January 23, 2009 - January 16, 2009
Thursday, March 13, 2008
With all due
We love The Anchoress here.
THE GOSPEL OF JEFFREY
With all the back and forth in the Democratic campaign over the
past few days, people are losing their perspective and getting things
wrong. Specifically, they're being swept up in the amount of ink being
lavished on individual events and failing to see the difference between
a grenade and a bunker-buster. Today, Glenn Reynolds (who also made an
erroneous snap judgment of his own this morning) cited The
as a wise perspective on what's going on:
Both Democrat candidates have been
playing victim cards in their turn, for months. Yesterday Geraldine
Ferraro upped the ante by playing the gender and reverse-racism victim
These are not “racist” or “sexist” gambits being played by Wright or
Steinem, but appeals to emotion, and appeals to emotion are too often
used to gloss over a lack of substance, or so I have been told by my
correspondents on the left, lo these many years, as they accuse the GOP
of governing on “fear,” (because terrorism is not a real threat).
And while the victim card appeals to emotions, it tends to noisily set
off rage in those who listen and perceive themselves as being
identified as the “enemy.” So everyone gets emotional, everyone starts
yelling, and no one is listening or making any sense...
Her point seems to be that we
are at fault if we experience any kind of emotional response to the
exchange of revelations between opposing campaigns. This time, The
Anchoress is wrong.
So is the lede of the USA
linked by HotAir.com
WASHINGTON — The passion fueling the
Democrats' history-making presidential campaign is putting two of the
party's most important constituencies — women and African-Americans —
on what could be a collision course.
Today is wrong.
offered the following post, reproduced here word for word:
Glenn Reynolds is wrong. However they surfaced -- which was inevitable
despite The Anchoress's uncharacteristically irrelevant concern with how
they surfaced -- the video
excerpts from the sermons of Jeremiah Wright are the only significant
revelation that occurred this week. (Ferraro's faux-pas will be as
insignificant as she is in two weeks time.) They are also fatal to
Obama's chances of winning the presidency. They are probably equally
fatal to Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency. It's up
to the Democrat Party to figure out how to deal with the catastrophe,
but catastrophe it is, and there are multiple reasons why.
Everyone has been bending over backwards to give Obama the benefit of
every doubt, including all Democrats, the fawning MSM, and the many
many conservatives who would also like to enter a post-racial era of
politics. That's the prime reason for The Anchoress's rare lapse of
good judgment. Citizens in the electorate who perceive, emotionally or
intellectually, that they are conceived of as "the enemy" by a
presidential candidate can't be accused of "not making any sense" if
they suddenly become intensely skeptical of that candidate. They have
every right -- an infinitely greater right, in fact, than any candidate
for the highest office in the land has to an unlimited benefit of the
doubt about the sincerity of his rhetoric. The candidate's prime
mission is to convince voters that he (or she) is not serving some
narrow slice of the electorate at the expense of all others. If he
fails to do this, he has not earned the office. Period.
For a variety of reasons, we all know very little about Barack Obama.
His life has been much like his campaign persona, featuring some point
of contact for all people. If you're poor and black, he at least is
black. If you're white and highly educated, he at least is highly
educated. If you're a struggling single mother, he at least was raised
by a single mother. If you're a Catholic or a Methodist or a
Presbyterian or a Baptist, he at least belongs to a nominally Christian
church. If you're anybody who believes in the American Dream, he is at
least, regardless of policy differences, a living embodiment of the
American Dream. He has a finger in every pie. His speeches have been
analogous. He wants things to be better. He wants less rancorous
partisanship. He wants less conflict between America and the rest of
the world. And he asserts his confidence, ever so believably, that all
these utopian goals can be achieved because he is all of us
in one way or another.
But we don't know very much about him because the part of him to which
any of us can relate is only a sliver. Hardly any of us had a white
American college professor for a mother and a Kenyan muslim for a
father. Hardly any of us spent large chunks of our youth living in
non-European foreign countries. Hardly any of us went to the Harvard
Law School. Hardly anyone in American history has been propelled to the
summit of national politics with such frighteningly scant experience.
He is the promising stranger who seems too good to be true. But he is a
stranger, even to the 91 percent of genuine African-Americans who
support him knowing that he shares none of their ancestry of slavery.
And he is too good to be true.
The truth is, he is none
us. Which is absolutely fine for any individual citizen of the United
States. But not for someone who aspires to be president of the United
States. Ultimately, we all require some connection that goes beyond
lofty phrases in speeches read off a teleprompter. The damage that will
simmer and ultimately explode out of the Jeremiah Wright association is
that Obama is a phony, no matter how he chooses to respond. Whether he
defends his racist, anti-American pastor of 20 years or repudiates him
with extreme prejudice. In his heart of hearts Obama understands
nothing and no one, because he has never belonged anywhere or truly
participated in anything. Which is why he has consistently gone
overboard in trying to belong everywhere he's ever been. In the
process, he has initiated a chain reaction that will do in his party,
his rivals, the people he claims to want to serve, and himself.
He seems to present a forest of contradictions. His classmates at
Harvard Law School, including his close associates at the Harvard Law
Review, seem to remember him as a great guy, tolerant, friendly, and
fair. Yet he chooses to be a member of a church that foments a
continuous and deeply counter-productive racial rage. He forms a
friendship with an over-privileged Vietnam-era radical terrorist whose
knowledge of how to play "the system" is so advanced that he can cop a
plea for bombing the U.S. Capitol and emerge from prison into a
professorship without ever expressing a moment's remorse. Yet he
marries a middle-class African-American woman who has had every
conceivable advantage and who now, on the verge of becoming First Lady
of the nation, publicly voices a churlish disrespect not only for her
country but for white people. men generally, and even the husband who
has opened up the golden path to power. He prospers politically through
a murky relationship with a Chicago operator who has relationships with
multiple dubious moneymen from the Wahabbi middle east that have
benefited him politcally and personally. Yet he slams his female
presidential rival for releasing a photo of him in muslim dress and
objects to the speaking out loud of his own middle name.
Who is Barack Obama? There is only one thread of consistency in all
these contradictions -- his distance from everyone in his life, save
possibly the mother he chose to ignore in an autobiography focused on
his distant, abandoning father. Barack Obama is whoever he happens to
be around, whoever the emotionally strong people in his life choose to
surround him with, whoever it serves him to be at the moment.
The argument is being made that Obama must hate America because he went
to Jeremiah Wright's church, got married there, had his children
baptized there, and contributed $20K to it in 2006. That's wrong, too.
It's Michelle Obama who hates America, who believes the vile propaganda
of yet anothe rich, phony, one-church Pope, who wanted to be married in
a Farrakhan-esque cult denomination, and have her children baptized
there. Obama was just reflecting her wishes because she was authentic
African-American and he was merely determined to belong. She
knows this. That's why she can
barely conceal her contempt for him.
no Barack Obama.
Everyone who meets him makes up their own version of him. He is an
outstanding orator becaue he has learned to read the desire of those
around him about who they want him to be and then to reflect and
fulfill that desire. It has worked for him every step of the way until
now. Be the ball? He is
words he says. When he says them. That's his whole identity, the wave
of affirmation that flows back from the crowd when he has been a clear
He has been too many things to too many different people. But all those
people expect to see what they're expecting to see every time, and it's
no longer possible in the simultaneous pressures of a presidential
campaign. Even he doesn't know how different he is from venue to venue
and person to person. That's why he doesn't know how to recognize the
urgency of repudiating Jeremiah Wright in absolute and unforgiving
terms. There's a part of him that believes in the AIDS conspiracy, just
as there's a part of him that believes in the fundamental decency of
all the guilty liberals who admired and promoted him at the Harvard
All of this could possibly be overcome if he had any feel for the deep
diversity of the American electorate. But he doesn't. From first to
last, he's always been an outsider. He doesn't understand at all -- and
neither does USA Today's eager young reporter -- that African-Americans
have been on a deadly collision course with feminists since the
mid-seventies. These two apparent and frequently avowed allies have
been competing for the same finite pool of extra privileges all along,
and because there are more women and more of the women are white, it is
the feminists who have done more to slow the de-racialization of
America than any other force. The feminists' anti-male propaganda has
inevitably done far more damage to African-American males and their
role in families than it has done to white men. The feminists' gradual
achievement of female hegemony over child ownership, child-rearing, and
abortion decisions has done more to destroy the black family and
promote the epidemic of children born out of wedlock than any
conspiracy Jeremiah Wright could ever dream up. The resistance -- in
the virulent form of hip-hop hatred of women -- has made racism and
sexism into the two supposedly allied causes that were destined to go
finally and horribly to war with one another.
Regardless of how the campaign war turns out, both sides have been
crippled. Obama cannot win because there is no one inside the gauzy,
unreal image to battle through the contradictions to a mandate based on
character rather than a mosaic of sliver identities. His white vote
shrivel as ordinary Americans discover they can't determine where his
allegiance lies, unless it's to himself only. Women will sit on their
hands because they've seen enough of the slick young operator who
waltzes in at the last moment and swipes the opportunity from the
deserving veteran female (and being half-white doesn't help him in this
respect). But Hillary can't win, either, because of the one-drop rule.
Even though Obama is not and never was an African-American, he has
always been black enough to benefit from the superannuated slave
culture that forgives every corruption and hypocrisy in those who have
any claim on being black. If Hillary is the nominee, African-Americans
will stay home in significant numbers. Unlike Jeremiah Wright, John
McCain is the irascible uncle we'd go to for help in a pinch, not hide
from because of the revolver he keeps in a cigar box.
At the end of the day, Reverend Wright is a self-fulfilling prophecy,
the poison in the well. Like Moses, he can never accompany his chosen
to the promised land When his people finally learn to stop
following his like, they will find what they seek, as if by magic. But
for now, the horse he groomed for them is scratched at the gate.
If you think we're wrong, you do not yet understand the power of
It will "never stop, never stop, never stop..."
Thanks to Glenn Reynolds
link. I owe him an apology. When he didn't link this post quickly
enough to suit me, I sent him a cranky email. InstaPunk's customary
arrogance is a persona that's a useful tool on a satirical website but
has no place in other kinds of correspondence. Glenn has proved he's a
fairer man than I am. We'll see if I can do better in future.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
All right. I admit it. The headline was the whole motivation for the
post. All that's left is a review by one Nicholas Shakespeare of a book
on terrorists by his fellow Brit, Michael Burleigh. I know I should end
the entry right now with a link to the book review in question, but I'm
a stubborn cuss, and I can't help looking for some
meaning to justify the
grandiloquence of my headline. My apologies [Leave. Go. Get the hell
out of here. I have absolutely NOTHING to say today that's worth
reading]. Still here? Damn.
At least I'm not blogging about Eliot Spitzer
That's probably why you're still reading. Nothing
is more boring than Eliot
. Not even Nicholas Shakespeare. And truthfully (???), the
review does illuminate the profound death wish of the Brit intellectual
caste. They are all so absent emotion that one could cut their throats
and their final gurgled words would be a critique of your technique.
Here are some excerpts from the review
We live in an age of cultural disorder,
point a finger at the absurdities of radical Islam is to be branded a
racist, a fascist or a bigot. This timely and important book would
probably not have been published 10 years ago, but its relevance is
Michael Burleigh's theme:
squalor, intellectual poverty and psychotic nature of terrorist
organisations, from the Fenians of the mid-19th century to today's
jihadists - the latter group, especially, being composed of unstable
males of conspicuously limited abilities and imagination, and yet who
pose "an existential threat to the whole of civilisation" with their
crusade to realise "a world that almost nobody wants", all in the hope
of an afterlife featuring 72 virgins and rivers foaming with honey and
Burleigh has read and
travelled enough to express an impeccable
contempt for the "theoretical gobbledygook" of the IRA or the
"stunningly tedious" ideology of the New Left, while sharing the
bemusement of the kidnapped German industrialist Hans Schleyer "at the
incredible ignorance his captors [the Red Army Faction] demonstrated
about the higher workings of the German economy"...
Andreas Baader embodies many of the
resentful and narcissistic traits that Burleigh identifies in his
subjects: sour, lazy nobodies, ugly, of febrile imagination and
indifferent talent, who can only become somebody by blowing others,
inevitably persons more talented and intelligent, up....
Burleigh parades an
arsenal of facts, and the cumulative effect is
undeniable. Only with his claim that the tactic of terror "never
amounted to more than an irritant", and was not crucial in forcing
colonial powers to leave Palestine and Algeria, not to mention acceding
to power in Ireland and South Africa, do I depart from his thesis....
Burleigh shares in his prose style
something of the pitiless monotone
with which his targets engage with the world. He finds little
levity in over 500 pages, except where his keenness to be up to date
gets the better of him. He has his finger on the pulse, but his foot on
Blood & Rage is in all sorts of
ways an outstanding book; it
is also fuelled by the manic energy and focus of someone accelerating a
truckload of intellectual high-explosives into the gates of a
"stunningly" credulous soft-liberal establishment, composed of
"colluding" human rights lawyers and "celebrity useful idiots" such as
Tariq Ali, whom Burleigh witheringly chastises for having
"progressively marginalised high intellectual endeavour" while at the
same time conspiring to convert cosmopolitan London into the Islamic
haven of "Londonistan"...
Al Qa'eda's chief military
spokesman in Europe puts it best: "You love
life and we love death." If there are no flies on Burleigh, there are
plenty on the moribund dogmas of those he dissects. [emphasis added]
An academic subject, terrorism. Really. Something to
pass the time when no one else wants to discuss something important,
like the unutterably depressing brilliance of Graham
Greene novels. So here we have the passionless reviewing the
passionless and noting passionlessness as a stylistic fault.
You know, the Brits are just fucking DONE.
Maybe I should have blogged about Eliot Spitzer. Even he is more intriguing than Brit
BRIZONI! Where the HELL are you when we need you?!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Why I Hate
chains are slave chains.
The other day I made a passing reference to basketball as the "worst
team sport played in America." I feel I should qualify and explain that
statement. The qualification is that strictly as a game, basketball
isn't nearly as awful as soccer
But basketball is still more immediately worse for Americans. That
explanation takes a little longer, and it's a two parter. There are
things I hate about the game itself, and then there's stuff beyond
that. I'll tackle them in order.
The Game Itself
1. Five on the Court
The fewer the players, the more likely it is that one player can
utterly dominate a team, for better or worse -- and mostly for worse.
Basketball's concept of the Big Man represents more of a distortion of
the team concept than anything else in true team sports. A Wilt
Chamberlain or a Michael Jordan has more specific gravity on a squad
than any all-pro quarterback, all-star power hitter, or ace pitcher.
Even an over-hyped national hero like David Beckham is only one of
fifteen on an incomprehensibly larger field of play. Which brings me to
my next objection.
2. The Court
It's so small that it could be, and has been, outgrown by the sheer size
of the players. A football field is still long enough that no
quarterback can pass from one end zone to another. The geometry of a
baseball field is still so perfectly neutral that a small man can smack
a single through the gap between short and second, drive a triple into
the gap between left and center field, or even lay down a bunt hit
between the pitcher and the catcher. And hockey, the second most
constricted major team sport, retains more separation between the fans
and the players, thanks to the boards and the plexiglass wall that
protects spectators from the puck and, mostly, from player aggression.
None of these structural constraints still exists in basketball. Quite
ordinary players can execute the slam-dunk that was never dreamed of by
the game's founder, who thought the ten-foot height of the net was an
equalizer, not an incentve for seeking out seven-foot anomalies as if
they were great athletes. And, yes, there are still tiny dynamos like
Alan Iverson, but even their greatness is no longer a function of team
play, but of their unique ability to navigate a small giant-filled
space all alone, like a broken-field runner in a dense forest of
3. The Court
No, it's not a misprint. The basketball court is not a playing field.
It's a theater. That's why basketball coaches are scrutinized and
critiqued as if they were themselves players. They affect costumes,
they stalk and pace and gesture and vocalize like actors on Broadway,
and generally speaking, they are performers of a sort that would be
unthinkable in baseball, football, hockey AND soccer. An obvious
additional implication is that when the coach is a theatrical perfomer,
his players are more than mere athletes. They, too, become -- at least
to some extent -- actors
closer to WWE wrestlers than to, say, NFL prima donnas like Terrell
Owens, who confines his antics to the times outside the whistles that
start and end playing time.
4. The Court
If the court is so small that it's inevitably jammed with oversized
perfomers, what chance do the referees have to be effective? There's no
way they can be distant enough from the action to get good angles on
who did what to whom. In fact, they're forced to compete with the
players for the approval of the audience, and so they call their calls
with more authority than accuracy. They also understand the rules of
performance better than the refs in any other sport. It's more
important to be quick and dramatic than correct. It's more important
that the audience enjoy the show than that the rules of the game be
enforced in a context where the rules are simply inadequate to the
momentum of the game. That's why no NBA player is ever called for
"walking," which is endemic and ludicrously unenforced. The result: the
most critical rules in the game -- fouls, charging, goal-tending, and
technical fouls -- are changing the results of games without any
justifying percentage of accuracy. The refs have made basketball, at
all levels of the sport, into roller-derby.
The Other Stuff
All of these game weaknesses have combined to make basketball an
American cultural disaster as well.
1. Basketball as fashion.
The goddamn spinnaker
(derived from oversized prison garb) is reason enough by
itself to cease watching the games. Who wants to see them flapping down
the court like Victorian whores in bloomers?
2. Basketball as cultural pied-piper.
The thuggery that has become common in interactions among coaches,
players, and fans is disgusting. Too much jewelry. Too many gangster
vehicles, specifically Cadillac Escalades. Too many gun and
drug arrests. Too many incidents of player-fan violence. At least in
professional wrestling, the violence is mostly rehearsed and fake. When
Artest attacks a fan or Kobe Bryant (allegedly) rapes a, uh, fan, the
violence is all too real and we're all diminished and degraded. Worse,
we don't seem to be realizing that fact.
3. Basketball as Organizational Model.
Star basketball players don't have to learn how to lead, sacrifice, or
get along with others. They just have to throw their weight around.
They can get coaches fired, supporting players traded or benched, and
they can get the law enforcement organizations in their vicinity to
back off. Just the model kids need if they're going to be good
husbands, successful fathers, productive citizens, and efficient
business partners. In fact, if you wanted to teach a kid how to be the
worst possible member of a community, what better example could you
proffer him than a lavishly admired basketball player in college or the
4. Basketball as the African-American
Like everyone else, I've enjoyed movies like Coach Carter
and Glory Road
. But I HATE the
overwhelming fixation on basketball in the African-American community.
It is not and will never be the way out of poverty and deprivation. The stars who made the movies weren't basketball players at Duke or the Lakers.
Basketball teams are tiny, and the number of people who can ever hope
to compete successfully at the NBA, college, or high school level is
correspondingly small. It doesn't matter at all in the global
demographics of the situation that a successful basketball player can
get a college scholarship based on his abilities. No matter how good he
(or she) is, the chances of a college basketball player graduating with
a degree are very slim, and much much much worse than that is the fact
that the thousands of hours devoted to basketball by youngsters would
be far better spent learning math, science, English, art, and history.
The feel-good movies that are supposed to demonstrate the reality of
American opportunity are, in fact, cruel vandals of opportunity.
Every time I see a movie featuring middle or upper-middle class
African-Americans where suit-and-tied Dad goes out to shoot a few hoops
with his sports-obsessed son, I want to shoot up the screen with a
shotgun. The truth is, basketball just might be the worst thing that
ever happened to African-Americans in this country, even worse than
slavery itself. Why?
As I pointed out above, it's NOT a team sport;. it's a star sport.
Which leads to egomaniacal and narcissistic behavior that we've seen
repeatedly from NBA millionaires who should
be role models but are the opposite instead.
Basketball is also peculiarly conducive to making individuals feel
like better athletes than
they are. It's got a pernicious "one-thing" practice delusion, meaning
that you and a basketball and a net can practice all alone in a way
that you won't find in any other team sport except hockey, which --
thank God -- is still mostly played by Canadians and New Englanders.
It's possible to practice and practice and pactice and ultimately
convince yourself that you're a great basketball player because you can
sink shots from anywhere on the court. (Otherwise, we wouldn't have the
scourge of all those 5' 3" nerds who want to play us one-on-one at the
YMCA). But it's a lie. You don't become
Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain or Kobe Bryant
LeBron James by
practicing obsessively. You start out as one of those spectacularly
gifted guys and refine your skills through practice and gifted
one-on-one coaching. On the other hand, the same degree of devotion and
persistence -- even without the million-dollar coach -- can make you a
businessman, an entrepreneur, an attorney, an adminstrator, or -- if
you pay as much attention to class as to B-ball -- a doctor.
4. That Ghetto-Chain Net.
I hate this image more than anything above. To me, basketball is the
perpetuation of slavery. The odds of basketball freeing anyone from
poverty are as bad as counting on the lottery to win a fortune. Seeing
a chain instead of a net is like seeing another nail in a
My libertarian leanings prevent me from seeking the abolition of
basketball. But if we were to abolish basketball -- or if the people
who claim to be trying to help African-Americans contrived to ban
basketball -- the single biggest imprisoning illusion in the country
would be vanguished and millions upon millions of kids would be
suddenly freed to divert their energies to productive pursuits like
learning, academic accomplishment, economic achievement, family
creation, scientific curiosity. mathematical precision, and too many
other good things to list.
Just a stainless-steel basketball
net. Cool, right? No. Manacles for yet another
doomed generation, dead certain it can slam-dunk the education
I HATE basketball. I especially hate the squeegee sounds their
thousand-dollar sneakers make on hardwood. Like fingernails on a blackboard. But, then, I know what fingernails on a blackboard sound like. I must be one of those white-boy geeks.