Who knows? Maybe hearts are just bursting with song
because otherwise they'd be bursting with spleen. Still, it's funny.
Here's a music
video just posted at PajamasTV: It's called "You Talk Too Much" and
it's about guess who.
And here's a hat tip from NRO
about the likelihood we'll hear a
conservative anthem at the Super
The Who will probably play the all-time
greatest conservative rock song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” during the
Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday.
That’s the #1 song on the list I compiled for National Review a few
years ago. It’s the most talked-about article I’ve ever written...
A few months later, The Who were touring the United States. A writer
for the Philadelphia Inquirer asked Townshend about the list.
This summer, National Review magazine
called “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the greatest conservative rock song of
all time. Townshend says that’s “on the money.” The self-described
“working musician” who sees his job as “helping the audience to forget
themselves,” says he never really bought into “all that hippie
(expletive) I so despise.”
And, Townshend says, “when people say ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ is not
about rebellion, it’s the exact opposite of that, I say they’re right.”
Which also highlights the list
(from 2006) I frankly missed:
On first glance, rock ’n’ roll music
isn’t very conservative. It doesn’t fare much better on second or third
glance (or listen), either. Neil Young has a new song called “Let’s
Impeach the President.” Last year, the Rolling Stones made news with
“Sweet Neo Con,” another anti-Bush ditty. For conservatives who enjoy
rock, it isn’t hard to agree with the opinion Johnny Cash expressed in
“The One on the Right Is on the Left”: “Don’t go mixin’ politics with
the folk songs of our land / Just work on harmony and diction / Play
your banjo well / And if you have political convictions, keep them to
yourself.” In other words: Shut up and sing.
But some rock songs really are conservative — and there are more of
them than you might think. Last year, I asked readers of National
Review Online to nominate conservative rock songs. Hundreds of
suggestions poured in. I’ve sifted through them all, downloaded scores
of mp3s, and puzzled over a lot of lyrics. What follows is a list of
the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time, as determined by
me and a few others. The result is of course arbitrary...
Go ahead. Peruse the entries. A lot of good songs there, some you know
and some you probably don't. I'll play just one, and surprisingly
perhaps, not the one (or two) you'd expect from an old Stones lunatic
like me. I'm going with pure punk: Rock
the Casbah by the Clash.
from air play during Desert Storm
Okay, this is too much fun. One more: Bodies
by the Sex Pistols.
The 'bodies'? Aborted babies.
Anyhow, I'm bowing to the universe's messages today and maybe you
should too. Do you have any favorite songs that articulate your own
political and cultural beliefs? Let us know and, if possible, give us
And, by all means, rock on.
P.S. Mrs. CP wanted me to
devote the Friday Follies to today's 18th annual Wing Bowl,
Philadelphia's answer to Fellini's Satyricon
and the Eagles 0-for-Forever performance in Super Bowls. As instructed, I listened to much
of the live radio broadcast (TV is utterly out of the question) from
the Wachovia Center,
where 19,000 drunken ticket holders assembled at 5 am to (drink and)
watch an indoor parade of floats dissing Donovan McNabb and others,
and) watch a beauty contest of bikini clad Wingettes whose tops
underwent a series of mysterious wardrobe malfunctions, and (drink and)
watch a score or so of local "eaters" compete to see who could devour
most chicken wings in 28 minutes, divided of course into two 14-minute
halves. The play-by-play announcers were WIP
SportsTalk hosts, and the color announcer was a former porn starlet who
commented in pitiless detail about "meat" and the, well, color of the
five disqualifying vomit episodes that were also simultaneously
replayed in slow motion on the Wachovia Center jumbotrons. Highlights
appearances by Snooki of Jersey Shore
and Joey Chestnut, reigning Nathan's hot-dog-eating champion, who
was so drunk he actually got ejected from the building at one point,
though he returned in time to congratulate the winner and almost fall
on the poor guy and his bloated bellyful of chicken flesh. The after
party will last all day at Philadelphia's most famous strip club.
The long and the short of it is that I couldn't do what Mrs. CP asked.
But I'm giving her this postscript instead. The winner downed an
astonishing 238 chicken wings. Full coverage, photos, and video (!) are
at the WIP website. Here.
(Also covered, oddly, by the elite liberal cognoscenti of the Huffington
Sorry, honey. Best I could do. I mean, does the whole world really need
to know that the reason Eagles fans laugh at the Cleveland Browns' "Dog
Pound" is because their own version of it can (and does) fill entire
stadiums? No. They don't need to know that. Which is why I'm not going
to tell them.
I'm asking people to share good conservative music instead. Like from
the Clash and the Sex Pistols. So there.
I'm feeling incredibly virtuous about now. So don't go getting all
distracted by Wingettes, okay? Music!
He really said it. Three times.
AllahPundit covered it. But not critically enough for Ed
Morrissey, who said this:
I know Allahpundit hit this one last
night, but no set of Obamateurisms would be complete without including
the Navy “corpsemen” remarks from Barack Obama. Besides, I disagree
with my esteemed blog partner on this one. Had Obama said this just one
time and corrected it afterward in his remarks, then I’d have bet that
some helpful staffer had loaded the Teleprompter with an incorrect
phonetic spelling. However, after the first time “corpsemen” came out
of his mouth, any speaker with even a passing knowledge of the military
would have realized that the word had been mispronounced. After the
second one, it should have been obvious...
Next time, maybe a White House staffer should make sure that all of the
hard words really are spelled phonetically — or maybe our Commander in
Chief should familiarize himself with the nation’s military instead.
I think they're both giving the One a wholly undeserved pass.
This is outrageously embarrassing. To the President. His handlers. And
to the entire nation. I'm sorry but there is absolutely, positively no
excuse for this kind of "Obamateurism" on any
It's not just about ignorance of the military. It's about fundamental
illiteracy -- illiteracy about the military, yes, but also basic
historical and English language illiteracy. This is a ripping off of
the mask of completely fake education. And stone blind stupid ignorance of
institutions that lie at the very core (pun intended) of American
experience. This is no staffer error, no teleprompter screwup. For a
man who would steer us in the direction of superiorly enlightened
European socialism, he can't possibly be this ignorant of the fact that
his native language contains entirely assimilated French words like
'corps.' He's perfectly capable of referring to the Marine Corps
without turning it into a cadaver. What does this mean? The man can't
SPELL. What is it in his highly educated head? The United
States Marine Core? Trivial lapse, you say? No. He's the President of
United States of America, not a gas station attendant struggling to
limn a "No Shurt, No Shose, No Servise" sign. They made fun of George
W. Bush for his malaprops. But his ingenuity with prefixes and suffixes
never made anyone suspect he would commend the White House chef on the
deliciousness of the 'horse doovers' at the latest state dinner.
And it's even worse than that. Much worse. Navy corpsmen and the U.S.
Marine Corps aren't the only corps a president should have engraved not
just on his teleprompter but his heart. There is, for example, one of
the greatest speeches (as opposed to banal telescripts) ever delivered
by a genuine American hero. You can read the full text here,
but I urge you to listen to the deeply moving conclusion of a career
far more brilliant than anything Obama has yet shown potential to equal.
all means listen to the whole thing, but focus at 2:20 in to the end.
So. You're the President of the United States. The Commander-in-Chief.
And you've never read or heard, or bothered to learn anything about, this remarkable
reflection on the mission and meaning of the greatest military in the
world, by the single greatest military genius this country has ever
produced, because you're an utterly phony pseudo-intellectual
illiterate whose idea of leadership is bowing down to all the enemies
your predecessors have fought so hard to protect us from.
I don't know how else to say it. Our president is a nightmare of this order:
Allah and Ed, sometimes your even-handedness is pure dimness. WAKE UP.
This wasn't a slip of the tongue. He heard himself say it. Twice. And nothing in his
illustrious elite background tweaked his ear enough to prevent him from
saying it a third time. He didn't know. This is a
revelation. And you should
be reeling in fear and dismay at what it tells us about the fool we've
thrust into the Oval Office.
Damn, Damn, Damn. Bad enough that he
didn't know how seriously he screwed the pooch. Worse that neither of
you two do.
You should be as ashamed of yourselves as you are of the teleprompter
staffer you prefer to blame.
Damn. Now you're embarrassing us.
Excellent point from Guy T:
I'd have thought he'd at least be
acquainted with the Peace Corps or the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Frankly, I'd forgotten about them because they're so, well,
forgettable. But it slams us back to the basic charge of pure illiteracy, doesn't it?
Which reminds me of an embarrassingly personal point of snobbery.
(Forgive me, everyone. I'm human too, meaning vain and awful for
typically superficial reasons...) When I was at Harvard, it was
commonly understood that Havard meant Harvard College, not all the
add-on and extension latecomers like the Law School and the Business
School and the (ugh) Government School. We might have been arrogant twits, but we at least knew how to read and pronounce English words. Understand: this is me
absolutely squealing in pain
that any Harvard alum could pronounce the word "corpseman" without
immediately withdrawing into a walnut-panelled common room to do his
duty with a Ruger pistol. Just saying.
Wish I hadn't said that. Overlook it. Please. But it's been weighing
on me for quite a while now. Maybe you know how that is.
Hotair blinks, but grateful
for the mention...(simper)
SMILE, SMILE. You know. That Jon Stewart fellow is smart. He was on
O'Reilly this week and he was, uh, smart,
with high ratings:
A cute bit which I would have posted even if HA didn’t have a cameo. (Keep an eye out about a third of the way through.) His point about blogger sensationalism
is fair — I nodded at it myself two days ago — but go figure that a
medium driven by partisan warfare and fierce competition for traffic
would favor eye-grabbing headlines rich with violent metaphors. The
irony, of course, is that Stewart himself owes no small part of his
popularity among the left to his status as some sort of partisan
gladiator who can be counted on to make conservative guests squirm.
Yuck. They make their livings from it now: traffic.
Over-promote but under-offend and make nice behind the scenes because we're all in the same goddam bidness. Anything
else anyone needs to know about
the big-time blogosphere?
Thursday, February 04, 2010
is a gift that ennobles us all, and the prices it exacts are, uh,
. Up till now, there's been an air of low comedy
about the Tiger
Woods scandal. Fessing up, we've participated
in that. Belatedly, I'm
realizing there are major issues here, which is often the way with
major issues. They hide under surfaces that are banal and easy to fool
ourselves about. It takes time for the substance to emerge as the
fireworks die down and the grinding machine proceeds with its slow,
annihilating mission. Now it's clear that the worms are coming out of
the woodwork, piling on, helping to further the public reaction we're
gradually being herded to. We're told that Tiger needs to confess to
Oprah (that ghastly parasite on other people's pain). We're informed,
drip by drip, of the corporate sponsors who are abandoning their former
gold standard of celebrity selling power. We're alerted to the fact
that elder statesmen of golf like Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus are
loosing tongues long held in check (apparently) to censure him for sins
against decency and, worse, golf. We're treated to sinister and suspect
photos of Tiger looking suddenly dark in a thuggish hoody as he begins
"sex addiction rehab."
I'm calling bullshit on the whole game. The only smart thing that's
been said by anyone was Rush Limbaugh's observation that people are
angry at Tiger for the crime of not being happy. The man who has
everything -- fame, endless riches, and a picturebook family -- is not
permitted to disappoint us by revealing that even everything can be not
enough. This is true, as far as it goes, but it's not nearly sufficient
to explain the importance and significance of the current media feeding
frenzy and the truth that may lie deep inside the world of Tiger Woods.
Or, for that matter, the truth that may lie deep inside the world of
Barack Obama. (I'll get back to this. I promise.)
Tiger Woods is the product of a process well known to us, one which we
have frequently condemned even as we celebrated what it produced. His
comrades in arms? Michael Jackson. Mike Tyson. Mickey Mantle. Venus and
Serena Williams. Amelia Earhardt. Judy Garland. Macauly Culkin. And
Bobby Jones. In each case, you have a parent or spouse who pushes an
obvious talent toward greatness, often at tremendous cost to the person
whose life is being directed by a dominant other. The ambition behind
the pushing isn't necessarily malevolent. But it can be incredibly
destructive and sometimes fatal.
Several things about this phenomenon are interesting to me. First,
hasn't it been about a year since we were all poselytized to forgive
Michael Vick, to accept his crimes as 'mistakes' and give him a 'second
chance'? Are Tiger's sins really worse than Michael Vick's? Yes, he
blew out his marriage, but he committed no atrocities against man or
beast. Is there a double standard at work here? Perhaps a racial double standard? We're
supposed to understand that Michael Vick never learned that it was evil
to torture and murder dogs because of the impoverished state he grew up
in. Meaning, we're supposed to understand that not forgiving Michael Vick his
'mistakes' is tantamount to racism.
Which would be ironic indeed, because I think there's also a racial
component to the fix Tiger is in now. Consider this. Every sports fan
has learned that the sorry ending to Mickey Mantle's life was the
result of the fact that his father mercilessly drove him from earliest
childhood to become the greatest player in baseball. Which he, in fact,
became. We still love Mickey Mantle but we cluck at the abuse the old
man dished out to create our icon.
Contrast this with the treatment Tiger Woods's father has received from
the media: he was a good man, a military man, who guided and instructed
his son on his path toward golfing greatness. uh, in other words, he
was Mickey Mantle's father. A man with a suspect agenda.
Mickey Mantle's father but black.
And so immune from publicly voiced suspicion. Except that by popular
media treatment and his own protestations, Tiger isn't black. (What is he?
'Blasian.' Oh.) Or else we might now be looking at him as we do Michael
Jackson, the victim of an abusive childhood which made him into a
freak, defenseless against the forces that transformed talent into
narcissism on a suicidal scale. And, for that matter, has the sporting
press ever really pursued the
question of what occurred in the Williams household to make Venus and
Serena into tennis champions? Even when there is the occasional
spectacular ugliness we saw from Serena last year? No.
To be clear, I'm not saying that the syndrome Tiger has fallen prey to
is a function of his race. Only that he, oddly, is a double victim of
political correctness. He gets punished going and coming because of
what we agree to talk about and what we agree not to talk about. Truth
is, prodigies of every sort have been subject to the same ills
throughout recorded history, beginning perhaps with Alexander the
Great. The process of grooming a promising child for breakthrough
greatness is moral quicksand. Terrible things can be done. Especially
when the one who pushes is doing it not for the sake of the pushee but
for his or her own selfish motives. To live vicariously through a child
or spouse, to achieve a sort of vengeance on the world for everything
the pusher is not and can never be. (Worst example: 'Toddlers and
But that's not the whole story, particularly when fathers are involved.
Unlike mothers, fathers have a responsibility to the culture into which
they thrust their children. They are there to protect, certainly, but
not just the child. They are
also there to make sure their blood does its best service to the
tradition of which they are a part. It is uniquely their
responsibility, unlike mothers, to make sure that their sons and
daughters do no harm and, wherever possible, participate in setting the
bar of excellence higher for everyone else. In other words, there's a
case to be made in defense of Mickey Mantle's father. What's that case?
He gave us Mickey Mantle.
It's all well and good that Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus now choose to
criticize Tiger Woods. I understand. I do not criticize them for
criticizing. But the world needs
geniuses, with all their dramas and flaws. The difference between Jack
Nicklaus and Tiger Woods is illustrative. Nicklaus was as great a
golfer as it's possible to be without actually being great. He never
understood the drama of his records or greatest victories. Golf was
never a force that flowed through him and erupted in spontaneous
specific gravity. He dominated but always as a drab. Tiger is a force
of nature. Like Bobby Jones before him.
moment. 48 seconds in. Nicklaus is mad at Tiger for having a temper. Do
Just two more points to make. Since when did 'forgiveness' become an
external institutional sacrament of popular culture? The forgiveness of
Tiger Woods is not a function of Oprah or TMZ or polls. It's a private
matter between Tiger Woods, his family, and his own conscience. It may
well be that being Tiger
Woods is worth the price he is paying right now. Personally, I fear
that he may be suicidal because he has allowed himself to be so
packaged, sponsored, and promoted that there's nothing left of him. As
far as I know, I'm the only one who's concerned about this. Does that
tell you anything? My hope is
that he remembers he was raised to be not the greatest husband or
father in the world but the greatest golfer. Which he is. Even if he
quits it all today. That's a worthwhile basis for embarking on a new
life, one that provides more return for the effort expended. I
sincerely wish him peace of mind and, eventually, happiness, based on
the forgiveness only he can accord himself, with whatever repentance he
may find necessary. Note that none of this has anything to do with what
we, the public, can bring to the table. Or even Jack Nicklaus.
Finally. My fears for Tiger are analogous to my fears for Obama. Both
were raised as special projectiles against the disappointments of an
obsessive parent. They differ only in that Tiger possesses real genius.
Obama is presently experiencing his own first acquaintance with reality
outside the bubble of a missionary upbringing. (I do know something of
this kind of upbringing, kiddies.) We may be on the brink of watching
him shatter into a thousand pieces. Not all putative geniuses are.
But Tiger is. Which is why I'll close with this clip.
Have I given you anything to think about? Doubt it. We're all used to
setting the price on the value we obtain from strangers. A big part of
that price is our right to stand in judgment over the corpse of our
inspirations. So be it.
the whole 'sexual addiction' wheeze. Anybody else out there who thinks
this is a bridge too far? Must we have 12-step programs for everything?
Is every excess we indulge in a nail that has to be crushed by a 12-step
hammer? I have to admit that, for me, sex isn't the same thing as
alcohol or drug addiction. Sex is actually fun, exciting, and curiously
lacking in hangover symptoms. It doesn't rot your liver, loosen your
front teeth, kill strangers on the highway, or suddenly stop your
heart. Not that it can't do damage to people you're supposed to
protect. But it's not exactly an addiction, is it? Worst case,
contextually but never absolutely, it's -- what's the word -- a sin. Turning it into something else
is the ultimate hypocrisy of our age. And a sure sign that our attempts to 'cure' people of it as
if it were a disease are doomed to failure. Most particularly when we
posit the mass audience of pop culture voyeurs as the judges of the cure. Infidelity is not a disease. or an addiction. It's a failure of character. There's no 12-step program for that. There's only confession, apology, repentance, atonement, and the love that allows for redemption. Most women aren't capable of it. Some are, though. When they are, we call it Christianity, not rehab.
Just how loud do I have to scream to make you realize how sick our
national life has become?
. We had this deal. Eduardo would watch Vertigo, and I'd
watch Babylon 5. What a sucker I was. Two hours versus dozens. Oh well.
I keep my word. He kindly wrote back that he had watched Vertigo and
understood that it was better than he'd thought, though he had some
questions. Like, why did she jump at the end? What was that all about?
Which caused me to write him again. Only he never got my email. And
still, two email addresses later, hasn't gotten it. So here's what I
I was good too. I watched the first disc (four
episodes) of Babylon 5. Note that you're done and I'm still under
sentence. But a deal is a deal. It may take a while, but with my wife's
persistence, I will keep going.
Too early to give you a review. I like some of it, but I'm waiting to
see where it goes, reserving judgment. Okay?
for your questions about Vertigo, let me first say that I appreciate
your giving it a real look. I know how hard it can be. I got my first
clue about that when you said you could only watch Rear Window by
fast-forwarding through it. It brought to mind a close friend of mine
(older than you and also smart as a whip) who jeered at Shane without
knowing it was one of my favorite movies. Too slow. Nothing happens.
Like watching paint dry. He'd been raised on Clint Eastwood westerns,
which I also love, and waiting an entire movie for one gunfight was
just unthinkable. I know how he felt. But I saw Shane BEFORE I saw
Clint's remake, Pale Rider, and I love them both, though I know when
I'm being honest with myself that Shane is the better movie by far,
though slower, more 'composed' and hence more structurally artificial,
though more dramatically, realistically, and humanly honest. [The
solution to generational disconnect of this sort btw is to slow down.
No, it's not Transformers, the Sequel. Sloooow Doooown. Listen to the
Moonlight Sonata first. Satie. Nina Simone. Read T.S. Eliot out loud to
yourself. It can be done.]
Hitchcock is also structurally
artificial. He was famous for having every shot of a movie mapped out
before he ever yelled action. He referred (glibly) to actors as cattle,
though he always picked the ones (Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart) who could
attend to the tiniest details on camera. He was the the cinematic
equivalent of what in painting is called super-realism, hyper-realism,
cinematography achieves an extraordinary FOCUS, either black-and-white
or bursting color, that does not bleed, blur, stain, or otherwise
interpose some filtering vision between filmmaker and observer. The
dull sections of Rear Window you fast-forwarded through were
Hitchcock's self-revelation of himself as a director. He is watching
the intimate details most people fail to look at, because we all always
confess our natures even if we never explain them in words. That's his
signature. Always watching. Always a voyeur. And always third-person
behind the camera. Incredibly difficult.
For example, I don't
know if you've read the detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett. He was
the precursor of all the greats, including the greatest, Raymond
Chandler. But what is distinctive about Hammett from every other
twentieth century writer I've ever read is that Hammett wrote in a pure
third-person point of view. Not third-person ominiscient, or
third-person limited omniscient -- not telling or intimating even his
main character's thoughts. He wrote like a news reporter, depicting the
physical appearances and actions only. I can tell you, as a fiction
writer, this is an almost impossible narrative voice, even in the
visual medium of film, where there are so many subtle ways to cheat. No
other film director I know of tries it at all. Hitchcock does it
He, and you, are always just watching, from some
distance. That's where all his suspense comes from. None of his
characters ever directly tells you, the audience, what they're thinking
or planning. They tell other characters, perhaps, but they may be, and
frequently are, lying.
Which is hyper-realism. You get to see
everything in excruciating detail, but the director never saunters in
to explain it all, just so you'll both be on the same page. Life isn't
like that. Hitchcock isn't like that. Revelations always come in the
form of action, outcomes, events.
Which is why Hitchcock movies require incredibly close and minute
is especially true of Vertigo, considered by many of us to be
Hitchcock's greatest picture. It was as close as he ever came to formal
confession. What Stewart did with Novak in Vertigo, Hitchcock did with
many of his (always blonde and beautiful) leading ladies. He made them
all into his fantasy love object, dressing them, schooling them,
directing them, transforming them. Grace Kelly. Tippi Hedren. Eva Marie
Saint. Kim Novak. Others. They were just clay for his remote
He knew that the exercise of such cold power
was possibly evil, destructive, and most of all obsessive. At the end
of Vertigo, Kim Novak didn't JUMP. She fell, frightened by a sudden
apparition -- of a nun -- that is supposed to be a figure of safe and
comforting authority, even divine authority. So who is the man who
relentlessly drives her to this hysterical reaction? The man who begins
the movie hanging by his fingernails from a rooftop? A man afraid of
the heights his job pushed him to. A detective. In other words, a man
whose whole profession is supposed to make him proof against being
manipulated into a devious plot whose sole purpose is to destroy
innocence. A man well loved and enfolded in superficial understanding
who cannot stop himself from becoming the victim of his own fears and
obsessions and creating other victims thereby.
The whole conducted in the most reasonable, understated, and
third-person objective way imaginable.
is an anguished psychological horror film, but one devoid of the
arterial spray today's generation expects. The moment I've previously
called transfiguration is tantamount to the sexual release Hitchcock
obtained by controlling and commanding the beautiful women he could
never possess sexually in real life. And they all got away from him.
And his own internal torture was eternal, equivalent to damnation. The
guilty man on top of the tower, no longer afraid of height for its
power to do him in, but profoundly stained by the damage that height
could do to clueless, illusory innocents.
Or, if you watched the
movie enough, you could come up with a whole other interpretation of
what it might mean, because nobdoy anywhere in the film volunteers the
slightest sliver of insight about what it might mean.
I know is that having seen it a few times it stays with you. Haunts you
like the haunts of Stewart's delusions. Her suit becomes eerie. Her
French twist. Her platinum hair. Why? Because Hitchcock succeeds in his
plot just like the malefactor you noted succeeds unavenged in his. They
get away "Scot-free." How? They make you fall in love with the illusion
too. You can't wait to get rid of Kim Novak's mousy hair, trashy
wardrobe, and thick eyebrows in favor of the vision in platinum and
gray. Hitchcock is telling us, you want it too, and his choice of music
makes it all seem something like romance. Stewart's moment of
transformative fulfillment is ours too. And H's.
That's the real definition of H. Horror.
You see? Engage us here and we will -- what's the word? -- 'dialogue'
with you to your heart's content. Or at least ours.
. Maybe this entry is a little unfair, and maybe it
isn't. I watched Fox News Sunday
this week and got a bad taste in my mouth. The show began with a panel
of two senators and two congressmen assessing the State of the Union
speech, Obama's current positions on healthcare and the war on terror,
and the nature of the political environment in the wake of the
Massachussetts miracle of Scott Brown. Three of the four were candid
and thoughtful as much as politicians can afford to be -- Senator Evan
Bayh (D) of Indiana, Senator Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee, and
Congressman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin. The fourth was Congressman
Chris Van Hollen (D) of Maryland. Every second he spent on camera was
an utter waste of time. Rote, repeated talking points. Denial.
Outrageous claims of Obama achievement and popularity. Bush bashing.
Class warfare. An almost parodistic string of empty clichees. It was as
if he were appearing on a completely different program from his
congressional colleagues, who endured his remarks with thin smiles and
thinly disguised, uh, embarrassment.
Here's the transcript.
And just one representative excerpt:
WALLACE: Let's turn to — I mean, we've
been skirting around it, but let's talk just some politics with a
capital "P" here.
Congressman Van Hollen, as we've said, you're in charge of electing
more Democrats to the House this year. In the wake of the November loss
in New Jersey and Virginia, in the wake of Scott Brown's victory in
Massachusetts, how much trouble is your party in?
VAN HOLLEN: The party's not in trouble, but at the same time we need to
recognize what's on the mind of the American people, which is jobs,
which is why the president and the Congress will be focused on a jobs
acceleration package going forward, why we're going to make sure we try
and pass the Wall Street accountability bill so that we don't have the
taxpayers left holding the bag again in the future if you have bad
decisions on Wall Street.
And the president's made a proposal to make sure that the taxpayer gets
all those monies back at the end of the day, and we're hoping our
Republican colleagues will join us in that.
So I think if we focus on the fundamental issues — and by the way, we
all know health care reform is essential to bring down the deficit over
the long period of time. All my colleagues would acknowledge that. So I
think that if we focus on that, we will be in good shape going forward.
It's always going to be a difficult election year, the first midterm
for a new president. We understand that. But let's focus on the
And if I just could, the president's point was not that the Republicans
don't have any ideas. He pointed out he had incorporated some of them,
like tax cuts, as part of the stimulus bill.
But what he was saying is, "Let's not go back to the same ideas that
got us into the mess to begin with," for example, big tax cuts for the
OK indeed. All this pitiful spin on the same panel where a clearly
Senator Bayh said:
I mean, we can all criticize what
happened last year under the previous administration, but I think the
real question is where do we go from here.
I think a freeze on domestic discretionary spending is a good step in
the right direction. I think the president's pledge to veto spending
bills that go beyond his pledge to restrain Congress is a good step. A
commission to restrain long-term debt, where we have bipartisan
solutions - - I know Lamar voted for that. I voted for that. That's an
John McCain and I last week put out some suggestions, taking some of
Paul's [i.e., Rep. Paul Ryan's] good ideas about how to restrain
So it was a wake-up call, but whether we actually get the message and
do the tough things to implement what needs to be done — that remains
to be seen.
Now here's where the bad taste in the mouth comes in. While these
gentlemen were speaking, Fox News producers were subtitling their
responses on camera with chyrons spelling out their educational
backgrounds. Evan Bayh: B.S., business economics/public policy,
Indiana University; J.D., University of Virginia. Lamar Alexander:
B.A., Vanderbilt University; J.D., NYU School of Law. Paul Ryan: B.A.,
economics/political science, Miami University of Ohio. Chris Van
Hollen, B.A., Swarthmore College; M.P.P.A., Harvard University; J.D.,
Georgetown University Law Center.
Have I made it clear that Van Hollen was the whore on the panel?
Lacking only black lip liner, breast implants, and platinum hair
extensions to establish his real profession beyond doubt. The only
Harvard guy there (apart from a slightly incredulous Chris Wallace). Veritas.
Right. What a joke. And so I'm thinking, not for the first time,
Harvard has a lot to answer for in this country. Teddy Kennedy has
finally gone to his reward, whatever
that might be. But we still have
to account for the fact that many of the, well, blowsiest, most
shameless lying whores in today's federal government have a Harvard
connection: Senator Chuck Schumer, who will say absolutely anything to
get on camera; Congressman Barney Frank, as despicable
and duplicitous an abuser of the public trust as has ever been
elected to the House of Representatives; Senator (ugh) Al Franken, who
nakedly connived to chisel and steal an election he should never have
been allowed to participate in as a carpetbagger and dilettante gadfly;
and Barack Obama, who has never
told us the truth about anything in his brief but incredibly damaging
public career. Veritas.
One element of unfairness is that Harvard isn't the only offender in
this regard. The other over-esteemed Ivy League schools are just about
equally culpable. Timothy Geithner is a cheat and liar from Dartmouth.
Eric Holder is a corrupt political buttboy from Columbia. Keith
Olbermann is a vengeful pseudo-intellectual, semi-psychotic
streetwalker from Cornell. The Clintons are both Yale sociopaths.
Economist-whore Paul Krugman hails from Princeton.
Another element of unfairness is that some of the good guys come from
these schools too. Charles Krauthammer. Bill Kristol. Ann Coulter.
George Will. But nothing can make up for the harm that has been, and is
being, inflicted on us by universities that proclaim their visionary
discernment on matters of character, learning, and enlightenment. If
they're any good at all at fulfilling their educational mission, why do
their graduates constitute 40
percent of the top ten "most
corrupt" politicians in the United States?
Harvard (and its vassals) has become the Fool on the Hill. Which makes
me sick. And it should make you
mad. I know I am.
Mrs. CP was a Russian scholar. We have a running joke about
depressing movies. They can't be depressing enough for her. I prefer,
So this is a hat tip (courtesy of NRO's John
Derbyshire) I couldn't ignore. He has an incredibly depressing book
out called "We
Are Doomed." People have been writing
him about depressing music one could listen to while reading his
apocalyptic tome. This recommendation has to do with Alexander Nevsky.
And some incredibly sordid and depressing episode in Russian history
involving genocide, ice, and all-around Russian-ness. The music is
Soviet, crushing, in short -- Prokofiev. Mrs. CP is going to love it to
death. Here's the whole ball of wax.
I think it's a good thing. The
Russians really are the masters of depressing music, depressing
everything. But we're Americans. We can flirt with the awfullest,
saddest, most soul-destroying nothingness... for a while. Then we buck
up and start believing again. Which is why I urge you to watch this...
...and then move on to the antidote. Which isn't as cheery as it is
just plain vital.
We live. Always did. Always
will. We are not Russians.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Super Bowl Week
My Favorite Players
myth is that there has never
been a Golden Age. It is a myth.
. I'm still sick and a little off my head
on something called
Mucinex-D, so forgive me if these musings have little to do with the
Colts or Saints. When you're at your most vulnerable, you frequently
fall victim to -- what's the word? -- nostalgia.
The great Eagles cornerback Tom Brookshier died last Friday. That's one
factor. Another factor was the Pro Bowl Sunday. Having to sit through
yet another hagiographic ESPN promo for Eagles quarterback Donovan
McNabb, whose greatest (and luckiest) career achievement to date was
getting criticized by Rush Limbaugh. Ever since, the sportscasters have
cut him a break they uniformly deny to every other QB in NFL history
but the inarguably greater Dan Marino: they consistently add McNabb to
their lists of finest active quarterbacks, in the same company with
Brady, Manning, Favre, and Brees, never voicing the criticism -- "He
can't win the Big Game" -- they used to level at even the great Peyton
Manning until he won the Super Bowl a few years ago. (Mark my words:
you'll hear it said about Philip Rivers next fall, but not McNabb.)
While the ESPN know-it-alls assailed ungrateful Eagle fans for dissing the superstar who
tossed his cookies when the NFL Championship was in his grasp, McNabb
was throwing two interceptions (one invalidated by penalty) and killing
earthworms as usual with the ground-pounding artillery he calls passes.
He was also, as usual, grinning and laughing as he trotted off the
field after his three-and-outs. In a game that produced almost a
thousand yards of total offense. Phooey.
So, just to distract myself, I got to thinking. Who are my favorite NFL players of all time?
Forget the money, free-agency, prima donnas, MSM PR, and self-promotion. I'm
not even trying to field an entire team, just to call out the ones who
if you had them on your team would make you an insuperable force even
if everyone else around them was a journeyman.
It also occurred to me that this kind of exercise is a litmus test.
Something about how you approach life. For example, most of my choices
predate the mega-million dollar contracts today's players enjoy. I'm
drawn to the ones who played for pride, the love of the game, victory
more than Maseratis and stock options. I'm obsolete, old-fashioned. But
here are the players I'd want, whether they're really the best or not.
I'm no scholar of football. Just a fan with a bunch of personal
memories. Like many of you. Feel free to nominate your own favorites.
After all, mine are only that.
I think of this part of the game in terms of units instead of
individual stars. Which makes it easier. My defensive line is the
Purple People Eaters of the old, pre-dome Vikings: Page, Eller,
Marshall, and Larsen. Back in the era of the 14-game schedule, they
once held their opponents to 133 points in a season. That's less than a
touchdown and a field goal per game. If memory serves, their
quarterback that year was Gary Cuazzo. Remember him? Exactly. They
weren't big but they were game changers. I recall one Monday night game
in which Alan Page got called for personal fouls on two successive
plays. He proceeded to get all the penalty yardage back on the next two
plays with two unassisted sacks of the quarterback. Sadly, there's no
record on YouTube of this extraordinary set of defensive linemen. I
know there will be those who prefer the "Steel Curtain" of Mean Joe
Green and company, but I don't like the Steelers. Never did. It's that
My offensive line is the unit known as the Redskin "Hogs." You can see
their handiwork in the clip below, where my backup fullback
demonstrates the value of a mohawk + incomparable blocking. I've never
liked the Redskins either, but consistency is the bane of small minds.
It's that simple.
I do have a full complement in this category. As an Eagles fan, I have
to include the last of the 60-minute men, Chuck Bednarik:
As should be obvious by now, I've also always had a soft spot in my
heart for the Colts. Which means my roster will forever have a place
for Mike "The Animal" Curtis (scroll):
Not to mention one of my all-time-favorite favorite players. Who STILL
rules so thoroughly that his latest heir is
but a shadow of his memory:
The Defensive Secondary
Sorry. I don't remember corners any more than you do. I only remember
free safeties. And this is the one I want. The only 'still active'
player on my list if that tells you anything. I also have his jersey. His Eagles jersey.
You only need two. A halfback and a fullback. (With Riggins as backup).
Here's my halfback -- poetry in motion:
And great as he was, he's just a distraction from the one and only
all-time greatest running back in the NFL. I first encountered Jim
Brown on the radio. Eagles announcers kept
describing the fact that it took five men to tackle him and he still
got five yards even when they hit him at the line of scrimmage. I
couldn't even visualize such a man. Until I saw him play.
the greatest football player of all time. Unstoppable. And he didn't win the Heisman Trophy.
No, I don't have a tight end. Who cares about tight ends? I have just
two receivers. The greatest breakaway threat ever.
And the greatest
for those of us who are small and slow and invincibly determined to
win. The one and only Fred Biletnikoff:
never EVER saw him drop a pass. Un-fucking-believable.
There you have it. Maybe I'll talk about the 2010 Super Bowl later.
Or not. As I intimated earlier, I'm not entirely in my right mind about
now. I'm rocking back and forth in waves of nostalgia, remembering
professional football the way it used to be, filled with personalities,
giants, villains, and mythic forces of good and evil. I guess it says
something bad about me that I was rooting a lot of the time for the
evil silver and black. Punk has always been a state of mind.
My prediction. America will begin to recover from its current
nanny-state malaise when the Oakland Raiders return to their pinnacle
atop the National Football League. Lake, you keep track of predictions
here. Write this one down.
. Cheese can be nutritious. It can also kill you. Which
makes it a lot like Hope and Change Obama style. No big lesson here. We
just got to learn how to push that weight off our chest and get strong
enough to escape the trap. Even a mouse can have the eye of the tiger.
Brizoni and IP have both
weighed in on the State of the Union speech. But Mrs. CP and I have
both been down sick with the -- what do they call it? -- Wild Boar Hog
Flu -- which collapsed the two of us like flour sacks on the couch in
front of the TV set for about five days. So, if you don't want to spend
hours documenting intern misspellings on Fox News chyrons (My favorite?
"Navel vessels.") or watching NBA lowlights on ESPN, soap operas,
Lifetime Channel movies (where old actresses go to flex their
facelifts) or Criminal Minds
reruns (Mandy Patinkin needs a drink),
you wind up watching murder on Dateline ID.
Kind of ironic when you think about it. You never have a more jaundiced
and misanthropic view of life than when you're feeling physically
lousy. Everything and everyone is annoying just by being there. Your
spouse is feeling the exact same way right next to you. And you're
sitting there watching husbands killing wives and wives killing
husbands, all of them bent on committing the perfect crime. What's the
kick? Making sure the other
person on the couch isn't making surreptitious notes on the backs of
envelopes. (Just for the record, I wasn't, and I never once caught her
doing it either. Although she's far better organized than I am. And
mostly smarter too. That's not an accusation. At all. But if CP
suddenly vanishes from the site.... I'm just saying.)
So what are all the murders about? Spouses killing spouses. In the past
five days we've probably seen somewhere between thirty and fifty spouse
murders introduced by that weird
chick NBC won't let out of the
basement. Initially we felt sorry for her. "Such a nice outfit! Why
does she have to stay down in the cellar?" Toward the end it was
getting nasty: "Okay, so she lives on mold and mildew in the world's
largest underground walk-in closet. They obviously have a very very good reason for keeping her
there..." In fact, it seems that practically everybody should be locked
in a basement, at all times, on general principles.
Because after a week of such education, I may not know a damn thing
about the Obama agenda in 2010, but I know one hell of a lot about
murder. Wanna hear? You better. It's all I can offer today.
I'm pretty sure, regardless, that my flu week constitutes a great
service to my fellow citizens. It boils down to a handful of rules, a
couple of keen observations, and ONE breakthrough recommendation.
Ready? Rules first:
you're looking for vengeance, get the venue changed to Ohio.
There is no case so circumstantial, so gossamer, so outright
fantastical that an Ohio jury won't convict a husband or wife on a
charge of First-Degree Murder. You thought the Sam Shepard case that
inspired 'The Fugitive' was an artifact of the 1950s. It wasn't.
There's an old saying (said way too many times btw by legal pundits)
that a Grand Jury will indict a ham sandwich. Ohio juries will convict
a ham sandwich of murder and then eat the sandwich themselves in their
zeal for a death sentence. (This is not prejudice. My east-coast Vassar
aunt was living in Ohio during the Shepard case. She would bite your
nose off if you suggested Sam Shepard was innocent even after he was proven innocent. I'm
2. Whatever you do, don't ever marry
a doctor, a nurse, or an orderly.
Stone killers, all of them. Especially when it come to a nasty little
drug called succinocholine. Don't ask what it does. Too awful to
contemplate. Just know that they're dying to give it to you the moment
your backside is turned (it's delivered by injection).
3. Forget about life insurance. Don't
ever bring the subject up. Not for your spouse. Not for you.
As it turns out, all life insurance policies are simply the first step
in a murder plot. Whenever there's a life insurance policy, the insured
person dies. The police are looking for this. Which means that if
you're the insured one, you're dead the moment you sign. ANd if you're
the one who suggested it, you're going to be tried and convicted for
murder. Even if you don't live in Ohio.
4. Adultery is a death
sentence. Either way.
If you cheat, you'll kill or be killed by your spouse. If you're
cheated on, you'll kill or be killed by your spouse. Simple enough?
5. Don't ever have money problems.
They always end in murder.
6. When planning your own spousal
murder, stay the hell away from any plot that involves garbage bags,
duck tape, tires, shoes, baseball bats or knives, arterial spray,
Kleenex, or succinocholine.
They're onto all that stuff. Even those dumb hicks in Kentucky. You'd
be shocked at how good those
white trash language hammerers in border-state police forces are at
nailing genius wife-killers.
7. Just because you're a rocket
scientist, neurosurgeon, or rabbi, don't think you're automatically
talented at murder. Think instead: you probably suck
at murder. Big time. Laughably. Godawfully. Think about what an asshole
you're going to look like during the perp walk. And they will
do the perp walk. Because they don't like you.
Let's put it this way. The SATs do not
measure aptitude for successful spouse killing.
Did I mention observations? Okay, here are a couple:
Murder juries seem to take their
job seriously in 49 states of the union.
They're pretty impressive overall. Something about the dynamic of
individuals from many walks of life evaluating everything that happens
in the courtroom.
2. The quality of police forces and
prosecutor offices varies enormously from place to place. Getting away
with murder really is a crapshoot.
Sometimes the cops are amazing and the prosecutors spineless shits.
Sometimes the prosecutors are brilliant but relying on lazy, slovenly
police work. Sometimes they're both admirable, sometimes equally weak.
The good thing is that there's no pattern. There's no way to be sure
that the town or county you kill your spouse in will be staffed with
dumbfuck cops and timid "I don't go to court without a slam-dunk
conviction" prosecutors. The good ones, wherever they are, protect all
of us. It's called deterrence.
3. Justice isn't just about
forensics; it's also about judgment.
Spouse killers, male and female, really are different from you and me.
That's what the juries see, even when they convict in ephemerally
circumstantial cases. That's why Mrs. CP and I stuck with our murder
course. You usually get to hear from the jurors what the jurors
thought. They don't discount forensic evidence. They understand it
better than Obama might think they would. But they're also watching the
accused. They don't even seem to be judging him or her for violations of
traditional morality. Infidelity, pornography, larceny, domestic
violence, none of that seems to equate for them to murder. They really
can set that aside. They suffer, even for the most unlikable
defendants, under the power of life and death they hold over the
They speak commonly of entering the courtroom after the verdict has
been agreed on with hammering hearts and tears in their eyes, even when
the verdict is guilty. After five days of watching them, I'd trust the
juries of 49 states to judge me fairly.
Which leads me to my only real recommendation. The only dead-serious
Mrs. CP and I developed a habit over the five days of looking to each
other when the narrator announced that a case had gone to the jury. I'd
say, "Guilty or Not Guilty?" She'd say, well, uh, "Guilty." As would I.
You see. Our five-day course taught us something else. When a spouse
who has no enemies is murdered, the surviving spouse is usually the murderer. Not always.
But usually. And the question of guilt or innocence is often easy to
Killing someone you supposedly care about without immediately
confessing the deed is almost always a job for a sociopath. The good
news is that sociopaths tend to give themselves away. They know how to
mimic ordinary human emotions -- vexation, disappointment, anger, loss,
grief -- but their mimickry is based on observation. Which means they
don't know how to imitate the unique emotions of having a loved one
violently murdered. They've never seen it and so can't imitate it.
The media get in the way of this observation, making it seem as if
there's some conformist ideal of grief whose violation is a disruption
of clichee that leads to the death sentence. "uh, he didn't act
normal." That's not what's
happening. Juries aren't convicting defendants because they don't cry
when they seemingly ought to. They convict them because they have
an ear -- and an eye -- for what is false, what is faked. The husband, the wife, the
children who cry predictably at every mention of their purported loss,
That's what Mrs. CP and I saw again and again and again and again in
OUR murder tour. The accused who wept lavishly and at every whipstitch,
We lifted our congested heads from our weary hands, looked at one
another, and said, "Guilty."
BUT. The insight is this. Spouses who kill spouses in the first degree
are almost all like this. They are sociopaths. That's why my
recommendation is a kind of 'Minority Report.' There are many more
sociopaths among us than most people suspect. These are people
without empathy, without conscience, without morality, and in most
cases, without fear, which is why murder seems like a reasonable option to them. It never is. The price is so exorbitantly high compared to the benefit that the expected vaslue of the risk run is ridiculously low. The person who can't perform that dead-simple calculation is an emotionally retarded freak.
In fact, the people who think murdering their wives or husbands a rational choice are human defects. Damaged, incomplete, missing persons in your face. They're different enough from the rest of us that
they can be identified by testing. Truthfully, we should all be able to identify them in normal conversation. (I know I've done.) And there are more of them now than
have ever existed in our culture before:
I'm not trying to compete with
but to complement it. He heard the State of the Union address on the
radio without being able to see it. Now I suggest that you watch Obama
speak without being distracted by the voice, the words, the tone, the
applause, the punditry. Just look. At his demeanor, his face, his eyes,
and most particularly his mouth. Its default configuration is an
arrogant, even contemptuous sneer. Even after a smile it reverts to a
hard downturned line. This is no servant of the people. This is a
superior taking time out from loftier matters to lecture his unworthy
subjects. Watch as long as you can stand it. Note how often his chin
drifts superciliously upward. Is it just me or are his eyes as fixed
and cold as a shark's? We like this man, do we? Really? We deserve this
Not really. Unless we continue to value him as highly as he values
himself. In that case we would merit the indignities he intends to heap
I'm with Chris Matthews on one point at least. I didn't think of him as
black either. I thought of him as a tyrant barely restraining his
impulse to arrest all the undesirables in the room. That's a mien that
knows no color, except for that of the soul which inhabits the uniform
Watch. To the extent that this performance has not been adjudged
unanimously a disgrace to the office of president, it is our own
disgrace as a nation, a people, and a citizenry we are witnessing.
Why the site has been silent for a few days... mortification.