Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 15, 2011 - August 8, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Cold Look at Rick Perry

IOWA REDUX. He's in now and wasn't at the Fox "christening" debate. So I spent the morning going through his bio at Wikipedia and looking at his most important national speeches to date. Not as an advocate or opponent but focused on my original and enduring question, "Who can win?" Here's my first report. It's divided into four parts. 1) Negatives, 2) Positives, 3) "Can he win a general election against Obama?" and 4) Open Questions. I'm using a Point/Counterpoint format in each part because I think it's appropriate. I think you'll see why.


Point: He's another Texas governor (shudder), openly and sometimes loudly Christian, and you can frequently hear in his speech the same slight Texas lisp -- a transformation of "esses" into "eshes" -- that so mindlessly enraged the elites of The New York Times and The New Yorker. Counterpoint: He's not George W. Bush. Their biographies are completely different. And he's much more at home on camera than W ever was.

Point. According to the MSM, he suggested once (or seemed to) that Texas had some right to secede from the Union, which could be exercised if things got out of hand. Counterpoint. He didn't actually suggest that, and that's not what the unique Texas Constitution approved by Congress stipulates. The deal was that Texas had the right to split into five states. Imagine what that that would do to the voting balance in the U.S. Senate.

Point. He invited Ted Nugent to perform at one of his inaugurals, whereupon Nugent showed up with a Confederate flag tee-shirt. He failed to disavow Nugent. Counterpoint. He personally engineered the defeat of the Texas Supreme Court justice who led the charge against affirmative action in Texas.

Point. He has no advanced degrees. His lone college diploma is in Animal Science from Texas A&M, and he was put on academic probation because apart from quite a lot of B's and C's and few A's, he had nine D's. Counterpoint. Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College and Harry Truman didn't go to college at all. Would you really rather have Chuck Schumer?

Point. He's presided over 234 executions in the State of Texas and vetoed a law protecting the mentally retarded from being executed. Counterpoint. He's a Methodist by birth. So was my grandmother. Methodists have pretty stern moral codes. Is that a problem? He's also commuted a few sentences, which can only be done in Texas if a commission makes such a recommendation.

Point. He boasted at one point that Texas was recession proof. But Texas has an unemployment rate that approximates the median among U.S. States. Counterpoint. Texas has created more jobs than any other state since the advent of the current recession.

Point. He's so pro-life that he has sponsored and signed bills requiring all kinds of onerous requirements on women seeking abortions, including parental notification for minors, mandatory sonograms shared with the mothers contemplating abortion that explain heartbeats and fetal images. Counterpoint. Excepting cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity, and statutory rape. And he stood up against his own party to require vaccination against cervical cancer. He lost.

Point. He's all over the place on education, sometimes for budget increases, sometimes against, and Texas keeps coming in last in educational achievement statistics. Counterpoint. When you adjust for demographics, Texas is actually somewhere in the middle in the country in terms of educational achievement and a leader in terms of reduced differential between black and white performance.

Point. He's a sponsor for a Constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Counterpoint. He approved the New York law legalizing same-sex marriage on Tenth Amendment grounds. In other words, if he loses the amendment fight, he is content with the result. On tenth amendment grounds.

Point. He supported the teaching of Intelligent Design as a vaild alternative to neo-Darwinian Evolution. Counterpoint. So do I. Conflicting theories are good for the developing mind.


Point. He speaks easily. He doesn't seem to need a teleprompter. He's a natural as opposed to a schooled politican. He actually looks a little like Reagan. Counterpoint. He's NOT Reagan, however much we want him to be. And is that really his hair?

Point. He's been governor of one of the largest states in the union for ten years. The longest continuously serving governor in the country. He's won every kind of election from straight Democrat-Republican to chaotic multiple third-party fiascoes. He doesn't ever seem to lose his cool. Counterpoint. We don't want, can't possibly contemplate, another George W. Bush.

Point. He's true-blue American Dream material. He was a longtime pilot in the U.S. Air Force, not a controversial blueblood National Guard pilot. He's real Texas, not silver spoon Bush-slumming Texas. Counterpoint. No Yale and Harvard but Texas A&M. How could that possibly stack up against Columbia and Harvard?

Point. His record as an executive in government is exactly what you'd expect it to be in a contentious political environment. He's pissed off, at various times, the right AND the left, including positions the right would never like, such as funding the college education of the children of illegals. Counterpoint. He's just another southern pol with a collar that rises a little too high on his neck. Obama will eat him for lunch.

Point. He seems poised to straddle the divide between tea partiers and mainstream Reublicans as no one else can. I'm with you in every important principle but I'm also a pragmatist who knows how to govern. Counterpoint. What chance in the debates does a Texas A&M farmer have against Harvard Law School?

Can he win?

uh. Actually, maybe. What I was looking for when I went through his bio was, "What do you say when the MSM come at you with blood in their eye about THIS (or THAT)?"

I concede I was surprised by the answers. There IS something Reaganesque about him. No matter what you accuse him of, there is always something he can cite in the opposite direction. It's impossible to see him as a bad man, an unreasonable man, an uncompromising man, an ideologue. He's so comfortable in public that he could charm away if not refute the inevitable attacks. Unlike all the studied compliments to Barack Obama's political acumen, Perry has the real gift of defending his principles even as he concedes the occasional defeat.

In short, he has the indispensable quality: He can move to the middle when the primary fight turns into a general election fight. He can. Whatever position you accuse him of, he can cite an instance when he was more moderate and compromising.Which was okay because he was governing not posing. Unlike someone else we could mention. Every supposed scandal in his record has been trumped by Obama's record in the presidency. And, as we all knew from the git-go, being from Texas A&M doesn't make you an idiot. It makes you the favored underdog in an environment of -- what? -- well, the real class warfare: know-nothing know-it-all totalitarians against us ordinary folks. Not a situation the Democrats should really be relishing.

Of course, he has to downplay the Methodist thing. Independents won't like it. To win, he has to be less godly, less Texas, and more born on the farm and steeped in common sense. But how has he gotten this far? He's certainly more spontaneous than Michelle Bachmann, less vilified than Sarah Palin, and possibly incredibly dangerous in a mano a mano confrontation with Barack Obama.

Yes. He CAN win. Whether he will or not depends on whether he's ready for the majors. No one can speak to that with authority.

Open Questions.

Is that his hair? Is that his hair? Is that his hair? If it isn't, prepare yourself for a truly ugly October Surprise.

The New Kid In Town

SON OF A BITCH. The Boss beat me to putting up a Rick Perry post by not even 15 minutes. His point/counterpoint was solid. But I've got a counterpoint that trumps them all.

IF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE... Rick Perry is running officially for really reals now, no backsies. I was indifferent until I read his announcement speech. Have to admit, it made me moist. I'd like to think he's the real deal, the honest-to-Christ President-type presidential candidate. The guy who can actually do what actually needs to be actually done. But there's a niggling doubt I can't shake. Niggle unceasingly, this doubt does.

What I learned in my 20’s traveling the globe as an Air Force pilot, our current president has yet to acknowledge in his 50’s – that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth.

...We don’t see the role of government as a nanny state, and we recognize there is no government money that wasn’t once earned through the sweat and toil of private citizens.

That’s why we object to an Administration that sees its role as spending our children’s inheritance on failed economic theories that have given us record debt and left far too many unemployed, threatening not only our economy, but our security. Our reliance on foreign creditors and sources of energy not only compromises our national sovereignty, but jeopardizes our national future....

We will not sit back and accept our current misery…because a great country requires a better direction…because a renewed nation requires a new president. That’s why, with faith in God, the support of my family, and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I am a candidate for President of the United States.

As governor of Texas I have led based on a few guiding principles. One, don’t spend all the money. Two, keep taxes low and under control. Three, keep regulations fair and predictable. And four, reform the legal system so frivolous lawsuits don’t paralyze employers that are trying to create jobs.

Over ten years, we have followed this recipe of fiscal restraint to produce the strongest economy in the nation. While millions of jobs have been lost over the last decade nationwide, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been added in Texas. Texas is home to one in 12 Americans, and yet since June of 2009, we have created more than four in ten American jobs.

...I will work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your lives as I can.

The sentiment is a thing of beauty. The weasel words are troubling. "As I can." What an out. If Perry does take office, and government gets more, not less, intrusive during his presidency, will he simply shrug and say "Hey, I tried. Sorry you can no longer paint your house the color you want without county, state, AND federal approval." I know we have no real candidates for 2012, and we're at the point where we need to grit our teeth and pick the least useless contender, but I'm afraid I have to insist on a stronger stance than "I'll try my best to get government out of your pocket and off your balls." More along the lines of "I'll get government out of your pocket and off your balls or die trying."

There were no such weasel words in his letter to The Response, last weekend's mass prayer event. Dawkins and the Reactionary God Hate Brigade to the contrary, there's nothing unconstitutional about a public servant having the gall to say God is good. "But what if a Muslim said Allah is good?" Dawkins asks? Still not unconstitutional. Even though the Koran is totally bogus.

However. Straw-clutching notions of constitutionality aside, Perry stands condemned out of his own mouth as incompetent to fly Air Force One.

Fellow Americans [we need to make this phrase the new n-word of politics. Most patronizing shit a politician can say. No one who calls you a "fellow American" thinks of himself as your fellow],

Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.

Some problems are beyond our power to solve

Full stop. This statement alone disqualifies him from becoming top dog of planet earth.

The previous paragraph about religious conviction was unobjectionable. The part about calling upon Jesus to guide us is a sentiment so often repeated it reads like a platitude. You love Jesus, yes, you want His guidance, yes, praise His name, yes. Fine and good. I'm not even mocking conviction as such. I've seen real love for and gratitude to God among my family and friends, and I respect it. Every now and then I express gratitude myself. Not to cover my ass-- Pascal's Wager postulates a tyrant Creator whose sole criterion for gaining paradise is having guessed the secret word-- but real gratitude. If he has pulled me out of fires I couldn't have pulled myself out of, I appreciate it. If he has. I've got no beef with sincere devotion.

But sincere reliance? Unacceptable. And, thankfully, mostly non-existent. When your car hits a patch of black ice and veers towards a tree, you grip the wheel and pump the brake. Your first instinct is not to fold your hands and bow your head. Nor do you feel ashamed afterwards that your first instinct wasn't that of a reverent supplicant.

Funny how it's only for the truly massive crises that we ask God to do our work for us. Ever prayed to get over what you thought was an insurmountable hurdle? Was your prayer answered? Not always? OK. But when they are, how are they? Does the idea to fix your problem come to you, and you then got busy? Was that God, or your own mind? Are you certain? Do circumstances you once thought intractable suddenly... tract? Was that God or just luck? Are you certain?­

No, you're not. You may be convinced-- and that conviction may be correct-- and I mean really correct, as in true and real and historically & factually accurate and everything-- but you're not certain. God, if he exists, is a cagey sumbitch. Never shows his face. Or his hand. (you may be convinced you've seen his hand...) God's intervention is, at best, a maybe. Maybe he'll do something, maybe he won't. Maybe the thing that happened was him, maybe it wasn't. You don't know for certain. Which means you can't rely on God bailing you out. And you know it. May not know you know it, but you know it.

...according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.

I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium [did it have to be Reliant?] with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.

Maybe you'll say that's just lip service to his religious constituents. I don't care. That last sentence is so disgusting, so abhorrent to the American premise that man is competent to govern himself. If he doesn't mean it, he should be ashamed he lacks the courage to denounce it. If he does mean it, he must never sit in the Oval Office. America can't afford a head honcho who flips a coin when it's time to make a tough call. A head honcho who believes it's inappropriate to not flip a coin.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Aaron Burr Gambit

He shot Alexander Hamilton and planned an empire in Mexico.

SEE THE COMMENTS...  Now we have two commenters who find themselves sympathetic to a dissolution of the union. Time for me to say something.

You're about as stupid as stupid gets.

And I'm bringing in more than the two commenters to this discussion. All you Lincoln-haters, you're included too. I'm too old and fed up to pretend you're anything but ninny ideologues.

Without union, we'd be Europe. A bunch of nations who hate each other. Have you ever been to Europe? Tried to do business in Europe? They sneer at our racial problems but their racial problems are far worse and far more intractable. The French and the Italians hate the Germans. The Germans hate the English. Well, everybody hates the English. And the Germans. And the French too. But then there are the Belgians, wom nobody likes, and the Swiss, who are completely awful. Have we gottern around to the licentious, suicidal Scandinavians yet? You get the picture.

When I was working in Europe, the only thing the Europeans could agree on was that Americans had to be in charge. Make no mistake. They loathe and despise us, because they're all so much better than we are, but they're not black so they trust us to pursue success rather than hanging trees. Yugoslavia experienced the heaven of dissolution. That's worked out well for everyone involved. Hatred, as I always say, is its own reward. You get to kill the ones who piss you off the most, and your local government gives you medals for it. Cool.

Dissolution of the union. What a moronic objective. Imagine how quickly it could all break down. Almost along college football conference lines. The SEC goes to war with the Big Ten. The Pac Ten with the Big Eight. It's not hard to dream up irreconcilable differences that cause National Guard troops to mass at the borders.

But who are you? We've all been raised to be Americans first and state chauvinists second. What happens to you and your personal identity when you give that up? Are you equal to the task of suddernly having to recompile your whole personal experience of music, literature, popular culture, and history to a shrunken five-state miniature of what you grew up with? Really?

It's not just national suicide you're contemplating. It's personal suicide. You'll be inevitably smaller, meaner, and nastier. You'll be Europe.

Is that what you xenophobic patriots want? Are you sure?

If you do, fuck you.

Maybe it's easier to be smaller. But consider this. If the Confederate secession had worked, we'd probably be four different nations by now. None of whom would have been able to stop Hitler or Imperial Japan. Do you think you'd be as prosperous as you are today?

I'm guessing not. But maybe poorer and weaker is as much a part of your aspiration as being smaller and dumber. Maybe all the compensation you need is the comfort of keeping the minorities in your little countries in their place, even if the master's place has only one car and one TV set. Maybe what you really want is to find a hole you can crawl into and disappear in a final gasp of too much self-righteousness to live.

If that's so, keep it to yourselves. I don't want to hear about it. Just make sure you pull the hole in after you. Losers.

The Iowa Fracas

I REPEAT: WHO CAN WIN? Yeah. I watched some of it, maybe most of it. Of course, the NFL began its preseason last night (congrats to the GOP for the usual perfect timing), so I might have been the only one watching who isn't an employee of Fox News. Not much happened of substance, so here's my quick and dirty take:

Mitt Romney. Presidential? No. He sounds like a high school principal talking to the PTA. Squeaky clean, eager to please, and dull, dull, dull.

Tim Pawlenty. He was trying to prove he's a decisive, manly man by attacking Michelle Bachmann. Really? Ineffectual and obnoxious. He accused her of having no accomplishments because she was unable to derail Obama administration policies from her one seat among 435 in the House of Representatives. Really? What a jerk.

Michelle Bachmann. Like a witness overcoached by a team of attorneys. But they can't eliminate that deer in the headlights look when she is directly confronted. Everything else about her is too practiced, synthetic. There is nothing in her mien that would ever suggest she could respond to some rude question with a "Hell no!" Why she's an also-ran.

Herman Cain. He's on message all the time. But the United States is not exactly a chain of restaurants to be rehabbed, now is it?

Chris Wallace. The most aggressive candidate of the bunch. Determined to be dismissive and patronizing to all the others. Just one question: Why didn't he have his own podium on the stage if he's running so hard to be Top Dog of the Nation?

New Gingrich. The one who smacked Chris Wallace as he deserved to be smacked. Not for his questions, but for his sanctimony. With his other responses, Newt actually won the debate, but no one noticed and no one cares.

Rick Santorum. Actually likeable and persuasive for a man who has no chance at all of winning.

Jon Huntsman. Who? And more importantly, why?  He didn't begin to answer either question.

Ron Paul. There are two of him. One who makes a fair amount of sense on domestic fiscal issues. And another one who's a raving loon verging on psychotic meltdown whenever the subject of foreign policy comes up. We don't need to worry about Iranian nukes because we wrongly interfered with Iranian politics back in the 1950s. So everything that happens now is just what we deserve. Got it.

Rick Perry. Like Chris Wallace, he didn't have a podium on the stage. Probably the best debate performance we'll be seeing from him. It'll be mostly downhill from here on.

Sarah Palin. Laughing her ass off in her big beautiful bus.

At this rate, Romney will be the nominee. But I'm not sure about the logic of asking the American people to trade a snippy college lecturer for a friendly high school principal. I mean, what we need is a President of the United States.

But I'm sure you all have your own no thoughts on that question.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Capital of
Flyover Country

Your idea of Ohio? Naive, slightly backward, all that "God and guns"
bitterness? Time to get over it. Another example of the B-Man's point.

I'M GUILTY TOO. ATONEMENT. I've made it pretty clear that I'm from New Jersey, and love that fact, which occasionally annoys my friend George, who knows that I'm also from his home state of Ohio and thinks I forget those roots in a riot of eastern chauvinism.

Truth is, I'm also half Ohio. My mother and her parents and ancestors? All Ohioans. In fact, all Ohio State alumns. I still root for them despite the scandal that would make my mother spin in her grave. What better time to proclaim my pride in this particular affiliation? Ohio is far more than the Buckeyes. I can, and will, make the case that it's the true capital of the America that thrives between the two moribund coasts, that its highs and lows are more important to who we really are as a people than the pretend aristocracies of Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

I was reminded of it this past weekend when I watched the induction ceremonies at the NFL Hall of Fame, located in Canton, Ohio. It's not an accident that Ohio owns the Hall of Fame. The clearest point of origin of the NFL as an outgrowth of college football is the ancient franchise of the Cleveland Browns, named after the legendary Ohio State head coach who jumped into the new pro league to command a team named after himself. Paul Brown. Whose team went on to feature the first immortal black superstar of the game, Jimmy Brown, maybe the best player who ever carried the ball.

Which got me to thinking. It's become a cliche of comedy that it's easy to poke fun at Ohio. Cleveland, also called "The Mistake on the Lake," butt of countless jokes because the "cl" sound is just somehow funny. But Cleveland is also the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which probably enshrines more history that kids actually pay attention to than the Smithsonian in Washington.

Then I remembered the most moving aeronautical museum I've ever been to, the one at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, In Dayton, Ohio, where I lived for seven years, and got to see my dad's first glimpse in 40 years of the plane he flew in WWII on the occasion of the dedication of a memorial to his Twelfth Air Force. Why Wright-Pat is better than the Smithsonian. Their exhibits aren't artifacts. They're touchstones of memory.

You see, powered flight is more closely linked with Ohio than any other state. Wilbur and Orville Wright were from, uh, Dayton, even if North Carolina license plates try to steal their accomplishment. But you can't steal an entire tradition. Ohio has always been in the forefront of American aviation. Does the name Eddie Rickenbacker ring a bell? And where did astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong hail from? They helped us win the space race against the Soviets at an incredibly tense moment of U.S. history. Actually there are more astronauts from Ohio than from most other states put together. Something in that flyover blood maybe.

And did you enjoy the late lamented age of American automobiles? If you did, you were riding on tires from Ohio, Akron being the Rubber Capital of the World.

Admire Abraham Lincoln, do you? How far do you think he would have gotten in saving the union if he hadn't had Ulysses Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman (not to mention Philip Sheridan) as his strong right arm? Sherman, ironically, being the closest we've ever had to the Roman hero Cincinnatus, who disdained political power and returned to his fields after a stupendous military victory. It was Sherman who said, "If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve." No indication that he said that in Cincinnati. He just faded away.

That's the thing about Ohio. It just keeps showing up in all the key moments of the American story. Mysteriously, Unassumingly. Where was Harriet Beecher Stowe from (speaking of bitter clinging to God)? One guess.

Which state has produced the most presidents, good or bad? Well, it's either Virginia or Ohio, depending on how you count. The tiebreaker would be William Henry Harrison, born in Virginia. But he moved to Ohio and was serving there when he was elected president. So why would anyone ever move to Ohio from the east coast?

Maybe because Ohio is, despite all the ridicule and sanctimony, a fine place to live. I found it so. I returned to New Jersey because my marsh-rat DNA could no longer survive without the smell of salt water.

But I love Ohio and I miss it. I've rarely seen anything as spectacular as the hot air balloons floating over the Miami Valley on a Sunday afternoon. And it's always been the case that Ohio is stuffed with giants in every discipline and avocation. Here's an edited list of people without whom the United States would not be the United States as we know it. As opposed to, say, Hawaii.
Go through the list. There are lots of people you think hail from somewhere else, like New York and L.A. Do you really want to sneer at the state that produced Clarence Darrow, Ambrose Bierce, And Thomas Edison?

The roots of many things American, quintessentially and gloriously American, are right here, including even Hollywood and (gasp) The New York Times.

As you go through, start subtracting from essentials of your own experience. No Clark Gable? No wicked witch of the west? No Jimmy Brown? No Steven Spielberg? No Star Trek classic scripts? No light bulb. No abolitionists like John Brown and Harriet Beecher Stowe. No Boy Scouts. No supply-side economics. No "Elements of Style." No Fox News. No Branch Rickey, no Cy Young, no Jesse Owens, No victory in the Civil War. Why I gave Obama excellent advice in the 2008 campaign he utterly ignored. Then come tell me your dumb Ohio jokes.

Why this is another sterling example of Brizoni's post on metaphor: The forehead-smackingly obvious thing you can't see because you've seen it your whole life.

Yup. I'm proud to be half Ohio. The more so because George and I both had Ohio forebears in the illustrious Rainbow Division that kicked ass across France in World War I. It's good to be a buckeye.

You better be okay with that too.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Inevitable Consequence
of Socialism

CARL 4. Pop Quiz: Which minority group has suffered the most through the London riots?

a) Blacks
b) Youths
c) Muslims
d) Businessmen

"It's the rich people, the people who have got businesses, and that's why all of this has happened, because of rich people." Burn those words in your brain. Everyone who has a business is to blame. Anyone with enough of their shit together to enjoy some independent success is a target. As long as this remains OK to believe, London will keep happening. All over the world.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Conceptual Chinese Whispers

HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO FOLLOW THAT? Yesterday, the LA Times was good enough to give us an object lesson in tricky media BS. The headline laments Bachmann "attends anti-gay service." Oh, no! Anti-gay? Like Westboro? What the hell was she thinking? Maybe she really is crazy after all!

Handing more ammunition to detractors who say Rep. Michele Bachmann has an aggressive anti-gay agenda, the GOP presidential candidate attended a church service in Iowa on Sunday in which the pastor labeled homosexuality "immoral" and "unnatural."

According to NBC News, Bachmann attended a non-denominational church near Des Moines along with her husband Marcus. She was holding her personal copy of the Bible.

Oh. So when you said "anti-gay," LA Times, you meant "disagrees with homosexuality. Kind of not the same thing, kids. But it is kind of the same thing, if you don't think about it. If you just compare the words of the concepts. Anti-gay... not down with gayness... eh. One's about... the gist of the other. Sort of. Ish.­

The media doesn't just lie. They play what I call Conceptual Chinese Whispers. When I was in school, the game was called Telephone. It has a ton of different names. I'm going with Chinese Whispers, because it's more offensive.

Remember The Telephone Game? You probably played it when you were a kid… Stand in a line, and the first person whispers a phrase to the next. The words are repeated down the line, until the last person then says the phrase out loud. Everyone is amazed when the first guy says “What I said was….”. Hilarity ensues. Laughing at how twisted words become as they travel from mouth, through brain, to ears…

Disagreeing with homosexuality becames "anti-gay," and "anti-gay"'s Westboroan connotations are allowed to stand without comment or clarification.

They pulled very similar crap a few weeks ago, accusing Bachmann of belonging to a crazy anti-Catholic sect who call the Pope "antichrist." You know. Lutherans.

American political reporters aren't known for their vocal support of Roman Catholic teachings. But when they discovered recently that Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was once a Lutheran, they began defending the papacy as if they were the Vatican's own Swiss Guard. They asked, with concern, could Catholics even vote for a former Lutheran?

Ms. Bachmann's former church, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, hasn't followed the mainline Protestant church practice of regularly revising its doctrines. The Lutheran confessions, or statements of faith, are found in the Book of Concord, first published in 1580. They explain the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone. Accordingly, they don't believe the pope's authority comes from God.

This shouldn't be surprising to anyone familiar with the Reformation, but it hit the press hard. "Michele Bachmann leaves church accused of anti-Catholic bias," the Los Angeles Times reported. The Atlantic Monthly: "Michele Bachmann's Church Says the Pope Is the Antichrist." From the Washington Post, we learned that the Lutheran Confessions use "unfortunate wording."

...the unlikely media frenzy over Ms. Bachmann's former church obscured some important points. Accusations of anti-Catholicism notwithstanding, Lutherans (unlike some Protestants) actually affirm that the Roman Catholic Church is part of the Christian church, noting that it retains the preaching of God's word and administration of the sacraments.

Reporters also missed the distinction between individual popes and the papacy. The Protestant Reformers certainly weren't fans of Pope Leo X or other individual popes who abused the office's power. But the Lutheran opposition was and is mainly to the papacy's claim to speak with authority equal to or surpassing the word of God, and to its claim that membership in the Catholic Church is a condition for salvation.

Of course those points were obscured. Duh! Otherwise, whence the cheap shot?

The stronger the media's contempt for the target, the worse the narrative distortion. Remember when Glenn Beck supposedly called those dead Norwegian teens Hitler Youth? The Telegraph's repetition of this fib exposed the Conceptual Chinese Whispers process. You can trace the narrative degradation as it travels from ear to ear, so to speak.

Glenn Beck, the leading Right-wing American broadcaster, has prompted outrage after comparing the teenage victims of the Utoya Island massacre to the Hitler Youth.

Beck said that the Labour party youth camp on the island, where 68 people were murdered, bore "disturbing" similarities to the Nazi party's notorious juvenile wing.

Beck, a multimillionaire darling of the Tea Party movement, said on his nationally-syndicated radio show: "There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that's all about politics? Disturbing."

Paragraph 3 (the actual quote): Beck objects to political indoctrination of youth, citing a historical example. Paragraph 2 (first distillation of inconvenient fact): Beck compares Norwegian youth camp to Hitler Youth. Paragraph 1 (final refinement): Beck compares dead children to Hitler Youth. Purple monkey dishwasher.

Here's what I wonder. Do they do this on purpose? Do they even notice they're lying­ anymore? Or by now have they trained themselves to think in spin?

Who Can Win?

What one old geezer can do.

HATRED. Yesterday, I went out of my way to offend absolutely everybody. Way out of my way. Did I succeed? Are you madder at me or the Democrats? I thought so.

Get used to it, kids. That's their whole agenda. To play us against one another.

Yeah, I'm mad. I'm mad at all the little covens I see on the right, among our own commenters. Tea partiers pissed at Republicans. Intellectual conservatives pissed at tea partiers. Moderates pissed off at weak educational credentials. Paulistas and Randians pissed off at the ideologically impure. Long ago, I did a piece about 24 and "The Mission."

My point is very simple. The Mission this time is the defeat of Barack Obama. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HAVE THIS MAN REELECTED PRESIDENT.

So I'm asking you all to think. Not with your ideology but with your brains. Put aside all your fondest hopes and dreams. We have to get ready to make a huge bet. It's all or nothing. Red or black. Pass or Don't Pass. We win or we lose everything.

Everywhere we turn there are impossible tradeoffs. Romney may have the best chance of appealing to the middle, but he's a spineless mannequin. Palin is probably the best candidate we'd like to see in office, despite her non-Ivy education, but the MSM have absolutely succeeded in demonizing her as a boob with (Horrors!) boobs. Rick Perry is a dumber version of W, whom nobody wants to see back in office. I personally can't se Pawlenty standig up to anybody. Ron Paul is a hectoring, high-pitched old woman. And Christie won't run.

What are we to do?

Talk. Debate. Yell at one another. Yell at me. Work it out.

I've already proposed a radical alternative, which all of you completely ignored: Evan Bayh. Fiscal conservative Democrat from Indiana. I did that to attempt to penetrate the closed covens I see in the Comments.

We need ideas. We need prioritization of the most important objectives. The next election isn't going to be about gay marriage, abortions, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Confederate flag, or even TARP and who voted for it or didn't. It's going to be about the survival (or not) of the United States of America.

This isn't 1964, a Barry Goldwater defeat that leads eventually to Ronald Reagan. There are no moral victories that will mean squat. We have to win.

Or we lose everything.

Get busy.

It's called geezer wisdom if you have to blame it on something. The way everyone seems to have to blame everything on something. Why I'm, uh, this pissed off.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Harry was 66 on the 6th

Why isn't this man smiling?

BRIZONI'S ARITHMETIC WAS OFF. WHAT ELSE IS NEW? While you've all been lecturing me on what Christianity really means (or doesn't), I'll remind you that I'm more on record on these matters than all of you put together. Doesn't mean I'm more right, simply that when there's a claim I haven't explained my positions or my comments, it's an error. The power of Christianity lies in the story, which is a story of who we are and where we're going. To say, for example, that a key element of the story like the betrayal of Judas is not necessary is absurd. Betrayal of God by man is the oldest and most necessary part of the story excepting the subsequent salvation delivered despite such betrayals, which date all the way back to Adam. Denial is the passive sin, betrayal the active one. To one degree or another, we are all guilty of both. Why the experience of Christianity is about character and faith, not intellectualism.

Part of my proof of the primacy of story is that we're still -- despite all our (supposed) intellectual allegiance to rationalism -- replaying the same story with infinite variations all the time. In my Boomer Bible variation, which poses Harry (Willie.2.1-6) as a kind of secular Antichrist who urges living for today and forgetting tomorrow, who could doubt that Harry's 66th birthday might be significant? A time of reckoning that the young Harry airily postponed (in the Book of Willie) to an indefinite future:

1 If you've been following me up to now,
2 And it doesn't really matter if you haven't,
3 Which I'll explain later,
4 I can sum it all up for you pretty neatly this way.
5 nThere isn't any God,
6 At least any God we would recognize as one,
7 oWhich means there isn't any good and evil either,
8 pWhich means that it's okay for Man to be the way he is already,
9 Without a lot of changes,
10 Unless he had a really good chance to survive a lot longer,
11 Which he doesn't anymore,
12 Thanks to qnuclear weapons and rhuman nature and all the slessons of history,
13 aWhich means that there's nothing we can or should try to do about it,
14 bWhich means that we're not responsible for anything at all,
15 Even if we could prove that anyone or anything else exists in the first place,
16 cWhich we can't,
17 Which means that we're all alone on the very brink of extinction,
18 But have the great good fortune to be living in the richest nation in the world,
19 Which is too bad for everyone else,
20 Including all the dOthers,
21 eBut great for us.

1 And why is it so great?
2 Because in a very rich nation like this one, things will run pretty much by themselves for a long long time,
3 And while they will fall apart eventually,
4 fIt will take a long long time for that to happen...

In fact, it's taken till now. I'm not preaching at you now. Just reminding you that false messiahs have been using the exact same story as the one that worked so well the first time. But if the initial story were somehow false, why would there still be mysterious symbolic synchronies in the histories of the fakers? I'm sure you all have your own answers, better in every way than mine. And I'm sure you'll let me know what they are.

As for the rest of you, the ones who don't know everything, turn to the Harriday section of your Boomer Bible Hymnals and sing along with the Stock Market today. I told the Missus last night I was expecting a 500 to 1000 point drop. Let's hope I'm not as good at financial prediction as I am at prophecy.

P.S. Speaking of prophecy, we're a month away from the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It's been said nobody predicted it. But maybe, just maybe, The Boomer Bible did. Take  look at this. Yes, it was discovered after the fact. Kind of like The Bible Code, eh?.... (And if you take the link from "Letter to the Webmaster" in the first paragraph, you'll have a whole new world of 'splaining to do.)

Why I can't disavow hatred.

A REMINDER OF WHAT PUNK IS. Yeah, I admit it. I hate them. I hate them. How are you supposed to react to the adversaries who are willing to resort to every low, dishonest, vicious, even obscene tactic imaginable in order to prevail over a common sense their supposed intelligence should make them amenable to?

I hate Obama's permanent sneer. His constant, indolent air of superiority while he does nothing and berates those who, in his opinion, aren't doing enough or "paying their fair share." All he has left of his vaunted likeability is tailored suits. I hate that he gets away with that. I hate the polls conducted by CBS and the New York Times. Skewed, fraudulent, and propagandistic. I hate the naked lying left-wing politicking of Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, all the Obama czars who systematically circumvent the legislative process, and all the Wall Street Obama cabinet members and advisers who pretend to be on the side of average Americans while they preside over the immolation of the American economy for purely ideological reasons. I hate "liberals' like Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder who pretend to defend the Constitution while they subvert the rule of law at every turn.

Worse than all this, I hate, hate, hate the mass media, including even supposedly conservative outlets like Fox News, Hotair, and the National Review, who keep pretending that the lefties are just somehow mistaken instead of corrupt, totalitarian, and specifically anti-constititional, if not actively evil,  in their intent. I hate Chris Wallace, who's supposed to be a fine newsman but can't stop himself from seeing higher taxes as the only way out of the fiscal morass and tea partiers as ignorant slobs he'd never countenance at his wife's Sunday soupfests.

I hate Steve Doocy, the super-elevated weatherman, who has so over-interpreted his role on Fox & Friends that he gives himself permission to tell his betters -- this morning a fifty year Harvard professor -- that his views are "right," as if we were waiting for smug Steve to deliver such a judgment. I hate Roger Ailes for permitting the nepotism that makes Steve Doocy's son suddenly a foreign correspondent, a Washington correspondent, a Wall Street correspondent -- gah!!! -- as if any of us should take him seriously because he's an earnest young son of an established Fox weatherman. I hate, most of all, that we're not supposed to notice an eager papa's boy can hardly be "fair and balanced." Just how dumb and credulous are WE supposed to be? No. Don't tell me.

I hate George Will for not walking out on the ABC network show where Cokie Roberts described the problem as the Constitution itself. I hate everyone who does not rise and denounce the current administration as a shocking anomaly in the whole history of the U.S. presidency, as the first time the American electorate has been so duped as to propel an incompetent traitor into the most powerful office in the world. I hate business as usual on teevee and the internet. Only Charles Krauthammer shows the constant disgust we should all feel.

I hate all the mainstream Republican candidates who can't bring themselves to stand up and say, "This president is an incompetent phony who has to be driven from office even if I'm not the one who can do it." I hate that they are mousily silent while Obama commits his worst outrages of celebrity non-leadership. All over the airwaves, preening at his Hollywood fundraiders, and nowhere to be found when a decision is required.

I hate Romney and Pawlenty for that. "Comment? Us? We'll be in touch." I hate Bachmann and Palin for not being smart enough to study policy instead of tweeting their "wisdom" off the top of their pretty heads. I hate Rick Perry for being anyone's alternative, a dumb mush-mouthed Texas jock who thinks praying in public is some kind of answer that will appeal to a vast confused electorate. I hate the Republicans for having no one to offer in our time of ultimate need.

I hate the Paulistas and the tea partiers for being so damn fucking dumb that they can't recognize a winning hand but have to transform it into a Japanese act of Bushido. We can't win this moment; therefore, Hitler-like, we're prepared to destroy the entire country to prove that we were right. I hate them more for pretending that the Monroe doctrine is practicable in a post WWI/WWII world whose whole sense of justice, civilization, and financial stability is predicated upon the actions of the United States of America.

I hate the Ayn Rand faithful. Because they're all sixteen years old. Probably permanently.

I hate the fundamentalist Christians who can't put aside their unexamined convictions about the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer in schools and their abiding need to shout the name of Jee-Zus from the rooftops long enough to regain control of the country they claim to love, unless they secretly hate it and hope for its demise because of 3 million abortions.

I hate conservatives, libertarians, and everyone else on the right who insist on their ideological label as something superior to the actual survival of the nation they claim to love. They'd rather be right than alive. You know. The obverse of "Better red than dead."

I hate that we have no plausible candidates. Which means Obama could win a second term and the United States will fall permanently into ruin.

Yes. I hate. You kids think you're punks. You're nothing. You don't know what rage is. Don't start with me, Peter, Brizoni, and company. You're smart, smarmy, clever, and long-winded. I'm the one who cared about all this shit before you were born. Same goes for most of you commenters. Don't preach at me. I just said what most of you have NEVER had the guts to say. The way it will always be.

I don't want to win. I don't want to prove my point. I don't want to embarrass them or run a highly symbolic, ideologically pure campaign. I want to destroy their power forever. I hate everyone who's just posing and pretending that whining about the federal reserve and foreign entanglements will get the job done. I hate everyone who thinks politics is a game.

Are we clear? I am the disfigured man who served as my model for the ultimate rage of St. Nuke:

His platform – I’m loath to say ‘throne’ because its base is iron grate and his workspace features as humble a keyboard as anyone else – has a railing over which he leans to scrutinize all that is occurring below. His eyes, invisible inside that ravaged blue face, take all of us in. Then the unthinkable happens. He notices ME.

“We have a visitor,” he announces. The voice is a kind of squawk, hoarse and powered by effort rather than native volume. Like the rest of him, even his voicebox is damaged. Lord, how is this man even alive?

He’s looking at me. He points. That long scarred white white arm, strong but channelled with wounds whose flesh never filled back in.

“MISTER Boz Baker. The voice of the Boomers. To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?”

It’s a whisper and a bark. How does he do that? I want to run away. To be noticed by this man is to die, of that I’m convinced.

I begin my answer. I have words in mind. I’m in a royal court. I'm no fool. I know what to say and how to say it. But no words escape my mouth.

“Speak up, MISTER Baker.”

There is no more typing. I stare at the vats of blue liquid, at the knot of heavily armed Epissiles grouped underneath the platform of the king, which is what he is, let’s face it. And I try to speak up.

“I have come to pay tribute to the punks of Punk City,” I say. “The newest, the only new voices in American literature.”

Jonathan Pus edges away from me. Not a good sign.

St. Nuke contemplates me from his high-tech perch. For a year that lasted probably fifteen seconds.

“Detain him,” he said at last. “Arrest him. He’s Jack Kerouac with an education. Nothing to interest us. And we certainly don’t need him writing” – and it’s impossible to convey the amount of hateful revulsion his gasping shout packed into this word – “about us.”

Why I thought I should withdraw. Why I'm rethinking that decision now.

Is that "rill" enough for you, Tonto?

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