I mowed half the grass. One acre down, one to go. Not as young as I used to be. The cut above
struck me just right. I think one of the younger commenters told me I
needed to hear the Zac Brown Band to avoid being an old fart. Done! I like it. But
maybe I'm the only one who remembers the
Marshall Tucker Band. Come to think of it, I want to go play pool in a
no-good dive bar. I know the perfect one. They'll have this on the
And I'll beat the locals at 8-ball. Like a drum. Like I always do. There's good. And then there's better. Life is a great big pitcher of cold beer.
. The spring rains were like the winter snows, unusually
heavy. We had lakes in the yard for weeks and the grass grew and grew
and the garden became a jungle. All you can do under such circumstances
is wait for better days. They always come in time, just not always in
the time you want. A week ago we started turning the corner. I was able
to do the first cut, but only at the highest mower setting (just south
of more chewed than mowed). But it was progress. Then there was the sad
story of Penny
I told you about the other day. Nature is a perverse bitch sometimes.
She punishes, she teases, she injures you, and then suddenly she smiles
like a siren. This is what we saw out back just two hours after
consigning Penny to the ground.
We've had all kinds of shows here over the years -- turkeys, red-tailed
hawks, competing groundhog studs holding court from under separate
outbuildings, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and a gazillion songbirds,
including the world's reddest cardinal, but apart from tracks we'd
never seen deer from our bay window. Until last weekend.
The nature of a country weekend. I guess.
THE BATTLE LINES.
Because I'm in a nasty mood, liberals and conservatives can very roughly be broken down like this: Libs love the First Amendment and hate the Second, Conservatives love the Second but hate the First.
Conservatives endorse the hell out of your right to bear arms-- the NRA recommends each home have 4 armor-piercing shotguns for each resident-- but like to pretend that the First Amendment doesn't apply to sex speech or swears. Libs, who hate torture except when it comes to logic, titty-twist semantics every which direction on the compass rose to get the first clause of the Second Amendment's only sentence-- "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State"-- to somehow
abrogate the second-- "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
." On the bright side, they'll let you swear and blaspheme all you want on the fateful day IRS agents are authorized lethal force.
Granted, that's not purely fair. Lots of lefties would love to outlaw any speech that runs remotely afoul the oh-so fragile feelings of minorites, and too many on the right buy into Obama's "common sense" infringments of gun rights. And if you fairly (but why?) weighed the pros and cons of each side, one would come out the clear winner. But, broadly, this is how the two groups can be lumped. Very lumpily lumped.
That makes Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan rarer than a blue whale sighting. It's not every day that a public servant comes out against both the First AND Second Amendments. She's not even
a freedom of expression Hollywood liberal. She's a full-on statist. Her article in the University of Chicago
(yikes) Law Review
, Kagan made a chilling case for "redistribution of speech
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan said the high court should be focused on ferreting out improper governmental motives when deciding First Amendment cases, arguing that the government’s reasons for restricting free speech were what mattered most and not necessarily the effect of those restrictions on speech....
It gets worse. She goes on to outline a code of plausible deniability for judicial and legislative Constitutional violations.
Laws that only incidentally affect speech are constitutional, Kagan said, because the government’s motive in enacting them is not the restriction of First Amendment freedom but the prohibition of some other – unprotected – activity.
She argues in the piece that a law banning fires in public places is not unconstitutional, even if it means that protesters cannot burn flags in public. A law outlawing flag burning protests, however, would be, because the motive is to stop a particular protest.
How Kantian. Her whole argument rests on a robust defense of good intentions
. Sadly, we can't even credit her with those when it comes to the Amendment statists love to hate
Kagan, whom President Barack Obama nominated to the high court this week, made the comment to Justice Thurgood Marshall, urging him in a one-paragraph memo to vote against hearing the District of Columbia man’s appeal. The man’s “sole contention is that the District of Columbia’s firearms statutes violate his constitutional right to ‘keep and bear arms,’” Kagan wrote. “I’m not sympathetic.
We don't need to see some thesis she wrote 30 years ago. We don't need to uncover her already-ill-veiled sexual procrivilities. We don't need to carp over military recruiters on campuses like it's nineteen sixty goddamn five. We definitely don't need some taxpayer-funded pagentry where she lies non-stop about her judicial philosophy. It's obvious what she believes. She holds government as the
force for good in society, and therefore any restraint on government as restraint on good. We can predict with 99 and 44/100 percent accuracy the parts of her record that will come to light in the next few weeks.
: An op-ed Kagan wrote in her hometown paper surfaces. In it, she argues that the Third Amendment does not offer "unlimited protection" against the compulsory quartering of soldiers during peacetime.
: While giving lip-service to the necessity and validity of the Fourth Amendment, Kagan, in a text message commenting on then-recent DEA raids, takes an exceptionally narrow view of the Amendment's limitations. "BRDN IS ON DFNDNT 2 PRV SEARCH R SEIZR UNREASNBL ["The burden is the the defendant to prove a search of seizure was unreasonable"]," the softball-playing, bemulleted non-lesbian texted a colleague. "GVRNMNT WDNT BRK INT YR HOUS IF THY DNT HV A GOOD REASN WD THY LOL KTHXBI ["It's not like the government would break into your house or wherever if they didn't have a good reason. I mean, duh
: In a 1995 keynote for the Center for American Progress: "The whole concept of Double Jeporardy is an outmoded relic from a more paranoid and turbulent age. Everyone makes mistakes, and governments are no exception. If new evidence comes to light, why shouldn't The People be permitted to go to trail again for the same offense?"
And so on down to the Eighth. We already know what she'll do with the Ninth and Tenth: Fold them into paper airplanes and sail them into the nearest open wood chipper (uh, not that she's butch or anything).
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal officials can indefinitely hold inmates considered "sexually dangerous" after their prison terms are complete.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan successfully argued the government's case in front of the Supreme Court. Kagan in January compared the government's power to commit sexual predators to its power to quarantine federal inmates whose sentences have expired but have a highly contagious and deadly disease.
"Would anybody say that the federal government would not have Article I power to effect that kind of public safety measure? And the exact same thing is true here. This is exactly what Congress is doing here," she said.
The lower court's judgement was reversed seven to two
. Only Justice Thomas and his kid sidekick Scalia understood the principle at stake.
Nothing in the Constitution "expressly delegates to Congress the power to enact a civil commitment regime for sexually dangerous persons, nor does any other provision in the Constitution vest Congress or the other branches of the federal government with such a power," Thomas said.
The other three conservatives on the bench? They couldn't give a crap. There's no way they're ignorant of the principle. No way Thomas didn't try to explain it to his unworthy colleagues-- unless his patience is already fried by their past obstinance.
IF THEY WON'T DEFEND INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY AND (THEREFORE) SEVERELY LIMITED GOVERNMENT, WHAT THE HELL GOOD ARE CONSERVATIVES?
Domninion vs. liberty. Protection by government vs. protection from
government. This is the
conflict sifting up through the noisy silt of our cracked and crumbled national contention. It's clear what side Elena Kagan's on.
The wrong one.
HAD HIS MOMENTS
. I don't have any particular animus against Michael
Kinsley. He and Jeff Greenfield were regular foils on William F.
Buckley's old Firing Line
show, and they distinguished themselves as clever, learned debaters
with good manners and a healthy sense of humor. I've since seen Kinsley
in less civil forums, but I could at least imagine having dinner with
him and enjoying the conversation. Which makes him a rare bird in
today's lefty flock. But he's written a column
(h/t Hotair) I think deserves the level of attention known as a
fisking. Which I will now proceed to do; however, he makes a few points
I agree with, and I will call those out just as I will the many
instances where I believe he is either wrong or misrepresenting the
facts for purposes of political advocacy. Let's get started. Plain type
is Kinsley. Italics are InstaPunk.
Country, Tis of Me
There’s nothing patriotic about the
Tea Party Patriots.
By Michael Kinsley
The right-wing populist Tea Party movement has politicians of both
parties spooked. Democrats fear it will bring so many Republicans to
the boil, and then to the voting booth, that they will lose control of
Congress. Republicans fear the movement will frighten away moderates
and leave their party an unelectable, ideologically extreme rump. It's by no means clear that the Tea Party
movement is "right-wing." It's an easy pejorative label, to be sure,
but pay attention later on when Kinsley undermines his own
The press, both alarmed and
delighted by this political force that sprang from nowhere, is eager to
prove its lack of elitism and left-wing bias by treating the Tea Party
activists with respect. This is an
absurd and utterly false statement. The headline of MSM coverage of the
Tea Party folks is the tone of absolute contempt that has predominated
in their reporting, and non-reporting from Day One.
also sincerely appreciate having something new to write or talk about.
It is in their interest to keep this story going. No. They don't "appreciate having
something new to write or talk about" if that something new is critical
of President Obama. It might be "in their interest to keep this story
going," but the narrative of the MSM's rapid decline in recent years is
full of instances in which political bias has prevented newspapers and
networks from pursuing stories that were in their interest to cover. In
sum, this is a completely empty lead paragraph, which doesn't bode well
for Kinsley's argument.
A Harris poll released the last day of March reported that a third of
all adults support the Tea Party, and slightly less than a quarter
oppose it. Do they know what they are supporting, or opposing? The
movement is not yet united on a single platform or agenda, like Newt
Gingrich’s 1994 Contract With America, which started as a triumph and
ended as an embarrassment. That's a
pretty (conveniently) simplistic assessment of the Contract with
America. The only reason it was an embarrassment was that the contract
was not fulfilled, which it might have been if the MSM hadn't been such
willing accomplice in destroying Newt Gingrich. But let's move along to larger points.
The lack of specifics allows anyone who is just existentially fed up
(and who isn’t, on some days?) to feel right at home. No one will
demand to know what he or she is fed up with. True. Lots of unhappy people. So why are
they automatically assumed to be right-wing? Especially, given that
polls show high percentages of Independents and Democrats in addition
On Web sites and in speeches, Tea Party
Patriots reveal a fondness for procedural gimmicks (like a ban on
congressional earmarks), constitutional amendments (term limits,
balanced budget), and similar magic tricks or shortcuts to salvation.
Apart from a general funk, though, the one common theme espoused by
TPPs is the monstrous danger of Big Government. Sly capitalization there, Michael. As if
Big Government were simply a made-up label, like your 'right-wing'
characterization in the first sentence of your essay.Well done. But
seriously, name something -- anything -- in the U.S. that is more
'monstrous' than the federal government. After all, 'monstrous' to most
people signifies large, threatening and uncontrollable. If that's the
one common theme, maybe it isn't ideological so much as existential.
People of many political stripes are afraid of a government that was
already big getting much much bigger and imposing more and more
of its will on the citizenry. Even Michael Kinsley must know that the
will of any government is exercised by force. The force of law,
taxation, regulation, and policing. It's deluded to think of the
adjective 'monstrous'? Really?
The Tea Party movement has been compared (by David Brooks of The New
York Times, among others) to the student protest movement of the 1960s.
Even though one came from the left and the other from the right, both
are/were, or at least styled themselves as, a mass challenge to an
oppressive establishment. That’s a similarity, to be sure. But the
differences seem more illuminating. I
agree. Absolutely. But probably not in a way you'd like.
First, the 1960s (shorthand for all of the political and social
developments we associate with that period) were by, for, and about
young people. The Tea Party movement is by, for, and about middle-aged
and old people (undoubtedly including more than a few who were part of
the earlier movement too). The
second statement is so false as to amount to a lie. I'll explain later.
If young people discover a cause and become a bit overwrought or
monomaniacal, that’s easily forgiven as part of the charm of youth. uh, no. I was there, Michael. It was never
charming. Smelly, stupid, selfish, and sordid, yes. Charming, no.
When adults of middle age and older throw tantrums and hold their
breath until they turn blue, it’s less charming. Less charming than Abby Hoffman, Mark
Rudd, Bernadine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers? Well, strike me pink.
Second, although the 1960s ultimately spread their tentacles throughout
the culture and around the world, politically there was just one big
issue: ending the war in Vietnam. Right.
More about this later.
No such issue unites the Tea Party
Patriots. You mean, apart from a
government that is aggressively intruding itself into every aspect of
the economy and private life? Which isn't an issue because you spell
big government with a little 'b' and a little 'g'?
guess from some of their materials on the Web that the repeal of
health-care reform is the TPPs’ Vietnam, their towering cause. But even
for devoted TPPs, stripping health insurance away from people who’ve
just gotten it is unlikely to summon the same passions that the
activists of the 1960s brought to stopping a misguided war. Observe debater's tricks in action: the
war is assumed to be 'misguided.' What if Tea Partiers assume an
unfunded federal takeover of the healthcare business is also
'misguided'. But there is no rhetorical consistency here. Opposing
trillions of dollars spent on a new entitlement that will inevitably
increase costs and reduce quality and personal choice is reduced to
"stripping health insurance away from people who’ve just gotten it."
Not only do TPPs not have one big issue like Vietnam—they
disagree about many of their smaller issues. What unites them is a more
abstract resentment, an intensity of feeling rather than any concrete
complaint or goal. Just a reminder:
we entered this essay with the flat-out assertion that Tea Partiers are
right-wing, which, to me sounds very much like an ideological
determination. "Abstract resentment, an intensity of feeling" not so
much. That would be more, uh, emotional, wouldn't it, Michael?
The antiwar movement also worked, sort of. As did the civil-rights
movement that preceded it. Antiwar protests ultimately turned the
establishment itself against the war, though extracting us from it
still took years. And millions of
. By contrast, the Tea Party Patriots, I
predict, are just the flavor of the month: the kind of story that the
media are incapable of not exaggerating. Because there's nothing to see here when
law-abiding citizens are so alarmed that they rally in hundreds of
thousands in the streets, so please move on and stop impeding the
The antiwar movement and the 1960s changed America in
numerous ways forever. You got that
right. It got us our first marxist president.
The Tea Party
Patriots will be an answer on Jeopardy or a crossword-puzzle clue. Remember to phrase your preemptive,
prejudicial answer in the form of a question.
A final difference: although the 1960s featured plenty of
self-indulgence, this wasn’t their essence. It wasn't just their essence; it was their
Their essence was selfless and idealistic: stopping
the war; ending racism; eradicating poverty. Good Lord. What a load of crap. You libs
like Occam's Razor. Here's the simplest thought experiment: remove the
draft and there is no sixties protest movement. Game, set, match.
Selfless? What kind of childish romantic are you, Michael?
goals and some of the methods for achieving them may have been
childishly romantic or even entirely wrongheaded, but they were about
making the world a better place. Oh.
The Tea Party movement’s goals, when stated
specifically, are mostly self-interested. Time to note what Michael has deliberately
and systematically omitted from his characeterization of Tea Party
issues -- the outrage about exponentially increasing deficit spending.
The oldsters who carry signs about the crimes being committed against
their grandchildren in the form of gigantic federal debt are
'self-interested' are they? Quite the opposite. They'll be dead and
buried long before the real bill comes due.
And they lack
poetry: cut my taxes; don’t let the government mess with my Medicare;
and so on. I say “self-interested” and not “selfish” because pursuing
your own self-interest is not illegitimate in a capitalist democracy. How kind of you to nod, however briefly,
in the direction of the economic system that made this country the
richest in history.
(Nor is poetry an essential requirement.) Aww. I'm starting to get tearful now.
Poetry isn't actually required of the citizens who want to tell their
government that too much spending and regulation is too much spending
and regulation. Surely, they could take a course in iambic pentameter
But the Tea Party’s atmospherics, all about
personal grievance and taking umbrage and feeling put-upon, are a far
cry from flower power. Wow. WOW.
This sentence should be included in all future dictionary definitions
of 'hubris.' The intent is to make the orderly, peaceful demonstrations
that are Tea Parties look wicked compared to the excrement-throwing
unwashed anarchists of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Good
luck with that, Michael.
There is a nasty, sour, vindictive tone
to the Tea Party that certainly existed in the antiwar movement and its
offspring, but never dominated the atmosphere created by these groups. Huh? "Never dominated the atmosphere
vreated by these groups"? I take back what I said in my previous fisk
interpolation. This is the
sentence that should be included in all future dictionary definitions
Some people think that what unites the Tea Party Patriots is simple
racism. I doubt that. Good of you.
But the Tea Party movement is not the solution to what ails America. I agree. It's what's called alarm
annunciation. Like setting off a fire alarm in a burning building. It
doesn't put out the fire. But it identifies a problem.
It is an
illustration of what ails America. Not because it is right-wing (it isn't)
or because it is
sometimes susceptible to crazed conspiracy theories (it mostly isn't)
, and not because
of racism (had to sneak that one in
despite the pass you supposedly gave it, eh?)
, but because of
the movement’s self-indulgent premise that none of our challenges and
difficulties are our own fault. You're
going to have to prove that particular assertion, kemo sabe.
“Personal responsibility” has been a great conservative theme in recent
decades, in response to the growth of the welfare state. It is a common
theme among TPPs—even in response to health-care reform, as if losing
your job and then getting cancer is something you shouldn’t have
allowed to happen to yourself. I'm
taking notes here, so help me out: Who said that, where, and when? I'll
help you string'em up
. But these days, conservatives far outdo
liberals in excusing citizens from personal responsibility. Come again? Can I have a video of you
saying that with a straight face?
To the TPPs, all of our
problems are the fault of the government, and the government is a great
“other,” a hideous monster over which we have no control. It spends our
money and runs up vast deficits for mysterious reasons all its own. Here's the essay I'd like to see: Michael
Kinsley explaining why this pair of sentences isn't 100 percent
At bottom, this is a suspicion not of government but
of democracy. TIME OUT: Just so none
of you miss it. The man is telling us that democratic dissension is
After all, who elected this monster? uh, you mean, who elected the EPA and the
IRS and the FCC and the SEC and the Federal Reserve and Fannie Mae and
Freddy Mac and the FDA and... Well? Who did?
This kind of talk is doubly self-indulgent. Doubly. Kewl.
First, it’s just not
true. What's not true? Losing our
essay skills, are we?
Second, it’s obviously untrue. Oh. Obviously
. The government’s
main function these days is writing checks to old people. You could have fooled me. I thought the
government's main function these days was to spend a trillion dollars
on shovel-ready projects, nationalize the banking, automotive,
insurance, healthcare, and energy industries, and begin the arduous
task of telling Americans what to eat, what they're allowed to consume
in the way of information
sources, and what kind of hazardous lightbulbs they have to install
in their bedlamps. Silly me.
These checks allow people to
retire and pursue avocations such as going to Tea Party rallies. I've got it. Let's kill'em with death
panels BEFORE they can retire to such seditious 'avocations.'
This basic fact about the government is no great secret. In fact, it’s
a huge cliché, probably available more than once in an average
day’s newspaper. But the Tea Party Patriots feel free to ignore it and
continue serving up rhetoric about “the audaciousness and arrogance of
our government,” and calling for the elimination of the Federal Reserve
Board or drastic restraints on the power of the Internal Revenue
Service. Seriously. This is the
oldest liberal wheeze in the book. They've taken your money your whole
working life for Social Security, which is NOT optional, but then
because you accept the checks you're a hypocrite for thinking the
government shouldn't saddle your children and grandchildren with more
debt than their expected lifetime incomes. But guess what? That's
the definition of totalitarian logic. Once we make you dependent on us,
you have no right to resist us on any of the myriad ways we intend to
rule your lives. Thank you, Michael, for explaining 'democracy' to us
“I like what they’re saying. It’s common sense,” a random
man-in-the-crowd told a Los Angeles Times reporter at a big Tea Party
rally. Then he added, “They’ve got to focus on issues like keeping jobs
here and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.” These, of course,
are projects that can be conducted only by Big Government. If the Tea
Party Patriots ever developed a coherent platform or agenda, they would
lose half their supporters. This is
where I agree with Kinsley. But it's also where he exposes the fallacy
of his entire argument. The Tea Party is not an ideological movement.
Let me repeat that. The Tea Party is not an ideological movement. It's
not even a party. It's a protest, an exercise in democratic dissension.
It's not Republican as he tacitly admitted in his opening paragraph.
It's a vigorous free expression of the loss of trust in government. It
is anti-incumbent. It's a basic, utterly pragmatic "throw the bums out"
movement. And unfortunately for all the intellectual liberals who
presume to know more about everything than we do, the list of "bums"
includes the whole damn federal establishment. Republican,
Independent, Democrat, whatever, the Tea Partiers don't believe the
government's claims that they can make everything better if they can
just have a lot more money and control. Period.
Principled libertarianism is an interesting and even tempting idea. If
we wanted to, we could radically reduce the scope of government—defend
the country, give poor people enough money to live decently, and leave
it at that. But this isn’t the TPP vision. The TPP vision is that you
can keep your Medicare benefits and balance the budget by ending
congressional earmarks, and perhaps the National Endowment for the
Arts. A bullshit summation. Didn't
he just say it was impossible to define a Tea Party agenda? He did. So
where does this bit of omniscient reduction come from? Out of his ass.
What is most irksome about the Tea Party Patriots is their
expropriation of the word patriot, with the implication that if you
disagree with them, you’re not a patriot, or at least you’re less
patriotic than they are. Standard
liberal whining. If they ever thought about how paranoid they get when
anyone uses the word 'patriot,' they might realize they're
hyper-sensitive because of, um, guilt.
Without getting all
ask-notty about it, I think a movement labeling itself patriotic should
have some obligation to demonstrate patriotism in a way other than
demanding a tax cut. That sounds
good, doesn't it? Provided you think American prosperity flows from the
government, not the people who create the wealth governments
. In their rhetoric, the Tea Party Patriots do not
sound as if they love their country very much: they have nothing but
gripes. The gripes are against an
accelerating federal government grab of money, power, and personal
Yes, of course, these are gripes against the
government, not against the country itself. But that distinction
becomes hard to maintain when you have nothing good to say about the
government and nothing but whines to offer the country. Really. Well, you're the hands-down expert
on 'whines.' That I freely concede. But I'm less clear on why we have
to say nice things about the government whenever we also want to
criticize it. Is that like pretending Islamic radicalism has nothing to
do with terrorism? Or not offending a carjacker who wants to rape our
wife and daughters because then he might get really mad? Maybe so. But
a lot of us are wondering what the difference might be these days
between a government that's really mad and vicious and the one we're
seeing every day in Washington, DC. That could maybe be your next
brilliant essay to us flyover morons.
Times are tough, and some sympathy is due. True. You have our sympathy, Michael. You
used to know how to write and think and like that. We're sorry for your
Still, times have always been tough for many folks for one
reason or another, and people didn’t always resort so quickly to
all-purpose bellyaching, did they? Who
didn't? You libs always did, immediately and utterly.
recent years inchoate rage against the government has almost become
part of our civic religion: the short list of values we all do share.
To say, “Yeah, the government’s okay by me,” or even to express
gratitude for a country that sends you a Social Security check and pays
your medical bills, actually does seem almost un-American. Our new
national motto is from the movie Network: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m
not going to take this anymore.” And what is “this”? Ask not. Jeez. Did you actually read what you're
closing on here? Or were you going to get around to that after you and
all the other libs finally read the Arizona immigration bill? "Yeah,
the government's okay by me." That's what you closed on. You have our
(tea and) sympathy.
If I didn't respect Kinsley so much, I might have gotten rough with
Thankfully, I overcame the temptation.
More thoughts on Kinsley and the Tea Party phenomenon from Doc
Monday, May 17, 2010
The best picture we have. Yeah, she
inner light. But she was more owl
ALL IN IT TOGETHER
. So we buried our cat Penny this weekend. She
died after a short
illness at the age of 10. She was feral and perennially shy of human
touch, which meant we couldn't take her to the vet. No way we could
entice her into a cat carrier when we saw she was declining. But she
fought her human antipathy and sometimes won. She'd let you pet her at
times of her own choosing. You could talk to her from a few feet of
safe distance and she'd talk back, word for word or yap for yap, which
was her version of a meow. Pardon me if I go on, but this will be her
only memorial and all the memories are slender, full of wistfulness on
The picture above is the epitome of Penny because
it does not capture her.
She was one of three feral kittens Mrs. CP agreed to look after until a
home could be found but no other home ever was found. I always thought
of Penny as the middle child. Her brother Mickey overcame his reticence
and now will spend minutes at a time on my lap, usually longer than I
can bear his intact claws and 20-pound-plus weight. Her sister Cassie
remains purely feral and lives in the garage, a solitary creature who
hides in corners, heights, and darkness, agreeing only now and then to
remain visible and make eye contact for more than a few seconds. It's
hard to be a feral and live with humans. It takes courage. Which Penny
had. In addition to
her extraordinary beauty.
Why the pic doesn't capture her. I've written here before about our
exoticat, the Bengal Izzie, who is beautiful in her own right.
But beauty is a moveable feast. Some creatures are beautiful because
they are eye-shockingly gorgeous. Others are beautiful because you come
to see them as a perfect match between appearance and personality and
example, there was Mac, a tabby who was already elderly when first I
knew him, and I came to think of him as the lama at Shangri-La because
he never seemed to weigh more than a few ounces though he was standard
cat size until the day he quietly died. As I think of it, those few
ounces were the weight of his wisdom, not his physical body, which I
now suspect no longer existed at all. I think he remained a presence as
long as he did only because he was determined to facilitate Mrs. CP's
transition to the country. A beautiful soul. And then
there was Ajax, the black cat with the Bogart air and the slightly
twisted toothsome features, whom Penny loved so fiercely when he was
alive that only he could tempt her out of a closet she'd buried herself
in when it came time to move here. Ajax was never handsome, but he was
a beautiful tough guy and my taciturn friend -- and it hurt to have to
bury him out past the gazebo when the time came.
Which leaves the three gorgeous ones. Mickey with his enormous eyes and
fishing pole tail: "Pull it and I'll keep circling back to look at you
and maybe jump into your lap." Izzie with her golden coat and doglike
interactions, seven pounds of cantankerous (but affectionate)
conversations and constant clumsiness that make her more troublesome
all 230 pounds of sighthounds put together. And Penny. She of the
stunning face and direct, shocked stare. Perpetual heartbreak: "I can't
believe I can stand to be this close to you, but I wish I could be
closer." The most
eyes, wider than any you've known because
of their unique concat
of fear, wonder, curiosity, and (I'm
convinced) surprised affection.
She never possessed Mickey's boldness. But she made a near-fatal
mistake once and had the courage to overcome it. She went missing a
couple years back. Escaped into the out of doors. We could see her from
time to time for over a month, but she was afraid to reenter the house.
Nothing we tried worked, and we tried everything. But then she summoned
all her courage and one day walked through the open
door back into her old life. She was skin and bones, and the predator
Izzie saw her as sick and attacked her at every opportunity. From
then on, though, Penny seemed gradually to overcome all her old fears
and moved from the
garage into the house, where she spent the rest of her days, sitting in
windowsills in the sun and chatting volubly with us without running
away. Oddly enough, the one who seems most upset by her sudden
is Izzie, who stopped hounding her when she finally moved inside. All
the dogs have been low since Penny died (they always know), but Izzie
constant human contact. Mickey wants a tad more lap time. Cassie paused
long enough the other night to commune with Mrs. CP from the rafters.
We buried Penny next to Ajax. Just past the gazebo.
Penny got to enjoy from her windowsill, there at the end.
It's hard to know what to say at the grave, what ceremony might apply,
when you have
to bury a beloved cat whose life may not have been as happy and
contented as you'd hoped for. Forgive me this sentimentality. If
there's a hymn for old cats and the heaven you wish for them, this is
I was going to leaven this with other better developments in the old
backyard this weekend, but that will have to wait. Life in the country
is ebb and flow. Life did reassert iteself during the same period.
But I'll tell you about all that later. This one's for Penny.
The Curious Sport of
STANDARD HOCKEY INTERVIEW.
Monotonous, lame, dull, and
. I promise you InstaPunk is not turning into a hockey
Promise. There will be more political posts before any other hockey
entry disgraces these pages. However. The Flyers did
pull off a professional sports
miracle, two times over, the other night and I know some of you are now
more interested in hockey (meaning, a few) than you were before (meaning,
none). In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Flyers accomplished a
double mathematical improbability which is unique in the annals of
professional sport. They came back from an 0 and 3 start in a 7-game playoff
series to win, which has occurred only four times in ALL professional
sports, and they came back from an 0-3 game deficit to win a seventh
game, which has occurred only twice before (never from an 0-3 series
start). The Flyers have so defied the odds that they're playing with
house money. Here's the specific situation we're talking about:
Totally unprecedented. Why some
of you will be following the Flyers in the upcoming Montreal series.
Which means it's incumbent upon me to explain something about The
Hockey you'll never get from Puck Punk, who was candid enough to tell
us that "All announcer of
Canadian and they do not care to teach a class about rules for every
show." That's why it's up to me, of whom PP says "The InstaPunk is only
now discover the
wonderful of the hockey."
I concede he's right. There is a "wonderful of the hockey." But what is
it? What is "icing"? What is "offsides"? What is a "cross-check"? The
good news. It doesn't matter. (But I will explain these technicalities
below.) What matters is THE STANDARD INTERVIEW
shown above, which is always
applicable to everything that happens on the ice AND all the
extraordinary things that do
happen on the ice. Permit me to illustrate. This is what happens in NHL
hockey every day -- bearing in mind that the sport is something like
playing NFL football on concrete at twice the speed in about a third
the physical space with no out-of-bounds to escape to:
LYRICS = NSFW.
The thing that is important to remember is that after the games in
which these plays occur, you won't get passionately controversial
statements from Brian Cushing, Manny Ramirez, or Jason Williams: You'll
get THE STANDARD INTERVIEW. No matter who you talk to. It will always
be the same monotonic, forgettable, muttering nonsense you couldn't
possibly believe you'd hear immediately
after events like this:
Followed, of course, always, always
by THE STANDARD INTERVIEW. Which
pertains even when what has transpired on the ice is fantastically
Think I'm kidding? During the Bruins-Flyers seventh game,
Philadelphia's Wachovia Center was filled with Flyer fans who were
watching the game on TV
. In an empty arena
. Here's how excited they
But it always ends with THE STANDARD INTERVIEW(S):
why hockey is a curious
game. As athletes, they're among the most determined, violent, and
relentless competitors in the field of sport. In person after the fact,
they make Phil Mickelson sound like Mike Ditka or Jack Lambert in
So. Does "icing" matter? Or "offsides"? No. What happens is, the NHL
referees, who have no sticks and wear few pads, eventually reach a
point where they have to blow their whistles and stop the action. Just
to catch their damn breath. What should fans do? Watch. The hits. The
fighting. The skating. The goals. The saves. And the drama.
Then wonder why the world's most violent game consistently produces the
most mild-mannered of men immediately after the action. You
could drive yourself nuts figuring that one out. Or you could drive
yourself nuts wondering why beating the hell out of your opponent doesn't
somehow produce innumerable
other opponents who are sworn to, and successful at, killing you before
you crush them. Maybe it helps to be good at what you do where you do
it -- enough that you're better off speaking softly after
rather than talking trash before
. Just a thought.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Governor of New
Newark Star Ledger reporter calls
Trash Barbie. Doesn't that about sum it up?
HAT TIP TO HOTAIR
. The things that make me maddest are stupid
people who think they're smart and the contempt of inferiors for their
betters. I've never lived in the south, but I've been to school with
more southerners than most of the south's critics have ever met. Here's
what I've learned. Despite Manhattan solipsism and California
self-actualization, southerners are more complicated than Americans
from other regions. If the major U.S. power centers are analogous to
seat of the empire England, dominated by London snobs and
intellectuals, the south is our
variation on Ireland, but even more complex. (Yet I know one Irish lass
who looks down her nose at all things southern. What she's been taught
by life in the northeast.)
Let me offer a few specifics. We keep hearing that America hadn't been
attacked on its own soil since the war of 1812 (unless you count the
"colony" of Hawaii). Not true. The south experienced a devastating
invasion and occupation which, whether you regard it as deserved or
not, imbued them with an inherited regional and family
memory of the horrors of war
no Massachusetts preppie congressman can ever appreciate. Invaded,
destroyed, subjugated, impoverished. So who's naive about the need for
defense? Whose views are "ignorant" on guns and border security and the
sense of Christianity as equal parts forgiveness and crusade?
We romanticize the Irish experience of oppression (and IRA terrorism)
because it produced poets, playwrights, novelists, and other colorful
characters who were simultaneously good and bad, lyrical and violent,
inspired and low, and brave and drunk. The south has all of that and
more. I've never met a southerner who wasn't part racist and part
guilty liberal. Day to day, in-your-face race relations have been a far
more intimate part of their personal experience than it's likely ever
to be for suburban liberals in the rest of the country. The truth no
one wants to consider is that southerners just might be the grownups on
this question. They stare at their own biases in the mirror every day,
and they have to deal with them in ways that go beyond the merely
symbolic and superficial. Blacks and whites in the south have an
exceptionally intricate love-hate relationship with each other, with
more honesty about it than I've ever seen in supposedly more
enlightened environs. Where do most successful black politicians come
from? Check it out, haters. Compared to other regions, a pluraility of
them come from the south. Is there a southern version of the IRA? No.
The Ku Klux Klan exists today primarily as a fantasy of the northern
media, and its high-water mark was never in the south but in Indiana.
That's why I was delighted to see a professed liberal of foreign
extraction write this
which had to be published in the U.K. rather than the American MSM. I'm
reproducing all of it because I suspect she'd rather have the message
get out than argue about fair use. The author's name is Seema Jilani.
Deep prejudice about the deep south
I'm tired of elitist US liberals who
ridicule southerners and
then profess their love for Nina
Simone and crawfish etouffee
I am tired of apologising. I apologised for being Muslim, post-9/11 and
more recently for my Pakistani origins. Now, I apologise for being a
southerner too. When an environmental catastrophe erupted in my
backyard, I looked to the media to tell our stories and instead, found
quotes from experts ruminating on energy policy. Where are the
restaurant owners in the French Quarter who still haven't caught their
breath after Katrina swallowed their lives? What about the fishermen?
While recently rubbing elbows with fellow liberals from the east and
west coasts, I felt that their disdain for the lives of the south was
palpable. This led to my quest: to understand why mouths drip with
condescension for the south, and particularly its people.
Is it Dubya? Born in Connecticut, he was a member of Yale's elite Skull
& Bones Society. Ah, Sarah Palin? Born in Idaho, raised in Alaska.
They claim Texas is imploding with rightwing conservatives: Texas has
had 48 governors; six were Republicans. The former Texas governor Ann
Richards once delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic
convention, where she famously said: "He [Bush] was born with a silver
foot in his mouth."
It must be southern racism then. During my medical school interview, I
was asked if I would wear a burqa and told I belonged in hell. This
humiliation occurred in Chicago, not the deep south. During my
Manhattan interview, I was unwelcome because I had done medical work in
Gaza. Bigotry traverses the Mason-Dixon line, you see.
Perhaps then this loathing stems from our monochromatic populace,
lacking diversity. Except that as a physician in Houston, home to the
largest medical centre in the world, I have treated patients from
Somalia, Ecuador and Egypt, among others. Our Vietnamese population
blesses us with phenomenal pho and necessitates a translator 24 hours a
day. Of the 82 majority-black counties in the US, all but one are in
What about our so-called lack of political relevance? Did I mention
that every major Texas city has a higher uninsured rate than the
national rate? One in four Texans lack health insurance. In 2004, 20%
of Texas children were uninsured, compared to 11% nationally. The Pew
Hispanic Centre estimates that Texas alone holds 14% of all
undocumented immigrants. Of the 40 babies I delivered in medical
school, five mothers spoke English. Proponent of immigration reform? It
starts at our borders. Want universal healthcare? We are the uninsured
capital of the country.
This scorn must be because we don't contribute to the country's greater
good then. But 35% of active-duty military come from the south. Of the
US troop casualties in Afghanistan, 47% were from the south, and from
Oddly, the same people who disparage us also have love affairs with our
culture. They ridicule us and then profess their love for Nina Simone,
Austin, Johnny Cash or Louisiana's crawfish etouffee dish when it's
trendy. This brings me to my favourite specimens: cocktail party
progressives. You know the type – can't converse without referencing
the New Yorker. Pretentious, self-congratulatory liberals who applaud
their own humanity while mocking the south. Curiously, they feign
knowledge of Hank Williams when fashionable, but their intellectual
elitism forgets that Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams were southern
I adore our southern nights and the taste of authenticity in Willie
Nelson's voice and Muddy Waters' blues. I love that we celebrate
colossally in New Orleans: Jazz Fest, Crawfish Fest, Mardi Gras, even
Jazz Funerals. I was touched when kind neighbours baked us casseroles
and stood by us as we endured post-9/11 racism. I am proud that
Houstonians opened their homes to 250,000 New Orleans evacuees. That's
genuine southern hospitality. Southerners are not the ignorant,
inbreeding, toothless rifle-owning trailer trash that my progressive
colleagues paint them as. They are vibrant, passionate Americans with
resolve. They have survived and flourished through the civil rights
movement, disastrous hurricanes and oil spills, Enron and Halliburton
scandals, the Fort Hood tragedy and their loved ones coming home in
They have epic stories. It's time our media act as their vessels.
I'm going to follow this with four more links I think are relevant. The
first is to a jocular
President Obama held shortly after his
of the President by Regional Reporters, 3/11/09
Question regarding the geographic
diversity of Obama's appointees:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to ask you about your Cabinet and
your senior staff. By my count, you have about seven folks from the
Midwest, six from the West, a crowd from the Northeast, and with maybe
the exception of your able-bodied press secretary --
THE PRESIDENT: Gibbs?
Q Mr. Gibbs.
THE PRESIDENT: He's the only Southerner?
Q I think so.
THE PRESIDENT: You guys are feeling neglected?
Q Yes. (Laughter.) So I'm wondering why is that and what you don't like
about the South?
THE PRESIDENT: I love the South. (Laughter.)...
Obama's Cabinet includes appointees from the West (DHS's Janet
Napolitano, Labor's Hilda Solis, Energy's Steven Chu, Commerce nominee
Gary Locke), the Midwest (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, HHS nominee
Kathleen Sebelius, USDA's Tom Vilsack and DOT's Ray LaHood ), the
Northeast (EPA's Lisa P. Jackson, HUD's Shaun Donovan) and Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who could conceivably claim every region
except the West.
The second is to an Instapunk
that didn't highlight the south because Obama's area of
ignorance isn't just the south but most of the continental United
States. If you read it,
you'll see why "(Laughter)" is an MSM disgrace.
The third has to do with invisible unintended consequences. From
Profiles Arizona [Andy McCarthy]
Isn't that really what the Attorney General is doing?
He hasn't read the Arizona immigration law, even though reading the law
is the basic duty of any lawyer (let alone the U.S. Attorney General)
who is called on to assess a legal situation.
Thus, he hasn't got reasonable suspicion that Arizonans are violating
the Constitution, even though reasonable suspicion is the basic
investigative standard we expect law-enforcement to satisfy before
officials harass Americans with stepped up scrutiny.
And we know he has a bias because he told us, unabashedly, that he
thinks Americans are "cowards" on matters of race.
Think about it this way: If a police officer, without taking
elementary investigative steps to inform himself about the facts of a
situation, and thus without reasonable suspicion, simply assumed a
person must be guilty of wrongdoing based on the police officer's
avowed prejudice, what would Eric Holder call it?
The fourth is for all of you who are sure you know what you know about
The South and are somehow prepared to condemn Obama and Holder for
their bias without acknowledging your own. It's from a Wiki
post on Southern Culture
. I'm only giving you a few paragraphs to
mull. You can dig deeper, far deeper than Wiki does, on your own.
Mark Twain had extensive knowledge of the
Mississippi River and the
South, and included in his works the injustice of slavery and the
culture of Protestant public morality.
Perhaps the most famous southern writer
is William Faulkner, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in
1949. Faulkner brought new techniques such as stream of
consciousness and complex techniques to American writings (such as
in his novel As I Lay Dying).
Other well-known Southern writers include
Conroy, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora
Welty, Thomas Wolfe, William Styron, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, James
Dickey, Willie Morris, Tennessee Williams, Truman
Capote, Walker Percy, Barry
Hannah, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Cormac McCarthy, John
Grisham, James Agee, Hunter S. Thompson, Wendell
Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Harry
Possibly the most famous southern novel
of the 20th century is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, published in 1937.
Another famous southern novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper
Lee, won the Pulitzer Prize after it was published in
The musical heritage of the South was
developed by both whites and blacks, both influencing each other
directly and indirectly.
The South's musical history actually
starts before the Civil War,
with the songs of the African slaves and the traditional folk music
brought from Great
Britain and Ireland. Blues was
developed in the rural South by African Americans at the beginning of
the 20th century. In addition, gospel
music, spirituals, country
music, rhythm and blues, soul
rock and roll, beach
music, bluegrass, jazz
(including ragtime, popularized by Southerner Scott
Joplin), zydeco, and Appalachian folk
music were either born in the South or developed in the region.
In general, country music is based on the
folk music of white
Southerners, and blues and rhythm and blues is based on African
American southern forms. However, whites and blacks alike have
contributed to each of these genres, and there is a considerable
overlap between the traditional music of blacks and whites in the
South, particularly in gospel music forms. A stylish variant of country
music (predominantly produced in Nashville) has been a consistent,
widespread fixture of American pop since the 1950s, while insurgent
forms (i.e. bluegrass) have traditionally appealed to more discerning
sub-cultural and rural audiences. Blues dominated the African American
music charts from the advent of modern recording until the mid-1950s,
when it was supplanted by the less guttural and forlorn sounds of rock
and R&B. Nevertheless, unadulterated blues (along with early rock
and roll) is still the subject of reverential adoration throughout much
of Europe and cult popularity in isolated pockets of the United States.
pop, despite having never enjoyed greater regional or mainstream
popularity, still thrive throughout French Louisiana and its peripheries,
such as Southeastern Texas. These unique Louisianan styles of folk
are celebrated as part of the traditional heritage of the people of
Louisiana. Conversely, bluegrass music has acquired a sophisticated
cachet and distinct identity from mainstream country music through the
fusion recordings of artists like Bela Fleck, David
Grisman, and the New Grass Revival; traditional bluegrass
and Appalachian mountain music experienced a strong resurgence after
the release of 2001's O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Rock n' roll largely began in the South
in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Early rock n' roll musicians from
the South include Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats
Domino, Bo Diddley, Elvis
Presley, Ray Charles, James
Brown, Otis Redding, Carl
Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, among many others. Hank
Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny
Cash, while generally regarded as "country" singers, also had a
significant role in the development of rock music. In the 1960s, Stax
Records emerged as a leading competitor of Motown Records, laying
the groundwork for later stylistic innovations in the process.
The South has continued to produce rock
music in later decades. In the 1970s, a wave of Southern rock and blues rock groups, led by The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top,
and 38 Special, became popular. Macon, Georgia-based Capricorn Records
helped to spearhead the Southern rock movement, and was the original
home to many of the genre's most famous groups. At the other end of the
spectrum, along with the aforementioned Brown and Stax, New Orleans' Allen Toussaint and The
Meters helped to define the funk subgenre of rhythm and blues in
Many who got their start in the regional
show business in the South
eventually banked on mainstream national and international success as
well: Elvis Presley and Dolly
Parton are two such examples of artists that have transcended
Many of the roots of alternative rock are often considered to
come from the South as well, with bands such as R.E.M., Pylon and The B-52's forever associated with the
musically fertile college town of Athens, Georgia. Cities such as Austin,
Knoxville, Chapel Hill, Nashville and Atlanta
also have thriving indie rock and live music scenes. Austin is
home to the long-running South by Southwest
music and arts festival, while several influential independent music
labels (Sugar Hill, Merge, Yep Rock and the now-defunct Mammoth
Records) were founded in the Chapel Hill area. Several influential death
metal bands have recorded albums at Morrisound Recording in Temple Terrace, Florida
and the studio is considered an important touchstone in the genre's
Ya know, politics tries to make life simpler than it is. They're bad,
we're good. We
know what laws
The ultimate distillation of the conservative position is that no one
knows what laws to make
about the essential human things because law does not necessarily bring
about good. That's why we want
fewer laws, fewer opportunities to punish people we don't understand
for views and behaviors and places the so-called smart people just
FOR MIRACLE TWO
. At this point it gets atavistic and nasty. I
, but when it gets down to it, I'm Flyers, Flyers, and more
Here's to the old days.
And hoping the New Age is about to begin.
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