Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
October 30, 2010 - October 23, 2010

Friday, August 14, 2009


MICHAEL VICK: Anyone interested can hear the reaction in Philly live here. And here's the sports section at

UPDATE. I'd give this a pass, given that we've already spent a fair amount of time on the subject here recently, but since I'm in the Delaware Valley where all this is playing out, I feel an obligation to report, however impressionistically, about what has been happening today for the benefit of those who are elsewhere.

I listened to much of the morning show at WIP SportsTalk Radio, where according to the hosts the call-in sentiment was running 65 to 35 percent against the Vick acquisition. The morning hosts were opposed. All the current and former players they spoke with on the phone were in favor of the Vick deal. All of them. And they all used the same words, "mistake" and "second chances," until I never want to hear those words again. Fans called in with anecdotes of their horror at hearing the news. One woman was at the preseason game last night, heard the news when it broke during the game, and left immediately vowing never to return. Another announced that he'd been a season ticket holder for all his adult life and would root for every team the Eagles played except the Dallas Cowboys (honesty!). Ray Didinger, the unrivalled dean of Philadelphia sportswriters, called in to say that when he got home last night, his wife was at the computer staring at photos of the Vick dogs. "How could they do this?" she asked him. And Ray Didinger said he couldn't tell her why and couldn't believe it himself.

In the next show, co-host Ike Reese, a former Eagle and former teammate of Vick's in Atlanta, tried to explain the monolithic response of the players and coaches. He used the words "mistake" and "second chances," of course, and then described what is essentially a counterpart of the police officer's "thin blue line." They support each other to the nth degree because of the unique pressures and fishbowl lives they experience, and they would hope that the "NFL community" would also be there for them when they need it. Still, there is a sense among all these Vick defenders that they just don't get what's so bad about what he did, and they definitely don't want to talk about it in detail. They immediately head off any attempt to refer to the specific acts Vick "has paid his debt to society for," and they grow immediately angry at any suggestion that there might be something racial behind the clear fact that call-in responses seem to break down much along the lines of the O.J. Simpson circus.

Then came the Eagles news conference at which the speakers were Andy Reid, Tony Dungy, Michael Vick, and Jeffrie Lurie. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid made at least indirect reference to the fact that both his sons are in prison for drug and related offenses, talked about "mistakes" and "second chances" and reaffirmed that his first priority has always been procuring the talent that would lead to an Eagles Super Bowl championship. Tony Dungy talked about the Lord, forgiveness, and visiting a remorseful Vick in Leavenworth prison. He expressed his conviction that the Philadelphia Eagles were the best possible home for a man who needed to rebuild his life, overcome his "mistakes," and prove his worthiness for a "second chance."

Then came Vick. He spoke at some length, haltingly, in a monotone that sounded humble. He admitted to having done wrong. He said what he did was unacceptable. He spoke too much and not enough. He talked about the stupid risks he took at "the pinnacle of his career" and of his reaction as "shame and embarrassment" when he got caught and "hurt" when he realized what he had lost. He talked about having to tell his children that Daddy's bad actions were sending him to prison. He used words like "unethical" and "inhumane." He did not use the words "guilt," "brutality," "crime," "vicious," "evil," or, notably, "mistake." (Oops. Yes he did. About half a dozen times.) He figures if he can help more animals than he hurt, then he'll have paid his debt.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie used all the words Vick didn't. He was eloquent about what a dog person he was, cited the two dogs he'd lost recently, and then ripped Vick a new one, including words like "disgusting" and "sickening." He spoke of how incredibly difficult it was to give a malefactor like Vick a contract. But then he spoke of the tremendous opportunity he foresaw for Michael Vick to become, well, a sort of New Age Francis of Assisi, carrying the message of animal love and care to the world. How Vick's going to do this as an NFL quarterback he didn't describe. Nor did he explain why the Philadelphia Eagles should regard this as part of their charter, or why Vick (if saving his soul is the objective) wouldn't be better served by earning his second chance working full time for peanuts rescuing dogs in the real world than by making occasional appearances on behalf of dogs on his $1.6 million salary.

Bottom line? Michael Vick is a millionaire again. Is this what we mean by "second chances?" Do we all deserve a second chance to be a millionaire? Or do we all deserve a second chance to become a decent human being? One of the early show callers suggested that maybe Vick's second chance should be to go back to Virginia Tech and earn the college degree he blew off the first time, then use that degree to build a life and a career like other people have.

For anyone who found this post simply searching for Michael Vick references, here's full disclosure. Three previous posts on the Michael Vick situation:

What I Want to See

Monday Night Vickball

Remembering Sport

And another on dog consciousness:  Dog Love

If circumstances require it, I'll update again.

UPDATE 2. The beginning of the Howard Eskin show (I've trashed him before but he's grilling both Isaac Reese and Tony Dungy.) Now I'm finally getting the real player take on the Vick situation. It's depressing. Even for an estimable former player like Ike Reese, the most important thing is the money. Vick is sorry and to be trusted in future because he has lost so much money. Ike keeps going back to the money. (Show me the money!) It's the price he paid for what he did. Millions. That's what morality is to the professional athletes who rise from poverty to celebrity. You are remorseful when you lose enough millions. You are rehabilitated when you recognize just how many millions you don't have anymore. Which means that fulfilling your trust consists of doing and saying and acting all the ways you're expected to do and say and act in order to get back on the gravy train. Right and wrong have absolutely nothing to do with it. It's all about putting on the necessary performance. That's why you can be trusted, even if you're Michael Vick, sociopath. When you think about this in the context of all the players who profess devout Christianity -- and are defending and promoting Michael Vick as we speak -- the feeling that begins to rise in your gut is nausea. America's original sin will do us in, just as our president has repeatedly intimated.

My next question: Is Tony Dungy a fool? And if he isn't a fool (and how could a successful NFL coach be one?), then what the hell is he? I don't even want to think about it. It causes the whole American earth to tremble.

Eskin says he thinks "The Eagles have gone crazy." He's right. My final question is, has the whole country gone crazy? That's why this pitiful story is important. Are the politically correct really willing to put a knife to their own throats -- say, by slaying one of the most lucrative NFL franchises in the nation -- to feel like they're doing the correct thing?

I think so. God help us.

Obama Kiddies

TRIED TO WARN YOU. Here's what we said back in March of this year.

His proposed healthcare system will represent a brand new tax for young workers who opted out of health insurance ...

That's right. You think he's going to hopenchange the universe. Fine. Are you willing to pay for it yourselves? As we told you before, you're going to be paying one of the biggest taxes of all, mandatory health insurance. Kiddies (h/t Hotair):

    In General- Subchapter A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding at the end the following new part:

    Subpart a. tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.
    ‘Subpart A–Tax on Individuals Without Acceptable Health Care Coverage

    ‘Sec. 59B. Tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.

    Sec. 59b. tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage.

    ‘(a) Tax Imposed- In the case of any individual who does not meet the requirements of subsection (d) at any time during the taxable year, there is hereby imposed a tax equal to 2.5 percent of the excess of–
    ‘(1) the taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income for the taxable year, over
    ‘(2) the amount of gross income specified in section 6012(a)(1) with respect to the taxpayer.
    ‘(b) Limitations-
    ‘(A) IN GENERAL- The tax imposed under subsection (a) with respect to any taxpayer for any taxable year shall not exceed the applicable national average premium for such taxable year.
    ‘(i) IN GENERAL- For purposes of subparagraph (A), the ‘applicable national average premium’ means, with respect to any taxable year, the average premium (as determined by the Secretary, in coordination with the Health Choices Commissioner) for self-only coverage under a basic plan which is offered in a Health Insurance Exchange for the calendar year in which such taxable year begins.
    ‘(ii) FAILURE TO PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR MORE THAN ONE INDIVIDUAL- In the case of any taxpayer who fails to meet the requirements of subsection (e) with respect to more than one individual during the taxable year, clause (i) shall be applied by substituting ‘family coverage’ for ‘self-only coverage’.
    2) PRORATION FOR PART YEAR FAILURES- The tax imposed under subsection (a) with respect to any taxpayer for any taxable year shall not exceed the amount which bears the same ratio to the amount of tax so imposed (determined without regard to this paragraph and after application of paragraph (1)) as–
    ‘(A) the aggregate periods during such taxable year for which such individual failed to meet the requirements of subsection (d), bears to
    ‘(B) the entire taxable year.

There goes your Bimmer. And your Jimmy Choo shoes. And your all-NFL HD sports package. Sorry, but I don't feel sorry. Wake up or succumb to the new Nanny State. The good news is that by all accounts your parents are willing to die for you. (I have this on ironclad authority! See the comments.) Of course, after they've died for you, you and your children and your grandchildren will still be paying for the debts they consented to on your behalf. But I still don't feel sorry. You went trooping all over the land lecturing us about how much smarter and more illuminated you are than antique reactionaries like us because your parents succeeded so well in inflating your self esteem to Hindenberg-esque levels of incipient doom.

The problem? Some of us know you deserve no self esteem. Some of us old farts got real educations, learned economics, history, and pragmatic lessons in avoiding con-men who promise everything and leave the room with your wallet in their faultless suits. What did you learn in college? The brilliance of Maya Angelou's poetry and the poetry of Al Gore's brilliant pseudo-science. You're uneducated idiots. Excuse me. Fucking idiots. You deserve the economic hell your "Praise Obama" rant got you. Some of us were fighting to protect you from your dim, dumb selves. We'll be dead long before the consequences of your youthful arrogance blight your lives and doom you to permanent semi-poverty. Believe it or not, we were fighting to save you from yourselves.

Here's what you won't hear anywhere else. I hate youth. You're all a waste of time. You know nothing. Your only skills have to do with texting and other gadgetry. You can't do basic arithmetic. You can't write a paragraph. You represent a total loss of the enormous investment your fool parents made in you. You deserve all the terrible things that are going to happen to you, without fail, because a free society doesn't run itself automatically. It requires guardians, brave people who know how to write and think and stand on principle in grave situations. The only exception is the tiny percentage of you, whom you routinely despise, who serve in the armed forces and give their lives to keep your worthless lives safe.

I've been asked why I feel so old. Here's why. You are a cliff our country is falling off. and right now I'm hoping I die before we get there. That's a sorry plight for someone who was brought up to believe in his country -- and real hope, not totalitarian propaganda.

Good luck with the Obama dude. You'll spend the rest of your lives paying for him. The down payment, though, will be the sudden sucking from your paychecks of the cost of universal healthcare. Enjoy hopenchange while you still have a pot to piss in.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheesecake for Apotheosis

Sorry about the German female 'beefcake' post.

SIMPLER AND SWEETER. We're probably still not getting it right. But for us, 'cheesecake' is a distinctly retro notion, a timeslip back to the days when there was still mystery and magic about women. Apotheosis chided us the other day about an admittedly NSFW post that showed the goods without delivering at all on the mystery and magic:

For the record, when I suggested earlier that IP could drive up his traffic by emulating some other conservative blogs and posting cheesecake now and then, this ain't exactly what I had in mind.

So come back with us to those (genuinely) thrilling days of yesteryear when women were both remote and accessible, undraped and shy, flirtatious and coy, and magnetically beautiful beyond our wildest imaginings. Much much more here.

Somehow, Apoth, I don't think it's going to boost traffic. But I do think it's a lovely detour from the grim 1984-ism of the contemporary political scene.

So I thank you. (Never say we don't try to please.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This is interesting...

The elephant in the conservative pool.

WE TOLD YOU SO. I said interesting, not definitive. RightWingNews (h/t Hotair) has conducted a poll of leading conservative bloggers to identify "The Most Respected People On The Right For 2009." The criteria were inclusive:

All bloggers were allowed to make anywhere from 1-10 unranked selections and were allowed to choose anybody on the Right or generally perceived to be on the Right that they liked: Republican, conservative, Libertarian, politician, preacher, blogger, columnist, radio host, you name it!

The list itself is interesting, both for who's on it and who isn't. For example, there's no sign of George Will, Hugh Hewitt, David Frum, David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, Bill Quick, Allahpundit (despite his vigorous self-promotion today), or any of the other hyper-intellectuals who have been lecturing us all for months about how to salvage the stricken conservative cause. I think that has to do with something primally important about conservatism that these folks just don't get: the thing that unites us more than anything else is that we don't like to be told what to do by anybody, and particularly by people whose default stance is that they are looking down on us backward ignorants but are essaying the discussion in the first place because, a lot like their liberal colleagues, they know what's best for us better than we do. The editorial boards of the Weekly Standard (0) and the National Review (2) haven't fared too well on this list, either, and only two of the Fox News Channel's big ratings stars make an appearance, one of them much lower in rank than might be expected of a dimwit bunch like us. And, uh, "Conservative Blogger of the Year" Ace of Spades? Uh uh. But the biggest absence of all? Republican politicians. A few, but not even a significant minority. Interesting? I think so.

Which brings us to the matter of who is on the list. I'm reproducing it here with links to what InstaPunk has said about them in the past (not all we've said, but you know how to search the site...). Not all of them have impressed us enough to comment one way or another, but I thought you might enjoy comparing our views to those of the "leading" righty bloggers (more about them below). It might be a worthwhile trip down memory lane and an incentive to fight harder in the battles to come.

23) John Stossel 4
23) Mitt Romney 4
23) Daniel Hannan [He's a Brit, for God's sakes]4
23) John Bolton [I know we linked him on mideast policy but can't find it] 4
16) Fred Thompson 5
16) Antonin Scalia 5
16) Glenn Reynolds [passim] 5
16) Bobby Jindal 5
16) George W. Bush [much more, obviously] 5
16) Sean Hannity [more] 5
16) Tom Coburn [eh] 5
14) Victor Davis Hanson 6
14) Dick Cheney 6
12) Ed Morrissey 7
12) Ann Coulter [and a BUNCH more: search] 7
10) Jonah Goldberg [more on him, too] 8
10) Newt Gingrich 8
9) Jim DeMint [solid but not exactly Mr. Excitement] 9
7) Mark Levin [scroll] 10
7) Glenn Beck 10
6) Charles Krauthammer 11
5) Mark Steyn [much more, including music wisdom]14
4) Michelle Malkin [tons] 15
3) Thomas Sowell 17
2) Sarah Palin [search] 20
1) Rush Limbaugh [lots, pro and con] 24

If you look at the Top Ten, it's really pretty fascinating in the context of a group of reactionaries who are supposed to be racist, sexist, xenophobic, Bible-beating Christian numbskulls. Two women, three Jews, an African-American, a Filipino-American, a Brit-American, a Mormon, and only four male WASPs, which is, er, less than half. Maybe diversity isn't an exclusively liberal phenomenon. Interesting.

And despite all the bashing from left and right, Limbaugh. But how could it be otherwise?

Finally, there are the "leading" righty blogs, most of which I'd never even heard of. Here's an open invitation to the best commenters in the blogosphere. Take a look at them. Report back. Tell us who you like and why (or vice versa, of course). We're always willing to give a nod to the smart and talented from whom we might learn something. Here's the list:

All That Is Necessary, The Anchoress, Argghhhh!, AtlanticBlog, Atlas Shrugs, Basil's Blog, BitsBlog, BizzyBlog, Melissa Clouthier, Conservative Compendium, Conservatism Today, Copious Dissent, David All Group, Dodgeblogium,Katie Favazza, Cassy Fiano, GraniteGrok, Guardian Watchblog, Infidels Are Cool, Jihad Watch, Libertarian Republican, Likelihood of Success, Linkiest, Don Singleton, Little Miss Attila, Mean Ol' Meany , Moonbattery, Musket Balls, Newsbeat1, No Oil For Pacifists, The Nose On Your Face, Pal2pal, Pirate's Cove, Right Wing Rocker, Right View from the Left Coast, The Smallest Minority, Solomonia, Vox Popoli, WILLisms, Wolking's World

That should be enough to keep you busy for a bit. But I AM expecting comments, so don't get lost at Metalkort and the other place. Your first responsibility is here.

Just kidding. Do what you want. Just thought you'd find it all, uh, interesting....

Apropos of Nothing

My granddaughter. In Canada.

WHAT MATTERS. For all my fire and fury, I'm a very lucky man.

Her dog. In Canada. Nobody taught him how to behave around a baby.
He figured it all out for himself. He's a bumptious boy, but he loves her.

Canada. They were just visiting. But maybe I should retract the harsher things I've said. About Canada. It's called "mellowing." I'm deeply suspicious of it. Still, as long as no liberal trolls come in to say horrible things, I'm content that this should be a kind and quiet intermezzo in Instapunk's relations with the universe. Until tomorrow.

As you were.

What I Want to See

He's suffered enough, right? He's sorry, right? Can he play now?

"HE MADE A MISTAKE." I'm not kidding. This isn't a satire piece. In the buildup to the new NFL season, we've had an ocean of discussion about Michael Vick at ESPN and on the air during the first pre-season game. What's clear is that absolutely everybody associated with the NFL, as sportswriter, player, former player, coach, and former coach wants Vick to play this season in the National Football League. There's no question that there's a racial angle to it all, since every black player and coach seems vaguely resentful that Vick, who has done prison time, might be less welcome in the league than other players who have been guilty of gun violations, domestic violence, and various other crimes ranging from assault to drug trafficking. You can read any of the abundant chat rooms about NFL topics, and it's clear that African-Americans in particular cannot understand why anyone would oppose the return of Michael Vick based on their opposition to what he did to "just dogs."

I'm convinced this is also the mentality that prevails throughout the professional sports world. I heard Tony Dungy spend 20 minutes (when we could have been watching the Hall of Fame game between Buffalo and Tennessee) explaining that Vick was remorseful and anxious "to be a role model" while ESPN announcer Chris Collingsworth expressed his disbelief that Vick had lost "two years of his career" and was still in danger of being rejected by an NFL team. Earlier, I heard Howie Long give an interview to Fox News in which he suggested that a lot of NFL teams were intereasted in Vick and one of them would probably sign him because he was such a box-office draw. Time to move on, they all protest. The past is the past, and all necessary atonement has been paid.

What is wrong with these people? Are we being shown something none of us wants to see about the nature of professional athletes in this country -- that they are, at base, the cruel, unfeeling monsters we'd like to think they are only between the sidelines and the end zone? How can they not know that there are certain crimes that ordinary people don't believe are expiated by two or even five years in a penitentiary? And how can they dare to suggest or imply or work the angles on an inference that there's something racist about continuing to repudiate a man who tortured dogs for fun?

So here's what I want. I want a fearless reporter to ask President Obama about Michael Vick. Has he paid his debt to society? Should he be permitted to sign a new multi-million dollar contract with an NFL team? Is it really possible to live down the deliberate murder of dogs with a prison term and a possibly self-serving avowal of regret and apology? Is the revulsion felt by animal lovers for this man truly racist and unjust? Are dogs really nothing, as all the NFL pundits, players, and pontificators appear to be suggesting?

I'd like to know what our president thinks. He certainly wasn't shy about his opinions regarding Professor Gates. And I, for one, would glean one hell of a lot of important insight about Barack Obama from his answer to this question.

For the record, I don't want Michael Vick on an NFL football field ever. I don't want him anywhere I might see him or otherwise encounter him. He -- and anyone who believes that killing defenseless dogs is a lesser crime than killing a human child -- is the lowest of the low. I can also assure you that everyone who defends him, apologizes for him, refers to his crimes as a "mistake," or otherwise argues for his reinstatement and a "second chance" is permanently reduced in my regard. With no exceptions.

Just so we're clear. Obama likes to be "clear." Let him be clear about this. I really really want to know.

UPDATE. All right. I'm going to respond to this bit of moral chicanery once and no more, because as you may have gathered, I'm sick of the easy evasion that is always used by those who are determined to split hairs about truly heinous acts. I won't change the mind of anyone who's incapable of moral reasoning above a bumper sticker level, but at least a few of you will think more deeply before you accept such pompously glib assertions again.

Billy Oblivion said:

Oh, and:

"anyone who believes that killing defenseless dogs is a lesser crime than killing a human child"

That is utterly stupid. Of COURSE murdering a child is worse than murdering a dog.

Just as Syphilis is worse than Gonorrhea, or Prostate Cancer is worse than Lung Cancer.

I've had dogs. And I've got kids, and while I'd fight to save my dogs, I'd *die* defending my children.

Dog's aren't just a mans best friend, we've evolved together, we are a team. But they aren't human.

If placing human life ahead of animal life makes me the lowest of the low, well, I'm comfortable down here. I can live with that.

Say hi to the nitwits at PETA for me.

Then Cocklebur said:

I think Billy has covered Locos' idiotic comment equating a dog's life with that of a child.

[And most recently, Steve said:

"He -- and anyone who believes that killing defenseless dogs is a lesser crime than killing a human child -- is the lowest of the low"

By far the most idiotic thing I've heard on ANY blog in several years.

Jaw-dropping. What ARE you?]

Idiotic? Depends on what moral universe you live in. Both Billy and Cocklebur make fundamental errors in their, er, arguments assertions. I'll start with Cocklebur's. In point of fact, I did not "equate a dog's life with that of a child." I said that killing dogs was not a lesser crime than killing a human child. There's a significant difference between the two statements. The specific, objective value of the life being taken is not the important part of the moral issue. It can't be determined by any objective measure except species identity, in which we are obviously biased, biologically, legally, and philosophically. Yet in western culture, by tradition and even law, we have created a distinction between the "animals" we bring into our homes and the animals we raise for food. We do not eat cats or dogs or horses in this country. We give them names. We communicate with them. We receive benefits from our relationships with them. In the case of dogs and horses, we frequently make life contracts with them to do work that assists or elevates us. And when we take "ownership" of such animals we accept personal responsibility for their well being, just as we do with children. We partner with them. It may be an unequal partnership, but so is that between a parent and a child, and ironically, it is often the case that the dominant human receives more in return from his partner animals than from his own children. In point of fact, our species has "adopted" these other species as human adjuncts, regardless of what limitations we conveniently place on our own responsibility to them.

So what is the real difference? Intelligence? Capacity for altruism? Lifespan? All of these are slippery slopes for the human who is seeking to assign value in such terms beyond the brute postulate that "they are not us." If intelligence is the measure, and lesser intelligence (however measured) is the less valuable, then is it also less of a crime to murder a Down Syndrome child than a normal child? In that instance, it might be less of a crime to kill a one-year-old child than a five-year-old police dog, seeing eye dog, or therapy dog. If capacity for altruism is the measure, many would plausibly argue that dogs win that contest hands down against the entire human species. If lifespan is the measure, it cuts two ways. Yes, the human has been robbed of more years of life, but the dog has a much shorter and therefore more temporally precious lifespan to begin with. And, again, we face the question, is it a lesser crime to kill a child with some life-truncating genetic defect than to kill a healthy child?

The fact is, when we try a human being for murdering another human being, we do not seek to mitigate the criminality of the act by trivializing the value of the victim. We do not say the convicted murderer should receive a reduced sentence because his victim was 80 or produced no income to speak of or had a low IQ or was handicapped in some way. Indeed, the latter two circumstances might actually serve to increase the contemplated punishment at sentencing. What does matter in assessing degree of guilt? The intent of the murderer, the deliberateness, the egregiousness, the coldness, the vulnerability of the victim, and the brutality of the act itself. Evidence, for example, that the murderer took physical pleasure in the crime could be the difference between life in prison and the death sentence.

Which returns us to the "they are not us" assertion that makes its exponents so proud of their moral discrimination. Which is not actually moral at all. (I won't even mention what "they are not us" would mean in a strictly human context.) Invariably the next thing out of their mouths when they proclaim the superiority of their position is a citation of what they would do for their kids, which is instantly no longer even a species-level argument. Yeah, you'd die for your kids. So? That's not morality. That's biology. Perpetuation of your seed, your genes, your bloodline. That makes you some kind of moral arbiter? I don't think so. There were quite a few residents of New Orleans who refused to leave their homes during the Katrina evacuation because they weren't going to abandon their cats and dogs. Who are these people in your moral universe? Inferior because they were willing to die for their dogs if need be, whom they had not sired and who contained no particle of their genetic identity? As opposed to you, who stand absolutely and unthinkingly ready to tell us that a dog is a dog and a human is a human, especially when the human looks just like you. Uh, maybe "they are not us" is a signpost of superiority most of us can't aspire to in the context of dogs who have risked or given their lives for humans and humans who have risked or given their lives for "just" dogs, cats, and horses.

While you're still screaming in mortal outrage, let me repeat something I've said before on this site, whether any of my scolds remembers it or not. I am NOT saying that some hypothetical "Sophie's Choice" in which one had to choose between killing a dog and killing a child represents some kind of a coin flip decision. As I've said before, I'd kill the dog and then never get over it entirely. But your implication that this incredibly unlikely thought experiment adequately encompasses the moral issues associated with human responsibility is shallow, self-serving, and absurd.

Michael Vick was not engaged in a thought experiment. What he did, what he chose to do, is morally equivalent to killing a child for fun. That he did the one and not the other is not some function of real moral discrimination on his part. Killing a child is much much more illegal and deterred by force of possible punishment than killing a dog. Also, one and two-year-old infants cannot provide for you the pleasure of fighting to the death in an arena and produce gambling profits in addition to the thrill of the violence and gore. He did have a human, moral contractual obligation to look out for the well being of the dogs he chose to acquire. That he regarded the torture and murder of helpless beings who possess at least the intelligence and consciousness of a two year old human child as sport is as much an indictment of his humanity as if he had electrocuted a Down Syndrome child nobody else wanted. If you can do the one, you can probably do the other. You just might not, because human law protects human beings more than the other creatures who share our intimate lives and hearts.

That's why it's not a lesser crime. People who possess moral sensibility beyond the level of custom and popular cultural tradition know this. It's not a PETA "cockroaches are people too" bullshit posturing.

I know some of you will be offended and be inclined to sharpshoot. Not much interested in your defenses. They're nonsense. (Speaking of nonsense, Billy, fascinated by your equally presumptuous declaration that prostate cancer is worse than lung cancer. Really? From your perspective, prostate cancer is probably worse than breast cancer too. I mean, you've got a prostate, don't you? And I suppose the lung cancer crowd "had it coming"? Cause the "objective" truth is that it's much worse to die without a hard-on than without being able to breathe.) Nobody's rational anymore on the subject of "the kids." It's our abiding masturbatory obsession. And it's crap. In the days of the Roman Republic, one of the most important allegorical fables concerned the Roman general who assigned his own son the suicide mission of guarding a bridge at the rear over which the enemy might try to follow his retreat. That's more the kind of father my father was. He loved me as much as you love all your children. But he would never have lied for me, or broken the law of the land to rescue me from the consequences of my own crimes. He saw two responsibilities where today's Nanny-Daddies see only one. He was responsible for protecting me to adulthood. And he was responsible for raising me in a way that did not represent a danger to others. He took both responsibilities equally seriously. And if I had failed him in the latter, he would still have loved me, but he would not have forgiven me or protected me.

We've lost our moral compass in this country. That's why I get so angry when people who should know better recite platitudes as if they were delivering the truth of the ages. And do so pridefully. Michael Vick is a murderer. The assertion, in whatever form and however cloaked in pious doubletalk, that his victims were "just dogs" is an insult to people who claim to believe in individual human moral responsibility. You don't really believe that. You're guarding your bloodline. And other kinds of moral stands and risks aren't worth taking, not to you anyway. Good for you. You're the survivors in a Darwinian world. Just don't preach at those of us who see things differently. Idiotic? What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. And I'm the gander in this particular discussion.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

***Be sure to visit Into the Metalkort and The Shuteye Nation Underverse***

Where's the harm?
Don't see it. (NSFW)

Angela Merkel. She would like to be reelected, bitte.

WE WERE ON THIS LONG AGO (NSFW). Drudge and other news organizations are trying to drum up outrage about the current German election campaign:

Merkel's cleavage heats up German vote campaign

With seven weeks to go until German elections, billboards of Chancellor Angela Merkel sporting a very revealing low-cut dress have pepped up a campaign that has so far struggled to grab public attention.

The election placards have been put up by Vera Lengsfeld, from Merkel's conservative CDU party, who is running in a long-shot race in a left-wing district of Berlin for a parliamentary seat in the September 27 poll.

Vera Lengsfeld, CDU. The slogan translated is
 "We have more to offer" or words to that effect.

They show photographs of each woman in an evening dress showing plenty of cleavage with the slogan: "We have more to offer" emblazoned over the chancellor's breasts.

Lengsfeld, a former East German dissident, said she had not cleared the picture beforehand with Merkel, 55, telling rolling news channel N24: "The chancellor could never have allowed me to do this, otherwise everyone would have wanted to do it."

The 57-year-old candidate has hung 750 posters in her district and local media have reported a few stolen as souvenirs.

Lengsfeld said over 17,000 people had visited her election blog since she shot into the public eye.

"If only a tenth of them also look at the content of my policies, I will have reached many more people than I could have done with classic street canvassing"...

On Lengsfeld's blog, opinion was sharply divided.

"Witty, cheeky and funny," said "Alex."

But "Lena" said the placards were "embarrassing and shameful."

"How deeply sad that a woman has to attract attention with her breasts because she is incapable of clever words and thoughts," she said.

Lengsfeld said she did not understand the fuss.

Nor do we. And we actually understand what the slogan says in German. It's where we are in western civilization. The ironies abound. The Europeans have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the Nanny State. Women's values rule, and the men are accordingly womanish, the women (seemingly) reluctantly feminine, which is why the Germans, who just can't wait to take their clothes off in front of each other generally, pretend to be shocked by what is, in the final analysis, a dead accurate depiction of their politics. I mean, think about it.

Angela Merkel is the dowdy, humorless, sexless, uninspired drone in charge of the nation that taught the world the dangers of charisma. But the symbolism is accurate and has been from the beginning (1, 2, 3, 4). She is a perfect embodiment of Germany today -- female, stubbornly and obstructively so -- and she's as naked in her unwillingness to stand up for any principle as she is unattractive and hopelessly barren of any prospects for a meaningful future. No wonder the political imagery has been so relentlessly gender-specific. The only question that lingers is what sort of nourishment she thinks she's dispensing from those over-full nanny breasts? Or is it merely a drizzle of inadequate anesthetic?

Whatever it is, it's more honest than the American equivalent, where women are trying hard to be as "ballsy" as their emasculated male counterparts. Hillary is Nanny, Inc., determined to suckle the entire nation at the bulging, leaking orb of her lactating socialist mind. She would be mother of us all -- Hera, Isis, Gaia, and even a post-virginal, epistle-writing Mary, Mother of God -- but she can't even condescend to wear a skirt for fear we might catch an outline glimpse of the phantom testicles she shifts from side to side in her storm trooper panties:

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And our, ahem, charismatic, uh, president continues to bray at us in the confident baritone of a Rock Hudson while he urges us to accept his message that less really is more, that hope consists of reduced expectations, that confidence and pride and legitimate accomplishment are pathology, and that only his particular vision can nourish what is good within us. Where the hell are his magnanimously overflowing tits to compensate us for what he insists we lose?

I never signed up for the idea of president as national parent, mother or father. Europe is long gone along that path, despite their allegiance to a fatally fucked parliamentary system. They want that teat, can't get enough of it. Which means they have become perpetual children. Their birth rate averages about 1.2 to 1.3 per couple, which means they're dying, nation by nation. Our president wants us to follow their lead. Federally subsidize abortion beyond any level even Europe allows. Tolerate and placate Islam, which has been relentless about invading every country with a low birthrate to take them over with fanatical automatons and endlessly fecund, faceless concubines who can be killed the moment their wombs expire.

So here's what I say. If our fate is absolute government control, nanny governance of what we eat and drink and smoke, bureaucratic determinations of when we live and die, from before birth to after our net worth has been yielded to Medicare, then at least give us what Germany is getting: TITS. Hillary, Nancy, Claire, Susan, Olympia, Barbara, Maxine, Michelle, all of you, rip your bras off and show us the nipples that are going to sustain us in the absence of actual life. And for God's sake, don't pretend you're a "sort of" man who just happens to have 'bumps' under the jacket of her pantsuit.

Hillary really could have been president. For most of you.

Like, uh, be honest. For a change.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Keep the Heat On

QUAIL. Well, this is fun. According to Nancy and Steny, giving politicians a hard time is Un-American:

We believe it is healthy for such a historic effort to be subject to so much scrutiny and debate. The failure of past attempts is a reminder that health insurance reform is a defining moment in our nation's history — it is well worth the time it takes to get it right. We are confident that we will get this right.

Already, three House committees have passed this critical legislation and over August, the two of us will work closely with those three committees to produce one strong piece of legislation that the House will approve in September.

In the meantime, as members of Congress spend time at home during August, they are talking with their constituents about reform. The dialogue between elected representatives and constituents is at the heart of our democracy and plays an integral role in assuring that the legislation we write reflects the genuine needs and concerns of the people we represent.

However, it is now evident that an ugly campaign is underway not merely to misrepresent the health insurance reform legislation, but to disrupt public meetings and prevent members of Congress and constituents from conducting a civil dialogue. These tactics have included hanging in effigy one Democratic member of Congress in Maryland and protesters holding a sign displaying a tombstone with the name of another congressman in Texas, where protesters also shouted "Just say no!" drowning out those who wanted to hold a substantive discussion.

Let the facts be heard

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.

Oh? Bush Lied, People Died. No War for Oil. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera (1:35 in). There are so many hypocrisies and ironies in their outrage that the comedy of their stand on American principles of fairness tends to obscure the deeper and much darker issues involved.

They don't care about fairness. They care about winning. They have sedulously cultivated every kind of ugly, unfair, demonizing mob attack on their enemies undertaken since the Vietnam War. Everyone from Nuclear Freeze Anarchists to Code Pink to to MSNBC to the BBC 'liberals' who thought it appropriate to depict the assassination of George W. Bush, and now they find something Un-American about people yelling "Read the bill!" at scheduled political meetings? They have nominated and elected a president whose whole resume consists of dirty, vicious, rabble-rousing politics (uh, "community organizing") aimed at using ignorant pawns to suborn the law of the land and support their drive toward expanded government power. Their own Justice Department can see no crime in an armed "New Black Panther" presence at the polls while ordinary (Un)Americans are trying to vote. And they're really trying to sell us this crock of shit? That they prefer reasonable and reasoned discussion to a wall of invective and partisan hatred?

I'll let you fill in the dark parts for yourselves, but I will tell you three things I've seen recently that this kind of Democrat grandstanding reminded me of. I'll leave it to you to draw the linkages and elucidate the meanings:

1. Over the weekend I finally saw the Mark Wahlberg action movie, Shooter. A one-word movie title needs a subtitle. In this case it should have been: A Lefty Wet Dream. It begins with a marine sniper in Ethiopia, where we all know U.S. forces have been concentrated in recent years. And, true to the liberal vision of U.S. national security policy, a sniper is left to die after performing heroically. Cut to three years later, where said sniper is hanging out like Bourne in the first sequel, sans girlfriend, but ripe for exploitation by an unidentified intel operative who wants to see how he would go about assassinating the president of the United States, because some other sniper said he was going to. Of course it's all a setup, which means Wahlberg has to turn instantly into Bourne (because we all know that snipers are also taught lethal  hand-to-hand combat, urban pursuit driving, electronic sabotage, battlefield surgery techniques, and the right moves for seducing women with nipple-popping tanktops into helping fugitive political assassins who show up with a dumb, hurt, my-country-screwed-me-again look on their faces).

Of course, the real villain is Dick Cheney and his amoral Halliburton factotums, which means that our hero has to kill -- far more emotionlessly than Bourne -- about fifty mercenaries, intel operatives and politicians before he can slide away into the sunset. Oh, and yeah, he also gets a lecture from another Bourne-type sniper about how nothing matters except power, which is disgusting even to an avowed slaughterer of men, women, and children on all politically active continents. And did we mention the napalm? Which is always available to snipers on the lam who nevertheless come from the U.S. military and have no feelings whatever about watching dozens of people burn to death.

Well, at least, he killed Dick Cheney at the end. Thanks to a free pass from the attorney general in God knows what administration. And after his brand new girlfriend murdered the intel operative who suddenly forgot all his training and orders because of her bursting bra, the two of them got to begin their new life in the lefty utopia of hating everybody in the name of their greater love for Ethipians whose own leaders massacre them for U.S. dollars. I'll bet GWB and Dick Cheney were really shamed by this movie. Maybe especially when they saw the renegade Hispanic FBI agent who deserted his post to help Wahlberg in his shiny new Che Guevara sweatshirt.

Not that liberals would ever kill anyone for their beliefs or act intolerant or trivialize the value of human life. Or anything like that. But you know. We're all free to fantasize.

2. On NJN (PBS Channel 23) over the weekend, there was a sober archaeological effort titled "Headless Romans." It's PBS, you know. They wouldn't play emotional tricks on the audience, would they? Would they?

You see, they found these forty-some skeletons buried at York (England, don't you know). But the burials were totally unlike other Roman burials. Usually, the Romans cremated their dead. When they didn't, they buried them the way we do, face up, laid out nicely, and, uh, you know, politely. So who were the butchered skeletons in the York graveyard who had, most of them, been savagely decapitated, with their severed heads mostly tossed at their feet and knees? Various lisping Brit scholars (male and female, so don't get in a sex snit; they lisp -- it's called reportage) informed us that they had been able to date the bodies to c. 200 A.D., which was when the current Roman emperor had embarked on one of Rome's periodic attempts to subdue the Scots (called "Caledonians" in this oh-so-correct docu-dumbery) north of Hadrian's Wall.

If you're at all like me, you're surprised that the Romans ever messed with the Scots after having built a huge wall across the entire width of England to keep them out. But apparently the Emperor Severus thought this would set the seal on his image of invincibility in Rome, so he decided to go for it, with his two sons GidaGeta and CaracollaCaracalla (h/t Taylor for the correction).

So we move into some really fine nature photography. What the legions would have seen looking from Hadrian's Wall into "Caledonia." uh, nothing. Scenery maybe, but no Caledonians. Which pissed the Romans off. Because the Caledonians were clambering over the wall whenever they wanted and taking whatever they wanted from Roman settlements in "Britannia." Bastards. So the Romans marched into the mists and wastes of Caledonia, looking for Caledonians. Occasionally they found some. When they did, they slaughtered them to the last woman, child and fetus, because nobody ever fucks with the Romans.

Except the Caledonians. Who proceeded to fight a three-year war of "stealth" against the Romans, choosing their opportunities and descending like the barbarians they were when opportunities presented themselves. The producers allowed as how the Roman offensive did not go according to plan. There was never a pitched battle. The legions never encountered a Caledonian army they could engage in the open.

You're thinking stalemate, right? Can't find'em, can't kill'em, let's go home. Until they casually, lispingly, drop the bombshell that in three years of fighting, the Roman offensive lost 50,000 troops. Huh? WTF? (Does anybody else think Hadrian may have been more than an ambitious WPA contractor?)

Back to the bodies from the graveyard. PBS. Science. DNA. Historical archives (not like the Romans never wrote anything down, is it?) Striking footage of decapitated skeletons laid out in what maybe used to be the nave of a church in York. Not Caledonians. Surprised? These are mostly Roman soldiers between the ages of 20 and 40. What next? The forensics crones go to work -- why are they all women? -- explaining just how savagely the victims were killed. Explaining how all the injuries are to either the legs or the necks and heads. Really kind of delighted with their own expertise.

Now they're showing us all the different ways to cut off heads -- cleanly, clumsily, but apparently always with prejudice. While they speak, we're seeing images of tartan-clad barbarians demonstrating the various techniques in the bogs and woodlands of Caledonia. Isn't that sick? Those barbarians.

Except that the bottom line of the show is that it wasn't the Scots, er, Caledonians. It was, as I knew from the moment I first heard his name, Caracalla. The crime from first to last was Roman. Caracalla was one of the three most vicious emperors in Roman history -- along with Caligula and Elegabalus -- and he rose to the throne by first attempting to murder his father and then succeeding in murdering his brother. The "Headless Romans" were the imperial retainers who blocked him from killing his own father. Life at the top is purely about power and there's no point whatever in dragging the commoners into it, even when you're just pretending to show how barbarians would go about doing what a privileged pig would simply order his minions to do.

I admit I had a head start. The name Caracalla. I did study Roman history. All that was new to me was the lisping and the misdirection. Caracalla returned to Rome without a victory in Caledonia. Did that contribute to his early "retirement" from the throne? You tell me.

3.  During the recent unpleasantness in Iran, we learned about a paramilitary adjunct to the Islamic power structure called the Basij. Here's Wikipedia's description:

The Basij (Persian: بسيج) (literally "Mobilization"; also Basij-e Mostaz'afin, literally "Mobilization of the Oppressed"; officially Nirou-ye Moqavemat-e Basij, literally "Mobilisation Resistance Force") is a paramilitary volunteer militia founded by the order of the Ayatollah Khomeini in November 1979. The Basij are subordinate to, and receive their orders from, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

The force has been widely used in order to control the widescale protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election. According to Iranian state-run media reports, eight of the 20 killed during the protests were members of Basij.

Consisting of young Iranians who volunteer to join this force, often in exchange for official benefits, the Basij are most notable for their loyalty to the supreme leader Khamenei. Currently Basij serve as an auxiliary force engaged in activities such as internal security as well law enforcement auxiliary, the providing of social service, organizing of public religious ceremonies, and more controversially morals policing and the suppression of dissident gatherings. They have a local organization in almost every city in Iran.

And just a little bit more about their 'principles." Kind of, with a spritzer of messiah chic.

What do you think? By which I mean, more specifically, What do you think?

I'll tell you only one thing I think. I'm sick of pundits suggesting that townhall confrontations might be counterproductive. I think the more we can turn up the heat on these ruthless, unscrupulous bastards, the more they're going to squeal like the pigs of Animal Farm (from war to healthcare bill, 56:40 to 1:03:10) and the more harm they're going to do themselves in public opinion and, ultimately, elections. But I'm waiting for you to tell me why.
P.S. InstaPunk commenters! You have two new sites where you can talk to your heart's content: The Shuteye Nation Underverse and Into the Metalkort. We're also now able to license you as approved bloggers at both sites. Get busy. Contact and for absolute freedom in talking about, respectively, Sc-Fi and the compleat American experience. Don't disappoint me.

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