Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 3, 2009 - April 26, 2009

Sunday, May 03, 2009

License Renewed

WALTHER PPK. Love it. Love it. Honest to God, I Love it. Perez Hilton, Michael Musto, and all the other creepy creepies who have the nerve to scorn and deride a beautiful young girl. For saying what absolutely everybody thinks. It's perfect.

What were they imagining would be the outcome? Here's the outcome. Those of us who are pretty much sick and tired of gay people are re-armed. It's not homophobia. (New term suggestion: "Homophatigia." ) That's a fallacy spun by them. Inspired by the same distortion of perspective that has always led them to believe they were far more populous than they are. We don't "phobo" (i.e., hate) them. We find them somewhat pathetic, sometimes annoying, somewhat dim-witted, soooo fatiguing, and -- more and more -- obnoxious.

Obnoxious how? And why?

Obnoxious in that they have sought to turn sex into politics and failed to understand that sex is not politics. It's much more basic than that. Sex is as far from the realm of ideas, philosophy, values, and cultural tastes as anything can be. Gay people insist that their own preferences are hard-wired, not the product of developmental screw-ups. Fine. So are ours. They can make the political case for toleration and equal rights under the law all they want, and if they went about it in the right way, they might receive a fair hearing. But they want more than that. They insist on a great deal more than that. They want to be loved and actually admired for propensities most of us are hard-wired to regard with not hate but revulsion.

Because there is such a thing as normal sexuality. It consists of men being attracted to women and women being attracted to men. Pretty much how the species survives. One of the basic drives, you know, well below the level of intellect and even morality. Like the need for food that doesn't kill you. Like the need for water, light, and protection against the cold. In this context, homosexuality is a species-level luxury, a propensity -- whatever its origin -- in direct opposition to survival. Perhaps we elevate ourselves and live up to the highest standards of human consciousness by allowing it, but in terms the evolutionists would understand, allowing it is not even a necessary act. It's an indulgence available to a society that is not fundamentally at risk for its survival.

But there are also darker comparisons available. Comparisons no one is making. Mad Cow Disease, for example, seems to be traceable to the accidental phenomenon of making cannibals of cattle via wrong-headed formulations of feed. Turns out the antecedent for this syndrome can be found in cannibalistic tribes, who experience the same kind of fatal neurological deterioration. Nature doesn't like cannibalism. How long has it been since anyone asked whether nature might also dislike male homosexuality, which combines the inherent, obsessive desire for promiscuity of the human male with the means of fulfilling it that traditional female sexual behaviors have historically rendered impossible? Unrestrained male-on-male sex is a grand-scale petrie dish for disease. Which is why we have AIDS.

However you assess the situation, male homosexuals in particular have been a pain in the ass (pun intended) to the general population for a generation now. Two totally fallacious notions were foisted on the public at large by well placed homosexual advocates: 1) that homosexuals accounted for as much as 10 percent of the population; and 2) that (at least partially) because of this, AIDS was an epidemic that was bound to spread like wildfire through the heterosexual population as well. It was all a crock. The 10 percent lie has been traced directly to Kinsey sampling errors that have been deliberately perpetuated for political purposes. Fact? Homosexuals are one to two percent of the population. Next: AIDS is overwhelmingly a gay disease which spread to other demographics chiefly because of the higher than average incidence of intravenous drug use by gays, who also shared needles with poor black and hispanic populations. And a whole generation of heterosexual Americans have allowed their own sexual pleasure to be substantially diminished, if not destroyed, by an otherwise idiotic obsession with condoms self-destructive gay males still gaily disdain.

So. If you were part of a tiny minority that wanted toleration and basic political equality -- given that your own sexual preference had in all likelihood served to frighten, and also screw up the sex lives of, the majority who are not like you -- how would you go about it? Under what remote circumstance would you decide to be as insulting, vicious, and judgmental as possible about the people who don't quite yet see your "lifestyle choice" the way you do? Especially given that signs of vituperative hysteria on your part tend to reaffirm the traditional view that your sexual proclivities represent a profound psychological pathology?

Those circumstances would be Hollywood, long suspected of being a warren of vice and depravity, and now arrogantly proclaiming it. But the situation absolutely reeks of delusion and near-psychotic pathology.

Who in his right mind really believes that this young woman should be humiliated, shunned, and ridiculed?

She's entitled to her own fucking opinion (pun intended). Which just happens to agree with most of ours.

And who would prefer to align themselves with the nasty, ugly little parasites who have presumed to sit in judgment of her?

Perez Hilton and Michael Musto.

Go ahead. Look into their eyes. And into hers. Who really thinks we won't be more comfortable with hers than theirs?

Is she crazy? Maybe. But her kind of crazy we're all used to.

This is the choice they want us to make? Really? Really? I'm happy with that. I know they didn't mean to, but what they've succeeded in doing is creating Open Season on themselves. Most men, and even most women, are "hard-wired" to rally to a damsel in distress. Particularly when their very genes are disposed to make them see the attackers as the antipodes of life-sustaining behavior. (As an historical fact, suicidal cult belief systems -- e.g., Jonestown and Heaven's Gate -- tend to be marvelled at disbelievingly after the fact, and not in a good way.).

Bottom line. A pretty girl who's earnest and honest really can't be used to nefarious effect by a sliver minority who just hate, hate, hate her. Sorry. Even without the much publicized breast implants, she's an attractive girl who can't be demonized by lisping jackanapes.

The gay guys need to get a grip. (Lesbians can do what they want. Seriously. No one is at all interested in anything they have to say. Boring..) The backlash may well have begun. License renewed.

You just reloaded the Walther, fools.

It's called metaphor. Look it up.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Calling Christine...
Show Me.

A unique American love story. If you're Mopar, you know...

UNDEAD?. IP, CP, and LP are all Delaware Valley boys and their life experience both diverges and overlaps a bit. One area of overlap is cars and specifically Chrysler products. For example, it was LP who wrote the post Snap Judgments, which included this bald declaration:

Ford or Chevy? An easy one. The answer is Chrysler.

And it was IP who shared this personal recollection as an aside in his attempt to reason with the pompous Bill Quick:

I [came] of age in South Jersey, where you were judged by how well and how fast you could drive. For the sum of $300 I bought a 1970 Chrysler Newport convertible and rebuilt it with a high-performance 440 engine, headers, dual exhausts, Koni shock absorbers, metallic brakes, and police pursuit radial tires. It became a 4,000-pound car that could do zero to sixty in six seconds. One night, in my hometown, I raced an IROC Camaro up the narrow main street, passing within several inches of the bridge over the town's river. I barely made it but I beat his ass. That's how I learned fear. And the way to conquer it.

Something like what IP had back in the day...

The three of them used to write together here occasionally as "The Headhouse Gang," Back in January 2006, they were still hopeful of a Detroit Renaissance based on retro designs that recreated the excitement of old originals. One of their favorite ideas was a revivification of the defunct cop car archetype they rechristened the "Plymouth Rattlesnake" (scroll):

For a long time there was only one real cop car, a pit-viperish sedan made by Plymouth that sat coiled and ready to strike from the side of every highway and byway in the land. It had no interior options, but it could cruise all day at 140 mph. It's better not to let the cops have them anymore because they've got more than enough enforcement tools to make our lives miserable. But why can't we have them? NECESSARY FEATURES: spotlight, vinyl seats, and hand-cranked windows.

You'll note that we (The Glimmers) did yesterday's post, intended to last you the whole weekend. Fact is, the old Headhouse Gang is in full-shutdown, flat-out denial mode. Their beloved Chrysler is dying. They don't want to talk about it. They want to pretend it's not happening. And if you ask them to comment, they mutter darkly and unintelligibly, with the only decipherable words sounding something like "...never ...die"

Which is obviously not true. Chrysler is dying. But we have enough respect for our main men here that we feel obliged to mark a passing that affects them so strongly. In the only way we know how. Which doesn't have to do with cars as much as movies. It doesn't take much research to turn up some astonishing facts. Chrysler may have been the smallest of the Big Three, but when it comes to performance and, well, gravitas, they are unexpectedly dominant over GM and Ford in the world of iconic car movies.

For example, we did a search for the Top Ten Coolest Movie Cars and found this entry. The list included a Jaguar, an Aston Martin, a Delorean, a made-up car, one GM car, one Ford, and three Chrysler products.

Then we did a search for the Holy Grail of automotive cinema, the Top Ten Chase Scenes of all time, and of the ten, five included Chrysler models.

Even from our limited cinematic perspective there seems to be something special about Chrysler cars. They can be the hero or the villain, and unlike other car stars, they don't have to be new and shiny or driven by matinee idols to be memorable characters in their own right on screen. Odd, huh? Our conclusion is that there is, in fact, something mystical about them. They're the Darth Vader marque. If you haven't beaten them you haven't beaten anything. And if you bond with them, well, the sky is the limit. (Anyone want to speak up here about Benzes, Bimmers, and Fiats? Thought not.) Get a load of this cult film from 1971. It's called "Vanishing Point'...

Did he get away from "The Man"? Maybe...

Was it because it wasn't Ford or GM that Chrysler (i.e., Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, and Imperial) could simultaneously symbolize both the Establishment and anarchic rampaging? Cop cars and getaway cars. Was it that they were so essentially American that they could be BOTH successfully because what they embodied above all else was power and never-say-die momentum? Or were they the only full-sized vehicles that stunt professionals wanted to rely on in risky high-speed maneuvers? Looks to us movie fans like it might be all three of those. Anyone can see from The Blues Brothers trailer that the trashed Dodge cop car which served as the "Bluesmobile" was an uncredited co-star in this high-velocity comedy masterpiece. But if you had to do this scene, what else could you have used?

And we haven't yet gotten to the one car model that has played the most significant role in the highest octane car movie scenes in cinematic history. It's the Dodge Charger. (Have to put this in even if it disrupts the flow. IP's Newport contained an engine transplant, the legendary 440 V-8, from a built  '69 Charger.) Back to the Darth Vader analogy. The Charger was big, unbelievably powerful, sharklike in appearance, and if properly equipped, deceptively tenacious in its handling. That may be why it was featured in two of the greatest all-time chase scenes more than two decades apart. Does anyone not remember Bullitt?


Never mind that McQueen's Mustang was specially super-tuned and suspended. Nitpickers of this high point of film history know that the small-block Mustang could never have stayed with the big-block Charger on a straightaway, that the seven hubcaps lost by the Charger during the chase indicate that the heavily modified Mustang was chasing a stock Charger suspension, and that the growling, over-cammed Ford/GM-style engine dubbing did not do any justice whatever to the howling symphony of V-8 power familar to all Mopar afficionados.* (*Okay. We confess. IP helped us with this part. Then he grumbled something and hung up. Something about ...never ...die.)

This next one we found on our own. Even though it fits the "retro" ideal espoused by the Headhouse Gang better than anything else. It's from The Fast & the Furious:

And, in truth, the iconography continues. There's a Fast & Furious video game that seems to make the Dodge Charger into a fetishistic object, and there's also a successful TV series, Burn Notice, in which a black Dodge Charger of exactly the same vintage is both a symbol of family indestructibility and an often-lifesaving figure in the plot.

All of which confirms the devotion of our three depressed bloggers. But we're required to admit that movies aside, the Chrysler brand is dying. It's time to let go of the mystique and its most outrageously persistent legends, like the one that says American cars in their heyday -- all of them but especially Chryslers -- were somehow self-healing. They could exhibit a clear mechanical malfunction and then, with no intervention, suck it up and get back on the road under full power. It's a nice story. But this kind of breakdown isn't one any Detroit iron is coming back from. Not even Chryslers.

Skip  ahead if you want, but watch the end. It's the least you can do for an Obit.
According to HG, you need to see it all. Even the bulldozer is a hemi (...never ...die)

Rest in Peace, Mopar.

Unless you have other ideas.

Friday, May 01, 2009

MORE than '100 Days' Worth:

A Weekend Smorgasbord

'Food Fight' is an abridged history of American-centric war, from
WWII  to present day, told through the foods of the countries in
conflict. Watch
as traditional comestibles slug it out for world
domination in this  chronologically re-enacted buffet of aggression.

INCONVENIENT RERUNS. Politics has always been a food fight. So we've been rummaging through the InstaPunk fridge and freezer for some of the older dishes that aren't yet moldy and rotten. After all, not everything good in punditry is new. Sometimes, it really is worthwhile to point out that the so-called 'news' (like most of the 100 Days analysis of the past 48 hours) is actually not news at all, but a depressing playing out of factors that anyone observant would have been onto months or years before today's headlines.

Observant like us. We have entrees and casseroles and hors d'oeuvres and desserts that should be desiccated trash by now but aren't. Their continuing freshness serves to amputate the implied exclamation marks that accompany the headlines at Drudge, cable news shows, and newspaper front pages and Op-Eds. Which is why our 100 Days analysis consists entirely of reruns -- things we identified and explained as much as five, ten, or more years ago. And, of course, we're already into the second 100 Days, which means that even the newest headlines are going to get the same treatment. Our smorgasbord is organized by topic. Enjoy. Take your time. You've got all weekend to catch up on the oldness of today's news. Don't get lazy. Yes, we've given you "money quotes" for most pieces, but they're not a substitute for reading our complete entries, which as you know, tend NOT to be collections of contextless stingers. Along the way, you'll experience a variety of music, graphics, and videos, plus an unusual and archaic construct called 'paragraphs.' (If you like any of those things.)

The Mexican Swine H1N1 Flu. Possible epidemics and pandemics cause everyone to go a little nuts, including even the very smartest of us, like, say, Charles Krauthammer, who is absolutely the most brilliant and insightful of all MSM commentators. But back in October 2005, we counseled calm when his medical training caused him to get a little carried away on the subject of influenza, when he conceived of it as a potential weapon of Islamist terrorism. We said:

[T]he impact of an epidemic like this would be far more devastating to the impoverished regions in which most of the world's muslims live. There would be far more victims in the U.S. than our medical infrastructure could reach, but even so, our ability to fight back with antibiotics and other treatments is much superior to what it was in 1918. The same is not true of the muslim world; they could very well lose the population advantage that constitutes the Islamofascists' only edge in the insane jihad they are conducting.... There is no winning strategy in the use of such a weapon. And, yes, the Islamofascists ARE insane, but only up to a point. Note that the terrorist leaders seem remarkably, consistently determined to stay alive themselves, whatever sacrifices they extort from their gullible subordinates.

[The madness that infects people when the word 'pandemic' is tossed about was responsible for our recent post on flu. We also liked this photo comment:


David Souter. Yup he's retiring. We have a choice. We can be scared at the amazing speed with which events are falling into Obama's hands, or we can remember that there's a long long line of fellow travellers who want what he wants and will come surging forward at the earliest opportunity. We jokingly proposed Souter as John McCain's running mate in July 2008:

There's only one man for the job.. A weed so wispy, weird, unprepossessing, and clandestinely loopy that Independents will fall desperately under his thrall while the great bonehad mass of the conservative wing will spend the next four months just trying to remember who the hell he is and where he came from.

David Souter. He's not actually older than McCain. He's not manly enough to remind anyone that he's not female. He's not smart enough or rich enough to seem unacceptably capitalistic. And he's not memorable enough to be a factor of any kind after his candidacy is announced.

Obviously, the reason he didn't join the ticket was that he's been a "stealth" liberal the whole time, simply waiting for the chance to let a Democrat president replace him with another lefty. And regardless of how much the Republicans in congress might protest about Souter's nominated successor, don't think for a minute that they will actually fight to prevent the approval of a stealth marxist. We explained the conservative handicap in such proceedings in October 2007:

We have seen time and again (and again) that so-called liberals can forgive any personal failing in people who express support for the rights of those who cannot be expected to meet any ethical or legal standard, especially if they are black, brown, female, criminal, or incapable. Name a Democrat who has publicly condemned the behavior of Kennedy at Chappaquiddick, Clinton with Lewinski, Jackson with his mistress-on-payroll, or Barney Frank with his prostitute lover as somehow disqualifying in terms of the right to hold public office. But the very same people who defend these behaviors are appalled at the unproven possibility that Bork rented X-rated videotapes or that Clarence Thomas joked about a pubic hair on a Coke can? Their position cannot be described as seeing moral depravity in a political foe. It is about seeing political depravity in someone who disagrees with their politics.

Republicans are simply too dumb to respond the same way. Some will protest feebly about 'unacceptable' political and judicial philosophies. Then they will vote, mostly, to accept a presentable candidate who hates everything they believe in. Political depravity is something they just don't see. Ever.

Arlen Specter. Except in their own ranks. And then only very belatedly and with an air of total shocked surprise. Most of the party pols wanted to overlook it when Specter was in the process of selling out to the Obama administration back in February (flagged at the time by Laura Ingraham, h/t InstaPunk). By then, we were long on record as laughing at Specter's tortuous bipartisan hackery with regard to such vital issues as Bush judicial appointments, as we did when the news surfaced that controversial conservative Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito was a Philadalphia Phillies fan:

Senator Arlen Specter (PA) objected to the characterization of Phillies fans as a fringe minority, citing national polls which demonstrate that 70 percent of those who follow major league baseball have heard of the Phillies. "This is a team that in its 120 years of All-American history has won a World Series, among other accomplishments," said Specter. "To this day, the team has avid fans located as far east as New Jersey, as far south as Delaware, and as far west as just east of Harrisburg. That takes in a lot of American territory and a lot of Americans, both Democrat and Republican."

To be brutally honest, we've been on Arlen's case since 2000, when Shuteye Nation gave him this entry in its Who's Who:

Arlene Spectator. Republian° Senator from Pennslavania and all-time champion bore of the Senate°. Spectator can't say good morning in less than half an hour, and when it's his turn to interrogate a witness in a senate subcommittee hearing, everyone immediately goes home and waits a week before returning. All that verbiage conceals a razor sharp mind the size and depth of a razor blade. In all the many years he has been orating nonstop in the halls of government, he has never figured out that the people who are for all the good° things he's so strongly in favor of are the Democratics°. When and if he finally does figure it out, his cry of outrage will probably outlast the heat of the sun.

Joe Biden. Don't blame us. We published a sound strategy for employing his unique capabilities within days of the election:

[T]he transition team has had to engage in some very high level cerebration to arrive at the most productive possible use for, well, irrelevant officeholders like the Vice President...

It's long been clear that the "undisclosed location" business wasn't going to work in the new regime. No location remains undisclosed for long when the person so located immediately discloses it to everyone within earshot, generally accompanied by some weird ethnic or gender insult.

The good news is that an incredibly important mission has been found for... valuable members of the Democratic leadership. They will be commissioned to lead the starship Nostromo (2:45 in) on a four -- or possibly eight -- year mission to protect the earth and the universe at large from the depredations of the most malevolent force in existence, Karl Rove, who is always prepared to strike at the heart of everything good and eat it with some fava beans.

But they didn't listen.

Murtha and Pelosi. We anticipated their little problems of late, too. Back in November 2006:

Sometimes you just have to marvel at how short-sighted the political analysis in this country is. Speaker-Elect Pelosi is already drawing fire from both the right and the left for her decision to back Representative Murtha for the position of House Majority Leader....

Come on, people. Grow up. The mission of the new Congress is peace in our time: getting the troops home quickly in some kind of plausible, justifiable way that doesn't look like abject surrender. What kind of skills does that take? Obviously, it takes the ability to Make a Deal. And making a deal in the Arab world isn't accomplished by pollyanna-ish negotiations consisting of feeble altruistic overtures muslim gangsters can't even comprehend. If Maliki, the Iranians, the Syrians, and the various Iraqi sectarian blocs are ever going to be brought to heel, it's only going to be by playing hardball in the terms they understand: cold-blooded tit for tat "arrangements" that compromise and ensnare everybody to the point where they can't refuse. This is obviously Murtha's stock-in-trade...

That Pelosi broad is a good deal shrewder than she looks. You heard it here first.

So Pelosi doesn't know from water-boarding. So Murtha has his own private $200 million airport. What can we say? Who better to rub greasy jowls with lying, two-faced, Saudi and Venezuelan petrocrats? No one. We called it here long ago.

GM and Chrysler. We gave you a preview of American-Detroit Motors as far back as December 2008, before Obama took office:

What nobody wants to admit about the Obama/Democrat agenda for "Change" is that all its ideas and models are really quite old. The good news is that we have the opportunity to see the future they envision for us because it's already been tried, most often in the U.K. Commonwealth nations and in the European Union they want to impress on us as a superior approach to governance. There's no reason to think that old ideas are bad, of course, as long as they work. But do they? Well, let's take a look, beginning with the automotive industry, which is now teetering on the edge of one form or another of nationalization. It's been tried already. In Britain. The U.K. nationalized British Leyland to save all those jobs and a critical national industry. How did that go?

If you read and watch the whole post, you'll see. We also tried to provide some perspective that nobody wanted just a few days later:

[Y]our knowledge of how American big business works is wrong if you don't understand that even in times of great prosperty like the fifties, companies die all the time.

On average, company lifespans are shorter than human lifespans. It's far less amazing that GM, Ford, and Chrysler are dying in their current incarnations than that they have survived this long. All this talk of imminent liquidation is just the business equivalent of political scare tactics. Hudson and Nash didn't liquidate; they became American Motors. As did the Jeep component of Willys, which survived Willys, Kaiser, and American Motors to remain a vital part of today's Daimler-Chrysler. Because people still wanted the product, regardless of who stamped their name on it.

It's natural for companies to die. It's unnatural to keep them going after they're dead. That's when we get into George Romero territory. But nobody wants to hear that either.

Banks. Nothing new under the sun. Which we pointed out  last September.

Chapter 40
During the Great Depression, it will become obvious to everyone that Capitalism doesn't work,
2  Because millions and millions of people will be out of work,
3  And even worse than that, it will be discovered that there isn't any money at all in the Most Chosen Nation,
4  Except for the money that the richest of the fat-cat Capitalists still have squirreled away, of course,
5  Because all the money everybody else had before the Great Depression was borrowed from somebody else,
6  Who had also borrowed it from somebody else,
7  And so forth,
8  And so on,
9  So that there's only one thing left to do,
10  Namely, have the government step in,
11  And print up a whole bunch of money,
12  And start giving it away,
13  Which doesn't have much to do with Capitalism exactly,
14  But has a great deal to do with putting some food on the table,
15  For all the millions and millions of people who aren't fit enought to survive on their own.

Chapter 41
In fact, this new idea of giving money away to the people who need it will catch on,
2  In a big way,
3  And become very very popular,
4  Because the politicans will look very statesmanlike giving away millions,
5  While the philanthropists will look miserly giving away their dimes,
6  Which is why the government will be delighted to discover how easy it is to take more and more millions away from the philanthropists,
7  So that they can have their picture taken giving it away,
8  Until lots and lots of people in the Most Chosen Nation on Earth will one day decide that they were wrong for all the years they thought it was the government who couldn't be trusted the most,
9  Because the ones who can't be trusted the most are the greedy Capitalists,
10  Who borrowed all that money,
11  And then threw it all away.

It doesn't matter, of course, that taking all the money away from the capitalists and giving it to the unemployed and clueless won't work. It looks really good on TV, doesn't it? And it's really really boring that we wrote about this nearly twenty years ago, knowing that all bad ideas have only to wait for their next moment in the sun.

The New/Old New Deal. Everybody knows allegory is worthless. That's why we got much more specific about the old ideas that Obama was going to be jamming down our throats. This was in February, days into the Obamessiah's glorious new era of hope and change.

Initially, of course, the NRA [read Obama's Recovery Act] was fantastically popular. Everyone was for it. And it was launched with lavish claims about what it would mean for labor, and unions, and average working people. Government was finally going to set things right for "working people." (You know the drill.) The thing was, the NRA was a gigantic turkey. It didn't bring about national recovery. Instead, its massive bureaucracy crushed small businessmen -- the ones who create most of the jobs -- under the heavy foot of the federal government in a way that even the FDR-adoring press (eventually) had to acknowledge: And, finally, the federal government had to retreat and confess the failure.

Universal Health Care. God, it's coming AT LAST. Right? Nobody should be surprised. We called the tune on this one back in February 2008:

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

Foreign Policy. We've been all over this one for years. Pick your poison. The "surprising" new outreach to Cuba?

They make their continual excuses for Castro, Stalin and his successors -- including KGB boss Gorbachev -- because in their twisted perception of existence, the worst evolutionary accident of all was the emergence of human self-consciousness and the meaningless agony that fluke inflicted on the most intelligent of our catastrophically destructive species. And despite their excruciating, faithless, existential angst, they are united by a cowardice that prevents them from resorting to individual suicide. Rather, they have chosen to focus their prodigious intellectual talents on achieving at a macro level what lowly New York police officers call "suicide by cop."

The leftists of the western world are the women who write love letters to, and ultimately marry, serial killers. They're the sexual masochists who experience an orgasm as their sadistic lovers murder them in what purports to be an act of love. They're the Canadian Human Rights Commissions, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cindy Sheehan, the citizens of Spain, the AP journalists who call Islamic terrorists gunmen and freedom fighters, they're all the bankrupt, consciousness-hating pseudo-intelligentsia whose deepest desire is to be slaughtered by the one constituency on earth which hates them as much as they hate themselves.

All those friendly overtures to Ahmadinejad, Syria's Assad, Russia's Putin, the North Koreans... ? They don't get it. Never did. But we did, long before the inauguration, in July 2006:

I have the nagging suspicion that despots have more in common with one another, regardless of ideological and religious differences, than they do with whatever population they rule. I think the goosestep, and its graceless, rigid reduction of a human soldier to an automaton, has a deep irrational appeal to tyrants. It feeds directly into the same lust for power that enables them to kill and torture their own people in the name of service to those people and whatever faith they profess.

If this is true, it puts the lie to the notion that we can make progress in the world by understanding all the multifarious ethnic, religious and political grievances of problem states like Iran and North Korea. The totalitarian state is its own faith and treats all other factors as tools to be manipulated for the sole purpose of maintaining and increasing power.

Perhaps it's time for us to send the touchy-feely diplomats to the showers and develop a new index of the personal symptoms of despotism that cut across all cultural and geographic boundaries -- goosestepping troops, four-hour speeches, mega-posters of the megalomaniac-in-charge, increasingly lopsided "election" victories, etc -- and use them as the basis for understanding intent. Should we keep trying to convince ourselves that deep down, China really does want to coexist in a community of nations? Should we  go on overlooking Putin's career in the KGB and his bland assurances that democracy in Russia works better as a "benevolent" autocracy unhindered by the inconveniences of a free press? Should we consider subtracting Islam from the calculus of Iranian sabre-rattling and start treating the imams less like eccentric clerics and more like the Nazi Party?

Unpopular thoughts, to be sure. Especially with the media. It takes a very special kind of arrogance to pretend that we can vitiate stark raving insanity with good intentions in a place like Iran. We talked about that, too, back in November 2006, when we highlighted the role the MSM typically plays in denying the threat posed by Iran:

Now that he's retired from the temporary show he started during the Iran hostage crisis a quarter century ago, Ted Koppel decided to visit the country that cemented his journalism career at ABC News....

I think we were supposed to feel encouraged about our future relations with Iran. Everyone Koppel talked to acted as if Ahdumjihad was just a slightly comical figurehead whose quaint notions about genocide and Armageddon are more to be sniggered at than taken seriously. The real power resides with an imam who looks enough like the Ayatollah Khomeini to be his twin brother -- or his resurrected corpse. So we shouldn't worry. I mean, the modern world can't be put to an end by an irritable old zombie, can it?...

And there's more good news. There are rappers in Iran. And Y-Generation party animals. And snidely above-it-all intellectuals. And BMWs. And sex. And bloggers. It was downright touching to watch Koppel visit his first ever internet cafe and express his astonishment that the young burkha-clad woman he was chatting up was simultaneously exchanging coarse sexual jokes with a friend on-line. In fact, except for the burkhas and the medieval theocracy and the looming nuclear doomsday, Iran is just like America, a place where the well educated people are much much smarter than their dim-bulb government and would fix everything if they could just win a modest electoral majority in the national legislature. Really. You just couldn't believe how well Ted and his intellectual Iranian friends got along. They flashed the same crooked grins when someone made a Bush joke, and they just knew that we can all get through the rough patch caused by America's paranoid fantasies about Islam if enough of the right people nod sagely at one another in chic urban settings.

At the time of the "100 Days," we also think you should revisit our archaically titled piece, The Gathering Storm, written a few days after the election. Nothing that's happened in the 100 Days does anything but reinforce what we said:

When Bush leaves office, it will be like the marshal turning in his badge and riding out of Dodge City. It's the worldwide fear of how the United States will react that has kept the global pot simmering just below a boil. Even if they suspect that Bush won't call in airstrikes or a battalion of marines in response to a truly provocative act, they don't know it for sure. And so they hesitate, they think and think again, and then they wait. What are they waiting for? For Bush to be gone. As he will be in January 2009.

George W. Bush has been a one-man Cold War, the kind of stabilizing influence created by the perception of a danger that transcends local, personal rivalries and grudges. That's the irony of our current situation. And it's a truly colossal irony. Americans are tired of being not liked around the world. Obama promises to change that. He proclaims his intention to conclude the American Cold War against the world. He will no longer act hastily and unpredictably. He will put away the big stick. He will be reasonable. And we are buoyed and reaffirmed in our support for him by the fact that the world cheers when we elect him to the presidency.

Why are they cheering? Because things will slowly get better in international affairs as the civilized norms of traditional diplomacy are gradually restored to their proper place? Or because there will be a sudden sizeable window of time in which a young, naive, and inexperienced president of the United States will be trying to do too many things at once -- learn the job, staff his administration, resolve an economic crisis, and pursue an extraordinarily ambitious domestic legislative agenda -- leaving the door open for bold moves around the globe he can't possibly respond to effectively?

Sorry about the grim tone. (Just for fun in this particularly dark section of remembrance, we can prove what we said a few weeks ago when we asserted knowledge of the Queen's iPod the White House apparently missed. Not that we're especially fond of the UK anymore, on the day when they have terminated military operations in Iraq. The hell with them.)

Media Adulation. Did we ever mention the media adulation that conceals all our old observations from the body politic? Yes. Here. In glorious four-color detail. (This one's as fun as it is true, so don't pass it up.)

Drudge says the Obama inauguration got 35 times the worldwide coverage of the Bush inaugural. I'm pretty sure he's misunderstimated the total by a bunch.

Which is all you need to know about the "100 Days" and current approval ratings.

Obama. You can search this topic here for yourselves quite easily. We'll point you at only two posts right now. The first one is about the time machine that's been whirring backward since inauguration day, although we identified the flight plan in May 2008:

All the kiddies are saying they want CHANGE. Of course, there's nothing new under the sun, and the would-be agents of change are usually trying to turn the clock back to a time they liked better. For example, this site has already had occasion to warn you about the nature of the change promised by the Hillary campaign when it was still riding high and not in fear of Obama. Part of Hillary's fall from grace is no doubt due to the large number of people who still remember the so-called "Golden Age" of the Clintons. Thus, the Democrat electorate has decided to look even further back in time -- to the Seventies -- which are being recreated for us at frightening speed by the power of mass nostalgia.

No, dears, it's not just the cyclical nature of world events. It's the fulfillment of a deep subconscious yearning of long standing by the Democrat power structure. They're obsessed with returning to the days before the Reagan Revolution, when they owned the presidency and overwhelming control of both houses of Congress. The last time that state of affairs existed was in the Carter administration. Note how many current circumstances reflect the conditions that were either immediate precursors of Carter's election or concomitant with his presidency:

The second is about how unsurprised anyone should be about the extreme leftist tilt of the infant(ile) Obama administration. We addressed it very specifically with a young leftist critic of InstaPunk who defied us to explain why we expected the sef-professed moderate "hope and change" guy to be a radical leftist. This excerpt is from right around election day:

We are being fed a bland assumption, based on absolutely nothing, that the years must have mellowed him and if he now speaks like a moderate, he must in fact be a moderate.

Why must he be? Can anyone point me to the third volume in his autobiographical trilogy that recounts his intellectual repudiation of marxist radicalism in favor of moderation? I don't think you can. This tireless writer hasn't written that book because the transformation everyone wants so much to believe in never occurred. Remember that he never repudiated Wright until political expediency absolutely required it. In sounding like a moderate, he is only following the instructions in Alinski's manual, saying whatever it takes to get inside the power structure you wish to subvert.

I don't doubt that he's a marxist because there's no evidence he's ever been anything but. And there's abundant evidence that there's nothing he professes to believe in public that he won't change, retract, or reverse himself on at a moment's notice.

Which means the only remaining question is just how daring and successful he will be in steering this country very sharply to the left.

All right. Done with the reruns. Here's a palate cleanser. One damn smart dog:

The world's an interesting place. Isn't it? Unexpected things happen. Maybe there's hope for us yet when all is said and done.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Torture Farce

Being NICE to Iran is going to undo their violent hatreds and viciousness?
Is that what Anderson Cooper thinks? Really? And what about PrezBO?

CF. A while back I promised a post on the "complex virtues of certain kinds of simple-mindedness." The example I had it in mind to use as a worst case was Jim Manzi of the National Review, who has managed to systematically out-think himself on Global Warming. He's a very smart man, but he places far too much stock in the power of intellect to control deeply irrational forces. (I may yet get to his stance on Global Warming...) Since then, though, he has also unburdened himself on the subject of torture, in an essay that begins with this set of definitions and rhetorical constructs:

I'll start by defining terms and establishing some terminology. Purely for the purpose of labeling, I’ll take the list of what I assume all parties to the debate would agree is torture (e.g., bamboo under the fingernails, beating a prisoner with a club until he has brain damage, etc.) and call this set of techniques, collectively, Torture 1. Purely for the purpose of labeling, I’ll take the list of what I understand to be considered torture by some but not by others (e.g., waterboarding, “walling”, etc.) and call this set of techniques, collectively, Torture 2. In a rigorous discussion, we would make a complete list for each and fine-grain each item on each list down to physically-defined action-steps (e.g., waterboarding is so many ounces of water delivered through a cloth of this description in such and so manner for no more than this many seconds up to this many times per week, etc.), but I assume this description is sufficient for a blog discussion.

I think that the question of “What is torture?” can be usefully simplified, again for the purposes of a blog discussion, to the question “Is Torture 2 really torture?” As you noted, I did not take a position on this in my post. This was purposeful. I think this is an important question, but I have not done the necessary work to enable me to hold an informed opinion on it. At a minimum, there are numerous technical questions that would be required to form such an opinion (e.g., “What are the long-term psychological effects of waterboarding?”, “Are psychological effects relevant to the legal governing definition of torture?”, etc.) that I haven’t studied. But I don’t think that one has to answer the question of whether or not Torture 2 is “really” torture in order to draw the conclusions that I did in my post.

I think I made two key claims in that post: (1) When judging the purely instrumental effectiveness of torture we need to consider its strategic rather than merely tactical impacts (I defined these in the post), and (2)The burden of proof should be on those who propose to change the long-time U.S. practice of not managing systematic torture as a matter of policy. I think each of these is true even if we consider only the techniques labeled Torture 2.

Let me take them one at a time.

When judging the purely instrumental effectiveness of torture we need to consider its strategic rather than merely tactical impacts.  Technically, accepting this statement doesn’t require me to define torture in any way, since this is logically true when considering any action from dropping an atomic bomb to brushing your teeth. However, in order for one to accept that it is a practical, rather than merely theoretical, requirement, I believe that he must accept that it is reasonable to believe that the non-immediate consequences are potentially significant. Consider Torture 2. Do you dispute that the non-immediate consequences of these specific practices comprising Torture 2 are potentially significant? I think that the fact that they have already created a gigantic controversy is prima facie evidence that they are. And I don’t think that the argument that it is the awareness of these actions that creates the problem changes this conclusion, since even if one intended to keep them secret, there is always the realistic possibility that they will become known (once again, proven recently by example). So unless I’m missing something, I think that this first statement should be accepted, and with practical rather than merely theoretical significance, even if we’re only talking about Torture 2. I don’t really see this as in any way controversial (though obviously, identifying, dimensioning and weighing the importance of these potential non-immediate impacts and coming to a conclusion about net benefits can be very controversial).

[If you can stand it, there's more of his argument and conclusions here, in my first incomplete stab at this topic. If you can stand it...]

My first line of rebuttal is this:  Read any single sentence of Manzi's essay out loud, straining mightily not to sound like a too-too precious intellectual sounding off in a university coffee shop. Can't be done. Sorry. Common sense invariably waddles into the context with vandalizing simple-mindedness before you get to the second propositional clause of whatever sentence you're reading. For example, there are much less abstract definitions of "Torture 2":

The techniques used against the most stalwart al-Qaida members, such as Abu Zubaydah, included one terrifying procedure referred to as "the attention grasp." As described in horrifying detail in the Justice Department memo, the "attention grasp" consisted of:

"(G)rasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, in a controlled and quick motion. In the same motion as the grasp, the individual is drawn toward the interrogator."

The end.

There are rumors that Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney wanted to take away the interrogators' Altoids before they administered "the grasp," but Department of Justice lawyers deemed this too cruel.

And that's not all! As the torments were gradually increased, next up the interrogation ladder came "walling." This involves pushing the terrorist against a flexible wall, during which his "head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a C-collar effect to prevent whiplash."

People pay to have a lot rougher stuff done to them at Six Flags Great Adventure. Indeed, with plastic walls and soft neck collars, "walling" may be the world's first method of "torture" in which all the implements were made by Fisher-Price.

As the memo darkly notes, walling doesn't cause any pain, but is supposed to induce terror by making a "loud noise": "(T)he false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock and surprise." (!!!)

If you need a few minutes to compose yourself after being subjected to that horror, feel free to take a break from reading now. Sometimes a cold compress on the forehead is helpful, but don't let it drip or you might end up waterboarding yourself.

The CIA's interrogation techniques couldn't be more ridiculous if they were out of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch:...

I will spare you the gruesome details of the CIA's other comical interrogation techniques and leap directly to the penultimate "torture" in their arsenal: the caterpillar.

In this unspeakable brutality, a harmless caterpillar is placed in the terrorist's cell. Justice Department lawyers expressly denied the interrogators' request to trick the terrorist into believing the caterpillar was a "stinging insect."

Human rights groups have variously described being trapped in a cell with a live caterpillar as "brutal," "soul-wrenching" and, of course, "adorable"...

Finally, the most savage interrogation technique at Guantanamo was "waterboarding," which is only slightly rougher than the Comfy Chair.

Thousands of our troops are waterboarded every year as part of their training, but not until it was done to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- mastermind of the 9/11 attack on America -- were liberal consciences shocked. 

Which leads me to my second point: the definition of "Torture 1," which Manzi's nomenclature implicitly parallels with "Torture 2" -- same idea but more, uh, "consequentialist." Right. And who can't appreciate the grammatical dismissiveness of the fact that he only deigns to define "Torture 1" in a parenthetical phrase? -- "(e.g., bamboo under the fingernails, beating a prisoner with a club until he has brain damage, etc.)"  As if even Torture 1 would automatically be halted at "brain damage." And as if "etc" represented a list of lesser hurts too tediously well known to repeat in an intellectual debate. We are talking "strategic issues" here, aren't we?

But the simple-minded among us are frequently moved to respond more directly to, uh, direct stimuli, like, say, video evidence of the real thing, which is hardly ever parenthetical. Here's some of that:

North Korea


Saddam Hussein's Iraq


And that's not even the worst of it. There are still the censored images of what jihadists have done. Here. (Don't look if you can't stand to see a "live" beheading.)

Bottom line? We simple-minded folk are allowed to defend ourselves against barbarians by being mean when it makes sense to be mean. NOT a hard concept.

Now for my main point. Even the choice of the terms "Torture 1" and "Torture 2" is speciously rational. It's a kind of intellectual masturbation that determinedly rational people use to make the world seem more amenable to reasonable approaches. What they say and write sounds rational but it's pure wishful thinking. Regardless of his mighty credentials, Jim Manzi is a hopeless dolt. Why? Because there are more of us than there are of him.

And who's the us I'm talking about? People who have not strangled their emotions with fantastical logic and who leaven those emotions with common sense. People who know instinctively that such Kantian obsession with logic leads inevitably to philosophical dead ends and self-defeating postulates that paint you into impossible corners.

What do we know that the Manzis don't? That reason never prevails. That the more it is advanced as a primary decision-making tool, the more perverted it becomes. Life is not an equation which can be solved for X, where X is the rationally defined truth, but a balancing act between right and wrong, where even though there is such a thing as clearly right and clearly wrong, there can be many difficult choices in between. Is that a contradiction? Yes. The simple-minded frequently possess the complex capability of navigating contradictions that befuddle the smartest among us. Yes, we screw up, too, but there are so many of us, and we keep coming back and back at the same problems, without the shackles of deterministic rationalism, until we arrive at the possibility of getting it right.

Examples? There are thousands. For the simple-minded, that is. Not so much for the super-smart intellectuals. The simple-minded know that the Allies won World War II because the preponderance of right was on our side, not because we never did anything mean or unfair or vicious in prosecuting our cause. We can consider the possibility that Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have transgressed some line without invalidating the ultimate virtue of our victory. Because nothing we did was quite as bad, or nearly as malevolent, as smashing the heads of babies against the walls of Manila hospitals, clubbing and starving prisoners to death by the thousands, or systematically gassing millions of people to death for their religion. It's only the simple-minded who can weigh the bad againt the more bad without using the rules of logic to force the one to equal the other based on an abstract (and fraudulent) mathematics of philosophy.

Torture 1 is not equivalent to Torture 2. It's the determination of intellectuals which continually ensnares them in exactly this kind of trap. It's the mathematical concept of the limit that repeatedly invokes the false metaphor of the slippery slope, in which one mistake becomes synonymous with the worst evil imaginable. That's how Robespierre argues himself from opposing capital punishment into the Great Terror that executed thousands and thence to the guillotine himself. It's how rational, atheistic Marxists in two great nations transformed their allegiance to the common man into the mass slaughter, imprisonment, torture, and brutalizing oppression of the common man . They lacked the simple-mindedness to see that sometimes the thing called rough justice is called for and then it has to stop. Logic wants straight lines extended into infinity. That's where pogroms and genocides come from. Simple-mindedness doesn't mind the contradiction that says, "Enough is enough. Let's move on now."

I'm almost done. But I'm going to make one final point that relates intimately to Obama's "remaking of America." I'm not going to explain it. You'll have to do that for yourself. I'm confident our readers here are simple-minded enough to do that.

At the very beginning of the microcomputer revolution, I worked for a publishing company that was regarded as the Bible of computer products and companies. Everyone depended on our analyses of companies and their products in every part of the industry, from modems to mainframes. We had the best, most efficient continuing education programs available, and every editor had free access to them. Working there was like getting an advanced degree in the technology. We probably had 10 percent of the connections to what still was not called the internet. There were state-of-the-art products on every desk. I, myself, wrote one of the very first reviews of the Apple McIntosh. You should have heard the discussions, arguments, predictions, and projections that went on in the corridors of that company. They were brilliant. Some of the smartest people I've ever known dreaming in high-tech terms of the future. (Example: the most brilliant one I knew was a woman who had majored in music at Oberlin and learned data communications in terms of Mozart; she could actually HEAR the data flow in her head and became a leading expert on modems.)

And they (i.e., WE, me included) were all dead wrong. In terms of where the technology was going, we were frequently right, but everything we thought about individual companies was wrong. Like many others, I went on to work for a computer company. I discovered what my old colleagues all eventually discovered. All our high-tech wisdom was junk. Because computer companies weren't any more rational than individual people, PTAs. governments, or nations. Companies that couldn't fail failed. Even companies that lucked into golden opportunities fumbled them, and failed. Companies that produced breathtaking innovations, uh, failed. All the outcomes were rough justice, messy, wasteful, and spectacularly irrational.

But the industry grew. Why? Because the market itself, the buyers, were wisely simple-minded. They were, all of them, living in a well defined short term, from now to two or three years from now. They weren't making utopian decisions. They weren't living in some grand dream of technological transfomation, They were looking forward only as far as the next quarter and maybe a quarter or two after that. They didn't care who was brilliant or who deserved to survive based on innovation, or where the technology was going. They wanted to stay competitive, right now, to pay their bills, service their customers, make a profit, right now. The market is merciless. And the market is wise. Not rational. But wise. BECAUSE IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PREDICT THE FUTURE, NO MATTER HOW RATIONAL YOU ARE. I have met prospects who were honest enough to say, "You have a better product than IBM and Microsoft, and I know you deserve to succeed, but they play hardball and you just can't win here. Sorry."

Make of all this what you will. Should there have more visionaries? Yes. Would we all be better off if there had been? Yes. But one more of the virtues of simple-mindedness is that it sees no advantage in committing suicide today for the impossibly grand virtue of paradise someday.

I repeat. Jim Manzi is a dolt. And by the same token, so is Obama.

A Lesson

The Curse of Boudicca

GRUDGES. I just read CP's torture piece, and I couldn't resist lobbing this grenade into the mix. I'm not going to speculate about what it means, although I will say that it constitutes a useful lesson about how long a grudge can be borne. But at a time when the U.K. is dissolving into a joke of itself, it is highly interesting to encounter a newspaper piece that contains this kind of language:

Legion of the Damned: Did Boudicca's curse cause
Rome's fiercest warriors to vanish without a trace?

By William Napier

The Ninth Legion was one of the toughest and most experienced legions in the entire Roman Empire...

IThe men of the Ninth fought across the length and breadth of Europe for their beloved general: from the wide fields of Gaul to bitter battles in the Balkans.

Like all soldiers, they showed their affection for their great commander by singing obscene songs as they marched along, mocking Caesar's baldness or his notorious and numerous female conquests.

Caesar didn't mind. As long as they continued to fight like lions for him, they could sing what they liked...

Yet ancient Britain was filled with proud and warlike Celtic tribes, and Rome constantly dreaded rebellion.

While Spain and the entire coast of North Africa were kept at peace with a single legion apiece, Britain required three permanent legions.

Even so, in AD61, the nightmare came true and much of the island erupted into bloody revolt, under Queen Boudicca.

A brutal and corrupt Roman official was to blame. When Boudicca's husband died, the official ordered the seizure of his tribal lands, and had his Queen publicly whipped and her daughters raped for good measure.

Such an insult could not be endured.

The flame-haired Boudicca stirred her people to a fury, scorning the Romans under their Emperor Nero as 'slaves to a lyre-player,' and comparing Roman rule of her Iceni tribe to 'hares trying to rule over wolves'.

The Queen led her vast tribal army south, striking terror into the hearts of the colonists.

She fell upon Colchester and burned it to ground, and then did the same to Verulamium - now St Albans - and London.

Even today, when deep foundations are dug in the City of London, the builders invariably encounter a stratum of reddish ash: Boudicca's burning.

As many as 70,000 civilians were slaughtered, some in the cruellest ways imaginable...

'In the groves of their terrible dark goddess, Andraste, they tortured their captives to death, sewing the severed breasts of the women to their lips, and impaling others on stakes driven through their bodies...

The first legion to face up to Boudicca was the Ninth. And despite their formidable reputation, in this first conflict they were routed.

Massively outnumbered, they lost as many as a third of their number.

But their heroism won valuable time for the Governor of Britain, Suetonius Paulinus, to march south from Anglesey, down the Roman road later known as Watling Street - and even later, more prosaically, as the A5 - and meet Boudicca's furious onslaught head-on, somewhere in the flat lands of the East Midlands.

Even then Paulinus was outnumbered, his legionaries of 10,000 facing 100,000 howling tribesmen...

Sure enough, against the implacable shield wall of Roman legionaries, bristling with those short, squat, brutally effective stabbing swords, wave after wave of tribesmen broke and fell apart.

The Iceni were utterly crushed. When Boudicca realised the day was lost, she took poison.

But it was also said that, as she lay dying, she put a curse on the legions that had destroyed her people - a curse that people would recall, some 60 years later, in very different circumstances.

After Boudicca's rebellion, the Romans slowly and steadily set about subduing the whole island, pushing further north each year.

Having conquered the powerful tribe of the Brigantes, the Ninth was stationed at the imposing legionary fortress of York...

Beyond York lay the lowland hills of the Borders, and then the Highlands, home of many a ferocious and untamed tribe who were still raiding with impunity down into Roman territory...

Caledonia [Scotland], too, must be 'pacified' for Rome to feel safe. The capable new Governor of Britain, Agricola, led the surge.

They called their enemy Picti - the Painted People.

The tribesmen of Caledonia were fine specimens of men, with reddish hair and huge limbs. They called themselves 'the last men on earth, the last of the free'...

As they rushed into battle, their shaman priests, called the Druithyn in the ancient Celtic tongue, wearing deer's antlers on their heads, stood on nearby hillsides and raised their arms to heaven to summon the spirits of the dead.

They gashed themselves with knives, beat monstrous drums, burnt huge bonfires and howled in fury.

The Romans regarded them as nothing but sorcerers - and yet they still evoked fear. Only the strictest discipline and the finest command would prevail against such an enemy.

The site of the mighty confrontation was called Mons Graupius, somewhere in the wilds of the Cairngorms, and the Roman legionaries were once again savagely triumphant.

After the slaughter, records Tacitus: 'A grim silence reigned on every hand, the hills were deserted, only here and there was smoke seen rising - our scouts found no one to encounter them.'...

Believing they had taught the rebellious Picts one final lesson, the Romans marched south.

But a generation later, fresh rebellion broke out. Which was why, one bleak grey morning in AD117, the 6,000 men of the Ninth Legion tramped north once more.

Little did those they left behind, the girlfriends, auxiliaries and townspeople of York, suspect that this would be the last they ever saw of them...

They would have glimpsed the occasional wisp of peat smoke, the huddle of turf huts among the gloomy moors, but no more.

Their enemy would have eluded them, and they would have had only their meagre rations of bread and bacon and thin soup for comfort, only the endless rain or the first flurries of winter snow for company.

And the mist. The mist would have been their worst enemy.

For in the mist, the enemy might have closed in on them like wolves as they marched through the lonely glens and begun to harry them, to pick them off one by one. The fear would have begun to grow.

Any stray legionaries the tribesmen captured would have been mutilated horribly and left disembowelled, slung over a wayside thornbush for their comrades to find.

And there would be worse horrors in store.

For there was the defeat of Mons Graupius for the Picts to avenge, and, a generation before that, there was the dying curse of a flamehaired queen called Boudicca...

Somewhere out on those godforsaken Scottish moors, death closed in upon the brave, much-honoured IX Legion.

Only the faintest rumours ever returned of what had befallen the men - rumours of some terrible battle one winter's day among the heather-clad hills, of an alien army led into some lethal mire.

Of the red-crested foreigners fighting to a heroic finale in freezing rain and hail, a last small, wounded band gathered about their silver Eagle totem, fighting to the last man, the motto of every legion on their lips: 'Eagle lost - honour lost; honour lost - all lost.'

All we know for certain is that the IX Hispanica disappeared abruptly from the records, an entire legion vanished.

A fresh legion, the VI Victrix, was brought over from the Lower Rhine to replace them and stationed at York in AD122.

But one visible landmark remains testimony to the Ninth's disappearance.

When the new Emperor Hadrian visited Britain soon after, on hearing of the loss of the IX, he commanded a huge wall to be built, a wall studded with fortresses and watch towers, 80 miles from the Solway to the Tyne.

We look at Hadrian's Wall today as a splendid monument of Roman power and confidence.

But really it was an admission of defeat - and of fear.

An entire legion had been eradicated as if at some sorcerer's command. Not a single survivor had stumbled back into camp to tell the tale.

There were mysteries and horrors out there in the mists and the mountains of Caledonia which not even the Romans could face again.

As in other timeless tales and enigmas that continue to haunt our imaginations, the Ninth Legion simply marched away, beyond our understanding.

The tramp, tramp, tramp of those hobnailed boots on the straight Roman roads - and then falling quiet as the roads ended and they set off over the soft heather moorland...

They had disappeared from the pages of history - to become legend.

It's tough to deal with barbarians. They remember everything and forgive nothing. They don't care if you try to be fair and forward looking. They don't remember that what they did to you was as bad or worse than what you did to them. Their sole purpose in life is to kill you. Europeans should be able to remember this. But they just don't. It's even worse that Scots don't. While half the world is massing against them, they're outlawing knives. When they should be building another wall:

America is all alone now. Thank God our troops are nine times better than the ninth legion. Until Obama is through decimating them, that is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dark Days Ahead

THE HUNDRED DAYS.  It didn't end well for Napoleon, and it's not going to end well for a guy who was never fit to hold Bonaparte's coat or even serve as his press secretary.

The polls are fun -- in a lugubrious way. Americans, when asked, rate Obama highest on foreign policy, but they're happy about other things, too.

Foreign policy is the area where voters say the administration has done its best so far. Coming in a close second is the economy, which is also the area where the most voters say the administration has done its worst.

Things Are Getting Better

Most Americans — 69 percent — say they are satisfied with what Obama has accomplished in his first 100 days, and 57 percent think he is keeping the promises he made during the campaign.

Such positive marks are not surprising given that nearly half of Americans (46 percent) are satisfied with the way things are going in the country today, up significantly from 20 percent in mid-January. The increase in satisfaction is driven almost solely by Democrats: 17 percent said they were satisfied in January -- before Obama took office -- and 73 percent say they are satisfied today. [boldface added]

I hate to rain on anybody's parade, but I have to. Ordinarily, I love the American myopia that can't find Europe on a world map, but this time I'm staggered. I was going to write a summary of Obama's foreign policy catastrophes in the first hundred days, but Mark Steyn beat me to it. Here's the grim news:

The president of the United States is telling us that American exceptionalism is no more than national chauvinism, a bit of flag-waving, of no more import than the Slovenes supporting the Slovene soccer team and the Papuans the Papuan soccer team. This means something. The world has had two millennia to learn to live without “Greek exceptionalism.” It’s having to get used to post-exceptional America rather more hurriedly.

It makes sense from Obama’s point of view: On the domestic scene, he’s determined on a transformational presidency, one that will remake the American people’s relationship to their national government (“federal” doesn’t seem the quite the word anymore) in terms of health care, education, eco-totalitarianism, state control of the economy, and much else. With a domestic agenda as bulked up as that, the rest of the world just gets in the way.

You’ll recall that, in a gimmick entirely emblematic of post-exceptional America, Hillary Clinton gave the Russians a (mistranslated) “Reset” button. The button has certainly been “reset” — to September 10th, to a legalistic rearview mirror approach to the “War on Terror,” in which investigating Bush officials will consume far more time and effort than de-nuking Iran. The secretary of Homeland Security’s ludicrous re-classification of terrorism as “man-caused disaster,” and her boneheaded statement that the September 11th bombers had entered America from Canada (which would presumably make 9/11 a “Canadian man-caused disaster”) exemplifies the administration’s cheery indifference to all that Bush-era downer stuff.

But it’s not September 10th. In Pakistan, a great jewel is within the barbarians’ reach, the first of many. At the U.N., the Islamic bloc’s proscriptions on free speech will make it harder even to talk about these issues. In much of the West, demographic decay means the good times are never coming back: Recession is permanent.

Hey, what’s the big deal? Britain and France have been on the geopolitical downward slope for most of the last century and life still seems pretty agreeable. Well, yes. But that’s in part because, when a fading Britannia handed the baton to the new U.S. superpower, it was one of the least disruptive transfers of global dominance in human history. In the “post-American era,” to whom does the baton get passed now?

Since January, President Obama and his team have schmoozed, ineffectively, American enemies over allies in almost every corner of the globe. If you’re, say, India, following Obama’s apology tour even as you watch the Taliban advancing on those Pakistani nukes, would you want to bet the future on American resolve? In Delhi, in Tokyo, in Prague, in Tel Aviv, in Bogota, they’ve looked at these first 100 days and drawn their own conclusions.

But Americans like Obama's foreign policy? I scratched my head over that, but then I remembered I am old and most of the people living today have no memory or knowledge about what nuclear war looks like. It probably seems unreal to them, impossible, an insanity so stark that it doesn't even have to be contemplated. I can think of no other way that average Americans would disregard the looming probability that nuclear weapons from North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan will find their way to Tel Aviv. The governments of all three of these countries are flat fucking crazy. Which is why I'm devoting the rest of this post not to seconding Steyn, but to educating all you ignorant youngsters that nuclear weapons have already been used and are almost certain to be used again in the first or second Obama term.

Go read every word of this report. It's clinical, understated, dry, and dull. But it's talking about hundreds of thousands of casualties. It happened, fellas. And it's about to happen again.

Then go here. Read the eyewitness accounts of the events that are about to happen again. Just a hint:

"I was told to go to the headquarters where there were lots of injured persons waiting. I went there and I started to give treatment with the help of nurses and medical course men. We first treated the office personnel for their injuries. Most of them had broken glass and pieces of wood stuck into them. We treated them one after another. Afterwards, we heard the strange noise. It sounded as if a large flock of mosquitoes were coming from a distance. We looked out of the window to find out what was happening. We saw that citizens from the town were marching towards us. They looked unusual. We understood that the injured citizens were coming towards us for treatment. But while, we thought that there should be Red Cross Hospitals and another big hospitals in the center of the town. So why should they come here, I wondered, instead of going there. At that time, I did not know that the center of the town had been so heavily damaged. After a while, with the guide of the hospital personnel, the injured persons reached our headquarters. With lots of injured people arriving, we realized just how serious the matter was. We decided that we should treat them also. Soon afterwards, we learned that many of them had badly burned. As they came to us, they held their hands aloft. They looked like they were ghosts."

The Japanese are naturally circumspect. Americans should go buy this book, which we all read in my day, but I suspect no one has read in a very long time. Read it. Then come back and tell me Barack Obama is doing a good job on foreign policy.

Hellfire is coming. Jews will die in the hundreds of thousands. All this has been made far more likely in a hundred of days. If you don't care about this, screw you.

UPDATE. A lost file pertinent to The Boomer Bible has been found. See the relevant post here, and the rediscovered file here. You won't believe it. Unless you do.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu: The Interview

. We caught up with Ted, the swine who started the flu outbreak that has caused so much instantaneous panic around the world. Here's a transcript of our interview:

Sorry we can't show you the YouTube version.
Our attorneys were very insistent.  You know.
Preserving the brand and all that. MSM pride.

XOFF: Hey. What's with this flu thing?

TED: Settle down. If you keep jumping around and screaming like Geraldo Rivera, I'm going to throw up. Which, to be frank, is a messy prospect you won't enjoy.

XOFF: That's easy for you to say. Can you possibly comprehend that we of the mass media are absolutely terrified by what you have done, that we can hardly take a breath, that our fingers quiver as they approach the keyboard to tell the American people that there's a rampant disease out there which could lay them up for days and if they're Mexican completely kill them? Where's my inhaler?

TED: It's probably up your ass, where you keep everything else you think you know.

XOFF: Thanks. I feel better now.

TED: What a relief.

XOFF: So why did you unleash this plague on the world. Is it an animal rights thing?

TED: In the first place I didn't "unleash" anything. I coughed, discreetly, once, in the vicinity of one of your pampered human beings. I am not responsible for what occurred subsequently. If you persist in attributing motive to my cough, I will suspend this interview and direct all future communications from the MSM to my attorney.

XOFF: I apologize. Can we speak hypothetically? About what your motives might have been if, as clearly was not the case, your cough was intentional?

TED: Sure. Like all pigs, I love hypotheticals. Like, how would I handle it if I had been born even lower on the evolutionary scale as, say, a journalist. That one keeps me up nights, I don't mind telling you.

XOFF: Okay. If your cough had been intentional, what would have been the motive?

TED:  Hell. That's simple. Like all fat folks, we like to see the ones who are young, slim, and stupid dance. You're all dancing now. To my tune.

XOFF: What do you mean? Are you saying you're actually enjoying this?

TED: Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. You're the only species that has a problem with death. All the rest of us -- every single one of us -- meet death with resignation, as the inevitable part of life it is. Only humans pretend that death can be somehow averted, avoided, prevented, escaped, stopped in its tracks, or outlawed by an act of congress or an HHS regulation. There are only a few species that have a sense of humor -- wolves, dogs, cats, goats, squirrels, raccoons, hares, carp (interestingly), and pigs -- but those that do just love it when you humorless humans start running around in a panic about absolutely fucking nothing.

XOFF: Did you just use the F-Word?

TED: Yeah. Sorry. Does that offend you, yellowcakes?

XOFF: Yellowcakes?

TED: Sorry again. Over your head obviously.

XOFF: I think I'm going to terminate this interview. You're obviously anti-American, anti-XOFF News, and not suitable for family viewing....

TED: Right. Allow me one last punchline by telling you something you will enjoy hearing. If I coughed intentionally, it was to help President Obama.  Here's a man who regards all artifacts of real life as distractions from the ongoing sermon he is delivering to America and the world. Since his first, what do you call it(?), Hundred Days have now elapsed, we who belong to the humorous species want to keep the joke going.  It's clear he's an idiot and that his policies will beggar his country and the world. But it's just so much fun to hear him talk -- "We are the One we have been waiting for," "I am the Who you've been flagellating yourself with," " They are the dictators I'm who-ing myself into being," "You are the morons I've been I'ing the whole goddam time."

Face it. Even a species as stupid and laugh-free as the human race is not going to put up with this kind of crap for long.  He's just about to run out of pronouns for one thing. For another, he's about to precipitate a nuclear war, which none of you will find amusing. So, if I did cough intentionally, I was only trying to give him a a necessary and therapeutic distraction. And, yeah, I know he says he hates distractions, but from where I sit the man thrives on distractions. There's nothing he likes better than an Act of God (i.e., pigs) that he can find some way to blame on George W. Bush. Which is why I coughed. If I did cough. I just can't wait, like every other jester in the animal kingdom, to hear why his unstaffed HHS department can't stop Americans from panicking like six-year-old-girls about an upper respiratory ailment that is apparently fatal only to Mexicans, whose idea of a hospital is a triage station operated by drug cartels.

But don't think that all pigs are Democrats. We're also enjoying the panic of rightwingers like Michelle Malkin, who is stoking the fires of insanity in order to promote her anti-immigration message. I can't tell you how much we love the clowns who will do anything, and swallow any fantasy, if it will only advance their cause one more inch.

Oops. I feel a cough coming on....

XOFF:  I knew it. You ARE anti-XOFF News. This interview is over.

TED: Can I have the rest of those Cheezits before you stomp out of my stall?....

In the interest of full disclosure, the XOFF interviewer is presently on vacation, and her future career is now in the hands of MSNBC.

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