All right. I admit it. The headline was the whole motivation for the
post. All that's left is a review by one Nicholas Shakespeare of a book
on terrorists by his fellow Brit, Michael Burleigh. I know I should end
the entry right now with a link to the book review in question, but I'm
a stubborn cuss, and I can't help looking for some meaning to justify the
grandiloquence of my headline. My apologies [Leave. Go. Get the hell
out of here. I have absolutely NOTHING to say today that's worth
reading]. Still here? Damn.
At least I'm not blogging about Eliot Spitzer.
That's probably why you're still reading. Nothing is more boring than Eliot
Spitzer. Not even Nicholas Shakespeare. And truthfully (???), the
review does illuminate the profound death wish of the Brit intellectual
caste. They are all so absent emotion that one could cut their throats
and their final gurgled words would be a critique of your technique.
Here are some excerpts from the review:
We live in an age of cultural disorder,
point a finger at the absurdities of radical Islam is to be branded a
racist, a fascist or a bigot. This timely and important book would
probably not have been published 10 years ago, but its relevance is
Michael Burleigh's theme:
squalor, intellectual poverty and psychotic nature of terrorist
organisations, from the Fenians of the mid-19th century to today's
jihadists - the latter group, especially, being composed of unstable
males of conspicuously limited abilities and imagination, and yet who
pose "an existential threat to the whole of civilisation" with their
crusade to realise "a world that almost nobody wants", all in the hope
of an afterlife featuring 72 virgins and rivers foaming with honey and
Burleigh has read and
travelled enough to express an impeccable
contempt for the "theoretical gobbledygook" of the IRA or the
"stunningly tedious" ideology of the New Left, while sharing the
bemusement of the kidnapped German industrialist Hans Schleyer "at the
incredible ignorance his captors [the Red Army Faction] demonstrated
about the higher workings of the German economy"...
Andreas Baader embodies many of the
resentful and narcissistic traits that Burleigh identifies in his
subjects: sour, lazy nobodies, ugly, of febrile imagination and
indifferent talent, who can only become somebody by blowing others,
inevitably persons more talented and intelligent, up....
Burleigh parades an
arsenal of facts, and the cumulative effect is
undeniable. Only with his claim that the tactic of terror "never
amounted to more than an irritant", and was not crucial in forcing
colonial powers to leave Palestine and Algeria, not to mention acceding
to power in Ireland and South Africa, do I depart from his thesis....
Burleigh shares in his prose style
something of the pitiless monotone
with which his targets engage with the world. He finds little
levity in over 500 pages, except where his keenness to be up to date
gets the better of him. He has his finger on the pulse, but his foot on
Blood & Rage is in all sorts of
ways an outstanding book; it
is also fuelled by the manic energy and focus of someone accelerating a
truckload of intellectual high-explosives into the gates of a
"stunningly" credulous soft-liberal establishment, composed of
"colluding" human rights lawyers and "celebrity useful idiots" such as
Tariq Ali, whom Burleigh witheringly chastises for having
"progressively marginalised high intellectual endeavour" while at the
same time conspiring to convert cosmopolitan London into the Islamic
haven of "Londonistan"...
Al Qa'eda's chief military
spokesman in Europe puts it best: "You love
life and we love death." If there are no flies on Burleigh, there are
plenty on the moribund dogmas of those he dissects. [emphasis added]
An academic subject, terrorism. Really. Something to
pass the time when no one else wants to discuss something important,
like the unutterably depressing brilliance of Graham
Greene novels. So here we have the passionless reviewing the
passionless and noting passionlessness as a stylistic fault.
You know, the Brits are just fucking DONE.
Maybe I should have blogged about Eliot Spitzer. Even he is more intriguing than Brit
BRIZONI! Where the HELL are you when we need you?!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Why I Hate
chains are slave chains.
The other day I made a passing reference to basketball as the "worst
team sport played in America." I feel I should qualify and explain that
statement. The qualification is that strictly as a game, basketball
isn't nearly as awful as soccer.
But basketball is still more immediately worse for Americans. That
explanation takes a little longer, and it's a two parter. There are
things I hate about the game itself, and then there's stuff beyond
that. I'll tackle them in order.
The Game Itself
1. Five on the Court
The fewer the players, the more likely it is that one player can
utterly dominate a team, for better or worse -- and mostly for worse.
Basketball's concept of the Big Man represents more of a distortion of
the team concept than anything else in true team sports. A Wilt
Chamberlain or a Michael Jordan has more specific gravity on a squad
than any all-pro quarterback, all-star power hitter, or ace pitcher.
Even an over-hyped national hero like David Beckham is only one of
fifteen on an incomprehensibly larger field of play. Which brings me to
my next objection.
2. The Court
It's so small that it could be, and has been, outgrown by the sheer size
of the players. A football field is still long enough that no
quarterback can pass from one end zone to another. The geometry of a
baseball field is still so perfectly neutral that a small man can smack
a single through the gap between short and second, drive a triple into
the gap between left and center field, or even lay down a bunt hit
between the pitcher and the catcher. And hockey, the second most
constricted major team sport, retains more separation between the fans
and the players, thanks to the boards and the plexiglass wall that
protects spectators from the puck and, mostly, from player aggression.
None of these structural constraints still exists in basketball. Quite
ordinary players can execute the slam-dunk that was never dreamed of by
the game's founder, who thought the ten-foot height of the net was an
equalizer, not an incentve for seeking out seven-foot anomalies as if
they were great athletes. And, yes, there are still tiny dynamos like
Alan Iverson, but even their greatness is no longer a function of team
play, but of their unique ability to navigate a small giant-filled
space all alone, like a broken-field runner in a dense forest of
3. The Court
No, it's not a misprint. The basketball court is not a playing field.
It's a theater. That's why basketball coaches are scrutinized and
critiqued as if they were themselves players. They affect costumes,
they stalk and pace and gesture and vocalize like actors on Broadway,
and generally speaking, they are performers of a sort that would be
unthinkable in baseball, football, hockey AND soccer. An obvious
additional implication is that when the coach is a theatrical perfomer,
his players are more than mere athletes. They, too, become -- at least
to some extent -- actors,
closer to WWE wrestlers than to, say, NFL prima donnas like Terrell
Owens, who confines his antics to the times outside the whistles that
start and end playing time.
4. The Court
If the court is so small that it's inevitably jammed with oversized
perfomers, what chance do the referees have to be effective? There's no
way they can be distant enough from the action to get good angles on
who did what to whom. In fact, they're forced to compete with the
players for the approval of the audience, and so they call their calls
with more authority than accuracy. They also understand the rules of
performance better than the refs in any other sport. It's more
important to be quick and dramatic than correct. It's more important
that the audience enjoy the show than that the rules of the game be
enforced in a context where the rules are simply inadequate to the
momentum of the game. That's why no NBA player is ever called for
"walking," which is endemic and ludicrously unenforced. The result: the
most critical rules in the game -- fouls, charging, goal-tending, and
technical fouls -- are changing the results of games without any
justifying percentage of accuracy. The refs have made basketball, at
all levels of the sport, into roller-derby.
The Other Stuff
All of these game weaknesses have combined to make basketball an
American cultural disaster as well.
1. Basketball as fashion.
The goddamn spinnaker
uniform (derived from oversized prison garb) is reason enough by
itself to cease watching the games. Who wants to see them flapping down
the court like Victorian whores in bloomers?
2. Basketball as cultural pied-piper.
The thuggery that has become common in interactions among coaches,
players, and fans is disgusting. Too much jewelry. Too many gangster
vehicles, specifically Cadillac Escalades. Too many gun and
drug arrests. Too many incidents of player-fan violence. At least in
professional wrestling, the violence is mostly rehearsed and fake. When
Artest attacks a fan or Kobe Bryant (allegedly) rapes a, uh, fan, the
violence is all too real and we're all diminished and degraded. Worse,
we don't seem to be realizing that fact.
3. Basketball as Organizational Model.
Star basketball players don't have to learn how to lead, sacrifice, or
get along with others. They just have to throw their weight around.
They can get coaches fired, supporting players traded or benched, and
they can get the law enforcement organizations in their vicinity to
back off. Just the model kids need if they're going to be good
husbands, successful fathers, productive citizens, and efficient
business partners. In fact, if you wanted to teach a kid how to be the
worst possible member of a community, what better example could you
proffer him than a lavishly admired basketball player in college or the
4. Basketball as the African-American
Like everyone else, I've enjoyed movies like Coach Carter and Glory Road. But I HATE the
overwhelming fixation on basketball in the African-American community.
It is not and will never be the way out of poverty and deprivation. The stars who made the movies weren't basketball players at Duke or the Lakers.
Basketball teams are tiny, and the number of people who can ever hope
to compete successfully at the NBA, college, or high school level is
correspondingly small. It doesn't matter at all in the global
demographics of the situation that a successful basketball player can
get a college scholarship based on his abilities. No matter how good he
(or she) is, the chances of a college basketball player graduating with
a degree are very slim, and much much much worse than that is the fact
that the thousands of hours devoted to basketball by youngsters would
be far better spent learning math, science, English, art, and history.
The feel-good movies that are supposed to demonstrate the reality of
American opportunity are, in fact, cruel vandals of opportunity.
Every time I see a movie featuring middle or upper-middle class
African-Americans where suit-and-tied Dad goes out to shoot a few hoops
with his sports-obsessed son, I want to shoot up the screen with a
shotgun. The truth is, basketball just might be the worst thing that
ever happened to African-Americans in this country, even worse than
slavery itself. Why?
As I pointed out above, it's NOT a team sport;. it's a star sport.
Which leads to egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior that we've seen
repeatedly from NBA millionaires who should
be role models but are the opposite instead.
Basketball is also peculiarly conducive to making individuals feel like better athletes than
they are. It's got a pernicious "one-thing" practice delusion, meaning
that you and a basketball and a net can practice all alone in a way
that you won't find in any other team sport except hockey, which --
thank God -- is still mostly played by Canadians and New Englanders.
It's possible to practice and practice and pactice and ultimately
convince yourself that you're a great basketball player because you can
sink shots from anywhere on the court. (Otherwise, we wouldn't have the
scourge of all those 5' 3" nerds who want to play us one-on-one at the
YMCA). But it's a lie. You don't become
Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain or Kobe Bryant or
LeBron James by
practicing obsessively. You start out as one of those spectacularly
gifted guys and refine your skills through practice and gifted
one-on-one coaching. On the other hand, the same degree of devotion and
persistence -- even without the million-dollar coach -- can make you a
businessman, an entrepreneur, an attorney, an adminstrator, or -- if
you pay as much attention to class as to B-ball -- a doctor.
4. That Ghetto-Chain Net.
I hate this image more than anything above. To me, basketball is the
perpetuation of slavery. The odds of basketball freeing anyone from
poverty are as bad as counting on the lottery to win a fortune. Seeing
a chain instead of a net is like seeing another nail in a
My libertarian leanings prevent me from seeking the abolition of
basketball. But if we were to abolish basketball -- or if the people
who claim to be trying to help African-Americans contrived to ban
basketball -- the single biggest imprisoning illusion in the country
would be vanguished and millions upon millions of kids would be
suddenly freed to divert their energies to productive pursuits like
learning, academic accomplishment, economic achievement, family
creation, scientific curiosity. mathematical precision, and too many
other good things to list.
Just a stainless-steel basketball
net. Cool, right? No. Manacles for yet another
doomed generation, dead certain it can slam-dunk the education
I HATE basketball. I especially hate the squeegee sounds their
thousand-dollar sneakers make on hardwood. Like fingernails on a blackboard. But, then, I know what fingernails on a blackboard sound like. I must be one of those white-boy geeks.
Friday, March 07, 2008
The New Masculinity
I didn't see it right off, either. Price of being a guy..
They're coming for us, gents. While you've been watching the NFL
and NASCAR and Jessica Alba's tush, they've been talking the womenfolk
and the hyper-educated nerds into a new social contract. If you thought
what you've overheard about the Global Warming scare was just the
adrenalin rush people who don't care about sports use to get excited
about something, you were
wrong. They've massed along all our borders, and they're about to hit
us from all sides. The scariest part is the women. They think the Obama
dude is sexy because he does hours of foreplay from the pulpit and his
wife has more balls and attitude than he does. They love him to death.
Here's how the weeny Protein
Wisdom explains the peculiar photo above:
So, what exactly are you trying to say
here with your curiously framed composition, Mr Racist photojournalist?
That black men have giant COCKS? With big white teeth?
And why is his prodigious joint so red and white and shiny, anyway? Is
that supposed to invoke, like, baboon imagery? Mulattoism? Is it
intended to make white men feel insignificant, and to make white
women’s breasts heave with forbidden lust? Is this Obamandingo?
What are you trying to tell us?
Christ, between your antics and the Clinton campaign's photo
manipulation and carefully-crafted commercial intended to remind
Americans that Obama is, in fact, a geniune negro, it's getting kind of
difficult for “"onservatives" to hold onto the title of most racist
people in the whole entire world.
Please. Leave us something, won't you? Though, just for the record, I
am of course OUTRAGED!
UPDATE... The more I look at this picture, the more uncomfortable I
become. I mean, his cock — with its sly, rapacious grin: It's like
it's taunting me.
The nerds don't know anything about Ford tractors. They don't know that
the front-end "bullet" is hardly sexy without a big boost from fancy
Sexy as a washing machine.
And they don't know that they're not looking at the future, but at a
long defunct and drearily decrepit past:
old crap don't run at all for the most part.
What you don't understand is that all this talk about hope and change
is really their hope that they can change us and everything we care
about. They want to make life about being slow and careful and obedient
and submissive. They want to take our cars away and replace them with
A car called "Insight." Yuk. Why not
call it "Sensitivity"?
Worse, we have traitors in our midst. Even guys who care about cars are
all tangled up in female fashion bullshit. For example, there's a guy
to be on our side who posted this:
Nice, huh. But get a load of what he said:
There is one aspect of the Testarossa
that I can't really defend. Crockett and Tubbs drove a Testarossa on
Miami Vice, forever linking the Testarossa with gauche 1980s fashion.
It's hard to deny that even a glimpse of a Testarossa now inspires
visions of pink t-shirts under white suit coats.
I'm sure he prefers 21st Century, eco-correct fashion like this:
Whereas, I'd trade that SUV queen-saint of CSI Miami any day of the week
for the understandably screwed up, confused and betrayed hellions of
Miami Vice, pink tee-shirts
and all. How about you?
Just so you know. They want to take it ALL away. Here are the things
they now deem as vile as child pornography. If you didn't know this
before, you do now. You have no more excuse. Click and look at what you
will be condemned and persecuted for. (btw, if you don't know how
YouTube works, you can get a full-screen version by clicking on the
extreme right-hand icon of this control bar:
Now behold the new version of evil, male, anti-social, anti-planet
The end game is to replace our lively and unpredictable lust for life
with the inert monoliths that symbolize the masculinity of
tyrants and dictators. The more their statues look like viagra-style
erections, the more dead the people under them are and the less they're
allowed to do. Think of it as cock and no balls. Fossilized virility.
Just like that dead Ford tractor above (and the testicle-free bozo
sitting on it). That's what they really want us to be. It's their ideal.
Sometimes the ideal includes an
Sometimes it's a sleek, New Age dildo.
And sometimes it's just a
dumb-as-rocks straight-ahead dick.
Is it time to maybe start paying attention, you distracted bastards?
Time to start reminding the fairer and duller among us that it ain't
the meat but the motion?
Do what you want. If you can't see it, I'm pretty much done with you.
All of you.
for Hillary Obama, Pt. II
Because collateral damage against
the aggressor is OK.
No matter who wins, Obama or Hillary will wage a war of attrition
against personal freedom,
disguised as a war against general danger. Think of it as a wolf in
golden retriever's clothing. They're so smart, and they want so much to
help us, they can't not go
all out to protect us from ourselves. God save us from their love.
But we the people are as responsible for our personal, individual
freedom as the government is. National defense we habitually leave
entirely to the
government to manage. The Democrats seem to believe that the only
actual fighting-and-killing offensive they can sanction in the whole
on Terror is against one man: Osama bin Laden.
But if President Clinton should personally shoot bin Laden
in the head during a "police-action" firefight in the first month of
administration, would that end terrorism? Would tens of millions of
militant Muslims just... run out of steam? Would Chechnyan
stop eyeing elementary schools to take hostages (Oh, it was just the one
time, and it's both jingoistic and racist to imply they'll do it
Sorry. Didn't realize it was merely a fluke. I withdraw my previous
slander.) Would the major Palestinian political parties cease hating
Israel enough to stop attacking nightclubs and goddamn seminaries?
Not bloody likely.
The attack on the seminary happened last night. Probably while you were
watching the CSI rerun. (Damn
that writers' strike, anyway.) It wasn't a simple
organized massacre carried out by grubby malcontents. Hamas,
the Palestinian party in power, has triumphantly claimed
Imagine if the National
periodically launched attacks on schools, nightclubs, pizza parlors,
and army bases in El
Paso and San Antonio. (Hey, we'll give
them Austin. They want to be
punished, don't they?) Imagine if crowds all across Mexico
cheered and celebrated when attacks on authentic parts of Texas were
out, smearing co-eds across the grave of Sam Houston in, well, a bloody
jelly punctuated by severed heads. Does that give you some perspective?
Or, if this is easier for you, imagine California's Republican Party
-- led obviously by evangelical Christians and a few well groomed
Mormons -- waged similar guerilla warfare throughout Baja. Imagine
coupon-clipping soccer moms
and Boston Pops patrons celebrating over the dismembered corpses of
cheerleaders whose MySpace pages evinced excessive fondness for Obama,
astrology, and Global Warming.
Here's the Awful Question:
What will we do when our new president proves
persistently committed to his/her humiliatingly doomed "Diplomacy on
Terror" (Gee, for
some reason they still want us dead. We were nice and everything,
too)? Am I the only one looking for any excuse at all not to inaugurate
"Vigilante Foreign Policy"? Or is that starting to smell good to more
than a handful of troglodyte Obama skeptics?
It's not the Friday Follies, because nobody around here is dancing. Did
you look at any of the news this morning? Is this what they
mean by "March Madness"? I guess not. That's actually a reference to
team sport played in America. Apart from politics, that is.
Anyhow. With so much silliness going on, it's definitely not a day for
serious essays or deep thoughts. I mean, who can talk about the
gender-race showdown between Gloria
Steinem and Michelle
Obama over who's the most subjugated victim in the U.S.
presidential race when the real
race is being run in socially enlightened Amsterdam on stiletto
Everywhere you look, there are new phony controversies. Did anyone
really need Prince Charles to weigh in on Global Warming and decide for
us which scientists are right and which are "sheer
madness"? No doubt, such judgments were reached at a colloquium of
well born Brits like this one.
And then there are the acts of individual animal cruelty which have
become the basis for condemning whole groups of people. Is it really
fair that because one
golfer murdered one hawk, the mass media should be painting the
entire PGA as sociopathic killers? Personally, I don't think so. I
think they should be ashamed
Even St. Patrick's Day has been dragged into the phony controversy
trap. An Irish pub owner in Manhattan has banned
the singing of Danny Boy
just because the words to the Irish tune weren't written by an
Irishman. He also says it's too sad. Oh really. Like the Irish have
something against sad
songs. Here's a version of Danny Boy everyone ought to be able to
The French decided to top everybody by pretending they've just
discovered that French women are sexual
predators and French men are chickenshit wussies. Who on earth
didn't already know that? There's documentary evidence from way back in
1992 below the fold, but it's fairly NSFW, so be warned.
about the cars we imprinted on at the age of 17 has drawn some
breathtaking responses, which we've published photos of in an update.
If you want to come clean yourselves, we'll continue to update the
entry. It's highly therapeutic. And fun.
In the bad old days before young people got so in tune with the
environment and protecting the planet from nasty hydro-carbons, one of
the first statements of individual personality an adolescent could make
was his choice of automobile. I'm not talking about the first
automobile actually owned or driven, but the one imprinted on, the
object of desire featured in individual fantasies of moving out into
the big wide world in style. For example, this was mine:
I could claim that I outgrew it, but I didn't. Not really. It's still
there in the back of my mind, that vision of myself young and fancy
free driving like the wind in what I still think is the most beautiful
production car ever made. A lot of you know what I mean. You see the
view from the driver's seat and the picture of yourself driving it
simultaneously, and you know exactly where you're going, how the ride
sounds and smells and feels, and even what music is playing on the
radio. It's all just burned in there, hence my use of the word
I think the archetypal age is seventeen, which is when most of us got
our licenses and acquired the first experience of being in charge
behind the wheel. Everything before that moment is infantile voyeurism.
Afterwards the imagination incorporates all the senses into the
fantasy. It becomes a very detailed metaphor for how we see ourselves
at the cusp of adulthood.
What was the automobile you imprinted on? And what, just for fun, were
the automobiles that figured in the first thrusts of self-definition by
Hillary Rodham, Barack Obama, and John McCain when they were seventeen?
Not having met them, obviously, we have to go on what they've done,
what they say they believe, and what we can infer from the way they act
on the public stage. So here are my guesses. You're free to disagree or
nominate your own alternatives. All I ask is that if you do disagree,
please explain your choices as logically as I explain mine. The formula
is simple: date of birth plus 17 identifies the year in which the brand
new vehicle that's always the stuff of fantasy was made. Ladies first:
Hillary = 1947 + 17 = 1964
She's always been motivated by the concept of service rather
than fun. Practicality would be key, the ability to carry things and
people from where they are to where she knows they ought to go.
Convertibles are unsafe, big luxury cruisers are ostentatious and
anti-egalitarian, and trucks resonate with the worst of all substances
on earth, testosterone. Given what we know of her sojourns at Yale and
Berkeley during the radical era, it's tempting to think she'd have been
captivated by a VW bus replete with (anachronistic) McCarthy sticker.
But that's too easy and probably wrong. She's always had the solidarity
with labor that accompanies her humble origins in coal-mining country.
She would absolutely have wanted an American car, and perferably one
manufactured by a company that wasn't as obsessed with profits as the
Big Three. Here's our nomination.
1964 Studebaker Lark Station Wagon
It's a blue-state feminist's dream, isn't it? You could put a whole
buttload of entitlements into the back end of that thing, and it's still not a big-ass truck. (Not even wide at the hips.) Also,
Studebaker had the good taste to go out of business a few years after
this eminently utilitarian vehicle failed to attract lots of unseemly
sales. Which is really hard to understand, because look at the
campaign they ran. (All right. I'm not exactly sure what I mean
by 'progressive' in this context. But I don't know what Hillary means
by 'progressive' in the context of her atavistic Great Society-like social program
proposals, either. Consider it a blind spot on my part.) Here's what I
do know, though. The song that would be playing on the radio is one of
hits by Gerry
& the Pacemakers. It kind of breaks your heart a little bit.
Obama = 1961 + 17 = 1978
He's so serious looking in the picture up top. You can tell he'd want
something a little dignified, but nothing that anyone would interpret
as flashy or superficial. It would have to be sensible and economical,
because look at what's happening with gas prices in spite of Jimmy
Carter's heroic middle east diplomacy. And it would absolutely have to
be American, because all this business of trading with foreign
countries is a slippery slope (besides, Kenya wasn't making cars back
then). But there should also be just a hint of a statement, maybe not as
far as a Ferrakhan would go, but despite all his disgusting millions,
Henry Ford had it right about some things. Maybe this would
have been young Obama's dream.
It's a fine picture, isn't it? There you are with your best girl in the
dark night of that terrible time in America before Columbia and
Princeton and Harvard started knocking down doors to get you to grace
them with your presence, and all you have in this moment of Godforsaken
limbo is the blazing light of your own high beams to illuminate the
impossibly difficult road ahead. And the stars, of course, which were
always there to signify the immense importance of your personal
journey. What's playing on the Fairmont
radio as the lovers snuggle discontentedly together in the bleakness of
their velour despair? One of these songs,
perhaps this one
by Deniece Williams and Johnny Mathis. Yeah, that sounds about right.
McCain = 1936 +17 = 1953
Let's face it. John-Boy McCain wasn't exactly a visionary when he was seventeen. He was a military
brat who'd be scraping through Annapolis at the bottom of his class in
a few years. So there's no mystery at all about the piece of Detroit
iron he'd have imprinted on. Something about flying low with a gorgeous
blonde at your elbow. There was only one real choice for a red-blooded
1953 Chevrolet Corvette
Sad in a way. It can't help but point out what an old man he is now,
obsolete in his utter lack of finesse and nuance. Who on earth would
share this particular juvenile
fantasy in our day and age? I hate to mention what was probably
playing on the radio. It would have to have been one of these dinsosaur
tunes. Probably this one.
But, as I said, I could be dead wrong. If I am, I'm sure some of you
will let me know.
A couple of commenters have checked in with their "imprint" vehicles.
One is the same as mine (see above). Two others are so cool they really
have to be shared with all of you.
And now, by our count, we have Phony Flap Number 6,537,203: Barack
Obama Consorts With Known American Terrorist!
Conservative talk radio hosts are in a dither over the non-news that
Obama is "friendly" with a fellow named William Ayers, a professor of
education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Thirty-five years
ago, it seems, Ayers ran with the Weather Underground, a guerrilla band
of deluded "revolutionaries" who protested the Vietnam War, racial
injustice and "The Man" by setting off bombs.
We know the nation's press can't be entirely familiar with Ayers, who
is pretty much a Chicago boy, so allow us to fill you in.
Ayers was, indeed, a Weatherman. He bombed the U.S. Capitol, a bathroom
in the Pentagon, and even cased out the White House.
He went on the lam in the 1970s, lived under an assumed name with his
radical wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and gave himself up in 1980. Since
then, he has built a respectable career as an academic and an advocate
for troubled children.... His 1997 book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of
Juvenile Court, has been praised for exposing how Cook County's
juvenile justice system all but eliminates a child's chance for
Is Barack Obama consorting with a radical? Hardly.
Ayers is nothing more than an aging lefty with a foolish past who is
doing good. And while, yes, Obama is friendly with Ayers, it appears to
be only in the way of two community activists whose circles overlap.
Time to move on to Phony Flap 6,537,204.
Maybe not completely time.
Phony Flap No. 6,537,203 still offers a few crumbs of interest. To me,
anyway. The nicest touch in the whole piece -- apart from the generally superior, dismissive tone -- was the assumptive close on
the assertion that "the nation's press can't be entirely familiar with
Ayers." He's a nonentity, you see, a mere "Chicago boy," who got into a
spot of trouble a long time ago. Well, if the nation's press doesn't
have its head stuffed "entirely" up its ass, it should be familiar with Ayers. He
was a genuine terrorist, with very real blood on his hands. Without
luck for the Weathermen (that's good luck to you and me), he'd have
been an accomplice in the greatest attack on America's home soil since
Pearl Harbor. In 1970. Does
that ring any faint bells?
Perhaps we're not as beatifically ignorant as the nation's press, but
we thought it significant when Ayers popped his head up to discuss his
Weatherman career in April 2004. That's why we posted this:
If you missed it, look for another
opportunity to see the documentary Weather
shown last night on PBS. It was interesting and illuminating....
The more repellent excesses of the
radical era were glossed over, in particular the criminal machinations
of the Black Panthers, and the propaganda of the time was visually
with all the most extreme footage ever filmed of the Vietnam War,
vivid images of the My Lai massacre... and we [also] got a film
reenactment of the New York townhouse explosion
that took the lives of three Weatherman bomb makers. Worse, it seemed
were being asked to feel sorrow for their deaths, which occurred while
they were planning to kill hundreds of U.S. Army soldiers and their
at a Fort Dix dance.
What redeemed the documentary were some
of the interviews with former
members of the Weather Underground, all of whom eventually turned
in after nearly a decade of political bombings... The only really
condemning voice we hear is that
of Todd Gitlin, himself a former leader of the infamous SDS, who
was shocked and disgusted when the Weatherman "hijacked" the SDS and
it into a vehicle for political terrorism.
But we do hear voices of regret and even
shame. Oddly, there seems an almost
complete schism between the perspectives of the two sexes of
The women, including the once fiery spokesperson Bernadine Dohrn, seem
sorry that the Weather Underground failed to make any real difference.
Yet they remain politically active, principally in feminist and
causes, and they seem to yearn for a return of the heady days of
Naomi Jaffe and Laura Whitehorn both said on camera that they would do
it all again. The men were a
different story, with the possible exception
of Bill Ayers, who is married to Bernadine Dohrn and and didn't speak
the same depth of emotion as the others... Brian Flanagan
and Mark Rudd... appear to look at the defining events of their lives
with a kind of
shocked puzzlement. They use terms like "crazed," "kind of crazy," and
"overwhelmed by the war" as they grope for explanations of their
Flanagan makes open comparisons between their state of mind and that of
9/11 terrorists. "When you believe you have right on your side, you can
do terrible things," he says. Mark Rudd is candid about his own
"I feel shame and guilt," he confesses. "We were full of hatred. I
clung to my hatred."
The documentary ends with a surprising
snippet of Brian Flanagan, who
now owns a bar in New York City, appearing as a contestant on Jeopardy.
He won $21,000. Some of the others are doing well for themselves, too,
by the look of it. Bill Ayers is a
university professor (of course),
and his wife Bernadine Dohrn is a lecturer at Northwestern University
School. Mark Rudd teaches math at a community college in New
Mexico. [emphases added.]
But the Sun-Times assures us, "Ayers is nothing more than an aging
lefty with a foolish past who is doing good."
A foolish past? Oh. Is that
what we're hearing from Brian Flanagan and Mark Rudd, that they were
just being foolish, and everything's better now that they're "doing
I don't think the implied redemption the Sun-Times is conferring comes
from doing good. I think it comes from being successful, an
accomplishment in which there has been loads of mass media collusion,
all for the purpose of burying a whole army of embarrassing skeletons
that could otherwise be unearthed among the "aging lefties" who now
control the mass media, the nation's colleges and universities, and
numerous fiefdoms of government, business, politics, the arts, and
science. For example, Instapunk was also paying attention when Ayers's
wife Bernadine Dohrn crept out from under her rock back into the limelight
to do her part in the 2004 election:
it turns out that she's giving speeches on college campuses again, most
recently at Northern Illinois University. The campus newspaper,
named The Northern Star (does anyone else remember the wartime
movie North Star, which glamorized Stalin's Russia?), ran a
about her visit...
The article didn't contain a single reference to the Weatherman
Note Dohrn's use of the words "educating" and "taught," as if she and
brethren spent the 70s holding wine and cheese seminars about the
of life. Students at Northern Illinois could no doubt come away from
whole proceeding and its coverage believing that Ms. Dohrn is a
heroine of the antiwar movement who is now contributing her
wisdom to the current situation in Iraq.
The warning note I sounded then still holds true, I believe:
Our most powerful academics and
scholars seem intent on transmuting
violent felons into luminaries, murderous tyrants into misunderstood
idealists, patriots into fascists, U.S. history into a criminal
indictment, and, perhaps, Islamist barbarians into the nemesis of
But according to the Sun-Times,
it's all cool. We're not supposed to remember Obama's middle name,
although show me anyone else in public life who can get away with
turning his own middle name into a banished term of hate speech. Okay.
We're not supposed to get agitated about Obama's long relationship with
this indicted Rezko character, whose connections go deep into the
quasi-espionage world of Syrian and Saudi influence buyers. Okay. We're
not supposed to feel any tingles of suspicion about the fact that
Obama's mother was a committed Marxist, who remains largely unknown
because her son preferred writing books about the father who deserted
him rather than the mother who raised him, educated him, and groomed
him for power. Okay. And we're not supposed to feel any qualms
whatsoever about the fact that Obama had an apparently cordial
relationship with a Chicago community activist who also, quite
coincidentally, was a confessed terrorist who bombed the U.S. Capitol.
Even so. Are any of you out there willing to slip for just a moment
behind the curtain? Let's say you
happened to meet a man who had spent more than a decade actively
plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government and had, in furtherance
of that cause, participated in acts that either intended the death of
innocents or resulted in the violent deaths of his fellow conspirators.
Would you want to go so far as to shake hands with him, smile at him,
agree to call each other by first (no, not middle) names, affect even a
superficial kind of businesslike bonhomie? Think about it. Upon
learning who this man was and what he had done, mightn't you have felt
a sick lurch in your stomach and a quick, clear conviction that
though God might forgive a man such sins, you simply don't want to,
can't bring yourself to, associate with him yourself?
Phony flap? Okay. Have it your way. But I have no compunction about showing
my own intolerance about certain things. I don't like Bill Ayers. I
don't like people who like Bill Ayers. And I'm not at all friendly to
people who are willing to apologize for him, either.
So who's the morally corrupt screwball here? Me? Or the Sun-Times? How do you really feel
about their golden boy? And while we're posing quiz questions, who do you think is the lady being asked
to lay across that big brass bed?
It's fine to talk about Europe, which we have done plenty of
but it's quite another to speak to
Europeans. When's the last time you saw somebody really get in their
and tell them off? It's much more emotionally rewarding than you'd
expect, even more than it should be probably, since contemporary
Europeans fall into that strange category of being so damn smart they
don't have a clue what fools they've become. Recently, the Swiss
Freiheit interviewed Victor Davis
Hanson, who unburdened himself at some length about the arrogance
and stupidity of Europe in its views of the United States and in the
conduct of its own affairs. You should absolutely read the whole thing,
but I'm going to quote a few pungent excerpts just to whet your
appetite. Everything not quoted here is every bit as good.
The interview began with a somewhat condescending inquisition of
Hanson's perspective on America's immigration problems with Mexico.
Hanson returned serve for a winner, explained the details of the U.S.
immigration challenge, and then went on the offensive.
JF: Do you see any appreciable
differences between the way the U.S. is dealing with immigration
issues, and Europe’s response to similar problems?
VDH: We will stop the influx soon and through our powers of
assimilation and popular culture absorb those here; you may well not
and thus are already seeing a tiny elite on top mouthing utopian
leftwing bromides while a radical rightwing movement on bottom will
grow, demanding xenophobic solutions.
I am not confident in an easy solution for Europe, given its
20th-century past — whether confronting the specter of a Muslim
Eurabia, or the counter-rightwing backlash that could get very ugly.
You in Europe have little facility — socially, culturally, and
politically — to absorb immigrants into full-fledged Europeans. We do
(as Europe’s historic critiques of America as a mongrel nation attest)
— if the numbers of new arrivals are reasonable, of diverse
backgrounds, and of legal status.
Officially Europe sounds more utopian, while in reality Europeans are
clannish and reluctant to integrate and embrace; America sounds
strident and angry, while Americans in their personal lives integrate,
assimilate, and marry Mexican nationals who come here illegally — the
tragedy being that if we just cut the numbers of new arrivals of
illegals, the existing cohort would soon disappear through assimilation.
Right on, Victor. But at this point, he's just getting warmed up. It
turns out there's a lot to tell the Europeans about us and themselves
they don't really want to hear.
JF: What is it that makes the U.S. and
Europe so different from each other? From the outside, the two are
often perceived as a monolithic unit: the West. Does this unity really
exist, or are we talking about two separate worlds? Do you think the
alliance between the U.S. and Europe is made to last, or is it no more
than an illusion?
VDH: We have a common legacy, as the elections in France and Germany
remind us. And we coalesce when faced by a common illiberal enemy —
whether against the Soviet empire or radical Islam.
But after the fall of the Soviet Union, you diverged onto a
secularized, affluent, leisured, socialist, and pacifist path, where in
the pride and arrogance of the Enlightenment you were convinced you
could make heaven on earth — and would demonize as retrograde anyone
who begged to differ.
Now you are living with the results of your arrogance: while you brand
the U.S. illiberal, it grows its population, diversifies and
assimilates, and offers economic opportunity and jobs; although, for a
time you’ve become wealthy — given your lack of defense spending,
commercial unity, and protectionism — but only up to a point: soon the
bill comes due as you age, face a demographic crisis, become imprisoned
by secular appetites and ever growing entitlements. Once one insists on
an equality of result, not one of mere opportunity, then, as Plato
warned, there is no logical end to what the government will think up
and the people will demand.
The interviewer goes on to explore Hanson's perceptions of European
bias against America and then:
JF: Is there a corresponding bias
against Europeans in American society? How come nobody has ever thought
to diagnose such a sentiment? Is it truly non-existent, or is it just
that Americans are too wise, and Europeans too cowardly to mention it?
VDH: There has always been skepticism of Europe as a class-bound,
hopelessly aristocratic static society, warped by Old World
factionalism, and prone to dangerously wide springs between
totalitarian fascism and totalitarian Marxism. Few note such suspicions
of ours, since we are self-obsessed within our borders, and don’t
translate these musings into some driving ideology. Nor do we feel that
Europe per se affects our lives to any great degree, despite our
ubiquitous Western heritage that we owe to Europe and the billions of
U.S. dollars that are held by European governments.
The irony is that while Europeans periodically chest-pound and loudly
vie with each other in hating the United States for various alleged
sins (fill in the blanks from global warming to Iraq), slowly,
insidiously we in the U.S. are drifting away from Europe, whether
defined by commitments to its security (I doubt we would intervene
again in the Balkans) to sort of a popular weariness. One article in Le
Monde or a quip by a Chirac or Schroeder might pass over the heads of
those in Iowa or Nebraska, but not a few hundred of these per day. So
the Europeans have done the almost impossible: alienated a Western
powerful ally, that kept it safe and free for the majority of the 20th
From there the conversation turns to questions of international
morality, the viability of the European Union, and the challenge facing
Europe if it wants to be a true power in the 21st century. Hanson has
the nerve to mention religious faith, a couple of times, which leads to
JF: How much political significance do
you ascribe to religious faith? Do you consider the U.S. to be a
religious nation? Would you consider a strong religious faith a
geopolitical advantage in the sense that it is a source of strength in
the struggle for hegemony? If so, what does this mean for Europe, which
— speaking honestly — is a completely secularized region in the grip of
VDH: Religious belief means transcendence, or the notion you are living
for something greater than yourself. Atheism means this is it — so why
have children, invest in your country, or sacrifice your health for
abstractions like your country? We worry about Europe because it seems
to be creating a new culture in the West: marry at 35, have 0-1
children, be taken care of from cradle to grave.
Everyone needs a god; Europeans have turned their backs on the ‘Sermon
on the Mount’ and adopted in its place a Rousseau or Foucault as
totems. Atheism is bad enough when it worships the Calf of Pure Reason,
but when logic and rationalism are themselves replaced by postmodern
relativism, then the loss of god, and the trade off become an even
For those of you who need a shot of inspiration, here's an exercise to
try. Read the whole interview out loud. For the questions put on your
best dry, slightly bored Swiss accent. For the answers, remember to
savor the second-person pronouns. Really taste that "you."
If you're still having trouble feeling the encounter, review this clip
of an interview between BBC attack journalist Jeremy Paxman and Ann
It's the Paxman part that best captures the prevailing ambiance of
Euro-U.S. relations. Coulter, frankly, isn't really into her part,
although bored, terse, and contemptuous is a mien more of us really
should adopt in future. Hanson, bless his heart, is still trying to
communicate with these enervated dimwits.
NOW read the Hanson interview to yourself.
Anybody want to call up some Europeans on the phone? You know, just to
rattle their filthy gilded cage?
. One minute they were there, the next they were
gone. Maybe it was something we said. They're from South Carolina,
where the chain gang profession is so old it has acquired a culture and
mystique all its own. Quite independent. Or so I'm told.
All we know for sure is that the old homestead seems kind of empty
without them. No one else could have come up with the perfect bromide
for all the most egregious sins of our selfish age. No one else called
election ahead of time with such deadly and scathing certainty. And
no one else in the entire blogosphere
ever gave a moment's attention to what Mrs.Bill
O'Reilly might be thinking about anything at all.
So. If you happen to come across some wandering troop of shackled
prisoners who have as one of their number a displaced Canadian hockey
player, tell them to call home. We've got ALL NEW locks and chains
and uniforms for them, plus brand new admin support in the form of
helpful "prisoners' aides." See?
Chain Gang's new "Prisoners' Aide No
It wouldn't do to keep her waiting. Just last night she said she was
feeling "kind of restless." We don't know what that means, but it
doesn't sound entirely good.
The Headhouse Gang
security let him keep the hat on, but drew the line at the "Press" card in
The two-tone wingtips also had to go. Clearly.
I imagine a kid dashing around a sunny beach, wearing his father's
jacket as a trenchcoat, introducing himself as "Cub
Reporter" to all and sundry. He spends the entire vacation assaulting
with questions from his little notebook, declaiming "dispatches from
front" via his driftwood microphone, reporting on anything and
everything that's going on. "The
Drudge family had pork chops for dinner." "We are going (BEAT) back to
the beach tomorrow morning at 9." "The lady with the really big top was
staring at the lifeguard all afternoon." Even when he's on the verge of
sunstroke, he can dig new scoops from the soggy sand: "That last
tide was bigger than
the three before. The weird-looking guy on the jetty is thinking we're
in for it. You heard it here first" Always in that child's clumsy
imitation of a "Last Chopper Out of Saigon" intonation.
The boy journalist version of the Steven Spielberg kid from hell we'd
like to clock with a huge jagged (nerf) rock on that STOOPID hat. [The
Boss made me put in
the parenthetical. But you know what I mean and, what's more, you
agree with me. Enough said.]
Yes, I'm busting Matt's balls harder than necessary. I love me some
wicked, rumor-dripping, anonymously sourced, WTF-is-he-up-to-now Drudge Report, same as you.
Thing is, the only criticism ever directed toward the guy is of the
"he's a footsoldier in the vast right-wing conspiracy" variety (and the
attendant ad-hominem slander). Doesn't take a thick skin to
brush off that brand of crazy. Recognizing his Hindenberg-sized sense
of self-importance as
being in place well before he even dreamed of having political convictions...
that's an Indian
Burn of a different color. I encourage you all to parrot it
Okay. I admit it. Even I was
embarassed by what Drudge did to Prince
Harry, the Ginger Wizard of the Windsors. And the thought that
right now Matt the Mug is hugging himself with glee over it is more
than I can stand. It makes you want to bulldoze Walter Winchell
his unsanctified grave, stuff the soulless remains into the Drudge url
stick of dynamite, and blow his yellow journalist ass UP, spraying his
rotten innerds all over the scummy walls of the Internet. All right.
Now I'm hyperventilating. Where's my bag?
I'll be okay. In a minute. Honest.
Don't be alarmed. Keep on keeping on. Anything that sounds like
laughing here is cognitive dissonance. Yours. Not mine.