Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
April 4, 2012 - March 28, 2012

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Another Belated Review:

War Horse

PEOPLE CAN SURPRISE YOU. Someday I'll learn not to pay attention to other reviewers. I wouldn't have watched this movie had not a friend insisted. He wanted my opinion. I agreed but was reluctant because the book on it was that it was a kind of Spielberg scam, simultaneously mawkish and graphically graphic about war. A typical throw in everything but the kitchen sink approach to moviemaking we've learned to expect from Spielberg. There's nothing he won't borrow or steal or reference from older, more classic movies to achieve an effect. Isn't that right?

I can see some of that in War Horse. The reductions are easy: a cynic could call it My Friend Flicka from Flanders Fields or Black Beauty Goes to World War I, and I'm not too young to remember a movie called The Yellow Rolls Royce, in which the part of the horse in War Horse is played by, you guessed it, a yellow Rolls Royce, a prop for multiple world-weary plots. There's also a lyrical David Lean Ryan's Daughter type beginning and a John Ford silhouettes against a bloody sunset ending, as well as a nod to the popular hit Sea Biscuit, the little horse that could outrun the great black stallion.

But references like these are acceptable if the conception is sound, and in this case it is, even if the critics don't know enough to recognize a classic literary form that is absolutely relevant to the subject matter. War Horse is Dickensian, a fairly strict implementation of the picaresque novel, which is always a parable. In the picaresque, we follow a hero who meets a slew of people in the first half, then meets the same people in the second half when all circumstances have changed. By its very stucture it is an artifice, a morality tale, and if it is merciless in the hands of Voltaire, it can also be sentimental in the hands of Dickens without lessening the effects of its moments of cold-blooded reality. Spielberg has chosen the Dickensian route in War Horse, which is an artistic choice I find myself admiring. It was World War I that slaughtered the sense of meaning in literature and the arts, not to mention literary structure that insists on framing human drama in formal terms. It is true inspiration to approach modern nihilism from behind, from the standpoint of people who had human values and never lost them even as the world changed forever.

War Horse is a kind of masterpiece.

Most notable are the Spielberg tropes we don't see. For once, the adolescent hero is not an alienated, ungrateful, self-absorbed brat. The movie is anti-war without being monolithically anti-military. I think he's trying to up his game here. There is something like distance and perspective he is employing as he shows, without any editorial remark, the transition from the 19th century conception of war as officer-led cavalry charges to the malignant hell of trench warfare, rendered more accurately and horrifically than any movie has yet done.

Symbolism is not soap opera, even when it plays on the heart-strings. The horse is the boy and the boy is the horse, a fact driven home by the parallel friendships -- War horse with his black stallion comrade and the human protagonist with his ever-cheerful, loyal friend from home. In both cases, the lesson of valor is that it originates not in bloodlust but love. A kind of valor that moves those who encounter it, even in the most extreme of situations. Men go to war but they are by no means all evil and damned. The innocence of such true valor repeatedly brings out the best in those who encounter it. Charles Dickens would be proud.

Most heart-stopping moment. A 1914 cavalry charge exemplifying the last gasp of chivalric 19th century warfare, which begins with typically gorgeous cinematography (the movie is beautifully shot throughout) and comes to a shattering climax with the unveiling of an endless line of German machine guns. Welcome to the 20th century, for which absolutely everyone will pay dearly.

There's also a lesson so subtle I'm shocked by its presence in a Spielberg film. A grandfather tries to explain to his bellicose granddaughter that there's more than one kind of courage. He cites homing pigeons, who fly over the worst of war on their single-minded mission to go home. He asks her to think what it's like to fly over so much carnage. Does this not also require courage? Against this we have the counter-example of the War Horse, who never learns to jump but only to plow heroically through whatever obstacle he faces, at tremendous cost. Just like his boy and his family back home.

Well, maybe not a lesson so much as a question. One I'd never have thought Spielberg had the wit to ask. Because the answer isn't completely clear.

All done. No spoilers. Watch it or not.

Monday, April 02, 2012

What Liberals Think
Conservatism Is.

NOT PARABLES BUT SCIENCE. You probably haven't given this a lot of thought. We conservatives tend to spend a lot of time exploring the utter thoughtlessness of reflexive liberalism without trying to imagine that they would be able to conceptualize our opposition except as opposition.

Hell, I've argued with enough liberals to know that they approach every conversation like lawyers: "I will oppose the very first assertion you make and do everything in my power to derail the argument into infinitesimalities of fact quibbling, elaborately provocative misdirections, and deliberately incendiary rhetoric." One of the reasons I insist lawyers are always the ruin of once good minds. They learn early on that "If the facts are on your side, argue the facts; argue the law if the law is on your side; and if neither is, then attack the witness." When it comes to politics, they've learned they always have to attack the witness. Their advantage is, they don't have to waste time pussyfooting about facts or law.

Why liberal argument becomes so maliciously ad-hominem so quickly. But who do they think we are and what we believe, granted that they think at all?

As it happens, we got a hint this week. A new study which purports to indicate that conservatives are people who, for one reason or another, aren't thinking deeply.

A research team led by University of Arkansas psychologist Scott Eidelman argues that conservatism — which the researchers identify as “an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo” — may be our default ideology. If we don’t have the time or energy to give a matter sufficient thought, we tend to accept the conservative argument.

“When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient,” the researchers write in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. “These conditions promote conservative ideology.”

Eidelman and his colleagues’ paper will surely outrage many on the left (who will resist the notion of conservatism as somehow natural) and the right (who will take offense to the idea that their ideology is linked to low brainpower). The researchers do their best to preemptively answer such criticism.

“We do not assert that conservatives fail to engage in effortful, deliberate thought,” they insist. “We find that when effortful thought is disengaged, the first step people take tends to be in a conservative direction.”

The researchers describe four studies that provide evidence backing up their thesis. In each case, they used a different method to disrupt the process of deliberation, and found that doing so increased the odds of someone espousing conservative views.

The methodology has already been critiqued, if a bit glibly. People who are distracted, drunk, or otherwise stressed are more "conservative" than people who are thinking in a clear and focused way. Fine. But what does "conservative" mean?

The authors of the study provide the criteria they are testing for, and it's classic misdirection. Let's return to the implicit definition of conservatism presented almost offhandedly in the first paragraph: "an emphasis on personal responsibility, acceptance of hierarchy, and a preference for the status quo.”

Excuse me?

The proffered definition consists of one half-truth and two attributes that apply more to lefties than righties. Therefore, the study is a farce.

But it does inform us of a working liberal definition of conservatism that could help us decode their bizarre political logic. Let's examine their terms:

Personal Responsibility: The liberals are great ones for translating common terms into "code words." Because they use so many code words themselves. To them personal responsibility is the evil antonym of collective responsibility, the right of of the group (or government) to make decisions on behalf of all individuals. Personal responsibility to them means social Darwinism -- let the chips fall where they may -- because conservatives don't care about the weak, the helpless, the homeless, the disadvantaged, and the Lesbian Gay Transgender Alliance. They conveniently forget that personal responsibility is invariably linked in the conservative mind to personal liberty, the freedom we all have to improve our own lot through work, persistence, and ambition. Thus, they fail to see that personal responsibility is not a defensive shield against the demands of the stricken but an optimistic belief in the power individuals have to transcend the circumstances of birth and prejudice to become successful.

Acceptance of Hierarchy: Another problem of definition. Here, the word "hierarchy" is meant by liberals to imply obeisance to institutional traditions like Christianity and the constitution and longstanding cultural traditions such as marriage, free-market capitalist enterprises and their authority vis a vis employees, and the rule of law in local communities. What is missing, of course, is the vast liberal yearning for a ruling hierarchy of government over all individuals and their activities, based on who knows better about how individual resources should be allocated. Meaning them. The ones who know. Which they intend to do by a hierarchy of government so strong, multi-layered, and bureaucratic that no individual can resist it. Or, in other words, by an acceptance of hierarchy they see not in themselves but only in those who resist their superior ability to rule. Who's the conservative here by the study's definition? Who? Really?

Preference for the Status Quo:  A conservative bane? Honestly? uh, no. The status quo is big and ever expanding government. The conservative thrust for more than half a century has been to unseat this status quo and return to the limited government ideal of the constitution and untrammelled personal liberty. Who is it exactly who keeps building the federal edifice, as if that were a mandate of tradition? Who is it who can't face the crippling problem of unpayable unfunded deficits because entitlements are an untouchable bedrock of the, er, "status quo"? Who is it who would rather bankrupt us as a nation than concede a major change in direction is not only necessary but vital to our survival? Conservatives? Or the authors of a study designed to show that conservatives are the brainless clowns who never think about anything? You tell me.

All right. Maybe I should change my tune. Once you factor in the fallacies of the inspirational definition, maybe we should pay attention to the results of this study. It's liberals who are too distracted, divided, and drunk to think things through. Including the authors of the study.

To get to my larger point, liberals have no idea who conservatives are. They don't know what we think or why. They're too used to launching their offense preemptively without bothering to ask what we think and why. They don't read conservative essays. They've never listened to Rush Limbaugh. They don't know Charles Krauthammer, Thomas Sowell, or Jonah Goldberg, all of whom are smarter and more literate than their delusions about themselves.

They just boil it down to terms they can understand. We're racists, reactionaries, rattlesnake-worshipping fundamentalists, dead ends of the evolutionary process they are pre-ordained (despite the godless universe that obviates pre-ordination) to suppress with all the savage sanctimony of the chosen (if there were such a thing as the chosen). And they're nouveau anti-semites because that's the fashion. Cool.

Idiots. Morons. Imbeciles.

BUT. My whole reason for writing this. Next time you get into a debate with a liberal, turn the tables. Demand that they tell you who you are and what it is they think you believe. Then sharpshoot them the way they always try to sharpshoot you. Challenge every assertion, generalization, and slur. Demand sources, proof, evidence, argument, facts. Keep them on point. What Cheney did once doesn't count. WHAT IS IT THEY'RE SO SURE THEY KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Then clean their fucking clocks.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Where I'm From.

Yeah. Vassar boy is from Jersey too. Parts 2 and 3. Of course,
he doesn't know the half of it. Namely, the whole southern half
of the state. But that's Jersey, a mystery even to its own sons.

HOME. I've been thinking about the Jersey map below because it seems oddly relevant in the latest round of liberal attempts to divide Americans in every way possible. New Jersey routinely gets treated to the same kind of contempt the intelligentsia visit on the part of the country between the coasts, say 98 percent, because they don't know much about it. I've travelled a lot, like many Jersey folk, and what I've discovered is that wherever I go in the U.S., we have some of everything I find right here in my home state. We're a microcosm, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, and unique, just like the United States as a whole. Yet we do contrive to live together and for the most part get along. I once urged Barack Obama to take a tour of the country he knows so little about, but now I'd settle for him touring the Garden State. We have it all, north, south, factories, fishermen, farms, rustic hamlets, cities, mountains, wilderness, beaches, lakes, rivers, history, casinos and Chris Crafts, landfills and lavish horse breeding estates, movie stars and mobsters and motorheads, vast riches and terrifying poverty of both the urban and rural kinds, and hundreds of solid old middle class neighborhoods featuring ethnic combinations galore.

I was going to sit on this perception for a while, but then I happened on Anthony Bourdain's wry return to his place of origin, and I took it as a sign. Thanks, Tony.

Here's Jersey:

In case you're wondering, I'm from the part labelled "Pretty Much Alabama." But I've been to all the other parts too. They're at most an hour and a half away via the Turnpike. Which I live below the bottom of. In the deep south of what everyone assumes is a blue state. It's every state, all wrapped up in one. Why so many of the Jersey born flee and then ultimately return.

The way, I'm sure, many are presently locked into a love-hate relationship with the whole country. It's awful. It's unbearable. It's too deep in our souls to root out. And it's home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Liberals I Want to Die.

. Well... none of them. I wish I could. It feels like weakness that I can't.

I don't hate. I despise and loathe and contemn. I want them to have that piercing moment when they realize how utterly wrong they've always been about everything. I want to be there when the truth sinks in. Is that even meaner than wanting to see them dead? So be it.

Here's my list. I'm not doing links today. But you can find them easily enough for yourselves. Go to Youtube. Where were we? My list:

Bob Beckel. I find it hard to watch the new Fox News hit "The Five" because the conservatives on set trivialize their own convictions by ostentatiously liking Bob Beckel, who never retreats from his own hard-line left talking points. He's a sour, corrupt old pol who takes advantage of his kinder colleagues like Dana Perino and Andrea Tantaros. Even Eric Blair laughs and laughs at Beckel's constant nastiness. Only Greg Gutfeld knows that Beckel is actually evil. Which makes me want to throw up. Except that Gutfeld does know. His eyebrows say it all. Kimberly Guilfoyle also knows he's a disgusting slimeball. She writhes away from him in her chair. Hot women know things good girls don't. T'was ever so.

Chris Matthews. More evil. Holy Cross was always full of Jesuit assholes who were convinced they were twice as smart as they were. The only good argument for the existence of Harvard I've found. Crushing Holy Cross pseudo-intellectuals. They're just not too bright.

Keith Olbermann. Have you ever seen those mysterious John Deere harvester vehicles that suck stuff up and grind it into bales? Pretend I didn't ask that. I just want one week as his copy editor. Well, uh, same thing. Idiot.

Ed Schultz. An exception. I want him dead. No, I don't. I'm too good for that. Nah. I want him dead. No, I don't. You know.

Harry Reid. Have you seen the painting called American Gothic? I want him married to that woman for life with no possibility of parole.

Nancy Pelosi. I want her to look in the mirror and know that Snow White is Sarah Palin, the fairest of them all.

Maxine Waters. Courtesy of Chris Rock, I want her to realize that she is suddenly all alone at 3 am on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Barbara Boxer. Somebody should steal her shopping cart. And maybe fumigate her hairdo. Lice, you know. An affliction of the homeless and mindless.

Barbara Mikulski. Mister Toad was more charming. In her case, no rescue by Mole and Rat is indicated.

Rachel Maddow. Smartest journalist alive, Letterman says. Wouldn't it be nice if he elaborated on this point in his upstairs lair, with all the Sybian machines at his disposal? Of course it wouldn't. But I bet she'd find a way to explain it away. What with Letterman being so liberal and all.

Bill Maher. Total shithead. I don't want him dead. I want him to experience a black mamba bite. Something to make him contemplate the eternal. And the antivenin needle is in the hands of a dumb twat. (Like maybe Steve Irwin's widow.)

Stephen Colbert. What constitutes poetic justice for a one trick pony? Maybe unsmiling scorn.

Jon Stewart. Simple. I want him in Tel Aviv with his mother when Iran finally launches its nuclear attack on Israel. I'm sure he'll find the experience intensely embarrassing for Republicans. Putz.

I changed my mind. I want them all to die. Of cancer. Horribly. Screaming. Half as much as they want Cheney to die screaming. Not really. You know. I want them to wake up. Impossible as that is for pea-brained, soul-shrunken fools. But I can dream, can't I?

P.S. Like many others, apparently, I have been concerned about the state of Shepard Smith's health. I discovered a comment thread at the Free Republic, whose denizens decidedly don't like Mr. Smith. But I was struck by the fact that they all wished him a return to health rather than death. Compare this to lib reactions to the life-and-death situations of Cheney, Ingraham, Snow, and Breitbart.

Those Smart Lefty Celebrities

Matt Damon actually went to Harvard for a few weeks.

CLASS. This is dumb, I admit it. When you do all the look-ups you just shake your head and tell yourself, "I know, I know, I know, why am I wasting valuable time on this?" But then you realize nobody else has put all this together in one place before, and so maybe there's some value in seeing the whole empty bag in its awesome emptiness.

Herewith, the academic qualifications of celebrities who have declared George Bush, Sarah Palin, and all the current Republican candidates for president too stupid to merit any respect whatever. Celebrities who think we should listen to their views on politics because they have views on politics. According to Wikipedia:

Sean Penn. HS graduate. (His dad was a member of the American Communist Party. You'd think dad would have wanted his son to get an education.)

Tom Hanks. College dropout.

George Clooney.  College dropout.

Alec Baldwin. NYU, B.F.A. (That's a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Good for him.)

Natalie Maines. College dropout.

Bruce Springsteen. Community college dropout.

Steven Spielberg. College dropout (degree finally completed in 2002).

James Cameron.  Junior college dropout.

Matt Damon.  College dropout (Harvard).

Susan Sarandon. Drama degree, Catholic University.

Madonna. Dropout from U. Of Michigan. Dance.

Gwyneth Paltrow. College dropout, UCSB.

Martin Sheen.  HS graduate.

Charlie Sheen.  HS dropout.

Leonardo Dicaprio. HS graduate.

Rosie O'Donnell. College dropout.

Roseanne Barr. No education cited.

Joy Behar. Taught school, so must have graduated from some college her bio does not name.

Whoopi Goldberg. No education cited.

Angelina Jolie. No college enrollment.

Meryl Streep.  B.A., Vassar, M.F.A., Yale.

Jane Fonda. College dropout, Vassar.

Michael Moore. U. Of Michigan-Flint. No claim of degree.

I'm really not trying to play a snob game here. But think about it. The MSM journalists are happy to interview them as if their political views are important. Journalists. Meaning people who ask questions of those who are more influential and probably more knowing than they are. With all due deference.

The ones cited here are advocates for Obama. We, and the MSM, should take them seriously WHY?

Yes, they've become financial successes. Particular manifestations of the American Dream.  But who are they to tell us about politics? People who spend their lives pretending they're heroes, symbols of humanity, and others of a stature they imitate in manufactured sets or in front of blue screens without ever experiencing the lives they read from lines written by another (or making up same). And there are always stunt people to handle the heavy lifting. But there are no stunt thinkers alas.

Poseurs and fakers all of them in terms of real world issues. The very definition of their trade. They're A-List celebrities who own mansions and servants galore. What does anything in their lives have to do with anything in ours?

Two points I'd like to make.

Note how many of the stars on the list are second generation actors or the progeny of Hollywood families -- Sean Penn, George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Charlie Sheen, Jane Fonda. Not one of these silver spoon kids has a college degree. Not one. All that money and they couldn't muster the grit to learn some history, science, math, and economics and pass tests on these basics of western civilization like everyone else. No. They were above all that from the git-go.

Second point. Yes, it's possible to be a gifted dropout. Orson Welles dropped out of Harvard before his first class. And I would never derogate the achievements or capacity for learning of people who worked their way up without formal education. But is that really what we're looking at here?

No. These are mostly people who have entries at the Smoking Gun for the exorbitant demands they make on tour or on set. They're not sitting around reading books and soaking up culture because they so love learning. They're playing the part of "being important" because their educational credentials demonstrate they aren't intellectual heavyweights, and it just kills them to be so much smaller than their public image suggests they ought to be.

They want to be John Lennon, iconic like him but not killed like him.

And they'll contribute millions of dollars and even the last half of the careers they might have had to get there. Pitiful.

But not as pitiful as Meryl Streep. Who never had a self to begin with and is hunting, hunting, hunting some long gone male's approval. Shudder.

There's another celebrity category exemplified by the truly well educated who have a real hard-on against America for other reasons. Samuel Jackson and Spike Lee, for example, are graduates of Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King and, it must be said, Herman Cain. I take them more seriously than the list above, but narcissism is no respecter of race anymore than it's a respecter of couch-casted starlets. Stupid is as stupid does.

And the question remains: Why should any of us take seriously anything these spoiled millionaires have to say about how we should live our lives? They're entitled, as we all are, to personal opinions, but I've worked directly with corporate CEOs without ever once being tempted to ask them for advice about how to vote in the next election. I trust myself to answer those questions for myself. Is that such a strange conviction for an American?

I haven't been sulking.
I've been PLAYING.....

Mildly NSFW. I was just seeing how the app worked. It works good.

AMAZING. No, I haven't joined the Doomsday Preppers. The exact opposite, in fact. My wonderful wife gave me an early Easter present in the form of an iPad. Wow. (I gave her a 1930s drawing of a Scottish deerhound. Maybe I'm not keeping up as well with the march of time as I thought. But she told me it's the thought that counts. I'm going with that.)

Photo taken with my iPad. Wanna see it in 3D? There's a
movie too. Still working on the soundtrack. P-L-A-Y-ing.

The only way to learn a new high-tech device is to play with it. The only way to stop learning it is to get smacked in the head with a skillet in Hour 72 or thereabouts. So I'm posting again now that the aspirin has kicked in.

I had no idea. The two new posts below this one were both done on the iPad's virtual keyboard, which I can actually type on. Not only that, it gives you the illusion that you're handwriting your copy on a legal pad. I haven't done that for real in more than 30 years.

My only point being, I'm not sulking. I'm, what's the word?, ebullient. In fact, I'm feeling so good I'm going to a buy a ticket for the Mega-Millions Lottery. Like many of you, probably, I got discouraged about my chances when the statisticians started comparing the odds of winning to getting struck by lightning while being attacked by a great white shark. But this little story turned my head right around:

Man claims attack by lion, saved by a bear

A Paradise man says he is lucky to be alive after an attack by a mountain lion Monday morning.

Robert Biggs, 69, often hikes in the Bean Soup Flat area, which is about a mile and a half above Whisky Flats. He came across a mother bear, a yearling and a newborn, which were about 40 feet from where he was standing.

After watching the bear family for a few minutes he decided to leave them be and turned to walk back up the trail. As he turned, a mountain lion pounced on him grabbing hold of his backpack with all four paws.

"They usually grab hold of your head with all four paws, but my backpack was up above my head and (the mountain lion) grabbed it instead," Biggs said. "It must have been stalking the little bear, but it was on me in seconds."

He wrestled with the cat, striking it in the head with a rock pick. The cat screamed when it was hit with the pick, but didn't let go, Biggs said. Before he knew it, the mother bear came from behind and pounced on the cat, tearing its grip from the backpack.

The bear and the cat battled for about 15 seconds, Biggs said, until the cat finally ran away. The bear went on its way as well. Biggs ended up with bite marks, scratches and bruises to his arm, but was otherwise uninjured.

Biggs, a naturist, has hiked that same trail several times and has seen the mother bear and its cub last spring and fall. He said the encounters with the bears were friendly.

"(The cub) stood up on its hind legs and put its paws up and i got to play patty-cake with it," he said.

The patty-cake game was simply touching the bottom of its paw with his open palm, more like a high-five. He said the mother watched the two play and her only reaction was to call the cub back. Biggs said he is certain that the mother that saved him during the mountain lion attack is the same bear he has seen in that area before.

"They're pretty territorial," he said, adding that he recognized some of the bear's markings. Though his arm was pretty cut up, he chose not to go to the doctor, a move that concerned his wife Suzanne.

"There were puncture wounds and skin was hanging off, and you don't know what's in their paws," she said.

Biggs said he wasn't worried because he had a tetanus shot a couple of years ago. Biggs simply put peroxide on his wounds and expects that will be enough.

As for lessons learned, Suzanne quipped, "He doesn't learn."

Biggs just chuckled at the comment. The incident isn't going to stop him from enjoying the Ridge's wildlife.

What are the odds of that, you statisticians?

I'm getting a ticket and I'm going to WIN. Some of us never learn. Which might be a good thing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Skyscraper Delusion

Finding the perfect graphic... Priceless!

ZUT ALORS. To be honest, I started out today looking for some graphic, hopefully an old painting, of Napoleon sitting on his famous log at Waterloo, paralyzed and nearly catatonic while the battle slipped from his grasp. Sometimes it's all too much to deal with, even for us know-it-alls.

There's no shortage of news and all of it is of a piece, frightening outrages being reconfigured on the fly by an utterly corrupt mass media establishment in hopes that none of the rest of us, the real 99 percent, will notice how much is at stake and how thoroughly amoral the 24/7 media game has become.

The current health care debate before the Supreme Court is literally about whether the constitution lives or dies. If the federal government can require us to enter into a business contract because we are alive, there are no more limitations on what the federal government can do to rule our lives. It's that simple. Yet the reporting on it isn't about the critical philosophical conflict but more like ESPN coverage of, say, an NCAA basketball tournament -- who's up, who's down, whose bracket is still looking good. Judge Anthony Kennedy is suddenly the SCOTUS version of Brittney Griner, the mysterious hybrid who will single-handedly decide the whole outcome without any larger questions being asked. Because that would be impolite or incorrect. All that matters is the question, "What will he do in the big game?"

The president whispers of a deal hinting at concessions on a vital matter of U.S. national security to the figurehead president of a hostile foreign power, and there's nothing to see here according to the MSM. Move along. Soaring gas prices? Which were used to tattoo George W. Bush as part of the oilman conspiracy theory of righty politics? Forget all that. The new truth: there's nothing a president can do about gas prices. Move along.

Just a couple weeks after the entire liberal establishment assaulted Rush Limbaugh for using the word slut and embarked on attempts to dismantle the first amendment for so-called "hate" speech from the right, that same liberal establishment blithely becomes a lynch mob inciting vigilante violence against a private citizen -- an Hispanic, no less, suddenly deemed "white" by selfsame media -- who has not yet been convicted let alone charged with any crime. But all sides praise the president for interjecting his private emotional affiliation into what could become a legal case requiring a trial by unbiased (?) jury? Go figure. A Hollywood star publishes the home address of what he believes (erroneously) to be the killer's house, just as some years ago tolerant liberals published satellite photos of Michelle Malkin's house, wanting their working class factotums to pay her a rapacious visit. In between hysterical imprecations about white hate, we are also treated to the usual disgusting responses to news of a conservative with a health problem. This time it's Dick Cheney who should die rather than receive a heart transplant, just as it was once Laura Ingraham who should die from her cancer, and Tony Snow who was delightfully dead of his cancer. But hate is purely the province of the right. Right.

The unifying thread here is that the news is only supposed to be what we are told it is. What's stupefyingly impossible to comprehend is why people who are supposed to be so smart think they can get away with such leviathan hypocrisies, cover-ups, and flat-out lies.

Where does such arrogant complacency originate and how is it sustained even in the face of what to any intelligent person has to be interpreted as a sense of superiority totally at odds with the national tradition of equality they claim to represent?

I'm thinking the answer isn't strictly intellectual, social, or philosophical. It's physical. A deeply engrained sense impression so powerful it underlies the conscious mind like Freud's concept of the id. And is therefore invulnerable to self examination. It's just the basal topology of the soul, the unknown source of all metaphor and the physics of personal reality.

Overwhelmingly, the media in all its forms -- books, magazines, newspapers of national scope, television networks and their news organizations, advertising, sports journalism, the theater, radio, and even a significant chunk of the business end of Hollywood -- is headquartered in New York City.

New York City. Land of skyscrapers. I've spent a fair amount of time in New York on business. It's easy to see why simplistic notions such as Jon Edwards's Two Americas are so easily accepted there. There's the world of the street, with its small retail establishments, restaurants there to serve, loutish cabdrivers, foul-mouthed beat cops, and the constant horde of jostling others one encounters as soon as one departs the sanctums of office buildings, grand hotels, and luxurious apartment complexes.

The cognoscenti speak of "the herd" as if it were a rural reference. But there is no more evocative sense of the term to be experienced than in New York City at lunchtime. Everyone in Manhattan has exactly the same lunch hour, from noon to one pm. Suddenly everyone is on the sidewalk hurrying toward satisfying the most basic of appetites.

The escape from this herd is return to the skyscraper, through its doormen, brass revolving doors and marble launching pads for the elevators that climb to the sky. From the office, from the penthouse, from the carpeted realms of the affluent, the herd in the street is reduced to ants, inconsequential, muffled, as conceptually insignificant as they are tiny to the naked eye.

The superiority of such elites is about physical altitude. They are literally above the fray, in domains where the commoners are either barred or know their place. This isn't a function of capitalism; it's a function of relative location and perspective.

What matters is what happens in the sky. Everything else is smell, vulgarity, noise, ugliness, and a kind of roiling futility not unlike human hamsters endlessly running in their wheels, all headed nowhere unless the sky people deign to bestow their doublethink compassion.

The worst part of the delusion is that because they daily encounter the lunchtime herd, they think they know everything important about the herd. They think they are plugged in to the great human reality of New York and the country at large. Which is a lie and a joke. They think there is some kind of divorcement between their own meaningful lives and the hamsters in the herd. At some primeval level, they have forgotten or never learned that they need the herd more than the herd needs them. And that their own self-proclaimed wisdom, whatever intrinsic merits it might possess, would be helpless and doomed without the hamsters who build the skyscrapers, keep them running, fix the elevators, carpet their palatial digs, answer their phones, make them coffee, fix the toilets, and buy (or don't) the mostly sky-minded products they sell.

Which brings me to the graphic above. A perfect illustration of the hubris and vulnerability of the skyscraper people. Note the date: October 26, 1929. Two days after Black Tuesday, the day of the great crash. The New Yorker had already been put to bed before the stock market fell. Thus, we have a snapshot of how the elites regarded themselves in relation to their city on the very brink of disaster.

How easy it is to understand that they would regard themselves as the answer to the calamity that had occurred. That they would see it as an opportunity to grab more power for themselves through the New Deal and its many naked assaults on the constitution, because the herd was stampeding and only the sky people could see, from their lofty pinnacles, what needed to be done, regardless of any archaic promises that had been made by the founders to "we the people." Exactly where we are today. "Sure, the economy sucks. But the president cares. Listen to his fireside chats. He's on our side against the evil others."

The laughable irony of the phony Occupy Wall Street shenanigans. It's all misdirection, carefully orchestrated by the elites in another part of town. And that's their 2012 campaign strategy by the way. Convince the herd that there's a skyscraper problem here and not anywhere else.

Maybe the tea parties should steal a page from this carefully written script, rename themselves "Occupy the Skyscrapers" (and the Ivory Towers, and the Federal Palaces, and the PC Police Fortresses... all pretty much the same thing, a matter of distance, ID cards, and well trained gatekeepers). Bring the sky people back down to earth and separate them, once and for all, from their delusions of grandeur.

Dark Days
I'd tell you it's all going to be okay. If I could.

Stay tuned.

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