January 20, 2006 - January 13, 2006
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
The Plot Thickens
CONFIRMS PRESIDENTIAL PLANS
. As we reported yesterday
Jennifer Lopez is indeed getting ready to run the country. According to
MSN Entertainment presents a
translation of the star's conversation with German magazine Bravo, in
which La Lopez claims to have presidential ambitions.
"I'm a total powerhouse," Lopez no doubt reluctantly offers, adding,
"If you ask me, I'd like to become the first female president. That
would be really cool."
But why did she tell the Germans first? That seems a bit Kerry-esque to
us. Oh. That's right. Never mind. The
An Immodest Proposal
. I'm not sure I can take credit for this idea because the
editors of RealClearPolitics.com
seem to make a practice of putting related articles together. So it may
be I'm not the first to see a connection between the last two items on
the May 11 list of think pieces. But if I hurry I can be the first to
make the connection explicit, because it's not quite
as plain as the
nose on your face.
The first of the two is Armor Amour - Suddenly the Beltway Loves Tanks
Austin Bay. When I clicked on it I discovered that it was all about --
TA DA -- tanks. Mr. Bay is taking the opportunity to offer a
well-earned "I told you so" to his buddies in the military-industrial
complex. Prior to September 11 and the Iraq War, a lot of the smartest
military experts, including Donald Rumsfeld, thought the tank was
In the original Rumsfeld program, heavy
armor, like the M1
tank, was a "legacy system" -- an archaic technology. Rumsfeld's Whiz
Kids weren't the only ones who thought the tank passe. An Army buddy
tells the story of a could-be Democratic appointee he escorted through
DOD briefings. The pipe-smoking pontificator kept saying, "The tank's
dead." My infantry pal finally turned to him and said: "Yes sir, the
tank's a dinosaur, but it's the baddest dinosaur on the battlefield.
You face one."
By now, most people have forgotten that before the Iraq Occupation, it
really had begun to look as if modern wars were about speed, mobility,
special forces, and high-tech electronic gizmos that could destroy
enemy communications at a distance and guide missiles through
doorways. That's why the military vehicles in Iraq were mostly
unarmored Humvees. Those of us who fume about the appalling lack of
armor in 2003 are mostly geniuses in hindsight. Not Mr. Bay, though.
All the way back in the old days, he knew better:
An article I wrote in August 2001 --
pre-9/11 -- took some
hits from Whiz Kid supporters. Titled "Grunt Work," it argued for
retaining a sufficient mass of high quality infantry (see it here).
The article drew on T.R. Fehrenbach's Korean War classic "This Kind of
War." One Beltway critic labeled me a hapless Luddite. Nope -- I
believed then and now we never know the future and, when it comes to
maintaining U.S. security, all bets must be hedged. I love robots and
smart bombs, but I suspected full-spectrum 21st century war would also
require bayonets and police batons.
And now everyone else knows better too:
The May issue of Armed Forces
Journal features a
tough-minded article by Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute. Goure
notes "the conventional wisdom" assumed that a "small ground
contingent" would wield "decisive power" by deploying promptly and
"On reflection, it now appears that the
is wrong. The overriding lesson of recent conflicts, both conventional
wars and counterinsurgency campaigns, is that some armor is good and
more armor is better."
A good article.
It makes sense to have some tanks handy. Maybe even a lot of tanks.
The next and final article on the May 11 list was about something
completely different. It's called Retaking
. In it, Mr. Roger Kimball of New Criterion
magazine describes just how terrible the condition of the nation's
universities is. Like Mr. Bay, Mr. Kimball is writing about a subject
on which he has taken strong positions in the past. In 1990, he wrote:
With a few notable exceptions, our most
prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities have installed the
entire radical menu at the center of their humanities curriculum at
both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Every special
interest--women's studies, black studies, gay studies, and the like
--and every modish interpretative gambit--deconstruction,
post-structuralism, new historicism, and other postmodernist varieties
of what the literary critic Frederick Crews aptly dubbed "Left
Eclecticism"--has found a welcome roost in the academy, while the
traditional curriculum and modes of intellectual inquiry are excoriated
as sexist, racist, or just plain reactionary.
What's different today is that it's all gotten much worse.
Traditionally, a liberal arts education
involved both character formation and learning. The goal was to produce
men and women who (as Allan Bloom put it) had reflected thoughtfully on
the question " 'What is man?' in relation to his highest aspirations as
opposed to his low and common needs."
Since the 1960s, however, colleges and universities have more and more
been home to what Lionel Trilling called the "adversary culture of the
intellectuals." The goal was less reflection than rejection. The
English novelist Kingsley Amis once observed that much of what was
wrong with the 20th century could be summed up in the word "workshop."
Nowadays, "workshop" has been largely replaced by the word "studies."
Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women's Studies,
Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Studies: These are not the names of
academic disciplines but political grievances. They exist not to
further liberal education but to nurture the feckless antinomianism
that Jacques Barzun dubbed "directionless quibble."
These are only some highlights of the 'What's Wrong' portion of the
essay, which is quite long but well worth reading in full. For example,
there's a lengthy discussion of the importance of the gender tinkering
that's going on in a lot of schools, even in places like Smith College.
Mr. Kimball asserts that it is no side issue but fundamental to the
radicalization process and offers us this quote from Irving Kristol:
"Sexual liberation" is always near the
top of a countercultural agenda--though just what form the liberation
takes can and does vary, sometimes quite wildly. Women's liberation,
likewise, is another consistent feature of all countercultural
movements--liberation from husbands, liberation from children,
liberation from family. Indeed, the real object of these various sexual
heterodoxies is to disestablish the family as the central institution
of human society, the citadel of orthodoxy.
Eventually, the article returns to its inital premise, which is to
consider whether and how we can go about fixing what's wrong. Mr.
Kimball proposes that reform is a two part effort, which begins with
relentless, large-scale, and far-reaching critiques of the university
system, including hiring practices, tenure policies, curricula, and
even the contemporary definition of academic freedom. The second part
is changing the institutions while maintaining the same level of
criticism and questioning. But who is going to effect change and who is
going to accept it?
Faculties often take it amiss when
critics appeal over their heads to alumni, trustees or parents. But
ultimately teachers still stand in loco parentis, if not on everyday
moral issues then at least with respect to the content of the education
they provide. Many parents are alarmed, rightly so, at the spectacle of
their children going off to college one year and coming back the next
having jettisoned every moral, religious, social and political scruple
that they had been brought up to believe. Why should parents fund the
moral decivilization of their children at the hands of tenured
antinomians? Why should alumni generously support an alma mater whose
political and educational principles nourish a world view that is not
simply different from but diametrically opposed to the one they
endorse? Why should trustees preside over an institution whose faculty
systematically repudiates the pedagogical mission they, as trustees,
have committed themselves to uphold? These are questions that should be
asked early and asked often.
This is the point at which I began to lose the hope aroused by the
article's title. Try as I might, I just can't see meaningful change of
the academic monstrosity our universities have become issuing from
faculties, parents, alumni, and trustees. I found myself speaking out
"It ain't gonna happen that way," I said. "What it would take is..."
...and then the brilliant thought came to me: "Tanks!"
So here's my plan. We round up every tank we can find that isn't
actually being used in Iraq or Afghanistan. Next, we conduct a
nationwide Internet poll to determine which institutions need to be
retaken first. The result of the poll will be a list of all the target
universities in the order they will be subjected to reform. Then we
have a secret meeting with all the anti-marxist and nonmarxist students
and faculty in the country. I've even got a place in mind for this.
It's called the Charcoal Pit and should hold everyone nicely. The ivory
tower types will never suspect a thing.
The Charcoal Pit is in Delaware, which isn't centrally located,
but on the positive side of the ledger the food is good and since this
is summertime, after the meeting we could enjoy a couple of days at the
Jersey shore before Operation Academic Freedom gets officially underway.
The actual battle plan is pretty simple. We drive our tanks up to the
front doors of the universities and start shooting. Timing is
important. We'll have to wait till 11 am or so, or else there won't be
anyone in class. Ammunition is important. We'll need lots and lots of
it. The firing plan is to keep blasting until there's nothing left but
smoldering ruins. Then we go on to the next on the list. If the first
target is Harvard, for example, we would move on from there to, say,
Yale. So fuel will be important too. There's going to be some long
distance driving involved between engagements.
I really think Operation Academic Freedom has an excellent chance of
success. It's the only plan that fully addresses the scores of problems
identified by Mr. Kimball in his article. So I urge you all to help us
begin these reforms by contributing some money to the tip jar
website. Give us much or as little as you can, but $1,000 per person
seems like a good average to strive for.
How about it? There's no better time to start than today.
UPDATE: Instalanche underway --
thanks Glenn -- welcome to InstaPundit visitors and feel free to
take a look around. With all the activity stirred by the Buchanan-Nazi post we were distracted. Our apologies.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Network Battle of the
ABC's President Geena Davis and NBC's
President Jimmy Smits
TRANS-FER OF POWER
It turns out that Drudge got only half the story when he ballyhooed the
new ABC series Commander-in-Chief
starring Geena Davis as the President of the United States. The other
shoe dropped Monday, when producers of NBC's The West Wing
announced they would
respond to ABC's incursion on their presidential turf by employing the
"Nuclear Option." What might that be? At season's end, The West Wing
left us with Republican Alan Alda (Sure.) running for the White House
against Democrat Jimmy Smits. But during the summer hiatus in the
campaign, Smits will undergo a sex change operation that will turn him
into Jennifer Lopez, thus making him/her the only Hispanic transgender
person to win election to the highest office in the land.
West Wing's Supervising Producer Alexa
said, "There just isn't any
way that ABC is going to outglam us in the White House. We've been in
office for two terms, and we know a thing or two about how to whip
up voter, er, viewer interest. Fans know we've been paving the way for women
for a long time now. Our crack political consultants
believe we've made enough progress in this regard that the country is
ready for a transgender president of color, which is just about the only way
we're ever going to solve the gay marriage problem, provide national
healthcare for all our kids and AIDS sufferers, repeal the
disgusting tax cuts for rich white men, and legalize the millions of undocumented workers in Beverly Hills. You know, all the stuff that
Americans really want but are too stupid to ask for from a white male
An unnamed ABC producerette was quick to respond to the rival network's
offensive, saying, "Apparently, NBC doesn't know there's a War on
Terror going on out there. We do. That's why our show is called Commander-in-Chief
. And we believe
Geena is the perfect leader for the global crisis we now face. No one
who has seen Thelma and Louise
or The Long Kiss Goodnight
can doubt that she's plenty tough, if it comes to that, but the chances
are that only a real woman can sit down with bin Laden and Zarqawi at
the U.N. and
work out a cooperative framework for resolving everyone's issues
without further bloodshed. Frankly, we don't think hormone injections
are going to give Jimmy Smits the kind of sensitivity, understanding,
and tolerance that's required. But good luck to him
. I mean
Junge replied tersely: "We'll see who the better woman is in the
Should be exciting.
THE WORD IS AVUNCULAR
So I checked in at the Huffington
looking for the promised GlitzBlogs and who do I find there
but the old shoe of NPR, Garrison Keillor. He was talking about radio
but not really. No, he was talking about what's wrong with America,
which he can tell by listening to the radio. This site has previously
given guidance about how to read New
articles, and some of the same skills are helpful with the
writing style of the Sage of Minnesota. The beginning is oblique and
tone-setting rather than a straightforward introduction of the subject.
Here's his first paragraph. (I know it's a whopper and I'm sorry, but
you can get the point by scanning... honest.)
I am old enough to be nostalgic about
radio, having grown up when it was a stately medium and we listened to Journeys
in Musicland with Professor E.B. "Pop" Gordon teaching us the
musical scale, and the guest on The Poetry Corner was Anna
Hempstead Branch, who read her sonnet cycle, "Ere the Golden Bowl Is
Broken," and the gospel station brought us Gleanings From the Word,
with the whispery Reverend Riley trudging patiently through the second
chapter of Leviticus, and at night there were Fibber and Molly and Amos
and Andy and the Sunset Valley Barn Dance with Pop Wiggins
("Says here that radio's gonna take the place of newspapers. I doubt
it. Y'can't swat a fly with a radio."), but I don't feel a hankering to
hear any of it ever again. I am rather fond of radio as it is today,
full of oddities and exceptions. It is an unmanageable medium.
Management is at work trying to format things, but reality keeps
breaking through the bars. You twiddle the dial, and in the midst of
the clamor and blare and rackety commercials you find a human being
speaking to you in a way that intrigues you and lifts your spirits,
such as a few weeks ago when a man spoke about his mother, in Houston,
who as she was dying of lung cancer made a video for her severely
retarded daughter to watch in years to come, which the daughter does
not watch, being too retarded to comprehend death, which in itself is a
mercy. It was very graceful, a fellow American telling a story unlike
all the other stories. Pretty amazing. And all the more so for showing
up on a dial full of blathering idiots and jackhammer music.
Folksy, ain't it? Here's a man, we're being told, who knows how to
listen, a man whose ear for heartstrings has perfect pitch and
infallible memory. The word pictures create for us a space of tender
three-dimensional empathy inside which we can share with him everything
that is fine and good and humble and human and authentic in the
But there are dark things afoot, things that cannot help but alarm a
man of such exquisite sensibilities and, of course, all who have the
depth of character to recognize the harmonic intricacies of his
composition. Okay, I'll get to the point. If you want to know what
Garrison is working up to here, listen for the discord in this passage:
After the iPod takes half the radio
audience and satellite radio subtracts half of the remainder and
Internet radio gets a third of the rest and Clear Channel has to start
cutting its losses and selling off frequencies, good-neighbor radio
will come back. People do enjoy being spoken to by other people who are
alive and who live within a few miles of you.
People like Tommy Mischke, a nighttime
guy on a right-wing station in St. Paul and a free spirit who gets into
wonderful stream-of-consciousness harangues and meditations that are a
joy to listen to compared with the teeth-grinding that goes on around
him. Not that teeth-grinders are to be disparaged: I enjoy, in small
doses, the over-the-top right-wingers who have leaked into AM radio on
all sides in the past twenty years. They
are evil, lying, cynical bastards who are out to destroy the country I
love and turn it into a banana republic, but hey, nobody's
perfect. And now that their man is re-elected and they have nice
majorities in the House and Senate, they are hunters in search of
diminishing prey. There just aren't many of us liberals worth banging
away at, but God bless them, they keep on coming. [emphasis added]
My my. The article is 1770 words long, but the bold-faced clause is
just about all you need to read. Like his soulmate Andy
Rooney, Keillor affects a folksiness that is merely a cover for pronouncements by a personage who is, truth be told, superior to most of us.
He simply knows and we should
believe him because he is wired into the real soul of the nation:
The reason you find an army of
right-wingers ratcheting on the radio and so few liberals is simple:
Republicans are in need of affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in
America and they crave listening to people who think like them.
Liberals actually enjoy living in a free society; tuning in to hear an
echo is not our idea of a good time. I go to church on Sunday morning
to be among the like-minded, and we all say the Nicene Creed together
and assume nobody has his fingers crossed, but when it comes to radio,
I prefer oddity and crankiness. I don't need someone to tell me that
George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive
man--that's pretty clear on the face of it. What I want is to be
surprised and delighted and moved. Here at the low end of the FM dial
is a show in which three college boys are sitting in a studio, whooping
Do you see what's going on here? In his universe, good and evil are
so dead obvious and simple that they don't need to be explained,
illuminated, or even considered. They are merely declaimed like
commandments, because the speaker is not, for all his aw-shucks
"hankering" and "twiddling," one of the great unwashed, but a seer. He
listens, he sees, he passes judgment. What is his authority? The wave
of hyper-reticulated sentimentality in which he conceals his arrogant
simplemindedness. He is the mirror image of the cartoonish
fascist fundamentalist he presumes to detect in you and me and everyone
else whose politics do not accord with his.
Beyond this he has nothing to offer but writing tricks. All the
down-home diction is actually a hostile takeover attempt. He is trying
to claim for his side everything that is warmhearted and comfortable in
daily life. It's time for a reality check, Mr. Keillor.
Liberals actually enjoy living in
a free society. Then why do the most exclusively "liberal"
principalities -- for example, universities
and your beloved NPR
-- suppress, ridicule, ignore, or assault
opposing advocates? Why is the most
consistently vicious, ad-hominem bile on the Internet the work of
"liberal" sites like Moveon.org and Democraticunderground.com? Why do
"liberals" openly cheer
when prominent conservatives fall ill or die?
I don't need someone to tell me
that George W. Bush is a deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive
man--that's pretty clear on the face of it. Clear to whom? Let's
see. The more than half of American voters who reelected him to a
second term are not part of the just-folks country you celebrate so
tirelessly? There are no good-hearted Republicans who carry bunt cakes
to church suppers, plant tomatoes and beans on stakes in the garden out
back, sniff in delighted wonder at the first hints of spring and fall
in the air, and yet see in their president a man who is trying hard to
do an impossible job? If his corruption is so "clear on the face of
it," what does that say about the majority of just-folks who believe
Republicans are in need of
affirmation, they don't feel comfortable in America and they crave
listening to people who think like them.
"liberals" feel no need of affirmation? Then why, after holding a
40+-year monopoly on the mainstream media -- with CBS, NBC, ABC, the New
York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, most major metropolitan
newspapers, and a radio spectrum shackled by the so-called Fairness
Doctrine providing the Democrat majority with a continuous echo chamber
-- do "liberals" like you whine and rant and rave about the emergence
of an unruly minority of media in which conservative voices can be
heard? What could be more fragile than the ego which requires its
affirmations to be universal, with no dissenting views allowed?
And who is it exactly who "do(es)n't feel comfortable in America"?
Which brings me to this gem:
They are evil, lying, cynical
bastards who are out to destroy the country I love
. You're full
of it, Keillor. I've heard your radio monologues about Lake Woebegone.
Very charming. Lots of Swedes and Norwegians and Lutherans
up in your neck of the woods, aren't there? I have no reason to doubt
your love of your
But I do wonder how comfortable you'd be in some other parts of the
country, where the great liberal causes are not just things you read
about in the 6-page local newspaper, behind the headlines about crop
predictions and snowfall totals. Do you think all your rock-ribbed
Democrat neighbors would be comfortable attending Cuntfest in State
College, Pennsylvania, operating a grocery store in the part of L.A.
that was destroyed without punishment during the Rodney King riots,
sending their daughters to incompetent urban public schools where the
only thing little girls learn is how to dress and talk like whores,
live in a state whose numerous nuclear plants and proximity to New York
and Philadelphia make it the number one terrorist target in the nation,
cross a state line in the Northeast where the fine print of gun laws
can turn a Pennsylvania hunter into a 5-year New Jersey prison inmate,
farm in a state whose property taxes and EPA and agricultural
regulations require family farms to grow crops they consider poisonous
for no profit while the developers queue up at city hall to seize them
by eminent domain, take their aged mother to a hospital where the
intricacies of Medicare and federal insurance regulations virtually
guarantee her premature release and death?
I suppose your beloved Swedes and Lutherans know nothing of these
things, either. Authentic good
American life is more picturesque and poetic than it is in inauthentic
America, where the conservative evil continues to oppose the liberal
utopia of your fanciful memories. The funny thing is, I have
picturesque memories too. I grew up in the country. I remember the
sharp earthen smell of tomato fields present but unseen outside the
candlelight of our screened-in porch. We listened to the Phillies games
on the radio -- the rich official voice of By Saam paired with the dry
humor of Richie Ashburn (there's a Norwegian for you, Garrison) -- and
we talked, my father, mother, sister and I, about what we'd do tomorrow
and the rest of our lives. Everything seemed possible in those
enveloping summer nights, where Johnny Callison hit homeruns and the
fireflies danced outside the screen and high up in the whispering elms
and buttonwoods the voices of treefrogs bubbled like big drops of rain.
But none of this is good or authentic or even American because there
were times when my father spoke of politics, and he would describe
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president for 12 of his first 22 years of
life, as a cynical lying bastard who had tried to destroy the country
we loved. No point in arguing that my father had a right to his opinion
without being evil himself. It can't matter to a patriotic liberal that
he joined the Army Air Corps as soon as he was old enough, flew 88
combat missions in North Africa and Italy, and came home to start a
family and work hard all his days. It couldn't be relevant that he
considered FDR a "deceitful, corrupt, clever and destructive man" in
part because after returning safely from Europe, he was compelled to
fly submarine patrols in foggy New York harbor to sustain the PR
fiction that the continental U.S. was in danger of attack during the
1944 presidential campaign. Since he's evil by definition, it's
irrelevant that he lost friends in this dangerous and pointless duty,
pilots who survived Nazi anti-aircraft guns and the strafing runs of
ME109s, but not the political expediencies of a dying megalomaniac.
Enough. Mr. Keillor, you don't own or speak for everything that's good
and true in America. You are entitled to your opinion. You are entitled
to deliver that opinion from your platform on NPR or to shout it from
the rooftops of Minnesota. I thus grant you what you seem loath to
grant us who disagree with you. All I ask is that you be more careful
when you think you are speaking for all real Americans. Too much? I
will trust not.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Giving Money Away to the People Who Need It
Sometimes there is an idea that you just have to think about for a minute to see that it makes
sense. Instead of a $300,000,000 public works projects for the eight home games your local
NFL franchise will play each year perhaps this
would be a better idea.
UPDATE -- please take a look at Dave Hardy's comments for this post regarding the SILVEIRA v. LOCKYER case. It appears DH has some intimate experience with the case regarding your gun rights. Oh, yeah, and join the NRA.
GREYHOUNDS IN NEED
. As we first learned from dougpetch.com
the governor of Connecticut has made a public statement about the
Plainfield situation. You can read the news story here
The gist is this:
Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Tuesday
called on the prospective new owner of the Plainfield Greyhound Track
to protect the dogs as the operation prepares to close... "I
need your assurances that every effort will be made to relocate these
beautiful animals to either another adequate racing venue or to ensure
that new loving homes are found for them," Rell said in her letter.
New England Raceway developer Gene Arganese of Trumbull, who
obtained an option to purchase the dog track last year, has said he
halted greyhound racing to begin construction of a new facility. He
plans to apply for a transfer of the park's dog track license next
On Tuesday, he said he would release his plans for the dogs in a
few days and would not comment on Rell's letter.
However, the track's executive vice president said Tuesday that
the track will be using available resources to ensure the greyhounds'
safety. Karen Keelan said the dogs will be sent to other racetracks, be
returned to their farms or owners for breeding or placement in an
adoption program or be placed in homes as pets.
This does not mean the dogs are safe. It does mean that people are
watching; we will continue to keep an eye on the Plainfield Greyhound
Track as the story develops. And please consider whether you or anyone
you know can provide a foster or adoptive home to any of these dogs.
The need for helping hands remains.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Remember the last time rabid religious
extremists held sway in Washington, DC? From sixty years ago, today:
And now, I want to read to you my formal proclamation of this occasion:
The Allied armies, through sacrifice and devotion and with God's help, have wrung from Germany a
final and unconditional surrender. The western world has been freed of the evil forces which for
five years and longer have imprisoned the bodies and broken the lives of millions upon millions
of free-born men. They have violated their churches, destroyed their homes, corrupted their
children, and murdered their loved ones. Our Armies of Liberation have restored freedom to these
suffering peoples, whose spirit and will the oppressors could never enslave.
Much remains to be done. The victory won in the West must now be won in the East. The whole world must
be cleansed of the evil from which half the world has been freed. United, the peace-loving nations
have demonstrated in the West that their arms are stronger by far than the might of the dictators or
the tyranny of military cliques that once called us soft and weak. The power of our peoples to
defend themselves against all enemies will be proved in the Pacific war as it has been proved in Europe.
For the triumph of spirit and of arms which we have won, and for its promise to the peoples everywhere who
join us in the love of freedom, it is fitting that we, as a nation, give thanks to Almighty God, who
has strengthened us and given us the victory.
Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint
Sunday, May 13, 1945, to be a day of prayer.
I call upon the people of the United States, whatever their faith, to unite in offering joyful thanks
to God for the victory we have won, and to pray that He will support us to the end of our present struggle
and guide us into the ways of peace.
I also call upon my countrymen to dedicate this day of prayer to the memory of those who have given
their lives to make possible our victory.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand
Wow. Sure glad we're all too smart for that kind of thinking now.
You can get to the whole thing HERE.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Col. David Hackworth, 1930-2005
. One of America's greatest soldiers has died. Military.com has
that says more than we can. Here's an excerpt:
Col. Hackworth's battlefield exploits
put him on the line of American military heroes squarely next to Sgt.
Alvin York and Audie Murphy. The novelist Ward Just, who knew him for
forty years, described him as "the genuine article, a soldier's
soldier, a connoisseur of combat." At 14, as World War II was
sputtering out, he lied about his age to join the Merchant Marine, and
at 15 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Over the next 26 years he spent
fully seven in combat. He was put in for the Medal of Honor three
times; the last application is currently under review at the Pentagon.
He was twice awarded the Army's second highest honor for valor, the
Distinguished Service Cross, along with 10 Silver Stars and eight
Bronze Stars. When asked about his many awards, he always said he was
proudest of his eight Purple Hearts and his Combat Infantryman's Badge.
Thank you, Colonel, for everything.
PINK FREUD (BOOK OF ED,
CHAPTERS 70 & 71)
. With Mothers Day upon us, I find myself
thinking about one of the more puzzling performances in the very odd
event known as "The
Wall, Live in Berlin
." I can't begin to guess how popular or
obscure the DVD of this concert is, so forgive me if you already know
the particulars I'm about to recap.
In 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Roger Waters
delivered a concert of the album he had conceived with the band Pink
Floyd. To fill in for the missing musicians, Waters solicited the aid
of innumerable past and present stars, including Cyndi Lauper, Bryan
Adams, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, James Galway, Rick Denko, Jerry
Hall, the Scorpions, Thomas Dolby, Marianne Faithful, Albert Finney,
Tim Curry, the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army(!), and the
peculiar young woman shown above. An audience well in excess of 100,000
people watched what amounted to a musical stage production of The Wall,
featuring a massive prop wall set against the backdrop of the former
The show was a kaleidoscope of ironies. At first blush, all the musical
content had in common with the milestone it celebrated was its title.
An earthshaking change in global politics that affected hundreds of
millions, if not billions, of people was meant somehow to be
symbolically akin to one of the most grandiloquent expressions of
solipsism in the history of pop culture. Just as Oliver Stone has
contrived to make the Vietnam War a sinister conspiracy to ambush a young
Oliver Stone, Roger Waters has transformed World War II and its Cold
War aftermath into a vicious plot against the happiness of Roger
Waters. There is no hint on the stage in Berlin of the ghosts of those
who died seeking literal freedom on the western side of a very real
wall made of stone, concrete, and barbed wire. Instead, there is the
bizarrely ass-backwards use of vast, long-term tragedy as a metaphor
for the self-absorbed sexual neuroses of one poor little rich kid.
This fundamental inversion of meaning is echoed in different ways
throughout the performance. Waters builds his big metaphorical wall
LIVE and then actually performs from inside an artificial womb within
the structure, peeking out at us through the hole that will be bricked
in after the song. In the next number, Paul Carrack and other musicians
perform with their backs to the audience, staring fixedly at the
terrible monolithic prison created by the sins and omissions of Roger
Waters's mother. Which brings us to the psychological core of the
piece, the intensely weird arrangement of the song "Mother." On the
original album, Waters sings it himself, and quite rightly, because the
lyrics are his plaint against the unfair circumstance that he is,
thanks to WWII, fatherless and therefore helpless against the walking,
talking, devouring vagina dentata
that gave birth to him.
Mother, do you think they'll drop the
Mother, do you think they'll like this song?
Mother, do you think they'll break my balls?
Mother, should I build the Wall?
Mother, should I run for President?
Mother, should I trust the government?
Mother, will they put me in the firing line?
Is it just a waste of time?
But the Live in Berlin production is about inversion, and so the part
of Roger Waters is sung by Sinead O'Connor, presented in deliberate
androgyny with a shaven head and baggy unisex clothes. Her performance
seems unmindful of any irony, including that of a supposed feminist
participating in a paean to misogyny. The chorus, which represents the
voice of the castrating mother, on the other hand, is sung by three
men, including Waters himself and a rather embarrassed-looking Rick
Hush now baby, baby, don't you cry
Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true
Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you
Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing
She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing
Momma's gonna keep Baby cozy and warm
Ooo Babe, of course Momma's gonna help build the wall
Strangely enough, this far into the inside-out proceedings, the show
does begin to make a certain kind of sense out of its setting. Waters
is acting out for us the moral and cultural collapse of the western
world that accompanied the Cold War. While Eastern Europe was killing
and imprisoning millions of flesh and blood people and using up its
entire physical infrastructure, much of the western world was engaged
in a process of spiritual suicide whose climactic moment occurs in this
very performance: spoiled narcissists who have finally forgotten what
freedom is just as it has been procured for a continent and a half of
former slaves. The children of the west have stared into the darkest hours of the twentieth
century's existential terrors and seen that the greatest villain is,
uh, the Mom who can't make everything perfect in our little Universe of
I yearn to know whether the thousands of young people in attendance,
presumably liberal about social and political matters, gave any thought
at all to the implications of Waters's material. His "Mother" stands at
the very beginning of the great Baby Boom, and she is therefore a
prototype and archetype of the single mother who has become the damaged
anchor of the decaying nuclear family. Under her wing, no boy can truly
become a man, and in her new responsibility she can no longer remain
purely woman, twin circumstances which lead to the gray androgyny of
the X and Y generations, perfectly embodied by the lunkhead elf Sinead.
And when the audience participates by wearing thousands of identical
subhuman masks, are they aware that this is not meant to be play-acting
but a sardonic demonstration of the reality? Or is their un
awareness -- of themselves and
the outrageously inappropriate performance they're supporting -- the
What, I wonder, must the Military Orchestra of the Soviet Army have
thought of this grotesque Passion(less) Play? Did they marvel at how
they could have lost a 40-year-long war against such an empty and
rudderless opponent? Did they, perhaps, read Waters's 'Mother' as a
cunning western allegory of the smothering mother state inevitably
created by socialist dogmas? Did they (think they) perceive(d) a new
connotation of the term 'Motherland'? Or were they, like so many of us
(apparently), simply dazzled by the spectacle itself and its galaxy of
Of course, the event took place 15 years ago, and perhaps we shouldn't
dwell on these old ironies or take them very seriously. All those
single mothers are doing a better job than Waters would have us
believe, aren't they? Their kids are growing up more enlightened than
their predecessors, after all, tolerant and more than tolerant of
homosexuality, multiculturalism, hip hop testosterone, and alternative
rock's gravel-voiced estrogen. They're not as confused as Waters, are
they? They're so confident of their sexual identities that the girls
are happy to dress like Times Square hookers, while the boys know to
like gold-toothed ghetto druglords. And look at how many of them stared
into the crucible of 9/11 and came away with the conviction that nobody
as young as they are should ever be asked to die in a war of any kind,
for any reason. The nightmares of The Wall haven't all come true, have
Mother, will they put me in the firing
Is it just a waste of time?
That's enough of that, I guess. But for all the mothers out there, and
all the fathers, who are still trying to build and nurture strong
families, I wish you a beautiful, happy, and joyous Mothers Day.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Be Careful With That Gun
We send our heartfelt thanks to Your
Philosophy Sucks for calling our attention to the dissenting opinion
in the United States Court Of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refusal to grant a rehearing en banc regarding
SILVEIRA v. LOCKYER authored by Judge Alex Kozinski.
From the Keep and Bear Arms website dedicated to the case
we learn: "Silveira v. Lockyer was filed in the
Eastern District Court in California in the year 2000, by California attorney Gary Gorski. It argues for the
individual right of the people to keep and bear arms under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. The case
seeks to overturn California's arbitrary ban on semi-automatic rifles -- a gun ban based on the ergonomic
and safety features the firearms possess.
The dissent referenced by YPS led to a Supreme Court petition which was denied in November of 2003 from what
we can tell. Now, there isn't an attorney among us (say, maybe that's why we got picked up by The Washington
Post before Hugh Hewitt has ever linked to us once), but the six dissenting Judges on the en banc appeal
seem to be trying to tell us something as well as his peers on the Court.
Judge Kozinski seems to think that the majority has fallen prey to a delusion -- "popular
in some circles -- that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off
leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll." Hear. Hear. Wait, there is
more -- "But the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear
the wrath of an armed people." Now, that makes sense to us.
The good Judge goes on to identify instances within U.S. history when such a right was necessary for the
survival of citizens of the United States and highlights how the elimination of this right abroad allowed
tyranny to have its way with its newly unarmed citizenry. We've talked about this issue before here
and here and it's not our intention
to rehash those arguments. We just want you to be aware of what is going on in your beloved US of A.
Take a look at the YPS post.
They've got links to all the pertinent data. You should download the full set of dissents in this
pdf file and
read them. And, if you joined the NRA like we told you to do before --
come on join already, it's not that expensive ($35 for one year) -- you
would have read President Kayne Robinson's explanation of why all these little fights must be fought and won.
You can read his note here and
get a full view of how these little laws and regulations reduce the number of gun owners in a population
until they are a minority -- like smokers -- who nobody has to listen to anymore. They did just this in the U.K.
Enough said. Go buy a gun. Join the NRA. If you already own a gun, get a permit to carry the thing and
If you're worried about the gun getting into the wrong hands or your kids -- buy a gun
safe and lock it up with plenty of ammunition for the day you need it. Our prayer is that you never have to
open the safe. But, not all of our prayers get answered in the affirmative.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
That's no lady, that's
Lady For All Seasons
. Here we go
again. There are, apparently, quite a few conservatives who think Laura
Bush was wrong to tell the jokes she did at her weekend
. According to the Swift
...not everyone appreciated her jokes
and one-liners poking fun at President Bush. At least one organization
of conservative Christians quickly lashed out at Mrs. Bush's
performance, warning that her remarks at the President's expense were a
public refutation of the Biblical command that wives should respect
According to an official statement released over the weekend by the
Coalition for Traditional Values, an organization that seeks a more
flexible relationship between church and state, Mrs. Bush's jokes at
her husband's expense amounted to a public emasculation of the
...the stripper and horse jokes were
totally beneath her.
Just put it to the other-shoe test: If
it were Teresa Heinz Kerry standing up on the dais telling the same
jokes, the conservative commentariat would be buzzing for the rest of
the year about what a tasteless skank she is.
"Lighten up?" How about cleaning up? The First Lady resorting to cheap
horse masturbation jokes is not much better than Whoopi Goldberg
trafficking in dumb puns on the Bush family name.
For once, we're going to have to side with the New York Times
on this one.
Columnist John Tierney, in a piece called Laura
Bush Talks Naughty
, wrote rather more equably about it all:
Mrs. Bush's performance, and her
husband's reaction, wasn't a shock to the reporters who cover the White
House. For years they have tried to convince their friends outside
Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a close-minded dolt, and Mrs.
Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes, they're Texans who go to
church and preach family values, but they're not yahoos or religious
The coverage of Mrs. Bush's comic debut may change some minds, but for
devout Bush-bashers, it's much easier to stay the course. If you live
in a blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours
without meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red
staters as an alien bunch of strait-laced Bible thumpers.
This feels like a place we've been before. Because it is. Remember all
the conservative concern about the performance of the Twins at the
Republican Convention on the same night that Laura Bush spoke? We
stepped in decisively on that occasion too, first by taking the
temperature of the right:
Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke, and Mara
Liason were mostly faint in their praise of Laura Bush and from mildly
to severely critical of the girls. Only Chris Wallace -- memorable for
his immediate pan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry's speech -- continued to
bolster my respect for his acumen by praising both. I was curious to
see what the rest of the geniuses out there had to say, hence the hours
Mostly, the bloggers and columnists agree with Fred and Mort. The Twins
were terrible, an embarrasment, "cringe-inducing," a Republican
mistake. Laura Bush was solid and likable but a letdown after Arnold
and far from a homerun. These views are represented to one degree or
another by such normally acute observers as Jonah Goldberg, Roger L.
Simon, Glenn Reynolds, and many many more bloggers and blog-responders.
Mostly men, of course. And there's the rub. They weren't the target
audience and they're not quite imaginative enough (at least today) to
understand what they witnessed.
We pointed out that the girls' performance wasn't going to do anything
but good for their father's election prospects:
The Twins are clearly not the spawn of some dynastic clan
which sits at table with the Illuminati. They are just like millions of
other American girls their age -- awkward, corny, goofy, a bit
lascivious, intentionally disrespectful, and full-time flirtatious. But
they also evidently love their parents, both of them, and their
performance was not the one we would have expected if they had a cold
and distant father for whom they were doing a public family duty. Who
would make sex jokes at a party convention if you had the kind of dad
who was going to land on you like a ton of bricks afterwards? The Twins
were a HUGE plus for George W.
We gave even higher marks to Laura
, who did not tell any sex jokes that night. But this time she
did, and the Coalition for Traditional Values (CTV) thinks she's
emasculating her husband, while Michelle Malkin thinks the First Lady
lowered herself to the same level as Whoopi Goldberg comparing GW
unfavorably to her vagina.
Both criticisms are, not to be uncomfortably blunt about it, absurd.
We'll dispose of the Coalition first, then proceed to Ms. Malkin's
(typically) more plausible argument. Here's the money point for CTV
chairman Roy deLong:
"As a believer, President Bush is no
doubt familiar with the passage from Ephesians that says 'Wives, submit
yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord,'" says Mr. DeLong.
"That means that just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband
is the head of the wife."
We don't know too many women of any denomination who quote this passage
from Epehesians, and we'd speculate that those who do are not above
winking at one another as they intone the words. Just as we fail to
administer all the capital punishments listed in Leviticus, most
Christians (that is, those who permit their women to vote) tend to
regard contemporary marriage as more of a partnership than a papal
administration in miniature. Sorry, Reverend deLong. The overwhelming
majority of those you expect to agree with you on this find your quote
funnier than anything Laura Bush said in her comedy routine.
Which brings us to Michelle Malkin. I could be very wrong, but I don't
see her as a big exponent of Ephesians either. I won't gainsay her
right to be offended or distressed by Laura's jokes, but I will argue
that her comparison is flawed. Here's why. It may well be the case that
conservatives would pile on Theresa Heinz-Kerry for a similar
performance, but that is only because THK has already established a
propensity for several boorish behaviors: crude and disrespectful
treatment of those who are required to treat her respectfully, a
narcissistic obsession with siphoning attention
from her candidate husband to herself, a barely concealed personal and
of her own, and a general tone-deafness about how her 'spontaneous'
comments might sound to the American public, specifically including the
political opposition. Planted on top of this little pile, a less than
pristine joke or two might make her seem a member of the jaded and
amoral jet set.
The First Lady's public record is devoid of any such gaffes. She is,
beyond any possibility of doubt, a lady. Now she has demonstrated what
many must have suspected anyway, that she also has a sense of humor and
is acquainted with both sex (she has two daughters, for God's sake.
Where did they come from?) and the personal foibles for which her
husband has been mocked by others and himself. Only she can do it
without rebuke. She is his wife. She is participating in an
entertainment that has always been cast as a roast, of which the
President is always the butt of jokes. There is (supposed to be) an air
of good humor about the occasion, as well as the sharp use of humor.
Ms. Malkin may concede all of this while still objecting specifically
to references to strippers and horses. Why? Because no one knows what
these things are, because we're not supposed to know what they are,
because good and religious people never make jokes about these things?
Sorry, but these all seem more than a bit preposterous. Go to a horse
show sometime and eavesdrop on the bon mots about horse anatomy that
fall from the virtuous lips of many fine ladies of spotless reputation.
Only the Reverend deLong is going to think ill of them on this account.
What else? Oh. Whoopi
. Let's wrap this up quick. Not the First Lady. Not a lady,
for that matter. Not married to George Bush. Not proving her essential
love by an act of teasing fun. Not funny, either.
We frequently agree with Ms. Malkin and always respect her opinion.
This time, we disagree.
UPDATE: Instalanche underway --
thanks Glenn -- welcome to InstaPundit visitors and feel free to
take a look around -- Tech
Tonic is working on a way to let you switch the audio on and off, until then, your volume control will have to
do with our apologies.
UPDATE II: There is now an ON/OFF switch for the audio at the top of the page.
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