Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 31, 2009 - August 24, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Really Starting
to Wonder...

A Reaganite as Beltway insider. Anybody
 got a hatpin? A balloon needs puncturing.

BECK'S LOOKING SMARTER. The conservative elites think the problem is between intelligent, well educated professionals and vulgar extremist amateurs. Flyover conservatives think the problem is between lefty extremists and Americans. Who's right?

Well, it damn sure ain't the Bruce Bartletts in the debate. Herewith, a fisking:

Why I Am Anti-Republican

by Bruce Bartlett*

I got an e-mail from a prominent Republican asking why I am so anti-Republican these days. Since many of my friends ask the same thing I thought I would share my reply:

I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?

Bartlett doesn't see any other Reaganites in the GOP these days. Perhaps because he's only looking in Washington among, you know, the PhD. set. I mean, where else would you look for them? Certainly not among ordinary citizens who are taking to the streets to demand a return to limited government, lower taxes, and less interference in our personal lives and liberties.

And what's this crap about "mindless partisanship"? Who's he talking about here? The jelly-spined howdy-doodies in Congress who can't bring themselves to criticize our leftist president by name, who keep talking compromise on his most outrageous policies, even when those policies represent the most violent leftward lurch in the history of the American republic? Like, maybe the generation busting stimulus would have been okay if it were only $500 billion instead of $800 billion with a couple tax cuts thrown in for good measure? And who exactly is it who's doing whatever they can "to screw the Democrats today"? I haven't seen them. Not in Congress. Not in DC. Not in the GOP. What the fuck is he talking about? He's a Reaganite? Give me a goddam break. Reagan would be screaming. It's not about screwing Democrats. It's about heading off a total hijack of the constitution and the country, and Republican politicians are not involved in preventing it. How is that "screwing" the Democrats?

uh, and Michael Steele's "insane op-ed." Insane? All that's mildly crazy about it is the degree of compromise it represents with respect to current government spending on Medicare. Given that the Obama administration is seeking to nationalize one-sixth of the American economy, with a clear objective of paying for it on the backs of senior citizens, how is it "insane" to declare that Republicans still believe seniors have "a right to life" that should be protected, even if the only quick and dirty way to assure that is to vow no cuts to Medicare?

I am not alone. When I talk to old timers from the Reagan years, many express the same concerns I have. But they all work for Republican-oriented think tanks like AEI and Hoover and don’t wish to be fired like I was from NCPA . Or they just don’t want to be bothered or lose friends. As a free agent I am able to say what they can’t or won’t say publicly.

I'll bet you're not alone. You and all the other old-timers who are so dialed in to "politics as usual" that they can't recognize a true existential threat to the country when they see it. They hate all the "screwing" that's going on. The way all old men hate screwing they can't manage themselves anymore. But their "principles' are showing. The real ones. They don't want to get fired from their Georgetown jobs. The way you were, Bruce. Poor Bruce.

I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership Council to push the party back to the center and it was very successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP.

Let me get this straight. The Republicans are in the grip of extremists, and the Democrats aren't? You're not only no longer able to get it up, you've got Alzheimer's too. And I can prove it. If you knew anything at all about Glenn Beck, you'd know that he spends almost as much of his "lunatic" air time trashing Republicans as he does Democrats. He's not concerned about party politics. At all. He's concerned about the possibility of a leftist shadow government inside the official executive branch that's intending to steal the liberties of Democrat and Republican citizens alike, without any possibility of intervention by Congress. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE EVEN TALKING ABOUT with these kinds of ignorant accusations and pomposities.

I will know that the party is on the path to recovery when someone in a position of influence reaches out to former Republicans like me. We are the most likely group among independents to vote Republican. But I see no effort to do so. All I see is pandering to the party’s crazies like the birthers . In the short run that may be enough to pick up a few congressional seats next year, but I see no way a Republican can retake the White House for the foreseeable future. Both CBO and OMB are predicting better than 4% real growth in 2011 and 2012. If those numbers are even remotely correct Obama will have it in the bag. Also, Republicans have to find a way to win some minority votes because it is not viable as a whites-only party in presidential elections. That’s why I wrote my Wrong on Race book, which no one read.

"I see no way a Republican can retake the White House for the foreseeable future." Yeah. Unless the American people figure out, as they seem to be doing right now, that Obama has never told them the truth about anything ever.

"Both CBO and OMB are predicting better than 4% real growth in 2011 and 2012." Sure. With the dollar in the tank and runaway inflation accompanying any increase in real economic activity, even 4-percent growth will be eaten alive by the impacts of the deficit, provided that government borrowing, federal regulation of the private sector, increased taxation of job-creating individuals and businesses, and a commercial real estate crash on top of lagging reemployment numbers don't kill growth prospects altogether. I'm convinced. Obama's golden for 2012.

"If those numbers are even remotely correct Obama will have it in the bag." Since when did you start believing the CBO and OMB? Since you stopped recognizing the faces of your wife and children? Have you considered Scrabble? Shuffleboard? Bingo? What's that glamorous new Alzheimer's drug that slows down the rate at which dementia overtakes you? Get it. Ignore the long list of side effects. You need the medication NOW.

"That’s why I wrote my Wrong on Race book, which no one read." Awww. Maybe Obama will pass a law that requires all of us to read it.

Bottom Line. If he ever was a Reaganite, Bruce Bartlett isn't one anymore. He's just a very confused old fart, still hugging a comfortable tree he can't see has been overtaken and twisted to death by poison ivy.  That's why so many oldsters are dying. They've outlived their 20th century wisdom. The lesson for the rest of us is that we can't trust the ancient insiders. They're too close. They can't see the danger. But we have to see the danger. Our whole future depends on it.

I've resisted thinking that Glenn Beck's darkest fears are correct. Ironically, essays like Bartlett's push me closer to believing that he's right. Insanity is in the air. When it strikes the formerly sane, that's when you know you're flirting with the Weimar Republic model.

Truth is, we're as anti-Republican as Bartlett at this point. For exactly opposite reasons. The frightened, big government Republicans in congress are not fighting for the country. We need them to. Which makes them as big a problem as the Democrats, who -- contrary to Beck's naive theories -- are all complicit in the impending destruction of the United States. There are no innocents here. Only degrees of treachery.

I really am starting to wonder. What does it take to wake people up? If smart people can't be woken, what chance do the rest of us have to save our futures?

*Economist Bruce Bartlett was an official in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and helped President George W. Bush craft his early tax cuts. He writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column and for such popular Web sites as Ranked number nine on International Economy magazine's list of the most important think tank scholars in the U.S., Bartlett is also a prolific author. His new book, Wrong on Race, is an exposé of the racial roots of the Democratic Party.

Just a reminder. Emergency Button here.


The Metalkort, if you dare...

Bring your scrivers. More important, bring your life.

THE MK. There are other places InstaPunkers go to have at it with each other. Ordinarily, we don't intrude. We do what we do here, and they do what they do there. But there are times when they're having a better or more interesting conversation than we are. That's when we say, hie yourselves to the Metalkort, and give them the benefit of your attention and insight. This time, there are two posts worthy of your attention. One already has plenty of comments (more than we usually get) but is so educational it requires more:

This is not Bosnia.

Another is a splendid joie de vivre post that should receive more input than the ultra-serious Metalkort crowd has seen fit to give it. Shouldn't we be as supportive of enthusiasm as we are angry about intentions of death? I think so. (Sorry, Billy. There is something transcendant about sport, no matter how jaded you are.) It's about hockey. And it's also authored by our most prolific commenter, Eduardo, who gleams with a love of life itself that most can only aspire to. Name the subject and he has three times as much to say about it as Instapunk ever has. And he's not nearly so obnoxious.

Football's here, but it's not on my mind

And for the snobs in the readership, I remind you that once upon a time we had another hockey fan among our number, sunk in luxurious indolence now, who wrote hilariously about "The Hockey" and the "Anyshell." Do an 'advanced search' for "Puck Punk" and you'll find some of the funniest entries ever posted here before the arrival of Brizoni.

Simple conclusion. Into the Metalkort is cool. Where InstaPunk is depressing, Metalkort is gangbusters. Go there. Have fun. And then report back. Unless you go to Shuteye Nation Underverse first.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Say, What?

You're interfering with my naps.

AHEM. A WORD. IF I MIGHT. I don't mind saying, people are getting a bit exercised around here, what? Time to dial it all back a notch, I say. Too much frou frou, or whatever the term is. I don't mind when they make fun of me, which they do, and I can take a joke as well as the next chap, or I wouldn't laugh, or at least snort amicably the way I do, at argle-bargle like this, if that's the right term, when the old man says I'd be a cert in this event:

But, and I mean this in the kindest possible way, you people are a bit over the top, don't you know. We in the, what do you call it, "animal community" are more, um, er, what's the word, phlegmatic?

That doesn't sound right. Does anybody have a chip? Thought not.

Where was I? A chip? Thought not.

A chip?

Excuse me. Sometime I lose my train of what-do-you-call-it? What? Thought. Which, if you don't mind my saying, there's far too much of.  At any rate, there was something I wanted to show you, if I could only remember what it was...

Oh. This. There. You see. It makes everything marvelously clear, what?



Well, what I meant to point out is that we're not the way you show us in your adverts, now are we? Not like this anyway:

What? What? I don't mind admitting that unnerved me. Animals acting like people.

Oh hell. Completely forgot what comes next. But you're people.You figure it out. That's what you're supposed to be good at, what?

What's the word the old man keeps repeating when all I want is a chip? Settle. That's it. I say, settle.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for my nap, what? I say...

[ED. Well, Psmith has nodded off. Again. And, yes, I'm his "old man." I just wanted to clear up the "upper class twit" joke. It wasn't meant to be mean. He's as upper class as they come; it's just that he can never remember why. But his message about "dialing it back a notch" might very well be appropriate. I think. What?]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Me and the Jews

ANSWERING THE QUESTION. I'll start with two quotes that should explain the why's and wherefores of this post. The first is from me:

If anyone wants it... I'll tell my own story of how I discovered the Holocaust and why it changed the rest of my life.

The second is from one of our most esteemed commenters, Lake:

IP, I'd very much like to hear about your first encounter with the Holocaust, and perhaps why Krauts was the hardest book to write. If you're willing, that is. This is a hard thing to think about, much less write about.

He's more on the money than he knows. It's a very hard thing to write about. But I'm going to give it a try. And I will tell the story of that first encounter, but only after I have told other stories, other facts of my long and complicated history with the Chosen People. Some of what I relate will be difficult to tell, but that's not the hard part. The hard part is conveying a personal learning experience without making it seem like a lesson or, worse, a sermon about matters that interpenetrate all our lives so frequently we could be excused for believing that we're merely the fabric in a needlework project, being sewn by some other into a sampler whose motto we might or might not agree with. I'm not sermonizing. I'm recounting my own attempt to make sense of complications and contradictions that devil me to this day.

I was raised to be prejudiced against the Jews. Not because they were inferior or evil or un-Christian, but because they were the only serious rivals of the real Chosen People, people of Anglo-Saxon and celtic descent. For my father it was that simple. If we were the New York Yankees, they were the Boston Red Sox, which meant that almost everything about them was wrong or at least unacceptable. Everything different was a line of demarcation. They were Democrats (many of them Communists). They were ostentatious in their wealth. They had bad taste in cars and houses and clothes. They were loud and obnoxious. They had bad manners and didn't even know it.  Everything similar was the field of competition. They were smart, they were devoted to education, they were fiercely competitive, they took care of their own, they had a way of enduring storm after storm after catastrophe and still rising almost unbelievably at the top of whatever hierarchy they were in. They were so much like us in every important way that they were completely intolerable because they sent food back in restaurants and made dirty jokes in mixed company. It was absolutely unacceptable to let them beat you in what mattered most: school.

This was relevant in my own life because after kindergarten, from first grade through graduate school, my classmates always included a significant percentage of very bright, very hardworking, very competitive Jews. For reasons I will explain later, I very early stopped seeing them as "the enemy," but I never forgot that they were the "creme de la creme" of competition, and beating them never quite lost its Yankee-Red Sox flavor. I'm neither proud of that nor ashamed of it. More than my father ever was, I became a Scot pretty young in life, and I was, if not as tribal as they were, close. I liked winning, and it's more fun to win when at some metaphorical level, it's your kind against their kind. I still don't see what's wrong with that.

Along the way, of course, I also picked up prejudices of my own that had, to be fair, little to do with my father's.

[These, by the way, did not extend to individual acts of bigotry. While he never expressed any regret of any kind about ways that he might have failed me, my father did reveal his sense of shame -- the only one I ever heard from his lips -- about a Jewish friend from high school who went to the same college and was blackballed by every fraternity, including the one my father joined. He committed suicide soon after. My father told me, "He was the nicest, gentlest, greatest guy you could ever meet, and he couldn't live with being ignored by his friends." My father pointed out his picture, and his friendly message, in the yearbook. I still remember the boy's name and photograph. And I remember that my father repeatedly went to bat for an employee of his who pissed off senior management for being every stereotype my father had about Jews -- obnoxious, tactless, graceless, and remarkably brilliant. I remember his name too.]

My prejudices? Always a romantic in the Sir Walter Scott mode, I thought Judaism itself was boring and creepily emasculating. Those yarmulkes and shawls. The dumb hats and curls of the orthodox. I thought Jewish accents and inflections were jarring, nasal, Hebrew a language of throat-clearing coughs that sounded gross compared to the music of English. Their synagogues looked like community centers, not holy places. Their young women wore ugly shoes and their older women wore too much makeup and nagged in public. They offended my esthetic senses, all of them. Although I did fall in love with Rebecca when I read Ivanhoe. If only I could meet one like her... which I did only much much later.

Do I seem to be protesting overmuch? Of course I am. Before I go any farther, a few bald facts. The most beautiful girl I ever fell in love with -- the Rebecca fantasy -- is still the most beautiful girl I have ever laid eyes on. It was a crush that led nowhere, except to the first of the innumerable theorems I have concocted for myself about Jews over the years, because I am so obsessed with them and want desperately to understand the physics of their universe. Theorem No. 1: Nine out of ten Jewish girls are plainer than other women, but the tenth is a beauty so dangerous civilization could not survive more of them. My first girlfriend was Jewish. Two of my five or six permanent male friends in adult life have been Jewish, as well as many of the most intelligent and caring friends one encounters in passing in a long and nomadic professional career. It was my father (!) who told me, without any apparent irony, that if you have a Jew for a friend, you have a friend for life. I discovered that he was right, probably more than he ever had a chance to find out. Jews have the power to teach you more about friendship than you (or I at least) ever knew. Not necessarily that they are better friends, but they are less guarded about how they feel. They are quicker to hug you (never hugged a guy before), quicker to confront you, more interested in hearing and telling all the emotional depths of both your lives. They offend, oh yes they do, but they also forgive, with more depth and alacrity than most Christians. And they will give you this gift even if you are not the closest of friends. They know hurt and pain and doubt and splinters of joy, and they are generous as secular priests in hearing your confessions and granting the absolutions of shared humanity.

We Yankees don't do that. There are a lot of things we Yankees don't do. And now I'll get specific with my metaphors. We don't do what the current Red Sox are doing, throwing deliberate beanballs at the opposing team. In that ancient little crackerbox of a park they play in, where it's okay to show up like an unshowered, unshaven slob and play the greatest game ever played like some goddamned sect of superior "kill or be killed" animals. My first lifelong Jewish friend, who died at forty, was also one of the cruelest people I have ever known. He had no sense of "enough." When he targeted someone as worthy of his abuse, he was as relentless, cunning, and perverse as a serial killer. He did terrible things to people, and after I came to know him and his family, I eventually understood why. But it reinforced all my old prejudices. Visiting him at his home was like living the reverse of "Goodbye Columbus." I could not comprehend the differences between Jewish family life and my life. They talked frankly with one another about all manner of topics that could never have come up in my straitlaced home -- sex, food, food, food, each other's personal failings, the neuroses of everyone they came in contact with, and with unsparing attention to detail, bowel movements -- but they were not devout and they were all individually isolated and alone with an existential despair that Anglo-Saxons don't allow as a topic of even interior reflection.

Most of you know that I'm a writer, whether a good one or not, who knows? But I came to agree with Fitzgerald, who postulated that Jewish writers use their undoubted energy to make up for thin talent. Look at the numbers. There are so few Jews (about 2 percent of the U.S. population) and so many Jewish writers. I despised Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, etc, although I loved Nathanael West (Nathan Weinstein), because he was an exception. I had a real problem with Saul Bellow, who not only shared my birthday but also wrote some of the most beautiful sentences I've ever read for a man who was so philosophically destitute. Actually, I eventually had to admit, Jewish writers had no shortage of talent; they had a shortage of faith. Faith in the ineffable beauty of mankind.

So why would Jewish writers, and Jews in general, suffer from a shortage of faith? Why would there be self-hating Jews, misanthropic Jews, communist Jews, Jews who regard all human personality as pathology and write learned psychiatric papers to prove it, Jews who wallow in piss and shit and fuck juice while they pay no mind to the glorious breakthroughs of the Jew Einstein, who defeated time and space to give us the possibility of a simultaneous universe in which every single electron has meaning and purpose?

I come back, again and again, to the term "Chosen People." It's not necessarily a blessing, is it? Any more than first born or "most gifted" in a family is more blessing than curse. What it really means is "singled out for extra attention," good and bad. That's who the Jews are. They are the apotheosis of mankind. They are the archetype of our species. They are the single longest surviving, more-or-less culturally intact, distinct, historically continuous human tribe on earth. They are a perfect microcosm of everything great and awful about the human race. They are more us than any other single subset of humanity is. More brilliant, more procedural, more intellectual, more vulgar, more passive, more aggressive, more stubborn, more compliant, more argumentative, more dominant, more persecuted, more physical, more cerebral, more kind, more cruel (comedians?), more mercenary, more generous, more wise, more foolish... and on and on and on.

At least that's how I worked it out for myself. Most of my prejudices have imploded on themselves over the years. I used to hate it that American Jewish men who visited Israel maybe once in their adult lives aged into Yiddish accents that made them sound like they were doing impressions of Catskills comedians. It doesn't bother me anymore. Now it seems to me that they're returning as best they can to the language of the ancient middle eastern desert, migrating back to their ancient roots in the the tribe of Khabiri, first men to rise from barbarism into morality. Jewish mothers and their food fetishes used to bother me. No more. They are the constant reminder that life itself has a primally physical element and that it's actually the female of the species which keeps the male intellect rooted in the reality of sensation, sex, and, yes, the end-products of food, piss and shit. Do they yell? Yes. Well, since I learned that it's okay to hug a man, I've also learned that it's okay to yell back at a Jewish mother. Especially if you're a Scot. (They love us Scots.)

Yarmulkes, shawls, torahs, and nutty leftwing politics don't even bother me about Jews any more. It's our job -- the younger sons and daughters -- to protect them from their own excesses. They're Judy Garland. We're supposed to let her get taken for a ride because there are parasites and perverts who take advantage of the weaknesses inherent in her genius? It's our duty -- and the measure of our own worth -- to keep her safe, even from herself.

I concede this is a tale of bigotry, beginning with my father, but all of us are bigots. We all prefer our own to the others.  That's an ineradicable element of human existence. The only important question is, what makes it possible to bridge such gulfs between all the various others? For everyone who may think that I was badmouthing my father, this is where I will cross you up. My father taught me a thing we need desperately today -- a bigotry of equality. It's really, honestly, completely okay to be the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. He didn't teach me to look down on the Jews. He taught me to compete with them. And I did. But he did not, never ever ever did, foreclose the possibility or the ramifications of what happened when I was six years old, on a brick sidewalk, in Salem, New Jersey.

We were first graders at an Episcopal school consisting of 26 students. First year for the school, first year in school for us. My best friend was Julian Jonas (his real name). I'd been to his house, met his parents, played in his backyard. He had more cowboy sixguns in his yard than I did. He even had a toy Winchester .45. You could insert bullets with caps and fire them. Tremendous. I'd have begged my parents for a gun like that if it would have done any good. It was the first and only time I got to play cowboys and Indians with so much hardware.

Julian also had an older brother named David. The only older brother of a friend I had in elementary school who wasn't an asshole. David was, well, not that I'd have described it this way then, the perfect son. He was handsome, kind, generous with his time, somehow old beyond his years, and possessed of a gorgeous voice, even in fourth grade. That first year of the school, there was a Christmas gathering at which the fourth and fifth graders sang the "Twelve Days of Christmas." David had the part about "Five golden rings." I can still remember the stage, the tables, the parents, the kids in awe every time David sang "five go-o-o-o-l-den rings." Rich, pure, and resonant. It was all you could recall afterwards. And David was never less than utterly nice to me, his brother's friend.

Sorry if I'm slow to get to the point. Julian's and David's parents were also nice but old. They looked twice as old as my parents. Dr. Jonas was balding and white-haired, although his eyes still held a hint of boy mischief. Mrs. Jonas, though, looked unwell. There was no flesh under her skin. She was a lady made of bone. Dr. Jonas looked something like my grandfather. Mrs. Jonas looked like his mother.

Then there was a warmish, wet day in February, long after David's stirring Cristmas performance, when the bus delivered us to the little chapel where we got our prayers before going to class. We walked the brick sidewalk from the chapel to the parish house, where Mrs. Fish our teacher was waiting, and something was wrong with Julian. I asked him what. He told me his mother had died over the weekend. We stopped on the herringbone brick. He struggled with the picture in his head. His mother had been cremated. He said there was a puff of smoke and she was gone. He acted it out for me. Once. Again. His mother was smoke.

There's nothing you can do. All children have is stunned silence. My parents told me about the things I had seen but not known about. The faded wrist tattoo above her clawlike hands, which I had seen but didn't understand and which (I didn't know) Dr. Jonas also had. And something about the camps. The Germans had put them both in concentration camps. And now she had died. Of what?

The Germans killed the Jews for being Jews. That was the shorthand of what I learned.

The sidewalk was damp, herringboned, we had just come from chapel and the blessing of Christ, and I had no way of knowing that after this semester I would never see either of the Jonas boys again for the rest of my life. And so, to me, he is still standing there, a six year old boy telling my six year old self and every subsequent version of myself what it's like to witness the dissolution of the corpse of your long-dead mother taken away from you forever.

And that's something I will never forget. I could give you details. The wet leaves. The humble gray peak of the chapel. The comforting clump of plump kids in uniform in procession. Julian's big baffled eyes.

From that day onward, at least part of me was a Jew. Not a good one, maybe, but a voraciously curious and emphatically angry one.

ADDENDUM. There's another slight anecdote that verifies my final statement above. Just so you know it's not mere rhetoric, as things sometimes are, let's face it. About 25 years ago, I went to a computer trade show in Las Vegas, my first one. I was one of several employees of my company manning a booth in a vast convention center. Everything was normal, boring, all you'd expect of a geeky trade show. The people go by, back and forth, and you watch dully because they're all exactly who they're supposed to be -- cocky managers, dishevelled code freaks, salespeople, etc -- and then...

I saw him maybe 150 feet away, and the hairs rose on my arms and the back of my neck. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of recognition. German. Nazi. He was blonde but not tall, not old, not young, certainly not Hitler youth, not a clicheed poster-child of any sort. He was, if anything, a bit rumpled and nondescript except for his eyes. I just knew. He actually came to our booth. And I was right about the basic facts if not the part no one could prove. He was German, he was peremptory, barking, and rude. I had to excuse myself and flee the booth. I wanted to kill him. In the worst way.

End of anecdote. But I've never had a similar experience before or since. I've been to Germany on business trips at least twice since then without experiencing anything like that instant visceral hostility. (Not that meeting Germans made me like them much, but I didn't feel any urge to hurt them.) You tell me what happened. I don't know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


SIC TRANSIT.... He's dead.

UPDATE. If you had a time machine, you could say something about him a year from now, couldn't you?

UPDATE 2 (8/28/09). Or maybe even today (h/t HotAir):

Who could not be repulsed by this?

Or this? (Shudder....) Not me, anyway.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Damn. We missed

Obahmud's really got the lingo down, don't he?

HANGING ON BY A BIKINI THREAD SOMETIMES. Here's what the wags are fired up about:

Obama skips National Day of Prayer – but five minute video for Ramadan

This is another example of the young president’s inexperience. Really now, who’s running the show in the Executive Branch? This morning, the White House blog posted a five minute Obama video message sending greetings to Muslims around the world. That’s fine and all, but he basically ignored the all-faith-inclusive National Day of Prayer on May 7.

Christians, Catholics, Jews, Episcopalians and members of other faiths…. what say you? From The Washington Times on May 6. Hat tip to Jim at Gateway Pundit and HotAirPundit. [AWWW]

But it's not what I'm fired up about. As the piece quoted should have acknowledged, the president also released a video honoring Easter and Passover back in April, and I'm content at some level with the notion that he feels obligated to utter a stone tablet or two about every event that might be considered divine by any of his subjects. My problem is that he seems a lot more comfortable with the muslim shtick than the Christian-Jew shtick.

The Jews have "stories about their ancestors' struggle." Who doesn't?

I honestly don't care that much about National Prayer Day. Religious devotion to my mind has never been about praying publicly or even showing up at church every Sunday. The BTK killer was a regular at his church, after all. Still, I'm bothered by the difference between the messages to Christians and Jews on their high holy days and the message to muslims at Ramadan. Here's an audo file juxtaposing the explicitly religious references of the two tapes (the break points are indicated by the Law & Order gavel sound). Be patient while it loads; it will play.

You can check whether my editing has been fair or not by slogging through both the YouTube videos. I think I've been fair, though. The Easter/Passover tape (hey, it's a twofer!) doesn't mention God, the Bible, the gospels, the Torah, or reiterate any prayer, blessing, or meaningful epithet (e.g., "Son of God," "Savior," "Lawgiver," "Deliverer") in either faith. In contrast to the muslim portion, which abounds with Arabic terms, there's no attempt to reference any Hebrew words or rites. And, yes, he does specifically cite the "resurrection of Jesus Christ" in the one and "my own Christian faith" in the other, but even the kindest listener would have to conclude that the first is perfunctory and the second, well, subsidiary if not actually apologetic. He sprinkles his muslim homily with references to "The Prophet," the Koran, and the specific religious meaning of Ramadan. To muslims, he does not imply that Martin Luther King is somehow the superior spiritual voice that bridges all major religions, for example. And given our recent history, not to mention current events, is anyone else troubled by the paean to "Islam's role in advancing just progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings"? What would that be, exactly? And I'm not asking that question grandly and hypothetically, but grittily in the context of the past week.

Was it "just progress" and "tolerance" that advanced the Lockerbie bomber a hero's welcome in Libya after his release by the Gordon Brown government of the U.K.?

Contrast this scene with the huge demonstration mounted by the rara avis
the Islamic world, the "moderate muslims" who protested this hateful
by massing at the Modena Mosque in Tripoli to show their fealty to
international peace, love, justice, tolerance, and all that meaningless crap.

Was it "just progress, tolerance, and human dignity" that drove this 17-year-old girl from her home in Ohio to Florida in fear of her life?

Daddy would never hurt his apostate baby girl. Never. Would he?

It's nothing but trouble to point any of this out, but if things bother me long enough I have to say something. Why exactly is it that Obama is so generally well received in the Arab-Muslim world? The Ohio girl of muslim family who converted to Christianity fears, with some justification according to religious scholars, that her life is in danger because she's an apostate. If I'm understanding correctly, apostates -- those who have been muslims and leave the faith -- are more vile and despicable than Jews in the Islamic faith, which is really f___ing saying something. And there can't be much doubt that for at least a while in his youth, Barack Obama was a muslim:

[T]he records of the Catholic school and the public school Obama attended during his last year in Indonesia identify him as a Muslim. As Obama relates in Dreams from My Father, he took Koran classes. As Obama doesn’t relate in Dreams from My Father, children in Indonesia attended religious instruction in accordance with their family’s chosen faith. Moreover, acquaintances recall that young Barry occasionally attended Friday prayers at the local mosque, and Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half-sister (born after Lolo and Ann moved the family to Jakarta), told the New York Times in a 2008 interview, “My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim.” In fact, back in March 2007 — i.e., during the early “Islamic ties are good” phase of Obama’s campaign — the candidate wistfully shared with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof his memories of the muezzin’s Arabic call to prayer: “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.” Kristof marveled at the “first-rate accent” with which Obama was able to repeat its opening lines...

Isn't he, in the strict and unforgiving code of sharia, an apostate himself? Or are we bearing witness to the biggest wink-wink in the history of international diplomacy? Consider how adeptly he quoted Islamic terms in his Ramadan address. Now review his recent bumbling in last week's attempt to cozy up to rabbis for the sake of his healthcare bill:

The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, is the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe, a solemn period of reflection and repentance. One of the key moments in the Rosh Hashanah service is the reciting of the prayer (U’netana tokef, in Hebrew) that discusses the possibilities individuals face in the year to come...

President Obama oddly quoted from this prayer in his conference call with 1,000 rabbis yesterday... The purpose of the call was for President Obama to enlist the rabbis to support his health-care reform efforts: “I am going to need your help in accomplishing necessary reform.” The reference to the “who shall live and who shall die” prayer was strange... the Jewish New Year won’t take place until September 18th. In fact, today marks the beginning of the month of Elul, the last month before the New Year begins. And yet the president said “shanah tovah [happy new year] to all of you.” This is kind of like wishing people “Merry Christmas” on Thanksgiving.

I believe that no matter how verbally skilled people are, they do communicate their real allegiances and antipathies in ways that may undermine or contradict their rational intentions. Ultimately, they give themselves away. I believe that whatever he says in words, Obama is not a Christian but a muslim and the muslim world knows it. That's why there's no fatwa against the apostate president of the Great Satan. They believe he's their Manchurian Candidate, whether any of us believe it or not.

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand, or even a million, words:

Gordon Brown looks quite at home there too, doesn't he? Say
what you will, the Brits always know how to deal with the wogs.

Ali Ali Akbar. Or whatever the damn hell the expression is. (uh, don't bother correcting me. I. don't. care.)

Rachel at Auschwitz

"The sun shone on the raindrops stuck to the flowers left behind by visitors."

Just a road sign like any other.

SPEAKING OF "THE JEWS"... We've played with her and her name in the past, calling her Eloise. That won't do today. Quite properly, we got our ass kicked for having ignored her of late by our ace commenter Apotheosis, who said this:

Hey IP, if you haven't seen what Eloise is up to lately I humbly suggest you get your ass over there, sooner rather than later.

So we hustled on over there and now you should too. Here's all the intro you need:

So. There is a place in Poland called Oświęcim. The Germans called it Auschwitz back when they took over the old Polish Army barracks and turned it into hell on earth. First it was a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, and gradually evolved into the death factory we know today.

So we walked to the bus station in Krakow, and though Rupert usually deals with buying our tickets in foreign countries, I told him I wanted to handle this one. I needed to do it. But I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Two coach tickets to Auschwitz, please,” out loud. It sounds like you are asking for tickets to any old place, casually. So I kind of whispered/mumbled it, but the ticket-seller couldn’t hear me, and thus I took a deep breath and cleared my throat and even though I knew I was messing it up horribly and probably sounded like a fool, I said it with something like the proper Polish pronunciation, Oz-veech-yim.

She understood me, and I am sure I saw in her eyes some twinkle of pleased surprise that I had tried, and she smiled extra-warmly at me as she passed me the tickets; that made me proud of myself. It is all about the trying sometimes.

We got on the bus at about 10 a.m. and that’s when my stomach started to turn to lead. How do you spend a lifetime dreading and anticipating the moment you will finally do something important to you, learning everything you can about one of the most revolting and massively evil things humanity has ever done, and not begin to shake when you’re finally on that bus?


If anyone wants it afterwards, I'll tell my own story of how I discovered the Holocaust and why it changed the rest of my life. But for now, the stage belongs to Rachel. A marvelous piece of writing.

Today she's not six. She's six million.

P.S. Amazing how people fall silent when the subject is the Jews and just how much the muslims (and many many others) hate them. Here's a bit of homework for Americans. There's a page turner of a novel by Leon Uris called Mila 18. It's the fictionalized but historically accurate story of the birth of Israel, which didn't happen in Palestine. It happened in the Warsaw Ghetto, whose residents were systematically transported to the death camps of the Nazis while the Poles outside did little more than watch the trains depart. But the Jews' passive submission to the Nazis ended once and for all in the Ghetto, with a heroic stand that humiliated crack SS divisions and still represents one of the most unbelievably heroic military campaigns of all recorded human history. And it didn't end like Masada. The incredible hard core of surviving resistance fighters in the Ghetto escaped at the last and carried with them the courage and indomitable spirit that would create the nation of Israel. Read it. It should be a miniseries on this fall's network television schedule. It isn't and it won't be. Because it's politically correct in the liberal civilized mind to hate the Jews again. Just don't give yourselves that luxury. Not if you value your own soul.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nothing Paranormal.

We're all, Against the Wall.

HELL'S BELLS. We're responding to a comment on this post by our old friend Taylor. Our purpose is not to skewer one of our abler commenters. It's just that he gave us an excuse to flesh out a point we were reluctant to make in greater detail. He gave us an excuse and we took full advantage. Skip to the end and then come back if you think our purpose is to give him a hard time. It's to give the American people a hard time. Period.

But here's what Taylor said in response to our taking credit for the current Obama freefall:

I'll stipulate that you were right, Mr. Punk. That's always been one of the reasons why I frequent this blog.

So, what are your new prognostications?

Mine include:

- A return of 70s-style stagflation beginning in 2010;

uh, got it already.

Why did inflation soar under Carter and plunge under Reagan? Because Carter spent money he didn't have in ways that totally failed to stimulate business growth. Under his administration, regulations increased, tax rates for individuals and corporations remained high, and the dollars government spent sucked money out of the private sector that could have been spent on new revenue-producing investments. Under Reagan, federal spending also increased, but tax rates fell, regulations were eased, and thus the ability of U.S. businesses to respond quickly to changes in their markets improved dramatically. Reagan's bets proved to be good ones. Carter's proved to be disastrous. The 13.7 percent inflation rate that peaked under Carter also resulted in home mortages of 20 to 22 percent and a prime rate of lending to banks that reached 18 percent. (As a purely academic exercise, calculate the monthly cost of your home mortgage if your interest rate doubled. Throw up here.)

The current Obama bailout bill is a disaster waiting to happen because 1) it spends money on non-revenue-producing projects (i.e., preventing STDs and government make-work projects), and because 2)  its explicit intention of increasing the government's role in interfering with the business decisions of multiple U.S. industries for social and environmental reasons will drastically reduce the capacity of private sector enterprises to respond swiftly and effectively to changes in their markets. Every business failure precipitated by government interference and oversight will serve to decrease the confidence of investors in U.S. government securities, and the result will be escalating interest rates for the government securities required to finance folly. That's how the inflationary spiral starts. And once it has begun, nothing can stop it but a revolutionary reversal of federal policy.

What else have you got, my simpatico friend?

- Meek acceptance of a nuclear-armed Iran in 2010, and more ineffectual chin-wagging after it employs its nukes on Israel some time before 2012;

That one too.

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.

But I'm listening. You're predicting no recovery?

- A recession that doesn't "double-dip" in 2010 because the one we're in now doesn't end until 2011 at the earliest;

Who could have anticipated that? Us. (uh, twice)

While everyone with access to a microphone frets about this issue, that controversy, and the other inside the beltway gossip, Barack Obama is taking this country apart in huge bloody chunks.

He has doubled the whole history of  U.S. national debt totals with one stroke of his pen. There is no end in sight to the level of additional spending, wealth transfer, and outright wealth destruction he yet intends within a matter of mere weeks. The stock market is plunging like a rock precisely because the people who must make economic decisions about the future aren't convinced the president of the United States isn't driving us single-handedly into a decade-long depression.

Why aren't they convinced? Because if that were indeed his stated aim, he still couldn't have chosen a better set of policies to achieve it. His income tax, capital gains tax, and payroll tax increases on $200K and up earners, coupled with his projected limitations on their deductions, including charitable deductions, will increase their tax burden by as much as 50 percent. This giant act of theft will significantly diminish new business investment and reduce job creation in the private sector. His unimaginably huge, unfunded increases in government spending will certainly suck vast sums out of private capital markets and result in enormous inflationary pressure, which will not only devalue pensions and individual savings but constitute another crippling tax on every income-earner in the nation. But even that isn't enough for him. He also intends to tax U.S. corporations for the income they earn overseas, which will decrease profitability and reduce jobs further at home by making our products uncompetitive in world markets. AND his planned carbon tax will ripple endlessly through the U.S. economy. hitting all businesses and individuals in wave after wave of additional costs -- for fuel itself and for all goods and services made or transported with fuel. But he also has already quietly buried the possibility of drilling for more oil at home.

All of this is mandated by what he has already signed, quietly decreed, or put on the legislative calendar. He is on course to destroy the entire American economy for a generation.

Except no one predicted election trickery before your latest August 2009 look at the crystal ball...

- Massive fun-n-games with the 2010 census count, including millions more illegal aliens on their way to amnesty and donkey party voter registration before 2012; and

- Wholesale donkey party vote fraud in 2010 and 2012, which will not only throw multiple individual elections but also entire states during the next presidential contest.

Not so, kemo sabe. Yeah, we put it in an "if" clause, but we also made it clear the clock was ticking and that the downside risk was cataclysmic:

If Lowry is right, Obama doesn't care about the huge political hit he is about to take if he actually succeeds in his quest for a healthcare bill. His "restructuring" of the nation is more important than the plunge in the polls he will experience when another bill read in full by no member of congress locks every American into a government monopoly of the largest sector of the economy.  Why wouldn't he care?  Because he's the equivalent of a mole-suicide-bomber who would rather complete his destruction of the American economy and constitution than be reelected? Because he fully intends such an utter breakdown of the American and dependent global capitalist system that he will be able to declare martial law a la Hitler and become the Hugo Chavez of the world's most powerful nation? Or because he has such infinite faith in the structural changes he's making in the electorate via billions of dollars of ACORN funding that he can rig any future election, no matter how badly the polls go against him? If any of these scenarios are accurate, we need to know.

Not saying you're not on the money. It's just that these aren't new predictions. They're old. And inevitable. And we laid them out in considerable detail. Not that it matters.

Contrary to what a lot of you may think, our point here is not how scarily right we were. It's that we made these predictions a long time ago, at a considerable distance from the action. It just wasn't that hard to see where all this was going. If anybody had bothered to look at Obama. Or thought about him. At all.

That's why we're almost always sick at our stomach these days. My only current prediction is that we fight for our country NOW or we die long before we stop breathing, death panels or no.

P.S. File this one under Candide's "il faut cultiver notre jardin." Someone in Philly has responded to the Vick fiasco by launching a website against dogfighting. Something to do while the world burns, eh? I like the title: "Team Vickless." Take a look.

Sigh. Dr. Zero belongs here.

Coincidence? My favorite avatar from 'Mortal Kombat' was Sub-Zero.

IS THERE A ZERO IN THE HOUSE? Yeah, we've praised him before. It galls me every time one of his well written posts appears at HotAir with the patronizing notification that it has been "promoted" from the 'The Green Room' (er, the minor league sidebar where the second-raters play whiffle ball while Allahpundit and Morrissey jack off with Big League questions like which moderate Democrat is sounding reasonable today and which atheist group is making less a fool of itself than usual.).And I know my growing contempt for HotAir is not helping matters, in that many of you probably miss it when Doc Zero pitches another two-hitter in an empty ballpark.

So I'm begging you to check out the little gem called Why Sarah Palin Should Not Leave The Room, which is damn near a perfect game. He takes on Charles Krauthammer, splitting the difference between my own pro and con views of him, and in the process brings into focus precisely what is so damned important about Sarah Palin. As I often do with good writers, I'll give you a taste without pretending it's the "bottom line" of the essay. (That's actually an insult to any good piece of writing, which would ennoble Glenn Reynolds to realize...) It's just the forkful of haute cuisine that makes the discerning order the whole entree for themselves:

The death panel doesn’t have to take the form of nine robed Sith Lords, stamping your grandmothers’ termination orders with a giant red skull, then handing them to a ghoul in surgical scrubs. It will be no less deadly if it consists of thousands of faceless government drones in cubicles, processing Quality of Life spreadsheets and crossing out the unlucky Social Security numbers with pink highlighter pens. In fact, my only quibble with Palin’s prediction is that, given the style of the current Administration, it is much more likely that we’ll have a Death Czar. Using the same Noonan-swooning judgment that gave us a tax cheat for Treasury Secretary, Obama will appoint a serial killer to the position. The Death Czar’s first official act will be spending $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to hire a Brazilian company, which will extract organs from Americans after they receive their end-of-life counseling, then ship them overseas for use in foreign patients.

What Palin brings to the health-care debate is the energy, wisdom, and wit to make complex ideas understandable to ordinary people. Let me once again restate my admiration for Charles Krauthammer before saying, with regrettably brutal candor, that Sarah Palin had more impact on the health-care debate with one Facebook note than everything Krauthammer has written in the past year. That’s not because people are shallow, and didn’t pay attention until Palin kicked off a media firestorm. It’s because they understandably seek out leadership on complex issues, and leaders have a knack for rendering fearfully complicated issues down to their essential truths.

Now that I know you'll all go read it I can finish in a minor key. He really should be here, even though he's probably getting more attention there despite the green type that constitutes the yellow star of the backbenchers at HotAir. Why? Because I think he'd love to have commenters like we have here. I mean, has anyone read the commenters there? It's enough to make a blogger think, "Why bother?" I'd rather pique the minds of five of you than five hundred of them.

Not that I'm suggesting Doctor Zero doesn't know what he's doing. I'm sure he does and I wish him nothing but the best.

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