Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 7, 2011 - July 31, 2011

Friday, May 21, 2010

Speakers of Truth

People who speak the truth in this regime are regarded as rats.

H/T NRO. What better proof can you have of gangster politics -- more kindly, the "Chicago Machine" -- than the fact that its minions are so terrified of pissing off the don that they're prepared to make utter fools of themselves in public by denying even the most obvious of truths?

But who keeps scurrying for the corners like a trapped rodent?
That's why I want to give full marks to Doctor Zero for identifying the real bottom-line cause of the Tea Partiers:

The American people tired of being lied to. We’re tired of being defrauded. We’ve had it with fabulously expensive programs that do nothing but enhance the power of those who administer them. We reject the tired excuse that government only fails when it’s not big enough. We know the romance of the State is a lie. The evidence of its failure is piling up around us, at a rapidly accelerating pace.

He's right. That's the part of the Tea Party phenomenon that is Obama-centric, though it has nothing whatever to do with race. The man is 100 percent committed to lying. Not just the convenient political lies and evasions we were able to correct for with Bill Clinton, but massive, soul-deep lies about his intentions, his relation to the country he leads, and to the world beyond our borders that simultaneously loves, hates, fears, and (historically) depends upon the United States. Sure, he tells low political lies, every damn day, but what has people in the streets are the vastly bigger whoppers that he is the president of all of us, that he loves America, that he's a capitalist in good standing, and that he is committed to defending both the Constitution and American citizens from all threats foreign and domestic. His stock in trade is the BIG LIE, taken to a scale that trivializes even the standard liberal Big Lies Democrats have used to demonize Republicans since the 1960s.

More than we've ever needed them before, we need speakers of truth who aren't frightened into silence by the spreading shadow of Obamordor.

When he maunders on about social justice, redistributing wealth, and taxing the rich "who got us into this mess," we need blunt counterweights like Chris Christie, who this week threw down a heavy gauntlet of truth.

Do not mess with the Fat Man, you silly Democrats. In what may be the fastest veto in recorded history, it took New Jersey Governor Chris Christie a reported two minutes to veto a new tax grab by an incoherent Democrat State Senate that clearly hasn't realized their rubber-stamp puppet Jonny the Beard is no longer in office.

It took about two minutes from the time Senate President Steve Sweeney certified the passage of the millionaires tax package for Gov. Chris Christie to veto the bills at his desk.

"While I have little doubt that the sponsors and supporters of this bill sincerely believe that the state can tax its way out of this financial crisis, I believe that this bill does nothing more than repeat the failed, irresponsible and unsustainable fiscal policies of the past," wrote Christie in his veto statement. "Now is not the time for more of the same. Ultimately, another tax increase will punish the state’s struggling small businesses and set our economy further back from recovery."

Of course cutting taxes would help stimulate our economy but Democrats have never been known to pay attention to reality.

After the state Senate passed the bill, which had already passed the Assembly, Sweeney walked the bills down the hallways of the Statehouse, from the state Senate chambers to the governor's office. Once inside, he handed the bills to Christie, who was waiting.

"What took you so long ?" asked Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

Christie sat at a wooden desk emblazoned with the seal of the state of New Jersey and swiftly signed vetoes.

"We'll be back, governor," said Sweeney.

"All right. We'll see," said Christie.

I love JammieWearingFool's locution, "The Fat Man." It's surreptitiously Shakespearean, recalling the line from Julius Caesar, "Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look." As Obama most definitely does. I can see the bumper stickers now: I'M FOR THE FAT MAN IN 2012. Something about prosperity and gruff candor, as opposed to plots and weaseling grudges.

When Obama bows and scrapes to our enemies and brushes off our friends and ignores the slaps and sleights and outrages committed daily against the country he's sworn to protect, we need unblinking truthtellers like Charles Krauthammer. You have to read the whole thing if you don't take any other link here. It's that important. I'm not bottom-lining it here. Can't be done. I'm just showing him off:

The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.

That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.

They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.

As with the Fat Man we can also join The Hammer to our legion of plain-speaking superheroes.

But we need more than superheroes. We need people in all walks of life to be proof against 'well-intentioned' (i.e., pusillanimous) compromise.

When powerful men like Eric Holder go around Robin's Hood barn to defend the indefensible, we also need less powerful men of good conscience to stand up against absurdity (and atrocity) whenever and wherever it appears. Here's one important example:

In recent days, some of us have been ranting about the American Academy of Pediatrics, and its softening on FGM, or female genital mutilation — more modern and “sensitive” types call it FGC, for “female genital cutting.” The AAP has a rival, apparently: the ACP, or American College of Pediatricians. The latter group has just come out with a strong, unequivocal statement against FGM, FGC, whatever — a nasty practice, which Americans should think twice before tolerating. For the ACP’s press release, go here.

Three cheers for the ACP.

And three cheers withdrawn for the whole "Draw Muhammed Day" debacle. Check your courage before you throw your hat into the ring of fire. That's another important lesson. AllahPundit got snotty with me when I pointed out that I'd notified him of this post well before he linked to the "Draw Muhammed Day" exercise in sheep warfare (whose original proposer has since retreated in an ebb tide of apology and fear). Of course, what happened on May 20 was what I figured would happen. People had enough time to think about it, get scared, and toss up a cloud of posturing bullshit demonstrating the rank, stinking cowardice of journalists and bloggers in the west. (Hi, Allah!) Here's Reason Magazine's courageous protest drawing:

Note, too, that Hotair -- which also didn't participate, brave souls they -- called this, "…clever. A bit of a cop out, but clever."

Yeah. When extortion with the threat of deadly violence is on the table, the best possible response is, uh, "clever."

The InstaPunk image the fearless bloggers of Hotair assured me they never saw and so couldn't link:


"I wouldn't belong to any religion I made up.
Because "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

Here's what I'm asking of you. Find the brave ones. The speakers of truth wherever they are. Not the ranters or bomb-throwers. The ones who, as Howard Cosell used to say, tell it like it is. You find me the heroes, and I'll give the readers here the links.

P.S. Something else that doesn't pass muster in the 'courage' or 'truth' department. Linking people who truly don't give a shit about Islamic extortion while you continue to hide behind wry platitudes. Hotair just linked this from Iowahawk. Like they get to borrow his brazen while they hide inside their newfound "journalistic objectivity." Kewl. Sick-making. If Hotair runs that one Muhammed cartoon its author has already paid for one more time as proof of their publishing fearlessness, I promise you I'm going to invent a way to throw up through the intertubes on a website of my choosing.

Is anybody else getting sick of the NEW mainstream media? Podcasts and contracts and cable news gigs and seeing both sides and patriotic moderation and pure C-O-W-A-R-D-I-C-E when there's really something important on the line. Like, say, the First Amendment. Which is when "clever" is enough. Really, Ed? Really, Allah? So 'clever' of you.

ADDENDUM. I like the way libs are thinking they've trounced the Tea Partiers because Rand Paul won his primary. But their only power is misdirection. They don't understand the problem they're facing. They think they've found an emblematic victim. All they've found is an outlier who may yet win. It can't turn back the tide, which is pitilessly against them:

Yes, the Pauls seem clothed in mithril. (We suspect they have curly feet to go with their curly toupees.) And they're fucking crazy. But they've served admirably as the distractions we need to storm the supreme Obama soviet.The more they make the Pauls the face of the Tea Partiers, the more time we have to make the real argument: No traitor should be president of the United States. We don't need a Sauron.

Not now. Not ever.

UPDATE. Got a response from Doc Zero, but there's no sign he was aware of the slam at his host website (or my PS or Addendum). He's not responsible for my piling on. I am. So he shouldn't be punished at Hotair for saying this on my email:

Nicely done!  Nothing baffles me more about the average, middle-of-the-road Democrat voter than their perpetual surprise at being lied to... which often manifests as a frenzied hatred of anyone who exposes the lies of their leadership.  I've seen decent, generally affable people reduced to shivering rage while trying to process the latest Obama scam.

Both politicians and private citizens may see advantages from committing fraud, but the politician is far more likely to get away with it.  How many private entities are still going concerns after decades of being caught repeatedly lying to the public, on a massive scale... let alone larger and more powerful than ever?

This whole rotten system of political hacks dodging responsibility for disasters they never saw coming will fall apart on the day we either refuse to be hoodwinked, or no longer have anything worth stealing.

Though I suspect he will be punished. Let's hope not. I apologize if I've compromised his New Media credentials. Everybody: pretend you didn't see the Doc Zero part. The best outcome will be that we never hear from him again. He'll learn that InstaPunk is persona non grata in the mainstream blog revolt against the mainstream media. With any luck, we'll see him soon on Fox & Friends. Unless he's who we think he really is, namely, an honest man.

UPDATE 2. AllahPundit is angry. I sent him a link to this post, and he sent me this:

I'm not going to harrumph at you about anything.  Here are the facts: You've been endlessly and needlessly antagonistic towards me for months.  You ripped me to shreds in one post and I was enough of a good sport about it to actually link it in Headlines.  Then you sent me a tip about a post which I never saw and you instantly presumed bad faith about that.  Now you're calling me a coward for not participating in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day even though Ed and I both repeatedly use thumbnails of the super-incendiary Mohammed cartoons to illustrate our posts about it.  And then you claim that both Ed and I have gotten "carried away" with our careers, which means ... I'm not even sure what.  That I'm a phony and you're real.  Or rather, "REAL."

You have some sort of chip on your shoulder about me, which is perfectly fine -- there are others who do too -- but you're the only one who seems to feel compelled to e-mail me to tell me just how little you think of me.  I get it, okay?  You're REAL and Ed and I aren't.  Loud and clear.  And incidentally, since you're ripping on Ed, don't you think he should be cc'd on these harangues?

So I replied thus.

Glad to hear from you. You and Ed are in business. I have no problem with that. I'm a curmudgeon. I don't think you should have a problem with that. I tend to assume, perhaps wrongly, that when I send you something you find volatile, Ed will hear about it. And vice versa. I'm thinking I do a much better job of letting people I criticize know that I've criticized them than others do, but perhaps you can enlighten me about that.

That you chose this moment to blast me tells me you might be feeling guilty. You posted the Draw Muhammed Day post and ignored my post. Maybe it was a mistake. Fine.

I don't think the sun rises and sets on what I do. But I know that I consistently write better stuff than what you post in your Green Room. If I'm crabby, you're arrogant. I volunteered to debate you about your constant, deadeningly dull atheist pose, which I'd do fairly and rationally, but you choose to ignore me. I've complimented you every bit as much as I've criticized you, and I hat-tip you both all the time, but you and Ed both have an "I'm a star now" complex which I understand but feel free to call out. I'm part of your audience, the part that sends you readers regularly, a cut above your typical commenters, who don't spell, think, or write well.

Here's the deal. I don't need your approval. I'm a writer in my own right. I have no desire to have podcasts, book contracts, or FNS interviews. I was on the Internet before you, writing a blog before there was even a name for it:

I'd actually like to be your friend. But you've been pretty much of a  jerk to me. As has Ed.

I'd be happy to start over. The only thing I want is the occasional link when I write a good post, which I do at least as often as those you favor.

The Muhammed deal was especially galling to me. You have used the same cartoon for months as if it were bravery, but it isn't. And you know it isn't. You're hedging your bets. I understand that. Nobody wants to die. At first I thought Allah is trying to protect me: it's suicide to depict Muhammed as, of all things, a Jew, let alone Groucho Marx. Your email disabused me of that.

I'm not here to become famous. I'm here to fight for my country. AND to fight for the Jews, so there won't be a second holocaust. Do a search at Instapunk for the terms  Jews, holocaust, genocide, israel. Hell, do a search at instapunk for any and every great issue of the day. I think you'll find I've written  more diligently and thoughtfully on any issue you could name than you or Ed have.

I'm NOT your enemy. But I'm weary of the celebrity game. Which you ARE playing, whether you admit it or or not. Ace of Spades is a lot nastier and more profane than I am. He just doesn't criticize prominent right-wing blogs. I do. Who's edgier in that respect?

So. Here I am. Humbling myself. I ask only that you give me the even break of reading my stuff in the way that MacLeod and Doc Zero do. In return I promise to stop criticizing your writing, Ed's writing, though not your logic or lack of it. All I I'm asking for is a voice in the fight. And I DO have something to bring to that fight.

And so it goes.

UPDATE 3. So now Allah is really really pissed:

"I can't decide if you don't realize how insulting you are, if you do realize it and simply enjoy being insulting, or if you think that being insulting is proof somehow that you're a "straight shooter" who won't kiss the ass of a self-styled "celebrity" like me.  But since we're not getting anywhere with these back and forths, this will be my last response to you." [It goes on like this for a while.]

And here's my response:

Fine. You're right. I'm insulting. Sorry. I was fighting this fight long before you got your first keyboard. I knew the war we're fighting now was coming 40 years ago. What pisses me off is how weak our side is. Why do the libs laugh at us and demean us? Because our side can't write a goddam sentence without making some dumb basic error. I'm older than you, I've spent a lifetime writing, and it all matters to me. You can dance all you want around the "celebrity" label, but you're making a living doing this. I'm not. I'm doing it because I can't not do it with so much at stake.

I apologize for noticing that I can't read a single post by you or Ed without wanting to rewrite it. Do you know what that's like? No. Of course not. I chastised Jonah Goldberg for a consistent error he was making, and he apologized within the hour. I'm not saying you don't have good ideas and decent insights. But you're an embarrassment. And poses you assume, like your atheism and beta male identity, are worse than embarrassing. They're just dumb.

If you ever bothered to read InstaPunk, you'd see that it's the most thoughtful and LIVING conservative blog on the Internet. We talk about everything from hummingbirds to movies to family travails to physics to sports, before we even approach politics, which we do in a way no one else does.

But you never have bothered to read InstaPunk. Which is how I know who you are. If someone "insulted" me, I can assure you I'd read everything they wrote to find out why and from where they dared to do so.

I'm sorriest about the fact that you're exactly who I feared you were. I don't need Hotair. But you need an elder who doesn't tolerate your fakery and posturing. I'm 56 years old. I'd bet a bunch you don't don't know anything more about me than that. Which is your loss. Big time. If you wanted to learn to write, I could teach you. But I'm thinking you don't. That's too bad. Not a tragedy or my secret revenge. Just too bad. Because our country needs people like you to know how to write.


The Comebacks

AS I SAY: BELIEVE. In the case of you do not know about that picture, it is from the crush of the InstaPunk Phyler make by my Montreal Candians in Thursday night.  In that picture, I think it is when the Phyler goalie start to cry about all the goal that are score to him.  But I must make the digression. I do not come to make offend on the fan of the Phyler here.  I already say that I know my Habs win the Stanley Cup this year and I am sorry about the sadness of the Philadelphia persons.  Instead I come to address two issue.

First, I need say the Punks tell me they are happy to hear the new writtings from me, but about the fact checkings maybe I am not so careful when I write. They say the post before have many error about things that are not so true. I try to take a note while they tell me all these things for make a corrections, but I already am go to the liquor store for the evening and find it hard to hear everything what they say. One note that I do take on my sheet is about the mistake with who the Philadelphia football team make a trade on. I say they trade the Michael McVick, but they actually trade his brother, Donovan. But still Michael McVick is the one who kill the dogs, and I am many anger about that. Which prove a rule about why you should not trust the persons of Irish.

There are other mistake, too, but you see I am not serious journalist of the big times, like your Keith Onothermann. I am only Puck Punk, with knowledge and love of the hockey, which I try to tell you about because so many American miss this wonderful sport. So I start to think maybe American does not care about the hockey because you do not have the understandings. Even InstaPunk say he is l'confuze about the rule in the hockey. So I decide I must explain to my foreign friends about some important things and then we all will love the hockey.

1. Offsides - Always I am watch a game of the hockey when the offsides is call and my American friends say, "Huh? What happen?" or as the internet American say, "WTF?" Then I explain about how is so simple.

A field of the hockey.

As you see above, there is the big red line in middle of the ice. Then the two blue line on each side of red middle line, and the space after the blue line with the goal make the offend zone. No man is allow to be all the way across the blue on the offend unless the puck go across first. If the defenses get the puck back all the way past their blue line, then the offend players must all touch the blue before they can go back to the offend zone, and when they go back the puck again must go before any offend player. If the rule is break, then the offsides is call and a faceoff happen.

I try to make the explain of this to my American friends, but I make only half through my talking when a glaze come on their eyes and they yawn, then they tell me the hockey is so hard to understand and they ask for me to stop the talking. But when we watch the anyfell football and I ask a question like, "Why is this team allow to advance the ball just because their ball kicker falls down?" they only answer me, "Shhhh! I try to watch game!"

And at least the hockey offside only makes a faceoff. In the anyfell the offside make the ball move more close and close to the In Zone, where the goal happen. Why? No one can explain this. And still my American friends say they are confuse about why players in the hockey some time will not cross the blue line and some time will, or why it is l'import for the defenses to push the puck across the blue line, for then all players on the offend must skate away, then skate back in, and they can get tired. So during this times of the frustrate, I only grab another Molson and try to enjoy the game to myself.

2. Power Play - when a penalty happen, there is the power play. This mean the one who make the penalty must sit in the penalty box for 2 minute and his team is short the one man. The other team now have advantage of one man and if they score the penalty is over. The most a team can be down at one time is two man.

Cindie Crosby of the Pittburg takes the penalty while losing to my Habs.

If it is a very bad penalty, like making the hate crime, then the time in the box will be for 5 minute no matter even if the team score. This is many rare, and l'especial in the playoff, because it is a big hurt for a team to make defend of the power play for 5 minute.

3. Icing - Another thing that every body always question to me about. But it is very easy to make the understandings of it! Remember the big red line on middle of the ice? Well there is a smaller red line on each side of ice that cross the goal, near of the wall. If a player on the offend shoot the puck to other side and it is not yet cross the big line in middle, then it cross the small red line near the goal, and the puck is first touch by a player of the defend team, then it makes the icing and a faceoff must happen back on other side of the ice of the team that shoot the puck.

This rule happen so a team can not score only one goal, then only throw the puck away across ice for rest of game while on the defend. There is one exception of this: if a team is defend on the power play, they are allowed to shoot puck out because they are down of persons.

This is where the strategy happen for playing the hockey.

4. Cross-Checking - Very most simple: this is when you take both hands on the hockey stick, then push them out to hit the oppose player with the middle part of the stick. Like this:

The cross check can make any body into the monster.

So there are good explaination of the most confuse rule in the hockey. Now we all are watching this weekend, yes? You are many welcome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Birthday Coincidence

The holocaust angle? Just one more personal 'coincidence.'

SERENDICITY. Yesterday was my dad's birthday. He'd be 88 if he hadn't died more than ten years ago. It was also a day when Mrs. IP had jury duty and was staying home till court convened, so I dallied longer in the morning before getting to work. Over one cup of coffee too many, I stumbled on a NatGeo documentary about a P-47 that went down in an Austrian lake on the last day of the war in Europe. The P-47 was my dad's plane, 88 missions worth. An international team was determined to raise it from the lake bottom and restore it. I was hooked. The lake waters were ice cold and short on oxygen, which meant that the wreck was probably well preserved. As proved to be the case. The plexiglass cowling was intact, the cockpit dials were remarkably legible, and even the lacquered aluminum skin of the fuselage retained all its old stencilled numbers, lettering, and American star insignia. It came up upside down but in far better condition that it looks to the naked eye

The ailerons still worked freely.

Closeups showed the instruments muddy but with unbroken lenses.

The .50 caliber machine guns were loaded;
the shells gleamed again after a light hosing.

The experts proclaimed that this plane will fly again.

I was struck by the fact that this is not my first P-47 coincidence. I just happened to be living in Dayton, Ohio, when Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (in Dayton) dedicated a memorial to the Twelfth Air Force my dad served in. He flew out (commercial) for the ceremony and that day I had my first look at a P-47 in the Wright-Patt museum, with him there. He hadn't laid eyes on one since 1946 or thereabouts. I also got to shake hands with a few of his surviving fellow pilots. Seeing the old men and the plane on which their lives depended was a strange experience. It's at such a long remove from actual events, so evidently mothballed and still, that it seems simultaneously unreal and hyper-real, as if the vivid past really can bump the prosaic present into a roaring, screaming, rat-a-tat hell if you close your eyes for just a moment. It's awkward to shake their hands. There's nothing you can say. They know something you'll never know and even trying to put that into words would be sacrilege. You wind up wishing you weren't young and your clothes didn't fit.

More coincidence. A few years later I was serving as a consultant to Whirlpool Corporation, which had an air-conditioner manufacturing plant in Evansville, Indiana. I went there to conduct training and help coordinate labor management communications. That's when I learned that the huge brick facility with its serpentine connecting bays had been built in the first place to assemble P-47 fighter planes. The plant was dark and logistically difficult in terms of modern manufacturing requirements, filled with U-turns and cul de sacs that only made sense when you imagined their original purpose. How odd that this Jersey motorhead would somehow get to see the plant (and descendants of the people) that built the plane that kept his father alive so that I could be sired after the war. No, it's not all about me. It's about the chain of events, including U-turns and cul de sacs, that occur by apparent happenstance to give you a fuller picture of the continuum of which you are only the wagging tail. I was supposed to be seeing Just-in-Time appliance manufacturing. Mostly, all I could see was P-47s creeping though darkness to the skies of Europe.

And then one more. My dad was from southern New Jersey and he took his flight training at Thunderbird in Arizona, but it's also perversely the case that one of the premier P-47 training bases during WWII was in Millville, NJ, less than 20 miles from where he, and I, were born and grew up. Millville has never forgotten this important moment of its history, which is why the annual Millville Air Show is one of the biggest and best attended in the nation. Which I'd never attended until my Navy-loving wife (I could tell you why but then I'd have to kill you) made us go see it back in 2007. Where I saw my first P-47 outside of a museum, prepped and ready to go on the flightline

And then, by God, flying.

My dad was dead by then. but not that day, not for me.

Life is a curious thing. I never consciously sought out any of these encounters with the past. He tried more and more over the years to make his life story about something other than the war, which he had every right to do. He had many accomplishments of his own, and he suffered from the survivor's guilt we've all seen in veterans who can't be convinced that the best and bravest  didn't die in their place. But my own life keeps bringing me back to this aspect of his experience, which I know, as a son knows his father, both hurt him grievously and annealed him to the ordinary hurts of so-called real life. He may have wanted to turn his back on so much fear and pain and testing ordeals, but I can't. I feel the phantom every time I mount a motorcycle. If I screw up or get unlucky, I could die today. But nobody's shooting at me when I ride. And I'm not shooting at them. A way to stay humble as the wagging tail of the continuum.

Almost done. But one final 'coincidence' in yesterday's accidental television rendezvous. The pilot whose plane went down in the Austrian lake survived. He appeared in the show and recollected his rescue. Ditching a P-47 in the water is an incredibly tricky thing. The huge engine almost immediately plunges from the surface in a water dive. The waters that day were brutally cold. He sank ten feet or so three times in heavy pilot gear and fought his way back to the surface but didn't think he'd survive a fourth dunking. But Austrian civilians saw him in the water, and two boats raced to his aid. In fact, two women outdistanced a surviving male (a teenager at the time) who was rowing toward the downed pilot and plucked him from the water.

Which was eerily reminiscent of my dad's closest call in the war. He strafed a German ship in Naples harbor, got away with it, and decided to attempt a second pass. They blew him out of the sky and he had to ditch in the water. Same crisis. P-47 diving nose first toward the bottom and an over-clothed pilot struggling to stay afloat with one leg full of shrapnel. He got rescued by a Navy PT boat, which braved all kinds of enemy fire to salvage my dad from what he called "the stupidest thing I've ever done." He never regarded the Purple Heart he received as anything but a dunce cap. 

I can see his point. That's how he was. Surprised and mortified when he wasn't entirely sensible. But it's not sensible to volunteer for what you've coldly determined is the most dangerous role in the war, is it? That part he never successfully explained away.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Tired, Hot, and Ready for the Nasty

MOWING. Today 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 jukebox:

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.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sometimes Spring
Comes Slowly...

This year the snow was measured in feet, not inches.

GLOBAL SEASONING. 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.

Maybe needless to say, the deerhound commenced to bark from his inside post, but after a few pauses and ear swivels, the visitors continued to make themselves at home munching on our overgrown greens. We watched them for twenty minutes or more. Then they meandered away. More like vanishing than leaving.

Meanwhile, Mrs. CP was (almost) equally mesmerized by the results of her new "two-feeder" strategy for attracting goldfinches, which at times had as many as ten of the yellow ones chowing down at the same time. Here's the video she was able to record, well under the peak number but you know how it goes when you're trying to photograph amazing events. The key players rarely cooperate. Your guess is as good as mine with respect to the samba soundtrack. But it's certainly cheerful, and we both needed cheerful.

The nature of a country weekend. I guess.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The War Continues

Chaz Bono hates liberty.

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.

5/20: 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.

5/21: 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."]"

5/24: 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.


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.

Semi-Fisking Michael Kinsley

KINSLEY'S 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.

My 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 unsubstantiated assumption. 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. Journalists 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 a 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 to Republicans? 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'? You might 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." Kewl. 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 Indochinese lives. 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 traffic. 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 totality. 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? These 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. That kind. 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 or something... 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 of 'hubris.'

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 accurate. 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 anti-democratic. 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 hypocritical rubes.

“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 appropriate and piss away. 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 liberty. 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 loss. 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. But in 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 him. Thankfully, I overcame the temptation.

UPDATE. More thoughts on Kinsley and the Tea Party phenomenon from Doc Zero.

Monday, May 17, 2010


The best picture we have. Yeah, she had an
inner light. But she was more owl than alien.

. 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 both sides.

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 being. For 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 than 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 beautiful eyes, wider than any you've known because of their unique concatenation 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 departure 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 is demanding 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.

What 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 it:

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.

Tips for Neophytes:

The Curious Sport of Hockey

Monotonous, lame, dull, and emotionless.

ICING THE SKEPTICS. I promise you InstaPunk is not turning into a hockey blog. 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 games are 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:


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 beautiful:

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 got:

But it always ends with THE STANDARD INTERVIEW(S):

That'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 comparison.

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.

Go Flyers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Governor of New Jersey

Newark Star Ledger reporter calls Christie "confrontational."

The South

Trailer Trash Barbie. Doesn't that about sum it up?

BIG 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 national 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 the south.

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 Iraq, 38%.

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 geniuses.

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 body bags.

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 press conference President Obama held shortly after his inauguration:

Interview 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 --


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 post 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 today's NRO Corner blog:

Holder 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 Pat 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 Crews.

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 1960.


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[citation needed]. 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 music, funk, 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.

Zydeco, Cajun and swamp 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 music 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 the 1970s.

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 genres.

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 development.

Ya know, politics tries to make life simpler than it is. They're bad, we're good. We know what laws to make.

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 don't like.

Go Flyers!

HOPING FOR MIRACLE TWO. At this point it gets atavistic and nasty. I may make fun, but when it gets down to it, I'm Flyers, Flyers, and more Flyers.

Here's to the old days.

And hoping the New Age  is about to begin.

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