Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 18, 2012 - August 11, 2012

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Seth Phenomenon

Jane Roberts and "Seth"

WHAT YOU CAN STILL FIND.... A friend reminded me of this recently. It's a secret some otherwise rational people share, that a woman named Jane Roberts channelled a "personality" who was demonstrably smarter than she ever was, who made fools of psychiatrists and scientists who attempted to debunk him in live trance sessions, and made sense of the nature of existence even to people like me, who had to discover quantum physics before we could read Seth with anything like an open mind.

Basically, my friend challenged me to man up and admit that the Seth books -- now no longer in print -- were a major philosophical milestone for me as they had been for him. We've known each other for a quarter century and I can't recall having discussed this matter with him before. That's how secretive and defensive we can be, meaning writers who know what writing is and how impossible it is that the Seth books could be some kind of hoax. Seth was a writer on the order of Immanuel Kant. Jane Roberts, uh, wasn't.

Here's the nub. A woman from Elmira, New York, published in the 1980s a series of books "dictated" by a personality she channelled in a trance state. Her husband transcribed these sessions with embedded time codes, demonstrating that the sessions were occurring in real time and at great speed. with no edits or corrections. The Seth personality had an unmistakeable tone of voice, very even and precise. He was evidently, to all of us who know writing, a formidable and careful intellect who defined his terms from a great height, aware that there were in many cases no words in our vocabulary to capture what he was saying. But he never hid behind that handicap. He was, well, relentless about finding words that would convey his concepts. He was also continuously joyful about life. Although Jane Roberts died young from a mysterious wasting disease that could and probably should have made her bitter about the nature of existence.

Things that have stayed with me over the years that strike me as remarkably penetrating, plausible, and thought-provoking. According to Seth, the Christ event was an incredibly important and real event, imperfectly remembered perhaps, but consisting of a single transcendant and archetypal meta-personality incarnating in three different individuals to precipitate Christianity: John the Baptist, Christ, and St. Paul. He said the crucifixion as we remember it did not occur in fact but became real afterwards, which relates to his description of existence itself.

He said of the world's major religions -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc -- that there was one which was a fraud. Islam. (Hardly PC in the early 1980s...)

He said he could find no information about Atlantis. He speculated that Atlantis either didn't exist or was a memory of the future. (If you're a cheap seer, wouldn't this be a question you'd have a ready answer for...?)

He said, by way of explaining some of these phenomena, that all time is simultaneous. There is simply one continuous present in which we all participate in a process of creating consensus reality. He postulated the existence of mass events, like the Kennedy assassination (or presumably 9/11) in which we agree via dreams and other subconscious forces to enact a drama that enables us as individuals to realize our characters and pursue our own personal growth.

We do not, any of us, ever die. We are all creators in training. And we all have so many existences in parallel worlds -- every decision does split the universe -- that every sort of potential we possess is realized, which is the good news. The bad news is that if we realized how many versions of ourselves are operating in parallel realities, we'd feel hopelessly insignificant. Although we're not insignificant. Because every one of us is one center of the universe.

He also talked about pets, many of who whom are "fragment personalities" of people we have known who choose to remain with us even as the larger part of themselves move on.

I'm not saying that I have no skepticism about Seth. I'm saying that I read all the books and there are no inconsistencies, which, believe me, I'm always alert to. And I'm wondering these days about Mickey, who was born a few months after my dad died (although I didn't meet him, couldn't have met him for a couple of years after that death) and seems to spend an inordinate amount of time these days taking charge of all the dogs and cats and telling me what to do and when. Sometimes he just stares at me. For no reason. But he definitely wants to be with me. All the time. Which for a feral cat is a miracle.

Okay, George? Have I done my duty?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011



UNDER THE RADAR. I admit there's no real point to this post. But maybe that is the point. Commenter Helk said:

Not sure about using hate anymore. Reeks of desperation and a lack of faith. The calm, imperturbable face of a train coming down the tracks seems like it might be a better visage (for me). No emotion, only force mixed with orientation.

I think he's hit on something. And I'm surprised that someone as young as he has made such a connection. Which fills me with hope.

For someone of my advanced age, trains have always been a romantic background, rarely the star but always a sense-laden spur of memory and emotion precisely because a pure "force mixed with orientation" is such an apt metaphor of modern life. You can hop on or off, but the train keeps going, and its power is both primeval and intelligently controlled. Trains are mankind itself, forever moving, fuelling the business of a species that builds nonstop and runs over anything and everything in its way. That's the romance. They're big, relentless, and full of sound and fury, signifying something, maybe everything.

You don't ever think about trains. You just experience them. They're the unicorns of the industrial age, mythic but more real than myth. Everything about them is weighted with symbolism -- locomotives, tracks, rails, boxcars, cabooses, whistles, clanging bells, steam, bridges and tunnels, signal lights, switches, iron, steel, and iron -- and they're simultaneously impersonal and curiously intimate. Sexual but remote and metaphysical in their massive physicality.

Boys in my day were entranced with trains. My grandparents had a store of 50 years of National Geographics. Before I even realized that these magazines had pictures of naked women, I fell in love with the ads for trains. Gleaming passenger cars and the locomotive headlight beaming in the night. I clipped the ads and made a scrapbook for school called, simply, "Trains."

Later, when I was away at school, late at night I used to hear the distant chugging and moaning whistle of a freight train I never saw. It was life to me, the going somewhere I couldn't do while I was chained to a campus and a regimen of duties Trains meant freedom, momentum, reach of superhuman scale.

Like other boys, I'd had a Lionel train set, which is the illusion of control, but I never thought of the toy train when I heard the faraway whistle at night. I was able to visualize it, though, because I knew about whistles and cattle cars and boxcars from earliest childhood. The metaphor pool was deeply established.

Odd, isn't it, the roles trains play in our favorite cultural touchstones? Bogey in the rain at the Paris train station in Casablanca, heartbroken and bitter about the remorselessness of history in the making.  Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, and Eva Marie Saint being naughty in a sleeping car in North by Northwest. Burt Lancaster and Paul Scofield duelling over life and art in The Train. Neo killing the Agent via subway train in The Matrix. More recently, Denzel Washington battling trains in Pelham 123 and Unstoppable. What's Atlas Shrugged about in the final analysis? Trains. And my own choice, so many years ago, of a name for the ultimate punk writer band, The Shuteye Train.

Actually, I could go link crazy if I started searching past posts for train references. Why I'm not doing that. You can feel free to do so.

Trains. What do you see when you are obliged to stop at an intersection and let one pass? Do you see life, your life, the story of Casey Jones, the history of your own affluence in a blessed country, the golden spike, How the West Was Won, or a mere gigantic inconvenience in your day?

I see trains. The beautiful bigness of human life, rasty, noisy, and irresistible.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


DISCREDIT WHERE DISCREDIT IS DUE. Now that he's produced his birth certificate and given the green light to kill bin Laden, Obama is getting a universal pass on the suspicion that he favors muslims and dislikes Jews.

Except here. Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday couldn't believe the "arrogance" of a foreign leader "lecturing" the president of the United States at a photo-op.

Really, Juan? It's arrogant to fight for your life when even your most powerful friend insists that proven genocidal hatred is a diplomatic position roughly analogous to your own desire to survive? But the rest of the pundit class isn't much better. They keep talking about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, terms of peace, equitable dispositions of the issues. How do you negotiate the fact that your opposite number at the negotiating table wants you dead? You, your family, their families, and all the people they know -- dead. Meaning that's their first and only objective in the negotiation process.

I refuse to get sucked into the inane chattering of the chattering class. I just want to make a few simple, obvious points. First, for whatever reason, the new liberalism -- also known as progressivism -- regards hatred of the Jews as a virtue. I won't be using the easy term, 'anti-semitism,' here, because Arabs are also semites. Sorry if that's not PC.

Second, Obama may not favor murderous jihadists, but he does favor muslims over Jews. I think he also favors muslims over Christians. Because he agrees with their fundamental grievance, that the prosperity of the western Christian or post-Christian nations represents a longstanding process of theft from the indigent muslim nations of the world. It's probably not a religious but a political conviction. Although, like so many marxists, he can't help hating the Jews.

American Jews who support Obama give him a pass because they also hate the Jews. That's pretty much a big problem they've had since they stopped believing in God and started believing in Freud and Marx instead, not to mention hedge funds. And, truth to tell, if American Jews believed in Israel, they'd be there, not here.

You're right. I'm creeping up on another point. The most important point. It's okay to dislike the political fatuities and hypocrisies of American Jews. It's okay to dislike the stereotypes they sometimes seem determined not only to live up to but surpass and demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt. What's not okay is using dislike as an excuse for failed responsibility.

We can't wash our hands of them. They are the source of the difficult, frequently distasteful mechanisms that made our civilization in the first place: law, banking, obsession with education, frank acceptance of the physicality of pissing and shitting and fucking, unending personal competition for the spoils of economic conquest, conspicuous consumption, runaway ambition, quarrelsomeness, the incredibly annoying self-absorption of individual consciousness, and Jesus Christ, the antithesis of all this who could not have existed without the culture that spawned him.

And now for the point within the point. Show me somebody who hates Jews, and I'll show you somebody who thinks only in proper nouns. Like our president. Muslims good. Jihadists bad. Palestinians good. Jews bad. African-Americans good. Whites bad. And so on.

I think in common nouns, at least as much as current events will permit. I don't capitalize very often. Which is to say I try to draw distinctions, to discriminate. (Yeah, I know it's a dirty word these days; get over it.) I am the best of friends with individual jews, although I want to smack the American Jews who are so convinced they're smarter than all the rest of us. I feel the same way about muslims. I suspect, or hope, that many of them possess a live and let live mentality. I also fear that there are a great many Muslims, even the ones who insist they're Moderate, who would like to see us all dead because Abraham preferred Israel to Ishmael. I have nothing against black people, but when they start capitalizing and hyphenating themselves, I get edgy in a hurry.

I'm pretty sure our president lives in a world of capitals. He's led a life so sheltered and parochial there's no other way he could view things. And there's no other way he could feel confident and virtuous about seeking to force Israel into a peace that would result in their total annihilation.

Netanyahu confronting Obama? See the jew who's looking straight into your eyes, not the Jew of your ideological loathings.

That's a lesson that's appropriate to any forum, including the White House. If Obama could learn it, which he can't, it would redound to the benefit of all the capitalized villains he can't bring himself to tolerate: Southerners, Gun Owners, Capitalists, Christians, Suburbanites, Doctors, Insurance Progessionals, Conservatives, Fox News, Korean Grocers, Police Officers, White People, and, um, yeah, Jews (otherwise known as Hebes, Kikes, Sheenies, and, uh, Jews.)

Israel is surrounded and all the Arab countries are dissolving into a chaos akin to that which produced the Ayatollah Khomeini as a replacement for the Shah of Iran, in a tantrum the western media insist on calling the "Arab Spring." There's one thing they all have in common, Moderate Muslims as they are; their only negotiating point with Israel is to see all the Jews dead. Who would you negotiate with if you were a Jew? The only way not to see how dangerous this is to Israel is to, well, not give a shit.

We pay the president to give a shit. Sorry if that's anathema to a man who thinks only in capitals. To the hopeless adolescent ideologue we call "The One."

Monday, May 23, 2011


A Longshot
 Herman Cain Scenario

THE ONE I DIDN'T MENTION. The Fox News beltway pundits were quick to dismiss the candidacy of Herman Cain on Friday, and Chris (bluffed my way out of Econ 10 at Harvard) Wallace scored at least one gotcha in his Sunday interview when Cain seemed to draw a blank on the term "Right of Return."  Moreover, Fox News Sunday had him scheduled just after Ron Paul in its stated round of interviews with Republican presidential candidates, which is to say they've already pigeonholed him in the "no chance" column, an interview formality to be gotten out of the way before the heavy hitters are invited in.

I understand the FNS reasoning. However...

However, I can also foresee a set of circumstances -- "What ifs," if you will -- that could make Cain a surprisingly strong candidate in both the Republican primaries and the general election. I'll share these so you can think about them, as I am doing.

What if Republicans in the key primary states understand the surprising strength of Herman Cain's bio better than the beltway cynics do?

Herman Cain (born December 13, 1945) is an American businessman, political activist, columnist, and radio host from Georgia. He is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. He is a former deputy chairman (1992–94) and chairman (1995–96) of the civilian board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Before his business and economics career he worked as a mathematician in ballistics for the United States Navy. Cain's newspaper column is distributed by North Star Writers Group. He lives in the Atlanta suburbs.

This the summary intro paragraph of the Wikipedia biography. It already contains more information about him than you ever get on Fox News, which describes him exclusively as the "former CEO of Godfather's Pizza." But there's a hell of a lot more to Cain's background and personal story than that bit of deliberately contextless ephemera. How many of us know anything about Godfather's Pizza, where it is, how big it is, what its history is, etc, apart from the possibly sinister connotation of its name? So Cain is maybe a figure along the lines of Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington in American Gangster, a shady inner city type seeking to go legit by starting up a pizza chain? Think I'm overstating? Here's the actual business history, which reads remarkably differently, in context.

Cain... began working for The Coca-Cola Company as a business analyst. In 1977, he joined Pillsbury where he rose to the position of vice president by the early 1980s. He left his executive post to work for Burger King – a Pillsbury subsidiary at the time – managing 400 stores in the Philadelphia area. Under Cain's leadership, his region went from the least profitable for Burger King to the most profitable in three years. This prompted Pillsbury to appoint him president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, another of their then-subsidiaries. Within 14 months, Cain had returned Godfather's to profitability. In 1988, Cain and a group of investors bought Godfather's from Pillsbury. Cain continued as CEO until 1996, when he resigned to become CEO of the National Restaurant Association – a trade group and lobby organization for the restaurant industry – where he had previously been chairman concurrently with his role at Godfather's.

Oh. So would it be an unacceptably long waste of words to say "Herman Cain, an executive of Pillsbury Corporation who was responsible for notable turnarounds of two Pillsbury subsidiaries, Burger King and Godfather's Pizza, the latter of which he bought from the parent company and ran successfully for eight years"?

And are you intrigued by the statement "began working... as a business analyst"? I am. Where does that come from? How does a business analyst get to be a major corporate vice president in five years or so? Maybe because he's smart and very well educated? What else they don't tell you about Herman Cain when he shows up to be interviewed.

Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 13, 1945, the son of Lenora (née Davis) and Luther Cain, Jr.[4][5] His mother was a cleaner and his father was a chauffeur.He was raised in Georgia. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and received a Master of Science degree in computer science from Purdue University in 1971, while he was also working full-time in ballistics for the U.S. Department of the Navy.

I grant that these credentials were flashed briefly (and later rather sooner) on chyron during his Wallace interview, but if you'd blinked you'd have missed them. And in a political establishment obsessed with Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and other Ivy League Schools (plus Stanford, Berkeley, and the U. of Chicago), the real significance of Cain's educational credentials may have passed unnoticed. What's Morehouse College? Something even lesser, perhaps, than Sarah Palin's University of Idaho degree in communications or Reagan's Eureka College degree in sociology?  Well, not exactly.

Morehouse College is a private, all-male, historically black college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with Hampden-Sydney College and Wabash College, Morehouse is one of three remaining traditional men's colleges in the United States.

Morehouse has a 61-acre (250,000 m2) campus and an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students. The student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and 100% of the school's tenure-track faculty hold tertiary degrees. Along with Clark Atlanta University, Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse School of Medicine and nearby women's college Spelman College, Morehouse is part of the Atlanta University Center.

Morehouse is one of two black colleges in the country to produce Rhodes Scholars, and it is the alma mater of many African-American leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., filmmaker Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses, former Bank of America Chairman Walter E. Massey, the first African-American mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, and former United States Surgeon General David Satcher, among others.

Morehouse is also habitually included in an august list with its own Wikipedia entry:

The Black Ivy League is a colloquial term that at times referred to the historically black colleges in the United States that attracted top African American students prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Similar groups include: Public Ivies, Southern Ivies, and the Little Ivies, among others, none of which have canonical definitions.

There is no agreement as to which schools are included in the "Black Ivy League", and sources list different possible members. The 1984 book Blacks in Colleges by Dr. Jacqueline Fleming, states that "... schools that make up the 'Black Ivy league' [include] (Fisk, Morehouse, Spelman, Dillard, Howard, Clark Atlanta Hampton and Tuskegee)." Fleming further notes that, "[t]he presence of Black Ivy League colleges pull the best and most privileged black students....all seven are unique schools, with little overlap among them." Bill Maxwell, in a 2003 series on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), coincides with Fleming in describing the Black Ivy League institutions as being "Howard University, Hampton University, Spelman College, Fisk University, Morehouse College, Tuskegee University and Dillard University." The North Star News described "Howard, Fisk, Hampton, Morehouse, Morgan, Tuskegee, and Cheyney ... as the equivalent of a Black Ivy League."

It's important to note that these schools don't employ, seek, or express any interest in the term "Black Ivy League." If they did, they'd probably also include the small (450 students) West Texas school, Wiley College, celebrated in the movie about that school's great takedown of Harvard in intercollegiate debate in 1935.

What is important is that Herman Cain is part of a truly great American educational tradition that predates Affirmative Action and proves that intelligence, knowledge, hard work, ambition, and strong family values are the true basis of the American dream. Cain took his undergraduate degree in mathematics and his masters in computer science at Purdue, one of the best engineering and applied sciences graduate programs in the nation. He did it on his own. His business career proves that. No corporate diversity program makes men or women profit-loss line managers unless they're the best ones for the job. His career subsequent to 'Godfather's Pizza' demonstrates this aspect of his character many times over:

Cain became a member of the board of directors to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 1992 and served as its chairman from January 1995 to August 1996, when he resigned to become active in national politics. Cain was a 1996 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award.

Cain hosted The Herman Cain Show on Atlanta talk radio station News Talk 750 WSB, a Cox Radio affiliate until February 2011 and serves as a commentator for Fox Business and a syndicated columnist distributed by the North Star Writers Group. In 2009, Cain founded "Hermanator's Intelligent Thinkers Movement" (HITM), aimed at organizing 100,000 activists in every congressional district in the United States in support of a strong national defense, the FairTax, tax cuts, energy independence, capping government spending, and Restructuring Social Security.

Cain publicly opposed the 1993/1994 health care plan of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. While president-elect of the National Restaurant Association he challenged Bill Clinton on the costs of the employer mandate contained within the bill, criticizing its effect on small businesses. Cain has been described as one of the primary "saboteurs" of the plan:
The Clintons would later blame "Harry and Louise," the fictional couple in the ads aired by the insurance industry, for undermining health reform. But the real saboteurs are named Herman and John. Herman Cain is the president of Godfather's Pizza and president-elect of the National Restaurant Association. An articulate black entrepreneur, Cain transformed the debate when he challenged Clinton at a town meeting in Kansas City, Mo., last April. Cain asked the president what he was supposed to say to the workers he would have to lay off because of the cost of the "employer mandate." Clinton responded that there would be plenty of subsidies for small businessmen, but Cain persisted. "Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate," he told the president. "In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn't work that way.

Joshua Green of The Atlantic has called Cain's exchange with Clinton his "auspicious debut on the national political stage.

Cain was a senior economic adviser to the Dole/ Kemp presidential campaign in 1996.

In 2004, Cain ran for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, pursuing the seat that came open with the retirement of Democrat Zell Miller. Cain sought the Republican nomination, facing congressmen Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins in the primary. Cain and Collins both hoped to deny Isakson a majority on primary day in order to force him into a runoff. Collins tried to paint Cain as a moderate, citing Cain's support for affirmative action programs, while Cain argued that he was a conservative, noting that he opposed the legality of abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Cain finished second in the primary with 26.2% of the vote, ahead of Collins, who won 20.6%, but because Isakson won 53.2% of the vote, Isakson was able to avoid a runoff.

Let's review. He's more than the "former CEO of Godfather's Pizza." He's a man of notable educational accomplishment, at least six different careers -- businessman, lobbyist, grass roots activist, senatorial candidate, columnist, and talk show host -- but he's no rolling stone dilettante. He has a vision of how things ought to be, he has rock-solid principles, and he's determinedly his own man. Hmmm. How does all that match up with anyone we know?

What if the Republicans and Democrats continue to wander in the wilderness without a budget deal, a real plan for reducing the deficit, an effective strategy for reducing gas and food prices, or the beltway pundits' demanded solution for reduction of unemployment and resuscitation of the stricken American economy? Remember the Trump boomlet? He's never held political office either. Yet people responded because they sensed a need for economic and political common sense, er, business sense. Trump failed to sustain his flurry for several good reasons. He's a New Yorker with no real feel for the rest of the country. He's a man who made a huge and frequently imperiled fortune out of an inherited fortune, he's an egomaniac who can't take a joke at his own expense, ever, and as Herman Cain adroitly pointed out, "He's a bully."

If they can overlook all these crippling defects to give Trump an even momentary advantage in the polls, why might they not respond to Herman Cain, who succeeded in business on smarts without contacts or anything but his own brain, character, and determination. If the economy continues to tank, his lack of public officeholding may vanish as a crippling demerit. Nobody knows where the so-called Independents really stand. If the U.S. Government still has no budget in 2012, no plan for forestalling national bankruptcy, the outsider, nonpolitical status may become the greatest advantage of all.

What if the tea partiers, establishment conservatives, moderate Republicans, and even Independents are fed to the teeth with being called racists for their every opposition to Obama policy?

[Really really FUCKING sick to death of malignant libel...]

We all know that opposition to Obama isn't about race. The truth is that a Herman Cain candidacy could be Obama's worst nightmare. Think about it.

Let's get the MSM spin out of the way immediately. For sure, they'll try to attack Herman Cain as a Clarence Thomas Uncle Tom, a Republican stooge standing in the way of the One, the Obama.

Yuck. All those white tea-partiers...

But would it work?

It would be risky risky business. Risky risky risky business. If tea-partiers and flyover country conservatives coalesced behind Cain, racism would be off the table except for the left-wing 30 percent, despite the fact that they control the media and the academic and pundit classes. The incredible racial ugliness everyone is expecting in the 2012 campaign would be derailed if not silenced (albeit never wholly silenced, so long as lefties live). But the MSM attacks would ultimately fail.

Notice anything? He's not from Yale or Harvard.
He's never trying to sound white. Just American.

The MSM trying to take out Herman Cain as an Uncle Tom will destroy them forever. Number One. They can't erase the popular support he can receive from Americans between the coasts. Number Two. If they want to take on Herman Cain's Southern Baptist roots, won't that bring up Obama's Reverend Wright connections? Unflatteringly? You betcha. Number Three. If Obama got credit for being a community activist, Cain should get credit for being a far more effective political activist (even if neither held office while they were 'activating'). Number Four. We're listening to what Cain says, not how he says it. But speaking of how he says it, he doesn't have two voices. He doesn't sound white when he's talking to Congress or Brian Williams or Chris Wallace. He doesn't sound like a show-biz, deliberately 'g'-dropping preacher when he talks to the folks. He just sounds like a man from Georgia who knows the difference between speaking dramatically before a crowd and speaking thoughtfully on a cable TV news set. It's a continuum. He's not two different people with two opposite and isolated poles; he exhibits no simple black and white reversals (oops, my PC bad.). He has no chin-up-in-the-air Mussolini pose. He has no Harvard Law School, hectoring, I'm smarter than you and you better not forget it tone. He's a guy whose list of top ten favorite pieces of music would probably have something on it for every American, and it wouldn't be a political lie.

MSM, try telling anyone that this man is not black enough to suit the blackness standard of the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Al Sharpton. They'll laugh you out of the fucking ballpark. He graduated from the same college as Martin Luther King. He's from Georgia, not Hawaii. He went to graduate school in Indiana, not Boston. He's us in all the important ways and we like him because we know him and what God he believes in and if that's makes us racists for not preferring the new Lincoln Obama, okay. There's no standard of pure blackness Obama can pass that Herman Cain doesn't surpass by a hundred percent. But the more important standard is that of being American. When the dam breaks, when the enemy invades, when the economy collapses, when the tornado strikes, I'd be proud to stand with Herman Cain at the front lines of whatever it is. With Obama I know I'd be expecting an order to sacrifice myself for his excellency. Or to keep from damaging Michelle's shoes.

[Two talk show memes I'm tired of. Imus has moderated his post-bin Laden cheerleading to "I may not vote for him, but I really like Obama. Everybody does. He's a likeable guy. That's got to be a real problem for anyone running against him." And an otherwise estimable local Philly talk show host keeps repeating that "Obama gives a great speech even if he's not too good on his feet." Both points are nonsensical except for the willingness of people who should know better to repeat them. Obama is NOT likeable. He's an arrogant, condescending, jug-eared nerd whom most people would actively dislike in person. And his speechifying triumphs are long done. Any third rate PR guy could pen the empty platitudes that won the first election; when he has to speak for real he gets tentative, inaccurate, and his first instinct is to lie and ridicule those who disagree. Since the ones he's ridiculing are invariably some of us, it's a losing strategy that can't be called "good" oratory.]

In case you hadn't figured it out, I'm rooting for Cain. (I confidently expect that by nine a.m. this morning he knew more about the Right of Return {made up lefty issue that will never get any traction in negotiations} than I ever knew.) He's the most conservative candidate in the race. And maybe, just maybe, the one who has the best chance of winning on the issues.

Can't get excited about boyish wannabes like Romney and Pawlenty. And who else is left?

Maybe the longshot is our only shot. You tell me. But imagine the final What if:

What if the next Reagan is sitting right under our noses. We've been waiting, pining, desperately yearning for him. What if, just like Reagan, he turns out to be the most conservative with the best demographic chance of winning? And What if he turns out to be the inspired one, the one who can grow as he has always demonstrably grown in life, to be the ultimate rebuttal of everything the left has always derogated about what is most American, and thus leads to an entirely unexpected American Renaissance.

It's happened before. How good is your imagination? How strong your faith?

Stronger than dirt, I'm thinking.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Unexpected

Judgment Day

LOVING ANNIHILATION. Somehow I missed the big surprise that's in the offing, but I knew something was up when I ran across two utterly unexpected news items on the same day. First there was a Fonda cussing out Obama in four-letter terms that involved the word "traitor"(!?). Then there was a poll indicating that only 27 percent of the youthful faithful who voted for Obama were planning to do so again. Heavens to Betsy, I thought. What's the world coming to?

Coming to an end, I learned. Golly. Tomorrow is the big day apparently. I'd gotten used to the idea that we had till 2012 when the Mayan calendar nobody ever much cared about suddenly mind-melds with the Anthropogenic Global Warming set and does us all in for crimes against glaciers and polar bears or something. The new deadline is unexpected and it's caught me kind of off guard, to be honest.

So what are you planning for your last day before The Rapture? I'd been thinking about hosing down the back porch and its furniture, getting ready for a summer that used to be on the way.

Now? I suppose this will ge me branded as stodgy and even irreligious in some quarters, but I'm planning on hosing down the back porch and its furniture, getting ready for summer.

Here's how I look at it. I'm really really really really tired of all the people on the religious right and the self-righteous left who just can't wait for the world to come to an end. What the fuck is wrong with them?

I kind of like living in the world and plan to continue doing so.

Talk to you again on Monday. Like always. If you're not banking on it, that's really unexpected. But who couldn't use some rapture?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cobra Thoughts

More of what we're losing, day by day. And don't forget the big ass-end.

. I have no real good reason for this post. Like so many things, it was a weird process of association. Mrs. CP was wondering what people really think of my deerhound posts, and I said I thought they found them entertaining without necessarily wanting the dog. Because they're too much to handle, too high maintenance, though spectacular. I thought it was like the way I feel about Ferraris, exotic and cool as hell but, you know, no way for me.

So I wallowed this morning in more deerhound videos, which was fun, of course:

None of it works without the big ass-end.

But I also realized I'd picked the wrong point of comparison. Deerhounds aren't Ferraris. Ferraris are refined and smooth and upper class to the point of snootiness. Deerhounds aren't that at all. Borzois are. Afghans are. Greyhounds are. Not deerhounds. Deerhounds are rude and crude and loud and obnoxious, over the top and frequently vulgar. Which is when I remembered the AC Cobra and started looking at Cobra videos. Which led me to a whole new line of thinking.

Something about atavism. Like the way if there had ever been any dogs in the Lord of the Rings movies, the only ones who would have fit in would be deerhounds and wolfhounds. And as I looked at the Cobra videos, I realized that they too have become ancient, a throwback to a more primitive, more vital time. In some ways even more so than the much older Bugattis and Duesenbergs. We can still find the fashion line of the sleek and the opulently stately in the automobiles of today. But there is really nothing to compare to the height of automotive madness that was the Cobra. Not even the obviously imitative Viper, which is an all too quiet parade machine.

Several other things are notable and perversely relevant to our current state of affairs. The Cobra may have been the last truly gestalt collaboration between the Brits and the Americans in technology. Its basis was a typically tiny Brit sportscar called the AC Bristol. American Carroll Shelby figured out that he could shoehorn a small-block Ford V-8 into the engine bay, which was the birth of the original 289 Cobra, a beast that slew Corvettes by the hundreds in SCCA racing in the mid 1960s. Then came the typically American upping of the ante. Shelby figured out how to jam a NASCAR-quality big block Ford engine with four Weber carburetors producing more than 500 horsepower into a slightly modified AC chassis with an ass-end swollen to accommodate much bigger, grippier tires, and an ultra-legend was born. The 427 Cobra weighed next to nothing, had an automatic transmission because no one could manually shift fast enough to maximize its acceleration, and it could go from zero to sixty in 3.9 seconds and zero to a hundred in well under 10 seconds. Depending on the gear ratios selected, it could reach 200 mph with virtually linear acceleration. It cost about $8,000.

It was also, for all its British roots, loud, flashy, and so instantly and terrifyingly fast that you couldn't be a silver-haired banker looking for young tail and safely own it. You had to know how to drive it or the car would flat kill you. The suspension was good, but with almost unlimited power under the throttle, you can get sideways and off the road in a heartbeat. The Cobra was no rich Casanova's rolling bedroom.

The engine was so highly tuned that it could only operate on Sunoco 260 megatane gasoline, no longer available today (sigh). It was so radically configured that the engine roughness you hear in the videos is a function of a racing cam that barely runs at idle; it wants you to stamp on the throttle and hit a sweet spot of 7,000 rpm -- in other words, it's junk around town; no environment for sweet-talking 18-year-old girls into your clutches.

It has become one of the rarest of all automotive legends. Only 200 of the 427 Cobras were ever made. Most of them still survive, having come gradually into the hands of those who know how to drive them and care for them. At the same time, no car in history has ever inspired such a vigorous replica industry. Obviously, the thing speaks to individual souls in a way few cars ever have,

Here's the rub. The Cobra is clearly an archetype of the fossil fuel evil liberals want to remove from our lives. Yeah, it got crappy gas mileage. But it was also an apex of the automotive esthetic. While they piddle around in their Priuses, I can't help thinking that we're losing something important about ourselves.

Is this how you want so see yourselves in the more responsible progressive age? Or do you dream in your deepest hearts of something more like this?

He's babying it, because the car is worth a gazillion dollars. But it's a taste.

Sorry for interrupting your New Age meditations...

I'm just saying... You
know what I'm saying?

THE DIAMOND STATE. Prevoiously, we have noted this:

Delaware is 20 minutes away from here. It's a state with three counties, only one of them inhabited and that one by one city. Which means they're nothing but levels of government; federal, state, municipal (Wilmington), "greater Wilmington" a.k.a. New Castle County, and townships, of course, all piled on top of individual citizens. Does it work? No. DelDot, the offending agency here, is a tri-state joke (NJ, PA, and DE). We all know that Delaware traffic signage is designed to get you lost and that DelDot "improvement" projects invariably involve years of main artery shutdowns with no visible signs of progress ever. On any given day, about half of the lanes of the Delaware Memorial bridges to and from New Jersey are closed for maintenance, although, oddly, there's rarely a DelDot truck or worker in sight.

Lately, it's gotten much much worse. On the Friday of Easter weekend, I tried to cross the bridge and discovered that it was down to one lane. It took me more than 45 minutes to traverse one mile of bridge approach. When I finally got onto the bridge, there was still no sign of actual work being undertaken. Just a cop car or two and a miscellaneous truck parked in one of the lanes. But I think I now know what that travesty was all about:

Delaware Memorial Bridge tolls set to rise July 1

May 18, 2011|By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer

Auto tolls on the Delaware Memorial Bridge are slated to increase by $1, to $4, on July 1 following unanimous approval of the new tolls by the Delaware River and Bay Authority commissioners Tuesday.

Higher tolls are needed to pay for repairs and upgrades on the bridge that connects New Jersey and Delaware at the southern end of the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295, officials said.

"The effects of age and heavy use mandate substantial capital improvements in order for the DRBA to continue to provide safe and efficient travel" over the bridge, DRBA chairman Bill Lowe said in a statement.

Yeah, the bridges need work. Ha ha. Who doesn't get it by now? The suckers don't want that one-lane stuff. Soften'em up for a few months with long delays and mucho inconvenience. Then they'll be happy to hear that repairs will be made with a 33 percent increase in the toll. Private sector capitalist enterprises struggle to keep inflation in single digits, even in a time of runaway gas and food prices. Governments just fart in your face and raise prices by a third because they always have the option of mafia-style protection: you wouldn't want anything bad to happen during your daily commute, would you? Would you?

You know what I'm saying? I think you do.

Delaware. Home of "Jovial Joe" Biden. Who cares so much about the little guy.

F___ off, Joe. Yeah. That's what I'm saying.

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