Eating the Towers. Hold, JS. Hold!
Let us handle this...
INSTAPUNK. THERE ARE ALWAYS
WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. Last year on September Eleven I featured an
incredibly moving YouTube
video by one of our more talented commenters, who's also a blogger
in his own right. On that occasion I proposed that there was something
mystical about the images he had chosen to assemble into his video poem
about the event:
The author, Peregrine John, maintains
that it's only a chronology. It's
much more than that. At the beginning, you get to see the Twin Towers
thrusting through the clouds. This is who we are, who we were, the most
vivid possible example of American exceptionalism. We just shone.
Then comes the attack. And I've spoken with Peregrine John about this,
and he denies it, but if you look, you can see that there is a face of
predation in almost every single frame of the assault on the towers. I
don't want to overplay it, but this is no accident. It was no
It was an attack on the United States of America by forces of, well,
Watch from frame to frame. Does it not look as if the Towers are being eaten?
Regardless. Look at the footage. What in the Obama campaign convinces
you that he feels any of the pain -- or meaning -- of this loss? What
makes you think he
would fight in remembrance?
Before I ran the video here, I discussed my ideas about "deep meaning"
with Peregrine John. I told him of the oddest
image I had seen from that day:
At the time of the attacks there was one photo which
seemed to show a
well defined demonic face in the smoke of the towers, and efforts to
debunk the photo as a fake failed. What blew me away in your photo
sequence was that it was possible to see such faces in virtually every
image of the towers in distress. Yes, I know the brain is wired to see
such things, and I'm not reading more into it than that, but...I also
don't know for sure that it's NOT there.
Modest as he is (I called him "reticent"), he
conceded that he was unsettled by the process of examining the images.
He told me in an email:
I've wondered a bit about that, myself. Never made
much of it overtly,
since frankly we have enough trouble being taken seriously
But yeah; I see it.
Now we're eight years on. And we have a president who has never shown
the slightest emotion about what happened on 9/11. (Go ahead. I dare
you. One genuine sign of emotion by Obama about this or anything.) (Hell, Peggy Noonan
just figured out today that he is cold. What took her?)
As we approach another anniversary, we're being asked to believe that
our president cares about a lot of things, including us and our
futures. Hard to believe. Why? Because he insists on surrounding
himself with people who despise both America and us, meaning average
For example, this particular conflation of opponents of his healthcare
bill with "right
wing domestic terrorists" was not instigated by him or his
administration, but where is his outraged repudiation of such
sentiments? Absent. The response was to quietly remove the offending
post, not to denounce it or reaffirm his commitment to being president
of all American citizens.
Why? He isn't.
And in a disturbing echo of the hatefulness of Jeremiah Wright, we
learn that Obama has appointed, without congressional confirmation, a
man who controls a $30 billion budget
for "green jobs" who believes that 9/11 was either an inside
job or a conspiracy of silence by Bush administration officials who
knew of the plot and approved it for their own bellicose/mercenary
purposes. Democrats would like us to sniff and snort away such an
appointment because he is only a "mid-level" official. And we can only ask, since when are
people who have budget authority for $30
billion in spending "mid-level"? Who the fuck is "high-level"?
Here's the bottom line. We're being tested. The country made a big
mistake in electing an untried, accomplishment-free narcissist because
he made speeches that appealed to people who don't know what real
eloquence consists of. (uh, articulate wisdom, not euphonious
platitudes celebrating the self delivering the speech...) But there
comes a time when you have to ask brutal questions -- are you for us or
against us? Obama is against us. He doesn't care about defending
America from her enemies. He just doesn't. He thinks we deserve
everything that's happened to us. He thinks we deserve everything he
intends to do to us.
If you disagree, I invite you to cite any quotation, any possible echo
he's uttered of what we've written about 9/11 since it happened. You
can't. He doesn't care.
There has been a peculiar strand of
commentary on Obama (from David Brooks, Jon Meacham, and a few others)
describing the president as a “Burkean,” apparently for his
understanding of, as that New Republic piece put it, “complexity and
the organic nature of change.” I think this is downright bizarre.
A certain kind of progressivism and a certain kind of conservatism have
long both claimed to possess a deep understanding of the “complexity”
of society. The American progressives of the early 20th century (and
here I tread on Jonah’s turf and he can surely correct me) insisted
that traditionalism might have been suited to an earlier simpler time
when the lives of individuals and communities were contained in their
narrow circles, but now in modern times our lives were shaped by
massive social forces that must be understood by social scientists and
marshaled by policy experts who command the whole and understand its
But the conservatism of prescription and practice, the conservatism of
Burke, had never taken life to be simple. It argued against radical
liberalism — and against ways of thinking we now call progressive — in
just the terms the Left would later use against the Right: that their
worldview was simplistic and naïve, and ignored the inescapable
complexity of human things.
So there are left-leaning and right-leaning strands of students of
complexity. But they have in mind quite different things. For the
Progressives, the world is too complex to be understood in human terms
— in terms of sentiment, experience, honor, habit, and piety. For the
Burkeans, the world is complex precisely in those human terms, and is
too complex to be understood in abstract rational terms — in objective,
theoretical, scientific, detached, specialized terms. In this sense the
Burkeans have an organic idea of politics, while the progressives have
more of a scientific view of politics.
Patients with terminal illnesses are
being made to die prematurely
under an NHS scheme to help end their lives, leading doctors warn today.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a
group of experts who care for
the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as
close to death.
Under NHS guidance introduced across
England to help doctors and
medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and
drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass
Sarah Palin got it right on the "death
panel" business, and finnicky
conservative critics missed the point: Governmentalization of health
care leads to rationing, and rationing leads to death panels — very
...The bathroom is
getting to be a pretty depressing place. First low-flow toilets,
heads, and now light
Next, the greens will want to ban tubs in new home construction for
using too much water and push for legal limits on how hot your shower
can be. Sound ridiculous? Think again. This kind of thing really
highlights the distinction between traditionalist conservationism and
watermelon environmentalism (green on the outside, red on the inside).
A correspondent points
out that life imitates Seinfeld.
More generally, Mark is of course
correct. We are entering a time
when the state will have a say on everything you do in every room in
the house, for your own benefit or some greater good, of course. Those
who naïvely think that this form of state will stop at the bedroom
have another thing coming.
All right. Now me. From a high-flown philosophical argument -- "In
modern times our lives were shaped by
massive social forces that must be understood by social scientists and
marshaled by policy experts who command the whole and understand its
full complexity" -- to death panels and thence to showerheads... what's
the unifying thread for us ordinary citizens?
The real policy debate that's
underway in Washington right now is not nearly as complicated as the
beltway pundits make it seem. The Obama-Democrat agenda is not about
healthcare or environmentalism or the economy or even social justice.
It's about transforming the American people into cattle, tagged and
penned and used and finally harvested like the domesticated (but dangerous) dumb
animals they think we are. And it's also the reason for the growing
split between elite inside-the-beltway conservatives and what they
clearly regard as neanderthal reactionaries in the benighted regions
that live in the other 99 percent of the nation's geography. The dirty
secret is that they basically agree with the progressive social
engineers; they just don't want the necessary animal husbandry regime
to be quite so nakedly obvious. They want bigger pastures for us to graze
in and smaller, less painful tags stapled to our ears. Maybe then we'll still
think we're free. The vision of the government as scientific farmer,
though, is the same.
That's why everyone involved -- from politicians to the media to the
pundit class -- think they can get what they want by complicating and
confusing and drawing out the various legislative processes until our
sad little attention spans are exhausted and our anguished moos will
subside into silent acceptance. They really think they are the
sophisticated ones and we are the dolts. Which is their fatal mistake.
The truth is, if we would but realize it, we are the sophisticated ones. We
are the inveterate consumers of government bureaucracy, while they are
merely the perpetrators of it, slipping all the inconvenient rules
themselves while they tighten their grip on the rest of us. We know
what it's like to be in the pen of the DMV, feel the pinch of tags
attached by the Social Security administration, medicare, and the IRS,
not to mention zoning boards, building codes, CAFE regulations,
property tax assessors, seat-belt and child-seat laws, child welfare
agencies, and pissing in a cup to get a job. We know what life is
getting to be like in the shrinking barn, where their science is
invading even our most private bodily functions, to the point where we
can't even flush away our own excrement without the government's hand
on the toilet handle. The only free, private place left in this country
is the interior of a woman's uterus, which when it comes to our own
juvenile daughters, represents yet another invasion by the godlike
farmer in charge of the herd.
They are going to try to
baffle us with bullshit in the next few months. We'll be lectured and
propagandized not to give in to feelings of paranoia, especially by the
great intellects on our own side, because nothing nefarious is really
afoot, and our own raging gut instincts are all wrong, ignorant, and laughable.
Here's how you survive the con job, which is all an exercise in
herding. Focus on the picture up top. That's who they think we are. But
it's not who we are. We're the productive members of the most
remarkable species yet known in the entire universe. We are not cattle.
We have done nothing to deserve this vicious attempt to turn us into
farm animals. They have no right to legislate away the highs and lows
of human experience, which are far beyond their poor powers of
perception to comprehend, let alone sit in judgment of. We are in the
right. They are the criminals. And absolutely everything they are
proposing now is designed to lead us into a slaughter pen from which there is
I'll leave you with two additional references you can make of what you
will. The first is not what I was looking for. I went searching for a
passage in Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye in which the detective
Marlowe explains to a tortured writer what life would be like if he got
off the booze. I couldn't find it so I can only approximate: fewer, duller
colors, lower highs, higher lows, a life more pallid but with fewer
disasters. In a sense, that's the progressive dream of the well
intended among the totalitarians, but the life they offer boils down in
the final analysis to shades of gray that are drained of joy as well
as tragedy. And it's a promise they can't deliver on. Because we are
not statistics. We are people.
What's a statistic? In the current paradigm, it's a demographic that can be studied, and reduced to indistinguishable units, by federally
funded surveys purporting to give us meaningful information about parts
of the herd. Example? How about blondes? You've heard all the jokes. The last
somewhat racial group we're all still allowed to jam into a tiny box of
presumptuously stereotypical ridicule (forgetting that we're all being
thrown into a similar box we're not supposed to notice). Well, here's
what I found
instead of the quote I was looking for. Draw your own lessons and
conclusions. Since you're human I feel you can do that without a
"There are blonde and blondes and it is
almost a joke word nowadays.
All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are
as blonde as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a
sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and
the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare.
There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells
lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very, very
tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has
that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you
found about the headache before you invested too much time and money
and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon
that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or
Lucrezia’s poison vial.
There is the soft and willing alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what
she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the
Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small
perky blonde who is a little pale and wants to pay her own way and is
full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and
can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one
sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the
pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type.
She's very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of
nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place
you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading the Wasteland
or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying
Provencal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is
playing Hindesmith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols
came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That
makes two of them.
And lastly there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three
kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million
a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap d’Antibes, an Alfa
Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of
shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate
absentmindedness of an elderly duke saying good night to his butler."
— Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye)
Too abstract? Too literary? Too dated? Here's a YouTube
Brizoni) that makes exactly the same point in altogether other terms:
There's no need for any "ending." Unless we file blindly or obediently into the pen they are planning for us.
(uh, Don't be asking me to explain the connection between Chandler and Clarkson. I have
more faith in you than that.)
THE HELL KNOWS? It's so cool how the whole world has decided
to embrace its irrational otherness, isn't it? I mean, I don't pretend
to understand anything about Japanese politics, except for the fact
that they continue to maintain the 100 percent conviction rate every
nation devoted to the rule of law rather than a feudal emperor has...
but I couldn't help feeling buoyed by this miniature portrait of the
new first couple, which -- oh so reassuringly -- emphasizes the First
Lady more than her diminutive, penis-burdened spouse.
have been abducted by aliens, says Japan's first lady (Oh, and she also knew Tom
Cruise in a previous life)
new PM, Yukio Hatoyama, with his wife, Miyuki
Move over Michelle, watch your backs, Carla and Sarah. There's a new
kid on the first lady block, and she looks like upstaging the lot of
Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan's Prime Minister-elect, Yukio Hatoyama,
is a lifestyle guru, a macrobiotics enthusiast, an author of cookery
books, a retired actress, a divorcee, and a fearless clothes horse for
garments of her own creation, including a skirt made from Hawaiian
coffee sacks. But there is more, much more. She has travelled to the
planet Venus. And she was once abducted by aliens.
The 62-year-old also knew Tom Cruise in a former incarnation – when he
was Japanese – and is now looking forward to making a Hollywood movie
with him. "I believe he'd get it if I said to him, 'Long time no see',
when we meet," she said in a recent interview. But it is her claim in a
book entitled "Very Strange Things I've Encountered" that she was
abducted by aliens while she slept one night 20 years ago, that has
suddenly drawn attention following last Sunday's poll.
"While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped
UFO and went to Venus," she explains in the tome she published last
year. "It was a very beautiful place, and it was very green."
When the new Japanese first lady related her adventures to her then
husband, he told her flatteningly that it was probably just a dream.
But she is confident that Yukio, the man now entrusted with the task of
hauling Japan out of its deepest recession, would have reacted very
differently. "My current husband has a different way of thinking. He
would surely say, 'Oh, that's great'," she wrote. Mrs Hatoyama's
self-confidence in projecting her personality, and shattering the
traditional expectations of a political wife, probably derives from her
early years as a dancer in Japan's legendary all-female Takarazuka
Founded in 1913, Takarazuka has long enjoyed cult status in Japan. The
star players in its glitzy, saccharine, ferociously camp productions of
US classics like Gone with the Wind enjoy superstar status among the
armies of women that flock to the shows. Takarazuka's actresses are
picked from thousands of teenage hopefuls in a stringent selection
process and subjected to a quasi-monastic training regimen. While a
handful become household names, the great majority, like Mrs Hatoyama,
retire after a few years. But the aura of belonging to this exclusive
sorority clings to them for ever.
After six years Mrs Hatoyama quit the troupe and went to the United
States. It was there, while working in a Japanese restaurant in San
Francisco, that she met Yukio, then a graduate student at Stanford
University. Miyuki was still married to her first husband. "The average
man chooses his mate from among unmarried women," Mr Hatoyama boasted
years later. "I chose mine from among all women."
Rejecting the reticence that is customary in Japan, Mr Hatoyama makes
no secret of his devotion to his multi-talented wife. His website has a
photo of the pair of them in an affectionate pose, and he admits
happily to being what the Japanese call a "my-home-papa". "I feel
relieved when I get home," he says. "She is like an energy refuelling
Though Mr Hatoyama is a multi-millionaire and the fourth generation of
his family to rise to the top of the Japanese political world, his
appearance is unconventional by rigid Japanese standards: his hair is
unruly and he rejects the navy uniform of the political world in favour
of suits of brown and moss green.
It is this refusal to bow to convention, as well as his tendency to
drop conversation-stopping remarks – like his call, during the election
campaign, for a "politics full of love" – that long ago led other
Japanese politicians to dismiss him as an uchujin, an alien. Though
not, presumably, the one who took Miyuki to Venus.
No word yet on whether she also wrote an illiterate thesis at one of
Japan's top universities, thereby proving once and for all the the
primacy of women as the world's ultimate whatsits.
. Much as I respect him, my friend InstaPunk is
sometimes too abrupt and dismissive. He overlooks points that should be
addressed because they seem peripheral or silly to him although they really aren't
This happened the other day when IP linked a Metalkort
noting to one of our smartest commenters, Billy Oblivion, that
sports could be "transcendant," which prompted Billy to reply thus:
There might be something transcendent
about playing sports, but I
can't (note *I*) can't find much of interest in *spectating*.
course, as may be clear I'm not big on the whole "transcendent thing".
I just don't get it. This could be because I'm probably not
There are a lot of borderline sports I
participating in, including bicycling and nordic skiing, and I really
do enjoy *participating* in them. Can't sit still to watch them for
very long though. And certainly can't be bothered to get involved in
the cult-of-personality that is modern professional athletics.
and of course shooting. I can't wait to get back to the states so I can
play with my guns again. Being that I'm in a war zone the military
won't let me have one.
And I like running, or at least I did
until it started hurting too much.
I just don't get watching.
IP responded by comparing Billy to Marvin the Robot (see clip above)
and disinviting him to this year's Super Bowl Party, which drew a
But this IS fun.
I'm watching my country (and my
childrens future) spin down the drain while a bunch of people are
standing on lip of the sink yelling "Go Back Go Back", and a much MUCH
smaller number are down there in [the] vortex trying to change things.
if I sound Marvin when I write it's at least partially a function of
where I'm at, and partially a function of having a brain the size of
the universe and seeing no way out of the mess we're in.
would much rather teach my daughter history and math and writing than
teach her how to corn gun powder and improvise first aid and medical
Malthus was a dick, and his disciples are
hell bent on making it happen.
At which point IP riposted with a quip (admittedly irresistible)
about "a brain the size of the universe" and exited left (pursued, no
doubt, by bearBilly's
I'm not content to leave it there. Yes, Billy's in a war zone, for
which he has our admiration, but that also gives him a specific gravity
that other readers might find more compelling than it should be. Is
Marvin's really the mood we should all be in, especially given that
many of us are forced by day-to-day circumstance to remain on the "lip
of the sink" rather than down in "the vortex" where Billy implies every
one of us should be?
I don't think so. And I don't think you should think so, either. If
the vortex is as strong as Billy (and others, including IP) believe it
is, we'll all be drawn into it eventually. Should we fight it? Yes, of
course. But that doesn't mean we have to be continuously grim until the
day it sucks us finally down the drain. There's a huge difference
between whistling past the graveyard and holding a defiant garden party
in the graveyard. The former is denial. The latter is the highest form
of resistance. It affirms the vitality that will not be defeated by the
mere proximity of death.
I don't think anyone here is in denial. We have been, posters
and commenters alike, plainspoken about the nature of the threat to our
way of life. But, as Hemingway observed, it's possible to be serious
without being solemn. We know what's going on. That most assuredly does
not mean that we're required
to abandon the living of our lives in favor of constant grousing about
the worst things that could happen. That's its own flavor of submission
and defeat. Let us weep and wail about all the terrible things that
might happen while our own misery accelerates the arrival of the
That's fucking bullshit. As is Billy's distinction between "playing"
and "watching." Every life includes plenty of both. Hell, we're all
players in dozens of ways. We go to work, we discharge our professional
and personal responsibilities, we look after our families, we labor to
keep house and home together because these are our primary fields of
battle. And we also "spectate" at the endeavours and accomplishments of
others. We do that when we read a book, listen to a song, watch our
children play Little League baseball, pay attention to political events
that affect us, and invest our enthusiasm in sports or other subjects
that inflame our curiosity and passion. Should we stop investing our
enthusiasm in such things when there's a storm on the horizon? Or
should we take all the more pleasure in them because there's a storm on
the horizon and moments matter and life is short? Did Winston Churchill
give up grinning while Hitler's Nazis closed in on Britain in 1940? No.
Did he give up following Harrow's cricket season? I don't know, but I
know how I'd bet.
The human record is legion on this question. People survive terrible
times precisely because they have the ability to keep on living life in
the face of crushing threats that by any rational measure should plunge
them into doleful misanthropy. Curiously, what Billy seems to be
interpreting as denial is exactly what we wind up celebrating most in
the human spirit.
Herewith, today's YouTubes:
First, a fictional American entry that has nevertheless become a
classic portrayal of what's called "grace under pressure."
[I could also give you the movie version of M*A*S*H as an
example of necessary insanity. But I won't. It's too close and obvious
an example. Football! Humor! Shit like that.]
How did the Brits who weren't Winston Churchill behave at the lip of
the sink while they waited to be drawn into the Nazi vortex? Well, they
didn't just sit there muttering...
You want reality? Tell me why people
still read (uh, spectate at) The
Diary of Anne Frank? Because
right up to the moment of cataclysm, she was living her life. And that's her revenge on the people
who murdered her.
And for a final example, what we have elsewhere
described as one of the
best film treatments of the holocaust, a movie that depicts popular
culture as a heroic resistance from the lip of the sink, even as the
vortex is strengthening and claiming its casualties. But the lip of the
sink has its own invaluable role to play.
with Billy's depression. I would have answered his comment differently.
When he said this...
would much rather teach my daughter history and math and writing than
teach her how to corn gun powder and improvise first aid and medical
...I would have said this...
If you teach her both, she'll be more
alive than she'd be in a world where only the first set of subjects was
necessary. Rejoice for her. She will have a full life, however long or
short it is in years. If you measure it otherwise, the totalitarians
have already won.
It's what I'd say to all of you, too. If anybody asked. Which, to be
honest, they haven't. And so I laugh at myself for my pretensions. A
pretty good response to feeling so serious so much of the time, if I do
say so myself. Anybody else feel that way?
As I reread Billy's comments, I realize that I have probably just
branded myself as "neurotypical." My apologies to all those of you who
Our president delivered a eulogy for the
Lion of the
Senate." Did he say anything
about the passing of this honest-to-God Lion of the United States Navy
who did so much to keep us all safe?
Marks Passing of Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, regarded as the father of the
Navy’s AEGIS Weapons System, passed away today.
"I am deeply saddened by a great loss to our Navy family,” said
Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations. “Rear Admiral
Meyer’s passion, technical acumen, and warfighting expertise served as
the foundation of our Navy combatant fleet today. On behalf of
the men and women of the United States Navy, I extend my deepest and
most heartfelt sympathy to the Meyer family. He was a close
friend and mentor to so many of us. His legacy will remain in the
Meyer was born in Brunswick, Mo., on April 21, 1926. In 1946, he
graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in
electrical engineering. He also held an master’s degree in
astronautics and aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the
Naval Postgraduate School.
Meyer’s Navy career began in 1943 as an apprentice seaman. In
1946, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was
transferred to regular Navy in 1948. After several years at sea,
he returned to school in 1951 and attended the Joint Guided Missile
School, Fort Bliss, Texas, and the Naval Line School, Monterey, Calif.,
and eventually served as an instructor at Special Weapons School,
Meyer returned to sea as executive officer on USS Strickland, followed
by service on the commander’s staff, Destroyer Force Atlantic. He
was then ordered to USS Galveston.
In 1963, Meyer was chosen to head the TERRIER desk in the Special Navy
Task Force for Surface Missile Systems. He turned down a
destroyer command to continue his work with missile, radar, and fire
control systems, and became the founding Chief Engineer at the Naval
Ship Missile System Engineering Station, Port Hueneme, Calif. In
1970, the Navy chose then Capt. Meyer to lead the development of the
new AEGIS Weapon System in the Naval Ordnance Systems Command.
In this position, Meyer was promoted to rear admiral in Jan.
1975. In Jan. 1977, he assumed duties as the founding project
manager of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project. This project was
ultimately responsible for the construction of all of the Navy’s
current cruisers and destroyers – with 89 ships built or in
construction, and more in planning. This is one of the longest and
largest naval shipbuilding programs in history. He retired from
active duty in 1985.
In Nov. 2006, the Secretary of the Navy announced that an Arleigh
Burke class destroyer, DDG 108, would be named in honor of Rear Adm.
Meyer. Christened on Oct. 18, 2008, the ship utilizes the same
combat system that Meyer helped to develop, the Aegis Combat System,
including the SPY-lD, multifunction phased array radar. This
advanced system makes the AEGIS ship the foundation of the U.S. Navy’s
surface combatant fleet. Additionally, when the ship is
commissioned in Philadelphia, Pa. on Oct. 10, 2009, it will be manned
with a complement of highly trained sailors, providing the Navy with a
dynamic multi-mission warship that can operate independently or as part
of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious ready
groups, ensuring USS Wayne E. Meyer will lead the Navy into the future.
Rear Adm. Meyer’s personal decorations and service medals include:
Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service
Medal; Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon with Bronze Star;
China Service Medal; American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory
Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; National Defense Medal with
Bronze Star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal;
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation; and
Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation.
His other awards include: American Society of Naval Engineers Gold
Medal, 1976; Old Crow Electronics Countermeasure Association Silver
Medal; Distinguished Engineer Alumni Award, University of Kansas, 1981;
Naval Ordnance Engineer Certificate #99; Fellow in the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Missile Systems Award for
distinguished service, American Institute of Aeronautics and
Astronautics, 1983; Navy League's Rear Admiral William Sterling Parsons
Award, for scientific and technical progress in construction of the
nation's AEGIS fleet, 1985; Harold E. Sanders Award for a lifetime of
contributions to Naval Engineering, American Society of Naval
Engineers, 1985; Admiral J. H. Sides Award for major contributions to
Anti-Air Warfare, National Security Industrial Association, 1988.
In 1977, Meyer was designated a Pioneer in the Navy's Acquisition Hall
of Fame in the Pentagon. In 2008, he was presented with the sixth
annual Ronald W. Reagan Missile Defense Award.
No. He doesn't care at all about the members of the U.S. military. That's why support for the War in
Afghanistan is vanishing. Obama is willing to spend them like pennies
so long as no one else notices the cost.
But we do. Stand for the Navy Hymn.
Like our friend who's a devoted Ohio State fan, we will be rooting for Navy
this week when the two play one another for the first time in years.
And we also urge this further
act of sedition against an administration that so despises the U.S.
. There are all kinds of theories, notions, and
arguments that are subject to debunking. We like the adversarial
quality of the process, because it's frequently as challenging and
entertaining as it can be
informative. Which is a pretty cool combination when you think about
it. The reason for the post is that I saw an excellent two-hour
production by the National
Geographic Channel last night on the subject of 9/11
conspiracy theories. It was a thoroughly professional piece of
journalism, and I highly recommend that everyone plan to watch the next
national airing of the show on September 5th.
The first hour and three-quarters was all science, including abundant
experiments and technical recreations which blew apart the contentions
of the (mostly) engineer conspiracy theorists they focused on, who were
filmed without much in the way of editorial comment or editing designed
to make them look like lunatics in the way that editing can. But the
final 15 minutes chugged on at the same deliberate pace, in the same
dispassionate tone, to consider why
conspiracy theorists believe what they believe and where exactly their beliefs run
afoul of reality and common sense.
The narrator conceded forthrightly that none of the mountain of
evidence and expertise employed in the show was likely to have any
effect on those who believe in the conspiracy. Their approach to the
evidence rests on a psychological foundation which represents a
deliberate choice in favor of a reality they prefer to the reality most
other people would accept as real. In this case, they prefer a reality
in which powerful American politicians and their henchmen create an
illusion of a world that hates America for being America to a world in
which irrational fanatics really do
hate America for being America. The difference, for them, amounts
almost to a religious conviction, which cannot be argued away by mere
Also part of this final segment was a summary of the problems
conspiracy theorists face in trying to defend their beliefs. They're on
relatively safe ground when they're nitpicking the facts in
evidence. But when they must come forward with a counter-theory
that accounts for the facts no one disputes, they run into manifold
violations of common sense that can never pass the laugh test. The 9/11
conspiracy they envision would necessarily have involved thousands, if
not tens of thousands, of accomplices, all of whom have kept silent
throughout the years of reporting and analysis on the event. And the
conspiracy itself involves all kinds of wholly unnecessary
substitutions, deceptions, and switches that make sense only as
components of a particular, and usually silly, reconstruction of events
whose whole rationale is to explain away what thousands of witnesses
But there is also an interesting corollary of the logic laid out in the
National Geographic piece. Which is that not all conspiracy theories or
outright hoaxes are created equal. There are some key criteria which
determine how likely it is that a given theory or hoax might actually
succeed. For example, a theory that requires only a handful of
conspirators has a much better chance of succeeding than something like
the 9/11 conspiracy. Even a larger number of conspirators has some chance of success if the
conspirators are homogeneous and highly disciplined rather than so
diverse as to require civilian conspirators as the 9/11 theory does
(e.g., blue-collar building "imploders," who would have required months of preparation to bring down
the WTC towers.) There's also the old dictum of "follow the
money," which in this case indicts the conspiracy theorists more than
anyone else. The conspiracists on TV are getting publicity, fame,
speaking engagements, and in the case of the "Loose Change" producer
abundant revenue by promoting the conspiracy. Who, for example,
has had the strongest economic incentive over the years to keep alive
the theory that JFK was assassinated by anyone and everyone but Lee Harvey Oswald? Conspiracy,
in a word, can be an enterprise.
And a damned profitable one at that.
Finally, there's the role played by human ignorance. False ideas can be
smoothly perpetuated by exploiting what people don't know or appealing
to preconceptions that favor the ideas being peddled. For example, all
some literal readers of the Bible need to dismiss Evolution is the fact
that scientists claim the earth is billions
of years old. For them, no other evidence is needed that Darwin and all
his followers are in error. For another example, most people tend to
believe what they are told often enough without reference to the fact
that there are those who disagree on substantive grounds, like, again,
the neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution, which was undermined (at least)
of the discoverers of DNA on the grounds that there simply hasn't
been enough time in the history of the earth to account for the
complexity of nature's most sophisticated molecule; it must have come
from somewhere else, directed by an extra-terrestrial intelligence (not
God, obviously, but most
conspiracy theories rule out God, don't they?)
Of course, most people don't think they're really ignorant or gullible
or divorced from reality. Some, like the nation's prosperous professional
debunkers, think all
theories and notions that conflict with the settled "way of things" are
lunacy. That's why the remainder of this post is devoted to showing you
some additional examples, illustrations, and exceptions in the exciting
field of "debunking."
First up is what I think is, hopefully, a noncontroversial example of
the fact that even the most literate and educated among us may harbor
some convictions that are more or less false. The subject is Third World Myths. The video is far
more entertaining than we have any right to expect, so I encourage you
to watch all of it.
Note that there's no actual conspiracy involved in all the wrong-headed
assumptions so many people have. We've simply absorbed a set of
preconceptions that aren't quite true and are, in some cases,
spectacularly false. Now consider how many times we've believed
generalizations put forward by people who don't really know much more
than we do, except that they're speaking on camera, with an air of
authority. Even experts in a variety of scientific fields can be
persuaded by such misinformation. How much of what we all "know" to be
true is false?
Next, a teaser for a program I wish
the National Geographic would pursue with the same dispassionate rigor
on display in the 9/11 show. It's about Global Warming. Remember the
criteria laid out above -- the facilitating role of ignorance, even
among "experts," and the age-old advisory to "follow the money." There
can be such a thing as a "herd conspiracy," led by no one in particular
but unified by the vast, common self-interest of willing or intimidated
But I want to be clear about one key point. Not all conspiracy theories
can be dismissed out of hand. It's just that the rules of rigor always
apply. A theory gets more credible if 1) its participants could have
been very few in number, 2) no more than one coincidence is required to
believe it, and 3) some or many of those involved in the precipitating
event were incompetent, lazy, or possessed of some incentive to make
inconvenient facts go away. On this side of the argument, I bring you
the Robert F. Kennedy assassination in two video segments:
I have no idea what the truth is about the RFK assassination. But there
is reason to wonder if the facts might be different from what they're
alleged to be. It's not crazy
to keep probing. It's probable that Sirhan Sirhan was the lone
assassin, but not quite certain. The truth of the matter could lie in
the disposition and actions of one additional guy in that hotel pantry.
That's the definition of "plausible."
Sorry to have carried on for so long. In recompense I'll close with a
fully effective debunking of a wholly silly bit of propaganda. You'll
like it. I promise.
Good day, Lloyd, wherever you are. You're often in my thoughts and I
wish you only the best.
could'a been somebody." One of the two or three most famous scenes in American
. Let me count the ways this is the best movie ever produced in
Hollywood. Beginning with my own infallible personal test. I have
loved, lavishly, a great many movies in my lifetime. I know a movie is
good when I encounter it while flipping channels and fall into it,
unable to break away to something else. But I'm a guy and eventually I
reach a point where I've seen a movie enough and need either a long
break or, well, don't ever need to see it again. There's only one movie
that has never failed the "flipping channels" test over the long haul.
This is it.
It's better than all the popular rivals that come out on top in surveys
and polls. Repeated viewings take down all the greats. Citizen Kane ultimately becomes dry
and gimmicky. Casablanca is,
in the end, mannered, stagey. The
Godfather is an emptiness that grows. (GWTW was never a good picture, only
an imitation of one, the way the book was an imitation of literature.) Vertigo more Greek tragedy than
Americana. Every picture finally fails the test; you can move on to
else. It's always too much this or that, arty, contrived, stylistic,
heavy-handed, directorish, dated, slow, self-conscious, sentimental,
pompous, actorish, suspiciously slick.
Except this one. They don't show it much anymore on television, and I'm
always skeptical when they do because they're fond of trimming the
violence of the final scene in particular, but it doesn't make any
difference. I still have to watch it. Every time.
There has never been more talent amassed for an American picture (and
all the other countries don't count, let's face it). Brando. Eva Marie
Saint. Rod Steiger. Lee J. Cobb. Karl Malden (restrained from his
penchant for overacting for once by director Elia Kazan), and a
soul-scouring score by Leonard Bernstein. For perhaps the only time in
his career, Brando is making the same picture everyone else is. (Kazan
again.) And it
really is his best ever performance, dumb, stubborn, vulnerable,
endearing, and broken. but dumb-persistent and fine.
Kazan's direction. Masterful to the point of genius. In every scene he
seems to be simply observing, almost eavesdropping close up, but the
editing leaves you a little short every time, so there is no voyeurism,
only that sense of glimpsing reality without being able to stay quite
long enough anywhere to understand the lives you're visiting. You are
always outside looking in, which is Terry Malloy's life, too, and the
lives of so many of us, the spectator-accomplice in the world's
nastiness that has repeatedly made him, and will again, its victim.
We encounter faith the same way he does, in isolated speeches and
gestures, the unexpected heroism of a priest, the unexpected tenderness
of a woman who is willing to trust what should not be trusted. All
without a hint of the habitual Hollywood underlining that was bad
before Kazan and has grown mysteriously worse in the age of Spielberg
and Cameron. He has to make his own way, just like us, recognize a
moral fork in the road without the divine cues Hollywood likes to
provide, just like us, and he has to do it with a knowledge his naive
moral tutors don't possess, the dirty viciousness of those he's being
sermonized to oppose. His is the plight of the ordinary man forced to
choose between the easy sophistry of do-gooders and the malignancy of
the powerful villains he meets face to face every day. The decision he
makes is far braver than the one the superior moralists in his life
think they are asking for. He is a man entirely alone with an
impossible dilemma, and whichever way he chooses, part of his own
conscience will accuse him.
ain't a bum, Edie."
(btw, is that the Andrea
Doria leaving the harbor?)
All of this is the movie itself. It gets weightier when you look into
the history of Elia Kazan. He made this movie for a reason. He had been
a communist, a card-carrying member of the American Communist Party. He
knew that the ACP was not a Hollywood affectation but an extension of
the Soviet infiltration of America. He testified before Congress, and
he did name names. This movie was his response to those who condemned
There are times when it's morally right to inform on your intimates. He
was right to testify. But he will never be forgiven. Like a cop who
turns in his guilty partner. He crossed that thin bluered
line, and he is therefore damned.
That's the only reason this
movie does not sit securely at the top of all Hollywood lists of the
greatest movies ever made. Elia Kazan was
hated, is hated, and will continue to be hated as long as
there are wifty lefties in the Hollywood community.
But a great movie is a great movie because it proves itself against the
test of time. In my mind, it's the one movie I'd want every American to watch right now.
Nothing else conveys the simultaneous obligations and dread of the
duties of citizenship we are all facing at the moment like this movie.
There is a power in charge and it controls almost every aspect of our
lives. If we protest in any public way, we risk being pilloried,
humiliated, branded with the worst possible labels. Almost all the
by-products of standing up for a mere idea, the liberty that is our
birthright, are considered bad by the powers that be. The smartest and
most domineering of the elite which
has usurped our place as guardians of American virtue stand ready to
us for remembering the simplest possible postulate, that we are not
subjects of the government but its boss.
The motivating idea is invincible. In practice, the standing up against
the traitors and usurpers is damned difficult. There's every chance
that you could get beaten half to death (i.e., lose everything
worthwhile in your life) espousing simple truths. Look at the Town Hall
folks who have been demonized by media stars making millions. Don't
cross Johnny Friendly.
glad what I done to you."
Well. Do your own research. You tell me what movie is greater. Now.
This is how hard it's going to get... soon.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Reaganite as Beltway insider. Anybody got a hatpin? A balloon needs
. The conservative elites think the problem is
between intelligent, well educated professionals and vulgar extremist amateurs.
Flyover conservatives think the problem is between lefty extremists and
Americans. Who's right?
Well, it damn sure ain't the Bruce
Bartletts in the debate. Herewith, a fisking:
Why I Am Anti-Republican
by Bruce Bartlett*
I got an e-mail from a prominent Republican asking why I am so
anti-Republican these days. Since many of my friends ask the same thing
I thought I would share my reply:
I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W.
Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no
longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still
consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere
in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an
independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled
conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is
“what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain
things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post
Bartlett doesn't see any other Reaganites in the GOP these days.
Perhaps because he's only looking in Washington among, you know, the
PhD. set. I mean, where else would you look for them? Certainly not among
ordinary citizens who are taking to the streets to demand a return to
limited government, lower taxes, and less interference in our personal
lives and liberties.
And what's this crap about "mindless partisanship"? Who's he talking
about here? The jelly-spined howdy-doodies
in Congress who can't bring
themselves to criticize our leftist president by name, who keep talking
compromise on his most outrageous policies, even when those policies
represent the most violent leftward lurch in the history of the
American republic? Like, maybe the generation busting stimulus would
have been okay if it were only $500 billion instead of $800 billion
with a couple tax cuts thrown in for good measure? And who exactly is
it who's doing whatever they can "to screw the Democrats today"? I haven't seen them. Not in
Congress. Not in DC. Not in the GOP. What the fuck is he talking about?
He's a Reaganite? Give me a goddam break. Reagan would be screaming.
It's not about screwing Democrats. It's about heading off a total
hijack of the constitution and the country, and Republican politicians
are not involved in
preventing it. How is that "screwing" the Democrats?
uh, and Michael Steele's "insane op-ed." Insane? All that's mildly
crazy about it is the degree of compromise it represents with respect
to current government spending on Medicare. Given that the Obama
administration is seeking to nationalize one-sixth of the American
economy, with a clear objective of paying for it on the backs of senior
citizens, how is it "insane" to declare that Republicans still believe
seniors have "a right to life" that should be protected, even if the
only quick and dirty way to assure that is to vow no cuts to Medicare?
I am not alone. When I talk to old
timers from the Reagan years, many express the same concerns I have.
But they all work for Republican-oriented think tanks like AEI and
Hoover and don’t wish to be fired like I was from NCPA . Or they just
don’t want to be bothered or lose friends. As a free agent I am able to
say what they can’t or won’t say publicly.
I'll bet you're not alone. You and all the other old-timers who are so
dialed in to "politics as usual" that they can't recognize a true
existential threat to the country when they see it. They hate all the
"screwing" that's going on. The way all
old men hate screwing they can't manage themselves anymore. But their
"principles' are showing. The real ones. They don't want to get fired
from their Georgetown jobs. The way you were, Bruce. Poor Bruce.
I think the Republican Party is in the
same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by
extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates
and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership
Council to push the party back to the center and it was very
successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has
left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long
as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP.
Let me get this straight. The Republicans are in the grip of
extremists, and the Democrats aren't?
You're not only no longer able to get it up, you've got Alzheimer's
too. And I can prove it. If you knew anything at all about Glenn Beck,
you'd know that he spends almost as much of his "lunatic" air time
trashing Republicans as he does Democrats. He's not concerned about
party politics. At all. He's concerned about the possibility of a
leftist shadow government inside the official executive branch that's
intending to steal the liberties of Democrat and Republican citizens
alike, without any possibility of intervention by Congress. YOU HAVE NO
IDEA WHAT YOU'RE EVEN TALKING ABOUT with these kinds of ignorant
accusations and pomposities.
I will know that the party is on the
path to recovery when someone in a position of influence reaches out to
former Republicans like me. We are the most likely group among
independents to vote Republican. But I see no effort to do so. All I
see is pandering to the party’s crazies like the birthers . In the
short run that may be enough to pick up a few congressional seats next
year, but I see no way a Republican can retake the White House for the
foreseeable future. Both CBO and OMB are predicting better than 4% real
growth in 2011 and 2012. If those numbers are even remotely correct
Obama will have it in the bag. Also, Republicans have to find a way to
win some minority votes because it is not viable as a whites-only party
in presidential elections. That’s why I wrote my Wrong on Race book,
which no one read.
"I see no way a Republican can retake the White House for the
foreseeable future." Yeah. Unless the American people figure out, as they seem to be doing right now, that Obama has never
told them the truth about anything ever.
"Both CBO and OMB are predicting better than 4% real growth in 2011 and
2012." Sure. With the dollar in the tank and runaway inflation
accompanying any increase in real economic activity, even 4-percent
growth will be eaten alive by the impacts of the deficit, provided that
government borrowing, federal regulation of the private sector,
increased taxation of job-creating individuals and businesses, and a
commercial real estate crash on top of lagging reemployment numbers
don't kill growth prospects altogether. I'm convinced. Obama's golden
"If those numbers are even remotely correct Obama will have it in the
bag." Since when did you start believing the CBO and OMB? Since you
stopped recognizing the faces of your wife and children? Have you
considered Scrabble? Shuffleboard? Bingo? What's that
glamorous new Alzheimer's drug that slows down the rate at which
dementia overtakes you? Get it. Ignore the long list of side effects.
You need the medication NOW.
"That’s why I wrote my Wrong on Race book, which no one read." Awww.
Maybe Obama will pass a law that requires all of us to read it.
Bottom Line. If he ever was a Reaganite, Bruce Bartlett isn't one
anymore. He's just a very confused old fart, still hugging a
comfortable tree he can't see has been overtaken and twisted to death
by poison ivy. That's why so many oldsters
are dying. They've outlived their 20th century wisdom. The lesson
for the rest of us is that we can't trust the ancient insiders. They're
too close. They can't see the danger. But we have to see the danger. Our whole
future depends on it.
I've resisted thinking that
Glenn Beck's darkest fears are
correct. Ironically, essays like Bartlett's push me closer to believing
that he's right. Insanity is
in the air. When it strikes the formerly sane, that's when you know
you're flirting with the Weimar Republic model.
Truth is, we're as anti-Republican as Bartlett at this point. For
exactly opposite reasons. The frightened, big government Republicans in congress are not fighting for the country. We
need them to. Which makes them as big a problem as the Democrats, who
-- contrary to Beck's naive theories -- are all complicit in the
impending destruction of the United States. There are no innocents
here. Only degrees of treachery.
I really am starting to wonder. What does it take to wake people up? If
smart people can't be woken, what chance do the rest of us have to save
*Economist Bruce Bartlett was an
official in the Reagan and George H.W.
Bush administrations and helped President George W. Bush craft his
early tax cuts. He writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column and
for such popular Web sites as RealClearPolitics.com. Ranked number nine
on International Economy magazine's list of the most important
think tank scholars in the U.S., Bartlett is also a prolific author.
His new book, Wrong on Race, is an exposé of the racial roots
of the Democratic Party.
your scrivers. More important, bring your life.
MK. There are other places InstaPunkers go to have at it with
each other. Ordinarily, we don't intrude. We do what we do here, and
they do what they do there. But there are times when they're having a
better or more interesting conversation than we are. That's when we
say, hie yourselves to the Metalkort, and give them the benefit of your
attention and insight. This time, there are two posts worthy of your
attention. One already has plenty of comments (more than we usually
get) but is so educational it requires more:
Another is a splendid joie de vivre
post that should receive more input than the ultra-serious Metalkort
crowd has seen fit to give it. Shouldn't we be as supportive of
enthusiasm as we are angry about intentions of death? I think so.
(Sorry, Billy. There is
something transcendant about sport, no matter how jaded you are.) It's about
hockey. And it's also authored by our most prolific commenter, Eduardo,
who gleams with a love of life itself that most can only aspire to.
Name the subject and he has three times as much to say about it as
Instapunk ever has. And he's not nearly so obnoxious.
And for the snobs in the readership, I remind you that once upon a time
we had another hockey fan among our number, sunk in luxurious indolence
now, who wrote hilariously about "The Hockey" and the "Anyshell." Do an
'advanced search' for "Puck Punk" and you'll find some of the funniest
entries ever posted here before the arrival of Brizoni.