous breakdown? Don't we need SOME adults in the mix? Where might we find them? (HINT: Not at Drudge.) Any ideas?

The New York Times won't be coming to our rescue any time soon in case that's what you were hoping for. Various processes have already been initiated to assess the old gray mare's deterioration with an eye to having her declared incompetent and sent, well, to the glue factory. This is what the Brits call "deep tapioca." Deep indeed. Which may offer some insight as to exactly what kind of glop was hurled at Roger Friedman in his appearance at prestigious Brown University.

P.S. Lest you feel the New York Times is a unique phenomenon, it may help to realize that the London Times is pursuing a similar downward spiral. For just one brief example, here's an op-ed published in that paper by one of its editors (also linked in Drudge btw) who condescendingly observes that America is not ready to elect a black president. Never mind that his dissection of the troubled Obama campaign describes garden-variety political missteps and character issues that could derail any presidential bid. Never mind that the author is a Russian-born London resident whose association with the U.S. could most charitably be summarized as visitor. We're supposed to be impressed with the acuity of his pronouncements on the basis of his superior Euro-intellect. The London Times is also going not-so-gentle into that good night. The one where the lights finally go out, for excellent reasons.

Dealing Basmati

The scourge has begun. Rice is the new Euro, the new coke.
Behold this actual footage of the deadly Basmati underworld.

NOTHING STANDS STILL. Thing are moving fast. The Wall Street Journal is imploring us all to begin stockpiling food, only 48 hours after we (as usual) beat them to the punch.

Yes, it's serious. Very serious. Even Bloomberg is sounding the alarm:

[A]t Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, long-grain rice is sold out.

"Our distributors can't get any,'" said Kirk Tamaki, 56, Berkeley Bowl's Asian food buyer. `"Short grain is all we have.'"

A global rice shortage that has forced China and Vietnam to curb overseas sales of the food staple has reached the San Francisco Bay Area, home of one of the largest concentrations of Asian-Americans in the U.S. Stores, restaurants and food banks report dwindling supplies, and retail prices are rising...

What neither WSJ nor Bloomberg is reporting, due no doubt to their mindless thrallitude to the capitalist system, is that casting has already begun for the Anthony Zuiker production, Miami Rice.

Starring Vin Diesel, Yun-Fat Chow, and some girl with big riceballs.

According to Zuiker's toadies, the new series will be much sexier and more exciting than CSI Miami, more along the lines of "that old show from the eighties where guys dressed like studs not dweebs, and chicks knew how to get down with a sweet-and-sour takeout dish." The ambiance will be relentlessly high class, because "everyone knows that basmati is just absolutely f___ing IT."

What's especially sinister is that Zuiker insiders are already hinting that the casts of CSI, CSI NY, and CSI Miami will actually be murdered early next season, as bullet-riddled casualties of the new basmati wars, and will be immediately replaced by a range of new shows, including Spanish Rice, L.A.; Gordon Ramsay's London Risotto; and San Francisco Treat. In every case, the new productions will focus on "the deadly life-and-death struggle of exceptionally beautiful people to maintain the world-class quality of their pantries at all costs". And the music will be "f___ing fabulous -- crisp, firm, distinct, and savory. More like it was before American Idol turned pop music into soggy rice pudding."

Yes, we're worried. When Hollywood commits to a new trend as quickly and adamantly as this, it's clear we're looking at a major new cultural phenomenon. Will America be able to survive the "Global War on Nouveau Cusine" (GWONC)? Or will this be one more violent step toward the inevitable comeuppance that's been waiting in the wings, lo these many years, for our stupid, phony palates?

Right now, it doesn't look good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Aftermath

Small towns were hit the hardest by the tumultuous campaigning

THE MORNING AFTER. The candidates, the armies of campaigners, and the mass media task forces are gone now, already descending on hapless Indiana. Pennsylvanians are suddenly alone with the enormous job of recovering from the F5 Primary of 2008. It's a bleak prospect. No matter where one stands, the view is essentially the same -- a landscape blasted and flattened by gales of rhetoric, unending bombardments of broadcast advertising, and swirling vortexes of promises, insults, polls, sound bites, blogs, and ugly photo-ops.

Pennsylvania. Blasted and flattened by the primary campaign.

As with any large-scale disaster, there are additional crises emerging as by-products of the initial catastrophe. Every single cheesesteak in Pennsylvania has now been eaten, and there isn't any beer left to wash it down with if you could find one. All the cheap bar-brand liquor is gone too. And Obama staffers drank all the bottled water. Most of the televisions in the state are ruined -- their screens permanently etched with the ghostly image of Barack Obama after nonstop weeks of replaying exactly the same sets of campaign pixels. Most of the arable soil is gone, eroded away by the millions of holes created by yard signs. The telephones have all stopped working, their little ringers blown out by hundreds of thousands of calls from pollsters. The entire network of fiber optic cables has also been burned out by the ruinously heavy traffic of media and political emails. The communication satellites that once served this part of the country are, for the same reason, nothing but dead hulks in space.

Tragically, there seems to be little prospect of emergency aid for the stricken state. FEMA won't help; there's still a Republican in the White House, after all. Governor Ed Rendell is too busy celebrating his candidate's glorious victory to recognize that it has been, for most common folk, not a victory at all but a nightmare of infrastructure destruction. And there are no media left here to tell the story.

We'd send them a sympathy card if there were any address to send it to. If you know of one, let us know.

But the Flyers won. And the Sixers are still one up in their series. Maybe the good citizens of Pennsylvania will find a way to muddle through.

We certainly hope so.

Full-on Panic Time

Endangered products. Time to HOOAARD!!!

IT MUST BE THE BANKS' FAULT. It's getting bad out there, folks. The Second Great Depression is just around the corner. Unemployment is over 5 percent. Somebody who knows somebody you know is having trouble paying his mortgage. Gas is so expensive that some people are starting to resent their giant SUVs. Others have even been forced to trim their summer vacation plans. And the evil corporate lobbyists who run the economy have already started food rationing.

Farmers and food executives appealed fruitlessly to federal officials yesterday for regulatory steps to limit speculative buying that is helping to drive food prices higher. Meanwhile, some Americans are stocking up on staples such as rice, flour and oil in anticipation of high prices and shortages spreading from overseas.

Their pleas did not find a sympathetic audience at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), where regulators said high prices are mostly the result of soaring world demand for grains combined with high fuel prices and drought-induced shortages in many countries.

The regulatory clash came amid evidence that a rash of headlines in recent weeks about food riots around the world has prompted some in the United States to stock up on staples.

Costco and other grocery stores in California reported a run on rice, which has forced them to set limits on how many sacks of rice each customer can buy ..

OMG! Just imagine a worldwide shortage of rice. All those Asian people will starve absolutely to death, and worse, we American victims of the evil capitalist machine that's destroying the global economy won't be able to get any more Nestle Crunch bars, which use puffed rice as a principal ingredient. Stock up now! And don't forget this vital foodstuff:

Are you starting to get it, you opiated proletarian doormats of the bourgeoisie? You better. Time is ticking off the clock even as you're scratching your dumb deluded head.

And don't think the crisis begins and ends with rice. One of the biggest problems has to do with corn. Why? Because all the farmers in Iowa have stopped growing everything else and started growing corn to be used in making ethanol, so our descendants won't die of heatstroke three hundred years from now. Which is good and cool and everyhing, because we all want to save the planet. Problem is, all the corn is going to ethanol, not food, which means that the next thing that'll be rationed is all the stuff we eat where corn is some kind of ingredient. For South Americans that means they'll starve to death, of course, because everything they eat -- from bread to beef -- won't be there without corn. (Unless they can live on ethanol at 8$ a gallon. Maybe they'll still die, but they'll go out singing.)

But for us Americans it's really serious. Which of us would even want to live without this constitutionally guaranteed staple of existence?

Or this?

And that's just the beginning. Do you know what chickens eat? That's right. Corn. We won't have this anymore, either:

We'll all slowly waste away from colds we can't get rid of because there's no chicken noodle soup to clear our bronchia.

Are you terrified yet? They can't do this to us. We have rights. Get to the supermarket right away and buy every package of the stuff we've shown here, pack it away in your fallout shelter, and then start emailing Hillary and Obama to demand that they take all the necessary actions. We want laws. We want programs. We want protection. We want universal junk food insurance.



A Voice from the Past

Everything's screwed up. But government can fix everything.

A PICK-ME-UP. Pardon me if I sound fatigued. I blogged the Pennsylvania Primary yesterday from beginning to end. Hillary won. Obama lost. Hillary spoke for a few minutes. Then Obama took the stage, in Indiana, and poured on the special magic he is supposed to possess. I tried in vain to see Hillary's victory speech. Instead, every cable news channel seemed to be running and re-running this majestic non-concession speech by Obama all night long.

I'll confess right away that I don't share the universal conviction that he's a great orator. To me, he sounds like an imitation preacher. His whole accent changes when he launches into his periodic rhythms of self-aggrandizing gospel. I see an editor of the Harvard Law Review trying to come off as an inspired backwoods evangelist. I keep expecting him to heal someone. Just for the hell of it. I might be more impressed if he didn't turn immediately into a careful attorney at a deposition whenever there's no teleprompter to feed him his lines. But he does. In debates, he reminds me of every lame, verbose prosecutor CourtTV has televised in its now terminated subversion of respect for the legal profession. In short, Obama the inspirational firebrand leaves me cold. I guess I'm the only one who doesn't see it. Even the National Review and the Weekly Standard are larded with praise for such performances. Is there some obligatory correctness about all this that I've missed again? Probably.

I've honestly been grateful for the less fanciful flights of rhetoric exhibited by Michelle Obama. She seems to come very close to saying what she really means. I've started regarding her as her husband's translator. What is it he's really asking?

The Translation

We all have to work for the government.

Uh, no. I don't agree. I don't want a president who won't let me live my life as usual. I don't want to be conscripted into canvassing neighborhoods and making phone calls so that the government can reach even deeper into my life and try to fix my personal eccentricities, undo my sins, and turn me into a better unit of a better nation. I don't even really want change, unless change means there aren't going to be as many instructions and regulations printed in small type on every fucking thing I come in contact with.

I know this is a total waste of time. But I'm offering a link to an orator who made Obama look like a game show host. By accident(?), he also happens to rebut practically every point Obama and his wife have ever made in their over-praised public speaking performances. It's called The Speech.

Most of you will find it an irrelevant and possibly offensive artifact of the past. Some of you will find it something of an antidote to the tons of crap that have been dumped on the American electorate in recent months. Note that it involves a clear statement of political philosophy rather than a superior recitation of pompous, nonspecific platitudes. He doesn't remind you of Elmer Gantry or Don King. He's making an argument to equals, not disciples. It's not even about how much everyone should trust the speaker to save them from the miseries of their pointless lives. It's about what people have a right to expect from the public servants who claim to be acting in their interest. Hah.

Yeah, don't watch. It's much much better to believe that nobody ever knew anything before Obama came along.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Primary Day

8:05 am. The air is electric with excitement around here. The polls have opened in Pennsylvania, and all the morning shows have their cameras trained on the action. I haven't actually seen a voter yet, but I've seen a lot of news correspondents bracing for the onslaught. The pundits have checked in on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News to declare that Hillary should win by 5, 6, 7, or 8 points but really needs to win by 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11 points to remain credibly in the race. That's pretty clear and definitive, isn't it? Rudy Giuliani has already made the same joke on both CNN and Fox News. Something about a dress. I can see I've got more channel-hopping research to do... I'll be back in a bit.

8:56 am. The cable news channels are still rehashing the same stuff, so I poked around the web a bit. Drudge is building a backdrop for the election campaign consisting of a plunging economy, 5$/gal gas, worldwide famine, and food rationing. That should get the blood pumping for all the agents of change. RealClearPolitics is more sharply focused, with stories on: Obama, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama, Clinton, Obama, Obama, and Obama. Which is a lot like the political commercials have been on Pennsylvania TV in the past couple weeks. Obama even ran multiple ads during one of the Flyers' playoff games this weekend. Hard to imagine that fans of "the hockey" are his best targets for conversion, but who knows?

Late last night, there was an Obama ad on the History Channel or some damn place explaining that we should vote for Obama because every single newspaper in Pennsylvania has endorsed him. This is really hard to figure having watched segments of both candidates' stump speeches most of the morning. Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC was reporting that the issues which matter to voters are the economy, the economy, and the economy. Yet both Clinton and Obama keep saying that the way to fix the economy is to raise taxes on rich people and corporations. Obama wants to double capital gains taxes; Hillary wants to punish high gas prices by charging oil companies a windfall profits tax. They both talk about creating meaningful new jobs.

How does any of this allay the fears of even a moderately self-interested voter? How does government ever "create" a real job that isn't just make-work welfare paid for by taxpayers? How does taking money from the rich and giving it to the government help a single mother trying to pay the rent? How does charging oil companies higher taxes reduce gas prices? Taxes are part of their expenses and when their expenses go up, gas prices go up. How does taking more money from rich people stimulate the economy? Less money in the private sector is somehow supposed to make the economy more prosperous as a whole?

Who really buys this crap? Apparently, all the newspaper editors in Pennsylvania.

11:24 am. Not much news. It seems the news channels are going to stick with their plan of not sharing exit polls. But there is some exit info: Obama has left Pennsylvania for Indiana. That seems a bit extreme, as if he couldn't wait for the very first opportunity to escape from all those small town weirdos he's been trying to placate. Are the few crowds he might speak to in Indiana while keeping an anxious eye on the results back in PA really worth suggesting to Keystoners who haven't voted yet that he couldn't stand a single more minute in their company? I'm sure his handlers know best.

1:02 pm. Sorry I've been gone so long. Got to reading some of those Obama pieces over at RealClearPolitics. Most of them have a very strong line of argument: "There's this, and then there's that, and then again nobody better forget about the other thing." There's one honestly insightful piece in the catalogue. It's here. I also listened to a few minutes of Rush. Unlike all his more polished brethren, he's not mincing words at all. He's called the whole thing: Obama gets the nomination and then gets "creamed" in the general by McCain, although the Repubs will lose enough seats in the Senate and House to give Democrats the votes they need to pass the legislation they want. It's all already a done deal.

So what am I doing sitting here blogging the totally irrelevant Pennsylvania Primary? Following orders. I don't suggest anybody else try doing this, though. Have you ever watched what the cable news channels put on in the daytime? Boring, annoying, sickening muck, mixed in with repetitious you-heard-it-ten-times-before muck and a huge dollop of where-the-F-did-that-come-from muck. An example of the last type -- on the Fox News Channel, three women lawyers, including the host, arguing about whether it's rape if a woman changes her mind during sex and the guy takes a full five seconds to stop. There was no hair-pulling, but all three of them were talking at once several times, and you know what that sounds like. Muck.

You can see why I don't want this primary to be meaningless. I've got a lot invested. And that's why I'm going to go ahead and share this idea with the Hillary camp. It's still not too late to bump the margin up to the 12 to 15 percent edge everybody seems to think would be significant. Here's what you do. Get Hillary a phone hook-up with WIP SportsTalk and all the chief sports correspondents at the Philly TV stations. Have her go live on the air throughout the entire urban area, and promise to use the full power of the federal government to guarantee that Philadelphia will win two major sports championships during her first term. Specifically, that means winning any two of these: the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, or the NBA Championship.

I swear it will work. It's obvious that Democrats believe the government can do absolutely ANYTHING a pandering politician sets his or her mind to. If government can prevent sunspots from warming the planet, make Islamofascists stop hating Jews and Christians by having big friendly meetings in Geneva, and repeal the economic laws that cause cycles of growth and recession, then it can damn sure bulldoze the Eagles to the NFL championship or buy enough officials to secure the Big Kahuna for the Sixers. Philadelphians won't even care how she does it. They're that sick of owners who won't spend the money to be best, players who thank the loyal fans and apologize for the mysterious letdown in the do-or-die game, again, and the permanent also-ran status of professional teams who consistently go to the playoffs and come home losers.

The great thing is that it really is too late for Obama to respond. He's already in Indiana, and the hoosiers he's talking to at the moment wouldn't like it if he dissed the Colts or Pacers by making a counter-offer. Besides, he's already blown his chance. He was right about bitter, just wrong about who. It's not the small town folks in western PA who are seething and clinging to futile consolations. It's the whole damn city of Philadelphia and the rotten, useless, hopeless teams they've clung to for decades without receiving anything in return.

The other great thing is that Philly can't be anywhere near the 115 percent of registered Democrats they normally turn out for an election. Many of them may only have voted once so far today and can easily hit the polls a couple more times before the polls close.

Go for it. If Limbaugh's right, you've got nothing to lose.

2:56 pm. A Sudden Mystery. According to, this happened at 2:28 pm:

Barack Obama eating a cheesesteak with an army of followers at Pat's Steaks in South Philadelphia. Don't know if he ordered "wit" or with Cheese Whiz, but who cares?

By noshing at Pat's, the Senator from Illinois gracefully sidestepped the "When Ordering Speak English" controversy at Geno's and perhaps sent a subtle message to one Mr. Vento.

Is he in two places at once? Or is he, perhaps, following my suggestion from last Tuesday? Can a skillful doppelganger overcome this kind of faux-pas?

In Philadelphia, he passed up the hometown cheesesteak -- gloppy, artery clogging and blue-collar (yum!) -- for a nibble of Spanish-imported, $100/pound ham.

Or is somebody making up Obama sightings to conceal his inglorious vamoosing from the fray?

I'm looking into it.

3:11 pm. You know, it's probably time everyone stopped giving Hillary grief about those double-wide hips of hers. She's only packing on the pounds for the common people she loves so much.

Boilermakers and cheesesteaks are by no means the ideal diet for a woman who hopes to be selecting the perfect inaugural ball gown in a few months. Not for the first time this campaign season, I'm actually feeling sorry for her. [Hill: Let's cut to the chase. Eagles and Phillies. That'd bring home all the bacon you need. Sorry. Just a figure of speech.]

4:09 pm. According to MSNBC, the PA Attorney General's office has "confirmed no serious voting issues in Philadelphia." Cool! What a relief. This means that registered Democrats are having no trouble getting into the polling locations, voting four or five times, and then voting -- in accordance with city tradition -- on behalf of all their dead ancestors, relatives, friends, and imaginary acquaintances, as well as any and all Pennsylvania-born felons serving time or completed executions in other states of the union. In a contest as close and crucial as this one, it's exhilarating to know that no corners are being cut. The ever-elusive 120 percent of eligible Democrats voting in Philly is within reach.

The naysayers thought that the retirement of Mayor Street would mangle the city's electoral efficiency. Thankfully, nothing like that seems to be in the cards. Here's an illustration of how it works in the wards of the City of Brotherly Love when all is proceeding smoothly; i.e., Democratically.

Just kidding. KIDDING. It's much worse than that.

5:01 pm. CNN is all over the urgency of keeping voting within strict Pennsylvania laws and traditions. Take a moment to listen to the scrupulously fair voice of the New South as the most trusted name in news tracks the procedures and legalities. (The Cafferty bit at the end is just a bonus for faithful InstaPunk readers.)

5:17 pm. All right. We've entered a dead zone of sorts. Now the cable news channels are beginning their recaps of the day's events, prior to the serious programs that will analyze what we don't know, which are prefatory to the burst of election coverage that will occur when the polls close and all the networks will announce the winner and the oh-so-crucial exit poll results.

It's a good time for wondering. I'm wondering, anyway. Why are Democrats such classic Freudian fruitcakes? They want, they neeeeeed, they have to have a victory in the competition for the presidency of the United States. They've been so single-mindedly in pursuit of this goal for eight years that they've even been compelled to root actively for the defeat of the United States military in a war that crushed a murderous fascistic dictator and offered an old-Democrat-style vision of building an enlightened liberal nation on the ruins of a barbaric, woman-hating cesspool of mass rape, murder, and medieval torture. That's how bad the Democrats wanted to win the presidency.

They actually possessed a clone (admittedly imperfect but determined and savvy) of the only successful Democrat president since FDR (that is RE-elected), and they have chosen -- chosen, mind you -- to trade her in for a rank neophyte with virtually no experience or accomplishments and many dubious associations because... why?

WHY? Their record in the presidency over the past half century is an unmitigated roll of disaster. JFK assassinated and still a figure of epic controversy because of suspicions that his own sexual proclivities, drug use, mob ties, and political recklessness might have implicated him in his own murder. Harry Truman, who flat quit the presidency because he couldn't solve the riddle of Korea. Lyndon Johnson, the architect of the Great Society that destroyed the dignity of African-Americans who had survived slavery and Jim Crow with families intact only to be reduced to "underclass" by the largesse of urban renewal, welfare, and affirmative action. And simultaneously put to the sword an entire nation's trust in the truthfulness of a sworn Commander-in-Chief. Jimmy Carter, who did absolutely everything wrong, no matter what he touched, and acting humble as Uriah Heep, never had the humility to admit a single error. Bill Clinton, who said what everyone wanted to hear, including an intern, and totally failed to anticipate the nature of an extreme external threat to the security of the United States, despite a clear warning at the exact same site where the shit finally hit the fan.

And after all of this, it is THEY who are aggrieved, cheated, betrayed, and persecuted. They fume and rage and curse and accuse and suffer because the American people have shown a persistent reluctance to put them in charge of the nation's highest office. THEY are the smart ones.

So the question is this. What is so smart about a party that insists on nominating the worst possible candidate any party has put forward in a century? Obama is inexperienced compared to a former First Lady??!! His wife is a sullen, resentful beneficiary of exactly the racial policies the Democrats have assured us would heal the black-white divide. His preacher is a prosperous mockery of what it means to be a Christian. His parents were both avowed Marxists. His own life is a dream come true of expensive private schooling, Ivy League college, and ultimately privileged legal education that nevertheless left him feeling embittered about being born in the only nation where a 34-year-old can write an autobiography without having accomplished something notable first and become a millionaire in doing so.

How can the Democrats possibly think we would elect such a, well, punk to be president of the United States? (Trust us this much. We know something about punks. And Obama is a punk. But not in a good way.)

We at Instapunk have never been fond of Hillary. But she's a known quantity. She'll do her best to transform the Democrat Party into the equivalent of the Brit Labor Party. Given the chance, she would probably fail at that. That's the American Way. Then she'd retreat to doing the best she could, given that the ideal is out of reach.

Obama is a totally unknown quantity. Nobody knows who he is. Nobody knows how far he would go, how deep his hatreds and insecurities are. He's the most dangerous man alive on the American political scene, and this is the person the desperate-to-be-elected Democrat Party has blindly chosen as their man on a white horse. It's insane.

The Democrats are insane. Do you want to know why Bill Clinton has become a loose cannon, red-faced, explosive, and unpredictable? This is why. He has shown the Democrats their only possible route to competing on an equal basis for the presidency. And they'd rather destroy him and his wife than take his advice.

Of course, Obama might still win. In that case, God help us all.

7:07 pm. The cable newsies are starting to drop their hints and show off their production values. CNN has a big set with a big map that makes Wolf Blitzer look like a discount undertaker in his baggy little black suit. MSNBC has Keith Olbermann hairsprayed to a fare-thee-well (but fat as a tick -- Lord!) and Tim Russert who's having a hair day as bad as Cyndi Lauper always did when she was a star. Fox News is dropping little nuggets of non-information from its exit polls: 69 percent of "urban voters" going for Obama, 58 percent of "gun owners" going for Hillary. Late deciders going for Hillary. College-educated going for Obama (Geez. Isn't that a sorry commentary?) White for Hillary. Black for Obama. Color us astonished.

Lou Dobbs is being a disingenuous ass, pretending to be objective and sympathetic to both candidates. Olbermann is trying not to be an ass. Since somebody might actually be watching this time. Russert looks as off-kilter as his hair; he doesn't seem to know who he should be for or how to slant his coverage. Blitzer still -- still -- thinks he really is an objective, impartial journalist. Right now he's talking about "possible voter irregularities." In Philadelphia??!! Of course, the authorities will sort it out. It's not like there are any Republicans around to make it a case of impeachable treason against the unexpressed will of illiterate Americans. Or whatever.

They're just twiddling their thumbs. Come 8 o'clock, they'll all leap like sharks into their one true mission in life, telling us what we're supposed to think about what maybe happened in Pennsylvania.

Now Bill Schneider is weighing in. He's quite ebullient. And Jeffrey Toobin is there, sounding very chirpy. Maybe Obama is doing better in the exit polls than anyone is letting on. Wouldn't that be just fucking GREAT?


I'll be back at you when the real results start falling through the media Pachinko machine.

8:18 pm. Exit poll overload. Race itself too close to call. The news networks are all covering their asses now because they don't trust their own exit polls, which historically have over-favored Obama and under-favored Hillary. They think it's racism. It's never occurred to them that all the media-driven polls might reflect resentment of media rather than black people. None of the trends is surprising, and none of the breakdowns can be fitted into a sum that makes mathematical sense in terms of total votes. They're going to make us wait for actual vote counts. What an odd idea.

Obama is winning the affluent, black (92 percent), young, highly educated, and deeply crazed voters. Hillary is winning the white vote (men and women both), seniors, union members, and under 50K a year in income voters. Maybe Obama has close to 50 percent of Democrats based on these demographics, but which set of demographics would you rather have on your side in a general election? I'm just saying.

Interestingly, it turns out that the party which so despises the electoral college uses exactly the same kind of vote apportionment in its delegate assignments. Winning in Philadelphia, which aways goes Democratic in general elections, earns far more delegates proportionally than winning anywhere else in the state. Political democracy, I guess, is as relative a term to Democrats as morality, patriotism, and supporting the troops. They mean by these terms exactly what they choose to mean, given what is most convenient at the moment.

Brit Hume has just conceded that exit polls suggest Hillary is winning by 6 percent, although he also conceded he doesn't trust the exit polls (as I've inferred above.)

It's going to go on like this for a while. When real vote counts begin to add up, I'll post again.

If it matters.

Which maybe it doesn't. It's just been reported that a single mother in Indiana saw a vision of Obama in a slice of buttered toast. Half of South Bend is lined up at her door waiting to bear witness.

Hell, what do votes matter when you're as close to divine as Democrats can accept?

8:45. Fox News has just projected Hillary the winner. Based on exit polls. That they don't trust. Cool. I'll still be back later.

10:09 pm. Hillary is now leading 56 - 46 with 48 percent of the vote counted, but 85 percent of the Philly vote counted. Which means her winning margin could still climb to 10 percent or better. The pundits on the news channels have all had tremendously intelligent things to say about what it all means. Here are a few sample comments:

Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah, blah blah blah; blay blah blah blah blah.

Blah, blah blah blah blah blah; blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah!

I doubt if I can improve on those. It's been more than fourteen hours now since I started this damn fool project. I know that both candidates will have some blah blahs of their own to add later on, but I'm done.

And so to bed.

P.S. The Philadelphia Flyers just beat the Washington Capitols in the seventh game of their playoff series, in overtime, after inexplicably failing to play hockey for most of the three regulation periods. Did Hillary make the deal we suggested after all? Under the table? That would be so like the Clintons, wouldn't it?

Probably nothing to it. I'm just saying. Flyers over the Capitols. The Washington Capitols.

P.P.S. Okay. Too keyed up to sleep right away. If you're having the same problem, here's an excellent edition of the always brilliant Charlie Rose Show on a topic that has nothing whatever to do with Hillary-Obama (h/t BlueSuedeViews).

Good night all.

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