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March 24, 2009 - March 17, 2009

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Kitty-Cat Worldview

We're all just warm, cuddly, fuzzy things at heart.

THE SELF-HATREDDELUSIONS OF THE YANKS. This post was going to be an essay responding to a significant percentage of the U.S. population, represented in the Comments on this post by Peter, who said:

I think there's no way to protect against individuals willing to cause mass death by killing themselves to make a point. We're probably better off not cultivating hatred when we can avoid it. We're definitely not better off suspending the Constitution to protect ourselves from intermittent and hidden threats

Actually, Peter is sounding more bellicose in his other remarks than the Ron Paul campaign he backs and far more patriotic and realistic than either the libertarians or leftists who also want to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and "cease cultivating hatred" in the world by imposing our will on people who want to kill us.

But the hardest thing in the world is trying to prove the obvious to people who don't want to see the obvious. In fact, it's impossible.

So I'm not doing an essay. I'll just assert a few points.

Ron Paul, America Firsters, pacifists, America-haters, and leftists all subscribe to what I call the Kitty-Cat Worldview. They think the right organization or the right system or the right constraints on "imperialists" can somehow repeal history and make the world a peaceful place. It's not true. There's no warm and fuzzy Utopia out there waiting for us. There will always be predators -- individuals, nations, ideologies, religions -- who use irrational hatred as a source of power, and concealment of their own deficiencies, to feather their own nests. Human predators are essentially serial killers and mass murderers who have to be stopped because the damage they do is so catastrophic.

It's not true that all people are really the same under the skin. They may have similar appetites, but that's where the similarities end. Everything else about them differs -- wants, needs, values, even the fabric of individual consciousness itself. If you set any store by what you have, rest assured there are always people who actually live, and are willing to die, to take it away from you. They don't need an excuse Your very existence justifies their opposition to you, and they will endure evey hardship and deprivation to punish you for being you. You cannot hide from that kind of antipathy.

The notion that American actions abroad increase hatred of us more than isolationism would is flat wrong. America is the world's policeman because the world insists on it. They don't trust anyone else to do it. Everyone else kills and tortures and destroys and oppresses people more than we do when they intercede in other people's affairs. The so-called hatred we experience is the resentment average citizens have for cops in general; it's nothing compared to the rage and chaos that would result if people dialed 911 in an emergency and nobody came.

The global economy is not a new thing. It has always existed, as far back as two millennia BC. What has also always existed is the fate of nations who try to isolate themselves from that global economy. If you attempt to live in a shell, the world will open you up like a can of beans, unless you explode outward in psychotic paranoid aggression first. (Ron Paul followeres, think of 19th century China and Japan and 20th century imperial Japan and Kim il Sung's Korea.) Reclusiveness by nations is indistinguishable from psychotic denial.

On the homefront, no one's talking about suspending the Constitution. In all but a very few narrowly defined cases, the constitutional issues concerning the war on terror have to do with efforts by the left to extend the umbrella of U.S. due process protections to foreigners. Here's a post describing what rightwing (not) Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz thinks about the constitutional validity of such arguments.

Finally, the so-called enlightenment of (i.e., sanctimonious rhetoric by) Europeans about imperialism is bullshit. Like it or not, the United States has inherited the mantle of empire abandoned by the British after WWII. It was Brit-Euro imperialism -- and Brit-Euro Christendom -- that carried law, medicine, and lifespans past the age of 40 to five continents, a subcontinent, and multiple island kingdoms. The contemporary and suspiciously politically correct fury against imperialism is strongest in those regions where it was least successful in establishing western values. What the U.N. routinely asks of the U.S. is old-style European imperialism accompanied by politically correct public relations.

All in all, it's folly to think that libertarian or truly liberal dreams can be advanced by American withdrawal from the world stage. The world needs us. They will hate us always just a shade less than they need and want us, and we will always benefit a lot more by investing lives and money in their predicaments than we would by pretending it's more moral to ignore them or just write them bigger checks. The ugly fact is, they still need lessons on what it means to be civilized, and the United States knows more about that than any nation on earth.

The world is stuck with us, and we're stuck with the world. Sadly for all the dreamy-eyed Utopians, the world isn't populated by adorable, fluffy kittens. If you leave them alone long enough, the kittens turn into tigers. But if you try to defend against the tigers by cooing "Nice kitty" and hiding behind your Maginot Line, they will hunt you down and eat you before you can get off a defensive shot. More often than we'd like to think, defending against tigers requires killing tigers before they kill us. And what if tigers hate us while we're hunting them? Tough Call PETA.

Peter. Listen to Alfa and learn something about Islam. Lake. Stop humoring him. History long predates our brief lives and there's no way we can simply flash a penalty card and demand a do-over. All we can do is the best we can.

There be tigers out there. Meow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Punking the Atheists

God was always a Scottish thing anyway.

. The existence or nonexistence of God is a big question. It amuses me that young leftists have succeeded in asserting their atheism so often that they've put theists on the defensive. Flush with their rhetorical triumph, they're amazingly arrogant about proclaiming that they're infintely smarter than the fools who continue to believe in God.

Apologists for God have been caught off guard. I, personally, was stupefied when a longtime Roman Catholic friend I asked to cite the best argument he knew of against atheism recommended a book by the Anglican C. S. Lewis.

Sound dire? It isn't. The Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens of the world -- and all their dumb disciples -- can't talk their way around the fact that common sense is on the side of the existence of a "higher power" of some kind, meaning a power possessed of far more intelligence than Dawkins or Hitchens can lay claim to. The stridency of their objections is a lot like that of the solid citizen who shakes his fist at the lightning storm daring it to strike him.

Fools. Atheism isn't the intelligent default position. It's simply the "Get out of Jail Free" card for a bunch of folks who equate a lack of knowledge with certainty. Atheists put their faith in the mathematics of the universe, the ellipses of the orbits, the explosive temperatures of gases, the mutations of organic molecules. But why do the laws of math or biology obtain in the first place? They don't know, and they don't care. They don't know where the universe came from, they don't know how llife began, and they can't explain how man erupted from primate mediocrity in less than 50,000 years to produce Leonardo and Michelangelo. All they're certain of is that God had nothing to do with it.

Fine. Except that all self-professed atheists are lying. Nobody can be sure there's no higher power -- you know, the one who dreamed up mathematics and physics and chemistry and biology... The atheists are all agnostics unless they're utter imbeciles. What they're saying is that they don't know where we come from but they they're pretty sure all the religions are wrong. They think they know Yahweh never rescued the Jews from annihilation, Christ didn't die for mankind on the cross, and Buddha didn't ascend into heaven after telling his followers how to live their lives. All such notions of divinity are wrong and stupid. But such nonbeliefs are a far cry from asserting anything as positively true about the universe we live in.

That would be fine but for a few things. Atheism is not a religion. It's not a philosophy. It's an abnegation. There's nothing about it that's a moral system. Once I agree with you that the universe exists without a creator, we're all free to interpret our existence as we like. No God, okay. No spiritual life that isn't a function of chemistry, great. If we drink some wine and agree in our cups that there just might be some grand architect of existence who wrote all the laws of our beloved science, that still doesn't mean there's any implicit morality in his scheme. Right? But specification of the creator scientist who doesn't care who we fuck or kill or dismember is an assumed human limitation of a power we can't possibly know is limited to some cosmological laboratory. When a scientist concedes that God might exist as a soulless didact of mathematics he is seeking to constrain that higher power to dimensions he can comprehend. His sterile conclusions say nothing about whether it's good or bad for people to steal, commit adultery, engage in incest, or slaughter anyone who obstructs his wishes. On what basis does any atheist proclaim any of these activities unacceptable? Why shouldn't they all be acceptable? Unless there's some spurious, and entirely unenforceable, philosophy which says such things are not to be done because... well, because.

Here's my take. Math is more than accident. God is more than a gifted geek. The planets do spin round, the stars do shine, and we are really here, some of us smarter than chimpanzees. An accident? Perhaps.

But perhaps not, too. A conscious species looks to the heavens and seems to find an answer. Do the scientists and atheists ask why there are so many more of us human beings than there are gorillas, chimps, rhinos, bears, leopards, elephants, anf giraffes? No. They automatically assume our preponderance is a kind of guilt. It never occurs to them there might be a kind of meaning in the fact that a conscious species which has gone out of its way to believe in something beyond its own existence -- to the point of being willing to sacrifice itself individually for a nonexistent deity -- has a vastly superior chance of survival.

If some thing wrote the laws of math and physics and biology, it doesn't mean he's just a scientist. It means he's so far above us we can't assume he's also not personally involved in all our daily lives. It also means he might interact with us with at the level of art literature, music, and, yes, religion.

What I've never gotten over is the endless symbolism of Christ's death and resurrection. It goes out in all directions. Forever. Such a huge story that it seems a divine event.

Hmmmm. Suggest anything to you?

How do you explain it? For that matter, how do you explain anything that's happened to the race of mankind?

Forget all that. Just tell me why it is exactly you act so fucking superior to anyone who believes in God. Do that and I'll listen. I promise.

No, I don't. You're all a bunch of pseudo-intellectual fakes. If we debated face to face, I'd kill you. With pleasure. Don't ever doubt it.

McCain for President

TOLD YOU SO. I don't like him. I disagree with him on a host of issues. I'm pretty sure he's a choleric asshole. But he's the candidate I'm backing for the Republican nomination.

First, some background. I've said some harsh things about McCain:

Like this.

Giuliani? Thompson? McCain?  It's said that persistence is a virtue, but I've always found persistence more tedious than inspiring. Oh well. Giuliani. He's a mayor, isn't he? Why would anyone think a mayor is qualified to be president? Don't they spend most of their time making deals with labor unions? Rather low, don't you think? I've heard of the McCain fellow. Didn't he break under torture in Vietnam? Regrettable. One might think he'd be content to go home and stay there without seeking to excite any more attention. Under the circumstances, that would seem to be the tactful thing to do.

And this.

Truthfully, it's not hard to imagine that John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Michael Chertoff, and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal haven't ever witnessed the transformation of their own particular Main Street into Tijuana North (except that the thugs and idlers all have more money). And it's correspondingly easy to see how they could look down on it all from a great height -- say, from the seaside bluff of the local yacht club -- and see the whole issue in terms of units of labor and dollars-per-erg.

And this.

Let's forget about electability for a moment. Think about the candidate base in terms of conservative principles. McCain is twice a traitor -- an accomplice in the McCain-Feingold abomination and in helping the MSM portray the Bush administration as a gang of amoral torturers. Giuliani is a New York City Republican, meaning that he's not a conservative at all, but a kind of JFK Democrat; no matter how much squinting we do to forgive him because he's strong on national security, he's still pro-choice, pro gay rights, squishy on illegal aliens, and inevitably tilted toward the preeminence of city folk over country folk.

And this.

It's the same with everything else in the wake of the election. George Bush is dancing like a gold-glover, making nice with Nancy and the Baker Commission, landing only a long-distance jab or two from overseas about his commitment to "victory in Iraq," whatever that is these days. The 2008 presidential candidates are dancing -- solipsistic little solos -- to tunes only they can hear about how much the voters are going to love them 23 months from now. Most of them won't last more than a few rounds when the fighting gets underway for real, but they're impressing themselves with their own footwork for the moment. John McCain doesn't know he's a sitting duck for a big right hand. John Kerry doesn't know that the only reason he's still on his feet is because Hillary plans to carry him for a round or two to make sure the fans get their money's worth. Al Gore doesn't know that his so-called charisma is the pure kitsch that may earn big but contemptuous bucks for Rocky VI. Only Bill Frisch was smart enough to throw in the towel before the first punch. There's no point in taking a beating if you never had the spine in the first place.

I could go on. Believe me, I could go on. I still want Newt Gingrich to run. But he isn't going to. Which leaves me with the sorry task of deciding who I want to win the Republican nomination given that there are no Republicans in the race. Ace was right about Huckabee. If he were nominated, conservatives would be duty-bound to vote Democrat so that the inevitable catastrophe would be laid at the Democrats' door, where it belongs. But there's no way I could ever vote for Hillary, Obama, or Edwards. Hillary's a cunt, Obama's a pussy, and Edwards is even worse, a personal injury lawyer who heaped up a fortune on the corpse of his dead child. There isn't a four-letter word in existence that captures his kind of depravity.

The Democrat race is up in the air now. That's a problem. Republicans have to be prepared to run against not just Hillary, but also the two empty suits who are prettier than she is. It's going to come down to the debates. That's when the American people will really tune in to the election. Who do I want standing up there against Hillary, Obama, or Edwards?

Not Fred Thompson. He thinks being arch and glib are suitable tactics for rebutting the absurd claims of those who have practiced telling a mirror  they can make all the hurts and woes of humanity go away with enough government programs. People will like him and then not vote for him in droves.

Not Mitt Romney. I don't know how to put this in a way that Hugh and Dean can understand, but it doesn't matter how brilliant Mitt is because HE'S A FUCKING IDIOT.. He lives in a Mormon universe where being nice is its own reward, and when the maniac with the K-bar comes for his throat, he'll still be smiling when the arterial spray from his carotid rivals the Trevi fountain for majesty. Romney was born rich, he's lived rich, and he will die rich. At some level, he will never understand that American life is a fight. A dirty, no-holds-barred, scratch-their-eyes-out kind of fight. The wonder of Democrats is that they do understand this, despite the fact that they unwind in the Hamptons.

Not Huckabee. Some 15 percent of the electorate love his fundamentalist, hypocritical, simple-mindedness. Everybody else, including every thinking conservative, hates his guts. Every single point he makes from the podium of a national debate will delight his most avid supporters ande enrage everyone else in the country. If the Republican death wish is so extreme as to nominate Huckabee without first arranging for his shocking fatal heart attack, the party won't recover for two decades. By then it will be too late to recover from the offensives of Islamic atavists and climate change Luddites.

Not Rudy. Truth is, he looks out of place everywhere but New York. The city, not the state. He was a gifted mayor, I admire the hell out of him, and the odds he will ever convince Americans that being mayor of tthe nation's most atypical city is a credential for being president are exactly zero. One might as well argue that being the managing director of Disneyland is like being an understudy for the Oval Office. A few will agree with the logic, but everybody else won't. JFK knew better than  to perform in tutu and mesh stockings at Harvard's Hasty Pudding Show. Imagine Giuliani refuting Hillary's (or Obama's) statism by invoking the fierce independence of rural Mississipians... Not gonna happen.

Which leaves us with... John McCain.

He's not really a Republican. He sponsored the most successful attack in American history on the First Amendment. He's a politician, not a statesman; he still doesn't understand that all us ordinary folk believe in the rule of law more than we believe in a cheap supply of illegal labor to vacuum our pools and plant our dogwoods.His life has been so hideously marred by torture, imprisonment, and defeat that he clings to the canard that the Golden Rule will persuade barbarian enemies to think twice about sawng the heads off our troops. And he's never stopped seeking revenge against George W, Bush for the South Carolina primary campaign in the year 2000.

In short, he's a complete and utter ASSHOLE. Which is why InstaPunk is endorsing his candidacy today. He's the only Republican candidate who will win the debates against whoever the Democrats nominate. All  the Dems are one-term senators with no meaningful experience. McCain has been in the senate forever. He's a flawed but real man of vast experience. There are people who regard him as a war hero (Not my father, to be honest, but he's dead.)  McCain is obviously credible as an asshole commander-in-chief. He'll be marginally polite, but he'll make Hillary look like an ex-First Lady, Obama like an earnest naif, and Edwards like spit on the sidewalk.

After he wins the debates and the presidency, McCain will fight the War on Terror. To win. He won't look at polls. He'll fire any generals who aren't winning the war fast enough. He'll spend way too much money, but he'll also piss off Congress so much on both sides of the aisle that we'll all experience the delight of four more years of a do-nothing Congress. His approval ratings will be abysmal. The illegal immigration situation will grow worse. But when everyone in the whole country starts clamoring for his impeachment, he'll do something unprecedented. He'll say, "I fucked up. I was wrong. I'm sorry."

And then, because he's still trying to please his dead father, he'll try to fix it.

That's a moment worth waiting for. And worth the endorsement of InstaPunk. Even though I'll never ever like him. But if I think he's a sonofabitch, what will the Iranians think? Precisely.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Experience? Huh?

Why does nobody challenge her on that absurd number?

IS HILLARY TIME COUNTED IN DOG YEARS?  I don't know if it's occurred to anybody in just these terms, but the Democrats are basically offering us three one-term senators as their best candidates for President. Edwards was a one-term wonder, Obama's a tad under that, and Hillary's a tad over. None of the three has any executive experience, military experience, or entrepreneurial experience. They've all spent more time campaigning for national office than they have serving in national office. The bald truth is that collectively, they have a total of 18 years of relevant experience for being the nation's chief executive and commander-in-chief, about half the 35 years Hillary is claiming for herself.

Oh, that's right. Her husband is making similar claims:

Former President Bill Clinton made an unusually direct attack Friday night on Senator Barack Obama, one of his wife’s leading rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, suggesting that voters who would support someone with Mr. Obama’s experience were willing to “roll the dice” on the presidency.

Appearing on “The Charlie Rose Show” on PBS, Mr. Clinton repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s preparedness for the White House, noting that he took office in January 2005 and became a presidential candidate about two years later. (Mr. Obama was an Illinois state senator before that.)

“When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?” Mr. Clinton said.

Excuse me? Is Bill Clinton the one person in the country who doesn't know that his wife was running for president before she served her first day in the senate? It's rolling the dice to go with Obama? And how is it that it's not a pure crapshoot to go with Hillary?

Let's be honest here. The experience advantage Bill Clinton keeps citing for his wife has to do not with her scant experience edge in the senate but with the years she spent with him while he was governor of Arkansas and president of the United States. Isn't it time to think about this supposed credential seriously? Plenty of commentators have been flippant about what can be called The Great Assumption, but how much time have her backers and critics spent actually analyzing Hillary's so-called presidential qualifications?

First Ladies have a lot to do, but being a confidante, adviser, promoter, defender, and helpmeet to an executive is not at all the same thing as sharing equally in that executive's duties, responsibilities, decisions, accomplishments, and failures. While Bill was organizing the U.S. military response in Kossovo, Hillary was organizing the White House Easter egg hunt. While Bill was managing federal budget compromises with the Republican congress, Hillary was managing the White House Christmas decorations. The two jobs may be complementary in some massively lopsided way, but one is hardly training for the other.

Much is made in this context of the fact that so many wives have been appointed, and subsequently elected, to replace dead husbands who were senators and congressmen. But being a backbench legislator carries more accountabilities than responsibilities. If constituents don't like your votes, they can fire you in the upcoming special election, and in the meantime, there's little chance any decision you make will cause economies to tank, soldiers to die, or emergencies to balloon into disasters. Unless and until you become a legislative leader, in fact, you can spend a lengthy legislative career hiding out in the undergrowth of party loyalty. Taking the oath of office as an executive, on the other hand, means accepting full responsibility as the boss from Day One. (Unless you're the Publisher of the New York Times.)

If just being there were an adequate credential for the presidency, the United States would have elected a lot more vice presidents to the nation's highest office. Yet in the twentieth century, sitting vice presidents had a five times better chance of getting promoted by the assassination, death, or resignation of their boss than by the electoral approval of the voters. Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford inherited the presidency without an election. Only George H. W. Bush won the presidency at the ballot box while serving as Vice President. And that's not because the Veeps weren't trying. Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and Al Gore all sought to succeed their presidents and failed to pass muster with the voters, the latter two as heirs apparent to popular two-term presidents. (If someone wants to point out that Nixon won the White House as a former vice president, please remember that his opponent was another vice president. One of them had to win. Also note that Walter Mondale and Henry A. Wallace tried the same feat as Nixon. And failed.)

Why this dismal record? Because even being vice president isn't enough like being president to convince the electorate you have what it takes to sit in the big chair. While vice presidents do get elected by official ballot, take an oath of office, attend meetings, preside over the senate, fill in for the president on numerous state and diplomatic occasions, and stand ready every day to step into huge responsibility at a moment's notice, they are still not walking in the president's shoes, merely treading in his footsteps. First ladies, on the other hand, are not elected, take no oath of office, and in fact have no official or constitutional duties of any kind. It's entirely possible for a First Lady to spend her husband's years in office doing nothing but show up at photo-ops -- and rather difficult to prove conclusively that she has done otherwise.  How on earth does this constitute any kind of credential?

This isn't South America, and as far I can tell Hillary isn't running as Evita anyway. For one thing, her husband is still alive.

Eva Peron

Does that mean we ought to let her get away with running as Chance the Gardener or as Zelig instead? Just because some past president her husband tells us we should?

"Being There" with "Zelig" and a couple past Presidents.

By the way, if you think there's anything sexist about my argument, I'd be delighted to hear from everyone who backed Mr. Thatcher to succeed his wife as Prime Minister of the U.K. or Mr. Meir to succeed his wife as Prime Minister of Israel.

EXTRA CREDIT ASSIGNMENT.  Hillary told David Gregory on NBC this morning that voters should select a candidate "based on our records." I didn't know First Ladies had "records." I always thought they had "styles" instead. So I'm trying to rectify my own ignorance here.

I promise to publish the best essay that compares and contrasts the historical "records" of at least five of the following First Ladies of the United States (FLOTUS) during their husbands' terms in office:

- George Washington's
- Thomas Jefferson's
- Andrew Jackson's
- James Buchanan's
- Abraham Lincoln's
- Teddy Roosevelt's
- Warren Harding's
- Woodrow Wilson's
- Franklin Roosevelt's (excluding cousins)
- Dwight Eisenhower's
- John F. Kennedy's
- Lyndon Johnson's
- Gerald Ford's
- Ronald Reagan's
- Bill Clinton's
- Jed Bartlet's
- George W. Bush's

Essays should focus on FLOTUS accomplishments and failures with respect to legislation passed, treaties signed, cabinet and other executive appointments, judicial nominations, foreign policy, military adventures, domestic initiatives, national crises, political movements, executive ability, all-around leadership, intangibles (face/figure/fashion/fidelity/fecklessness/frenzy/felonies), and historical legacy.

If you must, add other FLOTUSes than those named, but remember that allegations of substance abuse, stupidity, insanity, murder, occultism, adultery, homosexuality, incest, corruption, obstruction of justice, usurpation of power, and bribery/extortion constitute the politics of personal destruction and are not "records" per se unless they resulted in criminal convictions.

Be factual, analytical, tendentious, sententious, and amusing. Or at least amusing.

Actually, if you're not going to be amusing, don't bother. I've read enough tedious crap already this week.

Submissions can be made in the Comments Section or to the site email address (accompanied by a notification in Comments that an email submission has been made).

The prize is everlasting glory. And maybe a fat book contract with the kind of publisher who thinks history should be more about women than anything else. We'll let you know.

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT. How many of the presidents above would have been willing to obtain an obscure and complex revenge against their wives (FLOTI) for the grievances that inevitably accrue in catastrophically unhappy marriages? Say, if you were the best politician of your generation and you were married to a castrating shrew who had made your entire life miserable despite political and popular success, how willing would you be to sabotage her life's dream under cover of "helping" her with "well intended" political "missteps" that guaranteed her ruin?

The Fisherman's Wife

Just asking.

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