WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom

Harden your schools, America, or harden your hearts!

In "Gunning for success" forum on March 6, 2018 at 6:18 pm

In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly officious third-person, as befits his station!   ______________________

At the risk of incurring accusations of sociopathy, Old Bugler admits that he is bored. He is also, of course, infuriated—but owing to years of tantric Tibetan-Zen exercises and little-known sigil/chaotic mental disciplines, he can be both infuriated and bored at the same time. And he is.

Are astronauts allowed to lie?

Infuriated, of course, because some addlepated punk once again took it upon himself to gun down innocent children in an American public school, and simultaneously bored by the histrionic ululations of the ever-predictable (although never in any respect useful) Left to the effect that some phantasm called “common-sense gun laws” will save us from a recurrence of the latest  tragedy– if only we turn the second-amendment over for extensive revision by ninnyhammers like Senator Bill Nelson (D-FLA) who spent the entire afternoon of 15th February ranting to  “journalists” that “automatic weapons” pose an imminent threat to American school kids. “Here is an automatic weapon, an assault rifle,” Nelson bellowed at a vigorously nodding Mika Brzezinski, referring to Nikolas Cruz’s AR-15, adding “Just look in Florida: Pulse Nightclub a couple of years ago, a year ago the Fort Lauderdale airport, now this.”

“An automatic weapon–an assault rifle!”

Okay, let’s be exact. Cruz used an AR-15 .223 caliber rifle to commit last month’s atrocities. The Pulse Nightclub assault on Gays perpetrated by an Islamic extremist (are we allowed to mention that part?) involved a Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle (similar to the AR-15) and a 9mm Glock 17. None of these weapons are automatic. The shooter at the Fort Lauderdale airport (also an ISIS-inspired Islamic extremist–in for a penny, right?)  used a Walther 9mm pistol. Why Senator Nelson would call any of these guns an “automatic weapon, an assault rifle” is utterly beyond your humble editor, especially since Nelson, in his less effete past, was an astronaut, and prior to that, an Army reservist. Surely somebody taught him at some point what an automatic weapon is and is not? For that matter, he might have learnt the details about “assault rifles” by keeping abreast of WOOF’s reporting on such matters [available here]—but no. One must ruefully conclude that a lot of progressive Kool-Aid has gone down the Senator’s gullet since his more contributory days, leaving him in thrall to the establishment, echoing its deceitful boilerplate to the bobble-headed approval of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dull-witted daughter, and a fool’s parade of similarly vacuous news personalities who lined up last week to join the Senator in decrying “automatic assault rifles” despite their having been illegal since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Good news kids–problem solved!

Sic semper tyrannis!

And say, what about Nikolas Cruz, anyway? Whilst fiercely traducing the NRA and whipping up a frenzied abhorrence of guns, gun owners, and gun makers, the system took almost no interest in Cruz, especially once the news (reported with stentorian authority by ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Politico, CBS, time,com., The Daily Beast, and the Associated Press) that he was part of a white supremacist group transpired to be fake. Once beyond that unacknowledged embarrassment (except at Politico, which apologized for the “misunderstanding”), Cruz escaped any further media curiosity, while blame for his actions was assigned entirely to his gun.

Yet another empty-chair exercise.

One action to discourage future school shooters, we dare say, would be to kill Cruz, legally, publicly, and expediently. He should receive a fair trial at a credible remove from the venue in which he committed his crimes, following which—pretermitting the unlikely possibility of his being found innocent– he should be executed. True, Florida has the death penalty, but the odds of Mr. Cruz actually occupying the electric chair are remote in the extreme. For starters, Floridians now oppose the death penalty by a 57% majority. Aramis Ayala, the Democratic state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties is on record insisting she will not seek the death penalty in any of her office’s cases, no matter the circumstances. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, occasional Republican, often expresses qualms about the death penalty. State Attorney Michael Satz, whose office is handling Cruz’s prosecution, insists he will “announce his offices position at an appropriate time.”

Aramis Ayala, protectress of the no-fry zone.

But even if Cruz receives the death penalty, he is unlikely to receive the death penalty. The state has 348 inmates on death row, whereas only 95 murderers have been executed since 1976. It is a sign of the times that the most realistic assessment of how justice will be served in Cruz’s case came from MSN News, which waxed jubilant upon discovering Cruz is heir–in two years–to an $800,000 trust fund. Quick to grasp the report’s Sophoclean implications, MSN’s reporters expressed wonder at so striking a manifestation of karma, rejoicing in the near certainty that Cruse will now inherit nothing, since he will be obliged to drain his fortune on legal fees. Sic semper tyrannis!

Killing evil….

Beyond MSN’s short-lived celebration of forensic kismet, almost nothing concerning Cruz, and certainly nothing denunciatory of Cruse or his actions, has beclouded the anti-gun argument. No one should find this bewildering. Liberalism long ago abolished evil, except insofar as it may be represented totemically, or by special demons like Trump, or Dick Cheney, who are dehumanized to the point of qualifying as talismans. In the liberal imagination, evil is now acknowledged only in effigy, thus we have evil corporations, Big Oil, Big Pharma, one-percenters, the ever-serviceable military-industrial establishment, and, of course, the ultra-demonic NRA.

Some days you just can’t get rid of a magic sword!

Yes, once again, we must kick some guns, vilify all guns, snarl about gun owners, and decry the existence of guns, all the while shouting, “no guns!” just in case someone missed the point. We must endure a stream of you-tubed videos in which newly “woke” owners of AR-15s seek redemption by confessing their depravities and smashing their guns to pieces, like Roland clashing Durandal against the rocks at Roncevaux…except more successfully (and more expensively, considering that AR-15s often go for upwards of a thousand dollars, whereas Durandal was a gift from Charlemagne). Meanwhile, pundits boresomely rehearse the same solecisms, no matter how often or decisively refuted, and with such mind numbing incessance that one almost brightens at the appearance of any freshly invented canard, for instance the patently confected news that Parkland constituted the 18th school shooting of the year (trumpeted uncritically by such liberal wellsprings of misinformation as the Washington Post, USA Today, CNBC, ABC News, MSNBC, and The New York Daily News).  Even SNOPES demurred at defending such poppycock.

Dumb, Dumber, and Stephen King….

Joe Scarborough nearly secured first prize for most fatuous gun rant of the news cycle by repeatedly assuring his audience and his interviewee (some hapless anti-gun lobbyist who contented  himself with nodding wordlessly throughout the segment, whether out of ignorance or politeness Old Bugler cannot say), that the AR-15 rifle is “more lethal than the M-16 that was used in Vietnam!” Without going into detail about how and to what degree Mr. Scarborough completely misunderstood the details on which he based this daft assertion, suffice it that an M-16 can be set to fire full automatic, at which setting it can discharge a fusillade of 900 rounds (that’s bullets, liberal readers) per minute. Only a blithering idiot would describe this as less lethal than the semi-automatic AR-15, and while Scarborough was certainly the man for the job, he cannot claim the prize.

In the process of conducting a Twitter storm against guns, horror author Stephen King jumped on a rival tweeter’s allusions to the growing dangers posed by MS-13 (the notorious Salvadoran street gang currently spreading violence, drugs, and crime across America’s major cities). But King’s rejoinder struck even his fans as oddly incoherent, even allowing for the author’s well-known tendency to sputter torrents of disjointed invective whenever confronting viewpoints at odds with his rigidly dogmatic progressivism. Someone finally realized that King’s tweet made sense only when re-read with the understanding that King thought MS-13 was a gun. For the record, by the way, Mr. King opposes MS-13s, and his tweeted opposition to their sale or ownership garnered well over a thousand “likes” from supporters.

What is to be done?

Adina Kutnicki, because who wants to look at Lenin?

So, as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin liked to say (and as the Zionist goddess Adina Kutnicki likes to echo with a delightsome hint of informed contrariety) “What is to be done?” And while your humble editor retains a healthy respect for the underutilized tactic of doing nothing no matter how clamorously the vox populi may demand action, he is unshakably of the view that doing something, in this instance, is imperative. Allowing school children to be shot down almost routinely, and in considerable numbers on each occasion, ought to strike any rational American as unacceptable—not “unacceptable” in the State Department’s sense of the term, a disingenuity invoked whenever foreign depredations against the United States demand more retaliatory vigor than Foggy Bottom is actually willing to muster; but rather in the term’s original acceptation, before its brisk unequivocality was debauched by diplomats.

Not the last psychopath…

The present situation demands shrewd analysis and immediate action. Wasting time on polemical or Quixotic whimsicalities is especially hazardous given that Nikolas Cruz was almost certainly not the last psychopath in North America, nor even in Florida. A frank evaluation of the Parkland case as well as past cases of similar stamp exposes a seemingly unbreachable chasm between the sociopolitical Left and America’s sustaining yeomanry—its armed citizens. Two diametrically opposed ideas emerge whenever such atrocities make headlines, and frustratingly enough, the only one that ever receives widespread attention and praise is the one that cannot possibly work.

The liberal solution, deprived of its myriad layers of pettifoggery, has always entailed repealing the second amendment. Lately, however, liberals are noticeably less vociferous on this issue. Even the progressive echo chambers in Washington, Manhattan, and Los Angeles must occasionally entertain realities apart from those promulgated by their subsidiary news media. One such reality recently penetrated the elitist echo chamber, mainly that advocating repeal of the 2nd amendment, or parts thereof, amounts to political suicide. And since the gun issue’s political utility supplies its only authentic allure for liberal politicians–all pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding–their focus this time around seems decidedly totemic.

That’s 5 million members–can they all be subdued without using guns?

The children’s crusade

After all, when one can manipulate armies of adolescents, many of whom only days before experienced profound emotional trauma, beguile them with one’s media monopoly whose talking heads unanimously praise their vision and integrity, inflame their undeveloped prefrontal cortexes with massive doses of Soros-affiliated agitprop, regale them with Oprah’s ridiculous remarks comparing them to the freedom riders of the civil rights era, tuck them in to the eulogistic inanities of Jimmy Kimmel on what remains of the Tonight Show, and roundly applaud their “honesty” and “courage” as they hurl ad hominem invective at such contemptible subhuman fascists as Dana Loesch and Marco Rubio (both of whom evinced the temerity to join them on a CNN “townhall,” further compounding their effronteries by presuming to offer viewpoints at variance with the mob)—well– one hardly needs policies! The entire liberal argument, thus reduced to an emotive display—an insensate spasm of pre-scripted activism on demand, amounts to nothing more than a massive opportunity to vent—a persuasive demonstration that, at least insofar as social policies are concerned, liberals are from Venus and Conservatives are from Mars.

Others, meanwhile, prefered simply to keep matters vague, favoring the familiar Obamism, “common sense gun laws” to precise demands. Like most Obaman rhetoric, the phrase ignites the  base without meaning anything in particular, or better still, while meaning whatever the particular individual mouthing it happens to imagine it means. Mainly, the students prefer to chant “no more guns!” which is no more useful, really, than shouting “no more hurricanes!” or “no more car crashes!” How about, “no more demagoguery!”? Just a thought.

So, if the loudest,  crudest, least criticized, but most uncritically publicized solution to school shootings is nothing more than an amorphous social-justice trope confected by establishment strategists and frothily propounded by touring cohorts of ill-mannered children, what might we expect to result were its particulars embraced by America’s school systems? What if the AR-15 rifle were, in, fact, banned? So far as your humble editor can deduce, once all the guerrilla theatre and grandiosity is peeled away, the only expectable outcome would be a series of school shootings more horrible than any previously experienced, because the shooters would be using 7.62X51MM NATO ammo, fired with the same rapidity and in the same volume as previously, but now packing a considerably greater wallop than the AR-15’s .223 varmint round.

More bang for the buck?

The basis for your editor’s gruesome prediction is disturbingly obvious. The probable choice of a military-looking semi-automatic rifle that is not an AR-15 but comparably priced and just as available, is any of the widely manufactured M-14-style rifles sold under various designations by various manufacturers. The most obvious effect would be better-armed psychos, assuming psychos capable of laying hands on the one weapon would prove equally resourceful in acquiring the other. So, do we ban M-14 clones as well? (READ MORE….)

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“CHAPPAQUIDDICK” or, WOOF reviews another film it hasn’t seen!

In "Ready when you are C.B.!" forum on May 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Our guarantee of freshness:

Seasoned readers are by now familiar with WOOF’s habit of reviewing films while adhering to our iron-clad rule that no film will be reviewed on our website unless our reviewers have scrupulously avoided seeing it. We believe our strict adherence to this standard ensures that ours are the fairest, most impartial cinema critiques anywhere in cyberspace. Limiting ourselves to movies we haven’t seen obviously frees our analyses of those partialities that would inevitably accrue during any actual exposure to the works under consideration. Apparently quite a few of you agree, as our movie reviews are always among our most popular posts, and among the most visited after time has swept them from our ‘front page’ to our archives. It is therefore with considerable pleasure, and not a little reportorial pride, that we present our latest film review of a movie we haven’t seen, namely “CHAPPAQUIDDICK,” Directed by John Curran, Screenwriters: Taylor Allen; Andrew Logan; cinematography by Maryse Alberti; edited by Keith Fraase.

__________________________

In his Cooper Union speech, Abraham Lincoln offered a timeless condemnation of those who, then as now, proffer compromise as though it were an Aristotelian master stroke. All right, we admit it–some occasions require a little give and take. In certain situations, trade-offs prove the beneficial fruits of what an author once called “the art of the deal.” But far more often they are smarmy abandonments of principle disguised as statesmanship—or what Lincoln denounced as “contrivances…groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong,” which contrivances he proceeded to denounce as “vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man.” Of course, Lincoln was unfamiliar with Schrodinger’s cat, but we digress.

Neither living nor dead.

Ted Kennedy is dead, or, as the Munchkin coroner described the Wicked Witch of the East, “Really most sincerely dead.” And yet, in the interest of even-handedness, (or perhaps less lofty–if completely understandable–considerations) the film Chappaquiddick portrays him as what Lincoln might have called “neither a living man nor a dead man” in the sense that screenwriters Allen and Logan repeatedly subject the Senator to withering fusillades of biographic divulgement, but in each instance demur at administering the coup de gras.

Director Curran–funny, he doesn’t look unhinged.

Why, you may ask, is a temperate, fair-minded organization like WOOF suddenly driven to envenom a film review with so vulgar an instinct as vindictiveness; especially when critics as diverse as Glenn Beck and the Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers agree that Chappaquiddick’s excellence is due largely to its dramatic restraint? Why, when even New York Times film critic A. O. Scott, (though admitting trepidation at the film’s release), is able to offer a complimentary review based on the film’s “forsaking sensationalism for sober, procedural storytelling,” should WOOF take pains to stake out the low ground, and fault Chappaquiddick for the very qualities extolled by so many of its admirers?  We think Barry Goldwater best explained our position during his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican convention. Conservatives will recall his averral that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” but the Arizonan most precisely summarized our case against John Curran’s new film when he added that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” And that’s what Lincoln was trying to tell us, too. And that’s what we are trying to tell you.  In other words, our disappointment stems less from what Chappaquiddick is, than from what it might have been.

“You’re all we’ve got!”

A young Al Lowenstein, around the time he realized there was nothing left but Teddy.

So, imagine for a moment that our film opens in the immediate wake of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, or put another way, at the dawn of the popular jape: “They’re like the Kennedys, all the good ones have been taken!” And as if by way of demonstration, we find ourselves inside the elevator at Good Samaritan Hospital where a shaken, ghostly-pale Teddy (as the press affectionately dubbed Edward Moore Kennedy) is accompanying his slain brother’s body to the basement morgue. Suddenly, the door slides open and a nearly hysterical Al Lowenstein, (Kennedy adviser, anti-war icon, occasional office seeker) rushes aboard. Looking up to glimpse Ted, Lowenstein grabs him by the shoulders, shakes him frantically, and shouts, “Now that Bobby’s gone, you’re all we’ve got!” We zoom in on Ted’s face—he gapes speechlessly at Lowenstein, open-mouthed, petrified, incapable of verbalizing a response. We fade to black and superimpose the words: “One year later…”

Cut to an interior shot aboard an airliner returning from a 1969 congressional trip billed as a fact-finding mission to investigate Inuit poverty in Alaska. Ted Kennedy, (who earlier stumbled drunkenly into the airport at Anchorage shouting “ESKIMO POWAH!”), is now shown surrounded by aids and flight attendants trying to restrain him as he stumbles and reels down the aisle, bellowing, “They’re going to shoot my ass off the way they shot off Bobby’s!” An aide grabs the senator’s spastically waving hand and presses a hot cup of coffee into it. Kennedy grasps the cup, but lurches wildly when a stewardess attempts to guide him toward his seat. He nearly scalds a mother and her infant in the adjacent row. Insensible of the offense, Kennedy continues ranting about his impending doom as his attendants coax him back to his seat. He shouts “ESKIMO POWAHHH!!” a few more times, contenting himself, finally, with tossing dinner rolls at reporters while his team scrambles to pacify the offended passengers.

Next, we watch Teddy’s airliner land in Seattle. Reporters who witnessed the incident dash into the terminal to file their scoops, but we watch in shocked disbelief as the screen shifts to a mélange of newspaper editors and network news producers ordering the story “spiked”—killed—forgotten. It’s 1969, and no writers apart from a handful of vile, shadow-dwelling right-wing misanthropic scribblers of unreviewed, fringe-marketed books (who probably voted for Goldwater and almost certainly for Nixon), report dirt on the Kennedys.

Cut to an exterior shot of Newsweek’s Manhattan headquarters, identifiable by the magazine’s logo blazoned across the building’s top story. We zoom in through a window high above Hanover Square into an office in which a seasoned reporter urgently dials a phone. The screen inserts his name, John Lindsay, and identifies him as “Senate reporter for Newsweek magazine.” This saves confusion among audience members old enough to otherwise mistake him for the contemporaneous mayor of New York City. No, this is John J. Lindsay, accomplished journalist. His appearance raises the prospect of integrity triumphing over sycophancy. And look! Lindsay’s deeply furrowed brow bespeaks grave concern. Perhaps he is laying his job on the line. Perhaps he is phoning his editor, demanding the Kennedy story be told and told truthfully. After all, Lindsay fits a specific Hollywood stereotype geared to resonate with the American psyche–the hardened newshound defending the people’s right to know. Surely, his infectious ardor, his rhetorical passion, will rekindle long-dormant convictions in his veteran editor—Ed Asner, maybe–a crotchety-but-noble industry pro who after a few efforts at dissuasion leans back, pours himself a jigger of rye, and rasps, “Why not? Why not one last crusade!?”

“Why not one last crusade?” Well, Asner probably wouldn’t have done the picture, for one thing!

Disaster waiting to happen!

“That’s right–disaster wairting to happen! No, no, even worse than getting kicked out of Harvard!”

But no, that isn’t what happens. The phone isn’t answered by Lindsay’s editor, it is answered by a mysterious female. Is it—could it be—Joan Kennedy? Jackie, even? Whoever it is, Lindsay begins telling her about the airplane debacle, entreating her to take a hand, to do something “before something really terrible happens!”  “Ted is out of control,” Lindsay insists, and then, in a voice lowered almost to a whisper, he adds, “Ted is under terrible stress—and I’m telling you, if he doesn’t get help, he’s a disaster waiting to happen!

Is that you, Jackie?

Okay, not what we were hoping for, perhaps, but this can still work. We simply cut away from Lindsay’s close up with one of those abruptly jarring Thelonious Monk chords used nowadays to punctuate dramatic movie moments, and we “smash cut” from Lindsay’s under lit office to our main locale–a bucolic, riparian setting in somnolent New England. We find ourselves juxtapositionally tranquilized—but look out! To the nail-biting clang of another Thelonious Monk chord we INSERT TITLE CARD (that’s movie talk) and the screen is suddenly ablaze with a single, momentous word:  Chappaquiddick!

Our story so far….

So, beloved readers, how do you like the movie so far? We think it’s pretty impressive. And historically faithful? Absolutely!  Okay, except for that part about the woman on the other end of Lindsay’s phone call. We made her up, or rather we hypothesized her, because even though almost everyone agrees on the language Lindsay employed, nobody seems certain to whom he spoke it. And there’s one other problem—namely, none of what we just described is actually in the movie. File it under what MAD magazine used to call “scenes we’d like to see.” Historically verifiable, but consigned to the cutting room floor of our imaginations. Chappaquiddick, after all, made it past the New York Times by “forsaking sensationalism,” possibly because Curran knew his biopic, were it sensational even in a manner befitting Edward Kennedy’s depraved life and career, would die aborning—insufficiently immunized against a bilious media, not to mention the wrath of Hyannisport…a malignant force ruinous to the careers of more than a few entertainers, journalists, and biographers, even today.

The post-unassailable plunge….

Teddy, 2004, calling school vouchers “racisst” and “handouts to the wealthy!”

Ted Kennedy, however, is what we might call post-unassailable—although he is probably less annoyed by that fact than the family, having died of brain cancer in 2009.  He was the last of the golden Kennedys–the sons of Joseph and Rose–and his passing was prelude to the waning of the family’s mystique.  A measure of karmic justice is detectable in this, and not a little irony, because the Kennedy legacy fell victim to the very educational policies for which Ted fought tooth and nail—in other words, a single-option, federally regulated archipelago of public schools from which students are routinely graduated despite a conspicuous lack of reading, writing, or ciphering skills, or the merest grasp of science apart from an alertness to global warming.

More significant from the Kennedys’ standpoint, however, is the absence in recent generations of even a glancing acquaintance with American history, apart from an ingrained certitude that Columbus was a genocidal maniac, the Pilgrims were deluded religionists bent on ravaging the environment, that the Founders invented slavery–which was accidentally ended by the Civil War, which was not about slavery—and that Ronald Reagan almost bankrupted the economy with his crazy supply-side economic boom. But Liberalism’s rush to erase any taint of Americanism from our schools came with a hefty side order of blowback. Canons of faith fanatically nurtured by the Left for generations vanished into the same memory hole as George Washington and Sam Adams, a design flaw that left younger Americans untutored in such articles of faith as the saintliness of the Kennedys, the demonic evil of Joe McCarthy, or even such recent taradiddle as the incomparable brilliance of Hillary Clinton.

“Very little, I’m afraid…”

Professor Czitrom –searching for Camelot in the age of Absurdistan.

kind of brutal egalitarianism inhered in public education’s great leap forward: a purification that expunged our past from the lesson plans without regard to any given item’s significance on the political spectrum. Thus, the Kennedys aren’t simply diminished by an educational system grown neglectful of burnishing the family’s mystique. The progressive effort to divorce recent generations from their heritage means the Kennedys are barely mentioned–no more dwelt upon than Ike, Coolidge, or the Teapot Dome Scandal. In 2015, in recognition of 50 years gone by since the assassination of JFK, Professor of History Daniel Czitrom of Mount Holyoke College gave an interview during which he was asked to describe what modern college students know about our 35th president. “Very little, I’m afraid,” was his frank assessment. Small wonder, then, that they know and care even less about his vacuous little brother.

There are, it seems, opinions to the contrary. A review by Susan Wloszczyna suggests Chappaquiddick will do well owing to the presence of the “in-vogue-again Kennedy clan at the center.” On the off-chance that Wloszczyna isn’t nuts, isn’t a resurgence of Kennedymania all the more reason for Chappaquiddick to ‘speak truth to power’ unequivically? But instead we are treated to a barrage of softballs, like dorky Ted vowing to win a regatta, but slamming his sailboat into a marker buoy and catapulting both his passengers into the brine.  Okay, a dramatic foreshadowing of events to come, (and a sailing career littered with rammed obstacles, capsized catamarans, and other madcap feats of incompetence) but nevertheless…?

The “in-vogue-again Kennedy clan,” okay, that blew right past us!

The details, where most dramatically requisite, seem softened to implications. The six “Boiler Room Girls,” as the winsome young staffers formerly employed by Bobby’s campaign were jovially known, are partying in the wake of their boss’s untimely death with a bunch of married guys, one of them being Ted (whose wife Joan is home bedridden with a failing pregnancy soon to end in miscarriage, though the film makes no mention of the fact). Ted is hosting the wingding at the cottage of his chum, lawyer Sidney Lawrence. The cottage is located on Chappaquiddick Island, accessible by ferry from Martha’s Vineyard. So, what really went on at that party?

In the film, we witness a relatively demure replication of nineteen-sixties-style drinking and dancing–demurrer by far than any such festivities featuring Teddy and friends were ever known to be. Indeed, what the Guardian’s reviewer rather inferentially pronounced “a tawdry, boozy weekend” seems more like a scene from a Troy Donahue film of the same era—a bit jazzy and raucous, perhaps, but in an artfully understated Warner Brothers kind of way.

Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne in the party scene from “Chappaquiddick,” or is she auditioning for a remake of “A Summer Place”?

(READ MORE)

The Pinky Principle: Watching Congress Demote Itself Beneath any Pretense of Competence!

In "Dead Elephant in the Room" forum on March 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Most literate Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the Peter Principle, a management theory promulgated in the early ’70s by Laurence J. Peter who theorized that because promotion is routinely based on an individual’s performance at a given level,  promotions continue until people are promoted to that level at which they no longer perform effectively. Thus, Peter reasoned,  employees everywhere tend to rise to their respective levels of incompetence.  Actually, however, politicians are exempt from the principle. Think about it; they are simply elected, and once elected–unless advancing from House to Senate, for instance–they are not so much promoted as retained in situ. Of course, one oft-voiced criticism of the Peter Principle is that is fails to adequately provide for the possibility of demotion, but again, politicians are immune to demotions (except within party ranks), their overwhelming concern being loss of office.

Fugitives from principle…

That said, it seems obvious that if congress comprises fugitives from the Peter Principle, it is nonetheless subordinate to certain, less equivocal injunctions, among them the second law of thermodynamics–namely that entropy only increases and never decreases.  You knew that, right? True, the statistical mechanics attached to this rule have been so debauched by disputants stretching them to win their points, we feel slighty abashed at invoking them here; but not so abashed as to abandon the matter. To smooth things over with sticklers for scientific exactitude, we will presently reframe our argument in considerably less pretentious terms. Besides, operationalizing a reliable system of measurement is impossible because idiocy, while widely recognizable, can only be quantified subjectively.

Joe Starnes, hot on the trail of Christopher Marlowe.

True, members of congress have engaged in all sorts of bone-headed absurdities throughout our national history, all the while affecting the demeanor of important men (and nowadays women) fixed with grim solemnity upon the virtuous work of statecraft.  Invariably, humor is minable from this. What, after all, is more comically ironic than an assemblage of dunces whose pomposity renders them incognizant of their duncery?  But we contend the contemporary political class has achieved a record-breaking apex of insipidity–a contention, we admit, that resists empirical proof.  How might we objectively demonstrate that government’s current quotient of dunderheads surpasses in numerousness and intensity all previous examples?  Well, the second law of thermodynamics, maybe, but we promised to drop that argument. Suffice it that congress has always been bountifully endowed with morons, maniacs, mountebanks and poltroons. From Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman (D-SC) complaining in 1900 that “we stuffed ballot boxes, we shot them,” but that his constituents were “scratching their heads,” because Blacks kept voting anyway; to Joe Starnes (D-Ala.), who, while associated with HUAC, demanded that a witness tell him whether Christopher Marlowe was a member of the Communist Party, examples abound.

Comrade Marlowe

Alexa de Tocqueville, pride of “the greatest generation.”

Consider Hillary Clinton, widely advertised by the establishment media as peerlessly brainy, who, while addressing a crowd of adulative supporters in 2016 felt moved to advert to Alexis de Tocqueville, whom she called “Alexa,” and who, she told her audience, “came to the United States in the very early 1930s and traveled around our country…” thus relocating the famous author of Democracy in America, who died in 1859, to the 20th century.  Significantly, those present greeted Mrs. Clinton’s manipulation of the temporal/spacial continuum enthusiastically– and for all we know, Mrs. Clinton continues to suppose that someone named “Alexa” de Tocqueville was a contemporary of Tom Joad’s.  In a similar vein, President Obama, whose entire docket of clownish errata is best enumerated elsewhere [for instance here], swept to the podium during a state visit by French President Hollande in order to laud de Tocqueville, whom he called “Alex.” (Both Hollande and the Bamster might have benefitted from exposure to de Tocqueville, particularly his piercing critique of socialism, but at least Obama kept “Alex” in his rightful century.)

Unusual knowledge, or: The truth is over there in England….

During a painfully scripted appearance with late-night sycophant Jimmy Kimmel (whose enthusiasm for UFOs is well known), Mrs. Clinton vowed that once she was president she would make the government’s flying saucers files public. In so saying, she echoed identical pledges from the campaigns of Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, both of whom dropped the subject entirely once ensconced in the West Wing. But the world’s smartest woman was naturally inclined to expatiate. “You know,” she told Kimmel, “there’s a new name, it’s unexplained aerial phenomenon [sic], U.A.P. That’s the latest nomenclature.”

Ivan T. Sanderson–spawning the latest nomenclature back in 1967.

Notwithstanding the absence of any official UFO authority empowered to issue nomenclatural revisions, the term is actually UAO for Unidentified Aerial Objects, which Hillary might have found simpler to pluralize. The coinage originated with biologist and UFO theorist Ivan T. Sanderson who suggested it in his 1967 book Uninvited Visitors, but Sanderson died in 1973 leaving Mrs. Clinton to soldier on alone.  Later, in an interview with Daymond Steer of New Hampshire’s Conway Daily Sun, Clinton reiterated her  determination to declassify the government’s X-files.  For good measure, she promised to unveil the truth about “Area 54.” The candidate subsequently corrected herself, agreeing she meant to say Area 51 (the government’s uninspired name for the best known secret installation in America), but the former First Lady’s gaffe inspired awe among Internet “ufologists” a majority of whom blogged praise for the smartest woman in America, insisting Hillary had not misspoken at all. Rather, they assured one another, she had cunningly updated the UFO community on the location of the Air Force’s new, extra secret UFO testing facility.

Mainstream media (being less inclined to esoteric inferences than most ufologists) simply scrubbed the error and misquoted their favorite candidate as if she’d said “Area 51” in the first place. (In fact, readers seeking to confirm Clinton’s lapsus linguae will be hard pressed unless they explore British press accounts, for instance here).  Substituting the correct designation for Clinton’s misstated one as if they were quoting verbatim enabled the New York Times to remind its readers that Hillary was “known for her grasp of policy,” and possessed “unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials…”  We guess it depends on how you define unusual.

Bozos, left and right…

Donald Rumsfeld–unpredictable from the beginning?

To be fair, none of this is any more risible than “W” Bush explaining that “human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully,” or vowing to “restore chaos” in the Middle East…orthe time W’s  Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, philosophized during a press conference that he “wouldn’t say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past,” adding, “I think the past was not predictable when it started.”

In 2008, John McCain dazzled viewers of Good Morning America with his geopolitical acuity when, after enumerating the obstacles confronting American forces in Iraq, he summed matters up by explaining, “It’s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.” Actually, a struggle on the Iraq-Pakistan border would be impossible, not hard, because there is no such border.  Iraq and Pakistan are separated by 1,519 miles of Iran. Presently, in a mood remindful of Donald Rumsfeld’s teleological ponderings, McCain enjoined the Pentagon to prepare for the unexpected, but appended, after a museful pause, “What I don’t know is what the unexpected might be.”

Who can forget Bill Clinton defending himself against Kathleen Willey’s charges of rape by explaining, “I would never approach a small-breasted woman,” or Arnold Schwarzenegger insisting that “…gay marriage should be between a man and a woman,” or Tom DeLay epitomizing America’s post-cold-war military primacy by exclaiming,”We’re no longer a superpower. We’re a super-duper power!” or Joe Biden, whose blunders and gaucheries provide an embarrassment of riches, advising firing “two blasts” from a double-barreled shotgun into the darkness off one’s balcony as preferable to owning a semi-automatic firearm. Republican Jay Dickey, U.S. representative from Arkansas, famously opined that “incest should be handled as a family matter” and visionary Democratic state representative Sissy Farenthold  summed matters up best by vowing to work “for the time when unqualified blacks, browns and women join the unqualified men in running our government.”

Sissy Farenthold brings clarity to the issue.

Occasionally failing our words….

Farenthold’s vision may fairly be regarded as realized, and it is our contention that Washington’s current herd of legislative mooncalves is even more bumfuzzled than its historic predecessors. Surely, one can confidently assert that no previous congress has been so pan-institutionally devoted to the production of comic effects, but this immediately invites the rejoinder that quantity and dedication do not necessarily trump refinements of technique or subtleties of execution. It depends, ultimately, on how one prefers one’s drollery. A more significant question presents itself in the meanst, that being: How do such nanoid intellects contrive to win elections, and how do they get re-elected despite establishing records of incontestable oafishness and chicanery?

Sometimes, of course, the plain old “Peter Principle” rears it’s dopey head!

As a case in point, consider Senator Dick Durbin (D-Wis), whose unflagging asaninity first drew national attention when he compared American forces in Iraq to “…Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime–Pol Pot or others.” When this characterization proved less popular than Durbin anticipated, he murmurously apologized, explaining that “more than most people, a senator lives by his words [but] occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words.” A word Durbin failed recently was “chain,” which, he insisted, could no longer be conjoined with “migration,” lest Blacks, upon hearing it, suffer some previously unknown epigenetic trauma and lapse into mass catatonia.  Wondering aloud whether Trump realized “how painful that term is to so many people,” Durbin explained that “African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak to chain migration, it hurts them personally.”  Apparently this awareness dawned only recently on Senator Durbin, who used the term liberally (no pun intended) prior to proscribing it, besides which, one cannot speak to chain migration–at least, not in anticipation of an answer, but Durbin’s difficulties with syntax are as chronic as his mendacities.

Senator Durbin, wondering aloud….

Recapturing our point, we wonder aloud: Why do the people of Illinois return this egregious jackanapes to the Senate again and again? Could it be the dynamics of entropy affect voters as well as candidates?  Or do the qualities of visibility and fulmination nowadays provide ample grounds for political longevity, supplanting such superannuated concepts as sagacity and substance in an era of dumbed-down discourse and educational decline?  We think so. We submit that energy and timarity (laudable attributes taken in isolation) are now more significant to political success than coherence or productivity; and we have seen this before, gentle readers, but mainly in the realm of pop culture. The problem we currently confront is that all culture is rapidly becoming pop culture. Once we accept this, we begin to perceive the situation’s epochal antecedents…which brings us to:

The Pinky precedent…

Take Pinky Lee as an example. (Yes, really.) Lee was a product of the burlesque era but found his niche hosting a five-afternoons-per-week TV program in the early 1950s. Occupying the time slot leading into the enormously popular Howdy Doody Show, Lee aimed his material emphatically at a juvenile audience. Each show began with the host bursting a balloon in front of the camera lens before dashing madly onto the stage where he danced fitfully while performing his uncompromisingly inane theme song, “Yoo hoo, it’s me, my name is Pinky Lee– I skip and run with lots of fun, for every he and she!” –and so on. You get the idea.

“Yoo-hoo, it’s me!”

It may surprise some readers to learn that in this long-ago time, reasonable people paid reasonable amounts of attention to what Newsweek (then an actual news magazine rather than a DNC-affiliated web page) wrote about matters both epic and trivial, and it was Newsweek’s verdict that while Lee’s antics bespoke a level of puerility no rational adult could endure for more than a nanosecond, “he expends more energy than anyone this side of Jerry Lewis.” Indeed, in an article otherwise bereft of encomia, Time magazine went so far as to call Lee “One of the hardest working men in TV.”

Lee’s phenomenal success proved that within his chosen niche, energy and determination sufficed to ensure wild popularity, albeit exclusively among children, who viewed the star’s antics as the very embodiment of quality entertainment.  To anchor our position, we will dub this observable correlation between mindless phrenetics and popular approval “the Pinky Principle.” Obviously, we are about to apply it politically.

All naiveté is local

It is an encouraging fact that Americans consistently tell pollsters congress is a cesspool brimming with nincompoops, reprobates, and larcenists—to which critique we must now add sexual predators, not because they are recently arrived, but rather because the liberal media discovered them only recently, which officialized their presence. Bewilderingly, however, the very Americans who regularly denounce congress whenever polled on the subject, regularly rate their own representatives as superior. One must either conclude that a majority of Americans is mistaken in impugning the intellectual and moral fiber of our bicameral legislature taken as a whole, or, conversely, that most Americans regularly overestimate the character and performance of their locally elected representatives. We trust our beloved readers will join us, with few exceptions, in deeming the latter hypothesis more plausible. (READ MORE…)