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March 15, 2013 - March 7, 2013

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


Newt the Nasty, the way the Beltway crowd sees him. Scarcely human, eh?

DUMBERER AND DUMBEREST. I'm starting to smell a rat. Everybody on the inside is working overtime, even double-overtime, to tell us how awful and unspeakable Newt Gingrich would be as the Republican nominee. George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, the National Review Gang, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Senator Tom Coburn, and even Don Imus AND his Cain-loving toady Bernie McJerk. I get it. Gingrich has enemies. He isn't a nice guy. He's stepped on a lot of tender Beltway toes. He's cut some corners in the past. You might not want to invite him to your wife's birthday party.

But is anybody else seeing the irony? It is Republican insiders (excepting Imus, who's just senile) who are leading the charge against him, and their preferred argument is that he's a Washington insider who shouldn't be acceptable to the Tea Party folks. Huh? Since when have George Will and Charles Krauthammer approved anyone favored by the Tea Party crowd? Aren't they the ones who keep telling us that the presidency isn't a job for well-intentioned amateurs? They certainly disposed of Herman Cain in a hurry and with prejudice.

My wife suggests that all these Gingrich opponents must know something and we should consider ourselves warned. Maybe she's right. She frequently is.

Still. My suspicion cilia are on alert, standing up and waving their tiny hands. Things I'm getting tired of hearing: "Yeah, he's the smartest guy in the room, but he never knows when to shut up." "He's never had an unspoken thought." "He's not really a limited government conservative; he's a big government conservative if he's a conservative at all." "He's a detestable human being."

Interesting, too, that the Democrats are exhibiting schizophrenic behavior. Barney Frank claims Gingrich is his dream Republican candidate. Pelosi is threatening him with Ethics Committee blackmail. If Frank wants Gingrich as a candidate, why advertise that preference to Republican primary voters? If Pelosi thinks she can do him in later, why try to scare him out of the race now? Hmmmm.

Let's all take a breath here. I'm not even going to libel Romney, other than to point out that he took offense at an interview by Bret Baier of Fox News, who merely asked questions Romney will be asked a thousand times before the nomination and/or the election will be decided.

But I will ask some questions. Is Romney the smartest guy in the room? Not when Gingrich is in the room. And which do you prefer? Romney who can't answer a straight question about RomneyCare, or Gingrich, who's "never had an unspoken thought." and "never knows when to shut up"? Is Romney, former governor of Taxachusetts, a true believer in limited government, more credible as a conservative because his political career consists of a single term as governor and many more years of running for office? And is Romney, for sure, NOT a detestable human being, unlike almost all other politicians, because his personality consists of good hair, tallness, and a car dealer's smile?

I'm just posing questions here. Because I have a very clear vision of what the 2012 presidential campaign will be like. It will be ugliness incarnate. Obama cannot run on his record. He will run instead the dirtiest campaign since Harry Truman's whitewashed 1948 bid, which was as nasty as it gets until Obama 2012 gets underway.

Who will you want then? When the negative ads powered by a billion media dollars start rolling out across the electoral landscape. Will you want a thin-skinned office-seeker whose chief claim to fame is a profitable Olympics and a budget-busting healthcare mandate? Or will you want Mike Tyson in a fat, old-guy suit drawing on a lifetime of harsh ring tactics to go toe-to-toe with an opponent everyone but Alan Colmes concedes is not in his brainpower league?

Sure, Gingrich will get bloodied in the ad wars. Who thinks Romney wouldn't? He's already wearing RomneyCare like an ox-yoke, and he's too prideful to pull his head out of the harness. And who doesn't think the man who can't shut up will not counterattack with pitiless documentation of the multifarious and disgraceful scandals of the Obama administration? A right cross and deadly uppercut (or three) for each wild left look. Here''s a new mantra for you in considering how the 2012 election will go: WHAT WOULD ROMNEY DO? I'm thinking he'll open his eyes in shock and awe like the Runaway Bride. Gingrich? Laura Ingraham dismissed him on Imus this morning as a tubby cross between a Cabbage Patch doll and Chuckie the horror movie nemesis. When I think of Obama's Mussolini pose I kind of like the Chuckie imagery. (Funny how fat was okay when conservatives were clamoring for Christie...)

Who out there thinks presidents have to be nice guys? We've had a few but hardly the majority. Ever notice that all Bill Clinton's friends eventually got thrown under the bus? That LBJ so bullied and intimidated those around him that even his doting biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin recounts that he held staff meetings -- a la Louis XIV -- on his regal toilet?

And when is it exactly that we started insisting on nice guys to look out for our interests against the thieves and crooks who populate Washington, DC? Wasn't there a time when we needed Andrew Jackson to batter his opponents into submission? Or George Bush with his bullhorn on the rubble at Ground Zero? Or... oh forget it.

uh, the Octagon. Looks mean in there, don't it? Obama! Obama! Wanna see it.

Forget everything I've said. Think of this instead. Why do all the insiders suddenly want Romney, who acts more like Mr. Greenjeans or the star of a Nickelodeon series about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police than a president of the United States? Why?

And can you think of any possible reason why the two or three smartest conservatives in the conservative movement keep bashing a man they just as repeatedly describe as "the smartest man in the room"?

Me? I can't think of any. Although it is interesting how many of them are writing columns criticizing Obama for "class warfare" campaign rhetoric they contemn as causing "envy."


Forget I said that too. None of them have any desire to be the smartest man in the room. Or woman. You know what I mean.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Relevant Older Posts

I wrote about this back in 3/08. Here's some reporting. What I notice
is that the archaeologists keep referring to it as the oldest temple on
earth. They omit that it's the oldest grand architecture of any kind.

. When I look back at my best or at least most provocative and interesting posts, I generally find few comments. Oddly, the bigger ideas are generally ignored in favor of more topical subjects, as if big ideas can never be more than analogies in need of reduction to a more practical framework.

That's fine. People seize on what they seize on. T'was ever so. But then I'm asked for new explanations of ideas I've written about abundantly, if not always in the most topical of terms. Sometimes I'm in the mood to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes I'm not. Today, not.

Here are some posts that might deal with questions I've been hearing of late. At worst, they'll sharpen your questioning to a level that doesn't require me to recreate the universe and all of history to provide context for my views.

Did I mention the Jesus Factor? Oops. I guess I did. Maybe this made me think of it today. With friends like Howard Portnoy, who needs enemies? Who is it exactly who wants to string up Tim Tebow for being too good to be true (Billy Graham & family bad, Ahmadinejad okay)? When did being an evident innocent become a mortal sin? When the world is so full of thugs and killers and haters who don't pray on the sidelines but preen and pose and perorate on the field of play...

I also thought of this.

Good intentions will kill you faster than bad intentions every time.

Billy Budd isn't the United States. No way. We don't let ourselves get strung up for other people's sins. No way.

(To whom it may concern: Billy Budd was a thing called a novel, written by an ancient American ne'er-do-well named Herman Melville who was inconsequential because nobody at Beloit College has ever heard of him or knows half the words he uses. They're all bravely pointed at the future unimpeded by baggage from the past.)

Are we clear? Helk? Skinny Devil? Just trying to helkhelp.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Most Violent Movie

If you're the squeamish sort, don't watch the trailer after 1:30.

MIDLIFE WUSS. I admit it. I went through a phase when I thought movies had gotten too violent for moi. The tipping point, as it is now called, was Total Recall, which featured lots of the deaths of innocents, casually disposed of. I drew myself up to my full height (just under six feet) and said, "Hollywood has gone over the top, by gar." I may have said other geezer things too.

Now I'm rethinking that position. Yesterday I watched the movie featured above. The most hideously violent I've ever seen. I didn't look away once. I enjoyed it.

Where are we as a people? Of course, Hobo was set in Canada, which means it didn't matter from the git-go, but still. I'm concerned about myself. Am I becoming an inside-out Paulista?


Why? Because I know everyone's complicit in the destruction of our children. The same people who decry the pernicious influence of the government in every aspect of our lives also have emperor children, cartoonishly infantile living rooms, and minivans stuffed with Fisher-Price stuff that makes the pyramids look small, and they wrap their lives around their children's whims as if anything other would be a sin. (Here's the sin: Not telling the little bastards to pipe down because grownups are talking now...)

What's killing us. Too many toys. Too many child-rearing experts who've never understood the meaning of the word "No." Too many parents who don't comprehend the danger of letting the little love muffin watch the same video seven thousand times in a row without saying, "Uh uh. All done. Mommy and Daddy are bored."

"I just want them to be happy." An otherwise smart guy told me yesterday that happiness is the prime objective of the human race. No, it isn't. Where the fuck did that idea come from? Oh. Yeah. The single most badly chosen word in the Declaration of Independence. Which he discounts because it's not fair enough or something.

Even Thomas Jefferson could have used a good editor.

Like me.

Life isn't about happiness. It's about fulfillment. Which is a completely different animal.

Bottom line? If you have emperor children, you've lost your right to opine about the sorry state of the nation. Their little smiles are the death rictus we'll all be wearing a decade from now.

But, I guess, most of you animals have no idea what I'm talking about. Right?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Carrying the Torch

She was the soaring female voice in Meatloaf's hit trilogy.

. Torch songs are only partly lamentation. They are also an affirmation of the primacy of love even in the face of defeat and broken hearts. It's the love itself that is transcendant. It is a proof of life enduring in the face of personal catastrophe, unafraid to experience loss and yet live on.

It's okay to flirt with despair, but not to give in to it. When I hear Americans who profess to believe in traditional American values doubting not just our future but our moral right to continue spreading those values throughout the world, I get disgusted. Is it possible America is done? Maybe. But it damn well better not be done because I gave up fighting when the odds were against us. Here's a new term for you to chew on: Pussy Patriots. "Okay, it was great while it lasted, but it's done now because of all the evil leftists and I'll take refuge in the liberal ego cocktail of seeing the bad stuff ahead of time -- which makes me somehow superior to all the losers who are still trying."

Good luck with that. I will not go gentle into that good night. I've been seeing the bad stuff and writing about it a lot longer than almost everybody here. I really don't care if you think you've had it tough. This time of tribulation is not an impending apocalypse so much as a test. Is our love still strong enought to prevail, as our ancestors have done innumerable times, against frightful odds? Is it?

Little Round Top. No ammunition and no reinforcements.
If you can't stay where you are and can't retreat, attack.
Joshua Chamberlain got his strategy from reading Greek.

I don't care how old you are. You have to find your own torch song. And your own torch. Here's mine:

And don't ever tell me -- or imply to me -- that the whole American experiment has been a waste, exposed as some lie by a quarter millennium of history. All that tells me is that you, for all your self-ordained sophistication, count time only from the moment of your birth. Which is pitiful indeed.

My apologies to everyone for whom this lesson was unnecessary. I know there are many.

Little Round Tops

TORCHING THE PPs. We all have some Little Round Tops of our own. I've had a few, not life-threatening to be sure, but threatening to my future and my career. The hard part is recognizing the ones that don't occur on the field of military battle. Where Joshua Chamberlain got lucky. He was a classics professor who somehow became a military commander, and it might have been easy for him to surrender in the face of impossible circumstances, but he didn't. His education made it possible for him to recognize the moment when it came. Shellfire is a big assist at such times.

This is much on my mind at the moment. My wife -- whose birthday it is today -- has a Little Round Top moment of her own right now. I know how she'll do. Hell, she's already fired the first shots from an encircled position. I gave her flowers for the big day only because I couldn't get her a keg of nails and a blunderbuss. It didn't take her a split second to see the moment when it came. Now we'll have to live with the results of the battle. Which will be my privilege, no matter how it turns out. And it could be very very costly. So. Be. It.

Because even the brave talkers have a way of missing the moment. They're sure they'll take action when the crisis finally comes, but then suddenly it's too late and what could they have done? Frustrated heroes. Because when it's too late it's too late, and all that's left is looking out for the family and not doing anything self-destructively stupid.

The crisis doesn't come with Hollywood movie titles announcing and defining the conflict. It comes suddenly but not always in Technicolor. It's here the moment you know you might have to take sides against a fait accompli, and when the people who are reassuring you that you're not involved or responsible are no longer friends but operatives of some other agenda that has nothing to do with friendship, loyalty, or integrity. That's the instant you should know you're on Little Round Top, most likely alone.

It's an instant most people miss. They don't want to know it. They're afraid. They massage themselves with their principles and promise themselves that if things get nasty, they'll do the right thing. And they mean it. They really really mean it until the opportunity to take action is hopelessly in the past.

How do you keep yourself from being surprised by a Little Round Top that swiftly passes you by? You look for Little Round Tops. As Joshua Chamberlain undoubtedly did. He wanted that moment of decision in his life. And, yes, that moment might kill you or blight your future life, but if you never confront a great decision, you will never know who you really are.

The good news is that military experience doesn't necessarily make you any better at recognizing such moments when they occur in everyday life. The bad news is that if you don't think you've ever had such an experience thus far, you almost certainly missed one or two or more of them. If you've become a defeatist by nature, that's tantamount to proof. You've never seen the moments when you might have made a critical difference. Which makes you a big part of the problem.

Too bad for you. But I freely concede everything is harder for GenXers and Millennials. You just never quite get anything until the key moment has passed. But you have learned a lot about the purely prudential use of language. Maybe that will pay off somehow. Someday.

Or not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life's a Bitch

STORMY WEATHER IS UPON US. When everything is about as bad as it can get, you need torch songs. Passion simmering and betrayed. Here are some of the best.

Women are better at it. So be it.

But guys can carry the flame too.

Except that women who aren't even professional singers can break your heart.

And yet Sinatra still rings in with the haunted male voice:

The saddest thing, though, is that Doris Day is now 87.

The party's over. When she goes, what do we have left? Rihanna?

Make no mistake. A love affair is ending. Americans are falling out of love with America. I don't know about you, but I'm carrying a torch.

Big time.

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