Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 20, 2010 - September 13, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Best Suggestion

Remember when Jane Fonda did the Tomahawk Chop? Who you rooting for?

PHILLIES TIME. Tonight begins the first of two season-end showdown series between the first-place Phillies and the second-place Atlanta Braves. Both teams have been great at late-inning comebacks and walk-off wins. The Braves are not the Mets. They fight, probably to the very end. In short, we're in the midst of a great pennant race in the NL East, regardless of who you're rooting for.

On WIP SportsTalk radio, they've received the first trash-talk from Atlanta, assigning all the recent success of the Phillies to their homerun-friendly ballpark. The response of host Glen Macnow is my favorite fan participation idea ever. Let's resuscitate the Braves' politically incorrect Tomahawk Chop and use it against them in Philly throughout this series.

Kewl. Spread the word.

P.S. Full disclosure. I actually called in to WIP SportsTalk on the subject of the Phillies a few weeks ago and got on the air. I compared the experience of seeing games at Citizens Bank Park, Veterans Stadium, and Connie Mack Stadium. And I successfully answered a trivia question about the nickname of a player from the Connie Mack era. I'm officially an "Old Phart Phillies Phan."

But I'll be fine, win or lose. Baseball is a symphony that spans the decades, and every high and low has its own beauty, whether the melody is presently carried by the trumpets or the bassoons. Or tomahawk vocals.

Green Room Homeruns

This doesn't say baseball to you? Can't you see the on-deck circle?

FROM THE GHET-TOE. I've remarked before that the best writing at Hotair occurs in the Green Room, and this morning we have more proof. Three excellent posts that represent long-ball elaborations on points made previously here. Top of the list, as always, is Doc Zero, who considers hints being bruited about that the Obama administration may begin expressly targetingdemonizing Sarah Palin rather than John Boehner. The Doc (RTWT, of course) doesn't think it's a good idea:

Obama would be making a deadly mistake by calling out Sarah Palin for a political cage match.  Let me put this bluntly: virtually no one in America gives a damn what Barack Obama says about anything at this point.  What could be more predictable, and less interesting, than Obama’s opinion on any given subject?  Who wants to contemplate the economic wisdom of a guy who looted the Treasury for a trillion dollars, with less benefit than we could have achieved by stuffing hundred dollar bills into random cereal boxes?  Who’s excited to hear about the next plan to convert taxpayer dollars into Democrat campaign funds?  Who’s hungry for another hour of tedious excuses about permanently broken markets and the titanic dead hand of George W. Bush?  Who wants a lecture on ethical business practices from the titular head of the party that gave us Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters?  What use is another hollow foreign-policy speech from a man who sees no global adversary to rival the menace of Arizona?  Even Obama’s supporters don’t hear anything he says any more.  There’s nothing left to hear.

Palin, on the other hand, commands attention... 

There are lots of colorful personalities making news during this election season, but these elections are not about personality.  Describing them as expressions of unreasoning anger against the Democrats underestimates the thoughtfulness and determination of the Tea Party movement.  Voters are not just looking for scapegoats to punish for a lousy economy.  They are preparing to act against the system itself, in a manner without precedent in modern history.  Palin understands this better than any other frontrunner for the 2012 Presidential nomination.  Her presumptive rivals have ties to various aspects of that system, as with Mitt Romney’s precursor to ObamaCare in Massachusetts.  Too many of them treat the repeal of ObamaCare as a sensitive topic, while Palin uses it as a battle cry.

The last thing Obama should do is pull Palin onto the stage as his chief rival.  She might talk about the perpetual corruption engine of “stimulus” dollars protecting union payrolls, and filtering down into Democrat campaign coffers.  She might ask “centrists” how they can find the center of a system tumbling over the left edge of a cliff.  She might ask “independents” how much independence they think they can retain after a few more years of wild government growth.  She might ask how a President with so little faith in the American people dares to complain when they show him anything less than complete trust and unquestioning obedience.

We tended to agree beforehand.

As Doc Zero rounds the bases, J. E. Dyer steps up to the plate prepared to slam a round-tripper on the question of why the tea partiers are voting their conscience rather than a strategic RINO sellout for a Republican majority. He says, in part (RTWT):

I think many high-information voters see things this way: if we can retake the House and achieve a blocking minority in the Senate – both of which are increasingly probable, even if O’Donnell loses in Delaware – Congress can act as a check on Obama until January 2013.

On the other hand, a RINO-heavy Congressional majority would be likely to set Obama’s course in stone – e.g., with only marginal changes to Obamacare, with some version of amnesty and some version of cap-and-trade – and actually make the Obama agenda harder to decouple from down the road.

The Republicans who would take over as a majority in 2011 just aren’t convincing to a lot of voters.  The voters aren’t stupid; they’re using their votes for their own purposes.  It’s not a knock on Karl Rove that his electoral advice has been overruled.  It’s a signal that something much bigger is going on, and the rules have gone out the window.  Expertise with running campaigns is secondary right now.  In first place is a candidate’s message – and the people are listening with a very critical ear.  They’ve left their party’s, and nation’s, direction on autopilot for a long time now, but they’re no longer willing to.  Their vote is the one thing they have direct, personal control over, and they’re using it to do what they want to do.

We hit at least a solid single on the same pitch last week.

While Dyer was high-fiving teammates in the dugout, Steven Den Beste poled one out of the park with his thoughts on the Obama Legacy:

A long time ago I came to the conclusion that one of the motives driving Obama is his concern over his legacy. How will he be seen once he leaves office? In particular, given that he’s the first President who isn’t white, what kind of record will he leave behind for the next non-white to make the attempt?...

Obama wanted to be a transformative president, the left’s answer to Reagan. Unfortunately for Obama, he’s going to transform the country, alright, but in the long run it will be the same direction as Reagan.

I think it will take decades to undo most of the damage that Obama has caused (mainly by out-of-control spending and expansion of government) but it’ll happen, and this country will survive it. At the end of Obama’s one-and-only term as president, the country will be wounded but still standing.

Obama’s main legacy is going to be to utterly blacken the reputation of the “Progressive” political program for the next fifty years, if not even longer.

Something we warned about in September 2008. But be sure to read Den Beste's list of what not to do. It's a tape measure job.

If the Green Room is the second string at Hotair, what do they call the first string? The Red Room? Well, there was also at least an RBI double there today from Patterico, who isn't AllahPundit or Morrissey, so what is he? At any rate, with the help of additional researchers (why no HR), he fisked David Brooks for his latest column, which contained the following:

Along the way, the movement has picked up some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil.

Did I say fisked? I meant knocked into the next county (you know, the one outside the beltway):

Narcissism? Brooks thinks the Tea Party suffers from it, but does not mention Obama. I guess Brooks thinks there’s no narcissism in Obama’s comparing his election to the fall of the Berlin Wall, or turning the White House into almost a shrine to himself, or reading a letter from someone who says she is going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt, or building an imperial stage for his nomination speech, or writing his autobiography years before being elected President.

Victimhood? Brooks thinks the Tea Party has it — but not Obama, who thinks people don’t like him because of his middle name, which his wife calls the “fear bomb”; or who plays the race card (I don’t “look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills”).

An egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity? Are you kidding me, David Brooks?

Obama humiliated the Supreme Court in front of the nation. He humiliated Netanyahu. He gives his opponents the finger (not once, not twice, but three times). He is haughty with opponents (even as Michelle assures us that he is never disagreeable).

And more. Keep reading. We, obviously, have been onto Brooks for a long long time.

If you don't like baseball, sorry for my choice of metaphor. But it's pennant season. Especially here in Phillies territory.

P.S. For those of you who don't get the lead-in quote, here's a redneck tea party reminder.

Did somebody mention Chicago? Why would they do that?

Now we're happy. Go Green Room. Go Phils.

The Fisherman's Wife

One of the Grimmest of Grimm's Fairy Tales...
And, we're starting to suspect, one of the truest.

CELEBRITY MAGIC. I know this is unkind, but I can't help it. A little too much smoke not to believe there's a fire in Michelle's belly:

'It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’ Carla Bruni reveals what
Michelle Obama REALLY thinks of being First Lady

Michelle Obama thinks being America’s First Lady is ‘hell’, Carla Bruni reveals today in a wildly indiscreet book.

Miss Bruni divulges that Mrs Obama replied when asked about her position as the U.S. president’s wife: ‘Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’

Details of the private conversation, which took place at the White House during an official visit by Nicolas Sarkozy last March, emerged in Carla And The Ambitious.

The book was written by journalists Michael Darmon and Yves Derai in what they claim is collaboration with Miss Bruni.

Denied, of course. But not by everybody...

Bruni book author stands by
Michelle Obama anecdote

PARIS (AFP) – The author of a book on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on Friday stood by his account of US First Lady Michelle Obama complaining about life in the White House, but admitted she was probably joking.

Both the White House and the French embassy in Washington firmly denied Thursday that Obama had told Bruni that she found life as first lady to be "hell", as recounted in the biography "Carla and the Ambitious".

But journalist Yves Derai, co-author of the book with Michael Darmon, told AFP that the pair stood by their account of the March 31 dinner at which the two first ladies allegedly had the exchange.

...which leaves one wondering, particularly in the context of the First Lady's well documented high living...

Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day
Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation

by Andrea Tantaros

Sacrifice is something that many Americans are becoming all too familiar with during this economic downturn. It was a key theme in President Obama's inaugural address to the nation, and he's referenced it numerous times when lecturing the country on how to get back on its feet.

But while most of the country is pinching pennies and downsizing  summer sojourns - or forgoing them altogether - the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice. While many of us are struggling, the First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.

Reports are calling the lodgings of  Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, "luxurious," "posh" and "a millionaires' playground." Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.

To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.

Perhaps it could be that the Obamas, who seem to fancy themselves more along the lines of international celebrities than actual leaders, espouse a different view of sacrifice...

The Obama modus operandi is becoming clear. From lavish trips to Spain to reportedly flying Bo, the President's Portuguese water dog, on a separate aircraft to vacation with them in Maine, to a date night in New York City that perhaps cost nearly $100,000, their idea of austerity is really just the lap of luxury, at least for ordinary folks.

Incredibly, the Obamas have long portrayed themselves as precisely such commoners. Just this month, Obama told ABC the First Couple is "not that far removed from what most Americans are going through." And that "it was just a few years ago that we had high credit card balances, we had two kids, thinking about college. We had our own retirement accounts, wondering if we were going to be able to get enough assets in there."

...well, a fairly specific Question: What does she want that would be better than "Hell"? Nutrition Czarina of the U.N.? Ice Queen of the Warming Globe? Or Boss Bitch of the Universe?

CORRECTION: Apparently, the power-giving icon that drives Michelle's ambition is NOT a fish, but a different creature of the sea:

Obamas Depleting U.S. Lobster Supply

by Keith Koffler on August 25, 2010

So how much lobster are you having during these precarious economic times? What? You’ve had to cut back? No longer ordering it stuffed with crab meat, at least?

Well, if you happen to be the President of the United States or the First Lady, your lobster consumption is continuing at a robust pace.

Yes, the economy is still getting battered. And Tuesday night,  so was President Obama’s lobster.

Well now, let's get down to business.

According to ABC’s Jake Tapper, the president  savored some lobster tempura at the trendy State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard. Oh, just the thought of it. If he brings some back to the White House for me, I’ll write whatever he wants.

Monday night at The Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard it was the lobster pasta appetizer for the president and a surf and turf entrée – the “surf” being a lobster tail – for Mrs. Obama.

And what would the vacation to Maine in July have been without a taste of everyone’s favorite crustacean. The president did it in a little less genteel fashion that time, heading over to something called Stewman’s Downtown restaurant where he was served the “Lobster Experience” dinner – just regular lobster, corn and slaw.

But the Obamas’ lobster experience is not confined to these shores. Michelle Obama was barely off the plane during her voyage early this month to the Spanish Riviera when, according to the Spanish press, she dived into a feast of sea bass tartare, strawberry gazpacho and sardines, and a main course of lobster with seaweed risotto.

Michelle enjoyed the repast so much that she was right back at it on  August 14 during the Obamas’ two-day Panama City, Fla photo-op vacation. There, at the Firefly restaurant, it was more lobster for Michelle.

The Obamas were supposed to be showing support for the good people of the oil spill-stricken Gulf, eating their seafood and so forth. So the big question is, was it a Caribbean lobster or one shipped down from Maine?

And who knows what lobster delicacies the White House chef is whipping up for them in between vacations?

We're left to ponder what happens when the Fisherman's Wife is finally remitted to her original condition. What kind of "Hell" will that be? For some of us, maybe, a step closer to heaven.

HINT FOR THE TIMID. You are absolutely invited to pile on with appropriate video references. We'll start the ball rolling, very slowly and mildly, with this:

Momentum is a thing that builds from a sometimes glacial start. Bear in mind, I've never even heard of Lady Gaga.


Sarah Palin Rules

Think of those orbs as "life panels."

. I had this huge spike in InstaPunk hits at SiteMeter I couldn't explain. I finally found it. It consists of guys looking for a pic of Sarah Palin that is billed up front as a fake. But it amounted to five times my normal traffic. In the immediate aftermath of the Republican primaries and all the fear and loathing expressed by both Republicans and Democrats about her exorbitant influence on establishment politics.

You can say, well, a lot of things. After all, I've had a constant stream of hits associated with my exclusive (fake) photos of Nancy Pelosi's breast implants. But I'm thinking this is more significant than that. With regard to Palin, I never showed or promised any nipple. And I never got this kind of a one-time surge in traffic when the subject was Pelosi. But Palin has finally been revealed as the ultimate kingmaker -- and queenmaker -- in contemporary politics. She's become, overnight, every mythological female goddess and monster in history -- from Juno to Siren to Lamia to Gorgon. Worse, her persona on stage and on camera is up to it. She's ultimate female power, iconic, sexual, and most importantly gravitationally dense.

Inside-the-beltway types can talk gravitas all they want. Sarah Palin possesses specific gravity. Whatever she weighs in avoirdupois, she weighs more in terms of presence. She sucks in eyes, ears, cameras, microphones. When she's there on-screen or on-stage, no one else is. She's a magnet of the senses. Why men can't look away from her and can't stop looking for her. Why so many women love her and why bitter feminists of both sexes hate her. Why the left is is so terrified of her they can't stop trying to destroy her, no matter how self-destructive that quest becomes. Why the right is so phenomenally divided about her. She's not a mind, she's not an ideology, she's not anything in particular you can pin down. She's a fucking hurricane of down-home American charisma.

Yeah, she makes me nervous too.

But the people want Palin. All of them. Perhaps in different ways, but they all want her. Women want Palin because she's real, a mother, a straight-shooting antidote to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton fakes. Or they want her ('Most Wanted' posters) because she's the she-devil who stole their husbands, blighted their careers, evaporated their own self-esteem, shrivelled their loins. Men want Palin because she's real, a woman they can desire just because she's real and not some superficial fake friend-cum-killer bitch. Or because they'll never get a hard-on again knowing she's loose in the world.

Does this mean she's rising in the polls? No. But it does mean she's a hell of a lot more interesting to almost everyone than the gray zombie and his sullen consort in the White House.

Upshot? Sarah is nuclear. As a woman. As a political voice. And as an irresistible cultural attraction. Love her, hate her, symbolify her, or objectify and try to kill her, she's the one thing that just can't be ignored or bled to beige.

Doc Zero was right. Attack her at your own risk. Fail and be destroyed. Succeed and be, uh, destroyed.

And, you horny males: When you go looking for Sarah, look, too, for what I say about her. (do a Search for Palin here at InstaPunk. Tons of stuff.) You might find my many discussions of her equally exciting.


That's it. Tell me how much you hate her, and I'll tell you how pathological your whole personality is.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tea Party Stuff

THE DOC HAS A COMPLEMENTARY TAKE. Does anyone know when the Tea Party phenomenon went from plural to singular? When the reporting of Tea Parties became discussion of The Tea Party? Of course you don't. The MSM did that in their usual invisible, instantaneous way. The conventional wisdom agreed that it was best to turn a grassroots movement into a third party that might conceivably threaten Republicans. Beneficiary? Democrats.

Republicans, being the boneheads they've always been, bit. So now they're afraid of The Tea Party. But that doesn't change the facts. There is no such thing as 'The Tea Party.' There are just a bunch of pissed off American citizens who have had it up to here with career politicians on both sides of the aisle. The punditocracy wants to make the defeat of Mike Castle in Delaware about an irresponsible populist cabal that insists on nominating a weak candidate with many political liabilities.

I'd like to turn the tables on the brainiacs for a moment. I'd like to ask them to look at things from our point of view for once. Hard as that may be.

I'm going to presume to speak for the tea partiers for a few minutes. Why? No particular official credentials. I just understand why they didn't want Mike Castle, even at the cost of a Senate seat. Which is characterized as self-destructive, even suicidal in the "real world" political context. Horseshit.

We're completely done with politics as usual. Generations of "moderate" Republicans have connived in the ballooning size of the federal government. Numerical majorities don't matter when tepid moderates betray you on critical votes time after time after time and doom you to the squishy middle where all the billions drain into the special interest bins. You think we're ignorant? That we haven't observed the treacheries of Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snow and her evil twin, Chuck Hagel, and Lindsey Graham? Delaware lives in what is here called the tri-state area but really amounts to a smallish region -- Philadelphia, South Jersey, and the Diamond State -- with common news and sports interests. Mike Castle is Arlen Specter is Frank Lautenberg, antique white guys who've played the political system to their own advantage for multiple decades. We don't believe in them anymore. And if their political opponents have personal liabilities, even scandals, we know at a gut level that the old white guys have far worse hiding in their briefcases, only infinitely more power to stonewall, intimidate, and deal their way out of exposure.

There's a power equation at work that might actually be changing. Maybe it's the scariest development of all for the old guard. Do you think ordinary citizens don't know what a dirty game politics is? We do. Many of us have been outraged in the past but failed to stand for election because of the horrors that would be visited upon by us by our own weakest moments. Everybody has skeletons in the closet -- debt, divorce, business failures, sexual indiscretions, human failings all. What most of us don't have is a power base that can silence the jackals.

Maybe the real frightening by-product of the Delaware election is that the people are expressing a renewed belief in the ordinary citizens who have the courage to stand for office despite their vulnerability to political attack. Maybe that's the truly revolutionary act. That we have reached the point of wanting real citizen government so much that we're prepared to overlook the garden variety sins only the richest and most powerful have the power to suppress. After all, we know that politicians are crooks, however squeaky clean they can keep their public reputations. What if squeaky clean has become an alarm signal all its own, what with all of us being human and fallible and sinful and all?

I repeat. There is no such thing as The Tea Party. What there are are Americans who have had it with slick careerist politicians in both parties who call each other "senator," "esteemed colleague," and "friend," while they all sell us down the river

It's only the MSM which reports this disgust with the Washington political system as a desire for 'bipartisanship.' The people out here in America, the real people who pay the bills, don't want collegiality and friendly elbow digs in the halls of congress. They want pitched battles over principle, fought by representatives who understand that their job is to serve the American people, not line their own pockets while fooling most of the people most of the time.

That's a position which is as far as you can get from self-destructive" or "cutting off your nose to spite your face." There's no point whatever in having another Republican majority like the last one, in which old guys plunged headfirst into the government trough immediately after winning a mandate to LIMIT THE SIZE AND REACH OF GOVERNMENT.

I urge you to continue scheduling your own little tea parties. No vats of tea required. Just the tidy dumping of all the little bagmen who want us to praise them for robbing us blind while they make grand speeches and express their entitlement to push us around.

Sorry, Charles.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Good and Evil are BFFs.

An Ice Road Truckers morality play. Alex (left) and Hugh (right.)

THE BELL RINGS. I quit watching Deadliest Catch when it descended into bathos after the death of Captain Phil. Sooner or later, I'm sure, Ice Road Truckers will follow the same path. But I might be inclined to cut them a little more slack. Reason? This season in particular has been almost obsessively about character, revealing subtleties that take multiple episodes to lay bare. The constant risks of driving the Dalton Road in Alaska -- Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay -- are the given, exploitable obviously for the dangers every driver faces, as well as the economic pressure to score the big bucks. But it's actually more Alone than Endurance. In the end it's not really man against nature or man against man. It's man against himself. You know. Truer somehow. More elemental.

Who can't sympathize with Lisa, trying to earn enough money to buy back her lost Tennessee walking horse? Everything's against her. She's not physically strong enough to smack the ice off her frozen brakes. And whenever she screws up, the CB gossip has her in its crosshairs within moments. The girlie who shouldn't be here at all. The male drivers are like antibodies rejecting a virus. But she's brave. Full-on brave. Yes, she has something to prove, but she knows she can only prove it by being good enough, not by whining, crying, or demanding dispensations for her sex. Bottom line? She's a trucker, not a diva.

But there is a diva on the scene. Shockingly, it's the central casting hero of the Dalton Road, Jack. He's talented, intelligent, incredibly knowledgeable, and the undisputed king of the heavy loads. Yet he also has a disconcerting tendency to leave people waiting. He's perpetually late to work, even when the stakes are high. When first we saw it, it seemed a clever response to an obnoxious personality (Hugh -- more about him later), but then we began to observe that it's chronic. A fault of ego. The Dalton Road has a way of exposing faults.

Which brings me to the centerpiece of the show and this post. A pair of Canadians who have been spotlighted since the beginning of the series. Alex and Hugh. Best buds and arch-rivals. Hugh always beats Alex in the race for the most loads in the ice truck season, wherever it is. When the show was filmed in Canada, they were just the two most colorful characters. Now that they're in Alaska, they're the outsiders, the outlanders who have to earn the respect of the veterans of this most dangerous of all roads.

It's been fascinating to watch. Almost a parable. Hugh is leading in the race for loads, as always, but not by much, as always. But he is making enemies. For him it's exclusively about the money and his own ego.He never stops to help a trucker in trouble. He chisels his way past all the rules, starting so early in the morning, for example, that he rarely has to undergo the bureaucratic rigors of the weigh station. If a load isn't securely tightened by the loaders, it's not his problem. Damaged cargo is the company's problem, not his, even if he has foreseen the possibility. He continually cuts corners on safety, eschewing chains as "jewelry" and taking chances that could endanger not only his life but others.

Alex, on the other hand, has a dozen children and is a committed Catholic with a crucifix hanging from his rearview mirror. Perhaps it's overstatement to call him the saint of the Dalton Road, but perhaps not, too. We've seen him stop for a driver in a ditch Hugh merely laughed at, and stay for hours helping to dig out the truck and the driver's job. He was the last man to leave the scene, and given what we know of his cardiac history (bad), he was risking his life to do so. The driver he helped was, typically, less than fully grateful. They'd had words in the past, and all he was willing to acknowledge was that they were now "even." Right. You resented him for some fancied sleight and he saved your job. Even.

In another episode we saw Alex stop at the scene of an accident and stay for hours trying to save the life of a man who was bleeding dangerously from a savage gash in his face and throat. This against a deadline for the load he was carrying. When he finally left, he recited the Lord's Prayer in full and somehow managed to meet his deadline by a handful of minutes. But not before his friend Hugh had stolen the load Alex had waiting for him on the return trip to Fairbanks. Hugh called on the CB to crow, and Alex said he wanted Hugh to make his money, only maybe not at his expense.

Two things about all this. Ice Road Truckers is almost pure capitalism. Risk versus reward, with the spoils going to those who perform the best in a pitiless life-and-death market environment. But capitalism is not an anti-moral system. Hugh is making enemies by caring for nothing but money. Alex is making friends by, well, being a good man. He just is. And you can see that the people he interacts with see it too. Eventually, what is called "luck" will begin to turn his way. Further, even in this money-for-freight dogfight, character matters. Capitalism makes extraordinary demands on that character, perhaps, but it is not inimical to those who are good and brave and altruistic.

Second. And perhaps most interestingly. Alex and Hugh really are friends. Which spins us into the realm of theology. When Alex had a serious cardiac event a season or two ago, Hugh was genuinely grieved, despite all his bluster to the contrary. It's clear that on the Dalton Road -- was there ever a better metaphor for life itself? -- Hugh is a kind of demon. But he also needs Alex and very probably loves him for the same goodness we admire.

Sharpshooters at Christianity continually ask why, if God is good, there is still evil. I'm thinking evil is the proof that good is good and not just a checkbox. If it isn't a choice, it's nothing at all. But if we look at the good versus evil showdown in terms of need, it's not so much the case that good needs evil as that evil needs good. Hugh gleefully announces that "good guys finish last" after he's stolen Alex's return load. He defines himself by being Alex's polar opposite. (He's actually nicknamed the 'Polar Bear' in the show.) But you're struck by the fact that when Alex retires or dies, Hugh will probably lose his vitality, his very reason for living. He'll be reduced to the empty, money-grubbing pisshead he really is. All his stature comes from "beating" Alex.

And, truthfully, he'll never actually accomplish that. What he needs most of all is Alex's forgiveness. And every time he accepts it, he is diminished.

Here endeth the lesson. Understand it? Then we got us a CONVOY.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This is a test.

What color are her eyes? What eyes?
Did anybody see a ship? Thought not.

WELL, THE SONG'S NOT BAD, BUT WHY ARE HER PANTIES SO WRINKLED? Women still think they can rule us with sex. What dopes. Nobody's interested anymore. Despite this. Cher is so over. Even if she's still somehow more desirable than Lady Gaga. (Maybe it's the less pixilation...) About which Camille Paglia has the lowdown, as always.

Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution?

It's a shame, really. Girls have finally discovered their own predatory version of sexuality, and men are too busy shopping at Bath & Bodyworks and gazing into the mirror to notice. Isn't it ironic?

Well, maybe not. People are strange.

Or, at least, stranger than they used to be. We're past all that sex stuff.

Sailors? What sailors?

Never mind. But doesn't Lady Gaga sound exactly like Madonna, only with smaller tits?

Video Day

It really didn't get any better than this. JUMP.

RECOVERY (CONT). We're talking 80s here, and I'm counting on you all to help. There was a time when MTV was king and I swore I'd never give it up. But MTV gave me up instead. They moved to gold teeth and reality programming. Fat people and no videos without tarted up Bentleys. So. What am I going to do? Show you a few videos I remember and DEMAND that you do the same. First up? The video that launched a TV show and a fashion industry. Forget Thriller. This is the all-time moneymaker.

No, it's not a Top Ten list. Just what I remember and what's available on the Internet. For example, this one is maybe the best video of that decade but you can't embed it. Sadly, she now looks like a querulous cow, but back then she was every man's dream. Which is why we'll take a different direction entirely and show you an IMPORTANT video, the rapprochement between rap and rock.

Now it's getting more personal. Rock ballads. There were a bunch of hellacious white trash guys who wanted to prove they weren't psychopaths. I'm convinced. This is the best of them. The real video is here (embedding disabled, etc), but at least we have the song.

I suppose the women have to have their say, too. Never knew one who didn't love this one.

With that out of the way, I think we can all agree that 80s MTV video was mostly about the women. They were awesome.

Can she sing? Who cares? I mean, really. Who cares? If you were lost in  the woods, wouldn't you want Laura Brannigan yelling your name in that bronze voice? Sure you would.

Don't you think I know Heart should be here? Like this one (disabling embedded blah blah). So Roxette is merely a stand-in. Could have been this one for that matter. Still hot. They were all hot.

Oops. Yeah. There were some guys too. Even the chicks loved some of the guys.

Especially the old guys.

You knew I couldn't get through this without a nod to the one and only's...

Now it's a free-for-all. None of my picks were scientific. Yours don't have to be either. My only rule (God, I hate rules): Please don't YouTube in the Comments. It screws everything up for everyone else by changing the margins. Just give me the link. The best ones -- my choice, unfair, I know -- will get full play as an update or postscript. Fair enough or sorta?

UPDATE. Youth will be served. La Brizoni has emerged from his Fortress of Solitude to set us oldsters straight on the real meaning of MTV, etc. Behold and adore his greatnessitudinousness:

"Jump" over "Hot For Teacher"? Unacceptable.

Golden Age MTV may have been a wellspring of vitality for old men who knew better than to get boring in the dotage of their 30s, sure. But for us wee tykes who watched it in our formative years, the M stood for Mindfuck. The 8-year-old mind Can. Not. Process the weird-ass puppets and screwed-up cartoons that used to be MTV's bread and butter when they ran out of record company promos. To the pre-pubescent child, they simply cannot exist. In a twisted, even demented way, it was for the children of the 80s and 90s their first exposure to capital-W Wonder.

The prime mover? Liquid Television. It was the early days of infomericals, so networks still thought they had to throw whatever crap they could find on the air during those late night slots. MTV had enough sense to keep that crap hip and edgy, and Liquid Television was born.

Beavis and Butthead were Liquid Television's most famous debutantes, but I always preferred Bobby and Billy. All the penny-ante "subversive" sexual stuff went over my head, but a cartoon where the kids just musket blast a family of birds? And there's blood? I couldn't have been more shocked if I'd grown an arm out of my forehead. I laughed so hard I thought I'd torn something internally.

In the same vein were Winter Steele, a filthy, foulmouthed puppet before filthy, foulmouthed puppets were cool, and Dogboy, which, me not knowing any of the referrent nostalgia (or, again, the sex stuff), was compelling gibberish.

Liquid TV wasn't all, and weirdness wasn't all. Sometimes, it was funny. Hella funny. Remember Sinatra covering the hits of the early 90s? Remember Jimmy the Cab Driver's take on "Ironic"? Remember the pants-wetting greatness of The State?

Oh, you want videos? Proper 80s music video-videos? Fine. Here's "Freedom of Choice," Devo's MTV-iest video ever. Unless that's "Through Being Cool." And since this is InstaPunk, I can't not mention their cover of You Know Who.

There's also this, the greatest song to scream along with at the top of your lungs from a speeding car. Or, if your appetite for terrifyingly strange has limits (but how could it?), the last good Danzig song (second best song to scream from a speeding car) is straight badass, no chaser. Bet you never thought a Pilgrim's Progress quote could be totally Head Banging Hard Rocking Awesome, did you? You thought wrong

One last one. It's a cheat.

The only one? My blushes, B-Boy.

P.S. Apotheosis and Alfa nominated some great stuff too. Take a look after you're done being underwhelmed by the genius of WonderBriz. Which begs the question: where are the rest of you? There must have been some moments when you tore yourself away from sc-fi movies to enjoy some muic videos. No? You never did lose your virginity? No. Forget that. TMI.

P.P.S. Oh. Almost forgot. "The greatest song to scream along with at the top of your lungs from a speeding car"? Typical millennial hubris. Here's the real one. It comes with what the millennials don't have -- provenance. Actual speeders doing actual screaming from actual police during actual high-speed pursuits. First the song:

Now the provenance. In the form of just one anecdote from several available. Friend of mine in E-Type Jag grooving on Heartbreaker at night when the candy lights start stertoring themselves in the behind. Yeah, he's screaming the lyrics, and yeah, he has no intention of being caught. Ancient Brit electrics. You can hit a toggle arm on the steering column that turns on the headlights but no other lights, meaning you can turn OFF the taillights. At 125 mph. Country roads. Heartbreaker. For the cops. Clean getaway.

Whine at your daddy all you want. Just don't try to go all motorhead on real motorheads. Brizoni.

How I feel (if anybody cares)

I'm not jealous. Everything else is accurate.

ALONE. Porcelain isn't a woman. She's a state of mind. Where I am. In the back seat. Headed who knows where. Love this song. Eduardo knows. Lake suspects. Doing my best to keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chaos, Order & Chaos

I was going to take credit for this. For New Jersey. We had as many
dead as NYC did. You don't hear us whining. But this memorial was
 a gift from Russia. Maybe suffering is a lesson NYC is still learning.

HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL. Now you'll see what an unorganized post looks like. When everything's just a jumble, as so much of everyday life is.

Mrs. CP is out of the hospital. Hooray. She's feeling great. Unbelievable. She should be completely healed soon. Thank God. And all your prayers.

I missed 9/11 altogether. I plead extenuating circumstances, but Mrs. CP still remembered it in her comments to my last two posts. I'd like to take my cue from her and tie it all together with a post that's -- what's the word -- synergistic? Can't. It's been a scary week, regardless of how strongly she's rebounded. She's simply amused by what her specialist told me on the phone: he's baffled by what he describes as an "incredibly high pain threshhold." Where have I heard that before?

We got her home Saturday and my priority was to keep her still, plopped in front of a weekend of sports on TV. She wanted to ram around, of course, but I prevailed to some degree. We watched Ohio State beat Miami, which we watch because my mother and both her parents went to Ohio State, and this time Mrs. CP once referred to the Buckeyes on the field as "us." That was a first. Like many (including me), she's always been obscurely offended by the NFL players who introduce themselves as being from "THE Ohio State University." What's that all about? I have no idea. No one in my family ever did.

We watched part of the Notre Dame-Michigan game and she (an Irish Catholic) asked who I was rooting for this time. Which is a complicated question. If you're a Buckeye fan, they're two different faces of the same Satanic force. They're both as lucky as the two Satanic forces in the NFL -- the Steelers and the Cowboys -- critical officiating calls always seem to go their way. All are manifestations of "Damn Yankees," teams that have sold their souls to the devil to win games and championships. Which is why it's always fun to watch them play each other. The devil finally has to choose sides between his devoted disciples. Even though his real all-time favorite in college football is USC (called, delightfully, by an ex-NFL player on SportsTalk this week, the University of Spoiled Children).

You see. I told you you'd see disorganized rambling. Still, I'll plow onward. I root for both Michigan and Notre Dame when they play USC. What do I do when the Wolverines play the Fighting Irish? (For once, I can't promise that I'm going anywhere with this. Though there's a glimmer of hope I might...) It depends. When the game is billed as a showdown between the only college team that has its own network broadcast contract (w/NBC) against the ponderous plug-uglies of the Big Ten, I root for Michigan. When Michigan is roaring toward another unbeaten season, I root for Notre Dame. Saturday, I was rooting for Notre Dame. Interesting thing is, whoever I'm rooting for always loses. Didn't mind so much this time.

We also watched part of Alabama-Penn State. We both agreed ahead of time what would happen. It happened. Mrs. CP's loyalties normally radiate from the geographical center represented by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. She roots for Temple, Villanova, Delaware, Navy (for reasons we'd have to kill you for if you knew) and Penn State (even, if she were candid, against the Buckeyes). Saturday, though, she enthusiastically endorsed my comparison between Penn State's lame tackling against Alabama and Ohio State's stickum-style takedowns of the speedsters from Miami. I was touched.

No. Actually, I was just relieved. At one point she turned to me, touched heads, and said, "Did you think on Wednesday night that this is what we'd be doing on Saturday afternoon?" No. "Of course," I said. Because I always know the right thing to say when I'm profoundly moved. Because writers are like that, never at a loss for words.

Then came Sunday, the NFL, and the basketball tournament final in Turkey. Which is when several other threads began to weave themselves into the mix. Before the games began, we watched SportsCenter and I heard the story of the 21-year-old American kid who dedicated his semi-final performance in the basketball game on 9/11 to the victims of 9/11. No explanation was offered. None was really needed. I just knew that I was going to have to watch the basketball final against Turkey in a newly anti-American Turkey in addition to the critical rubber match in the Phillies-Mets series, as well as all the NFL games on tap.

All this and take care of my convalescent wife too? No wonder I'm exhausted. How couldn't I root for the Giants when their team captain emerged from the tunnel wearing a NYFD helmet? Slowly, I began to realize that the NFL was determined to show its solidarity with 9/11 victims and American troops in combat overseas all day long. At various games, you could see troops in varying flavors of uniforms in privileged seats cheering their teams on.

I thought back to last year, when the Fox Sports Football hosts went to Afghanistan and spent a week with the troops. And I had the thought I had then: "I don't remember that they did this, or anything like it, during the Bush administration. When did it become politically correct for the NFL to finally support the troops?" Was the feeling there all along and only since Obama has it become acceptable to the Fox entertainment network? Or is this some kind of johnny-come-lately ratings conversion? But I remembered Terry Bradshaw's a capella rendition of "God Bless America" on his last night in Afghanistan (inspiring, genuine) and thought "It's all just been bottled up by asshole network executives. If anyone understands the need to fight back, to deal out hurts for hurts received for those who can't themselves fight back, it would be the NFL."

Which is when another thread snaked its way into the mix. At the end of the inaugural episode this week of Fox Football Sunday, Terry Bradshaw was given the final comment opportunity. He used it to blister Ben Roethlisberger, which he did without any mercy or pandering to NFL fans. He made it clear that if he were Steelers management, Roethlisberger would be gone from the Steelers without a second thought. Not just because he had let down his team by putting himself in a position to be suspended. But because what he did was wrong -- worst of all, the disrespect of women. Host Curt Menefee was clearly unprepared for the venom of Bradshaw's commentary. "Really?" he asked. Bradshaw turned to face him directly and said (paraphrasing), "If I were the president of the Steelers, Roethlisberger would never again put on a Steelers uniform."

I guess that's when it dawned on me that this whole weekend of sports was some kind of morality play being acted out on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and maybe it wasn't all just a distraction from Mrs. CP's recent crisis but a kind of reciprocal and resonating symbolism. Writers are subject to delusions like that.

As I had promised myself, I actually watched segments of the basketball final. The Turks took an early lead. But the kid with the 9/11 complex kept making stupendous plays. The announcers began asking, simultaneously, What can't this kid do?, and What will happen if he gets into foul trouble or goes cold?, because clearly -- in a team stocked with NBA stars -- he's the leader, the star, and the playmaker. But every time I tuned back in, the lead was a little bigger, he was still in charge, and (in retrospect) inevitably, he taught the new Islamist Turkish regime a lesson. All their rote discipline could not compare to his brilliant individual talent and resolve.

Cut to the Eagles-Packers game. Which turned out to be a test of character for Eagles management at mutiple levels. One of which, ironically enough, was the exploitation of a high tolerance for pain. In the space of a few minutes, two indispensable Eagle players suffered evident concussions, the young quarterback and the middle linebacker; i.e., the quarterback of the defense. The latter instance was especially dramatic. He was hit hard during the play, got to his feet and crumbled to the turf like the victim of a prizefighter's knockout punch. Exactly like the victim of a knockout punch. He had to be helped off the field. Fox announcer Troy Aikman, himself a former all-pro football player, announced confidently that we wouldn't see him return to the game. After all, much of the NFL's new "sensitivity" about concussions derived from the fate of the Eagles's Brian Westbrook a year ago, when too early a return resulted in a second concussion that ended his season and probably his career as a star running back. The Eagles own website crows about the fact that the team is "in the forefront" of fighting the dangers to NFL players of concussions.

When does a mere sporting event become an allegory? Perhaps when it illustrates everything a blindly self-absorbed organization does to the people it uses and the people it purports to serve when its belief in its own intelligence and immunity from error override the most basic common sense.

Both players returned to action within a few plays of the head injuries they received, then were withdrawn from action in the second half.

My next few citations may seem trivial in the context of the national scene and the human condition, but, remember, I had Mrs. CP sitting next to me (when she wasn't charging around proving her invincibility), and I insist that they matter somehow because I am in that heightened state where tuning forks ring other tuning forks that ring in the same key.

I mean, here I am, trying to love the whole American universe given that the American medical care system had just given me my wife back, and what do I see? The sports MSM continues to praise and revere the Eagles organization as one of the best in the NFL. Consistent contenders, well run, smartly coached, smoothly responsive to the most loyal (jingoistic?) if demonized fans in the NFL. I mean the fan loyalty is always noted, but it's always counter-balanced by the same old images from the 1970s of Eagles fans throwing iceballs at Santa Claus. Why is this beginning to sound like some microcosm of the way the MSM characterizes conservatives?

Confession time. I'm the jingoist. Mrs. CP is the Tea Party when it comes to Eagles fans. I'll explain. After last night, I'd have fired Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid four times. One after the other. I'd have fired him for starting a young quarterback and sabotaging his first first-string start by not ever giving him a play he could easily accomplish and, worse, by interrupting his attempt to gain a rhythm by inserting Michael Vick into every series of plays, thus ensuring that the youngster never had more than two plays to secure a first down. (If that's your idea of offense, go buy yourself a CFL quarterback.)

I'd have fired him for returning two seriously concussed players back into the game within minutes of their injuries, in defiance of good medical practice and NFL bullshit. I'd have fired him for the completely idiotic fourth-and-one call when the game was actually within reach of winning. And I've have fired him for doing nothing -- via draft or trade -- to provide all his "offensive weapons" with the offensive line required to protect any quarterback, young or old. Here's what I'd do. I'd fire him for the first offense. Then I'd call him back in and fire him again for the second offense, and the third, and the fourth, etc.

Then, finally, I'd have fired him for the fifth and final time. Reason? Michael Vick.

Which is when all of this finally made sense and really did tie everything together (You knew I'd do it eventually, didn't you?)

Eagles management has become an elitist, semi-totalitarian organization. Why did the fans want an end to the Donovan McNabb regime, even if it meant some reduction of their short-term dreams? Because they were tired of excuses that always fell short. Eagles fans want ultimate victory, a Super Bowl trophy. They're tired of being told, "Stick with the current regime and maybe someday we'll come through for you. Trust us."

Along the way, the Eagles have learned to take Eagles fans for granted. The stands are always full, always will be full. The decision makers obviously ignore the desires and will of the fans. The Philadelphia Eagles are the Roman Senate of the City of Brotherly Love. We do what we do. Get used to it.

I know this will seem far-fetched. But I swear it's the truth. Andy Reid is Nancy Pelosi. Almost everybody in Philadelphia hates Andy Reid. But he can't be removed from office. He never answers questions. Whenever he sits before a microphone, his answers are gibberish or non-responsive. It's clear to everyone that the jailing of both his sons on drug and gun charges has somehow opened him up to Michael Vick as a reclamation project, which isn't what we hired him for. The Eagles belong to Philadelphia, not Andy Reid's personal guilt trip.

Leading us to our final metaphoric imagism of the day. Michael Vick nearly winning the game for the Eagles against the Green Bay Packers. As if in anticipation, Mrs. CP was rooting for the Packers throughout. I couldn't do that. (I hate the Packers.) Requiring Eagle fans to root for a guy they detest is the most blatant possible abuse of power. Akin to seconding our president's insistence that only tax cheat Timothy Geitner can rescue the economy, Right.

People in Philly love the Eagles. Now they're being asked to love Michael Vick, despite the fact that most of them despise and loathe him. But he has good game. When he's going good, he's mesmerizing. Even though you'd never invite him into your house. This morning, SportsTalk was dominated by the schism: I hate Michael Vick, I don't believe he's reformed in any way, I hate Michael Vick, and I was thrilled when he brought the Eagles back in an ultimately (definitely) losing effort.

I concede I felt the emotional pull. But I had Mrs. CP next to me. All of the Eagles' sins are of a piece. They're not separate, individual indictments. They're all the crimes of arrogant institutionalism. They're all crimes of exploitation. To some degree, all Americans are Mrs. CP -- incredibly high pain tolerance. We're told and told and told that we should accept what all the whining, barbaric minorities cannot accept. Painful abuse. If we don't, we're wanting. If they don't, we're somehow at fault. We're supposed to regard intimate, colossal, personal pain as an imperative to get along better with those who killed our loved ones. We're supposed to accept that management has decided to tolerate Michael Vick, despite his record of willful violence, cruelty, and disregard for those we love. Further, we're being put, from above, in the position of having to make the choice. With him, forgiving. Against him, intolerant.

I had Mrs. CP next to me. Which makes all the moral choices easy. Damn the Eagles for sending concussed players back onto the field. Damn the Eagles for setting up their own young heroes for failure. Damn the Eagles for asking us to root for an enemy of all humanity because he's beautiful to watch athletically.

It's our own human pain we're being asked to suppress, beyond all reasonable human toleration. Mrs. CP. fresh from the hospital, did me a moral favor. She was always a much bigger Eagles fan than I ever was. But she rooted throughout for the Green Bay Packers. Loudly. because they didn't have Michael Vick on their roster.

Sometimes what just looks bad is pure evil. It only takes a few percipients to inform the rest of us. Now I'm suitably informed. Again. As we all should be. Those of us who, as Americans, have a higher tolerance for hatred from others need to start asking why we're the only ones who are expected to put up with unending attempts at inflicted pain from others. Feel free to opine.

Why you all need to laud her rejuvenation.

Oh. Did I make sense at last? Chaos, order, chaos. Chaos when she went to the hospital. Order when she came home. Chaos when I contemplate the awful future that awaits us, in the Obama hatred of all things American. Islam isn't the enemy. Sure. Why we should all forget 9/11. No. Why we never will.

The upside. She's home, and all is right with the world.

Just a soupcon of sentiment.

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