of what we're losing, day by day. And don't forget the big ass-end.
NO ACCOUNTING FOR WHERE IDEAS COME FROM. I have no real good reason
for this post. Like so many things, it was a
weird process of association. Mrs. CP was wondering what people really
think of my deerhound posts, and I said I thought they found them
entertaining without necessarily wanting the dog. Because they're too much to
handle, too high maintenance, though spectacular. I thought it was like
the way I feel about Ferraris, exotic and cool as hell but, you know,
no way for me.
So I wallowed this morning in more deerhound videos, which was fun, of
of it works without the big ass-end.
But I also realized I'd picked the wrong point of comparison.
Deerhounds aren't Ferraris. Ferraris are refined and smooth and upper
class to the point of snootiness. Deerhounds aren't that at all.
Borzois are. Afghans are. Greyhounds are. Not deerhounds. Deerhounds
are rude and crude and loud and obnoxious, over the top and frequently
vulgar. Which is when I remembered the AC Cobra and started looking at
Cobra videos. Which led me to a whole new line of thinking.
Something about atavism. Like the way if there had ever been any dogs
in the Lord of the Rings movies, the only ones who would have fit in
would be deerhounds and wolfhounds. And as I looked at the Cobra
videos, I realized that they too have become ancient, a throwback to a
more primitive, more vital time. In some ways even more so than the much older
Bugattis and Duesenbergs. We can still find the fashion line of the
sleek and the opulently stately in the automobiles of today. But there
is really nothing to compare to
the height of automotive madness that was the Cobra. Not even the
obviously imitative Viper, which is an all too quiet parade machine.
Several other things are notable and perversely relevant to our current
state of affairs. The Cobra may have been the last truly gestalt
collaboration between the Brits and the Americans in technology. Its
basis was a typically tiny Brit sportscar called the AC
American Carroll Shelby figured out that he could shoehorn a
small-block Ford V-8 into the engine bay, which was the birth of the
original 289 Cobra, a beast that slew Corvettes by the hundreds in SCCA
racing in the mid 1960s. Then came the typically American upping of the
ante. Shelby figured out how to jam a NASCAR-quality big block Ford
engine with four Weber carburetors producing more than 500 horsepower
into a slightly modified AC chassis with an ass-end swollen to accommodate much bigger, grippier tires, and an ultra-legend was born. The
427 Cobra weighed next to nothing, had an automatic transmission
because no one could manually shift fast enough to maximize its
acceleration, and it could go from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds and
zero to a hundred in well under 10 seconds. Depending on the gear
ratios selected, it could reach 200 mph with virtually linear
acceleration. It cost about $8,000.
It was also, for all its British roots, loud, flashy, and so instantly
and terrifyingly fast that you couldn't be a silver-haired banker
looking for young tail
and safely own it. You had to know how to drive it or the car would
kill you. The suspension was good, but with almost unlimited power
under the throttle, you can get sideways and off the road in a
heartbeat. The Cobra was no rich Casanova's rolling bedroom.
The engine was so highly tuned that it could only operate on Sunoco 260
megatane gasoline, no longer available today (sigh). It was so
radically configured that the engine roughness
you hear in the videos is a function of a racing cam that barely runs
at idle; it wants you to stamp on the throttle and hit a sweet spot of
7,000 rpm -- in other words, it's junk around town; no environment for
sweet-talking 18-year-old girls into your clutches.
It has become one of the rarest of all automotive legends. Only 200 of
the 427 Cobras were ever made. Most of them still survive, having come
gradually into the hands of those who know how to drive them and care
for them. At the same time, no car in history has ever inspired such a
industry. Obviously, the thing speaks to individual
souls in a way few cars ever have,
Here's the rub. The Cobra is clearly an archetype of the fossil fuel
evil liberals want to remove from our lives. Yeah, it got crappy gas
mileage. But it was also an apex of the automotive esthetic. While they
piddle around in their Priuses, I can't help thinking that we're losing
something important about ourselves.
how you want so see yourselves in the more responsible
progressive age? Or do you dream in your deepest hearts of something
more like this?
babying it, because the car is worth a gazillion dollars. But it's a
Sorry for interrupting your New Age meditations...
Delaware is 20 minutes away from here.
It's a state with three counties, only one of them inhabited and that
one by one city. Which means they're nothing but levels of government;
federal, state, municipal (Wilmington), "greater Wilmington" a.k.a. New
Castle County, and townships, of course, all piled on top of individual
citizens. Does it work? No. DelDot, the offending agency here, is a
tri-state joke (NJ, PA, and DE). We all know that Delaware traffic
signage is designed to get you lost and that DelDot "improvement"
projects invariably involve years of main artery shutdowns with no
visible signs of progress ever. On any given day, about half of the
lanes of the Delaware Memorial bridges to and from New Jersey are
closed for maintenance, although, oddly, there's rarely a DelDot truck
or worker in sight.
Lately, it's gotten much much worse. On the Friday of Easter
weekend, I tried to cross the bridge and discovered that it was down to
one lane. It took me more than 45 minutes to traverse one mile of
bridge approach. When I finally got onto the bridge, there was still no
sign of actual work being undertaken. Just a cop car or two and a
miscellaneous truck parked in one of the lanes. But I think I now know
what that travesty was all about:
Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls set to rise
May 18, 2011|By Paul Nussbaum,
Inquirer Staff Writer
Auto tolls on the Delaware Memorial Bridge are slated to increase by
$1, to $4, on July 1 following unanimous approval of the new tolls by
the Delaware River and Bay Authority commissioners Tuesday.
Higher tolls are needed to pay for repairs and upgrades on the bridge
that connects New Jersey and Delaware at the southern end of the New
Jersey Turnpike and I-295, officials said.
"The effects of age and heavy use mandate substantial capital
improvements in order for the DRBA to continue to provide safe and
efficient travel" over the bridge, DRBA chairman Bill Lowe said in a
Yeah, the bridges need work. Ha ha. Who doesn't get it by now? The
don't want that one-lane stuff. Soften'em up for a few months with long
delays and mucho inconvenience. Then they'll be happy to hear that
repairs will be made with a 33 percent increase in the toll. Private
sector capitalist enterprises struggle to keep inflation in single
digits, even in a time of runaway gas and food prices. Governments just
fart in your face and raise prices by a third because they always have
the option of mafia-style protection: you wouldn't want anything bad to
happen during your daily commute, would you? Would you?
You know what I'm saying? I think you do.
Delaware. Home of "Jovial Joe" Biden. Who cares so much about the little guy.
F___ off, Joe. Yeah. That's what I'm saying.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Odds and Ends
always, InstaPunk remains at the center of the passing parade.
lot of sloppy stupid stuff going on, but not much that's
worthy of an essay-type post. So maybe you'll forgive me for a series
of non sequiturs that don't add up to anything but a self-satisfied
Trump is out.
Color me bored. As I predicted,
he found out PDQ that
politics is a blood
sport in which even self-ordained titans can be
laid low in seconds. Still, I have to concede that Big Hollywood had a
point about a certain debt
of gratitude we probably owe him.
Speaking of Big Hollywood, this was a delightful reminiscence about
Wayne, and this
was an educational reminder about the substance of
Reagan and the careless viciousness of the left-wing media.
Schwarzenegger. Pretty tired of the celebrity rules in Kally-FOR-neea.
No journalist could have sussed this
out when he ran in the first
place? Were they protecting Ahnold or their only frail link to the
royalty? Doesn't matter. The whole episode is very Hollywood, very
Kennedy, and very over the top. Just like the whole bankrupt state of
Kally-FOR-neea. Do I care? Not at all.
too. I thought, to be honest, that it was a non-item.
But then I heard him as a guest on a local Philly talk radio show. Not
being a candidate apparently empowers him to speak more bluntly about
what he thinks. My jaw dropped when he dared to say what so many people
know but don't have the nerve to express: Obama is a shallow thinker,
bright, sure, but not penetrating enough to be even a passable
president. He also
described contemporary American politics as a kind of cesspool (my
distillation, not his words), in which money can elevate the worst over
the best. Maybe Huckabee does
have a role to play in the upcoming campaign follies. I'm reevaluating.
Three cheers for Hillary. The first major political figure to give the
finger to Jimmy Carter he's richly deserved throughout his self-serving
post-presidential bid for acclaim. Asked if she wanted to meet with
him after his trip to North Korea, she said, "No." Then she elaborated.
Three more Republican candidates are all but out. Gingrich mouthed
off the cuff
once too often. Good riddance. His lame support for ethanol
warming alarmism was already a fatal long-term problem. His
betrayal of Paul Ryan's brave effort to address the budget and the
deficit were the last straw. Huntsman is done before he even got
started. He accepts global warming because 90
percent of scientists do,
which they don't.
Add to that his gushing
praise for the leadership of
Obama and nobody will vote for him in the primaries. Thank
goodness. And Mitt Romney refused
to admit that RomneyCare in
Massachusetts was a mistake. He prefers to quibble about bureaucratic
differences between the progam that's bankrupting Massachusetts and the
ObamaCare program that will bankrupt the United States. Nobody wants to
hear why Romney is technically blameless for an evidently socialist
government intrusion into the health care mess he personally sponsored
and passed into law.
O'Reilly debated Jon Stewart on the subject of the rapper Common's
invitation to the White House. He
lost. Because he never made the only
point that matters. The president can invite anyone he wants to the
White House. (Dumb as hell to stake your whole position on opposition
to that elemental truth.) But is it a good idea? In this case, no. Bad
PR move. We already know how Obama feels about white
with African-Americans. This wasn't a good time to remind everyone that
he's black first and American second. But neither O'Reilly nor Stewart
could bring themselves to mention the elephant in the room. You know.
We're all too polite to bring up race. Advantage lefties. Stewart was
the cleverer one, but his smarts can't overcome presidential stupids.
Nancy Pelosi's congressional district accounted for 20
percent of April's waivers of compliance with ObamaCare. You
couldn't make this stuff up. Nothing to see here. Move along.
percent of the French think Americans set up the IMF chairman with
sexual assault charges. Those would be the same French who think Roman
Polanski sodomizing a 13-year-old is not so much rape as droit de seigneur. And they can't
understand why the "no bail" decision. Maybe they should ask Roman
InstaPunk had something of a set-to
(see Comments, too) with the Ron Paul faithful. Now
they're uncharacteristically silent. Somehow I don't think they're
bored. I think they're tongue-tied.
And, finally, just for fun, Apotheosis posted this photo in a comment
on our latest
post about the deerhound Raebert.
All I can tell you is, that dog's NOT Raebert. If there's a more
comfortable spot to be had, he's in it. Trust me.
I know you do. Because I'm at the center of everything...
Monday, May 16, 2011
The point all
are too dumb to make...
RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, DAMN THEIR HIDES.... They always seem to
lose the framing arguments, don't they? Today's the day the debt limit
is scheduled to go critical. The Republicans talk about cutting spending.
The Democrats talk about the frightful human costs of cutting federal
programs and the more sensible alternative of raising taxes. The
Republicans resist raising taxes because that somehow hobbles the
government's responsibility to create jobs in a weak economy. Because
it's rich Republicans who create jobs when they're not otherwise
engaged in supervising the custom builds of their $100 million dollar
yachts. Why the Democrats tend to win such confrontations. Republicans
talk vaguely about growing the whole economy, which the Dems instantly
reduce to the old lingo of "tickle down economics," and voters confront
the pitched battle between those who would penalize ordinary working
people versus those who want to make the richest pay their fair share.
The simple truth the Republicans never
state flat out:
tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue,
whereas cutting federal spending always
decreases the deficit.
Forget who's paying the taxes. It's not
a class issue. It's more like simple physics. There's an optimum level
of tax rates that's like a perfectly balanced carpenter's level. When
it's right -- i.e., when the lozenge is floating between the markers on
right and left, tax revenue is maximized. The portion of the lozenge
that's between the markers is tax revenue. You can tip the level either
way, but if you tip it out of balance tax revenues decline.
If tax rates are too low, available revenues are left on the table. If
tax rates are too high, available revenues are left on the table.
Note that this is neither a conservative nor a liberal argument. When
ideologies are figured in, conservatives don't mind tilting toward
lesser federal revenues because they want to shrink government, and
liberals don't mind tilting toward lesser federal revenues because --
but wait! -- they do mind
lesser federal revenues. They're just stone ignorant about economics
and the functioning of the capitalist markets they've never liked.
Which leads us to the underlying philosophies of the parties the
Republicans should be doing everything possible to exploit and never do.
The biggest Big Lie Democrats and liberals of every stripe subscribe to
is not the idiocy of George
W. Bush and all Republicans in general, bad as that libel is. It's
worse than that. Much worse than that. It's their reflexive allegiance
to the static model and the zero-sum view of human society.
What's the static model? Thank you for asking. It's the belief that the
economy is a machine that behaves according to machine rules, which is
to say that human decision-making in response to changing circumstances
is not a factor. More specifically, it holds everything else constant
when it contemplates some change. All will remain as it is now except
for the one change we are contemplating. That's how the CBO scores
ObamaCare as a net cost saver. ALL OTHER FACTORS REMAINING THE SAME,
ObamaCare will reduce healthcare costs and pay for itself. Never mind
that premiums are already rising as economic participants in the
altered health universe are anticipating huge dislocations of future
income opportunities and historically predictable massive cost
increases associated with greater federal control. (Medicare now costs
dozens of times the most pessimistic Republican projections when it
passed.) That's how the Obama administration scores a big tax increase
on "rich" people. They will continue to make as much money as they do
now and we will simply take a bigger percentage of it. Revenues will automatically increase. The
machine motors on and individual human decisions can't possibly affect
it. Even though the human record itself makes a joke of static analysis
and the machine view.
Interesting perspective for the "party of the people," isn't it? I can
illustrate this fallacy by an anecdote from my business school days,
with an idiotic but triumphant performance by one of the most esteemed
professors at my Ivy League Business School. He said, smirking, "It's
been argued that progressive tax rates create a disincentive for income
generation. I'd like to deal with that right now." He held up a
(Roosevelt) dime. "Here's my proposition. If I offer to give you a
dollar with the understanding that I'll take back 90 cents and leave
you with only a dime, don't you still want the dime? Of course you do."
He smiled happily and repocketed his dime.
I can still remember how very satisfied he was with himself. Of course,
his proposition was a fake. Like most illustrious university
professors, he forgot about the question of work. Give me a dollar, take back 90
cents, and I'll accept the dime. But would I work for that dollar knowing it's
only a dime? No. Not on your life. Because as a human being, I value my
time. The more likely outcome is that I refuse to play if 90 percent of
my effort is paid to someone else.
His was the machine view, the liberal
view. But contrary to the great love, tolerance, and understanding by
liberals of all us weak, fallible humans, the economy is not a machine;
it's an organism, alive, aware, and alert to the decision points
created by every major change in the rules of operation. If you
systematically remove my incentives for effort and risk-taking, by
penalizing my effort and risk-taking, I will withdraw my efforts and
end my risk-taking. I'll make less and have less to tax, regardless of
the rates you impose. The carpenter's level has been tilted un the
direction of reduced revenues. Don't argue with me. Argue with the
damned level and the lozenge that veers out of the optimum zone.
The other Democrat/liberal fallacy -- the second Big Lie they tell
themselves so often they believe it (or do they?) -- is that capitalism
is a zero-sum game. That's the source of their usually unspecified
grudge against the prosperous. The premise of the lie is that every
dollar a rich person acquires is at the expense of a poor or middle
class person. Almost 300 years after Adam Smith, they would have you
believe, they still don't accept the concept of wealth creation, that a
rising tide lifts all boats. In point of fact, they have to know this is a lie they are
telling for political gain.
Every time they make the argument that the rich have somehow unfairly
benefited and need to "give something back," they are explicitly
denying the history of the American economy that has made us the
richest, freest, and most upwardly mobile society in the record of all human civilizations. If
economics were a zero-sum game, we'd all still be sharing the
scarcities of 15th century plague-ridden economies in medieval Europe,
with no indoor plumbing and life expectancies in the late thirties.
Where do they think the contributions they get from Bill Gates, Steven
Spielberg, and the Google Boys come from? Their fortunes weren't ripped
from the mouths of orphans and widows. They were created, not out of
thin air, but out of rich minds who inspired lucrative demand
for attractive products. The same way it's always been done in this
extraordinary land -- by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright
Brothers, and (fill in the blanks, ad infinitum).
I understand why most liberals in congress and on the national scene
don't understand America. How pitifully few of them have ever created
anything but a campaign for their own personal politcal ambitions.
What I have a harder time understanding is why there are so few
Republicans who even sense the opportunity to demand a philosophical
referendum that would indict their liberal foes as aliens in their own
country and vipers in its bosom.
I'm taking no prisoners on this. None of the candidates -- not even the
sainted Ron Paul -- has had the wit to state the nub of the argument
without descending into thickets of economic jargon and
tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue,
whereas cutting federal spending always
decreases the deficit.
It's not a class issue. It's
simple physics. Think carpenter's level.
There's plenty of history to cite. We've already had 90 percent tax
rates in the lifetimes of living Americans. In the Eisenhower
administration. JFK cut them back and increased revenues substantially.
Reagan did the same. His tax cuts also dramatically increased federal
revenue, which the Democrat congress happily spent into deficit. George
W. Bush increased tax revenues by cutting tax rates. Why the hell is it
so hard for a Republican to say these simple words?
tax rates does not automatically increase tax revenue.
Because they're so dumb they can't let go of the idea that their
best chance for election is pretending that it's the federal
government's job to "create" jobs by running things the right way.
The government doesn't create jobs. The right tax
rates aren't about ideology, Paulistas take note. At the moment, the
federal government needs all the revenue it can get. It really does.
The wolf is at the door. Time to take the ideological bullshit and
class warfare out of the discussion.
. Don't get your
hopes up. I overcame my irrational sense of
his hysterical tone and personal creepiness long enough to watch his
interview with Chris
Wallace yesterday. So I'm now prepared to talk not about his personal
creepiness but his platform.
It's possible that he is, as Juan Williams (never mind his motives) was
intimating today on
Imus, a seminal figure in the remaking of the Republican Party. As was
Barry Goldwater. This is not a small thing.
When I was a management consultant, I gave seminars to top executives a
couple decades ago on the subject of "mental models." (A subject I
understand Glenn Beck has recently recycled under another name.) The
idea is that our sense of the possible is determined by a consensus
that can occasionally be wrenched in a different direction, so that
what used to seem insane becomes part of our horizon of possibilities.
I accept that Ron Paul is saying things that haven't been said for a
long time. In this respect, he is
expanding the mental model of what is possible. I'm pleased that young
people are undergoing this mental stretching exercise.
I was also impressed that he answered Chris Wallace's questions so
directly. He's obviously an honest man. More power to him. I am
absolutely convinced that he is sincere.
But here, I confess, is the end of my kudos to Ron Paul. And the
beginning of my message to his followers.
Ron Paul will never be president. He may run and run and run....
...but he will never be a nominee of the Republican Party and he will
never be president. Why? Because he is more ideologue than politician,
and he is running for the presidency of a country that no longer
I'm not even talking about his foreign policy, which is ludicrous and
verging on criminal. I'm talking about his very conception of the
presidency, the American people, and the state of our culture. It
represents a nostalgia for a time that hasn't existed in the lifetime
of Americans. He wants to be Calvin Coolidge, basically a remote civil
servant located in the White House, with no responsibility for the
disasters, ruptures, and snafus that strike every one of the fifty
states from time to time. "Not my business," he proudly announces.
"That's not who the president is supposed to be."
Fine. But even Reagan knew better than that. Like it or not, the
president of the United States is the most powerful and influential man
in the world.. Americans are long long
past accepting him as a mere accountant of the nation's balance sheet.
There may be value in Paul's view but there is no currency in his
policy. He and all his followers can rue the ancient day when the game
changed, but Americans by an overwhelming majority now believe in a
national safety net. We can debate how safe that net that should be,
battle about its costs and benefits, but if you argue it shouldn't be
there at all, you are simply quaint, a curiosity who will never be
taken seriously. That part of our national debate is no longer on the
Honestly, he puts me in mind of Rip van Winkle. A whole bunch of people
who, for reasons of youth or inexcusable inattention, suddenly became
aware of a crisis in American poliltics without any knowledge of how we
got where we are. Sometimes it seems he's running against FDR in 1936,
still trying to undo the Keynesian disaster of the Great Depression and
forestall the losses of saving the U.S. from war with Hitler.
What's hard to communicate to the new true believers: The oldness of his positions, meaning
not the inveterate wisdom of them but the obsolete temporality in
which they might have made sense. Is it a coincidence that he is also
old and cannot see the world except through old old eyes that only
seem new to youngsters who still think they can turn back the clock to
the days before nuclear weapons, the Cold War, and that distant instant
when we might have passed up the responsibility to be the adult in the
room of the world?
None of him is new. The only thing that is new is the desire of the
to tar all of us with his
archaic platitudes. He's having a vogue now because they would like us
to be dismissible, all the way down to him and his simplistic
I don't begrudge him his right to speak and attract followers. I'm
simply tired to death of the evangelical fervor that insists he's
a sage voice telling us who
are old enough
to know better that he's saying anything new. Or, that he as a
personality is anything but another manifestation of the fashion
Goldwater? Reagan? No. Stassen? Tell you in 2016.
But I concede he believes what he's preaching to the last breath.
might want to read the exchange between Brizoni and me in the Comments
section. That's why I'm inserting this video.
All the Paulistas might want to compare and contrast this with the
video of Ron Paul's appearance on Fox News Sunday. If you don't know
the history, this is the event known as 'The Speech,' which launched
Ronald Reagan's political career. It was the only shining moment in the
absolutely disastrous 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. It
was run again and again, because it was the only positive, upbeat
communication associated with Goldwater's march toward electoral suicide.
I watched it with my parents the first time it aired, 47 years ago. It was absolutely
electrifying. (I was 10 and I still remember the moment; only the moon landing, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are as seared into my memory.) I think you'll find that the opening citations of federal
debt and levels of taxation could be the opening of a Republican
candidate address in 2011 almost unchanged.
Like the Paulista Minutemen, Brizoni over-interpreted what I was saying
in the post above. I wasn't disagreeing with Paul's ideals. I was
saying, "Quit telling us oldsters we don't understand. We do. But we
also know that winning the political battles isn't about being a
fusspot curmudgeon who insists that he, just like the liberals, knows
more about what we need than the average people do."
Compare and contrast. Paul harps on everything that's wrong. Everything
he'll undo. Reagan does a lot of that, too. But he also shares a vision
of just how great we can be, a magnificent hope and faith in the
American people. Somehow, constant kvetching about the Federal Reserve
doesn't accomplish the same end result. Note also that the isolationism Paulistas insist is part of the "package" of liberty takes on an entirely different, and far more realistic, spin here.
But I'm sure, as always, you know better, just as you know more about
economics than an old fart with thirty-some years of business
experience and even more than that in the practice of effective
. You think I spend all my time puzzling over Mike
intentions? Think again.
All right. I saw two movies, one called "Equilibrium." and one called
"The Day the Earth Stood Still."
Last first. The Keanu Reeves opus almost caused a fight with the
missus. She said, early on, "I hate this." But I was determined. You
know me. I love lefties. I had to watch all the way to the bitter end
make the pronouncement that this was the single awfullest big-budget
sci-fi movie ever made. Which it was.
I was no fan of the original, which is where I parted company with Mrs.
CP. She liked Michael Rennie. I despise the whole genre of movies that
make Earth the bad boy of the cosmology set. When the aliens come to
tell us that we are somehow uniquely terrible in the community of
intelligent species, all I can see is the liberal equivalent of
original sin turned back on itself by the presumption of superior
English translation. If Darwin is right, as the scientists insist he
is, life erupts into intelligence as part of an inevitable predatory
spiral. The strong eat the weak and get stronger and smarter. How
could it be otherwise? So, when the aliens come, they are interfering
either because they've forgotten their own evolutionary roots or
because evolution isn't an apt description of how mankind came to be in
the first place. In either case, they have a lot of nerve threatening
us with extinction because, whoever they are now, even we backward
whatever-we-ares have never attempted annihilating an
entire species on purpose. Isn't committing
species-level genocide though you're a million years more advanced
than we are a good deal worse than harpooning one too many whales in the early industrial age? You tell me, O You Secular Moralists.
Of course, Keanu had done his intelligence homework. He knew he could
do this whole godlike part without a second of acting. He knew the
script was as brilliant as anything a Keanu could think of. For
example, he got to condemn humanity to death based on a single meeting
with one solitary alien mole who had lived as a human in New York's
Chinatown for 70 years. Even then, doubts were expressed. But hey, one
guy, one neighborhood, one ambigious verdict, how do you think the
universe would decide the fate of six and a half billion non-New
Yorkers? How any New York
liberal would have conducted the research. You just have to love a
liberal's sense of fairness and justice...
Why I loved this movie so much. (Loved it, loved it, loved it.) Perfect
exhibition of the lefty mentality in the northeast. Perfect. Though
maybe one spokesman for all five boroughs shouldn't get the say-so for the whole fucking planet. There's Jersey, too. What
do you think?
Sorry but I have to skip to the ending, where all of modern technology
is wiped out. Supposedly a happy ending. Only 6.2 of 6.5 billion people
are destined to die of starvation, disease, and unspeakable battles
for nonexistent resources, as opposed to the whole enchilada. (Even Escape from LA made this the
apocalypse it obviously is...) And Hollywood thinks we want to see this
kind of crap?
We don't. Which is why the palate cleanser is a very little known movie
called Equilibrium. Christian
Bale, Sean Bean, and the usual British delight with a hopelessly
ecstatic fantasy called
"no emotions whatever." It's as fun a movie as an incredibly depressing
post-apocalyptic nightmare can be. For once, Christian Bale is good
has a love interest he actually touches fingers with, briefly, oh so
slightly, before she is burned to death in a crematory oven. What the
Brits call flaming passion.
It's still ten times the
movie described above. And for once it doesn't
seem leftist but about life and living and all that stuff and what it
might mean, even if you're a Brit.
. When I left the barber chair, one of the female
stylists stepped out and said, "You look like a new man." I thanked
her. Then she announced to the entire shop, "He just got his
True. It's a bright sunlit place. I hate their mirrors. While I'm
getting my hair cut there, I confront an old man in every pitless
detail of time's toll. Not such a big deal. I am old these days. But my shaving
mirror is kinder. It lets me feel maybe 40 instead of nearly 60.
I was going to cut grass today. I hope and trust Mrs. CP will forgive
me that I didn't. I plan to cut tomorrow, before the universally
But I still look better than Tom Waits. Marginally.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
what makes you you? And how
much of this light show are you personally willing
to shut down for good?
. I'd thought of posting about a
controversial rapper at the White House, but I'm doing this instead. A
post I've been mulling for a long time now. It's about the
self-annihilating properties of ethnic and other categorical hatreds.
Before I begin. let me state what this post is not. It's not a defense
of the multicultural political correctness that's been rammed down our
throats by the lefty intelligentsia. It's not a national or global
political argument of any kind. It's not an endorsement of "All
is for the best in the best of all possible worlds" pollyanna-ism. Conflicts
will always be with us, as will prejudices and irrational hostilities,
and the inevitable conflicts, prejudices, and hostilities will be
costly and perhaps, in some contexts, fatal.
My only point here is strictly personal. What price are you willing to pay for your hatreds
in terms of your own personal identity? Are you willing to stop being
you or become a radically reduced version of the self who is living
Here is the premise of the experiment. It's an act of subtraction.
Examine all your own biases and resentments. Who would the world be
better off without? Identify them and then subtract them completely from your own experience
of life, your memories, your beliefs, the mind that makes you you.
To begin with a fairly vanilla example, the Irish reliably hate the
English. But what if the English had never existed? Would the Irish
still be the Irish? Yeah, they'd still be Celts on a green island, but
much of their history, heroes, and poets would be swept away. Without
the English, there would have been no United States that defined itself
in opposition to British tyranny, no waves of immigration that
transplanted as many Irishmen as who still live in Ireland to the
brawling new world where some of them achieved spectacular heights and
more sad Irish stories, like the tragic presidency of John F. Kennedy.
I'm not saying there wouldn't have been an alternative history, but how
much of you, today's Irish,
would remain? And again, I'm speaking personally. None of your cultural
touchstones would be the same. Maybe there'd still have been a James
Joyce, a William Butler Yeats, a Michael Collins, and even a St.
Patrick, but they would bear no resemblance to the specific emotional
foundations of your own life and personality. And for those who value
brilliant poetry and prose and song, there would be no inspirational
neighbors like Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Jane Austen, or Gilbert & Sullivan.
You see, the subtraction has to be total. Like Kevin Bacon's six
degrees of separation, every loss ripples through the whole and winds
up striking extremely close to the most intimate core of personal
A lot of people hate the Jews, more and more all the time, including
some of our most celebrated professors and intellectuals. Okay.
Subtract the Jews. Completely. No Marx. No Freud. No threat of nuclear
war in the 21st century middle east. Happy? Not so fast. At the
extremes, there is no more Bible and no golden age of Hollywood. So
there is also no Christianity, no Constitution of the United States,
none of the movies you use as personal metaphors for your own heroic
view of yourselves, and no Islam -- because there is no Ishmael for
Muhammed to use in tracing his own lineage back to God. But remember
that there is also no "David" by Michelangelo and, in fact, no Italian
Renaissance, Age of Enlightenment, no theory of relativity or quantum
physics, no M.I.T. Start wiping Jews out of your mind and there won't
be much left of what you call civilization.
There's no shortage of people who hate the Germans. Without them, there
would have been no Hitler or holocaust. And no Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart, no
Wagner opera about the "ring" and therefore no Lord of the Rings" and -- dare I say it? -- no Harry Potter. Also,
no Mercedes Benz, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen, or Apollo 11. No World War
I and World War II that made heroes of our family forebears and
bolstered the pride of family so many still feel today. No Marlene
Dietrich in Destry Rides Again, and no pretzels, brats, hot dogs or hamburgers(!).
Erase all those things from your life. Are you content to shut down all
the synapses of your brain that connect to things German as if they had
No Russians? No Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, ballet, American figure
skating team, Dostoevsky, or James Bond movies. Or vodka. Think about
it. No vodka.
No Arabs? Well, then, forget Arabic numerals, algebra, and the
sophisticated mathematics they made possible. Imagine yourself dialing
cellphone numbers in Roman numerals. Except also subtract the
cellphones. We'd still be using the biggest blackboards on earth to
calculate simple square roots.
How many Americans are still shaped in one way or another by the Civil
War? No slavery, no blacks, no century of humiliation and suffering for
the south. In the north, probably no more United States. Don't forget
that it was the Civil War which changed accepted usage from "the United
States are..." to "the United States is..." We'd probably be three or
four different clashing nations by now. The Civil War was a stupendous passion play that tempered the
mettle of this nation into a force strong enough to bear sacrifice for
others and do great good in the world. Do the southern boys want to
give up their imaginings of Pickett's Charge, Stonewall Jackson, and
Robert E. Lee? Without the Civil War, Lee would be a footnote, a West
Point officer who served with distinction and no memorable actions.
Gettysburg would be a farm town and we'd never have heard of Abraham
A point to ponder for both blacks and whites. Without slavery, the
Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation, there is no African participation in
America. Blacks would still be in Africa and whites would be, well,
blander. Anybody on either side want to subtract the African-American
part of their lives from their lives? Really? No Martin Luther King, no
lynchings, and no Nathan Bedford Forrest or Black Panthers, but also no
blues, ragtime, jazz, or rock and roll, meaning no Louis Armstrong,
Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Beebe King, James Brown, Beatles, Stones,
Dylan, no Motown, Temptations, Supremes, or Four Tops, no Michael
Jackson, and no Allman Brothers, Van Halen, Pearl Jam, GNR, U2, Madonna, or Lady Gaga.
Right. Subtract it all from your minds and memories. It's not there any
longer. All the songs you fell in love to gone, gone, gone. Not all of
us can fuel our romance with a strict diet of Loretta Lynn. Some of us
still rely as much on Nat Cole as Frank Sinatra, and there's no Sinatra
with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Coleman Hawkins.
No Hispanics? Forget Christopher Columbus discovering America. He was
not Italian but Spanish, probably Catalan.
No French? Well. Paris no longer exists and a long list of other stuff
too numerous to list in architecture, art, cuisine, and personalities
-- Bridgette Bardot, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charlemagne, Debussy, Edith
Piaf, and Voltaire -- without whom your mind would be substantially
different. For example: without Pascal, La Rochefoucauld, Moliere, and
Voltaire, Mark Twain might have ceased his output after the "Jumping
Frog of Calaveras County." Ripples. Ripples.
No Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Cambodians, Vietnamese? Toss out
spaghetti (brought back from China to Italy by Marco Polo), martial
arts movies (losing Bruce Lee would really suck, wouldn't it?), not to
mention paper books, fireworks at the ballpark, Fu Manchu, Charlie
Chan, and that ugly chick everybody loves on Grey's Anatomy. And
perhaps more importantly for American minds, no Platoon, Apocalypse
Now, or Heavy Metal Jacket. No Sands of Iwo Jima, no Doolittle
Raid, no Battle of Midway. We'd have far less idea what we're capable
of when the going gets really rough.
Even the people who oppose and challenge us help to make us who we are.
When you imagine them out of existence, we all become poorer, smaller,
and less interesting and individual.
I repeat that there would be alternate histories. But when you think
about it, those histories would be less interesting and less dramatic.
I know there are times when we want to wish away the "bad people." But
the result, if you contemplate it seriously, is worse than cowardly;
No matter how much I complain, I would never wish any of them out of
existence. I may want to defeat (some of) them, educate them, oppose
their crazier agendas, and yearn for impossible accommodations, but
they're built into the world that has made my own consciousness what it
is. And I wouldn't willingly omit a single drop of my own consciousness
for any cause on earth. Die maybe. But not dim my mind's eye or
amputate huge chunks of my experience of life.
Some of you may feel differently. That would be your problem.
Final thought. What does "Common" mean? I think I've explained it.
Celebrating a Life
called him Mr. Basset. He was 19 and a gentleman.
. Over at Hotair's Green Room, Jazz
Shaw has a remembrance of a beloved family pet:
The dogs went for a walk each and every
morning that the weather would allow with my wife and [me], and I think
that the one sentence I said to her more often than any other was,
“Everyone loves the basset.” And they did. It seemed to be almost
impossible for anyone, male or female, old or young, to not immediately
be drawn to Mr. Basset. I still remember one walk just recently when we
were out strolling with them and two cars pulled up at the corner and
stopped, with each driver pausing to stare and to smile. That’s
probably what I will remember most about Mr. Basset. He brought a smile
to the face of everyone he met. He was a fat old hound dog, so the guys
always seemed to like him. And while he weighed nearly 80 pounds, he
was low to the ground with those big floppy ears, watery eyes and short
legs, so ladies and children did not find him threatening.
One elderly grandmother up the street from us did not even own a dog,
but took to buying boxes of dog biscuits and knew when we went for
walks, and would hurry out to give him a treat and pet him. I’ve long
since lost count of how many people I’ve met in this town simply
because they would approach to ask questions about Mr. Basset and pet
I can relate. Sighthounds draw the same kind of instant fans. It's a
moving story. Thinking back to Charlotte's
Web, all I can say is "Some Dog." You really do have to read the
whole thing -- long and lesiurely as a basset hound taking his morning
constitutional -- to appreciate the depth of feeling involved here. At
the end you will shed precisely one tear, distilled finally from a
dignified life that ended, not unheroically, in extreme old age. I'm
being callous. Mr. Basset wouldn't have wanted more than one tear. He
was a gentleman, reserved and self-effacing to the last.
Jazz has my deepest condolences and, I'm sure, yours as well. But he's
seeking immortality for Mr. Bassett on the Internet. I'm more than
willing to help spread the word.