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August 11, 2008 - August 4, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008


Olympic Notes

(Okay, I give up. The NBC Nazis have scarfed up every video even slightly related.)
This was just unbelievably great. I'll say what our swimmers didn't:"Yippee-ki-yay."

IT'S THE MESSAGE, NOT THE MESSENGER. I have to acknowledge that so far, these Olympic Games are fascinating despite the predictably poor execution by NBC. The venue and the performances are powerful enough to override the already countless bad timing, editing, and content decisions of the network that's making a billion dollars in advertising revenue for the peacock bunch.

As I write this, the USA Women's Basketball Team has just crushed China in a game that was essentially over late in the first quarter. But even more impressive than their dominating performance was the grace of the American players in post-game interviews. They refuse to crow or be anything less than complimentary to their opponents and humble about their own exploits. The Men's team behaved with exactly the same degree of graciousness after their similarly overwhelming victory yesterday against the host team led by Yao Ming. Ditto the miraculously triumphant USA relay team that stunned their trash-talking French rivals in the 4x100 freestyle final last night. There seems to be an American team spirit at work which is exquisitely poised between a ferocious desire to win and a becoming awareness of their responsibility to be the best possible ambassadors for their country. I hope this spirit continues to be exemplified by our athletes throughout the games, and I have no reason whatever to think it won't be.

I'm equally impressed by the Chinese, issues of authoritarian politics aside. I didn't watch the opening ceremonies because I'm not that fond of pure pageantry, particularly when it's staged by said authoritarian regimes. The architecture of the Olympic facilities, though, is a different matter. It reflects the creative vision of a people, not just its government. The Bird's Nest amphitheatre and the Water Cube strike me as masterful designs which convey hopeful intimations about a society in transition. The naturalistic inspiration and asymmetry of the Bird's Nest suggest that China -- despite the horrors of the Cultural Revolution -- has reestablished a fertile connection with its own artistic and philosophical roots. The Water Cube is an incredibly modern expression of the allusive minimalism of dynastic Chinese painting combined with an appreciation of western enlightenment conceptions about the esthetic properties of mathematics. It integrates Le Corbusier into the ancient Asian communion with the symbolic elements, rigidly foursquare and yet as infinitely variable as the waveform reflections of its surface which play across the goggles of every swimmer filmed in the cube by a high-def TV camera. There's something at work under the shifting surface of China that transcends Mao, Stalin, and the self-parodying monumentality of Hitler's 1936 Nazi Olympics.

The Chinese audiences are an equally tantalizing spectacle. They are devoted to their teams and they sing their national anthem with the fervor of a people long trained to idolize the state itself. Yet they are also comfortable idolizing Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, happy to wear their Lakers' jerseys to their own nation's coming out party as the world's fastest growing industrial and economic power. It may seem a completely trivial observation to point out that the Chinese Women's Basketball Team was less uniform in its uniforms than the USA Team, but is it trivial? The Chinese Women displayed a decidedly individualistic choice of footwear -- some red, some white, by manufacturers various. Compared to them it was the Americans who looked like a purely homogeneous unit.

There were other signs of Chinese individuality on display in NBC's most execrable event coverage yet -- the truly shameful treatment of women's gymnastics inflicted on the network's prime-time audience last night. I'm not even talking about the commercial breaks every five minutes. I'm talking about the destruction of gymnastics as a sporting event in favor of presenting and editing it as a soap opera plot involving only the Chinese and the Americans. (No, I'm not forgetting the insulting cameo scene displaying the collapse of Romania as a world class gymnastics power. Was that, or was it not, a deliberate object lesson in the supremacy of collectivist virtues over the undisciplined consumerist individualism of the post-communist state? I'm not suggesting you should hear it too, but as I watched the sullenly incompetent beam performance of the one Romanian gymnast shown, I couldn't keep from hearing Michelle Obama's voice saying, "Barack will demand more of you.") And, interestingly, this new world-class rivalry was not cast in terms of entrepreneurial American aspiration versus oppressive authoritarian organization. The only grim exercise facility shown via film was the Romanian-run headquarters of the American team, complete with footage of a starkly empty practice hall lit to look a torture chamber and a gated entrance evocative of the arching "Arbeit Macht Frei" signs crowning the portals of concentration camps.

I'm sure it wasn't intentional. But when the announcers referenced the ongoing controversy about IOC suspicions that China is defying the 16-year-old age requirement with competitors as young as twelve, they also seemed at pains to point out that all of us adults can't even trust our own perceptions about who is old enough to be on an American college campus. And while both teams experienced some major mistakes and setbacks, they made it clear that it was the Americans who were most stricken by their failures -- inconsolable even by the public embrace of their Rosa Kleb-like Romanian coach. The sole competitor on either team who was able to smile after an embarrassing lapse was one of the putative 12-year-old Chinese girls who, we were informed, was regarded by her coaches as supremely talented but "not the hardest worker on the team."

Well, I'm gad of this evidence that a Chinese athlete who screws up isn't looking at a lifetime in some gulag. But I was unnerved by the implied representation of the defending champion USA Women's Gymnastics Team -- with its transplanted Russian anchor, the unsmiling Nastia Liukin, and its red and white uniforms designed around a red star -- as the suddenly besieged heirs of the Soviet gymnastics tradition. Their ascendant rivals were the impressionistically attired members of the exuberant young Chinese team, who -- an inserted documentary piece admiringly informed us -- were the comfortable inheritors of a thousand-year-old Chinese acrobatic tradition which conscripts its 'artists' at the age of three.

(Wrong ideas. Yes. I have them all the time. But please explain why NBC subsequently inserted two meaningless segments -- in pure sporting terms, that is -- about a former Soviet gymnast now competing for Germany because her son's life was saved by that nation's socialized healthcare system AND the performance of a single Russian gymnast resplendent in a glittering rainbow uniform meant to show us the spontaneous rebirth of Russian gymnastics after the post-Soviet democratic decline. (Thank God for Putin?) Just human interest. I know. But is this really a sport anymore? Or it some kind of NBC cultural barometer? If the former, where the hell were all the other teams and their performers?)

It can't be the case that producers and film editors at NBC are subconsciously in love with the cultural paradigm of the New China -- gigantic, omnipotent government presiding over a rising tide of prosperity and a smilingly unified citizenry purchased at the acceptable price of severely limited freedom of speech, religion, and other anti-collectivist political rights.

Of course not. Otherwise, Bob Costas wouldn't have hunted down President George W. Bush and quizzed him about why he was attending the games and what possible impact his public (and private) objections to Chinese authoritarianism could possibly effect. And Costas wouldn't have continued to interrogate the President of the United States about Russian aggression in Georgia and the corruption of U.S. athletics via steroids and EPO until Mr. Bush asked how much longer he was going to be imprisoned in the studio before being allowed to return to the games.

Which returns me to my first point. These games are fascinating. Even the dumbest coverage can't quite conceal the joyful vitality of our nation in this global arena. There was our President, sitting in the stands -- not some lofty box -- to watch the USA Men's Basketball Team win a great victory. There he was again, after the Costas interview, sitting in shirtsleeves at the Water Cube cheering on the Team USA swimmers. He must have seen the stupendous relay victory, though no NBC camera recorded his reaction to the greatest moment yet in these Olympics. And he also had an endearingly awkward moment with the USA Women's Beach Volleyball Team, when he was invited to give an encouraging NFL-type bottom pat to the competitors and couldn't bring himself to do it.



What other possible kind of evidence could you ask for that our elected Commander-in-Chief is, in the most important possible sense, just one of us? A guy who is restrained by his values -- and an entirely legitimate concern about what his wife would say -- from doing what every single male fan of women's beach volleyball in the world would give his eye teeth to do represents the incontrovertible proof that we are still, despite the many disappointing exceptions and lapses, a nation led by basically humble citizen politicians who haven't forgotten where they came from and where they are going home to when the klieg lights are switched off.

Yes, I'm liking the Olympics a lot more than NBC's coverage of them. I can't wait to see what happens next.

P.S. Since we're still fighting some glitches in our Comments software, we've opened a new email account so that you can still offer your own thoughts on any recent post. Email them to Instapunk (at) gmail dot com and put the title of the post in the subject block. We'll reproduce any interesting ones in Updates to the original entries.





O Catastrophe! O Disaster!

We're all going to die! I knew it!!!!

SORRY TO BE CONSISTENT
. Jesus Christ. Sorry. Didn't mean to curse. But I am so so so so so so SO tired of these absolute morons with their Global Warming alarmism schtick. I mean, if people stop believing in the dubious value of your so-called science, do you really think you can reclaim them by describing even worse cataclysms? A ludicrous excerpt:

On a planet 4C hotter, all we can prepare for is extinction

There's no 'adaptation' to such steep warming. We must stop
pandering to special interests, and try a new, post-Kyoto strategy

We need to get prepared for four degrees of global warming, Bob Watson told the Guardian last week. At first sight this looks like wise counsel from the climate science adviser to Defra. But the idea that we could adapt to a 4C rise is absurd and dangerous. Global warming on this scale would be a catastrophe that would mean, in the immortal words that Chief Seattle probably never spoke, "the end of living and the beginning of survival" for humankind. Or perhaps the beginning of our extinction.

The only thing interesting about this article is the comments. Which are blistering..

All I can add is an invitation. Bring your damn dumb Global Warming Science here. No, not your fear scenarios, which are adequately covered by our YouTube video, but any actual science you think you have.

Life in these formerly civilized western nations has become a total joke. Some of us are starting to wish there really were something called anthropogenic Global Warming, just so you could all die from it. Extinction. The rest of us could only be so lucky. That pansy New Agers could actually die from believing in fairy-tale apocalypses. Best reason we've ever heard of for hoping that Global Warming is real and that there's a genuine need to roll western civilization up in vacuum-sealed bags and stow it away in a great big hatbox scented with potpourri.

Problem is, there isn't. There's just a Judy Garland movie that makes all you purposeless clowns feel good about losing everything. You're like gender-confused sheep pinning all your hopes on a Gay Apocalypse. Which can only be undone by the right skipping steps on the yellow brick road to the Ultimate Green Goretopia. Sad-sounding and bleatingly moving on the phonograph but not too credible. Condolences.

One question. Not to be rude or anything. Do you you mind if we melt down your Minis and Bimmers and turn them into A-10 Thunderbolts after you've all perished of another two or three degrees of heat? You know, when your angora and mohair skivvies start bursting into flame from the heat of your panic?


Thunderbolt. We could kick some phony GW ass with that.

Cool. Now we're getting somewhere.

P.S. Since we're still fighting some glitches in our Comments software, we've opened a new email account so that you can still offer your own thoughts on any recent post. Email them to Instapunk (at) gmail dot com and put the title of the post in the subject block. We'll reproduce any interesting ones in Updates to the original entries.




Friday, August 08, 2008


The new 'Young Turks' are here.

Okay, I chickened out. He's also a musician, devoted to rock and roll. rap.
alternative fusion. The sound quality isn't great yet, but he'll figure it out.

PUNKS. Hotair points today to a new voice for conservatism but can't quite bring himself to acknowledge just how significant it is. Reflexively, defenseively perhaps, Ed Morrissey feels compelled to introduce a filter that keeps him in the role of critic looking down:

Something amused me about this beyond the sloganeering, which belies some of the more thoughtful videos at his MySpace TV channel. It was the way he kept looking from side to side while talking about conservatism. It reminded me of conservatives in Minnesota ó furtively checking from side to side while talking politics, making sure that neighbors and fellow parishioners hadnít overheard the conversation. Thatís obviously not whatís going on here, but it certainly looked the same.

Okay, Ed. I understand that you're "amused" and superior to even "the more thoughtful videos" at his MySpace page. Congratulations.

Except that you're not superior to the young man who calls himself Zo. None of of us old guard, old fart conservatives are. Since I took the first link, I have watched every one of his videos, and I am in awe of his talent as an empirical political philosopher, a natural communicator, and an intutitive theologian. He's a student of history and an ingenious master of common sense metaphors (which can be some of the hardest to come up with) and political commentary that slices deftly through rhetoric to the subtext of many of our national discussions. One-liners fall easily out of his videos, but he's not thinking in one-liners. He's only closing on them in the way that a product of the new media knows how to put a period on a point well made.

Conservative and Republican candidates in every election campaign should be required to watch every one of his video performances. He makes the big differentials between conservatives and liberals meaningful in personal terms, and he also demonstrates how to translate those differences into understandable policy positions. He also gives the best sermon in defense of the authority of the Bible I have ever seen delivered live and not in the pages of a very dense book of theology.

For those who understand the origins of this site, this is the kind of youthful rebellion and revitalizing outburst we have been waiting for. As I write this, I still haven't decided which piece to link above. (Now I've decided. His music.) What I have determined is that I will list every single video he's made below. They're ALL worth watching all the way through. This is how we get our inspiration and our sense of mission back

Nitty Gritty.

Jeremiah Wright.

War.

Republicans and Democrats.

Racism & Illegal Immigration.

Change.

Bible Thumpin'.

If Obama offered this kind of hope, he wouldn't be sagging in the polls.

P.S. Since we're still fighting some glitches in our Comments software, we've opened a new email account so that you can still offer your own thoughts on any recent post. Email them to Instapunk (at) gmail dot com and put the title of the post in the subject block. We'll reproduce any interesting ones in Updates to the original entries.




Monday, August 04, 2008


The Great Levelling

Scratch a lefty do-gooder, and you'll find Jose Ferrer. No,
he's not really a Christian. He's a self-hating control freak.

X-ABUSERZ. Every once in a while, the curtain parts and you get a glimpse of the great 'progressive' vision of the human race. When it happens, I'm always reminded of the irony that Hollywood and show business types generally are so devoted to the left wing of the political spectrum. Their more natural philosophical home is libertarianism -- the "get the hell off my back and stay off my back" core of conviction that unites almost all sectors of the right against the drab coercive egalitarianism of the left. Of course, there's usually a camouflage principle at work. The left's obsessive desire to control and regulate and 'fix' the lives of the common people they presume to speak for is rarely aimed at the elites who lend an air of glamour to their dreary goals and totalitarian policy prescriptions.

In their utopian ideal, if your next-door neighbors lived like the Kennedys, you'd be an eyewitness to a swarm of social workers, child welfare bureaucrats, officers of the court, and other custodians of secular morality descending to sting the family into the correct state of 'freedom' -- drug-free, booze-free, tobacco-free, SUV-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, wealth-free, religion-free, obsession-free, risk-free, hyperfertility-free (two kids and then a vasectomy, you hear?), and consumer excess-free. Then they have the nerve to lecture the rest of us about tolerance. Christians say, "Hate the sin but not the sinner." It's the leftists who say (if only to themselves), "Hate the sinner, too, because he refuses to listen to me."

It's really no accident that it's the richest who hate riches the most and the most sybaritic who hate excess of all kinds the most. They despise themselves and rather than face that unpleasant fact, they choose to despise others instead. There's no more obnoxious breed of secular moralist than the ex-smoker or the reformed alcoholic. The great solipsistic battle against their own continuing temptations turns all the rest of us into a foil for their personal ego dramas.

That's why the curtain parts from time to time, as it did Friday, in the pages of the LA Times, where someone named Eric Lucas was allowed to publish a singularly ugly little exercise in narcissism called "Sobering up on Heath Ledger." It begins:

Don't memorialize the 'Dark Knight' star's death with an Academy Award.

It's time to stop the canonization of Heath Ledger. He's not a tragic hero. He's not a beautiful martyr. He's just a pretty good actor who did away with himself and broke the hearts of his family and friends, and he shouldn't get an Academy Award to memorialize his death.

Ledger's brief career culminated in his portrayal of the Joker in " The Dark Knight," a role that at first seems compelling ("mesmerizing," critics have fawned) but ultimately devolves into a can-can dance of snuffling pseudo-psychopathia. It has all the subtlety of a hangover -- exactly what I'd expect from someone who headed home every night to a pill party. Still, "The Dark Knight" has soared to unprecedented success, and Ledger's name is mentioned incessantly for an Oscar.

As soon as I read these two paragraphs, I knew the author was himself either a 'reformed' drug addict or drunkard. This particular kind of heat and vitriol is unmistakeable. Who else would be acting as if Heath Ledger had done something to him? And so it proved to be:

After Ledger died in January, one distraught fan posted on the Internet that he "will go down alongside James Dean and River Phoenix as great talents who were so cruelly taken away just as they started to show how damn good they were!" But these guys weren't "taken away." Phoenix OD'd on cocaine and heroin. Dean died in a car crash after a short, fast life of drugs and alcohol. They took themselves away. It's a simple thing to find help for drug and alcohol abuse these days. Millions have done it, including me, and though not easy, it represents the only way to live with the integrity we owe ourselves, our families and the world around us.

There's no room in Eric's cosmos for Thoreau's "beat of a different drummer." He's at pains to list all the artists of various genres to whom he is infinitely superior because he has managed to live more years than they did:

The current mania joins Ledger to a long line of creative figures who committed the ultimate failure and are, unfortunately, all the more famous for it: Dylan Thomas, Hank Williams, Jackson Pollock, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, John Belushi, Janis Joplin. Some drank themselves to death, some overdosed, some ran their cars off the road. As the saying goes in AA, the stories are the same, only the details are different.

Ah. AA. What a perfect example of the liberal paradigm. Everyone flattened to the level of an anonymous statistic. Which becomes a source of actual pride to all the people who abandon belief in the uniqueness of their own experience in favor of a role in the great secular morality play whose sole learning point is the virtue of refraining from vice. And yet this is a virtue which somehow elevates its late-blooming exemplars to heights so exalted that its true believers view every other form of attainment with contempt:

Last year, I visited the hamlet in Wales through which poet Dylan Thomas caroused. At an inn from which he was evicted (for stealing beer), I learned that down the street lived an old lady who had known him. Go knock on her door, I was urged. So I did. Gladys didn't hear so well, but when I finally conveyed the idea that I was curious about Dylan Thomas, she laughed and said, "Well, he was just a common drunk, wasn't he?"

Uh, no. Dylan Thomas was an incredibly uncommon drunk. That's what the earnest and self-righteous reductionists of human experience continually fail to understand. A drunk was one of the things he was, and drunk was perhaps intrinsic to other aspects of his being, but drunk is hardly a complete description of the man. Unless you subscribe to a faith which obliterates all considerations of interior life and settles instead on external numerical measurements: years lived, income earned, debts paid (and unpaid), taxes paid, appointments kept, attendance, punctuality, showing up for as long as possible. It's the same kind of ludicrous argument Neal Boortz has tried to make about smokers. He doesn't smoke, so he's demonstrably smarter than all these fellas (most of whom were also pretty accomplished drinkers).

I'm not making the case that artists are entitled to misbehave and therefore aren't culpable for their personal irresponsibility, the pain they cause those around them, and the damage they do by way of setting a bad example. My point is a more modest one. The bad things they do are bad things. But in many many cases, they have also produced extraordinarily good things, which means that it's an act of self-aggrandizing arrogance to dismiss them out of hand because they don't conform to our rote definitions of worth.

That's why condemnation of such complicated personalities is far more common among leftist social engineers than among Christians, libertarians, and even (gasp) conservatives. It was Lenin and Stalin who denounced most of western art and writing as "decadent." It was Mao who delberately set about exterminating the cultural legacy of his own nation's past, including its participation in the western enlightenment. It is today's "progressive" academy which has systematically condemned all the greatest cultural contributions of western civilization as racist, sexist, and inherently meaningless so that they can be reacted to spontaneously, without learning or respect, in a new genre of self-obsessed masturbation called deconstructionism or 'post-modern scholarship.'

I'm not a fan of every name on Eric's list of damned worthless substance abusers. But it would never occur to me to dismiss their lives and works simply because they died young due to their own reckless behavior. Some people do what they're moved to do in a very short period of time. Some people even seem to belong to a very specific period in time, and their deaths almost seem an affirmation of their identity with the era in which they briefly shone. To me, for example, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison were -- each in their own way -- such perfect personifications of the sixties that I cannot imagine how pathetic they'd be if they'd survived to undergo the nostalgia tours and other indignities of those who have outlived their moment.

Regular readers here will know that I deplore the sixties and therefore have very mixed feelings about these dead stars. But I would be a liar if I failed to admit that Eric's outrage doesn't do a damned thing to diminish my affection for Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower," Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," and Morrison's "The End." I can agree that they weren't "stolen from us" without wiping them off the slate altogether. It's likely that they departed this life because they wanted to. (As it is also possible that Buddy Holly and Patsy Kline did the same thing. What would Eric have to tell us about that?) And I'm heartily suspicious of anyone who can wipe the slate clean of them.

Yes, it's sad and troubling that young people confuse talent and substance abuse to the degree that they abuse substances in the hope that such behavior will confer or resemble talent. But who is doing more to promote this false equation: those who can appreciate the talent and distinguish between the positive and negative attributes of the artists; or those who piss all over the works of the artists who managed to kill themselves in the course of producing them? The latter is essentially an argument that what looked like talent was only intoxication. That's the most dangerous possible message to send to youngsters. Because when you're young, the last thing you aspire to is being a sour old cynic with a "five years sober" pin in your sock drawer putting down all the beautiful, brilliant, tortured geniuses and stars who didn't survive to become as colorless and dull as you are.

Colorless and dull. Everybody. That's the real progressive vision. If Hollywood and the artistes ever wake up to that fact, they will terminate their romance with the left. In the interim, let this one conservative suggest that no harm will be done to anyone if Heath Ledger gets an Oscar for his final role. I say this as one who was repelled by the few clips of "Brokeback Mountain" I have seen. The young man is dead now. There's no need to piss on his grave. Certainly not to sustain the inflated self-congratulation of Eric Lucas on his fragile sobriety. That would be his problem. Not mine. Not yours. And not Heath Ledger's.

Here's one final question for all of you leftists who were also annoyed by Eric's little tantrum. Who is it you're willing to trust to tell you how to live? Every time you vote for more government, you are transferring another part of your autonomy to bureaucrats who think the way Eric does, who assume they're superior to you because you make mistakes and the committee/agency/program they report to doesn't make human mistakes because it's not human at all. It's the government.



P.S. We had to show you the poster above. Not that it means anything or contributes anything to the argument. It's just that we found it while searching for evocative images of "Miss Sadie Thompson." And every single day of life is improved by a fresh view of Rita Hayworth, another worthless drunk who will never ever die. This one's in French. Sexy, n'est-ce pas?

P.P.S. The sound file is from "Under Milk Wood," a play by the 'common drunk' Dylan Thomas. It goes down easier than Eric's little essay, don't it?





The Fatal Flaws of Lawyers in Politics


LAWYERS. Sigh. You could make the case that Vincent Bugliosi has finally gone nuts in the endless quest for attention that began with his graduation from Santa Dumbshittia Law School (or wherever it was). But the truth is, there's a bigger lesson here. Lawyers are the very worst possible people to have any input, of any kind, into the American political process.

Why? We've alluded to it before, but never quite head-on. That's an omission we're going to correct right now. Legal education is the forced destruction of intuition and common sense in favor of the narrowest case that can be made for or against the defendant in some legal action. That's what the LSAT (law boards) test for: how adept are you at ignoring what's obviously true in service to some counter-intuitive letter of the law? Ignore all your upbringing and native judgment and we'll make you an attorney. Continue to act as if discriminating human intelligence matters, and you'll get a 420 on the boards and ride the long train home in disgrace.

I have no doubt that Vincent Bugliosi is, or was once, a smart man. But his mind has been destroyed by the fact of his having been a prosecutor. Does anyone else watch the documentary shows on crime aired by the History Channel, Discovery, Dateline, and 48 Hours? It's only on the FBI Files that no case can be brought without first wiring every conceivable witness and guaranteeing immunity to everyone but the one, most egregious wrongdoer, usually 15 years after the crime. Elsewhere, prosecutors are single-mindedly focused on quick convictions, regardless of the facts. They will do absolutely anything to secure and sustain a guilty verdict. Mere facts, DNA testing be damned, do nothing to mitigate their certainty that an indictment, however obtained, guarantees guilt. One could, I suppose, sympathize with their plight. In Ohio, they always win, no matter how gossamer their case. In California, they always lose, no matter how rock solid their forensics. No wonder the attorneys come to regard the American judicial system as a game.

But it isn't a game. The nub they keep forgetting is justice. The job of prosecutors isn't convictions; it's fact-finding, truth. But whatever it is they do to students in law school seems to eliminate this simple mission from their minds. They graduate, they pass the bar exam, and from then on they think justice is whatever selective and distorted configuration of evidence they can bamboozle a jury into accepting. A courtroom victory is their only notion of truth. Sad. Pitiful, in fact.

It's a pernicious kind of miseducation. It devalues truth as you and I understand it: what the hell happened, why, and who's responsible? For them, the end point is actually the beginning: Here's what I insist the truth is, and now -- ladies and gentlemen of the jury -- permit me to remake all the facts so that you will believe my theory of the case is true.

In short, lawyers are expressly taught to lose track of what objective truth might be. They're trained to start out with a particular point of view and then arrange (or misrepresent) the available facts to reflect their predetermined position in such a way that no reasonable person could disagree.

Which works great when you're a criminal prosecutor. Who the hell knows that your theory of the case is based on an inkling of a hunch that's somehow congruent with your political aspirations? Only maybe it doesn't work so great when you're just freelancing, when your motivations are more ideological than nominally protective of the public at large. When every Tom, Dick and Harry can see that you began with the desired outcome and worked your way back, through all the customary prosecutorial tricks, to the narrowest, most technical case anyone could make against a defendant everyone knows you hate in the most visceral possible way.

There is a lesson here. Everyone, including us, knows that Vincent Bugliosi is smart. Yet everyone in the left-leaning media, including every major media outlet from the NYT to the Comedy Channel, has ignored Bugliosi's newest book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Extreme leftist blogs regard this as a conspiracy. Everyone else knows that he's leading with his chin; it doesn't matter how good a lawyer you are if you fail to understand the essential nature of the case before you. Some people do.

Which is Bugliosi's fatal error. And that of a whole passel of lawyers who are belaboring the Bush Adminsistration with nonsensical legal cudgels. The War on Terror, including the War in Iraq, isn't about due process. It's about defending the United States from foreign enemies who want to kill us. It's the one most legitimate power the founding fathers gave to the president. He gets to conduct foreign policy as he sees fit. If we disagree, we can vote him out of office. We don't get to prosecute him for abridging the constitutional rights of Confederates, Germans, Japanese, Koreans, North Vietnamese, Cubans, or Iraqis. Because they're not Americans. They're foreigners, not protected by the Constitution. (Sorry. Jefferson never anticipated the sole-superpower outcome.) And we also don't get to prosecute our presidents for the death of American troops he has sent into harm's way. He's the Commander-in-Chief. (Talk to Abraham Lincoln about acceptable casualties pursuant to bad war-time decisions.) If he orders them into battle with whiffle bats against machine guns, we can vote him out of office, but he's still within his rights to give the big speech and then withdraw to his secure bunker: We don't want him hiding in a bunker, but who could realistically expect a modern commander-in-chief to lead his troops personally into battle (unless he was McCain)?

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Who doesn't get this? Lawyers. The Democrats always nominate lawyers. Like Bugliosi, they always have some case they can make, yet somehow it's never a case for you and me, but only for some enemy of our country with a fancied grievance against us we're supposed to take seriously. Because a lawyer is telling us we should. So here are the necessary questions: Who is it out there who really believes in lawyers? And why? When have they ever done anything that wasn't about making their own careers more prosperous?

Which brings us finally to time present. Obama's a lawyer. McCain's a soldier. They're both assholes, but who would you rather trust?




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