GETTING BY. We don't
want to be a broken record. We don't want to be a broken record. We
don't want to be a broken record, but replacing Andrew Card is
nothing more than a promising start. What's needed immediately if not
sooner, first and foremost, as the Number One top priority (and did we
mention right away?) is a completely new communication staff. Utterly.
Entirely. New. Maybe people who have some experience at communicating
in governance rather than, say, airline corporations or agricultural
conglomerates. You know, people who understand that well paid
professionals whose job titles include the word 'communications' have a
duty to inform and persuade the electorate, cold-cock agenda-driven
journalists and their (mis)leading questions, defend key policies
against slander and demagoguery, expose partisan lies, make the
necessary arguments for change and perseverance, explain complex ideas,
herd the braindead housecats of your party's legislators into a solid
voting bloc, and advise the President about how to respond to the
ceaseless malignant attacks on his character, record, and intentions.
You know, communicate.
Next steps? Not to be a broken record, but we got specific
about those quite a while back. Maybe you'd be willing to look at
Whatever. There's nothing riding on your decision but the fate of the
whole free world. And, of course, the 2006 elections if that makes it
seem more important somehow.
The Headhouse Gang
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Sean Penn plays with dolls.
STARS. Life in these United States is sure amazing. Today, there's
a report from ContactMusic.com that Sean Penn works out his political
frustrations in a rather unusual way:
Hollywood activist SEAN PENN has a
plastic doll of conservative US columnist ANN COULTER that he likes to
abuse when angry. The Oscar-winner actor has hated Coulter ever since
she blacklisted his director father LEO PENN in her book TREASON. And
he takes out his frustrations with Coulter, who is a best-selling
author, lawyer and television pundit, on the Barble-like doll. In an
interview with The New Yorker magazine, Penn reveals, "We violate her.
There are cigarette burns in some funny places. She's a pure snake-oil
salesman. She doesn't believe a word she says."
More than little creepy, eh? But the last two sentences of the article
clear everything up. If you're a highly moral liberal, the right way to
treat people you believe to be insincere is to perform ritual torture
on their effigies. Uh huh. Is this what we're supposed to consider
enlightened tolerance on the part of the elite left? Yeah, probably.
Of course, Sean Penn's roots aren't really liberal. They're communist.
His father, Leo Penn, was a member of the American Communist Party that
has long been proven -- by Soviet records
-- to be an agent of direct sedition and treason against the United
States on behalf of Stalin. For what the Stalinists thought about
tolerance vs. torture, look here.
Ann Coulter's apparent crime against nature was to remember Leo Penn's
career and document it. That's not snake oil. It's merely a reminder of
the kinds of things self-professed liberals are capable of doing in the
name of ideology. Perhaps she shouldn't have mentioned it. After all,
Sean has been giving us plenty of reminders of his own since 9/11. Like
father, like son, right? Leo would have probably have known what to do
with an Ann Coulter doll, too, in his heyday.
Regardless, it does seem that Sean needs some advice. Beating up dolls
may incline one to think that there are no consequences for this kind
of behavior. This may not be true with respect to Ann Coulter. She's at
least as mean as the jolly fellows who write South Park, and look what
they did to Isaac Hayes when he left the show. Even images and
effigies have been known to fight back.
Violation? Cigarette burns in funny
places? Sounds like a liberal...
Worse, there's more to Ann Coulter than a 12-inch talking doll. Take
our word for it.
Put away the doll, Sean, and face the
Paul Ehrlich, David Gergen, and
ALL CREATURES GREAT
AND SMALL. Today's InstaPundit links to a Charles
Krauthammer column exposing ex-neocon Francis Fukuyama's convenient
memory about how he initiated the conversion that has made him a
darling of the anti-war left. Then the Blogfather
proceeds to add a comment of his own and some updates:
(T)hat's just the beginning of a rather
serious takedown. Not that his history of being wrong about, well,
pretty much everything has hurt Fukuyama's career so far.
UPDATE: Ron Butler emails: "Francis Fukuyama, the Paul Ehrlich of
ANOTHER UPDATE: Byron Matthews emails: "His peculiar talent is to sense
the intellectual tide and quickly ride it, which makes him the David
Gergen of geopolitics."
This got me thinking about a perennial problem in public affairs and
history. There are always highly credentialed people on the scene
playing important roles in policy and decision making. In the positions
they take, they are right or they are wrong, and it seems there's no
good way of determining which is which until long after the fact. There
can be great men who are wrong about important matters, but most often
the leaders who are dead wrong are not great but small men, whose
powers of vision, discernment, and judgment are simply inadequate for
the challenges they face. How do we recognize the pygmies before they
do us irreparable harm?
The haphazard lumping together of the three men cited in Instapundit's
blog represents an interesting point of departure for examining this
question. Of the three, only one has so far been exposed
as a gnat squashed in the flywheel of history. While many conservatives
have already consigned Gergen and Fukuyama to
the limbo in which the midgets of human experience reside, it's still possible
that they are right and we are wrong. It will probably take decades to
obtain a clear verdict. But it was Paul Ehrlich who gave us the fantasy
of the Population Bomb that would drive us to worldwide starvation and
exhaustion of natural resources in his own lifetime. It didn't happen.
With regard to western civilization, the converse has proven to be the
real crisis -- diminishing birthrates that threaten to degrade Europe
and the rest of the developed world into neo-barbarian enclaves of
Islam. Thus, Ehrlich is now destined to be a minor footnote of the
What's interesting is that he does not conform to many of the criteria
that might appear to be indicative of the Small Man. He did not work
his way up to a position of power for which he was unqualified like,
say, George McClellan. He did not ride the coattails of a
popular/populist wave of sentiment that happened to be stupid, like a
William Jennings Bryan (Fukuyama?). He did not subordinate common sense
to a vain belief that he could rationally stage-manage irrational
forces of history, like Neville Chamberlain. He did not succumb to
simple weakness of vision, intellect, or character, like Jimmy Carter or von
Hindenburg, And he did not merely feather his own nest as a clever
operator in thrall to those who could grant him power and praise,
like Albert Speer, Vidkun Quisling, or Aaron Burr (Gergen?). In
fact, he was learned, original, dedicated, and a tireless fighter for what he
believed in. He began his public life as a mere college professor
without any kind of official power and attracted considerable attention
to ideas that turned out to be entirely erroneous.
Some might say this nominates him as a great man, but it does not.
Great men do have great achievements, whether they also exhibit great
weaknesses or not. Paul Ehrlich is, on the stage of history, a
mediocrity, a failure, and a man singularly devoid of accomplishment.
He was completely wrong about his life's work.
What can we learn from his example? Underdogs aren't necessarily right
just because they're underdogs who succeed in creating a stir.
Outstanding educational credentials don't necessarily translate to true
brilliance. Integrity of intellect doesn't necessarily prove rightness.
So how are we supposed to arm ourselves against the seemingly brilliant
true believers, especially when they come into conflict with more
Using the Ehrlich model, for example, how might we have decided that
Winston Churchill was a great man back in the days when he was a maverick
Parliamentarian opposing the consensus foreign policy of all the
countries of Europe because he saw a Chaplin-lookalike chancellor as a
stake in the heart of civilization? Underdog, yes, but it doesn't
matter. Beautifully, classically eloquent, yes, but it doesn't matter. Absolutely
sincere, yes, but it doesn't matter. How might we have known that he
was as right and implacable as Lincoln, who was in power, pitifully uneducated, and derided on all sides as a stumblebum political hack?
To get a clue, I think we need a new cultural term. Intellectually,
philosophically, and artistically, we live in an age that has been
The use of a prefix in a term that is supposed to characterize one or
more generations of thought and aspiration is suggestive. It is
suggestive of being at least one remove from what is genuinely original
or vital. The post-moderns are "post" a lot of things -- post-Christian
in faith, post-rational in thought, post-nationalist in politics,
post-innovative in the arts. Their only philosophy is collage, a
pasting together of discrepant styles, cultures, belief systems, and
folk traditions in ways that can be taken apart intellectually but are
considered inviolate with regard to their equivalence in moral terms.
It is the time of the great leveling -- everything can and should be a
patch in the tedious stitching of the human quilt.
When it comes to how leaders in all ages act, I believe post-modernism
has always been with us in one key respect. This is that the complexity
of contemporary life has (habitually) reached a point which can no longer be
dominated by human will, either in the singular power of human
individuality or the united spirit of a single community. It must be
compromised to keep the impending catastrophe from doing us all in. We
must, at last, begin to embrace the status quo, settle for less than
our boldest dreams, initiate a process of self repudiation in
recompense for the grievances of others, or even deny (or doubt) our
own human right to survive. We become so supremely civilized we forget
that survival is always at risk and always worth fighting for.
It's contemporary bias which blinds us to the fact that this is a
recurring phase in human affairs. Every civilization has fallen, after
all. Notably, the fall of every civilization has also been stage
managed by small men in the grip of the syndrome I choose to call Post-Civilization. The fall always
begins at the point when the supposedly wisest and smartest decide that
the best days are behind, and the future can only be negotiated
successfully be aiming lower, accepting more of the demands of
opponents and enemies, and accepting the possibility that their most
deeply held traditions may be flawed or defective. If a civilization
were a human body, this would be a period of bleeding out, the slow
numbing of limbs, the dimming of self-consciousness, the fading of
strength, resignation to a death only faintly anticipated.
Most small men are simply flawed and, well, undersized, readily accepted by the hordes of like-minded comrades who are
also self-righteously fixated on doing what seems easy right now. Sometimes, small men can even be courageous, as when they they defend the broken barricades of bad ideas their egos can't live without. The
dangerous small men are those who possess enormous talent but approach
their challenges with a post-civilization mentality. They seek to
shepherd us gently into that good night where all journeys end. Their
only ideal is the zero-sum game, because they are realistic, pragmatic, and wise. Paul Ehrlich is an archetype of
Great men come in all flavors and from all backgrounds. What
distinguishes them is their vitality, their absolute determination in
pursuing a better outcome than repeating the fancied high points of the
past. They believe that the price we pay today and tomorrow to seek
brand new accomplishments in the future is worth even their own
humiliation and ruin. Their style is not to regulate or diminish, but to
lead and inspire and challenge the very best in each of us, asking
whatever sacrifice and pain are required to keep the human destiny
looking up to the stars rather than down to the drab prospect of accommodation and
Now if you think that the small men really are wiser, name some names
of the great small men who supervised the terminal stages of every great
I thought so.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Liberals We Love:
Designated Driver of the Collaborator
Lest anyone think Bill O'Reilley is the loudest braying donkey
of cable news, we'd like to commend Jack Cafferty to your attention. He
works for a little station in Atlanta that has about 4,500 regular
viewers, which explains why you may never have heard of him. But that
doesn't mean he isn't as big a crude, stupid boor as they come. His
usual position is that he knows everything there is to know. For
example, he single-handedly ended
the recent controversy about whether the mainstream media are reporting
too negatively on Iraq:
Cafferty's comments followed a
discussion between Wolf Blitzer and CNN's Reliable Sources host Howard
Kurtz on the subject of Iraq war coverage. He dismissed any question of
the media's role in covering Iraq, and placed all the blame directly on
"You know, I just have a question. I mean, part of the coverage, they
don't like the coverage, maybe because we were sold a different ending
to this story three years ago. We were told that we'd be embraced as
conquering heroes; flower petals strewn in the soldiers' paths; a unity
government would be formed; everything would be rosy; this, three years
after the fact, the troops would be home. Well, it's not turning out
that way, and if somebody came into New York City and blew up St.
Patrick's Cathedral and in the resulting days they were finding 50 and
60 dead bodies a day on the streets of New York, you suppose the news
media would cover it? You're damn right they would! This is nonsense,
it's the media's fault and the news isn't good in Iraq. The news isn't
good in Iraq. There's violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day
in the streets of Baghdad. This didn't turn out the way the politicians
told us it would. And it's our fault? I beg to differ..."
Before the segment ended, Blitzer applauded Cafferty for speaking his
mind: "I love it, Jack, when you tell our viewers how you really feel
about an issue, and you just did. Thanks very much."
It's not worth pointing out, we suppose, that the mission of
journalists is not to wreak vengeance for disappointed personal
expectations, but to communicate clear and accurate information to the
public about what is happening right now. Nor would it elicit any
thoughtful response from Mr. Cafferty, we're sure, to ask him why it is
that both U.S. military personnel on the ground and Iraqi bloggers are
among the most vocal in declaring that the U.S. mainstream media refuse
to report many developments that could easily be interpreted as good
We won't list those here, because they are available in many locations
throughout the blogosphere, and we've decided to follow Mr. Cafferty's
lead in this post, ignoring the positive in favor of the negative
because his network disappointed
us so badly years ago by refusing to report the mass murders and
rapes of the Saddam regime in exchange for palace access.
It's actually a pretty easy way to operate. For example, we researched
Jack Cafferty's career in several places (here and here)
and discovered the following.
Cafferty formerly co-anchored CNN's weekday morning broadcast, American Morning, but he doesn't
anymore. Ratings? Now he just hosts a weekend show about money and does
some stints of punditry with Wolf Blitzer. Prior to CNN, he spent half
his career as a TV host and news reader for a local station in New York
City. Before that he worked in small hick markets like Des Moines,
Iowa, and Reno, Nevada. There's no indication in any of his bios that
he ever saw the inside of a college, served in the military, wrote a
book or newspaper column, or acquired any direct experience in foreign
policy. His period of greatest fame was probably the immediate
aftermath of a traffic accident in which his car ran down a bicycle and
he pleaded to leaving the scene of an accident to avoid jail time.
Still, he has won some awards over the years, including the usual
self-congratulatory crap from the MSM, as well as a Third
Place in the Media Research Council's 2005 DisHonors Awards and one
of Hugh Hewitt's prestigious Nutter
Awards. Frankly, to us, his career seems a hopeless quagmire.
Don't blame us, Jack. According to you, that's how journalism is
supposed to be done.
Unless Tom Berenger has a better way.
The Headhouse Gang
Friday, March 24, 2006
The Democrat Hall
Madeleine the Great
THE POTATOE. Every
year about this time, the
buzz starts and long forgotten Democrats come out of the woodwork to
make odd speeches and publish weird books about a world that never
existed. Average citizens are generally hurled into a state of alarm by
such shenanigans, but that's because they don't know that it's just
another election season at the Democrat Hall of Fame in Hyde Park, New
York. MSM reporters convene on the first of April to vote on eligible
nominees, who must have been out of office for at least five years
before they can be considered for election to the Hall. As with
baseball's hall of fame, it's usually the case that only two or three
candidates are voted in each year, and this year presents a distinct
challenge because it's the first year of eligibility for alumni of the
Clinton administration. Bill, of course, is a dead cert for election in
his first year of eligibility, but after that it gets complicated. Al
Gore is eligible but is not on the ballot because he hasn't yet decided
whether or not to make a giant fool of himself by running for the
presidency a second time. That leaves a wide open window of opportunity
for a handful of other candidates, who are doing everything possible to
curry favor with the voters. Here's how the field is being handicapped
by those in the know.
Mike McCurry. He was the
press secretary throughout the Clinton administration's fight against
conviction during the impeachment trial in the Senate. Most say he's a
lock to be voted in before his five years of eligibility run out, but
not this year. He has been notably absent from party Bush-bashing
forums, and that doesn't sit well with the party's news networks (CBS,
NBC, ABC, PBS, and CNN) and publications (NYT, WaPo, Time, Newsweek,
etc). Although he bought a round of drinks last week at the monthly
meeting of the Liberal Conspiracy Press Association, he did not receive
an invitation to go fishing for stripers on Walter Cronkite's yacht.
Not a good sign. Look for him to be snubbed in 2006.
Warren Christopher. Much
beloved for his testosterone-free term as Secretary of State,
Christopher was once considered likely to be voted into the Hall, but
this is his final year of eligibility, and he has so far failed to
deliver the major Bush-bashing speech or book that voters expect. It's
reported that he has conducted a series of "in-depth negotiations" with
NYT and WaPo editors to "discuss his qualifications" for the Hall, but
his polite mention of the "possibility of forwarding the matter to the
U.N.'s Appeasement Promulgation Council" is not being taken seriously
by voters. Like sand through the hourglass, Christopher's chances
appear to be running out.
William Cohen. A distinctly
iffy candidate, Clinton Secretary of Defense Cohen is pinning his hopes
for election on Democrat nostalgia for the days when terrorist attacks
on the nation were met with dire threats and saber-rattling inaction.
In recent months, Cohen has been conducting a quiet PR campaign with
voters, consisting mostly of mailings, in which he reminds them via
photos and newspaper clippings that he did nothing at all
in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya
and on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. Insiders say there's enormous sympathy
for Cohen, as well as admiration and genuine affection, but his chances
for induction are "fatally compromised by the fact that he was once a
Republican." Oh well.
Madeleine Albright. Long
considered a dark horse for the Hall because of her dim intellect and slutty reputation (Caution: NSFW),
Albright has been on the comeback trail for several years now. WaPo and
NYT editors in particular are impressed by her willingness to bash Bush
in public for conducting a foreign policy that defends the United
States more than it does every tinpot dictator who has a few bucks to
feed into the president's reelection campaign. While they've been
persistently reluctant to endorse an aged bimbo whose IQ is noticeably
in the special education category, her chances got a huge boost with
the op-ed one of her secretaries wrote today for the L.A.
Times. An excerpt:
For years, the president has acted as
if Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's followers and Iran's mullahs were parts
of the same problem.
Yup. He has. The problem is called Islam. It's kind of a shame nobody
noticed this problem during the eight years of the Clinton
administration, but then again, that's an omission that's likely to
make Madeleine Albright this year's slam dunk favorite to join Bill
Clinton at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Hyde Park.
. Back in January, we suggested that the liberal universe is
organized around an older cultural model than the Constitution of the
United States, namely, the French concept of four estates: the
nobility, the clergy, the peasants, and the press. The current version,
we argued, regards the Democratic leadership as the nobility,
secularist university faculties as the clergy, conservatives and
dependent minorities as the peasantry, and the press, of course, is
still the press. The specific context for our discussion was the Alito
nomination to the Supreme Court, and we proposed that the Dems would
like the judiciary to augment and supercede the Congress as a kind of
House of Lords. (You can read the whole essay here,
if you like, but do it later.)
Our consideration of the liberal nobility focused on the U.S. Senate,
but there's another arena where one can see the anachronistic revival
of a born aristocracy in action: Hollywood. Has anyone else noticed how
many of the current stable of stars are descendants of other celebrities and show
business moguls? In the old days, this was rarely the case,
and the few exceptions proved the rule: Lon Chaney, Jr., followed
directly in the footsteps of Lon Chaney, Sr.; Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.,
emulated the career of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and, notably, the
offspring of the illustrious Barrymore siblings -- John, Lionel, and
Ethel -- fared poorly in their own attempts to light up movie marquees.
And we suppose we should mention Frank Sinatra, Jr, Patrick Wayne, and
Chris Mitchum. There. It's done.
But in the world-changing sixties, the worm turned. As with so many
contemporary show business trends in the U.S., this one began with
Jane Fonda, who parlayed her father's superstardom into a career, first
as a semi-soft-porn bimbo in Barbarella
and other forgettable films, then as a celebrity political activist and
international movie star. After her, the deluge: Michael Douglas, son
of Kirk Douglas; Alan Alda, son of Robert Alda; Jamie Lee Curtis,
daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis; Katherine Ross, niece of
Katherine Hepburn; Anjelica Huston, daughter of actor and
director John Huston; Rob Reiner, son of actor and producer Carl
Reiner; Carrie Fisher, daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher;
Margaux and Mariel Hemingway, granddaughters of Ernest Hemingway; Drew
Barrymore, granddaughter of John Barrymore; Angelina Jolie, daughter of
Jon Voight; Kiefer Sutherland, son of Donald Sutherland; Sean and
Christopher Penn, sons of screenwriter Leo Penn; Isabella Rossellini,
daughter of Ingrid Bergman; Gwyneth Paltrow, daughter of actress Blythe
Danner; Miguel Ferrer, son of actor Jose Ferrer; Emilio Estevez and
Charlie Sheen, sons of Martin Sheen; Sean Astin, son of Patty Duke and
John Astin; George Clooney, nephew of singer and actress Rosemary
Clooney; Nicholas Cage, nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola;
Sigourney Weaver, daughter of producer Sylvester Weaver; Robert Downey,
Jr., son of director Robert Downey, Sr.; Bridget Fonda, daughter of
Peter Fonda and niece of Jane Fonda; Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie
Hawn; Freddie Prinze, Jr., son of comedian Freddie Prinze; Roseanna,
Patricia, and David Arquette, grandchildren of comedian Cliff Arquette;
Liv Tyler, daughter of rock star Steve Tyler; and probably others we'll
Of course, there are still plenty of Hollywood stars who come from
nothing and nowhere, but surely there has been enough second and third
generation stardom by now to make one wonder how much of show biz
success is a function of real talent and how much is a function of
connections and serendipity. Interestingly, there's very little of this
multi-generation stardom to be found in the world's other great (and
arguably greater) acting talent pool, the United Kingdom. The Redgrave
and Mills girls are all pretty long in the tooth now, and Geraldine
Chaplin hasn't made much of a splash since 1965's Dr. Zhivago. But isn't it the U.K.
which is still clinging officially to the tradition of aristocracy by
birth? What does it mean that Hollywood is beginning to resemble a
community where titles are inherited things while we look in vain
across the pond for a corresponding phenomenon in the land of kings,
dukes, and earls?
Two attributes of the above list of stars are striking. First, despite
their roots in the entertainment industry, an inordinate number of them
have experienced deep personal and professional turmoil over the years.
Various of them have been arrested, some repeatedly, for legal problems
ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to assault. And it may seem
priggish to point out that of the female aristocrats on the list, all
but one have done nude scenes and most have simulated the sex act on
screen -- priggish but nonetheless true (definitely NSFW). Yes, the
Hollywood life is a
fast life featuring plenty of temptations, and artists are notoriously
flamboyant, but the personal lives of these privileged heirs to fame
and fortune tend to be every bit as messy as those who enter the world
of celebrity with no early preparation for the shock of stardom. Even
the "artist" excuse becomes suspect in these circumstances. How many
great writers and painters do you know of who are the sons or daughters
of great writers or painters? No wonder actors refer so ostentatiously
to their profession as a craft rather than an art. And even if you make
every allowance for the unique stresses of celebrity, the irreducible
fact that remains is this: these are not
people who have grown up like most of us or who have lived lives
anything like ours. They are a breed apart, a separate class in the
world's most egalitarian democracy.
That's why the second striking attribute of this list is so striking: the percentage of
second and third generation Hollywood aristocrats who are loudly and
self-righteously hostile to Republicans on topics ranging from
capitalism to social values to foreign policy. For some reason, they believe they are expert advocates for the needs and rights of ordinary people. Alan Alda is a sappy
male feminist and bleeding heart. Rob Reiner hasn't found a leftwing
cause he can't slobberingly endorse in every possible venue. Sean Penn
has the nerve to visit Saddam's Iraq as if he somehow speaks for any
sliver of ordinary American experience. Gwyneth Paltrow goes out of her
way to disdain Americans and the American way of life in foreign
interviews, as if she knew anything about either. George Clooney is a
boorish leftwing ass who acts more like a candidate for office than a
so-so actor with more ambition and connections than talent. Angelina
Jolie is auditioning simultaneously for the roles of Mother
Theresa and secretary-general of the U.N. Michael Douglas has delusions
of Democrat presidency almost as toxic as Martin Sheen's. And if you
google their names, you'll find others on this list, including even the
winsome Kate Hudson, who are eager participants and donors at Democrat
fundraising (and Bush-bashing) galas.
Which brings us to Charlie Sheen, erstwhile addict of hookers and
cocaine, who has just stepped into the spotlight to announce his
conviction that the 9/11 attack was not planned by bin Laden or
Islamist terrorists, but evil rightwingers in the camp of Bush and
Cheney. The news
article reporting this actually begins with this ridiculous
Actor Charlie Sheen has joined a
growing army of other highly credible public figures in questioning the
official story of 9/11 and calling for a new independent investigation
of the attack and the circumstances surrounding it.
Highly credible public figure? Charlie Sheen? An assertion so idiotic
that it's proof-positive of our First Estate theory. But Bad Boy
Charlie's choice of causes is a helpful insight into the true nature of
lefty celebrity politics. Where have they gotten the majority of their
education about world affairs, after all? From the movie scripts
they've memorized and play-acted in. His first big role was in Platoon, where he learned
about the Vietnam War and American foreign policy from the paranoid
megalomaniac Oliver Stone (who is also memorable for having resurrected
an absolutely discredited conspiracy theory about the JFK assassination).
Charlie has starred in various other movies featuring wild conspiracy
plots, including alien
invasion and White
House assassination intrigues. He has learned about the nearly
flawless efficiency of his country's special forces units by starring
in Navy SEALs. Why
wouldn't it be credible to him that an intricate and profoundly evil
conspiracy could be planned at the top of the national power structure
and executed through its myriad phases and details in absolute secrecy?
It happens in the movies all the time, and it's always the case --
on-screen, anyway -- that the malignant plotters would succeed easily
if it weren't for the handsome hero who single-handedly undoes their
But why would anyone -- especially the intellectuals of the news media
-- expect us to regard an
advocate like Charlie Sheen as credible? Because the press
propagandists also belong to one of the anointed estates -- the Fourth
-- and are so removed from the lives of the peasantry that they believe we
are gullible enough to genuflect before any of the nation's true
aristocrats, including a spoiled high-school dropout who
hitched a glory ride on the back of his Dad's celebrity. We're supposed
to forget that this particular noble family is headed by a patriarch
who flunked his own college entrance exams and has yet come to believe
somehow that he's the Nobel laureate PhD. President he plays on a TV
The sad fact is that the years-old 9/11 conspiracy theories are being
deliberately revived right now as part of the general effort to
administer a coup de grace to the Bush presidency. Celebrity
endorsement is a necessary vehicle for this scheme because time has not
been friendly to the conspiracy theorists. Only a determined idiot
could sign on to all that's left of their witches' brew of contextless
claims. How, for example, do you think Charlie acquired his expertise
in the gospel of WTC treachery? By watching a movie, of course, in this
case one of the numerous flash documentaries that appear and reappear
in viral persistence on the Internet. Here's one called Loose
Change, which is archetypally ominous in tone, inconsistent with
multifariously documented facts, and blatantly self-contradictory in
its own terms. And if you can't discern these defects by watching,
here's what even a
dedicated 9/11 conspiracy theorist has to say about the movie.
While it is still possible to find thousands -- or even hundreds of
thousands -- of web pages devoted to crackpot fictions about 9/11, the
more educated of the conspiracists have been waging a long war of
attrition against the transparent nonsense of films like Loose Change
for a couple years now. Their own belief in conspiracy has been reduced
to one point of contention -- the way the twin towers and Building 7
fell. Their understanding of physics is insufficient to imagine how the
towers could collapse at the speed of freefall, because they keep
seeing the process as an incremental series of floor-to-floor
collapses (akin to the fallacy of Zeno's Arrow), which, by their accounting, would require ten seconds or
more to complete.
Seriously, that's all that's
left of the dozens of errata which have been compiled into the bizarre
story that lets bin Laden and al Qaida off the hook. And anyone who has
the wit to perceive that the collapse of the towers was not an
incremental affair, but a wave of collapse that fed instantaneously
from the level of the fire down to the foundations without resistance
will see that, in truth, there's really nothing left of this whole tired
tantrum of hateful paranoia.
And shouldn't it be easier to understand a few elementary aspects of
materials and engineering than to concoct an explanation for why
hijacked airliners were roped into the conspiracy for window-dressing
when the real damage was always going to be done by planted explosives?
Terrorists can learn to implode a building as easily, if not more so,
than they can learn to steer airliners into skyscrapers. But it's not
nearly as good cinematically, even if it reduces the complexity (and risk) of the
plotting by about 99 percent.
Maybe that's why it's become time to call on Hollywood's
second-generation morons to concoct the explanation for them, some
combination of evil corporate executives and fascist warlords who went
into business for themselves after James Bond finally dismantled
S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Sound good? Maybe we could get John Williams to write the
And if Charlie Sheen isn't enough of an authority to convince all us
peasants, perhaps they'll dig up some second generation Hollywood duchess to
persuade us by holding a topless press conference catered by George
Soros and CAIR. That ought to do the trick. We just love being lectured
to by naked noblewomen. As long as we can see the press conference on
Thank God for Democrats. They're so damned silly it takes your breath
woman named Ruth Marcus has figured
out how to run the world. She's written a critique of a Harvard
professor's book which suggests that manliness is a key to leadership.
Mansfield writes that he wants to
"convince skeptical readers -- above all, educated women" -- that
"irrational manliness deserves to be endorsed by reason." Sorry,
professor: You lose. What this country could use is a little less
manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly
qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even
a touch of self-doubt.
We haven't read Mansfield's book yet, and it's possible we won't ever.
Our perception is that a Harvard professor of Government doesn't know
about the real qualities of manliness any more than a Washington Post feminist does.
We'll confine ourselves to commenting on her prescription for a wise
administration of the affairs of the United States and the world.
Except for this significant quibble about the Mansfield quote Marcus
cites: "irrational manliness deserves to be endorsed by reason." If
this is an accurate quote, it's devoid of context and therefore
meaningless. Still, it's worth pointing out that the subject of the
sentence is absurd, an oxymoron that must be exposed. Manliness is not
irrational. It has a moral component at its core -- that a man should
behave in ways that embody courage, resolve, personal responsibility,
dignity, and fairness -- which explicitly subordinates mere maleness to
the guidance of reason. As an ideal of civilization, manliness governs
emotion. It does not need to be endorsed by reason because it is
already infused with reason.
Now we're ready to tackle Ms. Marcus,
who like most of her generation confuses manliness with the superficial
macho that is in many ways its opposite. Macho starts fights to show
off; manliness confines aggression to the situations that reasonably
require it. Macho tailors its behavior to the audience; manliness
dictates the same behavior in all company and in solitude. Macho is
about ego; manliness is about character.
This error of understanding clearly has affected Ms. Marcus's list of
supposed womanly qualities. The first two, restraint and introspection,
are historically the province of men more than women. Restraint is a
quality that becomes more important as one ascends the scale of
strength and power. The most dangerous have the greatest obligation to
turn the other cheek. Conversely, it is those who perceive themselves
to be weak who frequently abandon restraint and indulge in explosive
and destructive emotion. Introspection is more characteristic of those
who make their own decisions in life without always seeking a
consensus, and it is more likely to become a habit with those who do
not have the option of presenting a painted face to the world.
With respect to consensus, I grant that women seek it more than men do.
Whether this represents a better approach to decision-making is open to
serious question. It is
distinctly incompatible with manliness, because it is the first refuge
of those who desire not to be held personally accountable for the
consequences of their actions. It is also generally fatal to long-term
resolve, because it so often results in half-baked plans that have only
been half thought through, and it's far easier to give up by consensus
than to soldier through to the end of a difficult course of action.
Self-doubt is part of the human condition and is never a virtue simply
because it exists. The virtue accrues to those who can withstand
self-doubt to complete an important task, even if it means finding
reserves of strength and faith that may not have been known to be
What's important about Ms. Marcus's list of virtues is the picture it
paints of how she believes serious situations should be addressed --
with lots of talking, a timid approach to concrete action, a fuzzy
chain of responsibility that lets everyone off the hook for ill
consequences beforehand, and enough dithering and uncertainty in
execution to ensure that every action plan will ultimately be
terminated before it achieves its half-assed goals. Throughout, of
course, there must be plenty of agonizing and considerable concern for
the feelings of everyone involved.
This may be an ideal system for publishing a daily wad of yellow
journalism, but it isn't remotely close to what is needed when
thousands or millions of avowed enemies are actively trying to kill
your people, wreck your cities, and impose a seventh century barbarian
regime on the entire world while most of the world cowers in impotent
Ms. Marcus and her feminist colleagues may have succeeded in
trans-gendering the west into a woman's world, as most contemporary
social evidence seems to confirm, but how much of their woman's world
will still be standing when the consensus decides it's safer to accept
sharia than to shed any more blood fighting it? Not much.