November 26, 2012 - November 19, 2012
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Hope for Change
SHIT. Don't know why I watch Imus. He's a
ninety year old nine year old, self-obsessed, lewd, nasty, sharp as a
bottle of liquid soap, and he's now clearly dying, his jowls growing
day by day on new medication while he coughs helplessly, silently into
the cough button. Is it vengeance
I'm after? Or curiosity to see how low a human being can go without
realizing he's not
going to the Promised Land because his trophy wife funds a cancer
ranch. And who is his beautiful, crazy helpmeet sleeping with?
(Hopefully, everybody. Share
the misery. And is she genuinely psychotic enough to constitute the
hell we all want
for him (maybe!)). He alternates kissing ass with lefties -- regular
guests like brain-damaged Tom Friedman of the NYT, too smart for all our own good
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone,
prissy little sporty guy Mike Lupica (ugh) of Boston
Pravda (Oh Sauxxx, my, my) -- and kissing the ass of somewhat saner people like Kinky
Friedman, Chris Christie, and DJ Michael Graham of The Boston John Birch
Society. And Chris Wallace, the far and away dumbest
anchor-son-of-anchor in all of television
network news. (I could explain how a Harvard political science major
never has to take a course in economics, but you wouldn't believe me,
so I won't) Imus's questions are almost invariably about himself,
when he screws up. Which he did the other morning. He chanced to ask
ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper about Barack Obama's
reelection prospects. Why I listen, I guess.
It only took about two minutes, despite Imus's
distracting, self-absorbed interruptions. I've made you pay to get this
far because I had to pay to hear the best, briefest, most cogent
analysis of the 2012 campaign I've yet heard. (I'm nothing if not
petty.) Here's the deal. In 2008, Tapper said, everything went Obama's
way. He ran the table, including the financial meltdown at the end. But
McCain, who ran a "not good" campaign, still got 47 percent of the
vote, meaning Obama won by about 3 million votes.
Cut to 2012. Nine percent-plus unemployment. At
the very least, Obama turnout won't be what it was. And Republicans are
starting from a base of 47
All they have to do is convince two to three million voters that the
One is not the Messiah they were hoping for. (He said that more kindly
than I just did, but the numbers are the same.) "It's going to be very
very tough," Tapper said.
Thing is, Tapper is a reporter. He easily
deflected Imus's opening question about Sarah Palin sleeping with a
black man (yawn, unless you're nine) and then laid out these numbers.
And then he stripped the real question to the bare bones.As a
presidential candidate, Obama is a goner. Unless the Republicans go
crazy. Which they could do. But rarely have. Usually, they nominate the
guy who came in second last time. Which would be Mitt Romney. Who will
probably defeat Obama by a landslide.
If any of you care. Because what you probably
care about more is vindication.
Ron Paul cutting Ben Bernanke's throat on the steps of the capitol.
Michelle Bachmann hanging the board of trustees of Planned Parenthood
in the White House Rose Garden. You know.Libertarian stuff. Freedom and
such. The entire Middle East erupting in a mushroom cloud because,
blessedly, we don't care any more.
It's just that if you do care about removing
Obama from power, it looks like it's probable. If Republicans don't go
stone fucking crazy.
P.S. How long
is it going to take under the new reich for middle schoolers to be
required to read Atlas Shrugged?
Or have it read to them or texted to them on their cellphones. That's what I'm interested in.
Because I have the entire constituion tattooed on my back. (The
amendments are on the backs of my thighs and on my head, which will
become more glaring if I should ever go bald. It could happen.)
It could happen. But it's not likely.
The Hollow Kids
"Mormon bids farewell to a once great nation."
HISTORY ISN'T AUTOMATIC. The Old Man inquires. "All us old guys want to know why everything you believe in is so THIN. Like a slice of skin. The music is tin, the philosophy is graffiti, and the purported passion is shit splattered against the wall."
The answer is similarly thin. Civilization is learned. It can't just be chiseled out like a stone monument and left to stand for thousands of years. It has to be rechisled in the brain and guts of every generation. What you're seeing now is what happens when civilization goes unchiseled. That's why the decline seems so fast to you. You're expecting erosion. Wind and tide and mist on the face of Gibraltar. The truth is we have to grow to be giants, to give our kids shoulders to stand on. Then they have to grow to be giants themselves, and so on. No more giants, no more shoulders. And we all fall down.
Out of the sky / Into the dirt.
Growing up Mormon, one of the sticking points for me was the total lack of the Mesoamerican Jewish nation from the book in the archeological record. There were tiny little clues in secular archeology that academia's narrative of early peoples in the New World was flawed-- toys with wheels dating back to supposedly wheel-less times come to mind-- their world is still gone. No great excavation of any ancient capital that would at least corroborate the Book of Mormon's story of a small Hebrew exiles growing to to mighty civilization. Hell, modern archeology had even discovered Troy, which had existed only in myth for thousands of years. How could a resplendent capital just disappear?
And more than that, how could a once-civilized and pious people so thoroughly devolve, leaving no trace in the "culture" of their descendents other than a word that maybe sounds like hallelujah if you squint your ears?
Simple: Withhold their humanity. CS Lewis (and you, Robert, and many others) said morality has to be learned. It can't just be inherited. The human child won't instinctively gravitate toward the good, any more than naturally gravitate toward a 27-dimensional conception of spacetime. True enough. But that's not true for just morality. History, art, literature, science-- these aren't just things we learn about. We partake in them, and continue them, by learning about them.
Your generation knocked us out of the human race with a one-two punch. Right hook was withholding our history from us. Left haymaker was teaching us to sneer at it, a poor but functional substitute for the pride and fulfilment we would have got from partaking in the human heritage. Teach the degenerate Nephites that bare-handed murder is better than polishing the gold steps of the central pyramid in Zarahemla, and they'll beat their plowshares into swords. And then wonder where all the food went.
This is why we don't exist. In the human sense. There's no instinct for it. There is an instinct for desiring it, which is why some of us are so cranky and abrasive and vile. But that's only some of us. More of us can settle for the quasi-feral Jersey Shore lifestyle. Still more of us enjoy the superiority buttressed by a fortress of bad books, snarky TV, and pastoral urbanity. The rest of us try to get our hearts beating again with a million different patchwork and imiation histories. Some work better than others.
Maybe that's closer to how it should be. Maybe every man should be left to work out his heritage for himself. Or maybe I'm just trying to make the best out of the worst possible situation.
You want to complain about something that matters? You want to know what's really going to rape the ass out of your wallet? This.
Days of Screaming and Crying for Ice Cream
THE IDIOTS' LATEST TANTRUM. Portland had their big Iraq War protest back in 2003. THAT was a protest. No smattering of 50 impotent trust-fund kids there. We had thousands upon thousands of retards expressing their ignorance and paranoia at the top of their lungs. I marched in it. More as a curious observer than anything, though my politics back then were straight out of Adbusters. I was starting to ask myself some hard questions about my crap beliefs. Cheif among them that day: What is all the parading and chanting and drum-beating supposed to accomplish? For real, in real life?
Was our "show of solidarity" going to send shockwaves all the way to Washington? Did the protesters imagine top CIA operatives hurredly whispering into their James Bond inviso-phones with direct lines to the Pentagon? And after much panicked bustling by men in three-piece suits and many-barred military dress, the call finally goes to the White House.
"Hello? Yes, this is President Bush." And his face turns ashen as he hears the news. "I see."
His aides purposefully and with concern stride to his desk. "Sir, what is it?"
He can't look up at them. "It's Portland. They're..." He can't let himself get choked up. Not in front of his boys. So young. So much ahead of them. Got to be strong. "They're marching."
One of the aides speaks up in a timorous plea. "They're marching... for us, right? To tell the world they support our troops and our cause. Right?" He grabs the lapel of one of his buddies. "RIGHT?"
"I'm afraid not, Billy." The room falls deathly silent.
"Get the... the whatsit. The army guys," Dubya continues. "The military. All of them. Tell them we're calling the whole war off."
Incredibly, it didn't go down like that. Incredibly, that mere show of anger and disapproval didn't motivate the government to take the desired action. Incredibly, merely showing disapproval doesn't inspire others to do what you want. Incredibly, that hasn't worked for anyone since they left the crib.
It's taken me until well into adulthood to see the appeal of protests. "Demonstrations" (fancy academic term for "tantrum") are the old spoiled idiot version of wailing to have one's diaper changed. They got old, but never grew up. That's why they think a mere demonstration is the same as doing something. Like a tiny-ass baby.
But if the latest Day of Rage is any indication, there's fewer spoiled idiots around than there's been in some time. Wouldn't that be nice.
Friday, September 16, 2011
CLASS ACT. Let's get the disclaimers out of the way at once. Yeah,
most of you don't and won't care. Not your team, right? And anything
can happen in the playoffs (as Phillies fans know better than anyone).
It's been a traumatic summer weather-wise, and the country is in deep
crisis. So who cares about baseball? Philadelphia and South Jersey,
that's who. I can't not do
this post. With 14 games to play -- half a month of the season -- the
Phillies are 12 games up on the Atlanta Braves (so good they're only a
game behind the other two division leaders, who are 5 1/2 and 7 games
ahead in their divisions), and they've already clinched a playoff spot
-- the first in the major leagues to do so.
You've got it. I'm going to bore you with numbers. But first I'm going
to give you some of the back story, which is just as amazing. The
Phillies won the 2008 World Series with hitting and prodigious homerun
power backed by indifferent pitching. They returned to the World Series
in 2009 with essentially the same combination and lost to the Yankees.
Last year, they got dusted in the pennant series by the incredible
pitching of the San Francisco Giants, who went on to win the whole
shebang. This year will be the fifth straight division title for the
Phillies, and most of the teams in the playoffs will be different from
last year. Things change rapidly in baseball. The World Champion Giants
won't even make the playoffs. But the Phillies will be there. With a
team that is almost 180 degrees different from the one that won the
World Series three years ago. Winning has become a Phillies tradition.
Rebuild on the fly and keep going.
On the fly? That's a cue to acknowledge that the Phillies are also
responsible for the Philadelphia "Dream Team" Eagles we keep hearing
about. After years, even decades, of playing football on the cheap,
Eagles management this year suddenly sallied out into the free-agent
market and spent $250 million on all-pro level talent. Why? The
Phillies. Who sell out every home game in beautiful Citizens Bank Park,
second in the Bigs only to the Boston bandbox called Fenway Park.
Philadelphia is in danger of becoming more baseball town than football
town. Being good enough is no longer good enough for the Eagles.
Because the Phillies are better than good enough. They're astonishing.
Now for my numbers drill. (Anything can happen in the playoffs, yada,
yada...BUT...) This has been an absolutely extraordinary season for the
Phillies. They won the 2008 series with batting firepower. This year
they're winning with pitching and fielding. They're seven games ahead
of any other major league team in win-loss record. They lead the major
leagues in earned run average with a staggering 3.00 team ERA (Most
Hall of Fame pitchers have higher ERAs than that.) They lead the major
leagues in fielding, with the fewest errors of all teams. Despite an
absolutely middle-of-the pack team batting average, they are second
only to the Yankees in run differential; that is, the difference
between number of runs scored and number of runs allowed. Their six
starting pitchers have a combined earned run average of 2.78 and a .667
win percentage. The Phillies have won 65 percent of their games. And
they've done all this with a host of injuries, including half a season lost
to one of their "four
aces." (So they found a new
ace, Vance Worley, a rookie
with an 11-2 record and an ERA of 2.92.) In fact, it's been a rarity
that the complete Phillies starting lineup has been on the field
together. Big chunks of the season have been lost to Phillies stars
Chase Utley (2B), Jimmy Rollins (SS), Placido Polanco (3B), Roy Oswalt
(P), Brad Lidge (P), and lesser ills have frequently sidelined Shane
Victorino (CF) and Ryan Howard.(1B).
But they win nonetheless. By any measure, the Phillies are a
phenomenon. At home, their fans are so astute about baseball they know
how to rattle an opposing pitcher into walks and, at times, off the
mound altogether. On the road, there is always a sizeable contingent of
them decked out in Philies gear and rooting for their team. In
Washington, DC, and Florida, there have been times when Phillies
faithful outnumbered home team fans. In New York, they're a significant
rooting minority against Mets fans. Although, I'll note, in
it's common to see both Phillies and Mets jerseys together, drinking
beer without fisticuffs or other violence.
It's what baseball's supposed to be. The only reason I mention it. Go
can't end without acknowledging... The Phillie Phanatic. THE. BEST.
MASCOT. IN. PROFESSIONAL. SPORTS.
I'm surprised it doesn't burst into flames at his touch.
CALL ME COCKROACH PUNK.
Every single-- excuse me. This calls for the periods of emphasis so popular with today's cool kids. Every. Single. Paul Krugman column is refuted within hours of publication. All of them. Not since sunrises and sunsets has a phenomenon been so consistent and reliable. Krugman declares the media must censor conservative economics as a matter of principle? The sane half of the blogosphere rises as one to smack the demagogue down. Krugman accuses Republicans of creating "climate of hate" that gets Gabby Giffords shot? Easily exposed as lunacy, and even Krugman himself refudiated his own point a few months later. I won't link to his many Keynesian rants, all of which are refuted almost immediately because Keynes was refuted so thoroughly in his day-- let alone in ours. Until a few months ago, there was a whole site called Krugman is Wrong. The man is never not proven wrong.
Old Solomon said there's nothing new under the ever rising and setting sun, but yesterday may have proved him wrong. On September 15th, Krugman's latest column went up on the New York Times website. The refutation of a key part of that column appeared September 14th.
Another reason to loathe liberals….they are (kind of) making me defend Ron Paul.
...this whole thing begins with an absolute lie about what Paul actually said.
This is an unbelievably sad story, and it proves that Ron Paul was serious when he said (to audience applause) at Monday’s CNN-Tea Party debate that society should allow uninsured people to die.
That would be abominable if it weren’t for one small, slight, little problem, he said the EXACT OPPOSITE.
BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?
PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody –
BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?
PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals.
Paul Krugman's column "Free to Die," published a day later:
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”
And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”
The incident highlighted something...
Thus ends Krugman's account of the exchange. In classic lefty ass-covering fashion, he doesn't explicitly say Ron Paul wants the uninsured to die. Neither is he breaking a sweat to dispel that impression.
Proven wrong before he opens his mouth. Refutation preceding the man's hypothesis. That's a slam-dunk for the forces of good. But that triumph might make it easy to overlook the most interesting part of his latest missive.
The incident highlighted something that I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.
Miracle of miracles: Krugman is correct about something! Naturally, he finds a way to be almost wrong. Krugman's vision can't really be called moral. It's more accurate to say he has a standard for what dishonesty can be excused.
Look how deftly he has to prance and dodge around what he's really advocating. "Protecting citizens against the worst." "Covering the uninsured." "Government intervention in the name of compassion." This is spin that makes the classic euphemism "friendly fire" sound as transparent as the Berenstain Bear cubs explaining that they didn't break the lamp. We're talking about stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans. If Krugman were honest-- well, yes, an honest Krugman is a silent Krugman, but stay with me-- If Krugman were honest, here's how his piece would read:
In the past, conservatives accepted the need for stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans on humanitarian grounds. Don’t take it from me, take it from Friedrich Hayek, the conservative intellectual hero, who specifically declared in The Road to Serfdom his support for “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect citizens against “the common hazards of life,” and singled out health in particular.
Given the agreed-upon desirability of stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans, the question then became one of costs and benefits — and health care was one of those areas where even conservatives used to be willing to accept stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans, given the clear evidence that stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans would not, in fact, cost very much money [um, sidebar: WHAT THE FUCK?]. As many observers have pointed out, the Obama stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans plan was largely based on past Republican plans, and is virtually identical to Mitt Romney’s stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans reform in Massachusetts.
Now, however, stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans is out of fashion — indeed, lack of stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.
And what this means is that modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans, stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans, stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans and stealing from Americans to pay the bills of other Americans.
Krugman's not dumb. OK, I take it back. He's a Keynesian, which is in essence another word for dumb. But he's astute enough to know when theft is theft. He just thinks it's acceptable theft. Because poor people can't help being poor and need their bills paid, and screw the rich (class war is why he can not only not accept the immorality of his views, but the factually proven inefficacy of them as well).
The big problem with my revised Krugman column is that, sadly, he overestimates "the G.O.P.'s base." If only that moral shift were the fiat accompli Krugman dreads it is. Too few Tea Partiers and registered Republicans (and too few Americans) understand the immorality of compulsory social safety nets. Most want new spending programs curbed, but still want the free money they've paid into. Marco Rubio, elected through Tea Party activism, gave one of the most disgraceful defenses of Medicare on record. Hayek's views on socialized risk can only be called a shameful. But hey, if we can pardon W.E.B. DuBois for enthusiastically prasing Hitler back in the '30s, we can give Hayek a pass. Not everyone we find in history will be as enlightened as we are. Or as enlightened as we need to become.
Krugman is supposed to be a luminary on the left. We've struggled and strained to defeat them for years, only to see that they're nothing we can't handle. Our faulty moral code is the real challenge. The problem was never liberals insisting on Social Security and Medicare-- it was conservatives slumping in acquiescence to it. We have to do better.
It doesn't take a political science degree. It just takes some hard honesty. Here's a clip from The Rick Emerson Show from March 2009, when the city of Portland announced it had secured taxpayer money for a new soccer stadium. Emerson's political theory is... only half-informed, let's say. But he holds no one's bags.
The pull quote:
"But really, if you wanna be consistent about it, why don't you take me to a soccer game, and why don't you tell Tim he has to pay for it, whether or not *he* wants to go to the game."
"Oh, don't be angry. I've been paying for other people's...[has to think about it] things, ever since I've been a taxpayer."
The honest response to that would be, "But you shouldn't have to."
Thursday, September 15, 2011
9/11/11, Part 3
An American Passion
As I told you, I had a bad day yesterday. Helk
lecturing me about the impotence of writing. Intramural nonsense. And
this email exchange with a friend I'm loathe to lose. He said in his
subject block, "Powerful Stuff."
9/11 Truth Have A Chance?
By Paul Craig Roberts
September 11, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- -- In the US on
September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, politicians and
their presstitute media presented Americans with “A Day of
Remembrance,” a propaganda exercise that hardened the 9/11 lies into
dogma. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Canada, at Ryerson University the
four-day International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001,
came to a close at 5pm.
During the four days of hearings, distinguished scientists and scholars
and professional architects and engineers presented the results of
years of their independent research into all aspects of 9/11 to a
distinguished panel consisting of the honorary president of the Italian
Supreme Court who was an investigative judge who presided over
terrorism cases and three distinguished scholars of high renown and
judgment. The distinguished panel’s task is to produce a report with
their judgment of the evidence presented by the expert witnesses...
The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology, a government
agency) reports on the twin towers and building 7 are fraudulent.
Witnesses at the Toronto Hearings proved that building 7 was a standard
controlled demolition and that incendiaries and explosives brought down
the twin towers. There is no doubt whatsoever about this. Anyone who
declares the contrary has no scientific basis upon which to stand.
Those who defend the official story believe in miracles that defy the
laws of physics...
Many other powerful points were made at the conference that I will not
report, at least not at this time, because the revelation of
malevolence is so powerful that most readers will find it a challenge
to their emotional and mental strength.
There's more, of course. A lot more. The friend who sent me this is
Lloyd Pye.We have quarrelled over this subject repeatedly for years. I
keep telling him not to bring it up, but he can't help himself. So I
Sorry, Lloyd. This is politics dressed
up as science. Key graph:
"In recent years in America, scientific
and scholarly authority has come into disrepute among Christian
evangelicals who object to evolution and among anti-intellectual Tea
Party adherents who object to “elitists,” that is, objection to
knowledge-based persons whose knowledge does not support Tea Party
What the fuck do Christian evangelicals and the Tea Party have to do
with 9/11? Nothing.
The reason I referred to "siloes"
and put you in that category is that too narrow a focus blinds
otherwise smart people to rank absurdities. I continue to be amazed
that you can be taken in by this absolutely preposterous conspiracy
I reiterate: tell me a coherent narrative of what happened that day if
it was an "inside job" without requiring literally thousands of
accomplices (demolition crews, air traffic controllers, "nano-thermite"
manufacturers, veteran airline pilots, politicians, military,
journalists, etc, etc). There is absolutely no precedent in recorded
human history for conspiracy on such a scale. Sure, there are
conspiracies; the ones that succeed have a tiny handful of people in
the know. And even if such a titanic conspiracy could have been planned
and pulled off, the risk of discovery (some greedy pawn blowing the
whistle) alone would have made it an unthinkable gamble. It's ludicrous
on its face.
ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THERE WAS NEVER ANY NEED TO BRING DOWN THE TOWERS.
Americans would have been equally galvanized to action by the fact that
two commercial airliners flew into the towers, killing hundreds in
multiple horrible ways, including the jumpers who committed suicide
because they could not escape the fires. Where's the value-added?
The Truther scientists have their cause-and-effect sensors on
ass-backwards. If there are unexplained physical phenomena associated
with 9/11, the invitation is not to level murky conspiracy charges no
one dares to turn into a cogent narrative (and they absolutely refuse
to do so because the laughter would be immediate) but to say, "Hey, we
just had an unprecedented event. No one ever flew two airliners into
two 110-story skyscrapers before. What happens in that event that we
couldn't have anticipated? Maybe we have to research an entirely new
branch of truly huge scale catastrophe physics."
It's an idee fixe. People hate George Bush. I get that. But they can't
even confront the impossible contradiction in their own muddled heads:
on the one hand, they hate and revile him as a silver-spoon lunkhead
who should never have been allowed anywhere near the presidency; on the
other hand, they harbor dark suspicions that he was the greatest
criminal mastermind in the history of life on earth. Because let's face
it, if this was an inside job, it has succeeded, and there can be no
mightier act of coldly brilliant treason than this.
I told you I wanted to stop talking about it. because I didn't want to
have to say this to you. But on this subject, you're being as dumb as a
box of rocks.
Affectionately as always,
Haven't heard back from him, naturally. One of the reasons I did the
post. Increasingly, I have the sense that there's something
so powerful at the heart of 9/11 that it causes a division of souls.
Something about meaning. And the ones who are afraid of meaning scuttle
from the center of the event like cockroaches from the light. Imagine
Ground Zero as an empty circle surrounded by the fleeing frightened who
absolutely must cut it down
to venal human size. It's a vicious
conspiracy. It's exclusively a New York thing. It's chickens coming
home to roost. It's a judgment of God. It's off limits to
anyone who didn't lose a husband, a wife, or a child. I hinted at this
in the closing of my Splinters post:
It should be a transformational
spiritual experience that enables us to feel sorrow, anger, hope,
beauty, and eternity all at the same time with no sense of internal
Now Lake, whom I shared this idea with, has challenged me to explain
And now the third 9/11 post, which only
you are equipped to write, can be posted. Please post it if
you're willing, the metaphor is rich.
Which I will now do.
During the 9/11 broadcast remembrances, I saw a show called "Heroes of the 88th
Floor." It was about two ordinary(?) Port Authority cops who were
close to the 88th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit. The first hour of the show
documented the fact that these two men evacuated the 88th floor, five
floors below the strike, and then began moving upwards, to the 89th,
the 90th, and the 91st floors. The fires were so bad they had to break
through doors with fire axes and put out fires as they went with
extinguishers. They died, of course. But there was also the story of
those they set free into the stairways and their progress to safety,
which was equally marked by heroic individual acts, compassion, and
extraordinary cooperation. The first hour ended with footage of the
arrival of the NYFD, disembarking from their firetrucks laden with
uniforms, oxygen tanks and rescue equipment. Their job was to climb the
very stairs we had just seen clogged with escaping civilians.
That's when I turned it off. Too much. Having seen the crush in the
stairways, and knowing what was going to happen, it was too much to
think of these over-burdened men ascending to certain death because it
was their duty. Which they did.
I clicked off the TV and went to sleep. But it was more doze than sleep
and I had the kind of dream that you're actually watching as you have
it, aware that it, well, means
something. I saw the towers, both of them, from top to bottom, and I
saw the movement of everyone inside as lights, moving down, moving up,
them moving in the direction of life. Like an Escher animation
(suggested by Helk's
weird video? Maybe.) But the up and down is not
that of cowards versus heroes. It's rather a symphony, the cycle of
and death that sustains families, communities, civilizations. There are
the fathers and mothers who move downward because their
responsibilities are grounded in earth and must go on. Then there are
guardians, our own human angels, who move always, irresistibly upward
because this is their destiny, their calling. Whether they ever knew it
or not, they were living their lives for this moment, and they become
the elect among us.
Why I reject the splinters. Utterly and absolutely. 9/11 wasn't a New
York thing. It was an American thing. The twin towers were their own
city, populated by every walk of life. Not just brokers but cooks and
electricians and security guards and minimum-wage secretaries, and in
the crisis they all came together. There were few stories of panic,
Most often there were stories of people who put their own personal
safety second and did what they could to help each other.
The miracle of the towers is that so few people died. That's a triumph
of American values and individual American character.
There is goodness in us. That's the lesson. It's not a catastrophe so
much as a parable. The Civil War was a catastrophe. 600,000 dead.
9/11 was a symbolic event. Symbolic of what?
The Islamic jihadists wanted to take down the pillars of American might
and dominance. But what do the pillars really represent? I suggest they
represent Liberty and Personal Responsibility, two things Islam does
not and will never have. Islam does not mean Peace. It means
Submission. They thought an act of terror could frighten us into
submission. It did not.
Because the twin towers were not an American Mecca. They were just one
more thing we can do.
9/11 belongs to every American in every walk of life. That's who showed
up that day. All of us. Why we shouldn't run like cockroaches to the
but proclaim the incredible beauty of our way of life. And never
apologize for what that means. Because what it really is is a kind of
American Passion. From death comes life and infinite vitality.
Then, of course, there are the miracles. But
miracles are a lot harder to believe than preposterous conspiracy
I won't kid you. I've had a rough day. But the upshot is that
I'm back. Brizoni is done here. He banned Helk, then yielded to
from me and an old marine and pettishly rescinded his ban. Which
rankled. He fumed. Worst of all, he did not post, which left InstaPunk floating
like a dead site for days under the headline "Goodbyes." So I posted. Which caused Brizoni to
You're going to get it now.
Whereupon I let him have it:
Stop it. I'm trying to protect you. You
leave a farewell up there for days with nothing new and invigorating,
let alone your banning snit.
PEOPLE THINK THE SITE IS DEAD.
Don't think for a moment of sniping at me. Think of entertaining and
illuminating your audience.
I acted fast because sometimes that's what you have to do. It's called
being there. Because people are always checking in. Not waiting for you
to be brilliant, but to BE THERE.
Put me out of your head. I've given you multiple post ideas you were
too busy to entertain, all of them intended to promulgate continuity.
But you were too busy "writing" even to talk to me. Yet there is no
writing at the site.
Get over your stage fright. Write, goddammit.
And don't bother attacking me. It will only lose you more audience.
Even your heroic jawline can't prevent that. I'm pretty good looking
To which he replied:
Decided NOT to use this line: "If
that's the case, go masturbate with Helk, using your holy tears as
Vaseline." I'm a uniter, not a divider.
So I said:
Hell. Use it. Be my guest.
Then you'll be free of the hell of Instapunk (what you really want) and
I'll be back in it. Traffic will then rebound.
And you can explain to your girlfriends how you once had a chance to be
a writer but threw it away for a fag joke.
Go ahead. I'm getting tired of boys who act like teenage girls. I can
do another eight years if the best you can offer is snot and really
fucking stupid resentment.
And I meant it. I wanted to give younger voices a chance, particularly
because my temper is shorter these days than it should be. But now I
draw a deep breath and resume my duties. William O'Blivion may be
right. Perhaps it's all doomed and done for.
But I'll be here when it happens and as it happens. We can't leave such
events to spiteful children. If there has ever been a time for adults,
it is now.
The one change I will make is the one my old marine friend GW insisted
on: he said, "There is no point in another site, or even one more post,
that doesn't bear your real name." He's right.
My name is Robert Laird. And InstaPunk is MY blog.