Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 4, 2010 - August 28, 2010

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Must See

AND SHARE IT W/YOUR FRIENDS. This is a great documentary. And a great story. A woman named Wilma Stephenson in Philadelphia has transformed culinary arts into life arts. Her demanding program at Frankford High School habitually earns her students full and partial scholarships to college and to promising careers and lives. The movie follows her and her charges through a single school year, and it's the most inspiring and moving work of film I've seen in a long long time. Without being mawkish or even slightly sentimental -- the camera records the tears and triumphs but never lingers a moment too long -- Pressure Cooker simply observes a gifted, dedicated teacher in action and the extraordinary impact she has on the lives of the kids who sign up for her rigorous program. There is no voiceover narration, no interruption for interviews or encomiums. There's just the footage of what's going on, from her kitchen classroom sessions to school events to the home lives of her stressed but admirable proteges. It's completely extraordinary from beginning to end.

Forget what you think you know about urban life in cities like Philadelphia. There are no guns or gangs or crack houses here and none of the excuses that go with such cliches. Frankford is a poor neighborhood, and life is tough there, but it's not a wasteland. What we're privileged to watch is good kids from varying circumstances struggling not against society in general, but for their own individual dreams, however improbable. Wilma Stephenson is by turns a taskmaster, a cheerleader, a mother, a shrewd manipulator, and an indomitable force of love. Whatever the event, from football games to cheerleader competitions to the prom to graduation, she is invariably there, tirelessly there for her kids.

The pacing is masterful. You get to see enough, know enough about everyone, and the sphere of attention goes way beyond cooking class. But there's a building sense of real suspense as the graduating class moves toward a citywide competition that could award the best ones full-boat scholarships for all four years of college, even as they juggle the complicated and sometimes crushing demands at home with the need for disciplined, precise, perseverant study and practice.

Initially, the culinary emphasis seems somewhat trivial weighed against the burden of real life in Frankford, but you learn -- as the kids learn -- that success and failure in this realm are both obvious and subtle. There is a specific result at the end of the effort, and there's no grading on the curve about an omelette or a shaped cucumber salad. You do it right or it's a disaster. There's no "good enough" or "Congratulations for showing up." And there's an etiquette, a formality, about culinary competition -- attire just so, "Yes, chef, no, chef" to your judges, and you not only have to cook well, but you also have to perform cleanly at every step of the process. One of Wilma's students is a star defensive tackle on the football team with every expectation of receiving an athletic scholarship to college. You begin to appreciate the real depth of his character only when you watch him shave slices of cucumber with the intensity of a neurosurgeon. Then you connect it to the devotion with which he escorts his much younger sister to the school bus every day.

Like the movie, I refuse to preach about what the movie is really about. But I want everyone to see it. It's available as a rental through Netflix and, I'm guessing, other similar services. Do yourself a favor and find a way to watch it. You won't regret it. The denouement is as emotionally rewarding as anything you'll experience from a Hollywood blockbuster.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Inconvenient Truths about Islam

"I haven't read the Koran," but I know it's no more crazy than the, ugh, Christians.

TOLERANT DUDGEON. The myth of moderate Islam is probably the most enduring, unexamined, and dangerous fallacy of the near-decade since the 9/11 attacks. It's been endorsed and defended by influential people ranging from the Bush administration to pundits across the political spectrum and, more recently, by the Obama administration, which wants us to admire Islam for its many cultural contributions to the United States(?), and even the Jewish mayor of New York City(!). We're repeatedly reminded that Islam is one of three great monotheistic traditions sharing some sort of common taproot that honors Moses as well as Jesus and is, in its essence, as committed to ecumenical tolerance as any of the great world religions. If we can just bring ourselves to accept them, all will be well. And if we can't, it's more of a reflection on us than them.

But there's one problem with such characterizations. They're not true. And they're demonstrably not true. Both the Koran itself (if any of its defenders would actually read it) and the history of Islam belie the claim that Islam is somehow equivalent to, on a par with, or roughly analogous to Judaism, Christianity, or even Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and Taoism. It's a thing apart.

The American people as a whole have a seat-of-the-pants understanding of this, which annoys the intelligentsia no end. We've been waiting nine years now for muslim voices to speak up louder than their many apologists and offer up unequivocal, emotionally credible denunciations of the 9/11 attacks, the Hamas/Hizbollah denial of Israel's right to exist, Iran's repeated calls for extermination of the Jews, and the perverse phenomena of honor killings, suicide bombers, fatwas against those who commit so-called heresies, and televised decapitations of infidels, all carried out in the name of Allah. That hasn't happened.

What we've gotten instead are lame, reluctant, carefully worded disavowals of the most egregious acts, always followed by whining complaints about how unfairly moderate muslims are portrayed as they go about their understated diplomatic efforts to keep communications open with Islamic organizations of all kinds. Which is to say, we're not supposed to notice that even the moderate muslims who attend state dinners and mayoral campaign functions have a disturbing tendency to sound moderate in English and jihadist in Arabic, while they continue to engage in inscrutable financial transactions that mysteriously often involve radical anti-Israel and anti-western entities.

Well, the David Lettermans of the superior caste may not know it, but there is abundant documentation of what ordinary Americans are concluding empirically for themselves. An article in today's National Review introduces a book, Robert Reilly's The Closing of the Muslim Mind, that many of you may want to purchase and read. Here's an excerpt from the NR piece:

Why Islamic Moderates Are So Scarce
It goes back to a ninth-century theological dispute.

...Reilly does in fact locate the elusive moderate Islam — back in the 8th and 9th centuries, when the rationalist Mu’tazilites dominated Islamic thought under Caliph al-Ma’mun. The period is often referred to as the “golden age of Islam,” when that civilization produced some of its highest achievements in philosophy and science. It didn’t last. In 849, the second year of the reign of Caliph Ja’afar al-Mutawakkil, the Mu’tazilites were overthrown. Holding Mu’tazilite beliefs became a crime punishable by death, and the decidedly anti-rationalist Ash’arites soon came to dominate the faith, as they would continue to do, in one form or another, through the modern era.

What makes Closing so compelling is Reilly’s ability to tie seemingly arcane questions of Islamic theology to many of the characteristics of Islamic civilization that we in the West find so hard to fathom. Fundamentally, Ash’arism was a rejection of “natural law” and reason in favor of an all-powerful God of pure will and power. The idea of an ordered universe that behaves according to certain ordained laws -- whether moral or physical -- would have been understood by the Mu’tazilites. For the Ash’arites, this was blasphemy, an outrage against God’s omnipotence.

In the language of philosophy, this way of looking at the world is known, somewhat confusingly, as “voluntarism.” To quote Reilly, it “holds that God is the primary cause of everything and there are no secondary causes. There is no causal mediation. Therefore, what may seem to be ‘natural laws,’ such as the laws of gravity, physics, etc. are really nothing more than God’s customs or habits, which He is at complete liberty to break or change at any moment.”

While Christianity recognizes the possibility of miracles, when God intervenes to supersede natural law, in Islam every nanosecond is the functional equivalent of a miracle, the result of God’s divine act. Thus there is no law of gravity, only God’s will, determining moment by moment that the apple will fall from the tree. Neither is there any morality, no objective good and evil as we in the West would see it, only the arbitrary decrees of an all-powerful God. There is no “truth that is written in our hearts,” only the truths that are written in the Koran, which could just as well be otherwise if such were the whim of God. As Ibn Hazm pronounced in the 11th century, “He judges as He pleases, and whatever He judges is just. . . . If God the Exalted had informed us that He would punish us for the acts of others . . . all that would have been right and just.”

The problem, one might say, is obvious. In science, the repudiation of natural law meant the explicit denial of cause and effect. No wonder that the rise of the Ash’arites coincided with the decline of a once-vibrant Islamic intellectual culture after the 13th century. And no wonder that societies that exalt the power and arbitrary will of God to the exclusion of reason can hardly understand, let alone embrace, modern democratic institutions, which are founded, as our Declaration of Independence makes clear, in the self-evident and enduring truths of natural law.

Nor can we be surprised that such cultures endorse institutionalized domestic violence or rampant terrorism and the murder of innocents. As hard as it is for the secular Left to accept, Western culture is founded on and steeped in the Judeo-Christian assumption that our innate understanding of what is right is a direct reflection of God’s goodness and justice as reflected in His universal law, to which even He adheres. We make a mistake when we assume other cultures are necessarily speaking the same moral language.

They're not speaking the same language, even if some of the names are the same. That's why there's not only no separation of church and state in so-called Islamic democracies, but no possibility of such separation. It's literally unthinkable. Islam is fundamentally incompatible with western democracies in general and the United States Constitution in particular. Sharia law is not an idiosyncratic appendix to Islam that might eventually be surgically removed; it's the whole point of Islam, which does not mean 'peace' but 'submission.' Islam is not one of the world's great religions. It's a Dark Age anachronism that threatens us now every bit as much as it did when it cut Europe off from the Mediterranean in the middle ages. (That btw is why the Crusades were necessary. Reconnecting Europe with the roots of civilization is what precipitated the Renaissance and launched the Age of Enlightenment. Sorry if your western civ course omitted that fact.) Moderate muslims who simultaneously claim allegiance to the United States and to their religion are automatically apostates. That's why they're in the minority and that's why they're mostly silent. That's why the ultimate danger of Islam is not terrorism or even jihadism, but 'Dawah'. It's a term you should research for yourselves. It has everything to do with the contemporary behavior of muslims in Europe and Canada and everything to do with the mosque debate.

You could look it up. But if you do, look past the initial Google pages, which are all muslim propaganda. Look deeper. For the people who know what's really going on.

Then report back here.

Managing Expectations

John Adler has a devastating new ad against Jon Runyan in NJ's 3rd district.
Runyan has a donkey on his property, proving he's a fake Republican farmer.
Look at that donkey. Should that buy a zoning break for a multi-millionaire?

PARTY PR. This isn't going to be as easy as it looks, folks. Just because Obama has been a truly, unbelievably awful president doesn't mean the Republicans are going to waltz into control of congress and the senate.

People keep quoting Lincoln saying, "You can't fool all of the people all of the time," but they conveniently forget that he also said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time."

Now there are pollsters and pundits, some of them Democrats, who are predicting the Republicans can pick up as many as 90 seats in the House of Representatives. They're having you on, sports fans.

The important thing to remember if you're a "likely voter" is that you objecters to ObamaNation are all as dumb as dirt. Those of you who live in flyover country, anyway. Many of you are Christians, which means you can subtract maybe 30 or more additional IQ points immediately. So you're like down there in the range of approximately 60 or so IQs with the actual election 60 days away.

Is there any chance you'll remember what it is you're so damn fired up about by the time the election actually occurs that you'll come out to vote? Not likely. Meanwhile, the Democrats will have all their buses ready and waiting to take their low IQ voters to the polls whether they remember what day it is or not.

It's time to ratchet our expectations downward. We're not going to win back the house or senate. Long before that Tuesday in November, whenever it is, the newspapers and network news shows we all rely on for our news will have convinced most of you that there was never a time when U.S. unemployment was less than 9.5 percent, when the U.S. econonomy wasn't headed in the right direction after an eternity of heading in the wrong, Republican direction, and when everything in the country wasn't being painfully corrected by massive new government interventions for our own good.

I know you think you'll be able to remember differently. I sympathize. All I'm trying to do is moderate your expectations. You know how so many of you think a degree from the University of Idaho is a higher education credential? Wrong. There are like only ten or twelve unversities that teach the REAL stuff:  Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago, Berkeley, Harvard, Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and of course, Harvard. Is the University of Idaho anywhere on that list? No. That's what you're up against.

They're going to find a way to fool all of you. You'll see your current senator draped in a purple-fringed white toga and you'll say, "Oh, he looks so much like my favorite, George Clooney, only in a purple-fringed white toga." They'll show you an earmark they've created in your house district that is just for you -- "direct cash subsidies to halfwit evangelical Christians who once attended a Tea Party and don't know any better." They'll pick you off like berries from a bush because you're too damn dumb to know when you're being had.

I'm not trying to be cruel. I know you mean well. But it really is time to accept that your government is smarter than you are. Time for you to accept that they really do know better how much you should eat, smoke, drink, and drive -- and why it would be criminally wrong to let you live much longer if your drinking and smoking and eating habits make your old age more expensive than the much better educated drinkers, smokers, and eaters of the U.S. Senate deem proper. Plus, you keep driving everywhere. They don't do that. They have chauffeurs. In short, they're more RESPONSIBLE than you are.

Let's face it. Christians are roughly equivalent to the KKK. Aren't they? Have you EVER had an op-ed published by the New York Times or Washington Post? No. You haven't. I have.

So don't get your hopes up, assholes.


Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Presidency

Why can't you just shut up and do what I say?

PNOTE.52.1-5. We don't think about it enough. It's the most unusual power position in the history of government and the world. Every other executive position is easier: less complex, less compromised, less hybrid, and for the last half century or so, less important.

In the American tradition he's a kind of father, because George Washington was our first and he was the father of his country. Which was expressly different from being a king, meaning that he was never meant to be the father of your childhood years -- invulnerable and capable of healing every hurt or righting every wrong. He was more the father of our awareness years, a real and flawed person whom we respected because he had done his best, stood up for us through thick and thin, without accepting that he was infallible. Popes are infallible. That's easier. You can retreat to the doctrines of generations. Dictators are infallible because they can deal with everyone who thinks differently until the day when the peasants come with their pitchforks to deal with you. Prime ministers never have to be fathers of any kind. The expectations are different. They may have a duty to be inspiring at times, but their chief role is to be effective in running the government, not to be an evocative symbol of a whole nation with ironically less power in his nation's government than he does in affairs of the whole world.

The first president who had to deal with this level of complexity was Harry Truman. The bomb gave him life and death power around the globe while he was nevertheless constrained by the constitution and its separation of powers at home. Little wonder that he chose not to run for a second term he was constitutionally entitled to try for. Who can accustom himself to unlimited power and authority on the one hand and the need for negotiation with jealous competing if subsidiary powers on the other? Only someone of very special qualities. The challenge breaks most because most men do not have characters consisting of a string of oxymoronic attributes. The presidency requires men to be simultaneously egoistic and humble, adamant and conciliatory, fervently ambitious though stoically patient, a leader and yet a follower too, spiritual but pragmatic, emotional without being hysterical, passionate yet not ideologically obsessed, honest but not rigid, confident but not arrogant, common but uncommonly so, and brave but never a bully.

In these terms, they all fail. This is both the weakness and the glory of the American tradition. As the living personal symbol of the ideal called the constitution the president is sworn to protect, he can never entirely succeed. As the constitution itself can never entirely succeed, because it is the product of fallible human beings who are, by definition, bound to fall short of their highest ideals. It's our constant national reminder that government is as inherently flawed as we all are individually. Why we should trust it this far and no farther.

Because of the natural contradictions inherent in the job description, presidents tend to get bigger or smaller in office. Not that I liked him, but Truman got bigger. He set in place the implacable western strategy for winning the Cold War, even if he couldn't always live up to the demands of his own strategy. Eisenhower got smaller, just a little, but age and a certain lassitude made him finally less than the Supreme Allied Commander he had been in World War II. Kennedy got bigger. For all his personal flaws, he rallied from defeat and even humiliation to be, for many, an inspiring symbol of youth and vision that transcended his fairly modest record of accomplishment. Lyndon Johnson shrank steadily in office, until he was a cornered badger, despite his towering, intimidating personality. Nixon grew and grew and then imploded, done in by the twisted nature of his uncommon commonness. Gerald Ford grew, just not enough and not in time. Carter practically disappeared; he never had the flexibility required to be a teacher today and a listener tomorrow. Reagan had a gift for the presidency. He got big and might have gotten bigger had not old age tracked him down. George H. W. Bush got first big and then small. Different times exert pressure on different aspects of the oxymoron game. Clinton, conversely, got smaller, then bigger, and finished smaller. He never understood the honesty thing. Like Nixon, he had the potential, but he also had a fatal flaw. George W. Bush got big and then gradually faded away. His resolve remained, but he lost his understanding of what the president must always do, which is to stay in touch and not withdraw into silence.

You see? They all fail. That's part of the lesson, part of the American experience, the American tradition. Ultimately, we are responsible. At some point, the parents always become the children, and the children must become the parents. That's what elections are about. Why we're supposed to be the ones in charge.

Now we have Obama. He's gotten smaller faster than any president since the dawn of the modern presidency. Even on a glamorous vacation, he seems more prisoner than president. He doesn't want to be the leader of the free world. He doesn't want to contend with American constitutional politics. He wants to be the old kind of father, the regal kind. He wants to tell us what to do, how to act, and how to fold our napkin after the meal. He has pre-teen children. That's how he wants to treat us. He's egoistic, adamant, ambitious, rigid, arrogant, unemotional, ideologically obsessed, and a (passive-aggressive) bully. No oxymorons here. Which means he'll never be big enough to be the kind of father the American tradition has determined the president should be. And the more we resist and rebel, the colder and more remote he will become. He's the dad who retreats to his study and stops talking to everyone.

It's a shame. A tragedy for him. Let's hope it's not a tragedy for the rest of us. That's what elections are for. In America.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


What "liberals" saw on Saturday. Who is it that's "bitter and clinging"?

SWARTHMORONS.35.1-13. Sometimes, certain stories seem to belong together. The fancy term for it is pattern recognition. The simpler term is gut instinct.

Why did all those people show up in Washington, DC, last Saturday? GodThe Internet knows, the pundits are obsessed with the question. What's interesting is how much they don't like the answer. How many of them, on both sides of the aisle, don't like the obvious answer. The sturdy middle class that pays all the bills has reached the conclusion that something has gone terribly wrong with the Republic. So they hied themselves to Washington, listened politely to all the speeches, picked up after themselves (which has always been their way), and went back home without providing the mass media with a single ugly picture to tout as proof of their horribleness. But this hasn't stopped all and sundry from finding something deeply disturbing, even despicable about it. Jim Treacher did a masterful job of summing up the one MSM talking point:

Presented without comment:

“Conservative commentator Glenn Beck and tea party champion Sarah Palin appealed Saturday to a vast, predominantly white crowd on the National Mall to help restore traditional American values and honor Martin Luther King’s message.” — Associated Press

“Attendees at the rally Saturday largely honored organizer requests that they not bring banners or political signs. Instead, the predominantly white crowd, many seated on folding chairs and accompanied by their children, wore t-shirts with slogans including ‘Got principles?’ and ‘Restoring Honor.’” — AFP

“Meanwhile, many in the predominantly white crowd bent over backward to insist that they are not racists and to note that the crowd was courteous, despite heat and density.” — James Hohmann, Politico

“Beck says he and his overwhelmingly white followers ‘are the inheritors and protectors of the civil- rights movement.’” — Ben Adler, Newsweek

“Though the audience at the event was overwhelmingly white, many of the speakers were African-American, including a woman who sang a song about unity.” — Brian Montopoli, CBS

“Claiming the legacy of the nation’s Founding Fathers and repeatedly evoking civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., the speakers at the ‘Restoring Honor’ rally exhorted a vast and overwhelmingly white crowd to concentrate not on the history that has scarred the nation but instead on what makes it ‘good.’” — Philip Rucker & Carol Morello, Washington Post

“A relatively dense and overwhelmingly white crowd stretched from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial out past the Washington Monument.” — Mark Benjamin,

“The speaker list was diverse, including African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans; Jews and Christians; clergymen, military veterans and sports stars, including Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. The crowd, however, was overwhelmingly white.” — Michael A. Memoli and Kim Geiger, LA Times

“Out in the overwhelmingly white audience… politics was everywhere, with Tea Party supporters describing the damage they envision for President Barack Obama’s Democrats in upcoming midterm elections in November.” — Mitch Potter, Toronto Star

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

It bears noting, however, that the so-called intellectual wing of the conservative establishment is just as unhappy about what happened as the progressives. Goldberg quotes Ross Douthat's "Two Americas" critique, which is unnervingly reminiscent of John Edwards's elitist hatcheting of the nation into two warring classes:

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently argued that there are “two Americas.” The first America is wholly secular, “where allegiance to the Constitution trumps ethnic differences, language barriers and religious divides. An America where the newest arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great granddaughter of the Pilgrims.” The other America is culturally defined: “This America speaks English, not Spanish or Chinese or Arabic. It looks back to a particular religious heritage: Protestantism originally, and then a Judeo-Christian consensus that accommodated Jews and Catholics as well.”

Douthat makes some good points, but he downplays the relationship between what are really the two faces of one America. It is America’s conception of itself as a people that keeps it loyal to the Constitution. The Constitution, absent our cultural fidelity to it, might as well be the rules for a role-playing game.

And Kathleen Parker takes a curious delight in ridiculing the process of personal redemption that has long been a staple of the uniquely American capacity for forgiveness:

My name is Glenn Beck, and I need help

Saturday's Beckapalooza was yet another step in Beck's own personal journey of recovery. He may as well have greeted the crowd of his fellow disaffected with:

"Hi. My name is Glenn, and I'm messed up."

Beck's history of alcoholism and addiction is familiar to any who follow him. He has made no secret of his past and is quick to make fun of himself. As he once said: "You can get rich making fun of me. I know. I've made a lot of money making fun of me."

Self-mockery -- and cash -- seems to come easily to him.

Any cursory search of Beck quotes also reveals the language of the addict:

-- "It is still morning in America. It just happens to be kind of a head-pounding, hung-over, vomiting-for-four-hours kind of morning in America."

-- "I have not heard people in the Republican Party yet admit that they have a problem."

-- "You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one -- I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show."

Indeed. After the hangover comes admission of the addiction, followed by surrender to a higher power and acknowledgment that one is always fallen.

Har de har har. 300,000 people at the mall amounted to a 12-step meeting. Kewl. That explains it.

Why are they all so uncomfortable? I think there are two reasons. Two reasons that are contradictory of one another. I'll explain, but first I'll cite the real reasons all those folks showed up. Two other reasons that somehow haven't occurred to most of the intellectuals because they're so elemental:  birth and death in America.

Birth. Here's an outstanding precis of what the growth of government means in real terms. I'm quoting from the conclusion, but read the whole thing. As promised in the opening paragraph, it's snark-free.

• Fact: There are a record number of Americans dependent upon government anti-poverty programs thanks to the Obama Democrats
• Fact: Expanded access to welfare and food stamps greatly increases the number of children born to unwed mothers
• Fact: Single-parent families correlate to higher crime rates
Conclusion: with the unprecedented increase in welfare, food stamps and unemployment, we will also see an unparalleled increase in violent crime within the next dozen or so years.

Obama and his Democrats sycophants in Congress will have created hundreds of thousands of single-parent families. These kids, born out-of-wedlock, will find themselves trapped in lives of criminality at far higher rates than kids from two-parent families.

Fast forward a dozen years, give or take a couple, and we will see a true Obama Crime Wave. I predict that we will see an unprecedented increase in crime. In fact, you could call it historic.

And the question is not whether it will happen. The question is whether the Obama Left is doing it on purpose.

Death. Another outstanding piece illuminating the implications of ObamaCare.

Our patients have always expected a certain standard of care from their doctors, which includes providing them with pertinent information that may affect their quality of life. Because the issue this election is so stark—literally life and death for millions of Americans in the years ahead—we are this week posting a "Dear Patient" letter in our waiting rooms.

The letter states in unambiguous language what the new law means:

"Dear Patient: Section 1311 of the new health care legislation gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and her appointees the power to establish care guidelines that your doctor must abide by or face penalties and fines. In making doctors answerable in the federal bureaucracy this bill effectively makes them government employees and means that you and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. This new law politicizes medicine and in my opinion destroys the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world."

Our doctor's letter points out that, in addition to "badly exacerbating the current doctor shortage," ObamaCare will bring "major cost increases, rising insurance premiums, higher taxes, a decline in new medical techniques, a fall-off in the development of miracle drugs as well as rationing by government panels and by bureaucrats like passionate rationing advocate Donald Berwick that will force delays of months or sometimes years for hospitalization or surgery."

If government policies regulating birth and death threaten the future of the nation, the people who have always been silently responsible for making the nation work in spite of government will finally make themselves heard and felt. That's a no-brainer. The remaining question is what the people who object to that are objecting to.

Which brings us back to our two (much more trivial) reasons for elitist discomfort. First, intellectuals of most stripes, liberal and conservative, are superior to the idea of God. To them, he's the big bin into which less than gifted intellects toss all their doubts and fears and any issues beyond their book-learning. They may think they're not inimical to the concept of divinity, but that's because they don't understand the amount of ego they have invested in the diminutive micro-world they have created as their own personal manifestation of reason. It's an error of scale of epic proportions. You see it again and again. They think they understand the economy but they cannot comprehend the staggering size and scale and number of variables and adaptiveness of the economy. They think they understand climate, but they cannot comprehend the staggering size and scale and number of variables and adaptiveness of the earth's climate. They think, with godlike hubris, that they understand people, but they cannot comprehend the staggering size and scale and number of variables and adaptiveness of the population they've been taught to regard as contemptible, statistical units.

The second reason is like unto the first. Their whole identity consists of their capacity to know, to label, to categorize, to predict, to pronounce judgment. Which makes them a superior class in a country they've been indoctrinated to measure against a vague and impossible ideal of absolute equality. Everybody the same, regardless of effort or ability, except for them. They absent themselves from the picture because their role is to be the discerning eagle eyes above the scene. They fly, they see, they know, and the rest of us are down in the mud killing each other at the water hole.

Thing is, every nation and culture in history has had these same eaglesvultures seeking to manage things for the rest of us.

The worst possible event to witness from the air is the animals at the water hole NOT killing each other. That would be a threat. Which is when it's time to damn them for being animals of a particular color. Even if they aren't. And even if it isn't supposed to matter in their grander scheme of things.

Which is to say their biggest, most invincible hatred is their hatred of themselves. (They're not white? Mostly, they are.) Projected onto us because, of course, we matter less than they do. Why? Because the entire architecture of the universe depends upon it.


My Bad

All that shrieking wasn't him. It was a Lab who wanted to go home.

THEY SAID HE WAS SMART. Sorry. Really. I'm given to understand that the president made a speech last night about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the meaning of life, the universe and everything? I missed it.

It's Raebert's fault. He had his second obedience class. And he actually had a moment with the instructor in which he didn't embarrass himself or us. At one point, she said he was smart and he was thinking. [Gasp.] He was learning how to "Stay." (Right. Like that's going to happen. But he has a talent for showing off. Especially if there are blondes involved.) We were so proud of him. Everybody else was envious. Good boy.

Where was I? Sorry. So, what I was noodling was this. Maybe all of you could tell me how well the president was thinking in his speech. I've seen some excerpts from it, and I haven't personally spotted anything yet that amounts to Raebert's deerhound breakthrough in that respect, but I've been distracted. You know. I hate to not cover things of importance. Fill me in.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ultimate ad absurdem

DON'T FORGET THE GLOSSARY. Ordinarily I don't post if I have nothing to add. But this is too good not to post. And even the usual airy-fairy Hotair characterization seems, uh, appropriate. We wouldn't want to drown out the sound file with our impolitic falling-on-the-floor guffaws, now would we?

Oh. Yeah. We do have a little something to add. An entry from the Y2000 Who's Who in Shuteye Nation. (Hard to think we've been tracking this asswipe for 10 years, isn't it?)

Bill Priss. Liberal° political° pundit° and eunuch co-host of CTN's Crosswire. Who says you have to be intelligent to be a successful political commentator? What you have to do is start talking, keep talking, and don't stop talking, especially if there are guests or anybody else on camera who doesn't agree that the best political system is one in which every dime of the Gross National Product is pissed away in a futile attempt to protect 260 million fat cowards from the dangers of being free.

CORRECTION: It's not called the Gross National Product anymore. It's called the Gross Domestic Product. A change that came in the same year, I suspect, when Democrats switched from commie red to existentially blue on the electoral map and Republicans from patriotic blue to raging racist red. That kind of thing.

Shut Up and Act

"What I'm seeing is not real." No kidding.

. So needless. I like this guy as an actor. Why must he insist on driving me (and 150 million other Americans) out of his audience?

John Cusack wants ‘Satanic Death Cult Center at Fox News HQ’
Tweeting left-wing actor whines about ‘haters’ while calling Glenn Beck ‘racist’ and ‘fascist.’

By Matt Philbin
Culture and Media Institute
August 30, 2010

Want a tutorial in the hypocrisy, vitriol and deep unhappiness of the American left? You don’t need to subject yourself to MSNBC, or wade through the muck of Daily Kos. Actor John Cusack’s Twitter feed is a clearing house for liberal memes and nasty rhetoric.

Here’s his peaceful entry from Aug. 29 [All spelling from original Tweets, but Cusack admits: “I type with I phone fast and loose with no spellcheck.”]


Presumably, this is a reference to the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque. And “all the GOP WELFARE FREAKS” seems to follow on this theme:

Johncusack: taht's the gop philospy.. gourge the stae while claiming to be rugged individuaist who live by the free market - biggest joke there is..

Johncusack: think of our the us treasury as the last frontier to be stripped mined if only pesky gov itelf wasn't in the way.

Johncusack: privatized gains- socialized loses-- complete hippcorites

But elsewhere, Cusack said Glenn Beck (at his “Restoring Honor” rally) was “unifying whites -class war of blame and fear” and said Beck was starting a “class war to capitallize on economy they destroyed” – a strange accusation from a man that claims the GOP wants to gut the treasury. And what liberal rant would be complete without the leftist’s two favorite pejoratives? Back’s [sic[ tactics, he wrote were “strraigjt fr tfriendly racist playbiook.” A minute later, Cusack added, “Sorry frendly fascist playbook."

Elsewhere, he wrote: “[Charles] krathhammers a joke son please do me a fav and dont watch.” He called another Tweeter a “flag sucking halfwit,” presumably for the sin of patriotism.

Strong words from a man who also Tweeted about having “to weed out all the little trolls who can't bare it when someone has an opinion they dont like.” He “blocked as many haters as i could a i still can't get below 200 thou,” but confessed, “i guess someone turned off the automatic hate spewing machine.. i kind of miss them.”

Whew! Glad some of the hate’s gone from Twitter.

Cusack, who, according to gave $1,000 to Vice President Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, has a long history of using strident partisan rhetoric. He called the Bush administration “criminally incompetent robber barons,” and “the neo-con/White House Iraq Group lunatics,” and demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder imprison the guilty Bush officials. He also did an anti-McCain ad for the far-left group

Because he thinks he's a highly educated intellectual? If so, then why drop out of college in your first year? I don't get it.

Oh, that's right. I forgot. His background is available to see at Wiki:

Cusack was born in Evanston, Illinois, to an Irish Catholic family. His father, Dick Cusack (1925–2003), and siblings Ann, Joan, Bill, and Susie, are also actors; his father was also a documentary filmmaker, owned a film production company, and was a friend of activist Philip Berrigan. Cusack's mother, Nancy (née Carolan), is a former mathematics teacher and political activist. Cusack spent a year at New York University before dropping out, saying that he had "too much fire in his belly".

I can see the 'too much fire in the belly thing.' For acting. But it pretty much eliminates your credibility when it comes to anything else. And all he does is hurt himself.  He can't spell. He can't write a grammatical sentrence. He can't think (as if Twitter allowed for that anyway...)

It's not like his career is on fire. What's he done since ConAir, the high point of actions pics before The Expendables? A few horror movies? I don't get it. Somebody please explain.

The closest I can come to understanding is the experience I used to have when I was a management consultant travelling on planes all the time. I realized that your seatmates were more likely to tell you the truth about their lives than they would their closest friends. I was particularly interested in lawyers. They always told me they hated their lives. Hated being lawyers.

Maybe it's the same for actors. Despite all the money. When people love and admire you, it's never you they love and admire. Only a character you played. Maybe as you approach your middle years, that becomes a cross to bear (or should that be "bare"?) You're old enough that you should be a grownup. But you're still nothing but a face. You want to matter, even if it cuts your future audience in half.

Help me out here.

The thing is, there are consequences to our decisions. You became an actor. You're good at emoting. You have a knack for memorizing lines. You have money. People turn your way when you speak. But you dropped out of NYU before you turned 20. A trade you made. When people turn your way, they're looking at your face. Period. They're not looking for you to educate them. That's what you gave up. You're a high school kid who became a movie star.

What am I missing? Why should we listen? Why should we care? Why should we keep coming to your movies if you're intent on being a sanctimonious dick?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Boxes

The irony is so thick you could cut it with a dull Olbermann.
HARVARD CLASS OF JFK. The title of this post was inspired by an essay by Laura Brod over at Hotair's Green Room. It's called The Little Glass Box of the American Left and it says, in part:

Last year was quite an experience as I was encouraged to run for Minnesota Governor. While ultimately I decided not to run, during that process, I was flooded with questionnaires from organizations seeking my views or trying to influence my opinions. One of the things which surprised me, though, is the nature of the questions I was asked by some organizations.

What particularly caught my eye was a questionnaire from a “Women’s” group. What were the questions? The majority of them were about abortion, gay marriage, and how much we should expand big government spending.

In the midst of the deepest recession in living memory and international uncertainties, those don’t strike me — or most people — as the issues keeping women (or men) up at night.
Where were the ideas of economic freedom and economic opportunity? Where were the questions about challenges that women business owners face in small business start-ups which are the mainstay of Main Streets throughout the country? Where were the questions about the national debt and its impact on our children’s future? Where were the questions about how we best educate the children of our country so that we have a qualified and well positioned workforce? This list goes on and on.

This self-described “women’s” group and many like it are more interested in litmus tests on liberal social issues than on what will materially improve women’s lives in the real day-to-day world where we are raising kids, struggling to make ends meet, and hoping that we or our spouses don’t lose their job (or will find one soon).

For decades now we have talked about the glass ceiling women once faced, and to a certain extent still do. But I am more worried about the glass box that liberal feminists have placed women and “women’s issues” in, all tied up with a pretty pink bow. That glass box is all about keeping women and “women’s issues” firmly in their place on the left side of the political spectrum.

But isn't that what identity politics are all about, as practiced by the left? There's the Little Black Box of African-American racialist politics, the Little Brown Box of hispanic amnesty politics, the Little Hypochondriac Box filled with people who want to see their doctor every week and get their drugs for free, the Little Senior Box of frightened Social Security and Medicare recipients, the Little Green Box of "save the planet" totalitarians, the Little Card-Check Box of union members who want what they want regardless, the Little Homosexual Box peopled by those who want you to not only watch but cheer their bedroom activities, and the Little Atheist Box of secularists who want the Judeo-Christian God (exclusively) run out of the body politic, so that there's more room for the Little Muslim Box, the Little Buddhist Box, the Little Wiccan Box, and the not-so-little I-Hate-America Box.

All of these are supposed to be defined by a handful of box-specific issues whose only point of commonality is that they give the government more power to tell everyone in the country what to do. Democratic unity consists of chaining these separate, discrete boxes together into a permanent voting majority under the absolute control of a federal establishment run by Ivy League lawyers consisting of (overwhelmingly) white men and (a few useful idiot) white women.

Everything that applies to the glass box described by Laura Brod at Hotair also applies to the people who are supposed to occupy all the other little boxes. African-Americans who are pro-life, pro-choice when it comes to alternatives to the union-mandated incompetencies of government schools, and pro-small business because they own one or would like to are banished from the box (with prejudice and sometimes minstrel cartoons) as Uncle Toms. It's unimaginable to Harry Reid and other Dems that any American of Hispanic descent wouldn't prefer the Little Brown Box to border enforcement, the rule of law, and state governments that aren't bankrupted by non-paying parasites on local healthcare, education, law enforcement, judicial, and child welfare resources for which they pay taxes like other law-abiding citizens. The Little Senior Box is supposed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the AARP lobby, with no thought about the burden and legacy of debt being piled up on their children or grandchildren or the potentially fatal results of having financially stressed governments more in charge of their declining years than doctors. It's impossible for progressives to imagine that people could care about the environment, ecology, and endangered species without believing these goals are best accomplished by a regressive tax on resources that are still available -- and safe in terms of all our environmental ideals -- if we'd only let people look for them. Et cetera.

Just a couple of additional points to be made about the "box" mentality. There's nothing liberal, tolerant, hopeful. or truly forward-looking about it. It regards all people as intrinsically selfish and devoid of individuality, human moraility, and capacity for unity. None of us can ever transcend the initial boxes we check on a government form -- sex, race or ethnic origin, age, education level, income, and medical condition. When we check a box in one of these categories, that's our box, now and forevermore, and in progressive political calculus we damn well better stay there or be ridiculed as racists, sexists, homophobes, nativists, anti-science creationists, blah blah. In point of fact, it's the grimmest kind of reductionism, the ultimate denial of the value of the experience of life itself. Only the wise white power lords of the federal government can be trusted to keep us from each other's throats as we slash at each other with the sharpest blades of our narrowest interests. The idea that these boxes might just be individual pots for seedlings whose produce grows freely upward and outward into a delightful natural garden that kens and glories in the whole is beyond the soulless, geometric view of human existence progressive box collectors prefer.

The second point is esthetic but not really subsidiary. Listen -- really listen -- to the song video up top. Pete Seeger is/was a liberal icon. Who was thinking of little boxes first? Pay particular attention to his repeated mentions of the most important little box of all -- The Little University Box. He and his ilk captured that box first. (And they're still drinking their martinis, aren't they?) And the box metaphor was the basis for how they set about conquering the rest of us. By a process of annexation, box by box, until they had a string of addends that looked to them like unity, as far as people of their collective mentality could ever understand unity. Note his tone -- the avuncular, friendly, approachable contempt of his "folk music." Note, too, the fatal error of scale that betrays the narrowness of his vision: he lists "business" as a box.

It may be. But it's one gigantically huge and kaleidoscopic box that contains 90+ percent of everything that real working people do to sustain themselves and each other. I don't need to do the butcher to candlestickmaker list. That's the box that contains almost all of us. But it's overridingly vital for them to keep us in a box and convince us that it's as small as all their other possessions.

It isn't.

Seeger's boxes. Just subtract the cheery brightness.

The box that really isn't a box is the United States of America.

Glenn Beck's America. He said, "no signs."
Do you see any signs? They're just citizens.

Do you remember the archaic term "melting pot?" This explanation won't make any sense to those of you who have never eaten a stew or vegetable soup. So if you're one of the ones who always eats all the ingredients of your meals separately, one dish for each ingredient, I apologize. My metaphor will fall flat. But the melting pot idea never suggested that a pea would stop being a pea, a potato a potato, a beef cube a beef cube, an onion an onion, etc, just because it was part of a delicious entree. The idea was that the stew was more than the sum of its ingredients, nothing lost and much gained.

Try eating a stew unmixed ingredient by unmixed ingredient, unwashed, uncut, unseasoned, unsimmered together, each with a sign that says, "I'm celery and I'm mad," or "I'm beef and I feel guilty for what I'm doing to your colon," or "I'm a Scottish leek. Don't eat me; I taste like shit." That's what we call the progressive dream. Tasty, ain't it?

President 'Bummo

Fifteen years ago, when my daughter was 10,
she would have loved this pic. She's 25 now.

UUUUH. Sorry. Just can't take him seriously anymore. There were five Marx Brothers. Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo. Only three of them were funny. Same with the other Marx brothers: Karl, Mao, Castro, Hugo, and Bummo.

Zeppo and Gummo quit to become Hollywood publicists. Hugo and Bummo quit to become sideshow clowns. Same thing.

You disagree? Sideshow clown as Hollywood publicist? Try this video. TRANSLATION:

President Obama criticizes the economic policies of former President Bush and the current "partisan minority" in Congress. Obama asks Republicans to drop the economic "blockade."

Huh? The Prez holds veto-proof majorities in both houses of congress and he's waxing bellicose about a minority BLOCKADE? Kewl! Truly inspired drollery? No. Mere publicityspeak, Bummo style.

I know. I know, you're tempted to say he's doing a pretty good impression of Groucho from Duck Soup:

I grant you the pomp and circumstance. And the casting of Michelle is
  persuasively comedy-haute couture, though typically Photoshopped-slim.

But I don't see any teleprompters. Or any of the concupiscience. Or the wit. Or the self-conscious self-contradiction (That's what had us fooled at first.) He believes his own dumb punchline. Publicist. Oh well.

The various Marx Brothers "Droppos" all had the same weakness. When they tried to be funny, they weren't. When they tried to be serious, they were ridiculous. Something about pompous Patrician out-of-touchness we presume.

uh, yeah. Sorry. Forgot to mention Johnno. Good friend of
Bummo. Sheryl Crow affirms they both use ONE square.

Did you wave at them? Good girls. We're proud of you.

All kidding aside. Two years in. Everything is still his predecessor's fault? Even if it were true, it's no sign of a man, a leader, or a president. He's just a nerd riding a little girl's bike with a silly helmet he thinks is proof against everything from bird droppings to flat-out stompings. The bird droppings are the last remaining fallout from the Bush administration. The stompings are the product of his own spectacularly misguided and destructive policies.

You can supply the sound effects for yourself.

Good luck with that, Bummo. It really isn't funny. Even burlesque costumery can't cover that up.

So. If the Obama presidency were a parrot...

uh, yeah. You get the picture. Nailed to the perch. For two more years.

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