September 4, 2009 - August 28, 2009
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Politics Week (Hopefully*)
The 5 Dumbest Things about Guys
Yeah, I know it says "Stock Photo."
Why do you think there's a stock photo?
NON-POLITICS. So we've slipped up a couple times this week. There
some political posts. We tried. But with one outstanding exception
we're guys here. We can't always deliver on our good intentions. This
hasn't been a good week for guys particularly, in terms of our public
image and visibility anyway. There's been quite a lot of estrogen
flying through the air (in case you hadn't noticed), and it's possible
some of the guy vote is chafing about the endless chatter on
motherhood, feminism, woman power, and baby-related stuff of the sort
we're constitutionally incapable of listening to for more than 7.8
seconds in a row.
It feels like it might be time for a warning shot of sorts. Sure it's
annoying when the whole world starts talking women and nothing but. On
the other hand, they're not the only irritating sex. They're not even
the only irrational, what-the-hell-can-they-possibly-be-thinking sex.
The other one of these is the guy sex. I defy anyone to explain the
behavior spotlighted in this post. And I warn you that if you try to
explain it, you're even worse than a woman trying to explain to a man
why she watches "The View." Because all the stuff here is absolutely
Don't start. Just shut up and listen.
Professional wrestling. No. NO. Shut up! Anyone who actually watches
this stuff is braindead. It's not a sport. It's less emotionally and
intellectually challenging than shelling peanuts. But an embarrassingly
large percentage of us still watch it. What are we thinking? Nothing.
It's not a new
thing. It's a humiliating habit.
Clothing fads. Don't mention women in this context. Of course
they do clothing fads, but their fads have to do with looking good, not like some
brains-in-his-buttocks moron who only cares about clothes when he can
make himself look really really REALLY stupid.
Dumb proposals. Only a guy would even consider taking the most intimate
and important moment of his life and turning it into a spectacular
opportunity for public humiliation and derision. There's no need to
cite all the hideous anecdotal proofs -- engagement rings buried in Caesar
salads, blah blah blah -- because you all know what I'm talking about
and you all know someone otherwise sane who did something just as
imbecilic when he asked his girlfriend to be his wife. I don't care
about the psychology, whatever it is. It sits in the hierarchy of
human intelligence somewhere just below the level of "not very smart
Jacked-up trucks. I hate this one. Really hate it. It's an insult to
motorheads everywhere. Guys are supposed to care about driving,
performance, the relationship between cars and the road. This brain
disease is to motor vehicles what Double-G silicone breasts are to sexy
women -- a cartoonish obscenity. Women like that can't even stand up
straight without toppling over. Trucks like this can't go around a mild
bend in the road without toppling over. It's so dumb there's not even the
remotest possibility of a reasonable explanation. It would be much
safer and considerably cheaper to buy a forehead tattoo that reads "I'm a
moron. Ask me any question and I'll prove it."
Dressing up like a jerk at sporting events. I get it. You like your
team. You don't have a life of any kind apart from your team. But why
do we have to suffer for your
one-dimensional experience of life? Why do we have to be exposed to your
Size Humongous body made exclusively of flab (yeah, I took it easy on you with this
photo selection) and watch you turn it into a nauseating billboard
advertising the neanderthal lowbrow-ness of men?
Note that I've also kept the commentary to a minmum to accommodate the
attention span of the dumber sex.
See you Monday with more male dumbassery (i.e., our usual commentary).
The Will to Fail
The Id of the Democratic Party?
This is a wild hare of an idea. It's late at night and that's when odd
notions strike. But I read this column by Mary
Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times
a couple hours ago and I can't get it out of my head:
Sarah Palin makes me sick. I hate that
she was able to steal Barack Obama's mojo just by showing up wearing
rimless glasses and a skirt.
I hate that she makes Joe Biden look like John McCain and John McCain
look like the maverick he is not.
I hate that Palin reminds me of Susan Sarandon's feisty character in
"Thelma & Louise." I loved Sarandon in that movie, yet I couldn't
stand Palin's feistiness at the Republican National Convention.
Sarah Palin makes me sick -- not because she may speak in tongues --
but because she is a fast talker.
Not even ABC's Charlie Gibson can slow Palin's mouth.
I disagree with the people who claim Gibson caught her off guard during
her interview when he asked her whether she agreed with the "Bush
"In what respect?" Palin fired back without so much as a stutter.
In fact, it was Gibson doing the sputtering as he pressed Palin to
answer a question that he didn't seem to know the answer to himself.
More interesting than the column is the comments, which lambaste her
for her malice and thank her
for adding to Republican passion against the Obama campaign.
It makes me wonder. There's a school of thought among the frankly
spiritual students of history that Hitler protected us from his madness
by almost single-handedly losing his war of conquest at the brink of
complete victory. Somehow, the argument goes, he knew the depth of his
own evil and that it had to be defeated. So he, subconsciously to be
sure, overruled the sage professional advice of his generals and
contrived, through a series of fantastic errors, to ensure that his
enemies would destroy him.
Is this what is happening with the Democrats? How dumb do any of them
have to be not to realize that half-assed hateful smears of Sarah Palin
are doing nothing at this point but helping the Republicans, feeding
their passion and their
coffers? Yet the bile keeps coming, so overblown that it's a fall-down
laughing joke before it even hits the Internet. Mary Mitchell "hates that..." No. She doesn't hate THAT. She hates Sarah Palin. So much that she can't conceal it,
finesse it, or downplay it even if the price she has to pay is the
defeat of her beloved Obama. Does that make sense? Is it
conceivable that a media-savvy journalist who makes her living by
observing and analyzing politics would engage in such a suicidal
No. It doesn't. There are only two possibilities. They're crazy out of
their minds. Or they're aware at some level that they're crazy and wrong. Tonight I'm playing with the
It's not that far-fetched an
idea. If they listen to their own policy prescriptions, they have to
know that their party hasn't had a new idea in nearly fifty years.
Obama is, however nouveau his appeal, the same old same old, a drab
socialist who wants to grow the U.S. government and kneel to the
governments of failing states in Europe who have already plighted their
troth to demographic ruin. They can't abjure their tired and utterly
refuted ideology, so they have to keep repeating the same stupid,
counter-productive nostrums about government spending its way to
paradise. But if, in some part of their psyches, they know their plans
can't and won't work, they can still connive subconsciously at their
This year there was almost no way they could have lost this election.
People are mad at Bush, and eight years of MSM propaganda have convinced
average voters that even if their own lives are okay, the country is
heading straight to hell in a hand basket. Moreover, there hasn't been
a time in the last quarter century when the Republicans were less
articulate about their traditional principles of limited government,
fiscal discipline, and tough foreign policy. But McCain is at least
tied with Obama and possibly ahead in the polls. This isn't an outcome
that could have been achieved unless the Democrats, despite all their
arrogant fury, were hobbling themselves more effectively than the
Republican Party is.
Think about it. The Democrats have had control of both houses of
congress for the last two years, and the approval rating of Congress
ranges from 9 to 15 percent positive. That's a polling impossibility
unless the Democrats are somehow conspiring in the destruction of their
I believe they are secret
accomplices in the gathering storm of rejection that will hit in
November. They know they
can't be trusted even better than the Republicans know it. The most
terrifying fact they deal with in their nightmares is that we've been a
50-50 country for at least eight years now. What could be worse than a third Bush term? Being responsible for growing the economy and protecting American citizens themselves. That's serious. And they know (deep down in the soulful places Chuck Schumer has never been) that they can't do it. Just as they knew Al Gore and John Kerry couldn't do it. They'd much rather be the
superior minority, with no responsibility for outcomes or American
lives, and they actually get sexually aroused by the prospect of being
able to blame Republican control on racism and dumb, gun-toting,
Do you have a better explanation for why they've apparently decided, en
masse, that the best way out of the hole they've dug for themselves
with Sarah Palin is to keep digging, deeper and more frantically, until
we eventually lose sight of them in the hellish depths of their hateful
Sorry, Mary. I know this isn't the interpretation of your column you
wanted or expected. But either you're the dumbest woman who ever lived,
or you're absolutely determined to escape the responsibility that comes
with winning the presidency.
Me, I don't care which it is. But this I know. I am sick to death to
death of you. And we're going to find the cure.
Friday, September 12, 2008
What I'm Worried
McCain has Obama right now. But does he know it?
STEPS. I know the left is deep-down vicious, but even I was
surprised by the speed and depravity of the MSM/blog/Dem assault on
Sarah Palin. It was over the top even for them, and though I have read
many intelligent attempts to explain the irrational ugliness of the
past two weeks in terms of who Sarah Palin is and is not, I think
they're mostly wrong. It's not about Palin being a woman or a mother or
a Christian or a conservative. It's about a light bulb that suddenly
switched on in the subconscious minds of the Obama intelligentsia. As
soon as she was named, they knew they had lost the election. What
followed was an enormous tantrum, which hasn't stopped yet. It's true.
They have lost the election.
Unless McCain and his campaign staff don't see this fact or don't see
why it's true. That's what I'm worried about.
I worry about the ads expressing Republican outrage about lipsticked
pigs and Palin pursued by wolves. (Though I'm disdainful of ALL the
pundits who profess belief Obama didn't paint the pig on purpose any
more than he gave Hillary the middle finger on purpose. Grow up,
These are wholly unnecessary diversions because the election isn't
about Palin. It's about McCain and Obama. And Obama is in the position
of the bull in the photo above, bloodied, pierced by debilitating lances, and helpless to
prevent a surgical political kill. All that's left is applying the
sword with antiseptic grace
in the upcoming three debates. There isn't even any need to be
particularly negative from this point forward. No name-calling is
required. The double-edged axe of Obama's/Palin's (in)experience
doesn't have to be hauled out, only mentioned in passing.
The coup de grace isn't a function of judgment, or Biden, or Hillary,
or Bill Ayars, or
Jeremiah Wright, or Michelle, or racism, or elitism, or the
documentation of lies and
misrepresentations. McCain shouldn't even have to raise his voice. Just
slide the sword smoothly in at exactly the right location, and the
election is over.
Unfortunately, I don't see much sign in all the heaped-up brilliance
of the right that anyone on McCain's side is seeing the forest instead
of a row of tempting trees. Although there is one NRO
editor, Jim Geraghty, who has isolated and identified the only
important fact in the woods:
All statements by Barack Obama come
with an expiration date. All of them.
Before the supposedly
disastrous Biden pick and before the Democrat Convention's odd conceit
that McCain is exactly the same as the president he has battled,
sabotaged, and embarrassed at every opportunity, Bill
Clinton actually tried to tell the Republicans why Obama is so
Speaking at a forum of former world
leaders less than a mile from the site of the Democratic National
Convention, Bill Clinton drew an analogy that had many wondering
whether he had made peace with the idea of an Obama candidacy.
“Suppose for example you’re a voter and you have candidate X and you
have candidate Y,” Clinton said. “Candidate X agrees with you on
everything but you don’t think that person can deliver on anything.
Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues but you believe that
on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom will
Of course, his analogy was veiled, discreet, and understated, but
political double-agent that he is in this election, he was sharing his
political genius with anyone capable of inductive reasoning.
The only part he left out is that Obama has changed his position on so
many matters of fact, policy, and his own character that it's
impossible to take him seriously on anything. He may believe everything
he says when he says it, which is why there's no need to accuse him of
lying or cynical flip-flopping. It's simply that anything and
everything he says is subject to radical change and even reversal at a
moment's notice whenever circumstances, as they inevitably do, change
his view of our view of him.
Consider any policy issue or position that comes up in a presidential
debate. If it's Obama's tax plan, McCain doesn't have to explain the
economic impossibility of funding trillions in new spending on the
backs of the 5 percent who have their taxes raised while 95 percent get
a tax cut. All he has to do is list the number of times Obama's tax
promises have changed during the 19 months he has been running for
president. He wanted to repeal all the Bush tax cuts and double the
capital gains tax. Now he doesn't. In fact, he's no longer sure that
taxing the five percent who are rich is a good idea in a recession. But
inauguration day is three whole months
away. What will Obama's tax plan be by then?
The same is true of everything in Obama's continuously fluid platform.
The Iraq War
(immediate pullot/conditions on the ground, surge failed/succeeded),
FISA (determined to filibuster against it before he voted for it),
NAFTA (no/maybe/yes), the federal death penalty (no/yes), negotiations
with foreign tyrants (yes/sometimes/no),
the Second Amendment (no/yes/who knows?), fixing social security (let's
dance), the spiritual mentor he
could never disavow (father figure/disappointing stranger), drilling
for oil (no/yes/maybe), nuclear power (no/maybe/whatever), etc, etc.
Bringing up any of these topics in a debate is tantamount to putting
the old warrior McCain into a shooting gallery filled with nothing but
targets of opportunity. "It doesn't matter what the specifics of this
plan are; they'll change substantially before he submits his first bill
to Congress as president. He can't help it. Circumstances change,
public opinion changes, and his deeply and gravely held principles will
change right along with them. Nobody can show you anything he's ever stuck to against the party
This is where Obama's lack of experience and any substantive
legislative record is no longer a political charge, but a factual
proof. Supporting a
brilliant young talent with virtually no experience is fine in some
circumstances (Sarah!), but without a record of experience all we have
on is words. And while 19 months of campaigning is still not a
credentialing experience for Obama, it is all the experience "we the
people" need to make a decision about him.
No matter how much we love his eloquent words, he has given us
absolutely no reason to trust his word.
It doesn't matter nearly so much that we know very little about Obama
the man inside the image as it does that we know nothing about where he
will choose to stand tomorrow, wherever he says he stands today.
That one argument, hammered home however tactfully, is all that's
required to peel away the moderates, independents, and Reagan Democrats
that constitute the margin of victory in this election. It's really
that simple. McCain's word is good, backed by a lifetime of documented
actions in the military and in public life. Game over.
Politically acute Democrats have known this, or felt it deep in their
guts, for many months now. All parts of their coalition have been
disturbed by the rapidity and degree of Obama position changes since
Hillary suspended her campaign. Republicans somehow failed to notice
that the thrust of the Obama campaign transitioned away from Obama the
Savior to McCain as a third term for Bush. Why? Two reasons. First and
less important, they -- no more than the electorate -- could work up
any real hostility toward John McCain, whom they actually respected
without wanting to, and the illusion of running against Bush was the
only way the party pros could work up some passion in their speeches.
Second, and critically important, because they no longer had a real candidate,
only the wildly popular image of one. Their quite reasonable hope was
that the sleeping Republican base wouldn't notice, that a tired and
underfunded McCain wouldn't notice either, and that the general
election would be a lackluster formality -- i.e., a vision of the Obama
campaign coasting across the finish line on an empty gas tank.
That's why the Biden pick for VP actually made great good sense. He
would be the excitement, the comic relief, the buffoon that people
had to take seriously because he was a Democrat Party elder regardless
of his dumb blunders, and he would therefore reinforce the last
remaining element of the Obama mystique, his aloof,
above-all-the-nonsense gravitas. It was the exact right move for a
campaign that had lost all its substance even before the nominating
convention. (Hillary would have deflated the Macy's balloon gigantism
of the Obama brand.)
Then came the Palin selection. In political terms, it was a nuclear
explosion. Not because of who Sarah was but because of what her
nomination did to the Republican base and the candidate. They all woke
up, so suddenly that to Democrats it must have seemed a miracle in
That's why they immediately launched the carelessly self-destructive
nuclear counterstrike against Sarah Palin. It was an act of projection
and displacement. Mad at Sarah? Yeah, maybe, on general liberal fascist
principles. But the specific personal vituperation was so psychotically
vengeful that it couldn't have been inspired by a total stranger.
Psychologically, the real target of their rage was Obama himself.
Obama, the no-experience guy, the exotic life story from left field,
the seductive mirage that caused so many to lose their senses and
abandon the one real candidate whom they had rudely shoved out of the
way. The more the Republicans embraced the inexperienced but sexy
new unknown, the more their rage swelled and twisted their hearts. They
wanted to destroy her in revenge for the fact that her race and gender
opposite/apposite had cost them the White House a third time in a row.
The hatred on open display was also self hatred. Is
self hatred. Particularly for the MSM, which lives exclusively in the
realm of what happens on TV and other media; they have a vivid
nightmare image of just how bad the Obama-McCain debates might be. And
what fools they will feel for having used all their prodigious power to
create such a humiliating scenario for themselves.
What does this mean for the McCain campaign if they are smart enough to
see it? Forget about forcing Palin to run any gauntlet of media
accreditation. She owns the base, no matter what. Quit defending her.
Quit tossing her into baited traps. Take the fight to Obama, but not in
the way they have been doing the
past few weeks. Produce and run ads that contrast, without much
explanation or leading commentary, the fact of Obama's countless changes
of position in every conceivable area. Deliberately withhold the charge of
flip-flopper. Don't make any charge at all -- just statements, dates,
documentations of the only change we can count on Obama for, the change
in his own mercurial positions on everything that matters to the
American people. Save the punchline for the debates. Then use the sword
Do I think they'll do it? No. That's why I'm worried. I think they'll
try to slug it out issue by issue, accepting each new Obama position as
final, and thereby enable the cipher ZERObama
to hide his nonentity in the weeds of detail.
Somebody please reassure me.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Other Side of the
you forgotten? Do you tell yourself there's no danger?
On September 11, 2001, I was at a
meeting in a closed conference room on a Navy base. Suddenly, the door
opened and we were all informed of what was happening. The base was
being shut down and all civilians were ordered to leave. As we left, we
drove out on the road alongside the base to get back to our highway. I
was immediately struck by how little protection there was. A relatively
short cyclone fence, just like what you would have in your backyard,
was all that closed the perimeter. Anyone with a pickup truck could
have driven right through it.
Today, I would like to recount the events of 9/11 as I experienced them
and as the people with me experienced them.
I have been working in industry on Department of Defense contracts for
more than 20 years. My work requires coordination and
collaboration with members of my own organization, other corporations,
and our end military customer. So it was that four of us (three with a
different company) left New Jersey on September 10 to attend a meeting
at a base in Virginia scheduled for the morning of September 11. We
left early in the afternoon in two cars because one of our group was
staying over a second night to attend a meeting in Washington, DC, the
next day. I took my cell phone with me primarily so we could
communicate between cars during the drive.
We checked into our hotel and went out to dinner. Several others
who had also traveled in for the meeting decided to go with us, so
about ten of us caravanned to the Olive Garden. We had all worked
together for a long time, and our table was full of lively spirit,
conversation, and camaraderie. Like all such occasions, we were our own
island of shared experiences and comfortable laughter. After dinner,
our group of four returned to the hotel and decided to meet in the
lobby at eight-thirty am to drive to our meeting in one car.
Every one of us still remembers that amazingly clear and beautiful
morning – the brilliant blue sky, the shining sun, the crisp air – as
we made the brief journey to the base, passing through the gate staffed
by what looked to be a rent-a-cop.
Everything went as usual. Until shortly after ten o’clock. The woman
who broke into our meeting was terse and stiff. She told us the Twin
Towers had been struck, the Pentagon had been struck, and the White
House was on fire. Everyone was stunned to whispers. You just couldn’t
absorb it. I felt as if I had entered an alternate universe and was
suffering from transporter shock. One of the staffers operating the
computers in the conference room said he would acquire the satellite so
we could see what was being broadcast. That proved impossible. Imagine
it – U.S. military personnel on their own base unable to link a
satellite. Within minutes we were hustled out of the building. As we
exited the base, we saw that the rent-a-cop was gone, but the armed
squad of soldiers at the gate looked like nothing more than empty bluff.
Nothing they could do about miles of undefended cyclone fence if war
was coming their way. Once past them, we talked dully among ourselves
about what to do next. No cell phones were operating. We were
completely isolated and far from home.
Three of us had checked out of the hotel that morning, but one still
had a reservation for that night. So we figured out, slowly,
eventually, that we needed to head back to the hotel. Still no cell
phones. We turned on the car radio and learned that the towers had
collapsed, the Pentagon had been struck by a plane, and the White House
was not on fire but a plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. Washington,
DC, was closed to all traffic. Reporters inside the beltway were
talking to people parked in their cars on the highways. I heard
one man interviewed who’d been approaching the Pentagon at the moment
of impact and had actually seen and heard the plane which crashed
there. Still no cell phones. We felt adrift, lost in surroundings that
used to be familiar and utterly ordinary.
When we got to the hotel, we decided to try for home. It was the only
emotion we could actually recognize and so it trumped all others. We
couldn’t contact anyone. They were probably all where they belonged,
safe and sound, but who knew? We didn’t. Couldn’t. While we waited for
our last person to check out, we saw the broadcast of the Twin Towers
collapsing on the lobby televisions. It was an impossible sight that
crushed us with its inevitability.You couldn’t pull your eyes away from
it. And it ran over and over and over.We needed the constant repetition
to make us believe it. The neutral background of a franchise hotel is a
surreal place to be at such a time. It feels like a nightmare, but
everything around you is too ordinary to let you suspend your
disbelief. It’s happening. It’s not that last dream before waking.
When we were finally ready to leave, we solemnly decided where to stop
for lunch, as if it were important, hoping the restaurant would be
open. The radio kept flooding us with more chaos -- announcements
that all planes had been grounded, bridges were being closed, and the
Coast Guard was being sent to protect river mouths and bridges. Still
no cell phones. We were 25 miles from Washington and almost 200 miles
from our families and homes. We looked at each other, talked with each
other, nodded, and acted as if we were together. But everyone was
inside his own bubble of confusion, dread, that bright light of
unreality which dimmed our own voices when we spoke, and we were only
bumping against one another without touching.
In the car, we continued trying to call spouses, children, co-workers.
No dice. We couldn't even communicate with our colleagues in the other
car. Conversation in ours was strained. We all wanted others to relieve
our bafflement, knowing none of us could. “Change the station.” “Go
back to the last one, I thought I heard something.” The skies were
eerily empty of airplanes. The radio reports kept coming, but
everything was a rehash of still unconfirmed speculations.. No one knew
how many people had died in the towers. 20,000? 40,000? Was the
president safe? We didn’t know for sure. We crossed a bridge over the
Potomac River (thankfully not closed) – no boats navigating there
either. Hardly any traffic on the highway. It was like a scene from the
The Road Warrior, empty
roadways as far as the eye could see. We didn’t know where everyone had
We arrived at the restaurant and found other travelers like us,
confused and trying to reach home. I thought briefly of the restaurant
the night before, all those little islands of comfortable conviviality.
This time the whole building was its own desert island, and all the
castaways were immediately intimate, sharing shreds of fact and fancy
as if together we could make it all add up to something. We couldn’t.
What we had in aggregate was not information but alarm. And rumors. A
different one on every tongue. Still no damn cell phones. I had a
calling card and -- there was a pay
phone. Amazingly, I got through to the office. I let them know
we were trying to get home and were all okay. One of my travel
companions was desperate to call his wife so I gave him my card. By the
time he hung up, he was in tears. Meanwhile, everybody in the place was
talking to everybody else, trying to listen but helplessly talking over
everyone else anyway, because we knew they didn’t know any more than we
did and expressing our own opinions was the closest we could get to
control of the situation. “I’m thinking about it, therefore I am not
totally helpless.” Amid the clamor, I saw something wondrous. One man was actually talking into a cell phone.
The real world was still there, out there, somewhere. And as was to
happen again and again in the time after the attack, he offered us use
of his phone. We left while the line was still patiently waiting to
take advantage of the lifeline he offered.
We traveled the many miles of near deserted highways and finally made
it home to the suddenly strange familiarity of New Jersey. Somewhere
along the way, our phone calls started getting through and we plugged
into a stream of up-to-the-minute reports from the car radio and people
at home. The news was a thudding series of blows to the stomach.
Stories about the loss of firemen, policemen, thousands of civilians
and WTC employees. Deaths. There were dead. In the thousands. We kept
talking and talking about the events – AND WE GOT MAD. Who had done
this? Why? How quickly could we retaliate? And most of all, we felt and
reiterated our utter conviction that these
people, whoever they were, had absolutely no idea what they had
awakened. We would be swift and harsh and righteous and merciless in
response. By the time we actually got back, I think all of us would
happily have manned a machine gun if we knew where to aim it.
Everything we thought we knew was gone. We were more vulnerable than we
could ever have imagined. Terrorists no longer wanted to kidnap
airplane passengers; they were making planes into missiles. They
weren’t attacking military targets; they were targeting civilians. Not
just Americans, but anyone in America or participating in our way of
So when President Bush went to Ground Zero and announced through his
bullhorn that the world would hear from us, we all cheered along with
the heroes who were working there. And they did hear from us. Do none of you
Bush-haters remember or take any any pride in that kept promise? I do. We have taken the fight to
them, and though it’s never been reported this way, they haven’t drawn
an easy breath since America decided to take their war to them.
I watched the Republican Convention (and the Democratic one) with a
certain sickness at heart. I admire John McCain and believe he
understands that the enemies of our country are implacable, patient,
and willing to stop at nothing in their fanatic mission. But I was
dismayed that even the assembled body of the most dutiful Republicans
seem to regard the War on Terror as a fading artifact of the past.
Otherwise, they would not have subjected their sitting president to the
indignity of ignoring him almost completely, scarcely daring to speak
his name aloud. They, and a huge majority of our fellow citizens, are
currently in a state of profound denial. They can't bear to look again
at the footage of September 11, 2001. They are not grateful for the
safety they have enjoyed since then, preferring to believe that their
well founded fears were overwrought and that everything which has been
done, and sacrificed, in the years since to keep them safe was most
likely unnecessary. Just as their president is unpopular, unwanted, and
Today I am moved to remind everyone otherwise. Here's the first
paragraph of an op-ed that ran a few days ago in the New York Times. Its
subsequent policy analysis is one that can be debated from multiple
perspectives, but his primary contention cannot. It is this:
THE next president must do one thing,
and one thing only, if he is to be judged a success: He must prevent Al
Qaeda, or a Qaeda imitator, from gaining control of a nuclear device
and detonating it in America. Everything else — Fannie Mae, health care
reform, energy independence, the budget shortfall in Wasilla, Alaska —
is commentary. The nuclear destruction of Lower Manhattan, or downtown
Washington, would cause the deaths of thousands, or hundreds of
thousands; a catastrophic depression; the reversal of globalization; a
permanent climate of fear in the West; and the comprehensive
repudiation of America’s culture of civil liberties.
He's right about this if nothing else in his essay. That's why I keep
thinking about what really protects America. Not a fence of any kind, but
the character and resolve of our leaders in the face of a threat so
immense that it's as unreal as all the emotions I experienced on
September 11, 2001. And I think if that day seemed unreal even as it
was happening, I can understand why the day yet to come, which will be a
hundred or a thousand times worse, is unreal to my fellow citizens.
It's the same thing we experienced in our journey back home that
day. It's called disbelief and denial. But we owe more to our country
than to succumb to denial. We owe more to the thousands who have already
died or otherwise sacrificed to keep that next terrible day at bay.
And I am asking, in all humility, that each of us take time today to
imagine the unimaginable. That people who are beyond the touch of
reason and mercy are determined to kill our nation, our culture, and
all who offend them. And I ask everyone, regardless of party, to factor
that shattering vison of the unthinkable into their political decision
Let us all mourn the dead. Not as dusty memories of crises long past,
but as vivid reminders of what we still stand to lose if we commit the
one truly unforgivable sin -- forgetting the cost of forgetting
A deeply moving remembrance
in pictures of the towers and that tragic day, courtesy of IP
commenter Peregrine John. Give yourselves a quiet and uninterrupted ten
minutes in which to watch the whole thing.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
No Politics Week (Hopefully*)
We just like the
See? No links, no comments, no insults.
BARRY - COO - DAH!
. If you're an uncritical supporter of the Media
Research Center and allied organizations, prepare to be riled. It's
no secret that a lot of conservative
groups are united in condemning the Showtime series Dexter:
“Dexter,” the celebrated Showtime
series about a sympathetic-seeming serial killer, went under the knife
ahead of its broadcast debut Sunday night on CBS. The curse words were
replaced and the most visible moments of gore were truncated.
But some critics believe the drama does not belong on broadcast
television, with or without the edits, for a fundamental reason: the
storyline encourages viewers to root for a mass murderer.
“They intend to air material that effectively celebrates murder,”
stated the Parents Television Council in a message to members two weeks
ago. “The biggest problem with the series is something that no amount
of editing can get around: the series compels viewers to empathize with
a serial killer, to root for him to prevail, to hope he doesn’t get
The council, a conservative-leaning group that regularly mounts
campaigns against programming it perceives to be offensive, has rallied
supporters to call their local CBS affiliate and file complaints. It
says it has collected 17,000 complaints in the past two weeks.
Everything the PTC is quoted as saying about the series is true, but
only up to a point. There really is
considerable artistry involved in this unusual dramatic offering, and I
am inclined to defend it not just as entertainment but as a fascinating
discourse on morality, human nature, and the human condition.
Longtime readers of this site will be aware that I was no fan of HBO's The Sopranos, and the
superficial similarities between The
Sopranos and Dexter --
glorifying criminal behavior by depicting it as a metaphor for
run-of-the-mill family dysfunction -- is obviously sufficient for the
most righteous among us to look no further. But that's my problem with
hard-line Christian watch groups generally. They're happiest when
painting with a broad brush, and if we left entertainment of all kinds
up to them, we'd all soon expire of boredom and mediocrity. Their
preferred music would consist of those sickly-sweet Christian boy band CDs
advertised on the Hallmark Channel, and all movie and TV production
would likely be terminated in favor of "Murder She Wrote" reruns and
rereleases of the oldest, most banal of Dean Jones Disney movies.
Just as the behavior and politics of contempoary Hollywood stars is a
legitimate flashpoint for conservative anger at the excesses of the
left, the repressive, humorless, and appallingly prudish demands of the
MRCs and PTCs are the single most legitimate cause of liberal paranoia
about the crypto-fascist tendencies of the right.
So let me make a case for Dexter as a show that adult Christians might find
intriguing and thought provoking if they can get past their kneejerk
prejudice against anything that isn't saccharine, preachy, or
continuously uplifting (uh, boring).
Yes, Dexter is a serial killer. His cover is a job as a forensic blood
expert in the Miami police department. And he kills quite often, with
no sign of remorse. (And miraculously, no sign of David Caruso.)
But he has less in common with Tony Soprano than he does with
Raskalnikov, the protagonist of Doestoevski's Crime and Punishment. His character
is a brilliantly conceived contradiction in terms -- an admitted
sociopath raised by a man who drummed this terrible fact of his nature
into him and taught him how to channel his worst impulses into areas
that would do the least damage to the innocent and to his own prospects
for survival. Which means, above all else, that Dexter has been
educated as an observer of so-called ordinary people, as a painfully
self-conscious alien in camouflage trying always to understand what he
sees in order to better accommodate his behavior to what is normal and
accepted. He is also -- due to his father's unrelenting instruction --
a highly disciplined person with an absolutist (imitation of a) moral
code. He is driven to kill. But he cannot kill unless his victim is
guilty of heinous crimes against the innocents whom Dexter is sworn not
to harm himself.
This is a very complicated moral universe. And for the viewer, it can
be a completely unexpected bonanza of insight. We are given the
opportunity to watch humanity, i.e., ourselves, from the outside, from
a perspective which openly declares that it doesn't have and doesn't
understand human emotions and human responses to love, fear, injustice,
hurt, and the desire for happiness, however conceived. All Dexter
has is a father who bequeathed to him, well, commandments stipulating
what he can and cannot do. The people he watches with such unflagging
curiosity and bewilderment are making that stuff up for themselves, as
if their own fathers (and mothers) were merely some starting point, a
kernel they carry within and grow themselves and their behaviors out
of, as they see fit. I don't want to overdo it, but it's entirely
possible to see Dexter as an Old Testament kind of guy getting a good
long look at all the baffling individual interpretations of the heirs
of the New Testament.
It is in the conflict between these two mentalities that all the drama
of Dexter originates. The long arc of the series is that Dexter keeps
moving toward the experience of "normal" humanity as his camouflage
embeds him deeper and deeper into the contexts of family, romance, and
parenthood. He imitates behaviors and, in fact, experiences real human
emotions he cannot appreciate because he has been so effectively taught
to believe these are beyond him. In other terms, he is so gripped by
his belief in the Original Sin of Dexter that he cannot even
contemplate the possibility of salvation or what salvation might feel
A few words about production before I continue. The part of Dexter is
played by Michael C. Hall, whose performance is worth a whole row of
Emmies. His wry voiceover narration captures both his remoteness from
others and the metronomic relentlessness of his curiosity about what it
is that makes others good while he struggles to survive against his own
model of himself as purely evil. The writing is also incredibly sharp.
Most of the scenes seem to end a line before
any character utters the next, obvious, expected banality. The
direction and cinematography never editorialize; we, like Dexter, are
somehow part of the staging -- detached observers of all kinds of
behaviors, from the virtuous to the vile, and never invited in close
enough to feel like participants in the human (non-Dexter) circus. No
lingering closeups, no sentimental pauses, no protracted reaction
shots. But no jump-cut, fake-suspense hurry, either. Paced by Dexter's
spartan narration, the scenes keep marching along. We see treachery,
violence, sex, flirtation, the mixed messages of love-hate romances,
and professional infighting as a mere sequence of events that leads
ultimately to consequences, some of which are precipitated by Dexter
and some of which are not.
Now. Back to the question of salvation. Contrary to every impression I
might have given, this show is neither nihilist nor devoid of hope.
There is nothing overtly religious about Dexter, but its modern
nature-versus-nurture argument is neatly embedded in Dexter's biography
as an easily comprehended stand-in for the oldest debates about
original sin. There is an
absolutely horrifying seminal experience responsible for Dexter's
pathology, so vivid, so revolting and unspeakable that it effected the
same dehumanization of his biological brother, which leads to an
agonizing evocation of Cain and Abel. Moreover, Dexter himself not only
battles his worst impulses but, impossibly for a true sociopath,
continues to advance in the direction of his only fear, the chaos and
dangerous complications of getting ever more deeply involved with the
others: those unpredictable -- and frequently nasty and selfish --
ordinary human beings he knows could bring about his death by lethal
injection. Multiple times in the course of the series he risks his own
life and well being for others, including his stepsister and near total
strangers. Along the way, he begins to recognize that he might indeed
possess some moral sense that is not automatically inferior to the
human beings he lives with.
That's why we root for him and
hope he escapes to live another day, another season. I wouldn't be at
all surprised if the series ends with him settling into the chair of
his execution, but by the time that happens, I would be surprised if Dexter hasn't
realized that some power exists which is capable of forgivng his sins
because he does belong to the world of human beings, regardless of what
he was taught to believe about himself in childhood.
On top of all that, the dialogue is funny, the characters sharply and
realistically drawn, the acting beyond reproach, the plots intricately
woven and beautifully paced, with subplot arcs nested within the
grander conflicts that provide minor resolutions which sometimes merge
with mighty cliffhangers, and the whole reacquaints us all with the
nature of the sin within ourselves, because when we share the
satisfaction of Dexter's obsessive justice, we are reminded that his
original sin is ours, too, which may be the real reason the hard
Christian right hates this masterpiece of a TV series so much.
Rent it on DVD.
If you find you despise it, so what. If you like it, maybe you'll have
helped the rest of us avoid the specter of 392 Hallmark channels on our
Hi-Def cable TVs.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
No Politics Week (Hopefully*)
Skip to 7 minutes, 15 seconds in to
Just kidding. We all need a breather from politics, don't we?
Not that we're going to get it. Or even deserve it. This is our quadrennial duty, after all.
Still, we've got plans to talk about other things for a few days. If
something comes up, we'll deal with it. But in the interim we got to
thinking of simpler schemes, where good battles evil in the most
direct possible terms. Which led us to wondering which of all the
thousands of western gunfights that have occurred in the movies were
the very best. Any such list is largely subjective, though if you think
the one up top belongs on it you're an idiot and should go away.
The hard part is coming up with a Top Ten that isn't all or even mostly
Clint Eastwood. John Wayne rarely played the role of the man who walks
onto the street (or into the saloon) to gun down a villain via the fast
draw, and truth is, he was so big and bulky that a six-gun mostly
looked like a toy on his hip. And the fast draw is what we're concerned
with here, which is why we had to exclude classic westerns like the Magnificent Seven, whose climax
involved other kinds of intense exchanges of lead.
And, yeah, we know that this is the kind of ranking that starts
fights. Great. At least they're fights that don't involve McCain, Obama,
taxes, and earmarks. Well, not those
kinds of earmarks anyway. So here's our list of the ten greatest
gunfights, from tenth best to Numero Uno. Feel free to disagree.
Unavoidably, Clint is on the list multiple times, but he's not the
majority, and (gasp) he's maybe
not even the grand prize winner. That's our small nod to suspense.
First, some Honorable Mentions.
It's unthinkable to leave John Wayne completely out of the mix. Or
Jimmy Stewart. That's why we have to give a nod to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
Even though the gunfight wasn't really a gunfight but a kind of put-up
job. There was also Jimmy Stewart's painful showdown with Henry Fonda
in Firecreek, which violates
every rule of fast-draw gunplay but still produces a certain dramatic
impact. (Stewart did get his licks in in Destry Rides Again and other
westerns, but nothing that belongs on the Top Ten list.) And after his
shoddy treatment in Liberty Valance,
Lee Marvin does earn a tip of the hat for his comedic, and
Oscar-winning, role as the drunken gunslinger in Cat Ballou. Anyone else? Well,
we'll always love the sawed-off Winchester rifle Steve McQueen carried
in his holster in Wanted: Dead or
Alive, but that was a TV show and we can't remember a single
individual showdown, so it's just an asterisk. Now for the real
The pacifists will love this one. Nobody got killed, which is why it
comes in so low on the list. But this scene from Tombstone is still an iconic
reminder of just how close to death gunfighters (and gamblers) lived.
It's funny and nerve-wracking simultaneously, as well as charmingly
subversive of the notion that cowboys were all illiterate idiots.
Doc Holliday versus Johnny Ringo:
to 1 minute 7 seconds in.)
I know a lot of you are thinking of the spaghetti westerns. I looked at
Fistful of Dollars. It's still
highly entertaining, but it's got nothing that belongs on this list, as
I think you'll agree if you give it some objective scrutiny. Clint's
victims for the most part are reminiscent of small boys pretending to
be shot, cartoonish and enjoyable but hardly convincing if you're not a
native Italian. On the other hand, Bruce Willis's remake of Fistful (which was itself a remake
of Yojimbo, so don't be a
snob about it) contains an outstanding rework of Clint's response to
the humiliation of his mule. If you haven't seen the whole movie, do
so. Last Man Standing is dark
-- in lighting as well as tone -- but it's got
Christopher Walken in addition to Bruce, and it all winds up being
great grim fun. It would rank higher but for the fact that it's been
updated to the 1930s and therefore can't qualify as a true western.
(That won't happen again on this list, promise.) Bruce versus the guy
who vandalized his Model A.
I admit I'm not a big fan of the next movie, Unforgiven. I understand why Clint
made it, and I don't have any particular objection to his theme. The
idea is interesting, and it's the most ambitious of his trilogy of
reinterpretations of classic westerns (the other two being High Plains Drifter (High Noon but darker) and Pale Rider (Shane but darker). Unforgiven, unlike the other two,
is nothing close to a remake of its inspiration, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,
but a very dark examination of the same subject, the popular
mythologizing of wild west violence. My only problem with the movie is
that I don't think it's a very good movie. It's long, dull, and a
definite slap in the face to Eastwood's own fans. That's why it earned
so much praise in lefty Hollywood and its Oscar represented Clint's
acceptance into The Club of Serious, Socially Conscious Directors,
where he already belonged. I have called it in other contexts "The Last
Western," because nobody's made the kind of movie that made Clint a
Still. The climactic gunfight has real power and cinematic stature, if
only because it represents Clint Eastwood's final bow as the deadliest
gunslinger ever to appear on the silver screen. Here it is. Clint
versus Gene Hackman and his supporting thugs.
to 2 minutes in.)
I know, I know. This one should
rank below the previous one. Take it as a measure of my irrational
dislike of a movie that for me remains stubbornly "unforgiven." Quigley Down Under isn't even set
in the American west, but in Australia.
I like it, though. When it comes on, which it does often in our cable
universe, I watch it. There have never been more than a couple dozen
movies I can say that about (On the
Waterfront being the all-time champ). So I suspect it of being a
better movie than the two stars it gets in the listings. It has
excellent performances by Alan Rickman, Laura San Giacomo, and, yes,
Tom Selleck as the nineteenth century equivalent of a world-class
sniper. His weapon is a state-of-the-art long rifle requiring
special shells that enable him to shoot the wing off a fly from a mile
away. He comes to Australia from America in response to an ad promising
big money for his skills, only to learn that he is expected to shoot
aborigines like, well, flies. His villainous employer is, in a clever
twist, a wannabe American gunfighter himself, and the final showdown
between them is curiously satisfying. Maybe it's the totally unexpected
reference to another favorite of mine, Zulu, that occurs after the climactic gunfight. (Not shown in this clip. Sorry.) Tom
Selleck versus Alan Rickman and his two sidekicks.
Time for a spaghetti western yet? Yes. For a Few Dollars More. But the
showdown isn't one of Clint's.
You fans may
not have not have noticed this, but the unpleasant fact is that Clint's
spaghetti trilogy -- all eight hours worth -- contains only one gunfight that has any real
emotional subtext. It's the one between Lee van Cleef and El Indio, the
psychotic bandit who raped and murdered Lee's sister. The siblings were
close; each owned an identical chiming gold watch, and Lee carries his
everywhere as a reminder of his loss, while El Indio is demonically
obsessed with the sister's watch he took from her body as a trophy.
Clint does wind up playing a key role in the final confrontation, but
not as a shooter. Rather, he chimes in as a, um, timekeeper... Lee van
Cleef versus El Indio.
By now you may be starting to understand the criteria. A gunfight
really shouldn't be just about killing. It has to have meaning in some
context if it's to be really great. (Mostly.) The movie in which Clint
finally enters the countdown is The
Outlaw Josie Wales, which is the closest Clint ever came to
making an epic western. It's the beginning of his increasing
ambivalence, as a director, toward six-gun justice, and he does a
brilliant job of reinvigorating the cliche of the burned-out gunfighter
who wants to settle down peaceably but can't. This scene presents that
bitter fate as a kind of kabuki dance. The big name gunfighter can't
stop defending himself against glory hounds and bounty hunters, and
they can't stop pursuing him. So they perform the necessary, stylized
ritual. Josie Wales against a no-name hunter.
This one's here because it just can't not be here. For the last forty
years it has reigned as the all-time, iconic, operatic gunfight. You
know the one I mean. Never mind that there's no real reason to care who
wins. All three are there for the money, disdainful of even the
American Civil War through which they wander back and forth as if it
were no more substantial than the shadows on the wall of Plato's Cave.
Underneath the macho glamour and the sensational music, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is
probably one of the most despicable westerns ever made. But there is this scene. Clint versus Eli
Clint again. This time for Pale Rider,
his interesting remake of Shane,
deliberately uglified in its depiction of violence and even in its
major characters. The people who need saving are not homesteaders but
gold miners, many of whom are seeking the easy score rather than roots
and a life on the land. And Clint's character, The Preacher, doesn't
ever seem to bond as completely with his charges as Shane. He has his
own score to settle with the posse of villains who threaten the miners.
The scene in which he does so, however, represents a striking blend of
the mythic Eastwood image with vivid physical and period realism. How
many hundreds of times in the movies has it seemed that the
giant-caliber .44 revolvers of the wild west killed without generating
more than a sharp pain in the tummy and a neat little spot of blood.
Not so in Pale Rider. (To be
fair, Altman tried something similar in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which may
well be the better movie, but it's just too depressing to watch.) What
happens to the Marshal is not pretty. Nor should it be. The Preacher
versus the Marshal.
Pale Rider was a remake. This is
the real thing, a masterpiece of cinematography, scene composition, and
poetically spare dialogue. Shane can be hard for young people to watch,
I suppose, because we never learn how good Shane is until the very end.
Despite its violent theme, it contains remarkably little violence. But
there are compensations of the sort Clint Eastwood failed to provide in
Unforgiven. Shane is an essay on life, the
value and costs of dreams,
the difficulty and unfairness of the decisions life sometimes requires
of us. The real test Shane passes is not his showdown with Wilson, but
his honorable choice not to consummate his love for Jean Arthur (unlike
Clint's 'Preacher'). When he leaves the valley, it's not because his
work and justice have been done; it's because he knows he doesn't
belong there. But all that aside, the gunfight itself is still
extraordinary -- brief, shockingly sudden in such a lyrical movie, and
by the standards of its day, realistically violent. It's our only
glimpse of the old Shane, the one he so yearned to lock away in a trunk
forever. But it's all we need to see of him. He was a pro, a
killer, and someone to be feared. Shane versus Wilson.
to 3 minutes in.)
What would make one movie gunfight the best? It would involve
characters we have come to know something about, neither wholly good
nor wholly bad, a mythic context perhaps involving some degree of
historicity, drama but not melodrama, realism without voyeuristic
reveling in gore, and a terrible, close-in intensity that makes the
confrontation inevitably a fight to the death. Well, here it is. It's
the other shoe dropping after the initial encounter we showed you in
Number Ten above. Val Kilmer's performance in Tombstone was brilliant. In fact he
steals the movie from Kurt Russell and Sam Elliott. And this scene is a
movie in miniature of the complex character of the wild west's most
famous consumptive. Doc Holliday versus Johnny Ringo, Part II.
There you have it. Your first day off in a while. We'll see if we can't
muster a few more along the way to November.
*Unless we can't help it.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Mrs. IP Makes Landfall
Peter recently launched another of his commercials for Ron Paul in
response to a TruePunk
post about the Republican Convention. Peter has commented before,
and both InstaPunk bloggers and some of our more able commenters have
sought to reason with him about his, uh, convictions. This time,
though, he seems to have stepped in it. He made Mrs. IPmad, which is hard to do and never a good
sign about your writing and thinking ability. At such times, we all
know the best thing to do is stand aside and hope the high winds and
lightning don't take us out, too, by accident. Sorry, Peter. You have had it coming for quite a while now. And Mrs. IP always did like McCain. A word of warning to everyone who doesn't want his ass kicked in print.
THE THINGS THEY SAY. Peter. I read your comments and take great
what you’ve said and your use of this forum to make such statements
with not a
single example. It seems to me that you have indulged in the same type
tactics you object to in the media.So I
have made some responses in boldface to individual paragraphs of your comment. I have also added a brief statement of my own at the end.
I was MN as
well this past week, but at the other
event across the river. There people like Gary Johnson, Grover
Fein, Tom Woods, and Doug Wead talked about the country's problems, the
problems and solutions for both. Theirs were familiar pleas for the
listen to the movement, for once, and for the movement to actually take
role, power and mission seriously. They
had their opportunity in the primaries. What you fail to understand is
your movement failed to be convincing or even persuasive to more than a
splinter group of delusional fanatics.
Goldwater, Jr. came out and said that
the direction Ron Paul suggests is the best thing the movement has
Ron Paul came out and expounded with the usual. You may disagree with
suggestions, but that's all the substance that came out of Minnesota this
week. The majority does not agree. Again, this is what
primaries are for. As
for citing Barry Goldwater, Jr., I feel for you. I, personally, have
admired Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the Great Emancipator, wholived up to the legacy of his father by
committing his mother to an insane asylum.
I want to
like Sarah Palin. I want McCain's
compelling story to make a difference to me. Likewise, I want this
writers' insight into McCain's deepest motivations, and their
onto his candidacy, to win me over and to make me feel good about not
voting for McCain, but working to get others to do so as well. But I'm
sold. It seems to me that John McCain’s
own words should be what must convince you, not someone else’s
also seems to me that the only input which ever sells you on anything
most recent exposure to Ron Paul. Unfortunately, I dare say McCain and
know that about you, too. The one thing Paulistas have made abundantly
everyone is that nothing anyone can say to them will ever convince them
their heads out of the sand and look at the world as it is. Which makes
quite a bit like the hardcore Obamaniacs. A door long slammed shut
common sense and garden variety logic.
policy? This must not be discussed. We
know Barack Obama will be bad for the country. McCain's personal story
Palin's small-town cred are not answers to that, though. Policy is not
discussed because there would be no fundamental difference between
administration. No fundamental
difference between either administration? That’s ridiculous. Indeed,
In point of cold fact, the only way
to begin the kinds of reforms libertarians claim they believe in is
“veto pen” McCain referenced in his speech. Without that pen as a first
toward slicing the lard out of existing government, every plank of
reform platform is as much a naïve fantasy as his belief that the U.S.
its back on the world without crippling consequences. John McCain’s
reducing federal spending speaks for itself. Your bald assertions to
contrary are offensive.
because they share a love for big
government, an imperial presidency and the arrogance that the elite in
country know what's best for not only every person in each American
town and neighborhood,
but for every 'global citizen' and their nations. As President, Obama
know they have to answer to no one regarding their dealings with other
If you took the time to actually check
John McCain’s record, you would know what a malicious falsehood this
is. I’m wondering if you understand the structure of our government.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a check and overseer of
executive foreign policy decisions ring a bell? Again, you fail to
obvious. If the Congress had a real rather than strictly political case
made against the Iraq
War, that war would be over. They could have defunded it any time in
two years. They didn’t. Not because their mattresses were bugged, but
they don’t have an alternative foreign policy that effectively
even they know is a serious terrorist threat. I truly believe you are
a monomaniac on this issue.
with Jindhal, I'm worried that what
could have been a great thing for Alaska
will be a Sarah Palin as VP remade into what is best for the DC
of which McCain is certainly a part - at least once election season is
over. The great thing about being a paranoid is
that wherever they look they see evidence of their worst nightmares.
political conventions used to be days,
sometimes weeks long. There party activists and officials actually
did battle with members of their own party to best define it and elect
candidates who will represent the ideas for which that party is a
that it would be united against the opposing party. And
who do you think the delegates were? They did debate, and they had
some acrimonious fights. Easy to miss that if you decided ahead of time
didn’t happen. And your nostalgia for smoke-filled rooms is quaint to
of infantile. Today’s party reps can communicate and argue and resolve
without necessarily being locked in one room for a few weeks. Have you
about recent developments like cell phones, email, video conferencing
rooms? If you haven’t you might find them exciting if you opened your
enough to escape from the 1880s.
This is no
longer the case. The entirety of this
event was a media show, of course, but it was a show in which the
and thus the rank-and-file Republicans who elected them at their
county and state conventions had no say. There were no resolutions, no
no motions, no voting. Only a coronation to look good for the media. Wrong. These things didn’t occur on the
convention floor because the media is watching and filming the
24/7. It all happened behind the cameras, in un-smoke-filled rooms, but
happened nonetheless. You’re free to disagree with a platform that
for total unilateral disarmament and abandonment of the world to
Iranian Jew-haters, neo-Soviet adventurism, and suicidal European
but that doesn’t mean your ignorance is proof of some kind of
In fact, the
media's presence is the main argument
for this scenario. However, if the media's main goal was to make
look bad, even among the delegates there were ample opportunities and
know that were on the floor, and were interviewed, who highlighted the
nature of the event. This paragraph
doesn’t even make any sense.
reasons none of these accounts are aired
or printed, in my opinion, is first that the media and its
establishment has no
interest in allowing the public to consider, if even for a second, that
conventions and the meat of the political process are centrally
not in our best interest (as most probably already know), but that
of the political process the public can easily take total control over,
wresting power from the few and returning it to their neighborhoods. See comment about paranoids above. Of course
the media would have an interest
in exposing the lunatic conspiracy you describe with no evidence
That’s the kind of story that makes journalists rich, networks more
and restores vanishing circulations to newspapers. For someone who
believe in capitalism, you appear to have zero understanding of how it
The other is
that greater media scrutiny and
individual involvement would cement for the public the similarities
two parties (at least their DC wings), thereby shutting down the horse
people eat up which makes the whole charade possible. Thank
God there’s you, the one supremely brilliant person on earth who
sees through all the lies being perpetrated on the American public.
absolutely staggering how well you can do this at such a distance from
everything that’s going on, while surrounded by certifiable crazies who
understood anything that’s happened in America since 1932. Hats
become your GOP precinct committeeman.
Get on your countyGOP central
Get on your GOP state committee and work to get actual conservatives as
State Chairman and national committee members. We can write and yell
want, but politicians and party hacks know they don't have to change
our votes are in the bag. Actual involvement starting at the precinct
the only way to change this party and what its elected officials do
mandate we give them. No more. You
forgot to tell us where we should send
our checks, money orders and credit card payments to Ron Paul to fund
doomed political campaign since Pat Paulsen ran for President.
That’s your say. Here’s mine. Your
ahistorical, data-free assertions are no longer cute. Not to me, anyway.
I have known about John McCain for
decades. I remember
his capture, his long captivity. I remember the talk when the last POWs
released by North
No one was sure he would be released. Because of his father’s position,
afraid he would be kept. Photographers and reporters scoured the buses
him. I remember his return. The next time John McCain crossed my radar
involvement in reestablishing relations with the Vietnamese. I asked
what sort of man who had suffered all that he did at the hands of such
enemy would want to be part of this. I also followed some of his career
politics as he hit the headlines from time to time. For
you to blithely lump him in with Obama as
part of a vast monolithic sameness that is perceived only by you and
wannabe revolutionary co-zealots is actually disgusting to me. American
politics is not a video game. It’s a flesh-and-blood reality where
character, biographies, and decades worth of political positions and
are more important than rigid ideologies.
It sounds as if you’d prefer the
that are slowly strangling personal liberty, capitalism, and vigor in
European nations you want us to stay away from. In the U.S.,
we don’t vote for local
ideologues who pick a party leader to lead the nation. We choose a
whom we trust to make hard decisions, including decisions we may not
agree with and which cannot be punished by an immediate ideological
no-confidence. It seems you have failed – for all your vain
– to understand this central identifying characteristic of the most
democratic republic in human history. I feel sorry for you on that
The critical point for me in
is actually believing what I’m being told by each candidate and
the person will do what he says and that what he does is in the best
of Americans. On September 11, 2001, I was at a meeting in a closed
room on a Navy base. Suddenly, the door opened and we were all informed
was happening. The base was being shut down and all civilians were
leave. As we left, we drove out on the road alongside the base to get
our highway. I was immediately struck by how little protection there
relatively short cyclone fence, just like what you would have in your
was all that closed the perimeter. Anyone with a pickup truck could
right through it.
I realized just how open a society we
are – so
confident that our way of life is preferable to any other that we can’t
formulate a scenario where we would be under attack. Some still also
that our oceans protect us.
I believe we are still struggling with
needed to protect ourselves. I see weaknesses everywhere. But there
have been improvements since we have not come under such an attack
again. I am thankful
W. Bush understood that a nation as free as ours cannot fold in on
defense like an armadillo. He understood that
the only way a society as free and open as ours can defend itself
treacheries of terrorism is to seek out the enemy and attack him in
non-domestic battleground can be found.
Nobody tried to lynch FDR for
battle against the European conquests of the Nazis by fighting them first in
Saharan Africa. (Damnit: shouldn't we have gone immediately for the Eagle's Nest [scroll]?) Bush, and McCain, too, found their own desert in which
confront al qaeda, and because there were no invisible mountain redouts
the ones Afghans have used for centuries to bleed invading armies
Russians, etc) to death, the United States Army and Marines have killed
qaeda troops in Iraq than they’d ever have seen in the Barbaristans.
why that frail Home Depot cyclone fence still hasn’t been breached in
years since 9/11.
There was a time when I was convinced
civilian president was the best choice for Commander in Chief.We are, after all, a nation of citizen
warriors. I have since changed my mind. In a world of terrorists who
of us dead, we need a person who understands the complexities of both
Department of Defense and the military structure. For all his good
and perseverance against fierce domestic opposition, George
could never overcome this lack in his own experience. It took McCain to
necessary Surge ito the administration and the congress, which he did by a heroic
to take the easy political out.That’s a
sterling example of why your glib ideological rantings aren’t worth the
of alphabetic characters you waste on them. And if you’re paranoid
militarist dictatorship as well, go (re)read your American history. The
that previous Republican presidents who had prior military careers were
anything but militaristic or imperialist (HINT: Do a Wiki search for
and Dwight Eisenhower. They had their weaknesses, but tyranny wasn’t one
When our nation must call on its
military in a
time of need – as we must now,
regardless oif your willful and juvenile blindness -- I want someone who
shown some skill and comprehension about how best to use it. John
McCain has proven
he has that understanding by calling for the Surge long before anyone
else and defying
his own party and his president to win his case.You
might recall that he received a lot of
criticism at the time and even well after positive results were being
Today, the Surge is a huge success acknowledged by all but Harry
Reid and Nancy
Pelosi. Even Obama conceded late last week that it has been successful
all hope, even though he still refuses to admit he was wrong to oppose
does matter, young man. The one thing Obama’s character can never permit him to
do is acknowledge an error or a mistake. That’s a sign of narcissistic
egomania. I would never vote for such a person for president, and I
advise you to consider what your own persistent refusal to face the
and errors in your political views might mean about yourself.
I will have more to say as the fall
campaign continues. For now, I suggest that Pete and others like
him do a great deal more homework before they attempt to condescend to
the rest of us again.