Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 19, 2007 - January 12, 2007

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dowdy Booty

Those are some BIG damn feet.

SACRED TRUTHS. Maureen Dowd is still baffled by the fact that life involves tradeoffs, from which she, apparently, should be an exception:

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the author of "Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children," a book published in 2002, conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of 35-year-old career women were childless. And among corporate executives who earn $100,000 or more, she said, 49 percent of the women did not have children, compared with only 19 percent of the men.

Hewlett quantified, yet again, that men have an unfair advantage. "Nowadays," she said, "the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child. For men, the reverse is true."

A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.

Since Maureen is always writing about Maureen, it's clear that she's hankering for a husband and a child. Instead, what does she get? Matt Drudge running a caption contest making fun of her.

It's all so unfair. That's why her new book is called "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide." I suppose her preferred line of attack is that men aren't necessary, that the world would be better off if women -- especially smart women -- were artificially inseminated like dairy cows and free to bring up their smart female-only progeny in a one-sex society. That way, female IQs could keep going up while the male population dwindled away to nothing. But what does this mean in terms of one of Dowd's favorite talking points?

Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.

In the dairy cow model, women will still be disappointed. There won't be any smart, powerful men to pursue. There will be millions of female geniuses, all desperately seeking some nonexistent male to show off to. The frustration will be immense. And what happens when powerful, brainy women get frustrated? You work out the answer for yourselves, but it's a good bet the answer rhymes with schmarmageddon.

Rather than a total reengineering of society, the right way out of this crisis might be for the smart, powerful men in Washington, DC, to get together and draw straws. The one who draws the short straw will arrange to be caught by Maureen Dowd, marry her, and spend the rest of his life making her feel beautiful, sexy, wanted, and indispensably brilliant. A tough assignment for somebody, to be sure, but it could save civilization as we know it. Isn't that worth the sacrifice of one heroic man? You decide.

A Battle over Principle

Miers stands aside in favor of Alito.

PRECEDENTS. At last the conservatives can begin preparing for the fight they've hungered for so desperately. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be the setting for a titanic confrontation between the conservative vision of the constitution as immutable bedrock of America and the liberal vision of the constitution as a paper towel used to wipe up every mess the little people make on the floor. It should be memorable. Intellectuals on the right have been girding for battle since Bork got bonked, and liberals have been amassing a war chest of personal smears even longer than that. We asked the God of the Right Wing, George Will, what it's going to take for his fellow Princeton alum Samuel Alito to prevail against Democrats Leahy, Kennedy, Schumer, and Biden on the left and Arlen "Bore them to Death" Specter in the slimy middle. Will was uncharacteristically direct:

Training is going to be the key. This contest will be more about endurance over multiple rounds than specific ring tactics. Kennedy in particular can hang in there as long as his corner maintains a ready supply of scotch, and Specter can keep going on the constant buzz he gets from the sound of his own voice. So Sam "The Jersey Giant" Alito is going to have to avoid the temptation to punch himself out in futile knockout attempts when he scores, as he will, with devastating clarity and logic. He should take his shots, sure, but when you're fighting opponents who just don't know when they've been staggered, you can get into a lot of trouble with over-pursuit. The bout will probably go the distance, and it may be decided in the end by a split decision.

Over at the Weekly Standard, the God of the Neocons, Bill Kristol, showed us the impressive conservative arsenal that Alito will have at his disposal:

We have to admit that it inspires confidence... at least until you get a load of the liberal arsenal they're displaying over at the Democratic caucus:

Principle is a wonderful thing, and we're sure it's going to be a great moment for American democracy when the idealists square off in the hearings. Are you looking forward to it as much as we are?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Psssst. White Sox Win.

PSAYINGS.5S.1-8. Here's a mystery:

The Chicago White Sox's first world championship in 88 years was also the lowest-rated World Series ever.

Chicago's four-game sweep of the Houston Astros averaged an 11.1 national rating with a 19 share on Fox. That's down about 7 percent from the previous low, an 11.9 with a 20 share for the 2002 World Series between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants...

This year was a drop of almost 30 percent from last year's series, in which the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals for their first title in 86 years. That had a 15.8 rating with a 25 share.

The team's world championship drought was longer than that of the Red Sox, who rode a public relations tidal wave last year celebrating the end of the fabled "Curse of the Bambino." That was a good show, and the Red Sox did perform valiantly in battling back from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the League Championship Series. But why would the ratings meter plummet to zero for Sox of another color?

If you want to talk curses, Boston's fancied sin of trading away Babe Ruth is a molehill in comparison to the tragic mountain of atonement the White Sox have had to survive and surmount. Their curse is no whimsical trick of hindsight, but a dark reality: their name carries the blackest stain on the history of baseball, throwing a World Series for money. After the disgrace of 1919, it took them 40 years to return to the World Series and another 46 after that to return for a second time. That's a bleak record indeed. Shouldn't this near century in the valley of the shadow have mustered some traction in the national television audience?

It's possible to find excuses for the lack of interest. Most obviously the Red Sox legend isn't wholly a creation of imaginative Boston sportswriters. The Bambino aside, the team's record of 4-3 losses in the World Series has no rival in baseball. The team has blown up in clutch situations with a regularity that even a Phillies fan like myself can only regard with awe. But why this should have somehow transformed the Red Sox into beloved martyrs rather than dismissible goats on the national stage is hard to fathom. Couldn't the Irish sportswriters of Chicago mount even a one-year challenge to the Irish sportswriters of Boston and charm us into believing that 'Sox' equals 'charisma,' regardless of geography?

Another factor: In contrast to the glamor of the long Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, Major League Baseball is understandably less interested in reminding fans of the game's most terrible moment. They'd like to forget it altogether, so hyping it is unthinkable. But shouldn't the fans repond to the subversive thrill of digging the unacceptable plotline out of the dustbin and making it their own?

Finally, the White Sox bear the additional burden of being second in the hearts of Chicagoans to the even more infamously incompetent Cubs. Much has been written about why this is, and oddly the Black Sox scandal doesn't seem to be as overtly important as one might think, but why it's so isn't as important as the fact that it's so. Here, for example, is an excerpt from Chicagoan Andrew Greeley's column on the White Sox victory:

Why the difference between Cubs fans and Sox fans? As a working hypothesis I attribute the difference to the fact that the South Side Irish feel culturally inferior, perhaps because of the endless ridicule they must endure from the patently cultural superior West Side Irish and the North Side Irish (such as these latter might be). Or perhaps it is fading memory of the smell from the Stock Yards.

In fact, the sense of inferiority among the South Side Irish is understandable because they have much to feel inferior about (Sorry, Mr. Mayor!).

Of course, Father Greeley affects a tongue-in-cheek style here, though he harps on and repeats his main points a few too many times; in truth, he means what he says. (It's not the first time this over-praised cleric has shown his mean streak.) If Chicagoans can't embrace the White Sox without wrinkling their noses in distaste, how could the wider baseball audience?

And maybe that's emblematic of the difference between a fairy-tale curse and a real curse. Perhaps the 1919 Black Sox are a sin that can't be expiated by a World Series victory, or two, or ten. Maybe they're destined to roam the stage of major league baseball as a perpetual phantom, the invisible team that can never incarnate vividly enough to displace the eight dead men who nearly killed the game for everyone.

2005 WhiteBlack Sox

Well, I know everyone has more important things to think about today. So go on about your business. Forget the White Sox. That seems to be the lesson here.

The Plame Blame

Scooter's in trouble.

RERUN. A man with gray hair should never be called Scooter. You're supposed to leave that crap behind on the playing fields of Groton or Choate or wherever. That was his first mistake. The second was cooperating with the investigation of a special prosecutor. As the Martha Stewart case demonstrated, there is no longer any fifth amendment protection against self incrimination when the feds are involved. If you refuse to incriminate yourself, you are indicted for perjury. Never mind that the crime for which you failed to incriminate yourself was not a crime at all, which is why, of course, a nonpartisan special prosecutor who has wasted two years chasing a wisp of political gossip is absolutely compelled to indict somebody for lying about whatever he said or did after not committing a crime.

This would all be mildly amusing if it weren't so laughably ludicrous. Now the libs have what they want (or part of it), and just watch them salivate and slobber and stammer with indignation about the vileness of a crime that used to be committed on a daily basis by the President they revere so much they're determined to put his perjurer wife in the Oval Office.

We'll stand by what we've already said about this fictitious outrage: it's not even plausible enough to make a bad TV series (NSFW).

Fitzgerald is nonpartisan. In a pig's eye.

Then again, the defendant's name is Scooter. Sounds like an impasse to us.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy now?

FAIR HARRIERS. So we've ditched the old gray mustang and the path is now clear for a righteous conservative from the heartland, a.k.a. Harvard. Just a few thoughts to share with the victors as they embark on their triumphant chariot ride through the Square. Brit Hume says you're gleeful today, but we think you should be cautious about celebrating overmuch. Herewith our take on the melodrama just concluded.

Winners and Losers

The first one is easy. With one small exception, the only winners here are the Democrats. They got to watch the partisans of the right shooting each other in the head, which must be marvelous fun. In addition, they will be the beneficiaries of the right wing's use of left wing tactics to torpedo the unacceptable old lady from Texas: the demand for executive-privileged documentation, the insistence that certain ideological questions must be answered before anyone can be confirmed, the requirement that every nominee must sport the same credentials that have resulted in the current batch of Republican-nominated judicial social engineers. Yes, we're talking abundant high fives in the Democrat cloakroom here, sly sniggers, secret toasts, knowing winks across the marinas of Nantucket. If they're smart, they won't mention what an enormous advantage in future judiciary battles you've handed them on a silver platter. But they're not smart, so you'll be learning in painful detail just how seriously you f___ed up on CNN and MSNBC over the days, weeks, and months ahead. Your infantile tirades about Harriet Miers will be quoted and quoted and quoted against you for years to come. Congratulations.

The exception? Hugh Hewitt. We've been hard on him here at InstaPunk in the past, but we are delighted to discover that he really is a man of principle even if he did go to Harvard. He fought the good fight against the shortsighted elitist hysteria that consumed his beloved blogosphere. Hats off to you, Mr. Hewitt. You're as fair as you are independent.

Now for the Losers. Here's a list.

George Will. If there's anything worse than a Harvard man, it's a Princeton boy. He's always been a laughingstock to liberals. Now he's a joke to everyone but the losers on this list.

Arlen Specter. We always knew who he was. A Philadelphia lawyer, i.e., a pretentious, self-absorbed whore in a shiny suit. Now he's proved it again. We'd best not forget it this time.

Robert Bork. If you'd kept your big mouth shut, you'd have been the perfect alternative nominee, a defiant gesture by a justifiably enraged president. But you just had to put in your impolitic two cents, which is all it was worth by the way, the fair price of learning that you really were a loser all along.

The right wing media, including Bill Kristol, David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, and all the other Ivy League wags who tell conservatives what we must think if we are to save the republic from Hillary Clinton. Your premature and over-the-top tantrum sealed the fate of the biggest loser in the whole circus:

Republicans. Once again, your congressional leadership has been stripped naked in public, revealing a spineless, brainless carcass that deserves the mountain of indignities that will be heaped upon it in future confirmation processes. Have you ever taken a trip outside the Beltway? No. Can you spell L-O-Y-A-L-T-Y? No. Pardon us while we sleep through your next reelection campaigns.

Note that we didn't include the president or Harriet Miers on this list. They may be feeling like losers at the moment, but when the dust clears the American people will be shaking their heads in disbelief that a woman of such prodigious accomplishment and virtue was subjected to such scathingly condescending disrespect by her own partisans. And George Bush is off the hook for the record-setting barbarism of the confirmation process(es) to come. He got stabbed in the back, but the blood on the floor won't all be his. Why? Because we know what's coming.


Yeah, we know. You've blown through everything we've said without paying any attention at all, because you know you've really won. You'll get a nominee more to your liking, and that's all that counts. Well, here's our bet. Yes, you'll get a nominee more to your liking, and he will have all the credentials you've been yammering about. He'll win an incredibly bitter and ugly confirmation fight by an eyelash, and then he'll join the court -- and turn out to be another Souter. It's really not possible to know how a nominee will vote on your favorite issues until he delivers his opinions from the SCOTUS bench. Not possible unless you know him really really well. Like... what was her name?

Oh well. Ann Coulter's canines have just grown another eighth of an inch longer. One more nominee and she'll be able to play Lady Dracula without makeup. You take your consolation where you can find it.

Replacement Nominee Announced

A new nominee unveiled

LAST LAUGH. At a surprise White House briefing moments ago, Press Secretary Scott McClellan announced that the President has already named his next nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a prepared statement, McClellan said:

We are pleased to inform the American people that the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court possesses the impeccable credentials insisted on by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. He is a prominent member of an illustrious New England family, a graduate of Yale University and a famous law school in Massachusetts, a decorated veteran, a frequent vacationer at Martha's Vineyard, and a man who has written and spoken extensively on every conceivable issue that might come before the court. He is also the very best qualified candidate from a short list that comprised numerous Harvard alumni, including Albert Gore, Jr., Edward M. Kennedy, Charles Schumer, and Barack Obama. Without further ado, I am delighted to announce that the name of our nominee is John F. Kerry...

McClellan also fielded multiple questions from the press in attendance. Asked where the nominee stood on the crucial matter of Roe v. Wade, the press secretary insisted that there was no "litmus test" on the abortion issue but -- in keeping with the new conservative requirement for full disclosure of candidate opinions on relevant issues -- he was happy to report that Kerry had frequently expressed his personal opposition to abortion. He went so far as to read a quote from a 2004 speech: "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception." When a follow-up question posed the issue of how this opinion might bear on a possible Roe v. Wade decision, McClellan said it would be inappropriate for the White House or the candidate to speak any more specifically about a case that might come before the court in future. Additionally, McClellan noted the President and the nominee had not met during the selection process and had never had a personal conversation of any kind, which should be reassuring to conservative purists.

A reporter from the Wall Street Journal asked McClellan, "Isn't it true that John Kerry has taken every possible position on every issue he has ever been asked about?" The press secretary replied roguishly, "Consistency is the bane of small minds. Which of us hasn't changed an opinion a time or two in 30 years of public life? We regard that as a distinct advantage over the ideological rigidity of, say, fundamentalist Christians. Inflexible extra-legal convictions, as we all know, are adamantly opposed by the smartest conservatives, which is why we have added the requirement that judicial candidates must be strongly wishy-washy in their religious views, though not, of course, atheistic, which would antagonize the base."

Challenged as to the acceptability to the right wing of a candidate who is a declared Democrat and a professed advocate of a woman's right to choose, McClellan said, "A woman's right to choose what? I think you'll find he never put himself on the record about that. Besides, you can't please every single critic on every single selection criterion. Our candidate is white, he's a he, he's a semi-devout Roman Catholic who's been to church many times, and, yes, it's true he may have been a Democrat at some point in the past, but we believe that is more than counterbalanced by the fact that he actually hates Texas (for personal reasons we won't go into now), has never even heard of Southern Methodist University, and has never served a single day in the Bush administration. He is also on record as saying that he is much much smarter than President Bush, which constitutes an ironclad guarantee that he won't be some tool of the President and his cronies. All that aside, if certain conservatives choose to interpret this nomination as a gesture of how much the President appreciated their support for prior candidates, it's not for us to declare them wrong. After all, they are all also much much smarter than George W. Bush, as they have admitted on numerous occasions. So perhaps they should take up any objections they might have with Mr. Kerry, who is more on their level intellectually."

"What was the selection process used?" asked a skeptical Time correspondent. "Very simple," McClellan said. "The President recognized that, as George Will had explained so beautifully in print, he was simply too dumb to select a nominee himself. So he deferred to the last president who had a nominee approved by 90-plus votes in the senate, William Jefferson Clinton. Kerry was the first name he mentioned, and the President went with it."

A WAPO reporter asked, "Isn't this nomination really a kind of middle finger to the elitist right wing of the party?" When McClellan finally stopped laughing, he replied, "No. Of course not. Absolutely not. But, frankly, we can't wait to see the look on their face."

McClellan estimated that senate hearings to review Kerry's abundant record would take about six years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An then yer arse fell aff.*

George Galloway, MP, Scottish Traitor

BRITS.3.5-9. People who are truly concerned about criminality in politics should quit foaming at the mouth about Rove for a minute and look at this item from yesterday's Drudge Report:


George Galloway has strongly refuted new allegations that he pocketed money from Saddam Hussein's scandal ridden oil-for-food programme and lied about it under oath.

The US Senate committee investigating the Respect MP's alleged involvement in the saga claims to have discovered 85,000 (150,000 dollars) in Iraqi oil money in his wife's bank account.

Mr Galloway may face criminal charges if found to have given false testimony to the committee when he defended himself against similar claims in a passionate showdown earlier this year.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has accused him of giving "false and misleading testimony" at the May 17 hearing.

Mr Galloway, who used the headline-grabbing appearance as the basis for a new book, denied being an oil trader, soliciting oil allocations or instructing anyone to do so on his behalf.

He also denied being a thief, a liar, a perjurer, a bully, and a disgrace to Scotland.

*Translation found here.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Talkalypse

THE BRAYING SEASON. For almost all of our history, Americans have been an optimistic and lucky people. It's not that we have been spared every kind of hardship and loss. Such things are part of life. Every life. But in comparative terms, we have escaped many of the crushing disasters routinely experienced by other peoples around the world. We began our national life with a revolution that secured liberty from monarchic rule and personal freedoms unprecedented in history. We take it so much for granted that we no longer require our children to learn the astonishing story in any detail. Astonishing? Yes. Our revolution could have unfolded like that of the French, which spiralled into wholesale murder, totalitarian fanaticism, and thence to the comparative relief of a military dictatorship that slaughtered an entire generation of men on the battlefield. The record on revolutions isn't good. The Russian version killed somewhere between 30 and 50 million during its three-quarter century of unintended consequences. The Chinese version is still racking up casualties after more than half a century of murder and oppression. Yet we procured our liberty and freedom with fewer than 10,000 battle deaths and began to chart a course from our European roots that leveraged their legacy of capitalism and reason while somehow escaping the Old World's experience of near-constant war and arrogant imperialism.

It's true we ran the gauntlet of a civil war that produced appalling casualties, but we avoided the even costlier catastrophe of national dissolution, which could have turned our many diverse states into the mirror image of, well, Europe, where a far more savage piper was waiting to be paid for the sin of bitter prejudices and rivalries based on minor ethnic differences. In World War I, England, France, Germany and Russia lost a full generation of young men, more than 3 million dead each. And still, they didn't learn the lesson. Less than 20 years later, they were at it again. The peace that followed was not a European but an American peace, based on our traditions of democratic government, individual liberty, and capitalist competition as a substitute for warfare. And because the Europeans had lost much of their courage and will, it was America which took the responsibility for protecting the nations of the west from the new imperialist delinquent on the block during their second childhood schooling in civilization. Though we were twice ensnared in these European wars we didn't start, we somehow contrived to win them without incurring anywhere near their casualties.

Along the way, we also survived the worldwide depression caused by World War I and resulting in World War II. Afterwards our economy was fairly bursting with prosperity while Europe's had to be rebuilt from scratch. Their subsequent return to affluence was heavily subsidized by the vastly expensive shield of the American military, paid for by Americans who were still growing richer faster than the peoples who ungratefully depended on our protection.

Of course, not all pain and loss is caused by war. Frequently overlooked in the many comparisons between the old world and the new is the simple fact that in America the land itself is much more violent than it is in Europe. We suffer more of almost every kind of natural disaster -- earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, wildfire and forest fire -- as well as more extreme heat and cold. It may seem odd that disasters here commonly result in remarkably few casualties, and odder that this record runs parallel to our history of minimal battlefield casualties. But perhaps it is time to rediscover something about America that has been forgotten by many who consider themselves the country's smartest people. The United States may have been sired by Europe but it was born on the frontier, out of a land that offered huge bounty and exacted huge prices in human work, sacrifice, and resolve. The trees were taller, the mines richer, and the farmland more fertile, but the storms were stronger, the winters colder, the summers hotter, the landscapes more variable and volatile. The land was more important in the lives of most people than the government. It was the land which required faith in a god of mercy and justice, and it was God and faith that produced a people who came to the aid of their neighbors as individuals when the terrible things happened. All who could survive the hardships of life in this vast undeveloped land could become Americans, whether they arrived as Swedes or Dutch or Swiss or Irish or Frenchmen or Englishmen. They were unified by their desire to go their own way with as little interference as possible, and they also knew that such a desire could only be achieved by those who were ready to lend a hand to the other self-reliant fellow when the burden became suddenly too great.

All of this bespeaks a people of action rather than words. Not surprisingly, the Americans remade the language they brought here, gradually replacing its politesse and rhetorical grandeur with the simpler, plainer but more colorful tongue finally cemented into literature by Mark Twain. The icon of the strong, silent American male became a cliche because it was so often true. Too much talk was suspect; it was frivolous, womanish, possibly European. The most celebrated speech in American history was one of the shortest great speeches in the history of the world, the Gettysburg address. It was so eloquent because it connected directly to the taproot of our common experience of God, liberty, land, and sacrifice. It didn't have to soar. It could rather be still, like a man standing in thought.

Everyone knows these things or pretends to know them. But it's time to ask a question: when did we turn all these things upside down and inside out?

When did the best educated and most successful of our number decide that the uniquely American traits which for so long secured our good luck and good fortune are the symptoms of a continuing backwardness and immaturity which can only be alleviated by a return to European conventions -- the belief that endless talk trumps decisive action, that the prime factor in human life is government, that the political process must be obsessively oriented around narrow sectarian differences and grievances, that the unwashed masses should be subservient to the superior wisdom of the quality (however conceived), and that garrulous, hysterical vituperation of those who merely disagree is somehow excusable and even a sign of attainment?

Review the recent months and years of our national conversation. It has been growing steadily more vicious, and it seems to be reaching a new peak this fall. Those who hate our president disdain his American plainness, his faith, his resolve. They insist he must learn from, or defer to, the talky snobs who are busily building thick new layers of unresponsive bureaucracy to achieve by edict what thousands of years of history have not been able to accomplish -- the unification of Europe's selfish, racist, blood-drenched nations into something like one country. Never mind that this semblance of action is more than 200 years too late and probably doomed. It must be superior to the far more successful American experience because it entails so much lofty rhetoric, so much self-righteous self-aggrandization, so much talk.

The irony of the great first amendment to our constitution: It allows us to talk because talk was conceived as one of the lesser evils. The liberals love to tell us all the circumstances the founders could never have dreamed of. But surely the biggest thing they could never have dreamed of was the great wall of talk that has arisen out of media capitalism and technology and its aristocratic propensities. Because the media lords talk rather than build or farm or labor with their hands, they have come to believe themselves a kind of leadership class, responsible for shaping the truth of our national experience. And because they do not build or farm or labor with their hands, they do not respect the mighty difference that exists between the act of putting things together and the act of tearing them apart.

Right now, they are tearing us apart and we are allowing them to get away with it. I'm not referring here only to Democrats or liberals, although they are centrally involved, but to all the talkers who are poisoning this precious time in our lives. As a people, we have every reason to rejoice. Yes, there are challenges and hardships, but there always are. The world-sized truth that the talkers are trying so hard to blind us to is that our nation is the most successful and beneficent country in the history of life on earth. Our population is more diverse than any other, and thanks to a tradition of hard work, all segments of our population have produced outstandingly successful and respected leaders in dozens and dozens of disciplines. Of all nations on earth, we are the best able to defend ourselves from outside enemies (of which there will always be some, regardless of our motives), and we are the best able to protect one another from the ravages of disease, nature, and bad luck.

But read or listen to all the talk on the right and the left today, and you could be pardoned for thinking that America is beset by a series of unconscionable and completely avoidable disasters, on the brink of economic and military ruin. Every essay and debate seems to conclude with dark references to the end of the world. Republicans shriek that a single ill advised judicial appointment is the end of the world, a period of too much government spending is the end of the world, our inability thus far to stem the flow into our irresistibly attractive paradise by some of the poorest people on earth is the end of the world. The Democrats wail that a war they disapprove of which has cost nearly 2000 American lives is the end of the world, a cyclical profusion of hurricanes which have killed hundreds of Americans is the end of the world, the continuing fact that our poorest citizens remain poor in our terms even if 90 percent of the rest of the earth's population would call them rich is the end of the world. They have talked, talked, talked, and talked themselves into a state of frantic vindictiveness that can only be assuaged by the criminalization of all their political opponents and the punishment of every public face that fails to prevent the inevitable losses and hardships of human life, from which we are all, apparently, supposed to be exempt in America.

This a disgusting, a nauseating, state of affairs. The talkers are not America. They are a by-product of prosperity and a parasite feeding on the greater goodness of the masses they presume to patronize. Last week, I read the blog of a onetime liberal who now considers himself a conservative, and he was trying to explain the differences between the two. He is a professor. He talked as if he were taking the long view, the objective view. He said that liberals are moral optimists, while conservatives are moral pessimists. This causes liberal to believe in the perfectability of humanity while conservatives accept the fact of sin as a constant. He is a professor. Therefore, it is not surprising that he is dead wrong. It is liberals who are the moral pessimists. They believe that the human condition can be idealized by the right mechanisms of government, which must gather the power to protect the ignorant from the consequences of their own poor decisions. Conservatives are the moral optimists, believing that it is safer to trust the decision making of individuals over that of organizations, which have a demonstrated tendency to acquire amoral and anti-human authority. The professor is confusing human morality with the human condition. Where conservatives are pessimists -- or realists, if you agree -- is in accepting that life will always deal out hurt and injustice. There will always be hurricanes, for example. Liberals -- lacking the humility of those who look to God for ultimate justice -- place too much faith in themselves, in their own ability to stage manage the human condition for the rest of us.

Now that's a point for the conservative talkers to ponder as well. At what point did it become critical for the entire country to follow your exact prescription for surviving the next few months or years? Where do you truly place your faith? In the American traditions you profess to defend? Or in your own lofty intellectual interpretation of those traditions?

I know I promised an explosion of anger, and this has not quite turned out that way. I am angry, but it manifests itself in this case as a sick feeling, a profound disgust, a fragmentary memory of what calm and measured voices would even sound like in the hateful hurricane that is sweeping through our magnificently fortunate nation.

And so I have produced merely more talk. My humble apologies.

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