Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 14, 2012 - May 7, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Commencement Address

But love
Yippee-kai-yay, mother f***ers.

LYING TO THE KIDS. It's the season of banal commencement speeches. Prompted me to think what I would say if, perish the thought, anyone asked me. So I wrote a speech. About 30 minutes worth. I know you believe I don't care who I offend or what anybody thinks, but I ran my draft post past two people whose opinion I respect. Neither liked it, yet neither would actually tell me it sucked. Too dark, though neither would say it in so many words. Just polite hints. One thought it should be posted anyway, the other hedged. I value their opinions so much that I'm only going to post the setup. Make of it what you will. I won't post the rest of it unless people are interested. Responding to the setup with your own thoughts doesn't count as voting to see mine. As I reread it, they're right. Too dark. But love of darkness (i.e., libertarian joie de Robespierre ecstatique) doesn't count as a vote for seeing it. Only intelligent curiosity counts. (f you're nice about it, you can ask what I said about individual items...) Otherwise, you get to make the rest of the speech up for yourselves.

I'm going to break a bunch of rules today, but breaking rules is something you know all about. You're the future of our nation. You're ready for the next step. You're well prepared to embark on the adult phase of your lives and move into leadership positions in every realm that will make us all proud. I've been observing you throughout your lives so far, and the only way I can think to show you how impressed I am by your unique level of maturity, vision, and moral fiber is to remind you of a very few things the great new millennial generation may have missed along the way. Catch up on these little details and you'll succeed in all your loftiest ambitions to change and improve the sorry world we've bequeathed to you.

Actually, this is the first rule I'm breaking. Commencement addresses are supposed to hit on between three and ten points of emphasis, because it's a well known fact that even the most brilliant audiences can't process more than between three and ten bullet points. But I'm going to do you the honor of listing more than 20 points. Because you are all so f***ing smart. Oops. Another rule broken. Maybe I have your f***ing attention now. Here goes.
Say please and thank you.

Don't leave your toys all over the floor.

Clean your room.

When grownups are talking, be quiet and listen.

The world doesn't revolve around you.

Money doesn't grow on trees.

Do your chores or there will be no allowance.

Don't talk with your mouth full.

Clean your plate or there's no dessert.

Don't jump on the bed.

If you tell a lie, I'll wash your mouth out with soap.

MomSpeak: Wait till your father gets home.

DadSpeak: I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.

You're not too old to get a spanking.

Never hit a girl.

Don't hit your brother. He knows he's not allowed to hit you back.

Quit crying. I don't care who started it.

I shouldn't have to tell you to do your homework.

If somebody's bullying you, punch him in the nose. Bullies are all cowards.

Make yourself a sandwich.

Cut your own damn meat. And don't saw at it like a baby. Cut it cleanly.

Stand on your own two feet.

Just because everybody else wants to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge doesn't mean you have to.

Of course we love you. That doesn't mean we can't be disappointed in you.

Always be fair. Especially to people you don't like or approve of for any reason.

You're not leaving the house dressed like that. Period.

You're never too old to be spanked.

Then I proceed to explain why I think this list is important. I'm sure you have your own ideas why or why not. You're disqualified from offering an opinion if any woman handled your utensil needs beyond stab with a fork and jam in your mouth after puberty.

otoh, the more I see the bald list, the more I like the idea of standing up before a graduating class, reciting it, and sitting down again. Once a punk, always a punk.

ADDENDUM: As promised, here are specifics, beginning with Apoth's nonspecific but relevant question about why my treatment of "Erma Bombeck" platitudes might be dark:

I know you're not all good at math, in this case, counting. I understand. It's 27 points. Which is a magic number to the juvenile cognoscenti. It's the number of years you have to survive to outlive Joplin, Morrison, Cobain, and innumerable other heroes of youth culture. Which, I believe, may be the modern measure of when a person can be considered to be an adult. I mean, there are third grade jokes -- pull my finger -- and sixth grade jokes, which are mostly about farting, and ninth grade jokes, which are mostly about boobs, and freshman college jokes, which are mostly about binge drinking and casual sex, and college graduate jokes, which are mostly, well, you. People who in previous generations were rightly assumed to be incipient adults ready for responsibility and worthy of trust are now puffed up hobbits -- I know you know your fantasy lit better than other book length bores, which means you know the teen years of hobbits are followed by the tweens, and adulthood arrives closer to 30. Because the biggest rule I'm going to break is to tell you you're not ready for what's to come. No matter how smart and ambitious and confident you are, your commencement is the edge of a cliff. And I'm not speaking merely of the Obama economy.

A lot of you aren't going to make adulthood at all. Some of you, maybe even many of you, are already irretrievably lost. In the old days, when there were things like World War II, with everybody's fate in the balance, both volunteer and drafted recruits were introduced to the military by an officer who said, "Put your right hand on the left shoulder of the person next you." Which I will ask you to do now. I mean it. DO IT. Then he would say, "The person you're touching may not survive the challenge we face." And I am saying that to you right now as well. To demonstrate, I'll zip through the points I listed before. Believe me. I know your attention spans. This will go fast. The list consists of things parents used to teach their children and no longer do, not for a long long while. They were a survival code. Without it, you're more or less helpless prey for what awaits you in the world you're entering today.

Lake asked about these items in particular:

I shouldn't have to tell you to do your homework. I know I'm way too late on this one. And if you ever did your homework, you plagiarized it from the Internet. If your concluding argument is a YouTube link, you're already destined to be a ward of the state.

If somebody's bullying you, punch him in the nose. Bullies are all cowards. Yeah. Who the hell remembers real fathers? They were absolutely right about this. Every guy who ever became a man knows that a victim who stood up to a bully gained allies thereby, even if he lost the fight. Standing up is the important thing. The life and death thing. Nobody else can do that for you.

You're not leaving the house dressed like that. Period. Horribly enough, the one old parental cliche that turned out to be more important than all the implicitly moral stuff. And the one parents forgot most completely as well. Raise your hands: How many of you have tattoos? How many tramp stamps, girls? Meaning, how many of you 21st century feminists have such withered self esteem that you feel obliged to provide supplementary reading matter to the guy who's f***ing you from behind, as if he were reading the Sporting News on the toilet? How many have already published your tattoos on Facebook? And don't think you guys are off the hook. When you're bidding for partnership at the Wall Street law firm of Me, Myself & Obama in 2026, are you going to be hiding behind towels in the squash court locker room the same way your sister will be ordering custom bridal gowns to hide the "Pulled a Train at Yale" ink on her right shoulder and forearm?

dj moore wants to see these:

Never hit a girl. The sexes aren't the same. This rule is a symbol for a much deeper philosophical, even metaphysical, point: Never hit a girl. If you haven't learned it yet, you are doomed, whether you know it or not.

Don't hit your brother. He knows he's not allowed to hit you back. The flipside. Women have been hitting men for a generation in the full expectation that they won't hit back. The danger is not that they will ever hit you back. It is that they will cease to admire and desire you, and see you as arrogant pretenders to a cultural, intellectual, and artistic authority there's no sign you've ever earned. Worst case? While you're celebrating your friendly, fashionista gay allies, all men could go gay on you. Don't forget that the purest form of the gay male (according to Camille Paglia, no less) is someone who regards women, all persiflage aside, as negligible.

I think that's it for now.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why it's not over.

POLLS DON'T MATTER... MUCH. In the aftermath of the primaries we seem to have our own depressed and depressing corps of defeatists, who agree that it's all over for the United States and disagree only about who knew it first. I have to pull rank here. I knew it in 1964 when LBJ crushed Goldwater. I knew it again in the late 1970s when Carter undermined an already struggling economy and made us the laughingstock of the world with his brain-dead foreign policy. And I knew it in 2008 when Obama got elected in a hallucinatory haze of uncritical wishful thinking by the mass media, pundits on both sides of the aisle, and uneducated kids. Which is why I understand what the mission is this year:

This time -- 2012 -- all we can do is stanch the bleeding. Defeat Obama. None of our candidates is any good. No matter which one you back, the only consistent credential is "not Obama." I didn't make that state of affairs. It just is.

The good news is that there are potential reformers in the wings. People who can do what needs doing. Bobby Jindal. Marco Rubio. Sarah Palin. Chris Christie. Paul Ryan. Eric Cantor. And (if you must) Rand Paul. But they're not ready yet. They need experience, they need to grow into the role we will ask them to play. They are the future. Note that they're not repeats of the past. Only one fat old white guy among them. The others include an Indian, an Hispanic, a woman, and a semi-orthodox Jew, as well as a young midwestern white guy and the obligatory crazy white guy.

I'm not telling you who to back in that future race. The basis for my hope -- as opposed to all of you in the "it's fucking over" crowd -- is that there are no young Democrats boasting equivalent credentials. In other words, if we can survive the current crisis, we can absolutely save the country we love.

Four more years. Time for the Millennials to learn something about life, others, and the need for balls. Unlike most of my critics, I'm not talking End of the World here. I'm talking triage

I admit there's a certain kind of masochistic and lachrymose fun in being the smart guy who's able to quietly tick off the signposts of doom on his own private checklist. We've got  our own little punk commenter band here that's enjoying the hell out of hopelessness.

Marvin + Verloc + Helk + Peregrine John = Unassailable Truth.
Coming soon to a grim, gray, and unappetizing venue near you!

Without being a Pollyanna, I think the Marvin act is a little over the top. Contrary to the way we individually and brilliantly wanted things to go, things may be arranging themselves better than our seer-level genius could have anticipated. Here's what I predicted back in November 2009.

You see, thanks to the amount of time I've spent studying Criminal Minds, I've been able to come up with a definitive profile of the next president of the United States, the chief feature of which is that he will bear no resemblance to Barack Obama. Things we can say for sure.

-- He won't be an historical first of any kind, like, say, a woman
-- His clothes won't quite fit.
-- He won't be a dynamic, galvanizing, or particularly moving speaker.
-- If he schedules a primetime press conference, none of the networks will cover it.
-- He'll win presidential debates by causing the audience to turn off the television out of boredom.
-- His wife won't wear jeans shorts or designer belts five inches wide.
-- He won't appear on any magazine covers or adoring YouTube videos.
-- He won't cause any network newsmen to get homoerotic leg twitches.
-- He won't cause any network newswomen to get hot and bothered on Air Force One.
-- He won't be young.
-- He won't be good looking.
-- He won't be charming.
-- He won't be sexy.
-- He won't be even remotely glib, folksy, or clever.
-- He won't have different accents for different audiences.
-- He'll spend a lot of time off-camera in the White House. Working.
-- He won't be apologetic about anything American, at home or abroad.
-- We'll be okay with that.
-- He'll have actual experience in government, foreign policy, and executive roles.
-- He'll love the United States more than himself.
-- He'll be a ruthless bastard about pursuing American interests abroad.
-- He'll see wars as opportunities for victory, not occasions for PR bonanzas in world opinion.
-- He'll be elected BECAUSE he is boring, experienced, competent, and predictable. And boring.

By 2012, the entire country will be yammering for an old-fashioned, even soporific president. Where can we find someone like Chester A. Arthur, Millard Fillmore, James K. Polk, Benjamin Harrison, or Martin Van Buren? Unfortunately, almost all Republicans flunk the test. Romney is good looking if not sexy. Huckabee is charming if nothing else. Giuliani and Thompson just love those cameras. Palin is completely out of the question.  

And, yes, I was wrong about some of the conclusions I drew from my list. I excluded Romney because he was too good looking (forgot that good looking doesn't matter if you're not sexy). There's also the flip-flopping thing and not much documented experience in foreign affairs. But Romney it is, and though I don't love him as a candidate, I can see why he won. It wasn't all about money. Although he did have money, which is important in defeating Obama, let's face it.

I'm also reaching the conclusion that he's the right candidate for this election year. As I said in March...

Our presidential candidates are all dumb in the same way. They never seem to fully comprehend the danger of a political class that outwits them at every turn and always makes them look like idiots. Which they are.

They're our best hope. Don't you get that? You're all pissed off because Gingrich is so smart he keeps sounding like he's a charter member of the political class. And everybody else has been a flavor of the month -- Cain, Perry, Bachmann, and now Santorum -- all dumb as rocks. Except Romney. Who's maybe not as dumb as he is clueless. As if he thinks the presidency is the kind of national CEO Calvin Coolidge saw it as and flatly fails to understand the need for vision, fiery rhetoric and something called charisma. He thinks we're hiring a federal accountant, and accountants are supposed to be meticulously polite.

If you want smaller, more limited government, wouldn't you actually prefer the dumb ones? Balance the books, you dummies. Leave vision to the private sector. We can handle dreams of the future on our own. They don't suffer from Napoleonic fantasies. They don't have the gravitas for it. And maybe they have the humble decency not to dream in that particular direction.

I anticipated how vicious this presidential campaign is going to get, which we've all had a taste of this week. It's only May and the Obama troops are already digging up dirt from Romney's high school years? Actually, I didn't anticipate it adequately. I couldn't imagine how low they'd go so fast.

I have a very clear vision of what the 2012 presidential campaign will be like. It will be ugliness incarnate. Obama cannot run on his record. He will run instead the dirtiest campaign since Harry Truman's whitewashed 1948 bid, which was as nasty as it gets until Obama 2012 gets underway.

Who will you want then? When the negative ads powered by a billion media dollars start rolling out across the electoral landscape. Will you want a thin-skinned office-seeker whose chief claim to fame is a profitable Olympics and a budget-busting healthcare mandate? Or will you want Mike Tyson in a fat, old-guy suit drawing on a lifetime of harsh ring tactics to go toe-to-toe with an opponent everyone but Alan Colmes concedes is not in his brainpower league?

I was wrong. You see, I'm beginning to think Romney is the right guy to weather such a scorched earth assault. Aggression as a response to aggression is so natural to me that I missed it. Perhaps because I thought the main offensive would begin after the convention, I missed the thrust of the many boxing metaphors I've inflicted on you all over the years. It isn't Mike Tyson's tireless attacks and counter-attacks we need to win, it's Muhammed Ali's rope-a-dope. Lean back, take the blows, preserve energy, and let the other guy punch himself out before you close in for the kill.

With a few missteps along the way, that's how Romney defeated all the conservative sluggers in the primaries. He had the patience to let them win their individual flashy rounds one by one, then blow themselves up under the harsh media lights. Which they all did. And if they couldn't overcome Romney's passive-aggressive stolidity, how on earth would they have dealt with the frontal murderous assaults of Obama's shock troops?

Romney is better positioned than any other candidate to withstand an ugly campaign. Rope-a-dope. Let Obama make himself look ugly and mean. While Romney goes on being nice and boring and polite. Talking about the economy. Why isn't he likeable to so many people? For the same reason that so many people dislike Tim Tebow. He's too good to be true. He is uniformly nice to people. He has few distinguishable personality warts. He is long married, has five upstanding sons, wealth, a prodigiously successful business and public career, and there's no reason why any guy would want to have a beer with him. He doesn't drink beer. He probably thinks his collection of Neil Sedaka 8-tracks are as hip as he needs to be. He's so squeaky clean we instinctively recoil from him. What else is the Obama war machine going to dig up against him? He stole a pack of chewing gum when he was four? He was in the same room when a bipolar Brigham Young cheerleader tore off her top at a pep rally? He spoke gruffly to a skycap who didn't check in his curbside luggage fast enough when he was running late for a plane? Personally, I doubt he did any of these things. Why Obama is acting so desperate so soon.

Do you start to see? There is no Reagan. But that doesn't mean a second Obama term is tolerable. If he gets to name one or two replacements for conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the constitution is lost. Winning this election is vital even if Romney is a, shudder, moderate.

It's also possible that a Romney candidacy is -- bear with me now -- a providential blessing for hard-line tea partiers/conservatives. Think about it. They don't trust him, so they're working overtime to win the senate and secure the house of representatives. Orrin Hatch almost defeated in caucus. Dick Lugar done in. They're working like hell for a commanding majority in congress. Great. Unseat the incumbents who would have won easily and replace them with true conservatives. So they'll have to get out that vote to make it happen.

It's time to reference Dick Morris's formalization of what he's been hinting at for weeks now in various interviews.

Romney should win in a landslide

Obama cannot summon the commitment he got in 2008 by negatives or partisanship. It was precisely to change the “toxic” atmosphere in Washington that he was elected. To fan it now is not the way to regain the affection of those who have turned on him.

If the election were held today, Obama would lose by at least 10 points and would carry only about a dozen states with fewer than 150 electoral votes.

And the Republicans would keep their Senate seats in Arizona, Texas and Nevada while picking up seats in Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Montana. The GOP will also have good shots at victory in the Senate races in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and — if Chris Shays wins the primary — Connecticut. Only in Maine are their fortunes likely to dim.

Further, it's time to give serious thought to the possible advantages of a Romney presidency in the event of Republican control of both houses of congress. Specifically, what're the best and worst things that could happen if the Republicans get a tea-partyish majority in congress? Worst case? They act exactly like the first two years of the Obama administration, pursuing a cold ideological approach that rams legislation down the throats of the opposition and the American people. Best case? Doing what people thought they were electing with Obama. Finding ways to bring Democrats on board to save the fiscal future of the nation and our children. An end to partisan dictatorialism.

Romney may not be a likeable guy for the reasons mentioned above. But he's absolutely a nice, a civil, a polite guy. A thing that Reagan was too. Reagan had to drive the change he sought. It may be that Romney only needs to manage the change that will be driven by the congress -- without pissing everybody off. And what is it everybody knows Romney is? A manager. Maybe the American people will not just tolerate reforms administered in this fashion but embrace them. Maybe in 2016 they won't be eager to throw the overreaching bums out for a Hillary candidacy freighted with Obama baggage and bile. Or in 2020, when Rubio will be old enough to shave and Bobby Jindal will be old enough to evince the gravitas of an American Ghandi. Just saying.

There are more than a few people who regard Coolidge as a great president. What if Romney in his dull moderation in all things, is a 21st century Coolidge?

We can all hope. And we all should hope. Because without hope, we become even bigger bores than Mormon accountants who've never had a drop to drink.

Is there such a thing as providence? As always, you get to decide the big questions for yourselves.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Same-Sex Marriage:
Messy, Messy, Messy.

I KNOW. UNFAIR. The pundits on both sides are closing in to explain what's happening with this latest Obama distraction from the economy (bad, bad, bad), but I've got worse news for everybody. This issue is the Land of Unintended Consequences on every side. Nobody's going to win this one. Here's why.

Not many votes will change one way or the other on the basis of an empty personal declaration unalloyed to a prospect of federal legislation.. Everybody already knew how Obama was going to come down on this issue. The only question was, would it be before or after the presidential election? Before? Fine. With a clumsy assist from the administration's resident moron Joe Biden. No harm done. The two thirds of black voters who oppose same-sex marriage won't change their votes. But neither will gay people on the left and right. The president -- his calculus, not mine -- will gain marginally more campaign money from affluent LGBT millionaires who've been withholding their largesse (Travolta?), and Romney will gain marginally more funding from righties who feel strongly about various Defense of Marriage statutes.

So where's the damage? There will be deep and far-reaching polarizations within the electorate, and no one on earth can predict how those will turn out and what effect they will have on the cultural future of the United States. Victims?

LGBT folks.The quest for equal marriage rights is overreach. It seems like a self-destructive obsession to piss off people who were disposed to be sympathetic. I venture to say most people are comfortable with the idea of civil unions that carry the same legal rights as marriage. But that's not enough. You want church weddings, two bridal gowns or two groom morning coats with a choir and a priest and stained glass. But you're suspect of wanting the theater of church more than anything else. Because you're talking about compelling churches to accept what their faith does not permit. Worse, you can already have this. There are many many churches across the land which have traded their theology for political correctness, and if you want a church wedding (spoofingly or not), you can have one. So what's driving you to this nth degree of insistence? uh, the same self-destructive mania that led to the AIDS epidemic. Your culture is entirely based on being anti-establishment, the thrill of being underground, the superioritity you feel when the straight world and its dull Stepford marriages sneer at you. They're placid drones. You're provocative artistes. What you could not take was bored toleration. You had to raise the stakes, raid the holy of holies, and mock them in their own sacristy. Congratulations. Toleration will now turn to political resentment. You get to be victims for yet another generation. But you're the true one-percent. Not enough of you to make a blip on the radar. And when you start divorcing, and filing ugly palimony suits, your asses will be exposed for all to see. Bottom line? Your assaults on the establishment hurt mostly you.

Black people. They have supported Obama, do support Obama and will support Obama, even if they have fared worse in every way under his presidency. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is at an all time high under Obama. Does it matter? No. Is it really a good idea to make this a neon-signed headline? So two thirds of them oppose same-sex marriage. How does this not serve to highlight the fact that 80 percent of black children are born out of wedlock? We believe in marriage between a man and a woman. We just never do it. And we always vote as monolithically as the citizens of a one-party African government because we like his big diamond rings and stretch limos, no matter how many people he hurls into ruin. Guess what? They're damned if they do and damned if they don't. They either have to quit pretending they're Christians or quit making their political convictions conditional on race alone. Which do you think they'll choose? And what will that mean to the next generation of their children?

Christians. A trap set by the MSM that fundamentalist Christians are roaring mindlessly into. Embarrassing. Christianity did NOT invent the idea of marriage as a sacred bond between a man and a woman. I don't even know where to begin on this one. Liberals are supposed to be better educated than Indiana Pentecostals. Did they miss all the shows on the History and Discovery channels where stone age African tribes have spontaneously identified monogamous marriage as a staple of their culture, including dowries and the tension between economically minded parents and a suitor's fondness for his intended's looks? The pagan Greeks and Romans had monogamous cultures too, despite their incredibly graphic documentation of homosexual liaisons, which they did not dignify as marriages. But today I got to hear a gay activist blaming the one man-one woman convention on the God of the Bible, and the Roman Catholic talking to him failed to call him an idiot on that count. My response? Christians had better wake up. They will lose every argument that pegs marriage to Jesus. They just will. And they'll look foolish every step of the way.

Now I know this is dismissible from the outset. But I insist it's part of the sum. There is precedent for male-female monogamy in the animal world. Go here to see it.

You talking to me? You talking to me? Think I'm a fuckin' Christian?

Hardly any precedent for brilliantly talented, hard-drinking prairie voles who get an apartment together and write the next great prairie musical.

Stay tuned for a tragic but transcendant raptor love story unfolding as we speak...

YEARS. My wife watches this every day. Red-tailed hawks having babies on a ledge at the Franklin Institute. Three years now she's been watching the chicks hatch, grow, and learn to fly. Mom and Dad are stupendously dutiful, exchanging shifts on the nest and going out hunting for food for the voracious youngsters. She calls the chicks "the Bobbles," and keeps me updated.

But this year is different. Dad got killed by a truck. Mom was all alone and in something of a panic. No time to mourn, only hunt. The Institute folks tried to fill in, sneaking food into the nest when Mom was away, but everyone watching knew the chicks were in trouble.

Then the New Guy showed up. He stepped seamlessly into the Dad role, bringing food and doing his turns of babysitting and hunting. Something about what marriage is.

Red-tailed hawks are monogamous. Even liberals might like this plot. He raises the ones who aren't his own. Will he be back next year? I'm thinking yes. Liberal TV casting would have him played by John Ritter. The rightwing action movie genre would make him Jason Statham. I'm pretty sure I see a shoulder holster under his right wing. What do you see?

In the meantime, the Bobbles are surviving. Let it continue so.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

My Favorite
Talk Radio Host

CONVERTED LEFTIES RULE. No, it's not Limbaugh. It's a woman who has the same talent he does to talk for hours without needing or even wanting callers. As far as I know, this is a national talent pool of three: Rush, Phil Hendrie (who's all his own guests but the callers don't get it), and Tammy Bruce. Anyone who's listened to talk radio in local venues knows how desperate solo hosts get when the listeners aren't calling. Here are our phone numbers. Call, call, call. Please. Why crapmeisters like Don Imus and Howard Stern surround themselves with sidekicks, toadies, and fools. They can't do what the Big Three can. Except that Rush Limbaugh and Phil Hendrie are fat old white guys. Sure, they're talented, but they're also suspect. Because they're fat old white guys.

Tammy Bruce isn't. She's a comely, Lesbian, ex-lefty (former head of NOW in California, for God's sake) who absolutely kicks ass. She's a frequent fill-in host for Laura Ingraham on her nationally syndicated talk show, and for my money she's better. She's just not interested in being regarded as legitimate or reasonable or even-handed. She knows that's the great conservative delusion, and she's already had all the bad press from her former friends on the left anyone could imagine. Her only remaining interest is the truth. Which also makes her invincible. She can attack nonsensically lefty feminists, gays, California Gaians, and other liberal fruit loops without fear. She's been there, and who's going to call her sexist, homophobic, or reactionary? And she does attack. Relentlessly. Ruthlessly. And deadlily. (Okay. So I made up a word. That's appropriate when you're talking one of a kind.)

She doesn't even really depend on advertisers. You have to subscribe to her radio show. At I urge you to do that. Yes, she can be screechy. But she's also a fox.

The aspect ratio up top couldn't be fixed.
Diss her looks here and she'll shoot you.

Remember that while you're listening.

The Top Gear files...

"Crash Course"
in America

. His Wiki biography says he's 5' 7." Rubbish. He's as tall as a minute and probably a few seconds under that. But he's the best reason an American could have for reviving the Special Relationship that once existed between the U.K. and the U.S. before, well, all the recent unpleasantness.

We've had an up and down relationship with the Brit show Top Gear over the years (1, 2, 3). In many ways, the show has been a poster-child for imperial Brit arrogance. They go places far and wide, and all they manage to convey is their contempt for locals, from Romania and Bolivia to the U.S. of A., without ever actually interacting with the wogs (i.e., non-Brits) they meet.

Thing is, Top Gear has always been dominated by Jeremy Clarkson, whose anti-Americanism is belied by his Brit libertarianism. He really should like America, except that he's a pure asshole Brit. Nothing to be done about that. Nothing. But his two sidekicks are, however quietly, not anti-American. James May did a lovely multi-episode BBC season of touring the California wine country, with no trace of the chauvinist bile Clarkson routinely expresses.

And then there's the matter of Richard Hammond. Who actually seems to be, uh, an American. He's never made any secret of his love for American muscle cars. He leaped at the chance to drive the new Dodge Challenger in the only pro-American Top Gear episode ever, in which Clarkson was moaning in ambiguous angst about his love for the newest Corvette. Or was it a Cadillac? Or was that James May? No matter. the Corvette and the Cadillac both got raves. And Hammond made excuses for the Challenger.

Regardless. Hammond. What you need to know. He is incredibly brave. He nearly died driving 300 mph for Top Gear. He raced the other two from London to Edinburgh on a Vincent Black Shadow, the single most holy motorcycle icon ever, while they competed by train and automobile. And his new show, Crash Course, puts every reality show I've ever heard of to shame.

It's like Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs but infinitely more interesting. Mighty Mite Hammond tours America to get qualified on the heaviest of heavy equipment -- logging machines, landfill machines, firefighting machines, military machines, etc. He gives himself three days to become competent and insists on a pass-fail test at the end, which he doesn't always pass. The result?

Completely charming. Must watch stuff. What he's doing is clearly dangerous. Yet he's obviously enjoying himself under extreme self-imposed pressure, and he makes a point of interacting with the American operators, who wind up liking him even as we do. Because he's, well, a brave, sweet, humble, incredibly talented guy who mostly does learn how to operate multi-ton specialized equipment with complicated controls in less than three days.

I'll stop soon, I promise. Why I think you should look this series up. First, there's a contrast between this show and the American reality shows about logging, etc. The people Hammond is talking to have teeth and they're articulate. When you call to mind the fact that this is a BBC show aimed at Brits, it's truly amazing that he's determined to show the best not the worst of Blue Collar America. In the logging episode, for example, he had his trainers playing darts with the heaviest of all heavy equipment, and they executed a minivan for Hammond's game. They also understood the irony. Hmmm.

Second, it's definitely an American show. Hammond could easily have played with heavy equipment in the U.K. He didn't. He came here. The show about him qualifying to drive and fire the guns of an M-1 Abrams tank was actually moving.

Let's make him an honorary American citizen.

At the end he passed his test, not an easy one, and he was awarded with one of the shells he had fired and a stained glass representation of the unit's seal. He said (and I'm paraphrasing) "I usually say, 'Can I take the vehicle home with me now that I've qualified on it?' Not today. The M-1 tank is a very serious vehicle and the people who operate it are special. All I want to do is thank you for what you do for all of us."

The landfill guys weren't so kind. He failed their test.

But he destroys minivans in every single episode. Watch for that if for no other reason. Unless you also cotton to the idea that the people who work the hard jobs might be as talented as the people who work the showy jobs. Which, strangely enough, Hammond seems to understand.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blog Mysteries...

Why We Don't All
Want Nice Things

Erick Erickson, blogger extraordinaire.

THEY.9.1-12. I came across a blog post featured at a couple of days ago. Here's the lede.

Why We can't have Nice Things

Several media outlets have run stories about a rumored gathering of conservative bloggers, writers, and others last week. You can find pictures on Facebook. You can find a list of names. The words “off the record” seemingly have little value. Much of the information came from invitees.

The author is Erick Erickson of RedState, who was also in the news last week because Mitch McConnell pettishly claimed he'd never heard of a guy who's apparently been on his case for quite a while. I've heard of RedState but never read it, have nothing against it except casual talk that the site's pretty quick on the banning button, and I know nothing whatever about the cryptic reference to a "rumored gathering of conservative bloggers, writers, and others last week," because I'm not a member of Facebook. I know. What a backward fellow am I. So this is no personal vendetta I'm starting here.

It's just that the post struck me oddly. Simultaneously defensive, almost gulltily so, and yet condescending in the extreme. By way of introducing himself he says:

I started blogging in October of 2003. In July of 2004, I started blogging at RedState. Along the way I’ve done some really stupid things I’m not proud of and some really cool things I am very proud of. Some of what I’ve done others have questioned, but I have never held myself out to be a reporter. I’m a conservative activist. Though I often report on what the conservative movement is doing, my primary goal is to affect what the conservative movement does.

It's a fairly clear mission statement (more about this later), but he also seems to be feeling some heat from somewhere. His response is to go on the offensive:

There is no rule book for blogging, but there are best practices and the individual ethics of bloggers. Those practices have evolved over time.

Here now nine years after I started blogging, let me tell you something I have noticed. The people who are the loudest haphazard voices and bitterest voices among the longest serving crop of bloggers on left and right are the ones who never grew up. They hold proudly to the standards and cavalier attitude many of us possessed when we first got started and are angry when they see their peers doing more and having more influence and impact than they are. They wonder why they don’t get invited to meetings, conventions, and the like when others do and instead of realizing it is them, they conclude everyone else is selling out.

Peter Pan never grew up. Bloggers must.

Then he passes final judgment:

As I’ve grown up online, I’m one of the uncommon few who has moved on to both television and radio. I have been blessed. Along the way, I find others who are making the transition too, but still others who have been toiling away in the blogosphere for years who have refused to make the transition, or been unable to despite their hopes, and they may look at me and others like me and think we’ve sold out or decided to go along to get along. But I look at them and think what a waste of talent and energy. Some don’t want to transition, but have grown up and matured in their style and interpersonal relationships. They want to have an impact and they do. Hats off to them. But there are others who are dragging those folks down and the rest of us too.

Sadly for them and the rest of us who get invited to nice places to meet nice people off the record, as long as the rest of us keep humoring them and their antics, those invites won’t come for any of us.

Sadly for them and the rest of us who get invited to nice places to meet nice people off the record, as long as the rest of us keep humoring them and their antics, those invites won’t come for any of us.

It got me to thinking. Partly because Hotair featured it, which must mean they know something about the post's mysterious rationale, and also partly because I've been blogging as long as Erick Erickson. Needless to say, I'm not "one of the uncommon few who has moved on to both television and radio." Then he stoops to acknowledge those "who have refused to make the transition, or been unable to despite their hopes, and they may look at me and others like me and think we’ve sold out or decided to go along to get along. But I look at them and think what a waste of talent and energy."

My intent here is not to trash Erick Erickson. I wish him well in his media career. I understand that there's some bad blood roiling I have no clue about, and it would be idiotic of me to leap in with guns ablazing over a fancied sleight from a guy who's never even heard of me.

It's just that his post seems an opportune time to talk about some of the verities. Which is what I will now proceed to do, with particular reference to his damning-with-faint-praise characterization of those who "don’t want to transition, but have grown up and matured in their style and interpersonal relationships."

Politics is obviously an enormously important part of what the Internet can do. It's a good thing -- a very good thing -- that amateur bloggers can grow in reach and power and influence to become part of the mainstream media that works so diligently to shape our responses to political events. Erickson is admirably up-front about describing himself as a "conservative activist." Where I think he errs is in believing that that's the principal or best reason for being a conservative blogger in the first place.

We don't all have to be, or even want to be, aspiring politicians. Let me define my use of the term. Politicians are those people who make money from participating in the political process as elected officials, paid government employees, campaign professionals, and opinionmakers, be they columnists, TV pundits, talk radio hosts, big-time bloggers, or Twitter-meisters.

Erikson is obviously aware of the problems inherent in being a politician. Why he's fearful that "they may look at me and others like me and think we’ve sold out or decided to go along to get along." It's also clear that he has trouble comprehending the possibility that anyone would invest so much time without wanting a political career of some kind. Those who don't aspire to that are merely dabbling in ways that might improve their "interpersonal relationships."

All of which suggests to me that he is missing the greatest possible boon of the Internet and the "blogosphere," which is the role of amateur citizens who watch and listen and comment from the perspective of those outside the political circus. We don't all want to be performers in the circus. Actually, we're the most important participants in the show -- American citizens. So easy to forget...

I don't claim to speak for anyone but me, but I can assure you -- despite having blogged as long and prolifically as Erick Erickson -- that I have never once considered attending a conference or convention of like-minded bloggers (if there were any), and I can't think of anything worse than being a designated conservative in a CNN segment. Wild horses couldn't drag me there. I don't want people whose political philosophies I despise to regard me as reasonable or affable. Why? Because I despise them. I'm not an activist, conservative or otherwise. I'm an outspoken citizen, and my amateur status is the solid gold credential that underlies everything I write in my blog.

But being an amateur doesn't make me a dabbler or a dilettante. It means that I can always say exactly what I think, even if it pisses off the up-and-comers in the very cause I seek to support. To my knowledge, for example, there are no conservative politicians (MY definition, remember) who make any attempt to hold conservative websites accountable to basic copy-editing standards (spelling, grammar, usage, syntax), even though the liberal elite consistently succeeds in portraying the flyover right as semi-literate yokels from cow colleges. Which most of their Internet (and Fox News) record confirms.

Just one example of what I would call an anti-conservative bias in a lot of the New Media stars. There's the idea that joining the political establishment is more important than being the equivalent of a country store or a small-town newspaper: bigger is necessarily better. It isn't. There's the idea that big traffic justifies big-headed treatment of commenters: we'll moderate and ignore and ban your ass as we see fit. There's the set of Venn diagrams we all automatically construct about who is being nice or at least civil to whom based on the prospect of future interviews and other kinds of access. Hannity bantering amicably with Al Sharpton is an image you shouldn't explain away but learn from. There's a corresponding turn toward self and celebrity: see who's appearing on my podcast and where I'll be next week. Which is to say the rest of us can see your personal career a-blooming. Which is fine in capitalist terms but given that we're out here in the citizenship business of making government and political celebrity shrink, well, why wouldn't the folks be suspicious?

The bloggers left behind -- the one-timers and part-timers and apparent also-rans who seem to be long-timers -- aren't the losers in this picture, even if they sometimes seem bitter (or is it betrayed?). Above all others, conservatives should celebrate the underground voices, the ones who keep saying what they think without fear or favor. And the ones who "have been blessed" with celebrity should keep reading what they have to say, lest they lose themselves in the lights and makeup.

For the record, I'm not one of the bitter. I've been on TV, on the radio, and in organizations united by a mission that bore little or no relation to reality. Politics is always an issue when you stop being just you and your keyboard and become part of a marketing team. Why I raised these issues back in the original Romney campaign with Dean Barnett, whom I respected but who had ceased to be a private voice and become a Romney advocate instead. He never answered my questions about the inherent conflicts of interest associated with blogger success and progression to campaign responsibility.

Why I've been a bear on conservative "activists" and New Media "stars" ever since. All I know for sure is that they hate it when I tell them their writing is lacking.

Unfortunately, it is. The good thing is that I get to write what I want and I know how to do it. Which means that MY site is what I always most wanted it to be: What I envisioned long before the slender Internet experience of Mr. Erickson, an honest testament of MY life and thought. Which might not be a waste of talent and energy. It might just be a Nice Thing of its own.

Will we survive? Who knows? How many stars are ascending? How many Eeyores are sulking?

But we are still here, writing. Maybe it's true that "bloggers must" grow up. But punks never do.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Monday Uppers, Downers
& Weekend Hallucinogens

Yeah, I hate this song too. As much as I hate Mondays.

SILENCE ISN'T ALWAYS GOLDEN. On Friday, Verloc somehow missed the fact that the Friday Follies is a lighthearted post. Since no one corrected him, I feel obliged to point out that this is too. Given the current doleful mood of commenters, I'm not asking you to laugh. I know that's probably impossible. So I'll make it a game instead. See how many of my designations you can turn into the absolute downers you prefer. The prize for the most successful at this task is a boxed set of the brand new Doomsday Bunkers series, spin-off from the popular Doomsday Preppers "reality" series. Are we good so far?

Yes, true, it's all just wrong. You know what but not why. Or vice versa.
Your ass got handed to you. Or, worse, to somebody else. So fuck'em all.

I thought not. Oh well. But guess what? The game goes on. Try to focus anyway.


Obama kicked off his reelection campaign at Ohio State. There were empty seats. That's fun. Unless you're The One, that is.

Being in the know as I am, I also got an email, excuse me a FireWire, informing me that the president apparently forgot his wife was still on board Air Force One when he disembarked in Columbus. There's video if you want it. Worth a chuckle at least.

NBC's Saint Thomas of Brokaw allowed as how the White House Correspondence Dinner might not be such a good idea anymore. Maybe it makes the common folk believe the press is more 1 percent than 99 percent. Whatever could have given him that idea? What he actually said was:

"Hi think Horge Hlooney is a hreat guy. Hi don't think the big press hevent in Washington should be the kind of hwittering hevent hwhere all the tahk is about Hrystal Champagne, taking over the Hitahlian embassy, and who had the best party..."

Hood for hhim.

There's a corresponding Downer to this one below, but those of you who -- like my wife -- seek to tune out Dick Morris because he was porn pals with Bill Clinton might want to listen to him on the subject of polls and pollsters. He's getting more and more adamant that Obama is in deep trouble. Maybe because he's a politician not a pollster. All the results showing dead heats or Obama marginally leading are just flat wrong, he says. Whenever Obama is under 50 percent in any poll, he's losing, because the Undecided always break strongly against the incumbent. He compares it to asking if you think you'll still be married to your spouse a year from now. If you're Undecided, that would be, well, very bad news for the marriage. Wouldn't Morris know about that?

[Verloc: Turn your head and cough. Or otherwise don't listen to this one.] Anderson Cooper of all people trashed a representative on CNN over the War on Women rhetoric. What's the world coming to? Humor? No, Verloc. Don't succumb to the darkness of a snicker...

Almost forgot this one. The Delaware Don, er, Joe Biden screwed the pooch on gay marriage at Meet the Press. Very bad news for his boss. Joe maundered on about the lyrics of "Who Do You Love," forgetting that Democrats in swing states don't want to say they're for or against gay marriage, while (or because) black people are 64 percent against it. I probably wouldn't have mentioned this, because who cares about imbecilic Joe, but how often do we get a chance to remember George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers?

A gay anthem if I've heard one. Can't you feel the ick?

Now that we've descended to the level of unacceptable gay jokes, we can close on an entertainment pick. The movie "Goon" is gross, gross, gross (shortened in redneck math to Gross3), and it's also a bizarre collage of humor about hockey, Canada, and Jews, in some order, that is also falling down funny and weirdly accurate and affectionate about its satirical targets. I prescribe it as an antidote to the tiny population of people like me who may have thought they were becoming prigs because all so-called comedies and and sitcoms seem to offensive to watch.

The great news: the outrageously gross offfensiveness of Goon is not offensive because it has no political or politically correct agenda. The satire is merciless but it's about capturing human realities, not promoting topical causes. Amazingly enough, the few hockey movies in existence are good, and I won't claim this one's the best. But it succeeds wonderfully in portraying one of the most enigmatic features of the sport -- the public sweetness and blandness of so many of the players in contrast to the on-ice savagery they consistently display. (Jews and Canadians are simply ancillary targets handled as roughly as the Jewish Canadian scriptwriter wanted to.) If you've got the stomach for incredibly raunchy jokes about everything BUT Sara Palin's cunt, take a look.


Eli ain't Peyton. His SNL performance was painful. But we knew that going in, didn't we? I know the Mannings are mostly about football. But why is Peyton the best QB ever and the best, most enigmatic, most sardonic football celebrity ever? He was the anti-Tebow before there was ever a Tebow. How mystical is that? New Yorkers would just love it if the Manhattan version were more enlightened than the Indy version, but sometimes a Twain is savvier about the waters than a Seacrest.

Speaking of football, here's an altogether too realistic description of how, and how quickly, American football could cease to exist.

Speaking of politics, the Fox News blondes, plus Chris Wallace, are just as dismissive of Dick Morris as you are. I watch Fox News Sunday only when my wife sleeps in and doesn't nudge me in the direction of "Say Yes to the Dress" instead. I don't watch FNS as a rule because it makes me angrier than anything I see in the MSM. They dutifully repeat exactly the same skewed, demographically rigged MSM polls, the same government numbers about the improving state of the economy, and the supposedly conservative panel bleats dutifully about what an edge Obama has going into the election. So it's either conservative political spin designed to make conservatives afraid and fired up, or it's MSM Lite. The latter of which is my suspicion.

SholomTV. Discovered this channel On Demand. Saw a half-hour documentary about "Intifada on American College Campuses." All right, I thought. The counterattack!. Only not so. The facts were factual, the footage was effective, the crisis was made real enough. American college students are being systematically taught to hate Jews. But for me the bottom fell out when I realized the audience for the piece was American Jewish students. Who needed to be taught that it's not okay to remain silent. That they cannot remain silent. No shit,Serlock. The last five minutes was devastating. Biblical, Jewish, and Israeli history -- including Israel's military record, superlative humanitarian response to natural catastrophes, and unparalleled winning of Nobel prizes -- demonstrating that Jews are no longer taking for granted their own kids' knowledge of the history of their people. Not to mention no mention of the cussedness and philosophical/existential challenge represented by the fact that highighted anti-Jews in the videos cited included people who were obviously Jews. They're losing their own kids and they're in a state of cataclysmic denial. I couldn't have been more bummed.


Breitbart is making a big deal out of the fact that SNL chose to begin its Eli show by spiking a planned skit about Obama spiking the Osama football and trashing Fox & Friends instead. The skit was unfair. But F&F is still a huge embarrassment to literate conservatives. And then, this morning, Brian Kilmeade repeated the joke ascribed to him. What else could he do? But it sounded like a joke he would make because he's a joker, not a racist. Reminded me of how overmatched we are by smonks who have more wit than intelligence. For sure, drive F&F off the air. But don't confuse THEM with the rest of us. Except that's their whole intent.

The French are still French. Europe will keep on being Europe, a problem child to the end. Sarkozy gone. Some new Frog in charge to fuck the whole continent for another decade. Cool? Or not cool?

The second most popular app for the iPhone. Something called FUGLY. Your phone takes a picture of YOU and tells YOU whether YOU are beautiful or ugly. Magic mushroom time. You buy this? It's a scale of one to ten (1 Galadriel, 10 Hunchback of Notre Dame) and the app makes glib remarks about the results. The bad news? Angelina Jolie gets a two. The good news? Brad Pitt gets a nine. And this young & seethingly desired celebrity scores worse than Brad Pitt:

uh, her name is Dannii Minogue. Singer and all around FUGLY person.

The Bizzarro World News. You still get to decide who you are and what you're worth.

Why this week is like every other. Unless you're hiding in your fucking bunker.

I have more to say about sitting in the corner like Eeyore. And if I look like Piglet to you, so be it.

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