Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


Why Be a Racist When You Can Just Hate Rednecks?

Physically, I haven’t been right for about two months. (Not that I was all that goddamn right to start with, but at least I’d settled into my own fat little place.) Things started getting interesting right before my birthday: Nothing I eat or drink seems to sit comfortably or digest correctly, my face and neck have broken out, I am frequently exhausted, overcome with heartburn, and here and there suffer from this light tightness in the chest.

All things I’ve written off to common annoyances that come with growing older. I convinced myself that if I changed my diet, these things would improve or be eliminated altogether. That was, until about 1am Thanksgiving morning, when I was struck with a headache so severe I lost some vision in my left eye. The sight returned, but the headache didn’t go away until Saturday, no matter the variety or amount of narcotics (some over the counter, some obtained without a prescription) I pumped into my system.

Now, I told you that story so I can lend more weight to the following story: A new downstairs neighbor moved in about a month ago, and trouble with this redneck trollop began almost immediately. It’s instructive for the reader to know she brought with her, previously unannounced, a boyfriend who doesn’t (or refuses) to work while she, a woman of 43 surely odd smelling years, routinely pulls double shifts at a pizza joint, working for tips and whatever hourly wage accompanies them.

Near as I can tell – this is judging by the number of beer bottles and cans I see piling up in the recycling bin on a daily basis – the boyfriend drinks a good portion of the day, at which point the woman comes home and they both drink half the night, leading to all sorts of wacky redneck shenanigans. And there are few things I find more annoying than wacky redneck shenanigans, because they tend to be too goddamn loud from the jump, thus frequently disturbing even a rumor of domestic tranquility for people like me, right upstairs.

About midnight the first Friday they lived there, I heard screaming. It was the female redneck, carrying on at a volume and length unique only to the drunken white trash female, going on about the redneck guy’s various shortcomings. (I have no reason to believe they don’t exist, I just know they don’t need voicing in the midst of a Natural Light fueled tirade at midnight, while I’m sleeping.)

There are cadets in basic training who aren’t dressed down the way this white trash, mayonnaise-sandwich-eating cracker was dressed down…. What started the fight I cannot honestly say, but I do know that by the time she’d gotten around to the third minute of her argument, if it had been me, we’d have been trading fists. In any other setting, I would have found his emasculation hilarious.

At times like these, I find it’s best to lie still and weigh my options. My first inclination is always to go storming downstairs and inform the proletariat that I expect the redneck drama to cease forthwith, lest I cave in someone’s soft, inbred skull with a baseball bat. My second inclination is always to fight the first; the truth of the matter is, I can’t fight. Should I go storming down the stairs to deal with the rednecks in my own inimitable tone, the odds are pretty good I’m going to get my ass beat by the alcohol-fueled retard. Somewhere along the line she flung her door open and pounded on mine. Fat chance.

By the time she was telling him he “can’t even get a fucking hard-on anymore,” I couldn’t help but laugh. She kicked him out (which I’ve since guessed is a common occurrence, as he’s been kicked out about three times and has returned each time) and things died down. There was an incident the next weekend when she came home too drunk to find her keys and leaned on my doorbell until I came down and helped, but nothing else until Thanksgiving day, when I ambled home about 715am with the aforementioned Worst Headache in Human History.

Upon arriving home I heard loud music coming from her apartment, but quickly concluded it wouldn’t keep me from sleeping and went about my business. At 1030am I woke from a nightmare (literally, not figuratively), and only then heard very loud country music coming from the downstairs, intermingled with occasional drunken shouting. The country music, in itself, a waking nightmare. Well, I’m definitely going down there this time, I thought, but what to say?

This is no small deal, knowing the right thing to say. The point is to deliver as driving a message in as few words as possible, and at times like these, one must be careful how he chooses his words. I wandered down to the gas station to get a beverage and to linger upon the question. Noticing my beaten expression, the girl working the register (who knows me casually) asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

“You don’t want to talk about it,” I replied.

“Are you sure?” She only could have been hoping to bestow wisdom in the Dr. Phil mode upon me, quick and to the pointless, as a line was beginning to form.

“It’s my drunken, philistine, redneck fucking neighbors. Still want to talk about it?”

Turns out, she didn’t want to talk about it.

So I traipsed home, having now decided upon the proper course of action. Glancing toward the house I see the boyfriend walk out, turn, and head up the street, meaning either she’s kicked him out again, or he walked out of his own free will (to whatever degree rednecks of this sort actually have and practice their own free will). She answers the door topless and three sheets to the wind at 1045am, clutching a shirt to herself for covering, but thinking nothing of answering the door in such a state. She had things overturned and broken on the floor; apparently the redneck boyfriend did this before leaving.

Immediately she explains that he’d broken the things before leaving. “Did he hit you?” I asked reflexively, honestly not caring. She answered in the negative and I calmly and quietly, but forcefully, delivered my little speech:

“Listen to me, you fucking hillbilly: I have to sleep, I have a Thanksgiving lunch to go to, and I have to work tonight. You turn that fucking radio off and you keep the fucking noise down. The next person who comes and tells you to shut the fuck up will be wearing a badge. The next person who comes after that will be holding a fucking eviction notice in his hand. Am I understood?”

Other than knocking on my door ten minutes later – soaking wet and wearing nothing more than a towel this time – and asking to use my phone (she couldn’t figure hers out), I haven’t heard from her since.

Here’s the point: Over the course of my life, I have met literally every kind of person there is to meet. I have met all races and creeds and nationalities; I’ve listened patiently while absolute strangers have attempted to sell me their third world dirt religions. I’ve had people tell me, with a straight face, that a woman forced to wait two years for a mammogram is a circumstance indicative of a better health care system than the American method. Some of these people I’ve liked personally, some I haven’t. But I have never met a redneck and walked away better for the experience, or happy that we happened to cross paths that day.

I’ll agree it sounds like a mathematical and logical impossibility, but I swear it’s true, and if I’m lying, may I be forced from the road by a hail of gunfire this very afternoon. Give me the opportunity and I’ll write The Case Against Rednecks, debate Jeff Foxworthy in packed bingo halls across the country, and burn the Confederate flag at any race track where NASCAR run races.


Serenity Now!

Let’s reflect for a moment on Mel Gibson’s drunk driving arrest.

Calling a female cop “sugartits” is certainly a drunken ramble, regardless of whether the female in question is in possession of a rack one could honestly refer to as sugary. Carnality tends to sit just beneath the surface for most of us; get a few drinks in me, and I’ll blather on at some length about any number of sexual questions. (Come to think of it, I’d probably do it sober, too.)

But the problem with Gibson’s “We all know Jews rule the world” act ends up being the exact same problem with Michael Richards’ “nigger” serenade, thrown at black comedy club audience members last week: “nigger” just doesn’t sit on the tips of regular people’s tongues, and it certainly doesn’t become the answer to most people’s common annoyances without first being ingrained in one’s common thoughts.

Having spent some time in my early 20s working at a comedy club, I can tell you “nigger” is not how stand up comedians defend themselves on stage. Oh, they’ll make fun of your general appearance, your job, your parents, your drunkenness … here and there, they’ll simply demand you shut the fuck up. (The best example of this I’ve ever seen came from a female comedian, whose name now eludes me; but she was a filthy and fairly amusing little thing. If I think of her name, I promise to post it here.) But what they don’t do, unless they’re cracking wise at a Klan hall of fame dinner, is drop a dozen n-bombs in about ninety seconds time.

And now with noted hack attorney Gloria Allred in the picture – she’s representing the black audience members, to what rational end no one really knows – this will continue to get stupider and stupider until someone finally scratches out a check (of whose final pre-tax amount Allred will take it upon herself to pilfer a very large percentage), which will succeed only in slightly enriching a few people’s bank accounts.

Concurrent to the settlement check, Richards will write another to the NAACP (or similar) and sit with either Jackson or Sharpton (or similar) for an hour or so, at which point Richards will pronounced contrite by the black leader in question. And white people will nod. Truth is, we don’t know what else to do. In modern history’s nearsighted eyes, a couple checks and one meeting will seem like enough.


Milton Friedman; 1912 - 2006

From The Wall Street Journal, 17 November 2006

There are some public figures whose obituaries can be written years in advance. Milton Friedman was not one of them.

Arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century, he won his Nobel Prize 30 years ago. His classic "Capitalism and Freedom" was published 44 years ago. He died yesterday at the age of 94, but as the op-ed running nearby attests, he was active in writing about, thinking about and explaining how economics affects our world until the end.

In today's feature, he updates and re-examines conclusions he reached about the Great Depression in "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," a book published with Anna Schwartz 43 years ago. His thesis was that the Great Depression was not, as was once commonly presumed, a "market failure," but a failure of government policy. Contraction of the money supply in the wake of the stock-market crash of 1929 was what turned a financial event into an economic catastrophe.

This insight flowed from Professor Friedman's conviction that "money matters." As the Royal Academy of Sweden noted in announcing his 1976 Nobel, Friedman's was a lonely voice in arguing for the importance of the money supply in economics when he began writing about it in the 1950s.

By the late 1970s, stagflation -- the combination of high inflation and high unemployment -- had made it obvious that the then-dominant Keynesian model had some large holes. These included the effect of the money supply on inflation and the fact that inflation and employment did not move in lockstep as some of Keynes's disciples asserted. It was a seminal insight, creating what became known at the University of Chicago and elsewhere as the "monetarist school" and laying the intellectual basis for central bankers to break the great inflation of the 1970s.

In awarding its Nobel in 1976, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited his "achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy." The citation covers a huge swath of economic thinking, and suggests both the range and the consistency of Professor Friedman's thought. In layman's terms, the Swedish Academy credited him with nothing less than shredding the Keynesian consensus.

First, he had shown that men are no fools. People spend money in accordance with their income expectations over the long-term, not in response to one-time "stimuli" from the government. This is known as the "permanent income" hypothesis, and it called into question Keynesian notions of how short-term stimulus affects the economy. In addition to his monetary insights, Mr. Friedman questioned the degree to which fiscal policy could be used to "fine-tune" the economy by adjusting spending, tax or monetary policy. Today we take for granted that all of these operate with a lag, but it was Milton Friedman who first highlighted the problem.

For all of his academic accomplishments, Professor Friedman's role as a popularizer of free-market principles was arguably more important. He wrote a column in Newsweek for 18 years starting in 1966, preaching the importance of economic freedom to a generation that had never heard such things in school. His 1980 book, "Free to Choose," was a best seller, and the videos that accompanied it were smuggled behind the Iron Curtain like seeds of revolution.

He was among the first to point to Hong Kong as a model of free-market success, a lesson that even today is remaking Communist China. And he first suggested educational vouchers to rescue failing public schools as long ago as 1955; in recent years, he established a foundation to support this idea that continues to advance despite ferocious opposition from unions and other entrenched interests.

This newspaper had the privilege of publishing Milton Friedman's articles on numerous occasions over the years. We've also disagreed with him from time to time, notably on exchange rates and drug legalization. These disputes always gave us cause to reflect, and 20 years ago amid one debate on the benefits of fixed exchange rates we noted that "being spanked by Milton Friedman is one of life's most humiliating experiences."

In truth, Professor Friedman always argued with civility and a bracing wit. One of his best barbs on the size of government: "Given our monstrous, overgrown government structure, any three letters chosen at random would probably designate an agency or part of a department that could be profitably abolished." And he popularized "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

In "Two Lucky People," written with his wife, Rose Friedman, who survives him as a distinguished economist in her own right, Mr. Friedman well described the role of a public intellectual: "We do not influence the course of events by persuading people that we are right when we make what they regard as radical proposals. Rather, we exert influence by keeping options available when something has to be done at a time of crisis."

On the death of Ronald Reagan, whom he advised, Mr. Friedman wrote on these pages that "few people in human history have contributed more to the achievement of human freedom." The same can and long will be said of Milton Friedman.


Republicans Have Their Lips Slapped Off; and Et Cetera / “Lincoln’s Tomb” Research Update / BrianWise.com Update

Not sure if I’ll be able to carry on, now that Brit and K-Fed are splitting up. But I’ll give it my best.

I hadn’t made a point of saying so, but Tuesday was my birthday, never an occasion for celebration in my book. So upon staggering home Tuesday morning, I walked across the street to vote, and then fell into bed for the vast majority of the morning, afternoon, and evening. About 430pm I rose to check the controversies; machines down here, alleged voter suppression there, a voting machine smashed somewhere else. Otherwise, I didn’t get up and get motivated toward the various elections until about 9pm.

It’s amazing, by the way, how quickly controversies disappear when Democrats win. It’s also amazing how few controversies, if any at all, Republicans hatch when they lose. This is because Republicans can lose without believing a hidden, nationwide conspiracy is turning against them. But that is an aside to the overall point, that the Republican party was punched in the mouth all day Tuesday and well into Wednesday morning.

And as for my predictions, well, I was also punched in the mouth all day Tuesday and well into Wednesday morning. As to my saying Democrats would gain no more than 20 House seats, it’s looking like closer to 30; as of this writing (about 430am Wednesday), Democrats are plus 26. As for Democrats winning no more than three Senate seats, they are holding at plus four as of now, threatening to break even. Talk about someone getting his lips slapped off. Did manage to pull off the few individual races I called: Lieberman won; Ford, Santorum, and Chocola lost. (For those who don’t regularly read this blog, Chocola is from my hometown district, which is why I made a point to predict the race.)

As for the new Democratic leadership – well, well, well! One would do well from this point forward to imagine the Democratic donkey replaced with a Soviet flag, so far Left will the new leadership ride. Begin with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, move to Charlie Rangle at the Ways and Means, move then to John Conyers at Judiciary, then to Henry Waxman at Government Reform, and finally John Murtha as majority leader. There isn't one properly functioning brain in that bunch. As I said about Republicans two years ago, there are 100 ways for Democrats to turn this election into the greatest circus America has ever seen. And with these nitwits at the fore, I have no doubt they'll find them, and 100 more.

That is precisely the sort of roundup that may force a retired opinion columnist to meander back into the scene sometime early next year. Wouldn’t you think that would be just too much fun for someone like me to ignore?

Seeing Rich Lowry on the Fox News’ late panel reminds me of a visit to Barnes and Noble last Saturday afternoon. Proceeded, did I, to the checkout with nothing more than a copy of the latest National Review, as I do every other week; Rick Santorum happens to be on the cover. The older man working the register scanned the magazine’s barcode and learned he had to enter the price manually. This is the biweekly routine between myself and the B&N; and you’d think they’d get around to fixing that problem. But in fairness, NR does seem to go out of its way to hide the price, printing it in black against a dark blue border.

Anyways. Said the man, in the process of ringing up the purchase, “Rick Santorum is not one of my favorite people.”

Replied I, “Huh. Imagine that. An old liberal working at the Barnes and Noble.”

As you would imagine, this was the exact moment our conversation ended. Note to register jockeys across this country: You ring up the merchandise, I’ll pay for the merchandise; you vote in privacy and I’ll vote in privacy. And never the two transactions shall fucking cross, lest you get called out right there amongst the magazines and knickknacks for being a smug, bitter, 65-year-old liberal cash register slap.

Research for Lincoln’s Tomb at Notre Dame University will officially begin next Tuesday, 14 November. The plan is to set up figurative camp there at Notre Dame every Tuesday through Friday. I haven’t decided whether to employ an elongated Friday session or a half-day Saturday session. Obviously I am leaning toward longer Fridays. As previously stated here, I anticipate work at ND continuing through the winter.

The “Columns” section at BrianWise.com has been completed and posted, with complete archives of all opinion columns written from 2004 through 2006. The rest of the site is still under a reasonably lazy construction; there is no official relaunch date.


Tomorrow's Election Results Today / Hussein Sentenced to Hang

A few months ago, I was all for the Republican protest vote, and so I wrote on 10 January: “Three months ago [meaning October 2005] I would have said the Republican party’s problems outside Iraq were manageable and didn’t necessarily mean we had to sacrifice the majority. But now I’m not so sure – not only unsure, but starting to think that a good drubbing in November may be the thing to get federal Republicanism back on track.”

And I have remained quite irritated with my party from that point in January. But not, as it turns out, irritated enough to stay home and allow Democrats unencumbered access to the Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees knowing, as I do, the Democrat’s greater natural proclivity toward socialism in the Soviet model and admiration for judges who believe the Constitution is a suicide pact with our enemies. No matter what you think is going to happen, vote anyway. This is no time for sitting at home in the name of protest.

For the record, then, I should tell you what’s going to happen Tuesday, having read only a single opinion poll in my entire life, and yet somehow being more accurate than most polls ever are: Sadly enough, Democrats will win the House of Representatives, but will do so by gaining far fewer seats than history suggests an opposition party should win in the sixth year of a presidency. They will win 20 seats at an absolute maximum, far from the 30 or more they’re hoping for. Chris Chocola, of my hometown district (Indiana’s second), will be utterly smoked. I anticipate a double digit loss.

In regards to the Senate, Republicans will lose three seats and retain control of the more important Chamber. Harold Ford. Jr. (D) will lose in Tennessee, Rick Santorum (R) will lose in Pennsylvania, Joe Lieberman (I, of a sort) will win in Connecticut by double digits.

I wish I’d have written a column saying so, but about two months ago I told an acquaintance that if we ever see film of Saddam Hussein’s corpse dangling by its feet (cf. Mussolini at the end), then we – the United States – have wasted absolutely nothing by storming into Iraq. The lives and money spent, the WMD mistake, the uncertainty, the continued attacks in Baghdad (and virtually nowhere else in Iraq, in case you haven’t noticed), the bitching and moaning in hopes of political gain, the rank un-Americanism, insulting the troops’ intelligence (by which I indict most liberals generally, and Senator Kerry specifically): It all becomes for the greatest possible moral purpose at the exact moment Hussein’s last heartbeat works its way through his filthy heathen veins.

Imagine my great pleasure, then, when I saw Sunday that the dirt worshiper Hussein has been sentenced to hang. Yes, I would say there's quite a room for improvement in Baghdad. I would also say Iraq should hurry the hanging process along, and that the glorious event should be stuck on pay-per-view for $10 a shot; free for those motherless whores sitting in the seats of power in third world little shitholes called Cuba, Iran, and North Korea, just so they know that we will balk at spending tremendous sums of money removing you, but we will also take tremendous pleasure in your violent deaths.


John Kerry is Not Smart / "Lincoln's Tomb" / Bernard Goldberg / "The Unabrian Manifesto"

Whatever is wrong with federal Republicanism – and there’s quite a bit wrong with it – you will never hear a Republican utter these words: “You know, education … if you make the most of it, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

That was John Kerry, speaking in California the other day on behalf of Democratic candidate for Governor, Phil Angelitis. The spin is that Kerry was joking about Bush, saying – in his own inimitable fucking fashion – that someone who got virtually the same grades as Kerry in graduate school is just dumb enough to get us involved in Iraq.

When was the last time you heard about a dumb liberal? Oh, in the strictest sense, they’re scattered hip deep throughout Washington DC; hither and yon across American campuses; working inside out, like termites, in the vast majority of the news media. But you never hear of them, at least not in the context of their being as stupid as Bush who, unless I’ve mislabeled the outside-of-policy objections, is at the greatest fault for his innate inability to lie as fluently as did Clinton when the cameras were on.

Jesus Christ, Kerry, pull yourself together. It’s not bad enough that you’ve hitched yourself to the RMS Angelitis as it begins its maiden voyage (only to skid alongside the iceberg and sink on 7 November), but then to denigrate the service of those men and women who are, truly, the innocent bystanders in your ongoing battle against Bush puts you squarely in the camp of people we should thank God we didn’t send to the White House. You’d be well served to save your troop bashing for those quiet dinner parties in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, where it will do no harm to either your already bullet-ravaged reputation or your party.

Re: Lincoln’s Tomb. The gravy research – i.e., the things I can find without going too far out of my way – has mostly come to an end. So in advance of difficult research, I have sent emails to Lincoln historians (soliciting their advice), the Lincoln museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana (closest to home; as to whether they have materials on hand relevant to my book), and have isolated dozens of items (collections, books, and microfilms) at the University of Notre Dame’s library, some dating back to the 1870s, that I either know for a fact or believe with reasonable certainty will aid my efforts. These are just preliminary steps, of course, but other than ordering some books I’ve long neglected, the easy stuff is finished.

I am dreading having to set up camp at Notre Dame, and so am delaying the first day for as long as logic allows. At first blush, it appears as though work at ND could continue throughout most of the winter. While the idea of befriending some bright, nubile young coed occupies a small, warm spot somewhere in the very back of my mind, there is nothing else that recommends spending so much time there. But off we go, sometime much too soon.

Go to brianwise.com – there’s no website there yet, but you can see a front page, and read a quote about me from Bernard Goldberg: “[Brian S.] Wise is a gem: smart, funny, and merciless when it comes to nailing the morons in our culture."

That is not a joke quote. Goldberg wrote me a very brief email following my mentioning him in the essay “Ann Coulter is Right,” and we traded emails for a time before he ended up with a digital copy of my book, The Unabrian Manifesto. I asked, if you like the book, please send along a blurb. What you see there is the second half of the blurb he forwarded along. A week or so later, we spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes several weeks ago; he seems like an all right guy.

For someone like me, it pays to befriend someone like Bernard Goldberg, but I don’t quite know how to go about it, so I tend to leave well enough alone. You would think people like Goldberg have better things to do…. At least I do, which is why I leave well enough alone. But it was still a nice thing he did, and it’s much appreciated.

By the way. Having recently re-read The Unabrian Manifesto, I still don’t hate it. But I did find three mistakes, and so I’m giving some thought to issuing a first anniversary edition, where those mistakes would be corrected, some additional notes made, and so forth. But it’s just a thought.