February 21, 2007 - February 14, 2007
don't have the whole story yet, but we're going with it anyway, in the
tradition of the 21st century New
York Times and CBS News.
Apparently, the sequel to Basic
Instinct stars Jeff Goldblum (H/T to Michelle Malkin)
as a housefly so in love with Sharon Stone that he's willing to let her
swat him cold-bloodedly to death rather than give up the great sex he
thinks he's having with her.
This doesn't seem right to us. According to the review cited by Malkin:
That may be true, but we wonder where the usually relentless watchdogs
of PETA are to protect defenseless little whatsits against the
predatory evil of Sharon Stone. Don't they know how damaging this might be
to the self esteem of young flies, gnats, and mosquitoes the world over?
We've been mad at Hollywood before, but this time we mean it.
you have to be Hispanic to figure out this kind of logic: You've broken
the law and risked your life to get the hell out of the land of your
birth, but when the country you've sneaked into considers sending you
back home, you rush into the streets in protest -- GET THIS! -- proudly
carrying the flag of the country you'd rather die than live in. Some of
you even carry signs suggesting that the poor failed country you've
escaped from should possess the land you've fled to.
I gotta tell you. To us gringos, this whole shtick is so insanely
stupid that it makes us want to boot you back to Mexico out of sheer
principle. If the U.S. hadn't acquired the southwest from the corrupt
descendants of the Conquistadors, it would be just as destitute and
prospectless as the country you left. And if you succeed in taking it
back by force of numbers, it will revert to a state indistinguishable
from the miserable shanty towns you left behind.
Sound harsh? Too bad. Just because your next door neighbor has the wherewithal to buy a giant Hummer, that doesn't mean you have a right to sneak your large unruly family into the back seat for a free ride, even if your father once owned the driveway the Hummer is parked in. That's exactly the kind of thinking that created the great economic non-miracle of Mexico in the first place.
You're blowing the only opportunity you have for a better life. When you're a guest who wants to continue his visit, insulting and annoying your hosts isn't the right policy. And if you make them mad enough, they will throw you out, no matter how entitled your delusions tell you you are.
. Life in these United States is sure amazing. Today, there's
a report from ContactMusic.com that Sean Penn works out his political
frustrations in a rather unusual way:
More than little creepy, eh? But the last two sentences of the article
clear everything up. If you're a highly moral liberal, the right way to
treat people you believe to be insincere is to perform ritual torture
on their effigies. Uh huh. Is this what we're supposed to consider
enlightened tolerance on the part of the elite left? Yeah, probably.
Of course, Sean Penn's roots aren't really liberal. They're communist. His father, Leo Penn, was a member of the American Communist Party that has long been proven -- by Soviet records -- to be an agent of direct sedition and treason against the United States on behalf of Stalin. For what the Stalinists thought about tolerance vs. torture, look here.
Ann Coulter's apparent crime against nature was to remember Leo Penn's career and document it. That's not snake oil. It's merely a reminder of the kinds of things self-professed liberals are capable of doing in the name of ideology. Perhaps she shouldn't have mentioned it. After all, Sean has been giving us plenty of reminders of his own since 9/11. Like father, like son, right? Leo would have probably have known what to do with an Ann Coulter doll, too, in his heyday.
Regardless, it does seem that Sean needs some advice. Beating up dolls may incline one to think that there are no consequences for this kind of behavior. This may not be true with respect to Ann Coulter. She's at least as mean as the jolly fellows who write South Park, and look what they did to Isaac Hayes when he left the show. Even images and effigies have been known to fight back.
Worse, there's more to Ann Coulter than a 12-inch talking doll. Take
our word for it.
. Today's InstaPundit links to a Charles
Krauthammer column exposing ex-neocon Francis Fukuyama's convenient
memory about how he initiated the conversion that has made him a
darling of the anti-war left. Then the Blogfather
proceeds to add a comment of his own and some updates:
This got me thinking about a perennial problem in public affairs and
history. There are always highly credentialed people on the scene
playing important roles in policy and decision making. In the positions
they take, they are right or they are wrong, and it seems there's no
good way of determining which is which until long after the fact. There
can be great men who are wrong about important matters, but most often
the leaders who are dead wrong are not great but small men, whose
powers of vision, discernment, and judgment are simply inadequate for
the challenges they face. How do we recognize the pygmies before they
do us irreparable harm?
The haphazard lumping together of the three men cited in Instapundit's blog represents an interesting point of departure for examining this question. Of the three, only one has so far been exposed as a gnat squashed in the flywheel of history. While many conservatives have already consigned Gergen and Fukuyama to the limbo in which the midgets of human experience reside, it's still possible that they are right and we are wrong. It will probably take decades to obtain a clear verdict. But it was Paul Ehrlich who gave us the fantasy of the Population Bomb that would drive us to worldwide starvation and exhaustion of natural resources in his own lifetime. It didn't happen. With regard to western civilization, the converse has proven to be the real crisis -- diminishing birthrates that threaten to degrade Europe and the rest of the developed world into neo-barbarian enclaves of Islam. Thus, Ehrlich is now destined to be a minor footnote of the twentieth century.
What's interesting is that he does not conform to many of the criteria that might appear to be indicative of the Small Man. He did not work his way up to a position of power for which he was unqualified like, say, George McClellan. He did not ride the coattails of a popular/populist wave of sentiment that happened to be stupid, like a William Jennings Bryan (Fukuyama?). He did not subordinate common sense to a vain belief that he could rationally stage-manage irrational forces of history, like Neville Chamberlain. He did not succumb to simple weakness of vision, intellect, or character, like Jimmy Carter or von Hindenburg, And he did not merely feather his own nest as a clever operator in thrall to those who could grant him power and praise, like Albert Speer, Vidkun Quisling, or Aaron Burr (Gergen?).† In fact, he was learned, original, dedicated, and a tireless fighter for what he believed in. He began his public life as a mere college professor without any kind of official power and attracted considerable attention to ideas that turned out to be entirely erroneous.
Some might say this nominates him as a great man, but it does not. Great men do have great achievements, whether they also exhibit great weaknesses or not. Paul Ehrlich is, on the stage of history, a mediocrity, a failure, and a man singularly devoid of accomplishment. He was completely wrong about his life's work.
What can we learn from his example? Underdogs aren't necessarily right just because they're underdogs who succeed in creating a stir. Outstanding educational credentials don't necessarily translate to true brilliance. Integrity of intellect doesn't necessarily prove rightness. So how are we supposed to arm ourselves against the seemingly brilliant true believers, especially when they come into conflict with more ordinary-appearing men?
Using the Ehrlich model, for example, how might we have decided that Winston Churchill was a great man back in the days when he was a maverick Parliamentarian opposing the consensus foreign policy of all the countries of Europe because he saw a Chaplin-lookalike chancellor as a stake in the heart of civilization? Underdog, yes, but it doesn't matter. Beautifully, classically eloquent, yes, but it doesn't matter. Absolutely sincere, yes, but it doesn't matter. How might we have known that he was as right and implacable as Lincoln, who was in power, pitifully uneducated, and derided on all sides as a stumblebum political hack?
To get a clue, I think we need a new cultural term. Intellectually, philosophically, and artistically, we live in an age that has been named "post-modern."† The use of a prefix in a term that is supposed to characterize one or more generations of thought and aspiration is suggestive. It is suggestive of being at least one remove from what is genuinely original or vital. The post-moderns are "post" a lot of things -- post-Christian in faith, post-rational in thought, post-nationalist in politics, post-innovative in the arts. Their only philosophy is collage, a pasting together of discrepant styles, cultures, belief systems, and folk traditions in ways that can be taken apart intellectually but are considered inviolate with regard to their equivalence in moral terms. It is the time of the great leveling -- everything can and should be a patch in the tedious stitching of the human quilt.
When it comes to how leaders in all ages act, I believe post-modernism has always been with us in one key respect. This is that the complexity of contemporary life has (habitually) reached a point which can no longer be dominated by human will, either in the singular power of human individuality or the united spirit of a single community. It must be compromised to keep the impending catastrophe from doing us all in. We must, at last, begin to embrace the status quo, settle for less than our boldest dreams, initiate a process of self repudiation in recompense for the grievances of others, or even deny (or doubt) our own human right to survive. We become so supremely civilized we forget that survival is always at risk and always worth fighting for.
It's contemporary bias which blinds us to the fact that this is a recurring phase in human affairs. Every civilization has fallen, after all. Notably, the fall of every civilization has also been stage managed by small men in the grip of the syndrome I choose to call Post-Civilization. The fall always begins at the point when the supposedly wisest and smartest decide that the best days are behind, and the future can only be negotiated successfully be aiming lower, accepting more of the demands of opponents and enemies, and accepting the possibility that their most deeply held traditions may be flawed or defective. If a civilization were a human body, this would be a period of bleeding out, the slow numbing of limbs, the dimming of self-consciousness, the fading of strength, resignation to a death only faintly anticipated.
Most small men are simply flawed and, well, undersized, readily accepted by the hordes of like-minded comrades who are also self-righteously fixated on doing what seems easy right now. Sometimes, small men can even be courageous, as when they they defend the broken barricades of bad ideas their egos can't live without. The dangerous small men are those who possess enormous talent but approach their challenges with a post-civilization mentality. They seek to shepherd us gently into that good night where all journeys end. Their only ideal is the zero-sum game, because they are realistic, pragmatic, and wise. Paul Ehrlich is an archetype of Post-Civilization Man.
Great men come in all flavors and from all backgrounds. What distinguishes them is their vitality, their absolute determination in pursuing a better outcome than repeating the fancied high points of the past. They believe that the price we pay today and tomorrow to seek brand new accomplishments in the future is worth even their own humiliation and ruin. Their style is not to regulate or diminish, but to lead and inspire and challenge the very best in each of us, asking whatever sacrifice and pain are required to keep the human destiny looking up to the stars rather than down to the drab prospect of accommodation and retreat.
Now if you think that the small men really are wiser, name some names of the great small men who supervised the terminal stages of every great civilization.
I thought so.
Lest anyone think Bill O'Reilley is the loudest braying donkey
of cable news, we'd like to commend Jack Cafferty to your attention. He
works for a little station in Atlanta that has about 4,500 regular
viewers, which explains why you may never have heard of him. But that
doesn't mean he isn't as big a crude, stupid boor as they come. His
usual position is that he knows everything there is to know. For
example, he single-handedly ended
the recent controversy about whether the mainstream media are reporting
too negatively on Iraq:
It's not worth pointing out, we suppose, that the mission of
journalists is not to wreak vengeance for disappointed personal
expectations, but to communicate clear and accurate information to the
public about what is happening right now. Nor would it elicit any
thoughtful response from Mr. Cafferty, we're sure, to ask him why it is
that both U.S. military personnel on the ground and Iraqi bloggers are
among the most vocal in declaring that the U.S. mainstream media refuse
to report many developments that could easily be interpreted as good
We won't list those here, because they are available in many locations throughout the blogosphere, and we've decided to follow Mr. Cafferty's lead in this post, ignoring the positive in favor of the negative because his network disappointed us so badly years ago by refusing to report the mass murders and rapes of the Saddam regime in exchange for palace access.
It's actually a pretty easy way to operate. For example, we researched Jack Cafferty's career in several places (here and here) and discovered the following.
Cafferty formerly co-anchored CNN's weekday morning broadcast, American Morning, but he doesn't anymore. Ratings? Now he just hosts a weekend show about money and does some stints of punditry with Wolf Blitzer. Prior to CNN, he spent half his career as a TV host and news reader for a local station in New York City. Before that he worked in small hick markets like Des Moines, Iowa, and Reno, Nevada. There's no indication in any of his bios that he ever saw the inside of a college, served in the military, wrote a book or newspaper column, or acquired any direct experience in foreign policy. His period of greatest fame was probably the immediate aftermath of a traffic accident in which his car ran down a bicycle and he pleaded to leaving the scene of an accident to avoid jail time. Still, he has won some awards over the years, including the usual self-congratulatory crap from the MSM, as well as a Third Place in the Media Research Council's 2005 DisHonors Awards and one of Hugh Hewitt's prestigious Nutter Awards. Frankly, to us, his career seems a hopeless quagmire.
Don't blame us, Jack. According to you, that's how journalism is supposed to be done.
Unless Tom Berenger has a better way.