Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 27, 2011 - February 20, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quam Semper Tyrannis

30 feet tall. Stalinist sculpture, you think? Nah. FDR-inspired, at the Hoover Dam.
Something about the divine wings of government 'cause well-meaning bureaucracies
are, you know, divine. Because they, you know, love us so darn much or something.

. Now that I seem to be moving into full-blown pneumonia, I have a confession to make. Toward the end of his life in 1999, my dad -- pushing 80 -- started doing the then equivalent of blogging, which is to say writing letters to the editor of his local newspaper. He annoyed me no end by recapitulating arguments I had made to him in terms of growing federal totalitarianism almost word for word except that he kept substitutiing the word "socialist" for my more accurate "totalitarian." It didn't help that his letters came after discussions between us in which he had bitterly objected to views that were subsequently transformed by his magic vocabulary improvements.

Well. You know. What's a little plagiarism among family members? And in the broadest American sense he was right. He had never forgotten the FDR source of the enervating idea that government could somehow replace individual effort, aspiration, and meaning.

Okay, Dad. We were both right. Today, everyone is flinging around the word 'socialism' the way you did, including me at times, which makes you right in your ear for idiom, but I'm the one who's right about what's really been going on all this time. It's not really about politics. It's about philosophy, our consensus understanding of what a human being is. You were an Episcopalian, as was I when there was an Episcopalian theology. It's taken me a long time to understand that this unique denomination never used to require irrational declarations or acts. Its principal purpose in this country was to embody the separation of church and state simply by being there, a respected institution that was not the government, science, or the acolytes of either. After almost 50 years of watching my dad close up, I still could not swear in a court of law whether or not he believed in God, the Nicene Creed, or life after death. What he believed at base was that government might have authority to limit your actions and require certain kinds of obedience. but what went on in your head and heart were entirely up to you. On these latter points, the Episcopal Church was for him more fortress than consolation.

Which means that he also had an instinctive skepticism about rationality. Yeah, he was a chemical engineer, and a good one, but he also knew that the real danger of science is what are called the social sciences, that peculiar process by which those who think they know better than everyone else reduce the definition of humanity to "Chimps Plus," so that they can get the job of running the monkey cage. The old Episcopal Church could never have countenanced "Chimps Plus." The new Episcopal Church has not only assimilated the idea but moved on to a much more self-destructive and totalitarian conception we could call "Chimps Minus."

Chimps Minus? We're physical creatures, don't you know. What we like to think of as mental activity is merely a physical reaction of the brain that has no more meaning than chimp grooming behavior or, for that matter, a gorilla fart. It's just activity.

Agree or disagree, you're probably thinking, it doesn't actually matter to our form of government, does it?

uh, yeah it does:

Federal Judge Rules Congress Can Regulate
"Mental Activity" Under Commerce Clause

By Philip Klein

A federal judge has upheld the national health care law, making it the fifth ruling on the merits of the legal challenges to the individual mandate.

The ruling by the Clinton appointee, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler of the District of Columbia continues the pattern of Democratic-appointed judges siding with the Obama administration and Republican judges siding with the plaintiffs in ruling the mandate unconstitutional. Kessler's ruling comes in a case brought by individual plaintiffs, where as the two decisions striking down the mandate have come in cases brought by 27 states, based in Virginia and Florida.

Like the other decisions upholding the law, the logic of Kessler's ruling demonstrates how broadly one has to interpret congressional powers to find the mandate constitutional. In something right out of Harrison Bergeron, Kessler notes that Washington has the authority to regulate "mental activity":

As previous Commerce Clause cases have all involved physical activity, as opposed to mental activity, i.e. decision-making, there is little judicial guidance on whether the latter falls within Congress's power...However, this Court finds the distinction, which Plaintiffs rely on heavily, to be of little significance. It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not "acting," especially given the serious economic and health-related consequences to every individual of that choice. Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin. To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality.

Since I'm slip-sliding away toward being genuinely ill, I'll skip the whole Naked Woman argument about the amendment that gave women the vote. But humor me in one particular respect. Who the hell wants women to be lawyers and judges, given that they start with the answer they want and work their way back to an argument that just sounds rational? No, I'm not being sexist. That's exactly how I've always done it myself. But I had the good judgment not to go to law school. And I certainly never aspired to be a justice on the Supreme Court. Because I know exactly HOW tyranny comes to be in the first place.

Bye bye Blackbird...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All the Wrong Lessons

Lara Logan. The continuing disconnect between liberal iconography and reality.

THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH OUR STARS BUT OURSELVES. UNLESS IT'S THE STARS INSTEAD. Everybody in South Jersey has been down with very bad colds for the past week, some suffering, some nursing, and then vice versa. Anything that may seem like silence over the past seven days is merely a barely audible sniffling and mute resentment about loss of appetite coupled with an admittedly irrational resentment at the world's failure to amuse the sick or their equally petulant caregivers.

Why I'm inclined to sulk past most of the stories that are obsessing the 24/7 news cycle. The Wisconsin tantrum? Just stop it. You're out of money. Even featherbedders (look it up) eventually sleep on cots at the shelter when the tornado hits. The danger of a federal government shutdown ("Dyn-jah, dyn-jah, dyn-jah," as Steve Irwin used to say). Oh shut up. They'll squish together a way of spending less money without shutting down the government or addressing the real problem, which is why it's the individual states who are suddenly having to take responsibility. The pan-mideastern democracy movement? Don't make me laugh. Except in Israel and (much more remotely) Iraq, democracy isn't on the table and never has been in the contemporary Dark Age we call the Arab World. The president is unable to find anything beyond platitudes and bland nostrums about human rights to say while the house of cards that comprises the richest muslim-dominated governments in the world collapses virtually overnight? So what else is new? He's never had anything but platitudes and bland nostrums to offer, except when he's interjecting his wildly inflated estimation of his own importance into public occasions like his Nobel acceptance speech for a peace he's done more to dynamite (Ah! Nobel!) than anyone since Jimmy Carter and his no doubt heartfelt desire to legitimize muslim hatred of the United States and Israel by apologizing for the express policies that have kept Arab nations from the meltdown we are presently witnessing.

I'm not with those who are criticizing Obama for being AWOL in the current crisis. Since everything he says has a habit of making things worse, I say, "Shut the fuck up." Sometimes silence is at least copper if it isn't golden or even silver.. Yeah, we'd be better served by having an actual president, but since we don't, go play golf, talk calories with your wife, fill in your March Madness card, and make speeches about the glory of labor unions in places where people are myopic enough not to notice how much you've already done to destroy our country and cripple the stability and economic resilience of the world.

But there's one thing about the mideast disaster I am interested by. I think it's important even though it doesn't involve heads of state, regime change, or the constant, continuing perfidy of Israel which even the MSM thought important enough to cover with respect to Ambassador Sally Rice's quavering, apologetic veto of the U.N. Security Council's determination to condemn Israel for illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Is this disgust? Or is it just Mucinex? You decide.

Let me back you up to September 2006, when I was one of the first reviewers of Katie Couric after she took over Dan Rather's anchor chair at CBS News. [Here's some constructive advice I offered subsequently 1. 2.] And here's an excerpt I quoted from WAPO media critic Tom Shales in my original review on the subject of what female journalists were facing in a male-dominated world:

Couric occupied a chair that once belonged to Walter Cronkite and, later, Dan Rather, both of whom did newscasts that were much, much newsier. Yesterday, though, was apparently a no-news day in the opinion of Executive Producer Rome Hartman, the staff and Couric herself, since the half-hour began with a "60 Minutes"-style piece on the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The real purpose of this report was to show off Lara Logan, the intensely telegenic reporter who serves as foreign correspondent. She went undercover in Afghanistan, much as Rather had done many many years ago. But as a woman, Logan said, her Taliban hosts "insisted I cover everything but my eyes."

The story was in fact largely about her -- about how dangerous it was to do the story, about what a big, "unprecedented" exclusive it was (Brian Ross seemed to have much the same story on ABC's "World News Tonight" with Charles Gibson) and how she had to tippy-toe away from the camp through a minefield, led by a guide.

I think MSNBC's Ashley Banfield had a similar experience, confined to a protected perimeter while male journalists were allowed to embed with troops and get shot at, blown up, and killed just like real troops. Some did. Like Daniel Pearl, who had his head cut off on camera and broadcast to the entire world. And ABC's Bob Woodruff, who received a grievous brain injury from an IED and courageously demonstrated the steps of his recovery to national audiences. (Please take all the links in this piece. They're all important.)

Now I want to remind you of a story that made barely a ripple in the world press because its source (uh, CBS News) wanted to bury it on behalf of the victim:

Female news correspondent sexually assaulted, beaten in Cairo

CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was reporting on the protests in Egypt Friday when she was separated from her crew and attacked. She is currently recovering in a U.S. hospital, having been sexually assaulted and beaten.

Judith Matloff is a Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and has known Logan since 1992. She says Logan's story is unusual not because it happened, but because the public is hearing about it.

What's mentioned in the video but not in the abbreviated release is the term "sustained sexual assault." After which, CBS brings down the curtain and tells us she is recovering with family and friends, and there will be no further comment.

Problems I have with this network news posture.

Multiple. Nothing I'm asking you to judge Lara Logan for. Just things I'm just asking you all to think about.

1. A network news correspondent who deliberately puts herself in harm's way is not a random rape victim. What happens to her, by virtue of her job and assignment, is also news, not a thing to be covered up. It's indicative of the cultures of the nations and peoples American mass media propose to be covering on our behalf. When that coverage precipitates savage, violent, sexual crime, does Logan's right to privacy trump the story her employers are purporting to report to us?

2. It's outrageous to suggest, as CBS's suppressive treatment of this story does, that only instances of penetration of women are sexual crimes, demanding of anonymity or the cloister of "privacy." Decapitation is the severing of a human head from the human body. Just because it invariably results in death, how is it not equally an act of sexual violation, neutering, and abject gender humiliation? Surely, that's it's whole purpose in a religion which equates the male principle with godhood and has developed dozens of perverted means of enforcing male will on women (& boys and infidel men) through such sanctioned customs as honor killings.

3. The U.S. Military continues to be the automatic villain of the MSM in all coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. If they aren't succeeding in that aim, how do you explain the disgraceful performance at Columbia earlier this week? We're supposed to feel that the benighted military is oppressing Lara Logan back in 2006 when the story was about "how dangerous it was to do the story, about what a big, "unprecedented" exclusive it was... and how she had to tippy-toe away from the camp through a minefield, led by a guide." All that seems clear now is that her protective contingent in Afghanistan wasn't there when she ventured into the streets of Cairo. What, pray tell, is she wishing now?

4. Will there ever be a moment when American women -- oh, yes, devout, lefty feminists all -- awake to the fact that there are fatal contradictions in their monolithic demands of the 'paternalistic' establishment? That maybe women who don't believe in combat in the first place should give up demanding equal participation in combat by women? That they should maybe, just possibly, quit defending cultures which enslave women even though they also hate Jews the way all (presently) highly educated women do? You know what? Fuck'em. Go ahead. Love your Palestinians, students of Barnard, Wellesley, Radcliffe, and Smith. When the day comes, they will cut your throat without a single thought of your brilliant performance on the Verbal SAT. Or your Q-Rating on the local or network news. But if they can stick you in a back alley of Cairo, Tripoli, or Tehhran, well, at least they're not fucking Zionists. Right?

5.  Or is it time for true American feminists to admit that rape by muslim fanatics is their last chance to get laid by the distorted fantasy they regard as real men with beards, daggers, housecoats, and ferociously bad body odor?

Okay. Mucinex. I admit it. I sill feel like shit.

Not going to pull it together. Fed up. I'm fed up. Principally because there are no men left.

Condolences to Lara Logan. I am sorry for what happened to you.  But it's really not worse than what happened to thousands of others who took up arms against barbarians and are now recovering a sexuality permanently damaged by lost limbs, damaged faces, and imperiled minds.

Just saying. If women are going to be equal in our world, then it's time for women to concede that penetration isn't the only unforgivable sin our enemies seek to exact.

Consider this: If we use our fear of irrational Islamic hatreds as an excuse for concealing the crimes visited on our women from dangers the intelligentsia insist on projecting to everyone else -- Damn you, Sarah Palin! -- without ever acknowledging that the real danger to the world at large is irrational Islamic hatreds of the kind that are presently immolating the middle east, then there is no9thing intelligent about our analysis or response. We're just fucking idiots, waiting in line to have our throats cut. But at least we'll be able to watch our wives, mothers and sisters raped to death first.

Listen to the Columbia audio again. Don't you just love that raucous female laugh when the vet declares that bad men are trying to kill her?

My old friend from Columbia hasn't the slightest idea why I'm mad at him. He's nothing like this. Honestly. He's just, you know, better than everybody west of Rhode Island...

Which, truth to tell, makes me think he's spent a lifetime learning all the wrong lessons.

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