The rather large piece I've been working on this week isn't quite ready yet.
It's a tough one, one that requires frequent bouts of wrestling and wrangling, but it's getting there. In the meantime, there are a few things I need to get off my chest (and, let's be honest, when isn't there?). What this means, of course, is that it's time for Quick Notes:
-- By now you've heard the story of Jay Bennish, the Colorado geography high school teacher who has been suspended after one of his students secretly taped a pretty standard, half-educated Leftist rant. Appearing thereafter on the Today Show, Bennish's interview was bracketed by a headline that read "Teacher Suspended for Comparing Bush to Hitler." Of course, that wasn't the reason for the suspension or the controversy at all. Mr. Bennish is more than free to think that Bush is the new Hitler and he is free to state that opinion, even in class. What he is not free to do is to not teach his subject and to instead use his position of authority as a platform from which to advocate on behalf of a particular political view. His job title is not "Mid-Morning Pundit" but "Geography Teacher." I suppose you could spend your time at your job today telling everyone in great detail about your political beliefs, but don't expect to be sympathetically interviewed on the national news the next week with a headline that reads "Computer Programmer Fired for Comparing Carter to Spineless Worms."
-- Speaking of which, conservatives rant about MSM bias like this so much that it is, frankly, counter-productive. Yet that doesn't stop conservatives from doing it. Why? I'll tell you why: because it's freaking obvious and the fact that others don't see it drives us crazy. And not just a little.
Imagine, for example, that you were in a restaurant eating dinner with some friends when an amazingly annoying high-pitched squeal emerges from the kitchen and then repeats in regular intervals. You exclaim, "What the hell was that? Did you hear that?" Upon which your friends look at you like you're crazy and assure you that they didn't hear anything. Confused, you wait until it repeats itself. "Okay, did you hear it that time?" They then begin wondering aloud if you're crazy. From that time forward, every time you hear the noise you point it out because, Goddammit, you want some validation here.
-- Another great piece this morning at NRO by Derbyshire on the Iraq question. Aside from asking some very good questions (If "all human beings desire good government," why do the people of Washington DC keep electing Marion Barry?) it ends with a marvelously illustrative example from history that goes a long way to explaining how we got in the mess we now find ourselves in. Derbyshire writes:
In his 1958 novel Three's Company, Alfred Duggan told the story of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who was the third man in the Second Triumvirate that followed the death of Julius Caesar, the other members being Mark Antony and Octavian Caesar (who later became the emperor Augustus). Lepidus, a wealthy citizen from a good family, does what the other two are doing: he raises an army, so that he can take part in the great power struggle that followed Julius Caesar's death. An intelligent and capable man, Lepidus does this very well, taking great pains to see his troops are properly equipped, housed, trained, and fed. To these ends, Lepidus is a little can-do America, performing prodigies of administration and organization, and conscientiously making a credible military man of himself.
Lepidus could make out the encampment of his own seven legions. Even at this distance their huts showed better built and better aligned than the ramshackle bivouac of the slacker Plancus, or the flimsy shelters of improvident Antonians. Yes, his seven legions were the flower of the army, as brave and well-trained as their comrades and more efficiently administered. There was an advantage to being led by an industrious, conscientious man of business, too wealthy and too honourable to be tempted by the bribes of contractors.
Unfortunately Octavian shows up at Lepidus's camp. There is a confrontation, and Octavian is slightly wounded by a javelin hurled by one of Lepidus's men. Seeing this, the main body of Lepidus's troops are dismayed.
"We have shed the blood of Caesar," they screamed in a frenzy of self-accusation. Someone reopened the gate and they streamed out after [Octavian's] retreating cavalry. ... Lepidus thrust himself into the gateway, trying to stem the tide of hysterical desertion. Looming above the helmets he saw the towering staff of an Eagle, unescorted, clutched precariously by a solitary Aquilifer. To see this sacred image thus desecrated was almost as painful to him as the desertion of his soldiers. As the Eagle came up with him he strove to wrest it from its bearer. "Out of the way, fatty. All the Eagles of Rome follow Caesar, and shall until the ending of the world," shouted the Aquilifer...
All Lepidus's wealth, capability, courage, and managerial prowess counted for nothing when Octavian showed up. Plainly there was something about the mood of his troops Lepidus had failed to understand; something about Octavian that, when it touched Lepidus's noble intentions and splendid qualities, turned them instantly to dust. What was it, I wonder?
-- Vice President Cheney's speech earlier this week before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was as good a speech I've heard any Administration official give these days, aside from the Iraq boilerplate, which is getting tiresome. Most striking, however, were the passages dealing with Iran. Cheney said:
America supports, as well, the democratic aspirations of the people of Iran. Iranians have endured a generation of repression at the hands of a fanatical regime. That regime is one of the world's primary state sponsors of terror. The current President has spoken openly of wiping Israel off the map, and of a world without America. He's made despicable statements doubting the crimes of the Nazis, aligning himself with the rest of the fantasy-world Holocaust deniers.
The regime in Tehran also continues to defy the world with its nuclear ambitions. Of course, this matter may soon go before the U.N. Security Council. The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
Now, that is clear. I mean, really, really clear. I've said it 20 times in the past 4 months and I'll say it again: we're going to war in Iran and soon.
-- And then, of course, there was the setting and the picture accompanying the news stories to consider. Personally, I just love pictures like this because you know it causes Jihadi, Fascist and Lefty heads to pop off in anger all over the world. If only for that same reason, I would dearly love to see a President Lieberman. Imagine the seething if a Jewish President of the United States ordered a strike on Iran.
-- And, hey, why stop there? I also think there should be an entire U.S. Army infantry division made up entirely of Jewish women so that when the Jihadis get their asses kicked, it hurts even more. We could follow every victory up with a world-wide propaganda campaign taunting them for not only losing to infidels, but losing to a collection of Jewish girls.
-- Hey, it's my first bleg! Can anyone point me to an English translation of Camus' academic paper on St. Augustine? I would be most grateful.
-- Okay, time to lighten up. Take a few deep breaths. Forget that ABC News has reported that our military has caught the Iranian government red-handed in transporting IEDs over the border to kill Americans. Forget that in any other age this slam dunk case for war and the accompanying necessity of it would be obvious. Lay aside the anger that Iran has gotten away with this sort of stuff for close to three decades now with no response........there, that's better.
-- Did you hear the story out of Britain about the members of Green Day being all excited about meeting their hero, the Buzzcocks' Steve Diggle, only to have Diggle say in public "I didn't have a clue who they were. And they're not punks." Can't argue with that.
-- Speaking of old school punk rock, how great was it that the Sex Pistols told the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to kiss their collective asses when informed they had been "honored" by the museum's inclusion? Said the Pistols, in a characteristically constructed and contrived reply, "Next to the Sex-Pistols rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain...." Can't really argue with that either.
-- My friend Mark (who runs the great site called Outdoors Pro, check it out) and I had one of those prolonged, deep discussions that only old friends could have. The subject? The Inexplicable Deterioration in the Quality of the Fast-Food French Fry. Example: Burger King. When we were kids, BK had fabulous fries. They are, by all accounts and wide agreement, mostly inedible now. (Interestingly, many franchisees seem to agree; see the Wall St. Journal's series on the Great Fry Wars). Worse, other chains followed BK's lead to the point where for an entire new generation the word "french fry" means "a potato-like substance, deep-fried and salted, covered in a chemical shell composed primarily of egg whites." Who decided that the old french-fries weren't good enough, that's what I want to know.
-- Speaking of which, I just recently found out that the word "buzzcock" was, at the time of band's founding, actually a Manchester-area slang term, mostly used by older folks, to refer to young men. Who knew?
-- Back to fast-food, a favorite subject. Which is true: that McDonald's was much, much better when I was a kid (we're talking around 1974-1979) or that I merely thought it was good because I was a kid? Whatever the case may be, it's not good now.
Also not good: Wendy's, Burger King, Panda Express, Subway, Jack in the Box.
Sometimes good, sometimes not: Carl's Jr./Green Burrito, Tacos Del Mar, KFC, Arby's
Always good for some sick reason: Taco Bell.
Always good, but I can't get there: In N Out, Baker's, Del Taco, Tommy's, Carney's
Was always good, no longer exists: Naugles, Pup n' Taco, the old family-owned Carl's Jr., Roy Rodgers, Pioneer Chicken.
-- Yes, I started a diet today. Why do you ask?
-- Ah, yes, fast-food and punk rock. Time to pull the two together, I suppose.
A long time ago, a lifetime ago, I was in the drive through line at the Naugles in La Mirada, California, with a car load of friends. If memory serves, we were doing a late-night food run on a Friday night after coming back from Hollywood where we saw X and the Busboys at the Whisky. (Good show, as I remember it; I always have though the Busboys were better than history records).
The reason I remember it is that as I ordered my usual (combo burrito, fries, coke) and as we were all laughing and joking, talking about the show, some idiots who had started a "punk gang" on the other side of La Mirada started fighting with some other idiots from a gang in Whittier. There was, for the first time in my experience in our sleepy corner of Los Angeles County, a real threat of real violence.
This led to us leaving to another parking lot, where the conversation turned to what the future held for the punk scene. It was clear that what we would come to call the "arty" phase of it was over and that some kind of new "hardcore" scene was coming up which was the same except completely different. The old groups like 100 Flowers, Black Randy and Wall of Voodoo were giving way to the Black Flags of the world.
As we sat there, talking and eating, someone (funny, I can't remember exactly who) said something along the lines of "let's all try really hard to remember this night because some day, when we're really old, all these bands and the stuff we're doing, even Naugles here, will be a distant memory and we'll be boring old farts with families and jobs."
Funny thing, memory.