January 14, 2011 - January 7, 2011
Friday, March 26, 2010
Applied to Israel
I'm not assuming you're unaware of the big headlines, but I know people
are withdrawing somewhat from the news world in the wake of the
healthcare law and the ugly mix of Democrat gloating and racial smears
against the law's opponents that are dominating MSM journalism. So I'm
just making sure you concentrate for a moment on this
important and disturbing story:
Netanyahu humiliated after
Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'
For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for
photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices
while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this
week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by
President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a
trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.
After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on
settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but
invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let
me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the
Prime Minister, said.
“It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the
meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the
Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped
on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister
had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial
I know there are many different and complex conceivable explanations
for such a direct diplomatic snub. Obama is sending a message to Israel
that the current regime must be replaced before meaningful negotiations
can resume. Alternatively, he is creating U.S. deniability -- and
provocation -- for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities that
is nevertheless "a consummation devoutly to be wished."
Still. It's impossible not to consider this in the context of Hillary
Clinton's pollyana descriptions of the benefits of "smart power" in
Is this really how "smart power" treats a nation that has lived under a
constant existential threat from both war and terrorism since its
founding 60 years ago?
It's also impossible not to think anew about the -- to many Americans
nauseating -- 'Apology Tour' of Obama's first
year in office, the largely unrequited cordiality of his outreach to the
most criminal despots in the world, and the borderline rudeness of his
relations with allies like the U.K., France, and Germany.
And it's hard not to allow as a distinct possibility that our president
is fundamentally anti-Israel if not anti-Jew. Are we really supposed to
forget that Barack Obama sat in the pew of Jeremiah Wright's church
during outbursts such as this?
Well, I can't forget. I'd welcome any guidance on how I can and why I
We're constantly assured (er, scorned and ridiculed for not quite
believing) that Obama is neither a muslim nor a muslim sympathizer.
How does that argument go again exactly?
Gaia. You know. a.k.a. Systems
OLD WHITE MEN. I don't usually take suggestions about posts. This
time is the exception that proves the rule. Eduardo wanted me to see
the Marxists among us and so he offered this
link with the proviso that the comments were the only interesting
part. He's right. Marxists all. Nothing to say about it, really. Except
read them and weep. (Yawn.)
But then he provided this additional link about The
Great Turning, which is far more interesting. Why? It's facinating,
to me at least, because it's actually written.
You know. Sentences. Paragraphs, Spelling and punctuation. Far better
than the standard at a score of righty websites, including Ace of
Spades, InstaPundit, Hugh Hewitt, Boortz, Hotair (with the sole
exception of DocZero), PowerLine, and all the Breitbart sites (sadly). Useful. How? Because regardless
of the close relationship that usually exists between them, writing and
thinking aren't the same thing. It's possible to be a competent writer
and a wildly, utterly incompetent thinker. (Thus explaining Norman
Mailer, for example.) Anyway. Here's a sample paragraph:
Now, in this very time, these three
rivers — anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral
teachings — flow together. From the confluence of these rivers we drink
and awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a living Earth, source
of all we are and know. Despite centuries of mechanistic conditioning,
we want to name, once again, this world as holy.
Whether they come through Gaia theory, systems theory, chaos theory, or
through liberation theology, shamanic practices, or the Goddess, such
insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free us from the
grip of the industrial-growth society. They offer us nobler goals and
deeper pleasures. They redefine our wealth and our worth, liberating us
from compulsions to consume and control.
So rich is the harvest, that when we claim these new understandings,
there’s little room for panic or self-pity. Instead, gratitude arises
to be alive at this moment, when, for all the darkness coming upon us,
blessings abound. They help us stay alert and steady, so we can join
hands to find the ways the world self-heals—and see the present chaos
as seedbed for the future.
I love this (Thank you, Eduardo.) It's a perfect archetype of literate
writing and, well, nonexistent thinking. Which makes it perfectly
post-modern too. Consider that the first sentence of the second
paragraph would make exactly as much sense if it had been written thus:
"Whether they come through Lady Gaga, carburetor technology, flatulence
jokes, or through G-spot theory, itinerant Gypsy fortunetellers, or
Beyonce, such insights and experiences are absolutely necessary to free
us from the grip of the Cleveland City Council..." There are virtually
no commonalities among the strands of thought being so specifically
theory is a pseudo-mythology imposed on the past,
theory and chaos
theory are legitimate branches of science and math,
and everything else in the citation is post-modern,
bullshit. But it sure sounds scholarly, don't it?
AGAIN my thanks to Eduardo. Rare, really, to get such a distilled
example of what people are exposed to every day in the mainstream
media. That WTF feeling you get when you read a NYT editorial or hear
a sententious commentary from some third-generation successor to Eric
Severaid at CBS News is a result of exactly this kind of fakery, which
can be given many names: pseudo-intellectualism, faux learning,
narcissistic preening, ignorant elitist bombast, jargonized superiority, academically abstruse obtuseness, or what
Lewis Carroll aptly named Jabberwocky.
But Lewis Carroll defined it only by example. Bertrand Russell, on the
other hand, defined it in (gasp) precise dictionary terms (h/t to
Murry at Sic Semper Tyrannis for the exact quote I
" ... what Mr. [Bertrand] Russell once
called ... 'a purely prudential use of
language,' ... using words not because he knows what he means by
them, but because he knows how they are ordinarily used, and does with
them what he has heard other people do with them before. He strings
them together in suitable sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough,
produces with them pretty well the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he
may have not much more inkling of what he is really (or should be)
doing with them than a telephone girl need have of the inner wiring of
the switchboard she operates so deftly. He may merely be in the
condition that Conrad ascribed to those Russians who pour words out
'with such an aptness of application sometimes that, as in the case of
very accomplished parrots, one can't defend oneself from the suspicion
that they really understand what they say.'" [boldface added]
That's what we're up against with the left. They tend to write better
than their counterparts on the right. (That's what the Ivy League does
after all... provide a vocabulary of disdain unaffiliated with actual experience.) But they have no idea what they're really talking about.
It's just a pile of plausible phrases they've learned how to string
together in a way that can be diagrammed as grammatically faultless and therefore superficially beyond reproach. Could you write a more literate paragraph?
This is a syndrome that reaches very high into the realm of the
intellectually elite. It explains the opening paragraph of this
post, for example. But there's nothing in their educations or
predilections that makes them students of systems theory, chaos theory,
shamanism, or mythology -- let alone economics, complexity theory,
information theory, quantum physics, theology, archaeology,
anthropology, genetics, and cosmology -- to the degree that a
functioning human being who is grappling with the meaning of life in an
oppressively secular age is inclined to do.
What's the biggest single cultural influence in the western world? The
Bible. Ask the next intellectuals who patronize you whether they've ever
read it. Be alert for deceitful answers because they haven't. From Judges to Proverbs to Isaiah to Romans, it's all Greek to them. (And believe me, they've never studied Greek either.) Everything they tell you about your supposed religious delusions is misdirection. Everything
they condescend to share about their superior take on religion, philosophy, science, or
politics is "the purely prudential use of language." In other words,
We're governed these days by an elite class of emperors. All of whom
have no clothes. Don't be afraid to jeer at their nakedness. Yes,
they're articulate, assertive, arrogant, and if need be, assaultive.
But they don't know shit. They're simply the brightest smears
we've trained ourselves to track on the Internet. By bright I don't
mean intelligent. I mean, rather, the strobing egos of those who
know so little of their own paucity that they lack the humility to
regard the spotlight as something other than a friend.
LESSON: If they give you a podium to preach from, be very afraid. If
you're not afraid, there's a near 100 percent probability that you're a
fool. If you take a podium no one gave you, be very very careful. You're probably a
fool too. Those are the inevitable odds.
Unless you're InstaPunk. Because we're never ever ever wrong. Except when we're
completely full of shit. [Which might
have happened once or twice in the last seven years, Maybe.]
David is a man I’ve known
professionally for almost a decade, and with whom my social interaction
has always been very genial. He is a good and energetic man, and has,
in the years since he left service at the White House, dedicated
himself to being what I call a “polite-company conservative” (or PCC),
much like David Brooks and Sam Tanenhaus at the New York Times (where
the precocious Ross Douthat is shaping up to be a baby version of the
species). A PCC is a conservative who yearns for the goodwill of the
liberal elite in the media and in the Beltway—who wishes, always, to
have their ear, to be at their dinner parties, to be comforted by a
sense that liberal interlocutors believe that they are not like other
conservatives, with their intolerance and boorishness, their shrillness
and their talk radio. The PCC, in fact, distinguishes himself from
other conservatives not so much ideologically—though there is an
element of that—as aesthetically.
Uh, oh, James Cameron’s angry and you
know how James gets when he’s angry… Stupid:
“Glenn Beck is a f—ing a–hole,” he
said, according to The Associated Press. “I’ve met him. He called me
the Antichrist, and not about ‘Avatar.’ He hadn’t even seen ‘Avatar’
yet. I don’t know if he has seen it.” …
“I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and
shoot it out with those boneheads,” Cameron said. “Anybody that is a
global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so
deeply up their a–, I’m not sure they could hear me.”
Cameron said conservative criticism of the environmental message of
“Avatar” aren’t necessarily attacks. “They’re just people ranting away,
lost in their little bubbles of reality, steeped in their own hatred,
their own fear and hatred,” he said. “That’s where it all comes from.
Let’s just call it out. Let’s have a public discussion. That’s what
movies are supposed to do, you know. You can have a mindless
entertainment film that doesn’t affect anybody. I wasn’t interested in
My first question for Mr. Global Warming would be to ask why a
mansion-dweller so concerned with the welfare of the planet would
initially release ”Avatar” on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras whatsoever.
Here’s what a cynical charlatan James Cameron is. The first “Avatar”
DVD release occurs on Earth Day to take full advantage of all his
Stupakky fans who want to feel good about themselves without actually
doing anything to further their cause. But it’s a barebones release.
This way Cameron can make a whole lot more money in the future
releasing the same film again and again in Special Editions, Deluxe
Editions, Platinum Editions and so on.
Does this sound like someone who gives a hi-ho hearty damn about Mother
Earth? No, this sounds like just another greedy capitalist wringing
every possible nickel from his wares by finessing the market in a way
that promotes as much consuming as possible of a product that, by the
way, comes in a thick plastic case that must have a landfill half-life
of a couple thousand years...
I have been quite demoralized since
Sunday: I couldn't believe the level of arm-twisting, deal-making and
compromise in the final week of the health-care debate. Sometimes I
forget how terrible politics is.
In any case, here is a good video by Reason TV giving three reasons why
the health-care bill won't shrink the deficit. I hope it will help the
people who are still believing that spending trillions to save billions
is possible will open their eyes.
Watch and cry (that is, if you haven't been already for months).
In a way, Amanpour, scheduled to leave
CNN after 18 years of international coverage and take over the program
in August, could be seen as the opposite of the perfect candidate.
"This Week" deals mainly in domestic politics and inside-the-Beltway
palaver, an area where Amanpour is widely considered to be deficient.
Consider: Whenever CNN has thrown one of its big election-night,
convention, or presidential debate spectaculars, drafting nearly every
living staff member to appear, Amanpour has had a conspicuously low
And even though Amanpour has often been touted for her expertise on
foreign affairs, she has vocal and passionate critics in that arena as
well. Supporters of Israel have more than once charged Amanpour with
bias against that country and its policies. A Web site devoted to
criticism of Amanpour is titled, with less than a modicum of subtlety,
"Christiane Amanpour's Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop,"
available via Facebook...
Michael Moore gets the Michael Moore
treatment in a new documentary created by a fellow Michigan resident.
Accountant turned filmmaker Kevin Leffler isn’t a dyed in the wool
Republican trying to score cheap shots off the liberal gadfly. He’s
just a regular Midwesterner who knew the guy being trumped up in the
press as the straight talking Everyman wasn’t the real deal.
Leffler grew up in the same part of Michigan as Moore, attending the
same Catholic Church and even working together on a local youth
hotline. So when Leffler calls out Moore, it means something.
“Shooting Michael Moore”
lets Leffler deconstruct the Moore myth. It’s a project with a tiny
budget and little Hollywood razzmatazz – Leffler is a CPA and college
professor, not a slick documentarian...
The once mighty community activist
group ACORN announced Monday it is folding amid falling revenues - six
months after video footage emerged showing some of its workers giving
tax tips to conservative activists posing as a pimp and prostitute.
"It's really declining revenue in the face of a series of attacks from
partisan operatives and right-wing activists that have taken away our
ability to raise the resources we need," ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan
If Democrats felt heartened after
yesterday’s Gallup poll showing a plurality of support for their new
ObamaCare plan, Bloomberg’s survey should bring them back to
Earth. The survey asked over a thousand adults their opinions of
the ObamaCare bill during and after its passage, and like almost every
poll taken in the last several months, a majority of respondents
opposed it. Moreover, a majority also consider it a government
takeover of the American health-care system...
After protesters at the University of
Ottawa prevented Ann Coulter from giving a speech Tuesday night, the
American conservative writer said it proved the point she came to make
-- free speech in Canada leaves much to be desired.
Then she said what she really thought of the student protesters who
surrounded Marion Hall, making it too unsafe, in the view of her
bodyguard, for the pundit to attempt entry.
"The University of Ottawa is really easy to get into, isn't it?" she
said in an interview with the Citizen after the cancelled event.
"I never get any trouble at the Ivy League schools. It's always the bush-league schools."
Coulter remarked on the reception she has had since entering the
"Since I've arrived in Canada, I've been denounced on the floor of
Parliament -- which, by the way, is on my bucket list -- my posters
have been banned, I've been accused of committing a crime in a speech
that I have not yet given, I was banned by the student council, so
welcome to Canada!"...
Coulter said... it's well known on the campus speaking circuit that
conservatives need to travel with security staff, as she did.
"I'm pretty sure little François A-Houle does not need to travel
with a bodyguard," she said. "I would like to know when this sort of
violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim -- who
appear to be, from what I've read of the human rights complaints, the
only protected group in Canada. I think I'll give my speech tomorrow
night in a burqa. That will protect me."...
The immediate benefits Fox & Friends have been promoting
(promoting, promoting, promoting...) aren't actually there yet.
. The National Review
famously fired Ann Coulter for being impolitic about muslims in the
wake of the 9/11 attack. Amusingly, they're now struggling with a story
that should be red meat for them. Here's the newest slab of rare Coulter
U.S. firebrand Ann Coulter
will file grievance with rights panel
London, Ont. — Inflammatory right-wing pundit Ann Coulter took aim at a
University of Ottawa administrator Monday night, saying an e-mail from
the school warning her to use “restraint, respect and consideration”
when addressing Ontario students during a speaking tour this week made
her a victim of a “hate crime.”
Speaking to students and academics at the University of Western Ontario
Monday, Coulter said the e-mail sent to her Friday by Francois Houle,
vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa,
targeted her as a member of an identifiable group and as such, she will
be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging hate
“I’m sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it,”
Coulter said to loud cheers from the 800-strong audience. “I think I’m
the victim of a hate crime here. Either what (Mr. Houle) did was a hate
crime, or the whole commission is BS.”
In Houle’s e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by the National Post,
the administrator urges Coulter to weigh her words with “respect and
civility in mind” when she speaks at the University of Ottawa campus
“Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of
expression (or ‘free speech’) in a manner that is somewhat different
than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you
to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and
to do so before your planned visit here.”
Houle goes on: “Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would
not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to
Ezra Levant, lawyer and former publisher of the Western Standard
magazine, spoke before Coulter on Monday and called Houle’s letter a
“veiled threat.” Seamus Wolfe, the president of the University of
Ottawa’s student federation, has already said that Coulter is not
welcome on campus and that he is trying to work with the administration
to find a venue for her speech elsewhere.
The administration, however, has said it does not object to the fiery
pundit’s appearance on campus.
Coulter’s targeting of the University of Ottawa administration and
Canada’s Human Rights Commissions came at the end of a half-hour speech
that attacked political correctness in the United States and the
mainstream media, which she said was uncritical of the Obama
administration and unfairly biased against conservatives.
“It’s almost like there is one standard for Conservatives and one
completely different one for Liberals,” Coulter told the crowd, which
alternated from cheering to booing depending on the topic of
discussion, which ranged from gay marriage, illegal immigration to
Barack Obama’s new health-care bill.
“A word is either offensive or it’s not. In a world of political
correctness, all words are banned unless they’re used against
Cool. But so far, NRO hasn't even acknowledged this part of the story.
Daniel Foster reported
briefly on her speech:
Ann Coulter has given another charged, contentious talk, this time at
the University of Western Ontario.
UPDATE: I've heard from a number of readers suggesting that this post
(what there is of it) is in some sense critical of Coulter. I guess
she's gotten so contentious that calling her contentious is
contentious! But please don't read too much into my skinny post. Though
I've recently been doing a bit more editorializing, especially on the
topic of a certain piece of legislation that, even as we speak, is on
its way to the president's desk, my job around here is mostly to keep
you Cornerites apprised of the news. So, often I'll just play it
straight, and let you draw your own conclusions.
And Mark Steyn, who has waged a huge battle against Canadian hate
speech charges leveled at one of his books, has had only
this to say about the matter:
Coulter in Canada
Oh, I wouldn't get so excited about one little Toronto Sun story,
Daniel. What ought to be "contentious" about Ann Coulter's first
Canadian tour is that François Houle, the provost of the
University of Ottawa, threatened to lay criminal charges before she'd
even uttered a word on Canadian soil.
The reflexive position of the Canadian establishment (of which M. Houle
is a very typical example) is to insist on ever narrower bounds of
public discourse regulated by an ever more coercive state. If it's a
choice between that or the
occasional bum joke by Ann Coulter, that shouldn't be a
difficult call. [Italics mine]
You can search all seven years of Instapunk archives and never find one
negative comment about Mark Steyn. Here's the first. Get the stick out
of your ass, Mark. And National
Review too. Coulter's funny and most of her jokes aren't "bum
jokes;" they tend to be both smart and pertinent to the reality of our
I'm very fond of The Corner, especially Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg,
but I have to say I've grown weary of NRO's reluctance to cast Kathleen
Parker into the outer darkness she deserves for month upon month of
Obama apologias and Palin bashing. And I could grow even wearier within
hours if NRO continues to treat Coulter like some sort of Orwellian
Her counterattack against the Canadian Human Rights Commissions is
inspired, and it should be right up NRO's alley. But no. The ghost of
WFB would sniff his disapproval. Or would he?
Don't disappoint us, Mr. Steyn. You
know she's a national treasure. Man up.
Why are we all feeling it? And we are, aren't we?
We're all grieving now. I'll give you one anecdote to show you
I'm there too. I talked to a friend last night, a big wheel in the
mainstream media. He was contemptuous
of our objections to the health care bill. Almost spittingly so. I was
so shocked I demeaned his Columbia journalism degree: "Did you go to business school?" I
asked. "I did. Did you ever
take a course in economics?" And I love this guy. He's a friend of 40
our country is dying and he -- with two Ivy League degrees -- doesn't
have a f___ng clue. I get it. It's a pain in the soul. I understand the
heartbreaking exchange between JS and Lake that anyone can read in our
What can I do? Not much. (We're waiting for Eduardo's Ayn Rand post,
but then we'll have to thump him about that too. So it goes...) How
about some distractions, some substitute
pains? Moovies. Not happy feelgood shows but something that accords
with your mood and twists it into something else -- a thing at one
remove from your real despair. Best I can do.
Three movies. One cheapo horror flick. One self-important indie. And
one big-budget entry you might have missed if you're like me, because
why would anyone watch it?
Horror flick. It's called Population
436. Not a slasher movie. It stars Jeremy Sisto of Six Feet Under fame. And a very
lovely girl, one of those corn-fed brunettes for a change. Here's the
It gets to you somehow. Well, it got to me anyway. Horror taking the
form of framed encomiums to a doctor.
The indie flick is Passengers.
About a plane crash and its traumatized survivors. I won't show you the
trailer because I don't want you to watch it. Good acting performances
by Anne Hathaway, Andre Braugher, and a guy named Patrick Wilson. Don't
it up on Rotten Tomatoes, either. Just watch it. Trust me.
The big budget flick is Blood Diamond.
There's lots wrong with it. It's preachy, Leonardo di Caprio can't do a
South African or Rhodesian accent to save his life, and it's very long. However. It got me. It
also got my wife, who shed tears at the end, even though she'd missed
nearly half the action. There's an actor named Djimon Hounsou, who will shock you and move you,
regardless of any cynicism you rightfully have about sub-Saharan
Africa. Here's the trailer.
And, finally, just for JS and Lake. Not a movie but a song. This was a
huge hit when I was in college about a hundred years ago. Here's the
And here's a diferent version which somehow completes the circle.
it as I offer it, JS. The problem is still bad ideas, not soulless
Americans. The problem isn't even Harvard. Go here and click on the
Chesnokov piece in the top box, then tell me we're all automatically
doomed. When I saw it live at Princeton University with my stepdaughter
Monica, I looked at her and saw she was weeping. I've never been
prouder of her. I believed at that moment in the salvation of all of us.
Or am I just ducking my own particular flavor of guilt?
A Moment of Focus
you, my dear. With all my heart.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Republicans for President
loving the bad haircut and all the charts he's been lugging around.
. How about it? A president who isn't a messiah but
a citizen executive. The awful, the truly terrible irony, is that
without Reagan there would have been no Obama. A president who is truly
larger than life is a rare, rare thing. A man of far-seeing vision,
personal charisma, and policies that proved to be right for the
long-term health of the republic. The United States has had exactly
three of these in 220 years: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and
Ronald Reagan. There have been some who possessed two but not all three
of these attributes. Jefferson lacked personal charisma, but it didn't
matter as much in his day. Jackson lacked vision, as his intimates and
duelling partners would have attested. FDR had vision and charisma, but
his vision was wrong and became a festering wound in the heart of the
nation. The same was true of FDR's elder cousin Theodore. Because it's
not true that people who consider themselves smarter than the rest of
us are. A vision of government as the father and mother of a child
citizenry is more a function of ego than insight. And electing men who
simply look good in suits and deliver affecting speeches can make us
think we're connected to someone larger than life, but that's perhaps
the worst folly of all.
But after Reagan, the Democrats wanted one of their own. The Reagan
funeral -- all that love expressed by citizens of every color and class
-- tipped them into desperation.
The Republicans have Reagan, who won
the Cold War and rescued America's economic and foreign policy primacy,
and who do we have? Carter,
the smallest, meanest, most uncharismatic leftover of the twentieth
century. Clinton, the charismatic scumbag who at every turn traded
vision for expediency and everything else for survival in office. To
this day, Democrats rummage the gutters for some, any evidence that Ronald Reagan was
ever mean, hypocritical, or consumed with blind ego and partisanship.
Not finding such evidence, they paint him as an idiot, a figurehead, a
photogenic performer. Even to the point of ascribing all his
accomplishments in foreign policy to Mikhail Gorbachev and all his
accomplishments in economic prosperity to, uh, sheer luck. And they
have actually celebrated and joked about his tragic succumbing to
Which tells us a lot about the attributes they were looking for in
their own version of Reagan. He would have to look good, sound good,
and seem good in terms of his marriage and personal morals. It would be
great if his national political career was precipitated by a single
memorable speech. He should be iconic in some elementally American way.
He should campaign in a perpetually positive, speak-no-evil sort of
way, as if the very robustness of his own belief in people and America
could somehow overcome mere policy differences with the opposition. "We
can be better than all this partisan ugliness."
But you can never conjure up a Reagan just because you want one. Truth
is, there's only ever been one
Reagan. Even Washington and Lincoln didn't quite have what Reagan did.
Lincoln had a high voice and suffered from chronic depression.
Washington had no teeth, and he was nevertheless so vain it took a
constitutional crisis before he could bring himself to wear spectacles
in public. Yes, Lincoln was a more gifted writer than Reagan (but not
by as much as is popularly believed) and Washington had a better
biography (unless we're talking exemplary American biographies), but Reagan
was really a 'perfect storm' of presidential attributes, which is why
my Irish wife remains so scornful of him to this day -- noting that he
was Irish, charming, and regardless of everything, a politician --
which to her means that there must, positively has to have been,
something deeply dark and therefore forgivably Irish about him she
can't find, no matter how hard she looks. Which makes him, in Irish
logic, a fake of some sort who can't be forgiven for having been pretty
much what he seemed to be. It actually makes her suspicious that Reagan
took a bullet and didn't die
while he joked his way through the crisis, because she knows that the
celebrated "luck of the Irish" is all bad
luck and all real Irish
stories end badly.
Except in America. Where we're all presently grappling with -- given
the current president's disavowal of it -- the concept of American
Ah. Yes. Back to the Democrats' Reagan. So they found one and they
elected him and a huge majority in congress and the senate, and how can
you argue the luck of how the Dems acquired their filibuster-proof
majority in the senate -- Arlen Specter turning tail at the tag end of
his life and Al Franken chiselling his way past a meek Republican
governor to the final stolen seat? How could this not be a sign of
There's only one problem. Obama is not a Reagan. He's a guy who looks
good in a suit and delivers a speech that inspires people who have
never read speeches much. He's not even FDR or JFK. He's full of
platitudes, not eloquence, and there's neither a TR nor a PT-109 in his
background. His beautiful suits -- I'll stipulate the best ever -- are all empty.
A long way round, I suppose, to a point that's already been made here.
Our next president isn't going to be charismatic, beautiful,
beautifully dressed, or situationally eloquent. He'll be what most of
the presidents we've gotten when we needed them were: ordinary
Americans who know that's what they are. We don't need that extra
dimension of "larger than life" right now. What we need is "real life."
The American presidency isn't about fatherhood or motherhood. It's
about serving the voters, being a scrupulous steward of our future.
Protecting and defending us as a nation. Guarding the budget and its
bottom line. Letting us ordinary citizens provide all the pyrotechnics,
prosperity, and potency of the American Dream.
Best ideal of an American president in the Obama age? A respectful
clerk executing our agenda, with balls the size of Mount Rushmore and
principles more granite than the Ten Commandments.
Additional candidates? Mike Pence. Gray but not fun.
I'm even thinking about this guy. So what if he doesn't understand the
uncoolness of a spray-on tan. For my money, he's fought like a Trojan
and spoken direct declarative sentences I haven't heard since Barry
Goldwater -- or Ronald Reagan.
btw, we'll get back to you when what we really need is another Ronald
Reagan. Or when we spot one.
Deem and pass? Are you kidding me? Is
this what the Revolutionary War was fought for? Is this what the boys
on Normandy beach were trying to defend? Is this where we thought we
would end up when Obama was speaking so beautifully in Iowa or
promising to put away childish things?
Yes, I know Republicans have used the deem and pass technique. It was
terrible then. But those were smallish items. This is the largest piece
of legislation in a generation and Pelosi wants to pass it without a
vote. It’s unbelievable that people even talk about this with a
straight face. Do they really think the American people are going to
stand for this? Do they think it will really fool anybody if a
Democratic House member goes back to his district and says, “I didn’t
vote for the bill. I just voted for the amendments.” Do they think all
of America is insane?...
Either this whole city has gone insane or I have or both. But I’m out
here on the ledge and I’m not coming in the window. In my view this is
no longer about health care. It’s just Democrats wanting to pass a
bill, any bill, and shredding anything they have to in order to get it
done. It’s about taking every sin the Republicans committed when they
were busy being corrupted by power and matching it with interest.
But people are talking about
it with a straight face. There's some tutting and clucking to be sure,
but mostly it's all about handicapping a horse race, not defending the
liberty and solvency of the republic. Last night Bill O'Reilly, the guy
who's "looking out for the folks," did as good a job of the CBO
Straddle as anybody (or should I say everybody) else, simultaneously
expressing doubt about the absurd budget-impact estimates the Democrats
have extorted from this supposedly neutral bureaucracy and adopting a moderate
wait-and-see approach about the real economic impact of the bill. Yes,
somehow, it's all really about politics and competing partisan claims,
and it will all come out in the wash eventually. That's how the
professional pundits are playing it for the most part. (Yesterday, Mark
McKinnon, one of GWB's former political advisers, actually penned a column
explaining that Obama's at his low point now and should rally in time to win
reelection in 2012. So why is
the Republican establishment actually opposed to the healthcare bill if
it'll be irrelevant in a year or so? Just playing the game?...)
O'Reilly topped off his brilliant talking points with a smirk-and-grin
inquiry of Glenn Beck about whether he was going to leave the country
if the bill passed. Soooo funny.
Truth. There's nowhere to go if the congress destroys the American
healthcare system. We have been the last best hope of the world for a
very long time now, and destroying that identity -- our identity -- appears to be the
real mission of this insane administration. There's no one like us out
there to take up the slack.
And if we're the only ones who are goggling at the utter corrupt
madness of what's going on, guess what? We're the ones who will be judged
insane. Maybe we should organize our own asylum.
. Just to refresh your memories, I'll quote a relevant
chunk from the last post that wasn't about healthcare
and the death of
the United States. (btw, saying I'm ready to die right now isn't a
suicide threat; it's a way of saying the stakes are now life and death
in a way they haven't been for generations, and being ready to die for
those stakes is a necessary price of admission to the discussion.
"Ready" and "anxious" aren't synonyms in my lexicon.) Ahem. The chunk:
[T]his is not a narrow religious
question. We have just seen that science is capable of not only
conspiracy, but also of poisoning the waters, so to speak. The Global
Warming 'crisis' -- and the exposure of its corrupt 'science' -- is
proof that small, venal, parochially human incentives for career or
political gain can result in mass distortions of what is popularly
conceived to be indisputably true and factual. We have seen for
ourselves that scientists are willing to pervert their disciplines in
the name of what they see as socially and politically and financially
advantageous or merely congruent with their pre-existing prejudices.
Are you scared or angry yet? Are you really prepared to let them do in
your conceptions of God and meaning and morality because they have
giant instruments they're willing to apply on behalf of their
preconceptions? Or are they just greedy mechanics with ready access to
a wrench they'll use, when pressed, to bash in their wife's brains?
Because everyone knows she didn't have any 'understanding' to begin
with. Talk to me.
Actually, I have more than three points. But that's all I'm going to
offer for now. What I have, in truth, is the basis for a
reconceptualization of the entire human social contract in the age of
the Internet, mass media, the so-called information explosion, and a
threadbare consensus reality. Anybody want to hear it?
Several of you say you do. I'm only going to outline the basic ideas
here. Your discussions and questions can be the means of fleshing out
the depths and additional dimensions inherent in the outline. The most
important concepts are historical stratifications of authority, mass
media, post-modernism, traditional assumptions about organizations
versus individuals, consciousness, and the Internet.
All societies to this point in time have been organized around caste
systems. The ancients had mostly layers of hierarchy, gods, royals,
priests, soldiers, craftsmen, and peasants, with little freedom of
movement between layers. This state persisted into the middle ages,
where some of the layers became social segments not quite as precisely
arranged in a hierarchy. Thanks to the Renaissance and the
Enlightenment, artists and intellectuals -- and later, scientists --
acquired an authority that could sometimes successfully contend with
the hierarchy, which remained absolute in a social sense but not
necessarily in all other respects. Still, the craft (trade) and peasant
classes were subordinate to all others. The rise of capitalism changed
the equation again because money could buy power, however low its
origins, although the social castes remained. An aristocrat was always
automatically superior to a peasant, and highly educated intellectuals
were always superior to those of more humble schooling. This state of
affairs survived even the American Revolution and the cultural
exceptionalism and the social mobility it enabled. Even the low-bred
barons of industry acquired social status only through the increasing
educational credentials of their children.
The important thing to understand about this is that social
mobility (and consequent influence) was a function of moving from one
segment of an increasingly complex and staggered hierarchy to another.
It was a movement among categories -- say, from aristocrat to
scientist/artist/intellectual, from nouveau riche to old money, from
peasantry to economic power, from middle class tradesman to
intellectually credentialed, or to any number of permutations of these.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were always socially superior to
Benjamin Franklin. But Franklin moved into a segment that was
approximately equivalent if not entirely equal. In every case, however,
the movement was from insignificant to powerful, connected, and
therefore famous and influential. Versus not.
The ascendancy of these -- from books to newspapers to magazines to
advertising to movies to records to radio to television -- have
increased mobility to some extent but have also ossified the oldest slots and boxes
while adding a few more categories to the mix: journalist, movie star,
musician, cultural icon. The mass media also made it possible for
politicians and political movements to become influential despite lack
of social credentials: organized labor, oppressed ethnic and racial
minorities, the female sex. All of which led to a certain process of
cross-pollination; it became possible to belong to more than one
authoritative segment: female intellectual, ethnic artist, labor
leader, peasant movie star, intellectual journalist. Etc. The
proliferation of such cross-pollinations multiplied the number of
definable segments and created a vigorous and confused amalgam of
authorities that seemed very much like a democratic mingling, a
marketplace of ideas.
But it wasn't really. In important ways, all the new competing and
overlapping segments were mere camouflage. Underneath, the old
hierarchies flourished and reasserted themselves in the dark. There
were the people who had money and power and breeding and a natural
authority nothing could undo. And there were, in the post-Enlightenment
era, people whose educational credentials meant that they knew
something, as opposed to all the people who didn't. Know anything, that
is. And because what they shared was power and influence, they began to
grow together, to complement one another, based on their conviction
that collectively they were the right people to tell everyone else what
to do, meaning all the dumb people who didn't have breeding and power
and influence and education and ideas and the means to drive their
ideas into the population as a whole. Which is when they began
abandoning ideas altogether in favor of concentrating their power over
the dumbshits who annoyed them so much. That's when they decided --
given that the only truth they could agree on was the importance of
power -- that ideas and even truth didn't exist. What existed was
the infinite ability of those in the right positions to remake truth on
the fly based on their superior capacity to wield facts like weapons
and distort anything and everything for their own purposes. Religion,
literature, art, science, philosophy -- all of it meant nothing. It could all be
whatever they needed it to mean at the moment, which was proof positive
of their superiority over the worthless commoners. Every idiocy people
could be made to believe was only reinforcement of their own natural
right to reinvent the truth on a day-to-day basis. And so they did.
They used an imagination no longer geared toward creation to transform
black to white, good to evil (and vice versa), justice to injustice,
virtue to vice, and most importantly, native common sense (which they never had) into
demonstration of ignorance and folly.
Traditional Assumptions about
Organizations Versus Individuals
Meanwhile, the increasing proliferation of segments and sub-segments
had led to the creation of all kinds of organizations. The celebration
of individuals and individual mobility which had accompanied the
American Experiment and its proliferation of confusing
cross-pollinations was becoming a hindrance to the atavistic preference
for the simpler hierarchy of the high and the low all power-seekers
rediscover in their experience of making up truth for their
inferiors. Which caused them to forget some things. Like the fact that
almost all important breakthroughs are not the function of commissions,
congresses, corporations, colleges, committees, and political alliances, but of
one guy with a better idea: Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla,
William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo da Vinci, James
Madison, etc. You see, the community of the superior rarely consists of
the actually superior. It consists of the self-anointed ones, the superiorly disposed. Who rely on the group to affirm their
omniscience and right to lead. The story of corporations is almost
always a story of decline from the brilliance of the founder to the
embarrassments of bankruptcy. The story of governments is even more
pitiful. From false humility to fatal hubris and shocking
irresponsibility leading to utter ruin. Thus is the tale of human
civilizations written across the pages of history.
What human civilization still has going for it. Your consciousness.
Mine. The consciousness of people who don't necessarily accept the laws
laid down repeatedly for them by those who deem themselves smarter and
more aware. But what is consciousness? It's the ability to make
decisions for yourself about what is, what has been, and what will be.
What is fact. What is truth. And what constitutes the difference
What is it? It's nothing less than the collective consciousness of the
entire human race. It's the biggest breakthrough in the history of
humankind. Why? Because it records everything.
It bashes all the distinctions between layers and segments to nothing,
which is what they always were. There are no layers. No segments. There
are only the regions of the whole each individual person impinges on or
is defined by. We all now have the power to Google a person, a belief,
an organization, a set of relationships, a pattern of ideas. There is
no more pyramid. There are only smears of links upon links that create
tiny percentile regions of the whole representing the reach of single
persons, ranging from the official bios that used to intimidate us to
the silliest, most parochial things they have ever done. Joe Biden is
no longer just his carefully constructed senate cv; he is also his
YouTube gaffes, the senate gossip, his hair plugs, the blogs of friends,
family, and acquaintances, the indiscreet twitters of his intimates. He
is a fallible and limited man, not the falsely grand persona of his NYT defenders.
The same is true of absolutely everything in the world. Global Warming
may be a science. It's also a
scandal, a religion, a financial scam, a political conspiracy, a
cultural byproduct of the baby boomer revolutionaries, etc. Is there
one truth of the matter? Probably not. But paradoxically, this "fact"
doesn't mean the post-modernists are right. It means they're wrong. It
means, rather, that values are more important than facts, since we have
seen that facts -- and all the people who believe they are in
possession of the truth because they possess more facts -- are not
necessarily right. We can see, and even prove to ourselves, that where
they begin affects where they end up, no matter how much they claim to
be pure intellectuals.
Which is where the Reconceptualization figures in. The overwhelming
tidal wave of information on the Internet suggests that truth outweighs
facts, because facts can be and generally are twisted in service to a
pre-existing notion of truth. In other words, we are all capable of
recreating the universe in terms of the truths we believe and the questions we ask, whether
we're Oxford PhDs or curious amateurs, with no better chance of being
absolutely right because of PhDs or native intuition.
Which suggests... a lot of things. Not that we should ignore facts. But
that we should trust our individual experience, use it to discern
between pontification and modest inference. We need to abandon our
corporate, committee, and other organizational training in favor of
what the earliest scientists would have considered empirical
experience. What happens when you skip a pebble across a river? What
does that say about Global Warming, universal healthcare, the existence
of Bigfoot, time travel, the age of the universe, and race relations in
the United States of America?
The vast glut of the Internet is driving us relentlessly back to
ourselves, to the ideal of humanity as a sliver of divinity represented
by Christianity, and to the simplicity of thought and analysis we find
in our own minds as the basis for all aspiration and decision making.
The Internet should not intimidate us. It should empower us. It
reaffirms that the smartest can be the dumbest, and the simplest can be
the smartest. It does not argue against the acquisition of new
knowledge. It commands us to confront facts with the bedrock of our own
Many mansions. There can be more than one truth. Perhaps there can be many. Yours is one of them.
It only becomes a white elephant when the answers get too easy. And my
guess is that when there's more than one truth, they'll be strangely
consistent with one another, which would militate against outright
religious war. If your own mansion isn't conceived as a fortress
Have to admit, the yard is a mess and I'm not feeling good about
the future. Feeling old, in fact. So here's the Johnny of Cash. Just a
reminder of the wishing well where the pennies don't always add up to
salvation. Wish I hadn't done so much killing. Wish I didn't still look
so good in my ankle-length leather coat. Oh well, we all take
redemption where we find it.
do I find it so difficult to believe that
someone's following my dreams?
I'd do more Iggy, but I can't find it. Ain't that the way? So I'll do
Bowie instead. (uh, here's the real clip they
won't let us use...)
I watch "Criminal Minds." In their argot, I'm devolving. Returning to
my sixties "kill all the bastards" roots. That's where I am. I believe
in Christ and redemption and forgiveness. Just not for the clowns who
have killed my country... For them I have only punk anthems.
And a final cut about Nancy Pelosi (unless this is):